Tree in James River — Test Frame Bronica S2A Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8

Fallen tree on James River. Shot with Bronica S2A and Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8 at f/4 on Ilford XP2.

I recently acquired a Zenza Bronica S2A medium format camera. It shoots 6x6cm frames and came with a Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8 lens. I have a lot more to say about the camera but will save it for another day.

I ran a roll of Ilford XP2 through the camera as a test roll before I decided to accept it. The scans came in on Saturday and I started to review them.

What I can say so far is that the camera is working correctly, at least for the test conditions used. The scan of the negative looks good, but a review of the negative with a loupe and good light will tell me more detail than the scan can. Nonetheless, I think this is a keeper.

I am looking forward to spending a lot more time with this camera. I want to shoot some real black and white film, such as Tri-X, FP4+, or HP5+, and then develop the negatives myself. I will figure out the scanning later, but I could use a DSLR to do the scans or dig out my film scanner.

I am grateful. Life is good.

Daily Image: 23 January 2024 — Books

One of the stacks at Dixon Books in Fayetteville, AR. Shot with Fujifilm X100V 23mm f/2 at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation.

My kids and I took a day trip down to Rogers and Fayetteville, Arkansas on Sunday. Despite the cold, winter day (but not as cold as it has been), we had a blast. We visited a Duluth Trading Company bricks and mortar store. There I bought The Girl a jacket for our cold outings (and to keep some of the rain off). I bought myself some gloves as those I have are insufficient when it gets this cold.

We drove into Fayetteville for a Mediterranean meal and the headed downtown to Dixon Books. I love used book stores and carried a camera inside with me.

Dixon Books is one of those rabbit-warren bookstores that has lots (and lots) of bookshelves and stacks of books with small aisles to traverse the stacks. I love it.

I carried the Fujifilm X100V in my hand and made many captures surreptitiously of other wanderers of the stacks. A couple of those might be worth sharing. I also carried the Nikon F2AS, but decided that it is a bit noisy for that environment. A quite rangefinder was just the trick. (The X100V is nearly silent.)

I did not buy any new books, not having a list with me. But, I hope there will be another (perhaps many) trips back to Fayetteville and the next visit I will have a list with me.

After the bookstore, there was coffee at Doomsday Coffee, just a couple of blocks away.

It was a good day. Life is good.

No Service

If you know, you know… Shot with the Contax TVS using Kodak Gold 200. Exposure data unrecorded.

Not long after I arrived here in Missouri, I made my first trip to Bedford Camera & Video in Springfield. I decided to see what the camera store here was like and whether it would be a good place to buy film and have my processing done.

My first experience was positive. I bought some film for my new-to-me Contax TVS point and shoot camera. It is a premium 35mm point and shoot with a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens. The zoom range is not large, just two times. But the focal lengths are useful even if the lens is relatively slow.

The clerk loaded the battery for me (a CR123A) and I loaded a roll of Kodak Gold 200. The camera wound the film onto the take-up spool just fine and announced it was ready to go. I added a few more rolls of 35mm film to my order, checked out, and headed back to the rig.

I paused to make an image of the store front and then The Girl and I headed south towards home. I was hungry and decided to stop for a bit.

The first food I came across was the Burger King on South Campbell. I pulled into the lot and walked inside. There I waited at least five minutes without acknowledgement. None of the workers greeted me. None offered to take my order.

I shook my head and walked back to the rig. Clearly they are not interested in my business. I will not be stopping there again.

We drove south a few more blocks and found a Steak & Shake. I have always liked their food, so I parked and walked into the store. I was greeted fairly quickly and then seated. Although it took a few minutes for one of the staffers to take my order, they got it done. My food was delivered hot and was tasty. I really like the fries at Steak & Shake.

I took some with me, along with a bite of my sandwich, and gave them to The Girl. She was expecting a treat, as usual. And, she got one.

I was satisfied with my outing and determined to shoot the roll of film to complete my testing of the new camera.

A few days alter (yesterday), Older Son and I decided to get out of the house and check some of the pawn shops and thrift stores for film cameras. The first pawn shop we stopped at asked “Do they even develop film anymore?”

“Yes, they do.” I responded.

He suggested we visit the Springfield Trading Depot (STD) because all of the pawn brokers are only dealing in digital cameras now. We thanked him and headed out.

STD (yes, that is the acronym) was interesting enough, but there was nothing there I was interested in. It made an interesting photo opportunity anyway. I still need to download and process those images.

I had finished my roll of film, so we headed to Bedford to drop it off for processing, I bought a few rolls of 120 black and white film, and we headed off to pick up DiL. I wanted an early supper and a trip to Bass Pro to replace her collar. The transmitter finally failed after I repaired the rotary control one time. So, it is time to replace it. She sometimes needs it to stay out of trouble. She remains an impulsive Girl.

We took her into Bass Pro (they are dog friendly) and it is such a HUGE place. There were a lot of people there (and quite a few dogs), but she really behaved well and barked at other dogs only a couple of times.

We got what we came for and were looking at the toys when we heard THE SQUEAK. She knew exactly what she wanted.

We played with that for several minutes, all four of us laughing. So we gathered up a couple of new toys for her and headed to the check out line. She was a very excited Girl.

We stopped at a Korean restaurant on the way home for a bibimpap bowl. I had not had one before and it was very good. Win! While there, I received an email that my film had been processed and my scans were ready to download. Win!

We retrieved DiL’s rig and then stopped at Andy’s Frozen Yogurt for a treat and then on home.

Yes, The Girl got a pup-cup.

When I got home, I downloaded my scans. I have a couple of keepers in the lot. That is not bad.

It was a good day. Life is good.

Daily Image: 13 December 2023 — The Fox Brewpub

I stopped for food on my way home Monday. Captured with iPhone 13 Pro Max using the standard camera app and no post processing.

The Fox Brewpub has become a favorite restaurant here in Carson City. It is local and the food is better than decent. I have not tried everything on the menu (yet), but have already found a few favorites.

Remainders: 09 December 2023

Smurfette, skating across my SuperNote A5x, shot with the Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens at f/5.6, SOOC.
  • I am working with a trial version of DxO Photolab 7. It integrates with the NIK tools, which are somewhat legendary in their utility for post processing images.
  • I was pointed to Negative Lab Pro as a tool for post processing color negatives. Some of the digitizing setups I looked at are crazy!
  • Melissa O’Shaunessy is a New York street photographer. This interview with her is interesting enough to post.
  • Maybe someday I will have a view camera.
  • With the new MacBook Pro, I keep having to reset the column width and window width of the Finder. This provides direction on how to make it sticky.
  • It is true that I have a bit of lust for a Bronica S2A medium format (6×6) camera. This review is not helping my jonesing for the system. Although the Hasselblad 500C (and 500C/M) are also suitable objects of lust, the price of a kit is pretty high.
  • This YT video is probably the best introduction to the Hasselblad system that I have seen.
  • Here is another lovely review of the Hasselblad 500 cameras.

All in all, it was a good week. I worked some, I played some, The Girl and I spent a lot of time together, indoors and outdoors. I talked to my family as well. Life is good.

Daily Image: 09 December 2023 — Smurfette

Smurette shot with the Fujifilm X-T5 and the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation with red filtration.

Over the last few weeks I have been watching quite a few videos on YouTube about photographers and photography. A favorite channel is The Photographic Eye run by Alex Kilbee. His videos are all about learning photography and are top shelf.

In a recent video, Alex teaches against the notion that a photographer has to go somewhere, and particularly go somewhere exotic to find photographic material. He then talks about training the photographer’s eye, which is something that resonates with me.

Long, long ago, Wife and I were looking over some photographs that I made. She remarked to me “You see the world differently.” I admit that I was a little flattered at first. But, on further reflection, there was some truth in what she said.

I have referred to the book before, but Robert Foothorap’s book, 35mm Photography, was a favorite book — is a favorite book. It was written in a light, approachable tone and had plenty of his photographs. It is now old and out of print (sadly), but I consider it part of my education as a photographer. The other part being a more experienced amateur photographer who taught me a lot about the technical aspects of shooting and film. But, I digress.

Foothorap and my mentor taught me to look at things. After I bought my Argus-Cosina 35mm SLR, I carried it along quite a lot with a roll of Plus-X or Tri-X loaded. Although I did not always make the shot, I brought the camera to my eye many times to frame and focus the shot. That taught me to see what the camera saw, a bit of three-dimensional space smashed onto a two-dimensional surface (the film).

I learned that I could do the same without the camera… I was training my eyes to see like a photographer. And that brings the story around to what Wife said — I learned to look at the world a little differently.

Although I have had long periods when I was not actively making photographs, I retained that way of looking at the world around me. I remember any number of times looking at something and thinking, “That’s interesting. It might make a good photograph.” This year I started carrying a camera again, quote often. The Fujifilm X100V is an easy carry and makes good images.

But, that was a story-in-a-story… The outer story is about Kilbee’s admonition to look around and see what there is around you, there are many photographs to make if you take the time and energy to see. (And I paraphrase that, but he said as much.)

And so, I noticed Smurfette skating across the top of my multi-port hub. The Fujifilm X-T5 was handy and so was the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. I had a film simulation set and did not bother to change it. I rested my elbows on my desk and made the capture.

Alex Kilbee made a good suggestion. He also suggested an exercise to make 36 images of a subject. In the old days, that would be a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film. It is now just 36 actuations of the shutter of my digital camera. (No, I am not going to shoot film for this exercise.) This sounds like a good exercise to do a few times every week. It will have the side benefit of getting me out of my head and away from my work for an hour.

Thanks Alex and thanks Smurfette! Life is good.

Daily Image: 06 December 2023 — Old Gate at Silver Saddle Ranch

Gate in the ranch compound, Silver Saddle Ranch. Shot with the Fuji X-E2 and the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 at f/4. Post processed in DxO Photolab 7 and NIK Silver Efex 6.

I was not really in the mood to do much when we left the house yesterday afternoon. I left the Pentax 645NII kit, the Fujifilm kits, and the pack at home. I was hungry, so we drove by Arby’s for a sandwich (shared). Then we headed for Silver Saddle Ranch to get in a walk.

It was a beautiful fall day in Carson City. The sun was shining with maybe a little high clouds. It was strong enough to make mid-40ºF feel nice with a light cover. There was not a lot of traffic at the gate at 1330h. All of this raised my spirits, especially getting out of the house with The Girl.

What I did bring (besides The Girl), was the little Fujifilm X-E2 with the 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens mounted. This is the smallest digital camera I own1. I have it on a wrist strap, so I can let it dangle when I am busy with The Girl or want both hands free.

I made a few captures as we walked along. I made sure she checked in with me frequently. There were only a couple other walkers that I saw and none crossed paths with us. That made for a really nice walk.

The Girl got frisky a couple of times along the way and we paused to play. Those interactions always raise my spirits, and the did this day.

I grew more cautious as we approached the segment of the trail that has more traffic, but we saw no one. We paused at the ranch compound to look for possible photographs. I noticed this old gate and the light was just about right to bring out the texture in the wood. There was a power pole peeking out above the cross bar, but a judicious adjustment to my point of view hid it from the frame.

I made the capture. I am glad I decided to carry the camera along.

We ended the hike with some more play. She brought a stick and we wrestled over it for a few minutes as we walked.

The drive home was uneventful. The Girl crashed on her bed under my work table. It was a good day. Life is good!

1Well, that is not *exactly* true — I have a Panasonic ZS-40. I used it as a field camera for the Wilson Creek project. Its EVF and image quality make it such that I do not want to use it. Neither a very good. For a slightly larger package, I have better options that are much more enjoyable (and easy) to use.

Testing my Field Kit

Boiling water with the Firebox Nano 2.0Ti and a Trangia burner. Shot with my iPhone 13Pro Max.

My Haley Strategic Flatpack Plus arrived yesterday. I bought (yet another) small tactical pack because I want to carry a few things in the field with me and a small camera bag. I want a pack that can carry the necessaries and a small QRP radio kit (if desired). I want to be able to carry a small camera bag cross body1 under the pack.

After the ham radio exam session yesterday, I came home and retrieved the pack from the parcel box. Well, that is, after getting The Girl out for a walk. It really is a small pack with an expanded capacity of about 700 cubic inches. (Flat is is closer to 100–200 cubic inches.) It has two compartments, a bladder pouch, and a small flat pouch. The latter is good for a small tarp or a flat paper map, folded (or both, I suppose).

Aside: I am a Volunteer Examiner for the American Relay Radio League. That means I am certified to proctor an amateur radio license examination and the FCC will accept the result.

I bought two of the clear top pouches, a large and a small. The inside of the pack is lined with a loop field, which means appropriately fitted pouches will affix to both the back of the pack and the inside of the large compartment top. One of these pouches will contain a set of clean clothes — shirt, undies, and socks. I will have a change of clothes. The second pouch (the small one) will catch something; I have not figured that out yet.

There is plenty of room for my small cook kit (the stove is above) so I can heat water for coffee/tea or to hydrated freeze-dried food for a hot meal. I have a small bottle to carry alcohol fuel for the Trangia burner. I will work on some of the remaining components today, but am thinking that a small medical kit (more than a boo-boo kit) to supplement my EDC pouch (cargo pocket), a small fire kit (to create warmth or cook), a small radio kit (one of my QRP rigs, plus battery and wire antenna), and cordage to put up a shelter (the tarp) will round it out. I can carry a water bottle(s) or put a small bladder in the bladder pouch.

The coffee I made by boiling water with the Firebox Nano 2.0Ti and an Aeropress. Shot with my iPhone 13Pro Max.
Last night (early this morning), I was awake so I used the stove to heat water for tea. I then decided to use it again this morning to heat water for my coffee. The little burner works fine, but might need a wind screen for the field. I have a small bag to carry makings for coffee and tea. I could add a packet or two of soup mix without adding much weight.

Today I will determine whether (or not) I can carry a small Domke camera bag cross body under the pack straps and still have access to the camera. My camera will be either the Fujifilm X100V or the X-E4 (and a spare lens or two). The cameras are really small, so the bags are small, too.

This might actually work, be reasonably light, and provide routine and light emergency capability in the field when I am hiking with Sera or playing a little radio on a remote summit or a park. I am looking forward to getting in to the field today, even if the weather is quite a bit colder than it has been.

Also, the last of the camper parts are on the way. I hope to have it repaired in a week or two and plan to get out and do some camping before the end of the year.

Sera is snoozing under my worktable. It is a welcome sound. Life is good.

1I carry camera bags and cameras (on straps) cross body because I absolutely cannot stand to have anything hanging around my neck.

Remainders: 18 November 2023

A view of Buckland Station to the northeast from the Weeks Crossing. Shot with the Fuji X100V 23mm f/2 at f/8 using Reggie’s Portra-400 film simulation.

I did wander the Internet some this week. Mostly it was when I was looking for something in particular. I was reminded of my love for Chet Atkins’ music.

  • Smith & Son Knives produce appropriate objects of lust.
  • Bitlocker Holster is on my hit list. Later: Mine was delivered this week.
  • I am messing around with APRS (automatic packet reporting system) again. I have one my my HTs working with a Mobilinkd TNC. But I want to use my home 2m rig to process packets. It looks like Pinpoint APRS might be a decent software to work with on the Surface Go 2. Time will tell.
  • The Guitars of Chet Atkins has what I was looking for — Chet’s classical electric guitar. He favored this guitar during the later part of his career. Chester Atkins is also one of my heroes. He was one of the cleanest guitar players ever, which is something I really appreciate.
  • Speaking of Chet Atkins, this YouTube compilation of his appearances on Nashville Now is well worth a watch, or a listen in the background while you are doing something else.

CZJ 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar

This is a test shot of Lucas with a new-to-me CZJ 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar. It was shot wide open with a Sony A7Sii and the Sony in-camera black and white conversion.

A lovely Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar in M42 mount arrived a couple of days ago. I have not yet had a chance to shoot it, certainly not to test it. But I did mount it on my Sony A7Sii a few minutes ago and shot one of my test subjects, my Lucas plushie.

The capture was made wide open and the background blur is evident in the shot. The lens is nicely sharp wide open and I think the background blur (bokeh) is very nice for this camera to subject distance. It will be fun to play with this East German lens and I will have to make a point of carrying the A7Sii and this lens (and maybe another) on walkies.

This is fun. Life is good.