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Frustrating Film Failures

… Well, some film failures and a small favorable film finish.

I’m a sucker for old cameras.  I recently came across two that I ended up buying.

My "newest" cameraA Zorki 6 35mm film camera made in 1962 in the Soviet Union

This first one is a Soviet “Leica” clone I found in an antique store.  I’d heard of them before, but never held one.  It seemed to work, and since I’m a sucker – I bought it.  I got it home, put in a roll of film and tried to take a few photos.  The shutter is inconsistent and started running very slowly.  First failure 😞.   If you’re interested, there’s more info about the Zorki 6 at the Camera-wiki article at this link.

I ran across this next one at a different antique shop.  It’s from Germany in the mid 1950s, and came with a clean Zeiss Sonar 50mm f/1.5 lens.  I like the shutter speed range from 1 second to 1/1250 second (including T and B). The built-in selenium light meter still works too and no batteries are required.  I’m always a bit leery of messing with these old cameras in the store.  So I didn’t actually open it up or try to do too much investigation while there.  It also seemed to be in pretty good shape and I went ahead and bought this one too.  Yes I’m a sucker.

Zeiss Contax IIIA 35mm rangefinder film cameraZeiss Contax IIIa ‘color dial’ 35mm rangefinder film camera

I was able to find a manual and much more info about it online.  You can read the Camerapedia article at this link.  The first problem I ran into was a missing take up spool.  So I tried to use a spool from a 35mm film canister, but the film wouldn’t reliably advance.  Second failure 😞. More research turned up many used Zeiss Contax take up spools for sale, and I bought one on Ebay.  Several days later I loaded up yet another roll of film and started clicking away again.  This time the film advance worked.  I finished the roll and anxiously shifted to Cinderella photography mode (see below*).

And yeah!  Some of the frames were good.  But many had weird light leaks.    I inspected the shutter curtains carefully and saw a gap between them on one side.  When the film is wound, the gap moves across the frame and if the lens cap is off, it partially exposes and ruins the film.  Third failure 😞.

I can’t fix this.  But I bought one more roll and this time I covered the lens each time I wound the film.  And finally I was able to get some decent exposures.  Favorable Finish on the fourth roll!! 😊

Here are three frames from the camera, along with comparison digital images I made at the same time.   I think the camera works pretty well for 60 years old!

MKMK

MK in the back yard (Film is on the left, click for larger versions) –  I really like the way the Zeiss Sonar 50mm f/1.5 lens renders both the background and subject.

Pine tree at sunsetPine tree at sunset

A Pine tree at sunset – (Film is on the left, click for larger versions) – The color rendering is different, I think digital might win this one.  Different film would give different results.

In the gardenIn the garden In the garden (Film is on the top, click for larger versions) – The Caladium leaves were in the sun and the B&W film seems to have handled the highlights better.  The subject isolation in the film version is better here too.

So, can I draw any interesting conclusions from this exercise?

  • Buyer beware – 50 and 60-year-old mechanical devices may not work like new.
  • There are no  new parts for most old cameras and few people know how to work on   them.  Unless you’re willing to go to a lot of trouble / cost, they are what they are when you get them.
  • You can buy a film camera with a warranty (KEH.com does this).  It would be less frustrating.
  • Film holds up pretty well (at least at web resolutions).  I scanned these frames in with a desktop scanner and I could get better quality (at greater cost) with a professional drum scanner.  Anyway, I think current digital cameras beat film hands down for convenience and quality.
  • The “film” look can be pretty nice.  I think the film portrait of MK came out better than the digital version.  This is mostly due to the Sonar lens and 35mm film size.
  • Film cameras can be frustrating, but they are fun to play around with.  And film and old lenses definitely render scenes differently than digital cameras.
  • For me, film is definitely a hobby as opposed to something I would use all the time for my photography.
  • But film is enjoyable to play with. This Contax is usable if I’m careful and I might take it out and load it up from time to time.  It reminds me of the rangefinder that my father gave me as my first camera.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

*Cinderella photography:  “Someday your prints will come”.

Sunrise and Terns

Tom M. and I went over to Cocoa Beach last week. Jim B. told us about some Least Terns nesting on a hotel rooftop there, and we wanted to take a look.

I got up at o-dark-thirty and met Tom to drive over.  Our reward was a gorgeous morning!

Seeing the sun rise above the sea soothed her soulSeeing the sun rise above the sea soothed her soul

I don’t know the woman in this photo.  She was enjoying the sunrise too, and I was grateful for her contribution to my composition.

When the sunrise show was over, we headed south on SR A1A to find the Terns.  They were right where Jim said they would be.  We knew we were in the right place when we noticed all the guano in the parking lot and on the cars.

The birds were flying off the roof in small groups with an occasional eruption of what seemed like the entire colony.  At times there must’ve been over a hundred in the air.

Least Tern in flightLeast Tern in flight

They’re small (8 or 9 inches long) and fast and erratic flyers.  To get a photo, you’ll need a long lens, good technique, and / or persistence and some good luck.  I used my Nikon D-800 with the Tamron 150 – 600mm lens.  Even with such a long lens, I had to crop these two  images pretty heavily.  The main issues I had were trying to follow the birds in such a magnified field of view – and hoping that the focus on my camera could keep up.

Getting consistent results is difficult.  I took many photos and got few keepers. Tracking something so small, fast, and erratic with a long telephoto lens takes some practice!

Least Tern in flight with minnowLeast Tern in flight with minnow

Cocoa and the surrounding area is a very photogenic place.  You can see other photos I’ve made  there in this set on Flickr.  And you can also read Jim’s blog post about the Terns at this link:  http://jbophoto.com/least-terns-2/ (sorry – no longer available).  Thanks Jim!

And thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lobster Roll Stroll

Mary Kate had a craving for Lobster Rolls last Saturday and her favorite place to get them is at Cafe Heavenly (http://www.cafeheavenly.com) in New Smyrna Beach.   Lynn and I like the place too, so we drove over with her.

After lunch the girls wanted to window shop.  Me – not so much.  We set a time to meet, I left them to it, and set out to walk up and down Flagler Avenue.  With my camera, of course.

Harley Ladies on Flagler Ave.Harley Ladies on Flagler Avenue.

 It’s an interesting place.  There are all sorts of people, shops, places to eat and drink, and even a few hotels and B&Bs.

No VacancyNo Vacancy – Fortunately we didn’t need a place to stay.

Our weather here in Central Florida is turning summer like.  After about 45 minutes I was getting hot and thirsty.  I saw this, and agreed completely:

Polly wants a cocktailPolly wants a cocktail – I was getting pretty thirsty.

Oh yeah, about that Lobster Roll – they are delicious!

Cafe Heavenly Lobster Roll
Cafe Heavenly Lobster Roll – photo by Lynn Rosack, used with permission.

I enjoyed the food and the stroll.  You can see a few more photos from the area in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands – 11/20/15

I slept in a bit Friday.  Instead of getting up for sunrise, I met Kevin M. at 7am to go to Viera Wetlands.  I know, I know – missing dawn is for photo wimps.  Well, don’t do as I do – do as I say!  Get up for sunrise!

On the way, we stopped by the boat ramp at SR 520 and the St. Johns River for a few minutes.  Water Lily photos are a bit cliché, but I like how the tear in the leaf only shows in the reflection.

Reflection ImperfectionReflection Imperfection

This is a popular place to launch boats.  I caught this one coming back into the ramp and liked the way the wake patterns look.

A boat on the St. Johns RiverA boat on the St. Johns River

There were a few herons along the boardwalk and a great many Swallows – which I have trouble photographing.  They seem to almost always be in the air and change directions before I can track them.  My Tamron 150-600mm lens was also acting up.  For some reason,  it has an intermittent focusing issue.  After I use it a while, the focus seems to slow and then stop.  Usually I can turn the camera off and back on and it will work again, but yesterday that didn’t help.  I did some research on-line when I got home and many folks are complaining about this.  Two of my friends have this lens and theirs sometimes do it too.  I cleaned the contacts on the lens and camera  – maybe that will fix it.  If not, Tamron has a 6 year USA warranty.

When we got to Viera Wetlands, the road was closed (lots of rain lately), so we got to walk the circuit around the nearest ponds. There are very few ducks so far.  But there were lots of Wrens, Terns, herons,and egrets.  We also had a Black Crowned Night Heron, an Osprey fishing, an American Eagle fly over, a Caracarra, a Harrier, and a Belted Kingfisher – all in the distance.  I missed getting a photo of the eagle because I was fooling around with my phone.  Again, don’t do as I do – do as I say!  Quit messing with your phone!

Forster's Tern in flightForster’s Tern in flight – and example of when my Tamron would focus

Kevin spots things all the time that I don’t notice.  He discovered an American Bittern back in the reeds.  They have very effective camouflage.  It took me several minutes to find it – even with him telling me where it was.

Flower and flyFlower and fly – Another flight shot

The Click ponds have been closed for a while.  They’re open now but almost empty of birds.  Maybe next time.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Vacation!

Lynn and I returned yesterday from our longest vacation in a while, to New Jersey and Virginia. We enjoyed riding the Amtrak Autotrain from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia and back –  something we last did about 25 years ago.  We highly recommend it for travel up and down the south-east coast.

Sanford Auto TrainSanford Auto Train

In Newton, NJ, we attended the International Congress of Iron Collectors, and the Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors convention.  After that we drove to  Shenandoah National Park in VA and stayed for 5 wonderful days.

I was the “semi-official” photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing all the activities, displays and people.  And Lynn photographed too, especially when I wasn’t around.

Something that you might not know:  Lynn is the author of two books on trivet collecting:  The A-Z Guide to Collecting Trivets, Identification and Value Guide and The Expanded A to Z Guide to Collecting Trivets – Identification and Values (read more about them on her blog), and I made the photographs for her books.  Which, by the way, is an excellent justification for camera and lens purchases.  😉

Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors business meeting
Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors business meeting

Lynn and I have a lot of work left to finish going through the photos from the conventions and distributing them to people. I also have a lot of work to finish going through photos from Shenandoah, so I’ll try to write about that next time.

I didn’t do a lot of photography outside of the conventions in New Jersey, but there was a nice red barn next to the fair grounds where the meetings took place and I made this photo one day when I had a few minutes off.

Barn WindowNew Jersey Barn Window

I like the peeling paint texture and the reflections in the surviving window panes.

More to follow…

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands – 8/28/15

Kevin M. organized a trip to Viera Wetlands on Friday and Kevin K., and I went along.  We were at the small park across from the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp where SR 520 crosses the St. Johns River about 45 minutes before sunrise.   It was very dark – making focusing difficult  and exposures long.  It was also very calm, and I thought the reflections in the water were lovely.

Before SunriseBefore Sunrise – Two frame panorama, 24mm, f/8, 30 seconds at ISO 160

Kevin M. noticed a puddle in the parking lot and we spent several minutes using it to frame the sunrise.  You should check out Kevin K’s version of this here on Flickr.

Hey Ed - sunrise is over here!“Hey Ed – sunrise is over here!” – Kevin K. helping me figure out which way is east.  Isn’t it amazing how level he’s holding that leg of his tripod?

At Viera Wetlands,  the rangers closed the roads because of all the rain we’ve had, so we walked around the cell closest to the entrance.  It was quieter than the last few times I’ve been there, but we still saw many of the usual Florida avians.  This Turkey Vulture was posing in good light on one of the observation platforms.

Why don't I ever see Eagles posing like this?Why don’t I ever see Eagles posing like this?

It’s still plenty hot here in Florida, but the days are getting shorter.  We can look forward to  cooler weather soon along with the arrival of migrants and winter visitors to make the birding even more interesting.

We’ve posted many more photos from this trip on Flickr.  You can see Kevin K’s photos  hereKevin M’s photos here, and mine are in this album.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Brevard Zoo

I’ve heard nice things about the Brevard Zoo and I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.  It’s just a coincidence that my first visit was this week – at the same time that TripAdvisor named it one of the nation’s best.

It’s a smaller zoo than either the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa or the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, but it’s laid out nicely and the animals seem happy.  Especially the Meerkats.

Muddy Meerkat says "Cheese"Muddy Meerkat says “Cheese”

Meerkats make wonderful subjects and these were active – digging burrows and keeping watch.  This one even looked like it was trying to smile for my camera.  I was able to frame this photo over the glass against a nice background.

One of the things mentioned by TripAdvisor is how friendly their staff is.  We saw that too.  A deer kept following this zookeeper around the enclosure and bumping into her.  After she bent down and hugged it, the deer left her alone and wandered off for a while.  The animals do seem well cared for.

Animal CareAnimal Care

Like at every zoo, I was somewhat conflicted.  A few of the animals act a little too “caged”.  The big cats for instance seem either restless or a little melancholy.  Watching them can make me feel a bit low too.  This Jaguar was resting in the shade and watching the watchers.

JaguarJaguar

By the way, I knew that Jaguars once lived from Brazil up to much of the Southwest United States.  I didn’t realize that they’ve been sighted as recently as 2013 in Arizona.

Brevard Zoo is very nice.  One of the best smaller zoos I’ve ever been too.  They have some unique attractions too – like a guided kayak tour around their African exhibit.  If you like zoos or want to practice your animal photography, it’s a great place to visit.

You can see a few more of my photos here.  For some hints on zoo photography, you can look at prior blog posts herehere, and here.  And the Firefall Photography Blog has a write-up about the Brevard zoo with some good info and photos – well worth a look.

The zoo is in Melbourne, Florida at 8225 N. Wickham Road (Phone: 321-254-9453).  It’s not too far from Viera Wetlands, so check that out too if you get down there.  Admission is $15 for adults and the hours are 9:30 to 5.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Contemplating Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier was an enigmatic nanny and an extremely prolific street photographer who passed away in 2009.  She’s the subject of the film Finding Vivian Maier.  Lynn, Mary and I saw it when it played recently in Orlando.  I enjoyed the movie and  recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re interested in photography.

If you haven’t followed her story, you can easily catch up by googling her name or clicking on her website (first link above).  It’s worth your time.

What I find fascinating is that while she made over 100,000 photographs, she was completely unknown before they were discovered in an abandoned storage locker in 2007.  And her photos are very good.  She captured street scenes in Chicago and other places that show us what life was like.  She was obviously passionate about photography.  But –  she apparently had no interest in sharing her work.  There were even 2000 rolls of film that she never developed.

Brooks Jenson (publisher of Lenswork Magazine) has a podcast that I listen to.  In one of them, he talks about why we photographers are so passionate about what we do.  For him, photography is a way to explore life.  I like that idea.  It seems Vivian Maier was exploring life around her with her photography too.  He goes on to say that there are two sides to photography:  The observation / capture side, and the publication / sharing side.  Brooks says you can’t have one without the other.  I think that’s right for most people.  They want to share something they’ve seen with others.  Something that they see differently or that others may pass by.

Street photography isn’t my forte, but I suppose we need at least one photo for this post. Vivian Maier would sometimes include herself in her photos.  So here’s my attempt.

Waiting at the corner of Venice and NokomisWaiting at the corner of Venice and Nokomis – I was playing with my camera while the ladies shopped.  Vivian Meir’s version of this would be in Black and White, and probably use a vertical 4×5 format.  It also might include a reflection of her, not me.

I find Vivian Maier’s story compelling.  She did the observation / capture side of photography without the publication / sharing side.  Until recently her photography was incomplete since no one had seen it.  After she’s gone, her work is finally being shared and we’re seeing some of what she observed.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos – and share them!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

One way to improve your photography

If you want to get better at photography, you can find a lot of free advice on the inter webs.  Buy a new camera or lens, use new software, travel to an exotic location, take a workshop or a course, read books, study the masters, etc.

My free advice isn’t any of the above and it won’t cost you as much money as some of those things will.  And I don’t see it come up very often on-line.  Take my advice and not only will you learn new things – you’ll be exposed to different genres of photography, and you’ll be able to practice what you’ve been exposed to.  What’s the secret?

Join your local camera club.

The weather’s been gloomy around Central Florida recently.  solid grey clouds, rain and drizzle, and not much light to make photographs with.  So I was happy that there was a Still Life Event at the Orlando Camera Club meeting last Monday.  They brought in interesting items to photograph and had tables, lighting, and backdrops to use for set up.  I brought a camera, tripod and flash (although with my tripod, I ended up not needing the flash).  It was a lot of fun to choose items and arrange compositions.  It’s something I don’t usually do – but that’s a good thing.  Here are three photos from that evening.

TelephoneTelephone

Keb Mo bluesKeb Mo blues – Playing around with compositing: I made the foreground shot of the guitar & Blues sign at the Still Life event.  I added the background photo of Keb Mo that I made at his concert in the Plaza Theater in Orlando on Feb. 1 2012. 

Wrench, bolt, and lockWrench, bolt, and lock

I belong to the Orlando Camera Club (http://orlandocameraclub.com).  I’ve also attended meetings at the Port Orange Camera Club and the Oviedo Photo Club.  Membership in any of these will benefit your photography.  Some things most clubs offer:

  • Photo competitions in different genres with feedback
  • Events (like the still life one I went to)
  • Guest speakers on many related topics
  • Workshops (free or inexpensive) about many subjects
  • Field trips to local photo ops
  • Libraries of photo books that you can borrow for free
  • And other people with similar (and diverse) interests to share your passion with

I’m sure that wherever you are, there’s a camera club that you can join too.

Here’s one other post I’ve written on still life photography, and you can see some of my other still life photographs in this set on Flickr


Update on the blog hosting change:  It does look like the transition’s been successful.  The email subscriptions seemed to go out ok last week and I haven’t received any problem reports.  One issue I’m aware of is that the move appears to have broken RSS subscriptions.  So If you’ve come here directly to find out why your Central Florida Photo Ops RSS feed isn’t working – I’m sorry.  I don’t think I can do anything about it.  You’ll have to re-subscribe.


And finally, I’m sure you heard that Leonard Nimoy passed away on Friday and will be buried today.  Of course I didn’t know him, but I felt I knew his famous Mr. Spock character that saved the day (and even the universe) so many times over the years.  May he rest in peace.


Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos! And live long and prosper.

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

James Taylor at the Amway

Lynn and I went to see James Taylor last Tuesday.  He played at the arena downtown and the place was packed.  I guess there’s still a lot of us old timers that like his music (and can still hear).  He played a lot of his hits and a few newer songs too.

James Taylor and his All Star Band
James Taylor and his All Star Band – In concert at the Amway in Orlando, Florida. November 18th, 2014.  (ISO 800, f2.8 @ 1/80 sec., 70mm eq.)

Like any large sports type arena, the acoustics and sound mix weren’t the best, and the prices for this type of entertainment (along with parking and popcorn) are very high.  But it was a very good show and we both enjoyed ourselves.

Photographically, this is a very tough assignment.  Unless you have a stage or press pass, your camera gear and access will be limited.  For these events, the Amway has a very restrictive camera policy:  Your camera has to “fit in your pocket”.  Even though we had good seats, we were still pretty far from the stage.  My Sony point-and-shoot camera does fit in my pocket and I thought the photo above was worth keeping.  But I still wish the lens was longer than 24-70mm equivalent.

Back when I was in the Navy, I had to go to sea for months at a time and leave Lynn behind in Charleston, South Carolina. We missed each other terribly.  One of my favorite songs from then was James Taylor’s  “Carolina in my mind”. It was wonderful to hear him play it live – with Lynn in the seat right beside me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.