Dig a Pony

pavilion

Another Keeble and Shuchat $5 box find I came across in December was a Kodak Pony 135 Model C. This camera is from the mid-late 1950s and is mostly exciting because it’s red-brown bakelite. Camera itself is in excellent condition and everything seems to be working as well as could be. I can even get 27 frames out of a 24-exposure roll.

mid-century bakelite

It’s in the middle of the photo (next to the black, much more common, Brownie Hawkeye Flash). One of these days I’ll take proper gear-porn photos. Shootingwise, it’s pretty fun. Scale and guestimating focus is kind of tough on cloudy winter days. It will be a lot easier to work with in the summer. This guy is also just asking for some Plus-X to get run through it rather than the crappy Max 800 I used as a test roll.

lot
ramp
santanarow3

Multiple exposures are another fun thing to play with. Since this camera is a really simple design where the film-advance, shutter-cocking, and frame counter are all operated independently, multiple-exposures are ridiculously simple to do.

double1
double2
All in all, this find looks like something I’ll continue to shoot. Although it will also most likely be confined to summer-camera duty unless I feel a special urge to make horrible puns about shooting my pony.

Kodak Retina I

racks

Toward the end of December, I picked up a Kodak Retina I in the famous Keeble and Shuchat $5 bargain box. Internet research suggests it’s type 141 (has a Kodak Anastigmat Ektar 5cm f/3.5 lens) and dates to between 1937 and 1939. Camera condition seemed kind of gummy (and T and B speeds are busted) but I just can’t pass up something that looks like this.

they don't make 'em like they used to

At the very least, I have a nice-looking museum piece. But since this takes 35mm film, I had to try it out—that includes a shadow self portrait since I try and take one of these with every test roll.

nick
double
overcast

Conclusions? Probably not a good winter camera as it seems more likely to jam up when the it’s cold. I’m a bit curious how it will look with better film (this is expired Kodak Max 800) but I don’t really expect to be using this all that much. The Retina IIa is quite similar and much nicer to use.

Big Yellow Taxi

five

It took a couple trips to the Central Valley for me to finally articulate why something has been catching my eye. Watching the farmland roll by while I stared out the window (that I got to be a passenger for the first time in years undoubtedly helped here), I realized that it’s not the repeated forms that have been drawing my attention but rather the actual domesticated plant life that I find interesting.

As a native of the Santa Clara Valley, I’m old enough to remember orchards along El Camino Real and greenhouses along Central Expressway. Neither of those exist anymore. We have different trees planted in the same kinds of patterns now.

four trees

lot

days end

misty lot

New Year’s Resolutions

A year ago, I really made only one New Year’s resolution—namely, to shoot a roll of film a month. I’d “rediscovered” film in 2009 after having transitioned to digital in mid-2007. While I ended up shooting 14 rolls of film that year, about six of them were test rolls caused by my acquisition of four cameras and lenses* which I needed to test due to their uncertain origin and nature.

*A Nikon FG, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 E lens to be paired with the FG, two Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flashes, and a Kodak Duaflex II.

I enjoyed shooting film again and I really enjoyed the digital darkroom. But I became a father in September, I felt uncertain how much I would be able to continue shooting film the following year. Hence the resolution to shoot a roll per month.

The good news is that I shot 24 rolls this year. The bad news is that there were still some months which I didn’t shoot any rolls. And I acquired an additional 4 cameras* which meant that I shot another half-dozen or so test rolls.

*A Yashicamat 124G, two Kodak Retinas (a I and a IIa), and a Kodak Pony 135 C—I’d curse the Keeble $5 box if I weren’t enjoying it so much.

As a result, my rolls-per-camera average (only for those cameras I used) this year is really ~3.4 since I needed seven cameras to go through the two dozen rolls I used. While this is better than my 2.8 average from 2009, it still means that I’m spending too much time flitting between gear and not enough time getting to know it (I’ve also used eleven different kinds of film*).

*Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max 400, Kodak T-Max 100, Kodak Ultramax 400, Kodak Max 800 (don’t ask), Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Portra 160VC, Kodak Portra 400NC, Fuji Pro 160S, Fuji Pro 400H, and Ilford XP2 Pro—I’d curse the Keeble expired film shelf if I weren’t enjoying it so much.

So my resolution for 2011: simplify things down, shoot more of the same film/cameras more often, and maintain the two rolls per month pace. Combinations I know I should continue to shoot a lot of:

stumps
Tri-X 400 in the Nikomat FTn

Stan's Donuts
T-Max 400 in the Yashicamat 124G

Mission Santa Clara
T-Max 100 in the Brownie Hawkeye Flash

I still need to figure out how I’ll be using the Retina IIa. And I still need to see how the test roll from the Pony 135C turns out. But I should be down to five cameras this year. And I should have a better idea how to use all of them…