Lensbaby Affair

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It’s been many years since I bought my first Lensbaby lens. I had the Control Freak and then the first Composer. I always had a bit of trouble with the focus, but did enjoy using the lenses and optics. It was quirky and it was fun. But then something happened, I went back to film photography. My Lensbaby lenses were put away along with my Canon 5DMkII. Soon I was carrying a Hasselblad 500Cm and pinhole cameras most of the time. My digital world was collecting dust.

Move forward about 8 years. I felt it was time to start cleaning out and maybe selling some gear I don’t use any more. When I got to my Lensbaby drawer I pulled everything out and thought “I should use these again or sell them”. By now my go-to digital camera was a Sony a6500 as I was tired of the bulk and weight of my full frame camera and lenses. I had taken my complete Canon set up, two pinhole cameras, my Hasselblad with lenses and a Holga to England in 2011. I had signed up for a one-on-one photography workshop in Wales. All my gear was in a huge back pack. I swore if I leaned over too far that I would fall over from the weight and never get up. ‘Minding the Gap’ with all that weight on me was a challenge. My workshop leader, who was great by the way, offered to carry my bag. I assumed we were about the same age. I told him that if I was silly enough to bring all the gear then I had to carry it too. My one day workshop turned into two and it was a great time.

During that trip I took my Hasselblad to Lacock Abbey where Henry Fox Talbot came up with the invention on how to ‘fix’ a photo. It was the first negative, paper, but still it could be reproduced. I walked around the Abbey with my Hasselblad taking photos from the same spots he did and then came home and printed using his salt-paper technique. I was in love with film and medium format. That became my main focus of photography since that time.

After deciding to sell my Lensbaby lenses I thought I should first check out their website. I was hooked on film, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a peek. I had not looked at it in years. Well, that decided it. I was not only keeping my old Lensbaby gear I was going to add to it. I started with a Velvet 85. Then the following week it was a Composer pro II with Edge 50. I walked round the neighborhood and our nature park…..I was hooked. I became obsessed. My interest in digital photography was renewed. I have since added a few more Lensbaby lenses to my bag and with the new Burnside 35 being launched this past week….who knows.  One of my favorites is the Trio because it has three optics: Sweet, Twist and Velvet all in 28mm.

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I will never give up my film photography…never. But I love having the option of digital but with a twist(no pun intended). I was tired of seeing so many people post over-saturated and over photoshopped digital images on Flickr. I am more of a ‘out of the camera’ person. I don’t want to spend hours in front of a computer doing edits. I want to be out making images. Lensbaby lets me do that.

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I have found the people working at Lensbaby, here in Portland where I live, to be most helpful. They answer emails quickly and helped me decide which lens would be good for my type of work. I have been buying directly from them. They will ship, but I’ve just gone to their headquarters and if I call ahead my lens is waiting for me when I get there.

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On the Lensbaby website you will find many tutorials and a gallery of images using the lenses. There are also a couple of Facebook pages dedicated to their lenses: Lensbaby Unplugged and Lensbaby Artistry. Take a look.

I will post more photos as I become more comfortable with using the lenses and optics. It’s going to be a fun year.

(all photos were straight out of the camera. taken with a Sony a6500)

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spending time in alleys

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is coming up fast. It’s the last weekend in April and this year one of the cities hosting the event is Norwich, England. Our host is asking each of us, if we want, to submit 5 pinhole images to be considered for a show during the month leading up to WPPD. There is one catch, all the photos must be taken within 10 miles of our homes.

The problem is that most of my pinhole work is made far from home as my husband and I drive down backroads over our State of Oregon. So I looked at a map and drew a circle with my city in the middle and then went out 10 miles in all directions. Now I know just how far afield I can travel to look for images. I can’t go to Mt Hood or the beach so have to put my thinking cap on.

This project has certainly stretched me and I guess that’s a good thing. Yesterday I spent most of the day walking down back alleys in Newberg, Oregon. The one building I really wanted to photograph had been demolished. That is the American way. Don’t refurbish, remodel or reuse…..just tear it down. Other alleys had been spruced up and painted so I couldn’t get the grubbiness I wanted. Keep walking.

I am not saying that I am submitting any of these images, but I did find some junk suitable for my pinhole camera. I made more than 20 4x5s. These are the first ones that I developed and scanned.

Antique store alley

While I was making this pinhole the owner of next door asked what I was doing. She was surprised I wanted to make images of junk. 16 second exposure

Smokehouse

This was taken behind a smokehouse restaurant. The person doing the smoking didn’t want to be in the image. darn. 23 second exposure

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Dumpster, junk and a door. 16 second exposure

Alley double exposure

I decided to try a double exposure but the ‘USA Today’ didn’t show up the way I was hoping. Still, it’s good junk. 13 + 5 more seconds for the double

carts

Bubbles, who collects grocery carts in theTV series “Trailer Park Boys”, would have loved this find. Found these down another alley. 16 second exposure

(all these photos were made on an Ilford Titan 4×5 pinhole camera with Ilford 400 film with varying exposure times all over 10 seconds)

More photos to follow after more hours spent in the darkroom and a few more hours scanning the film on an Epson V850. Happy junk hunting.

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On a rainy day

The rain is pouring down in Portland. I can hear it pounding on my windows. The wind causes tree limbs to brush the side of the house. Might as well get up even though it is only 4:00 a.m. It is a common occurrence in my life. I’m a very light sleeper. What to do with the extra time?

I decided to go through some old pinhole photos as I am looking for images I have made that are within 10 miles of my home to submit for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day that I am attending in Norwich, England. I’m excited as I have a distant relative buried in one of the churchyards. Hope I can find him……he was the mayor in the 1600’s.

While I was searching old files I realized several things when I use my pinhole camera:

  1. I take a lot of pinhole images in coffee shops and restaurants
  2. I take a lot of pinhole images of roadside crap
  3. I have very very few pinhole images within 10 miles of home except those I have taken in my house
  4. I must get out and find interesting photo ops near my home

But it’s raining. It’s not a drizzle. It’s a downpour. So thought I’d start posting some of these images I have re-dsicovered. There are so many I will need to share them in parts. Here is Part I:

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Kenny and Zukes, SW Portland

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Fullers, NW 9th and Davis. I’ve been eating here since the mid 70’s

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Pelican Pub, Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon coast

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Fireside Room for clam chowder, Cannon beach Oregon. not my favorite clam chowder

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always room for ice cream, Pearl District, NW Portland

I actually don’t eat in restaurants very often especially now that I have gone vegetarian, but when I do I almost always make a pinhole image. I don’t do it just for the photos but also because the long exposures make me slow down and enjoy the food. Restaurant exposures can vary from a couple of minutes to 45 minutes, as in the Pelican Pub restaurant. Often people stop at my table to ask what I’m doing and when they learn I am exposing a photo they usually jump out of the way. I try to explain the ‘long exposure phenomenon’ and as you can see no person shows up at my table in these images.

The rain hasn’t stopped so now it’s time to make some portraits at home with one of my 4×5 cameras. Rain doesn’t stop those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest. Nor does lack of sleep it seems.

(my restaurant pinhole cameras of choice are : Zero Image, Ondu, Reality So Subtle and Innova. These were all made with Kodak Ektar 100 and scanned on an Epson V700)

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4×5 pinhole work

Spent my weekend making some 4 x 5 images with my Titan Pinhole camera.

My constraints included making photos within 10 miles of my home. Typically when I am out and about making photos I travel much further away from home. So this was a chance to stretch my horizons to closer to home.

The oak tree is in a natural area just steps from my front door. I liked the old tree with the newer cell tower in the background:

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Graham Oaks tree and me. 6 second exposure.

The Boone Bridge is named after that Boone, Daniel Boone’s family:

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The Boone Railroad bridge over the Willamette River. 7 second exposure

There are several of these abandoned electric buildings up and down the railroad lines in Oregon:

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Donald Electrical co-op building 7 second exposure

I continue to add to my series “empty tables and chairs”:

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empty chairs in Donald, Oregon 20 second exposure

walked down to this lake near Mt St helens in Washington:

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Coldwater lake in Washington 8 second exposure

(all these photos were taken with a Titan 4×5 pinhole camera using various Ilford films)

Now time to get back into the darkroom to develop more sheets of film.

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When it goes wrong

When it goes wrong you might as well really go for it. I call it a learning experience. I have not owned my Leica MP very long. I’ve only put three rolls of film through it. I have many cameras. So sometimes it is easy to forget how to unload and load the film. Each camera has its unique ways to do things.

So after two days of shooting up near Mt St Helens in Washington, I was crushed to find out I opened the back of my camera before all the film was rolled back into the canister. If you shoot film you know the sinking feeling that gives you. I wanted to cry.

I quickly closed the back and rewound the rest of the film. Two days of shooting down the drain. The weather had been perfect too. It might be Spring before we dry out again.

To make matters worse, I like to unload my film in low light or no light. So I went into my guest bathroom which has two doors so that I can have complete darkness. I unplugged the automatic nightlight. So after I closed the back of my camera I noticed a light leak coming in around the second door. What? I unplugged it. Right, but it seems it kept flashing even though it wasn’t plugged in. I am doomed. Note to self: take night light out of the bathroom.

Still took in the film to have developed and much to my surprise I only lost about 10 frames. This is what you get when you open the back of the camera when you shouldn’t have……..

These were the last two frames I shot so they are the worst:Oregon_Leica295

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Mt St Helens, Washington

Not as bad as I got past the first few frames:

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Sorry, but I could not be bothered to crop, edit or correct any of these.

(all taken with a Leica MP and Kodak Portra 400 film)

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abandoned

Not sure why I am attracted to making images of abandoned buildings. It seems whenever we hit the backroads of Oregon we come across these relics. I always wonder who lived there, how old is the place and why was it abandoned. On our way home from Salem we decided to stay off the Interstate 5 and drive the back way home. Glad we did, because we stumbled onto this old house.

welcome

welcome

stairs to nowhere

I’d love to have that door

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needs a little electrical work

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back screen door without the screen

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hearth and home

(all photos were taken with a Leica MP and Kodak Portraits 400. Only my third roll through this camera)

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Libraries

I enjoy libraries. I like to make pinhole images in libraries. A few weeks ago I was in Seattle and visited the Seattle Central Library. It’s a very modern building with lots of glass and architectural features. I made a few pinhole images. All were at least 10 minute long exposures. The one of the book stacks was hand-held because my Gorilla Pod just wouldn’t stay put on the railing. I used Kodak Ektar 100 film in a Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera.

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