Here are a few more shots. Special thanks go out to my son, who was so patient as I took these photographs. He loved seeing this stuff, too, and even helped me choose what to photograph. Thanks, little buddy!
Col. Thomas Card was a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1916-1917. He didn’t finish his degree at WPI, but many years later, partly due to his love and fondness for the school, donated his large camera and photographic equipment collection to it in 1977.
My son and I went to a concert there, as detailed earlier in this blog. On the way back to the car, we found a postcard, featuring the location and times of the display. On our second week of vacation this summer, we had the pleasure of seeing the display. It is sheer nirvana for a vintage camera and film photography buff. Here are a few shots- taken with the Nikon N80, with a 50mm f/1.8D, wide open at f/1.8, no flash, and shot with TriX 400 at box speed, and developed in HC-110. Thrilled with the results. The display runs through September 14th. If you are in the area, make sure you visit WPI. Cannot recommend this exhibit enough-
I basically obtained this lens a couple of years ago as a “throw in” when I purchased the Nikon F3HP system. It was undoubtedly the best throw in I have ever received, Sharp, contrasty, and with excellent flare control, the Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Ai is a beautiful telephoto lens, well suited for action, and portraiture. Maybe my only complaint is that it is, of course, just a tad “slower’ than the 105 f/2.5, which I also have in my kit. But, it would have to have been much larger to be such an aperture. f/2.8 is, after all, about as fast as today’s modern zooms can be built at. And, as this is not a zoom, I am guessing it to be sharper, and with more contrast, than, say, my 70-200mm f/2.8. The coating is amazing. Nikon, of course, was known for great glass, and maybe still is today. But this one really holds up nicely as a true modern-day classic. a nice touch- the slide out built-in lens hood. No plastic on this bad boy- metal all the way. This lens can be found at very reasonable prices out on the used market. The following shots, from the Johnsonia Benefit Concert in Fitchburg earlier this month, were all taken with the 135.
As I recently began a new job, I still managed to cram in 2 weeks of vacation with my son this summer. In the States, those of us still working struggle to take 2 weeks a year, leaving Europeans rightfully laughing at us, and American industry, or what is left of it. Anyways, long story short, that is why I have not blogged much in the past week. Nice to be back.
Another reason for not blogging- I fired up an old friend, the Nikon F3HP. The F3 was introduced in 1980. This incredibly well-built tank of a 35mm SLR was one of the most advanced cameras of its era, boasting Aperture Priority, a 150,000 cycle MTBF titanium shutter, and a LCD light meter. It is the best built camera I have ever used, maybe even more rugged than my Hasselblad 500 CM. The tried and true center weighted metering, which heavily favors the center, almost works like averaging metering. It is usually spot on, and won’t get fooled in heavily backlit situations. It is also a beautiful looking camera. When seen with this camera slung over your shoulder, people know you mean business when it comes to 35mm film.
This camera should weigh a ton. However, the body ergonomics are so advanced, especially for its day, that it feels light and balanced. The MD-4 motor drive fits onto the body like a glove.
Still, though, the camera is not without its quirks and faults. They are more annoyances than anything else, and for the most part, one can live with them:
- Top shutter speed is “only” 1/2000th of a second. Compare this to the next model down in the lineup, the FE-2, which boasted a lightning 1/4000th/sec shutter. Heck, my Hasselblad has a top speed of 1/500th/sec., and the Argus, 1/300th. OK, not so bad.
- The flash sync speed of 1/80th/sec, well, sucks. No fill flash capability, really, Compare this to the FE-2’s 1/250th/sec.
- Speaking of flash, was the mount designed ny a mad engineer out to play a cruel joke on the Nikon consumer? It fits over the left-hand manual rewind/ exposure comp knob, so you have to remove the flash before removing the film. Sure, the interchangeable prisms are amazing, the HP one looking almost like an LCD display. But, really, a shoe on top of it would not have been that bad.
- OK, LCD’s- somehow, the F3 LCD’s seem to last forever, and beat Nikon’s original expectations of 7 to 8 years or so before having to be replaced. Mine is original, and still works perfectly. But, that crazed red button for illuminating the LCD display is pathetic.
The HP (high eyepoint) finder makes for a great eyepiece that you can actually hold away from your eyes, making using the camera with eyeglasses a breeze. I also have the standard finder, which boasts a little more magnification, and takes the F3HP down to a stock F3, if one chooses.
What is the best feature of this camera? Well, it isn’t really in the camera itself, and is an optional accessory- that’s the MD-4 motor drive. Nikon really took motor drives to a new level with this one. It feels perfect to grip, balances the camera so nicely, and can shoot up to 6 FPS with optional rechargeables. And, it has a built-in motor rewind. The camera feels empty without this drive attached. It fits the camera like a glove.
One caveat- never load film, and then attach the MD-4, unless you are doing it in a darkroom. The F3 has a little removable button door on the bottom of the body, which mates to the MD-4. If you do this, and film is loaded, and you put the drive on in the field, you will fog the first frame of film. Same holds true, of course, if you remove the drive mid roll. I bought the camera, the drive, the Speedlight, and 135mm f/2.8 Ai, for a steal at Hunt’s in Manchester, NH. When I brought it home, and dismounted the drive, I was nervous that the button seemed to be missing. Until I found it safely stored in the special compartment inside the battery rack. Nikon thought of everything in this design.
I still believe this is one of the finest manual focus 35mm SLR’s ever built. Nikon was still making them into 2001, well after the F5 was introduced. Compare that to the 6 month lifespans of today’s digital SLR’s. And, believe it or not, Nikon USA still offers parts for the camera, and does indeed do replacements of the LCD panels, if you ever do need to replace it. The display will do crazy things in cold weather, and last winter, I thought I’d need to send it into Nikon. This summer, it has worked perfectly, and the panels are bright and legible.
This is one fantastic film camera.
I shot this last month with my Nikon FE-2, in Aperture Priority, guessing at about f/11. The light meter, to me, seems very prone towards overexposure. However, having shot this at midday, even with 100 speed film, it is likely understandable. Very happy with the amount of shadow detail in the lower right hand corner. As I blogged a few posts ago here, broke that rule, and the vertical landscape one. Once again, at Moore State Park. This sight is begging for a sunrise or sunset shot with the Hasselblad, or the Polaroid. Love it.
This past Saturday, I had the sincere pleasure of attending The Johnsonia Relief Fund Music Festival in Fitchburg, MA. The fire that damaged this beautiful building, which left 60 people from 42 condo units without homes, and several businesses out of work, destroyed most everyone’s personal belongings. While the structure itself is in tact, the fire damage to the upper units, and the water damage to the lower businesses, leaves reconstruction in serious doubt. Meanwhile, those displaced need help. 100% of the proceeds from this concert went to those former residents. The music was fantastic, and the people in great spirits. Here are a few shots, taken with Tri-X, the Nikon H3HP, and the fantastic Nikkor 135mm f/2.8. Developed in HC-110-
I love the history of photography, and consider myself a student of its evolution, and the impact it has had on the world. It represents science, beautiful asthetic, a discipline, and as a way to influence how others view it, and think about it. It can move to tears, joy, and social discourse. Yet, there are many things that can drive a photography amateur, or student, totally crazy. For many years, people in photography have taken up “rules”, for some reason, to assign structure to what really is an art form. “The Rule Of Thirds” is one that has driven me nuts since starting this just a couple of years ago. First off, it assumes a 24x36mm frame, based on compositional theory. “Wait, I shoot medium format, 6×6 square frames”, you say. Ever see someone new to the format position their subject in the lower right part of the frame, leaving most of it with an uninteresting background? You can’t blame people- this is what has been taught, over and over again, in photography, called “rules”- they are, in fact, guidelines. Use them, break them, and don’t be afraid to do so. A subject can be centered in the frame, especially if you are shooting with, say, a Hasselblad. You can always crop in post if you’d like.
Another one- you should shoot only during “the golden hour”- a half hour before or after sunrise or sunset. Come on. I work for a living. And hard for it. Sure, it would be nice to be able to shoot during these times. but, this is 2011. Life moves on, at a breakneck pace. Get out there and shoot, regardless of the time of the day. You’ve got responsibilities, things to do. Work that needs to be done. Sure, you might get some nicer shots outside during these times, but does that mean you should not take the shot? What if you never return to that nice spot you stumbled upon again? Additionally, I live in New England. The light is typically horrible- overly bluish, harsh, and cold looking. It’s usually going to be bad no matter what.
The worst shot is the one you don’t capture. Because someone told you that it isn’t a good time of the day to shoot, or that you should frame your subject a certain way. Here are a few that, while far from my best photographs, were shot at Moore State Park, in midday, with Kodak Plus-X 125, developed in HC-110. There is overexposure, and as you can see, I even took a vertical landscape. What?! Sure, I will go back there again, and even someday, during “the golden hour”. And yes, I may even use that dreaded “Rule of Thirds”. But, these are unique, capturing one moment of time each, that I can never go back to, except through exposed 35mm negatives. Glad I got them.
Starting out in film photography just a couple of years ago, there once was a time when “mistakes” such as this would drive me nuts- the dreaded double exposure. Now, I love when these things happen. Mistakes can make for some cool images. Playing with the controls of the F3HP in the field, here in Ayer, Massachusetts, yielded this fun shot, with Ektar 100. I shot this with one of the best zooms of its era, the Nikkor 28-50 f/3.5 Macro. Its color rendition and contrast are phenomenal. And it blows away the long-held myth that zooms of the early 80’s weren’t that good.
Ayer is a sleepy little town that I used to drive through coming home from college, and heading back to campus after weekends. It has a certain New England charm to it.
PS- that is a bird flying in the middle left part of the back exposure, over the brick building.
Not too much to say about this one. I hate tripods, and try to handhold as much as possible. This was at a slow shutter speed, with my FE-2, and 50 f/1.8 Ai. And, Extar 100. I have no idea what the vertical “wipe” is to the left- maybe a double exposure, or the shutter doing something wacky. I seem to remember the wind priefly sticking before taking the shot. Anyways, this was at beautiful Moore State Park, Paxton, MA. Very pleased with it. Nice change of pace from B&W, too. What better way than with Kodak Ektar.
Recently, it was my pleasure to cruise on The Spirit Of Boston, a ship that takes beautiful, scenic, chartered lunch and dinner cruises in Boston Harbor. To get the most of it, I took the Nikon N80, a fast 50mm, and a couple of rolls of Plus-X. Developed In D-76. Here are a few results-