Every now and then I get reminded of the passage of time. I recently ran across these old slides of flowers in my mother’s garden that I shot as a 15 year old in the summer of 1977. I had just gotten my first SLR, my Yashica TL-Electro (which I still have!) a few months prior. This was my first time shooting colour slide film, some private label pre-rolled Ektachrome. The lens was the Yashinon 50mm f1.9, using extension tubes for close focus.
Today, one of the film images from the session with Jennifer this past Saturday. This shoot marked the first time I used a recently acquired Helios 44/2 lens (58mm, f2). This lens is a Soviet Russian era copy of a Carl Zeiss Biotar, and has quite a cult following in certain circles. The fact that its focal length is slightly longer than normal for a “normal” lens makes it great for portrait work. In this shoot I had it mounted on my Yashica TL-Electro. The lighting was not bright, so I was shooting wide open at 1/60th of a second, on Ilford HP5+, pushed to E.I. 800. I like the gritty, documentary look I got: it is a good match for Jennifer’s intense expression. She is a master at bringing emotion into a shoot!
Today’s image was created using my Yashica TL-Electro: my very first 35mm SLR camera, purchased in 1977 when I was fifteen. It has sat idle for almost 20 years until I recently decided to pick it up and see if it still worked. (It did, once I sourced non-mercury batteries). The image was taken inside the Eaton Centre is downtown Toronto of a man who appeared to be watching and waiting. In fact, the somewhat melancholy mood of the photo reminds me of the Moody Blues song Watching and Waiting.
(Yashica TL-Electro, 135mm/3.5 Pentax Super Takumar lens, Ilford Delta 400 film developed in TMax developer)
The payphone is an example of a technology that is becoming less and less relevant, as personal cell phones become ubiquitous, and so I believe a picture of a dilapidated payphone was a perfect subject for the camera used to take the picture. I shot this with a Yashica 44LM 127 format twin lens reflex camera. 127 format film (with negatives typically 4 cm x 4 cm) is effectively obsolete and thus rather uncommon these days, and quite expensive, so what I do is roll it from a 100 foot roll of 46mm wide film I bought on eBay. I am still working on scanning; getting this film to lie flat is a real trick. Nevertheless, it is a fun little camera, and I plan to shoot it as long as I can!
I took this picture last Saturday in Bluffers Park, Toronto. I shot it with a Yashica FX-D 35mm SLR. I got this camera on eBay, and because part of the exterior was in really rough shape, I got it for a song, not much more than the cost of a couple of disposable cameras. It is in good working order however. The film I used was Polypan F. I got some rolls of this film from my friend Mike in exchange for a developing tank, as detailed in this post. I then went online and bought 90 metres of this film (almost the length of a football field!) in bulk so I can roll it myself, for about $40 after shipping. And since I develop my own, I save there too.
Who says film photography has to be expensive?
As I write this, my father has passed away, and it is a time for reflection. Among the many debts of gratitude I owe my father, one I am thinking about this morning is how he instilled in me his love of photography.
In 1975 I bought a Brownie Hawkeye camera at a garage sale for $1.50. As a gift, he bought me rolls of film (the now discontinued 620 format) some flashbulbs (not cheap!! we have it easy in the strobe era) and processing. Some time later, he let me use his Voigtlander Vito B camera. This camera pictured below (not my father’s, just a representative sample) is a beautiful precision instrument.
In 1977, when I was 15 he made it possible for me to buy my first SLR, my Yashica TL-Electro, which I still have. I used that camera for many. many years; the last roll of film I shot with my Yashica was of my eldest daughter, when she was born. Both cameras are “retired” but have places of honour in my collection of cameras.
The bulk of what I do know about photography was learned on these two cameras, so every time I snap a shutter in a sense I am paying tribute to my father.
Today’s image is from the summer of 1977, and I again go back to my grandparent’s acreage outside Truro, Nova Scotia. This old see-saw, like everything else there, is long gone. Only the silver in the negative seems to be immortal.
I don’t remember if I ever printed this negative back in the 70’s, and certainly never looked at it all that closely. What amazes me is the sharpness of most of the image. My old Yashica TL-Electro was very much a budget model, a few rungs below the Nikon, Canon and Pentax classics of the day. But the 50mm f1.9 lens that came with the camera had a reputation for amazing sharpness, and that reputation was deserved.