Edgard, LA : Pink Slim Dress

This is a roll shot in Edgard that I brought in to be developed at the same time as the “lost” film rolls from last spring, but they neglected to include a photo CD even though I asked for one (and more importantly, PAID for one). So I brought the negatives in when I brought in the 35mm that I shot in New Orleans last weekend and asked them to please remember to put them on CD this time.

The Pink Slim Dress, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, is the Superheadz knock-off the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim, an amazing wide-angle plastic camera from the 1980s/1990s with a 22mm lens that has the unfortunate tendency to break if you so much as breathe on it too hard. The Slim line (it comes in a variety of colors) has preserved the wide-angle plastic lens and the fixed everything—aperture f/11, shutter speed 1/125th second, focus about 1 foot to infinity—while giving the user a body that isn’t so fragile. I don’t use it as often as I do some of my other 35mm cameras, but I’m always pleased with the results when I do.

House on Caire Court

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Cemetery

Slave cabins at Evergreen

Slave cabin at Evergreen

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Light leaks: art or accident (or both)?

Wrong-Way Cemetery

This is from a roll that I shot in the Smena 8M and recently had developed. I’ve never known this camera to have light leaks before, but I shot the first half when I went to Rayne (this was taken in the “wrong way” cemetery), and didn’t finish it until I went to Madisonville, a few months later. I suppose it could have gotten jostled at some point. Also, the film shot in this camera has to be removed and wound back into the canister by hand inside of a lightproof bag, due to the fact that the original take-up spool is missing and I had to cannibalize the inside of a film roll. Another possibility is that the bag wasn’t as tight on my wrists as it should have been; however, the second half of the roll was mostly free of light leaks, which points to the former scenario as the more likely culprit.

Anyway, light leaks are one of those things that give digital perfectionists fits and make them prone to dismissing all vintage/toy/plastic camera enthusiasts as hipster dilettantes. They like to point out that the effects of these cameras, if for SOME reason they are desired, can be replicated with Photoshop. To which we reply, where’s the fun in that? Stop being such a control freak and see what happens!

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Blackbird Fly: Our Lady of Lavang & Holt Cemetery

The film camera I took on my most recent NOLA outing was the Blackbird Fly, a plastic 35mm TLR  rangefinder made by Superheadz (they also made my Golden Half). I haven’t used it in a while and I was considering selling it, but thought I should use it one more time before I made up my mind. I remembered it as difficult to use, but I think that’s because when I last used it I didn’t yet have much experience with rangefinders. Since then I’ve used several (and I collect Arguses, which are all rangefinders); my Yashica MG1 is my go-to camera for B&W, and even my Smena 8M is a rangefinder.

The only drawbacks to the Blackbird Fly is that a) it’s difficult to take horizontal photos, instead of using the viewfinder you have to compose your photo through a cut-out in the viewfinder hood, and that’s never a 100% accurate way to frame; and b) you have to really concentrate on getting your subjects level. I remember the first roll I shot looked like I had done it in a rowboat. And unless it’s really overcast or you’re shooting indoors, you need to stick to low-speed film (this is Kodak Ektar 100), because there are only 2 aperture settings to the camera–sunny and cloudy/flash–and both of them are fairly wide, I think F11 and F8. With higher speed film, 400 or even 200, in a camera with a normal range of aperture settings, I usually stop it all the way down to F16 when it’s a sunny day.

Anyway, I think I’ll keep it for now. It’s a little unusual to find a TLR that’s also a rangefinder, and the camera itself is fun to use and even rather cute. And like most rangefinders (except my Yashica, which has an in-viewfinder focus aid that allows you to be really accurate), the fact that you’re never 100% right about the distance from your subjects results in an appealingly soft focus.
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