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Sep 19, 2014

Olympus 35RC: Shooting With a Problem Child

I have this great little camera that has some greatly annoying little problems, but I can work around the little problems because it's a great little camera.

The Olympus 35RC is super compact for a 40+ year old 35mm. It's about the same width and height of my phone. Granted, the lens makes it thicker than my phone but not by much. It has an auto function that adjusts the aperture based on chosen shutter speed and iso setting. It's super easy to slide into my pocket for photo walks. The images are pretty sharp and have a nice feel to them.

But the camera has three problems. One I have figured out a workaround. Another, I'll eventually figure it out. The last may not be fixable.

Problem 1: the metering is off so photos turn out dark. I've figured out how to "fix" this problem. I use 400 speed film but set the camera iso to 100. It works perfectly. While I don't typically set the camera to auto it is nice for when I want to shoot quickly. The camera  does a great job balancing in difficult situations, like bright light/deep shadows (the goose image is a good example).

Problem 2: there is a light leak somewhere but I can't figure out where. I taped the entire back for this roll, every place there was a seam, but the light leak still showed (best seen in the boat image). I really can't figure out where it's coming from, unless it's leaking in around the lens. Next roll I will tape every damn surface that doesn't need to move. I will solve this problem.

Problem 3: the film slips sometimes. It appears the film loses contact with the sprockets causing the film advance window to show I'm on the next frame even though I'm not. You can see it in the double exposure of the bus and fire truck. It's not consistent and I'm really not sure how to fix the problem (or if I can). 

If you find an Olympus 35RC on your next flea market run, buy it. Despite the problems I'm having it's a fun, handy little camera to have around. 






Sep 9, 2014

10 Book Challenge

From Facebook, these are 10(ish) books that influenced my life. I realize, there isn't a single photo book on the list. I'm thinking I should probably have a think about that and create a "10 Photo Book Challenge."

1. The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale...I started reading this when I found Spiegelman's "Raw" comix mag in the late 80s. They teach it in high school, now, thankfully. It should be required reading for every kid in every country...

2. Islands in the Stream ...I read this recently and decided it was beautiful but it was also the most depressing book I've ever read. (While I'm at it, honestly, I should include A Farewell To Arms , The Old Man and The Sea , For Whom the Bell Tolls , A Moveable Feast, and many of the short stories ...oddly, though, not The Sun Also Rises )

3. The Great Gatsby ...since we're now in the lost generation. I managed to avoid reading this in HS and college...I didn’t read it until I was in my 30s, and I think I appreciated far more than I would have earlier in life.

4. Child of God was recommended by a writing teacher sophomore year of college. I fell in love with his ability to paint horrible images and horrible people so poetically. It’s a big reason why I began writing and went into journalism (because writers don’t make money), so it’s probably the most influential book of my life. It wasn't until I read The Road , though, that I realized what a master of writing and reader manipulation McCarthy is...I think he is the best writer I've read.

5. Scarface, I read it as a kid just before Miami Vice began...I felt like I had a much deeper understanding of the show since I understood the term "Columbian necktie." It’s also why I became a cocaine kingpin and ran my own cartel for six hours.

6. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ...I read it the first time in high school. I've reread it half a dozen times. It reminds me that the American way, as unfair as it is, is still far better than the unfairness of mid-century Russia (and every other dictatorship that rules through fear).

7. Bluebeard (and everything else Vonnegut I read). I managed to read all of his novels and short story collections before I started college. I was honored to speak with Vonnegut when I interned at Playboy in the late 90s. It was a silly thing, really, but I was tasked with calling him (he had a long-standing relationship with the magazine) to ask who his favorite playmate was. He responded "Janet Pilgrim...I used her name for the main character in Slaughterhouse-Five." I'm still grateful he was so kind to me on the phone. I'm sure I sounded a mess of nerves.

8. The Jeremy Mouse Book ...this childhood gem is my most treasured book. I still read it on occasion.

9. Different Dances ...this was a collection of Shel Silverstein's adult cartoons. I stumbled across it on a shelf in Davis-Kidd when I was a teen. It was big and expensive ($25, I recall). I really wanted it but didn't have the money. I went back a few weeks later and it was gone. I figured I'd pick it up some other time but they didn't have it again. It was a one-time run. I finally got a copy many years later. It cost considerably more than $25 at Elder Books. Shortly after, there was a 25th anniversary reprint and the prices for the originals dropped dramatically. Still, I'm glad I have it.

10. Boy Scout Handbook ...I'm an Eagle, after all.

Sep 5, 2014

Trite, Perhaps

But I'm finding a new path. It's going in the same direction I've always headed, the same direction we all head, but there's different scenery and different locations along the way. Neither high, nor low, it's just a path. One of many. It's just a path, just a different one.
Zero Image 6x9, Kodak Ektar 100

Sep 3, 2014

My First "Next Best Thing" Project Submission

Camera: RealitySoSubtle 141 (created by James Geurin) Film: Kodak Portra 160
This photo, a double exposure, was shot during a recent game between minor league teams Nashville Sounds and Fresno Grizzlies at Nashville's Greer Stadium. After the game there was a fireworks show. This is the last year for the stadium, which opened in 1973. The city is building a new stadium closer to downtown.
I started the Next Best Thing Pinhole Project a couple of months ago as a way to travel the world from my own home. I managed to get pinhole photographers from around the globe to join the project and so far they have done an excellent job. Each photographer was asked to create two images each quarter, one focused on landscape where they live (urban or rural), the other on culture, a theme purposely open to interpretation. This image is my first culture image for the project. I think it does a good job of capturing the great American summer pastime.

Go check out the project website (www.nextbestthingpinhole.com). Updates happen frequently, so there's always more to see :)
All images posted so far are shown on this page: www.nextbestthingpinhole.com/p/1st-quarter-images.html

Aug 27, 2014

Wash and Dry

RealitySoSubtle 141 (6x17), Kodak Portra 160, about three minutes
As a teen I sometimes visited this laundromat near Hillsboro Village in the middle of the night to play Ms. Pacman. Twenty(ish) years later they still have the same machine.

This laundromat is located not far from Music Row, a multi-block area where much of Nashville's music industry resides. It looks like almost every laundromat I've ever been in, except the signed promotional photos of "famous" musicians on the walls. I've never heard of most of them. Many of the photos are as old as, if not older than, the Ms. Pacman.

Musicians flock to Nashville from all over. Almost all of them are deeply talented. Most work really hard. I've known a few and it appears to me that talent and hard work means little to making it here. Luck, the ability to navigate music industry BS, and, sadly, money (or backers with money)...these things work...sometimes.

I've heard it's much easier to make it in Los Angeles or New York than in Music City USA.

It's quite possible these musicians used this laundromat while struggling to make it here. Down the road, there's a post office with a wall of similar photos...probably musicians who spent oodles of money to mail out demo tapes.

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