February on Film – Roll #2 – 1983 Olympus OM-G

So it’s almost April and I am just getting around to posting my February roll of film. If you want to know more about my roll-a-month project you can check out the first post in this series January on Film. My delay isn’t laziness, it’s the difficulty I am having getting film processed. I have been shooting B&W and to get it developed I need to go to a camera store in a Fayetteville, Arkansas – about 45 miles away. They mail it out to Little Rock where they have a store that still processes B&W. Then they mail the roll back to the store and I have to make the drive to pick it up. It’s not expensive if you don’t count the 180 miles of driving it takes to get a roll in and back.

In February I shot my Olympus OM-G – or OM-20 as it is known outside of the US. It was one of the earlier consumer grade OM cameras. The sound of the mirror flopping was a bit disconcerting at first, I turn the sounds off on my modern camera. I came to like it – the mechanical feel of it. I have a motor drive for this camera – I haven’t used it yet but I can only imagine the sound and fury of that mirror flopping in hyper-drive. For this first roll on the OM-G I shot almost all of these shots with the kit lens – a 50mm 1.8 – a pretty fast piece of glass. On my digital camera I like to shoot with the aperture wide open so that the subject is isolated and the background is either blurred or filled with colored disks – bokeh to us shutterbugs. I love bokeh, creamy bokeh, sparkly bokeh – I never shoot a closed down aperture unless I am shooting the moon. On aperture priority on a modern camera this is pretty easy to pull off. On a 30 manual camera with just a simple light meter, it’s not as cut and dry. You have to set the shutter speed too. I did not know it when I shot this roll, but there is a remedial “preview” button that lets you see what the image through the lens looks like with the aperture held open to the setting you select – it does nothing to give you an idea of what will happen if you change the shutter speed.

I shot this roll on a sunny cold Saturday morning – there was frost everywhere. I specifically shot things that had a strong color to see what was left when you take the color away. I also shot some things that had surfaces that light rested on. I did take a couple of shot with my long zoom – 90-230mm. The film was Kodak T-Max 100 speed.

The fun of shooting film is that you don’t really know what you have until after you drive that 180 miles and fork over 6 bucks to see the finished product. I wouldn’t say these were the best shots I’ve taken. Overall everything is a bit softer than I usually like, but there were a couple of shots I really liked.

50mm f1.8

There was actually frost on this pumpkin. I do love the way the greys in black and white film print. So many shades of grey. It's tough to pull this off in photoshop.

There was actually frost on this pumpkin. I do love the way the greys in black and white film print. So many shades of grey. It’s tough to pull this off in Photoshop.

A close up of the frosty pumpkin - I love how it disappears into the darkness of the shadows.

A close up of the frosty pumpkin – I love how it disappears into the darkness of the shadows.

These dried leaves were still hanging on in mid February. Again shot at f1.8.

These dried leaves were still hanging on in mid February. Again shot at f1.8.

Shot with the 50mm wide open. I love the way that lens creates those circles outside of the area in focus, I hadn't imagined that the effect would be so interesting in B&W.

Shot with the 50mm wide open. I love the way that lens creates those circles outside of the area in focus, I hadn’t imagined that the effect would be so interesting in B&W.

Another shot of icicles on frozen branches. The sunlight almost illuminates the icicles. The smoother bokeh isolates them, making it easier to see what the image actually is.

Another shot of icicles on frozen branches. The sunlight almost illuminates the icicles. The smoother bokeh isolates them, making it easier to see what the image actually is.

Pine needles in the cold sunshine. Very shallow DOF

Pine needles in the cold sunshine. Very shallow DOF

Judy let me take this snap - her smile is so bright in B&W. The dappled light on her face is the result of the sunlight through the leaves above us.

Judy let me take this snap – her smile is so bright in B&W. The dappled light on her face is the result of the sunlight through the leaves above us.

Vivitar 90-230mm f4.5

I mostly shot this to see how much the contrast of the white platter and the dark old wood would play off each other. One thing I love about B&W is that in the absence of color, the sunlight seems so strong on surfaces.

I mostly shot this to see how much the contrast of the white platter and the dark old wood would play off each other. One thing I love about B&W is that in the absence of color, the sunlight seems so strong on surfaces.

Ceramic bird feeders in the sunshine - I had the aperture wide open and enjoyed playing with the DOF

Ceramic bird feeders in the sunshine – I had the aperture wide open and enjoyed playing with the DOF.

Of course – I had to try to get a bird shot in.

I had to try to get one bird shot - I used an old zoom. It was tough to focus a something that moved so fast in the old-school focussing screen. I like the soft look of it.

It was tough to focus a something that moved so fast in the old-school focussing screen. I think I like the soft look of it.

I’ve actually shot 2 rolls in March – I need to get them over to Fayetteville to see what I’ve got. I shot the first roll before I picked these up and shot mostly with the zoom. The second roll was shot with an OM-1 with some new glass I recently acquired so I’m anxious to see what I can do with it. Honestly, I think I am starting to regain the feel for using these old cameras, it’s like muscle memory. It’s been almost 30 years since I shot one so I was more than rusty. More importantly, focusing on the fundamentals makes me more aware of what I am doing on my modern camera – I am refining some of the settings I use, I am taking more care in focusing, I am shooting more like film.

Taking my Fisheye to San Francisco

I am a fan of Allan at Ohm Sweet Ohm and was talking with him about shooting the Golden Gate Bridge – he works on it every day –  with a fisheye lens. I have been meaning to put a post together ever since. If you want to see some amazing photography of the Golden Gate Bridge, or some really creative imagery of everyday objects, check out Allan’s blog.

I got a chance to spend the day in San Francisco a couple of years ago – it was the day after my nephew’s wedding and my sister-in-law Karen and I explored the parks with our cameras and our National Parks Passport Books. I took my new fisheye lens along for the trip and experimented with it for the first time. I was getting a feel for how much a really wide-angle can distort things.

The Bridge and the Fort

An eye level shot produces minimal distortion on a ling shot.

An eye level shot produces minimal distortion on a long shot.

The same shot through the gage - notice the extreme bend of the parallel poles near the camera.

The same shot through the gate – notice the extreme bend of the parallel poles near the camera.

A shot directly up from inside Fort Point bents the brick walls of the fort inward.

A shot directly up from inside Fort Point bends the brick walls of the fort inward.

This shot indoors shows how much the perspective can me distorted in an enclosed space - the ceiling is actually vaulted, but not curved.

This shot indoors shows how much the perspective can me distorted in an enclosed space – the ceiling is actually vaulted, but not curved.

The Bay

Lowering my view creates both a curved horizon and posts.

Lowering my view creates both a curved horizon and posts.

A waist level shot curves the parking lines and the chains more dramatically than it does the horizon.

A waist level shot curves the parking lines and the chains more dramatically than it does the horizon.

A shoulder level shot across the bay creates a curved horizon.

A shoulder level shot across the bay creates a curved horizon.

This macro-close shot causes the curve of the red curb to be exaggerated.

This macro-close shot causes the curve of the red curb to be exaggerated.

The City and the Palace

A wide angel lens makes Lombard Street look more compressed and less tall - at this distance there is not a lot of curve distortion.

A wide-angle lens makes Lombard Street look more compressed and less tall – at this distance there is not a lot of curve distortion.

A fisheye lens at a couple of feet can really bend these lines - the horizontals and verticals are actually perpendicular

A fisheye lens at a couple of feet can really bend these lines – the horizontals and verticals are actually perpendicular

A low angle with a fisheye makes columns curve inward as the move away from you. This shot was taken from a foot outside the entrance to the structure.

A low angle with a fisheye makes columns curve inward as the move away from you. This shot was taken from a foot outside the entrance to the structure.

Even though I probably missed out on the classic tourist shots, it was fun to take a lens out and make myself experiment with it. The more I used it the more I got the feel for bending reality to my will. The lens was pretty economical – it’s a conversion lens – meaning that it is an attachment to a standard kit lens. I have used it more tactically since my time in San Francisco, shooting it when I need to get something wider into a narrow field or when I want a curve to be really curved.

This masonry really is almost a full circle - the fisheye lets me show you that because I can get the whole perimeter in the frame. To get this view I would need to be almost underground with a standard lens.

This masonry really is almost a full circle – the fisheye lets me show you that because I can get the whole perimeter in the frame. To get this view I would need to be almost underground with a standard lens.

My experimentation in San Francisco gave me confidence to know that I could make the spring shot above work.

Do you have any fancy lenses or gadgets that you have been waiting to try out? Have you tried something new and added it to your repertoire?

Goldfinch Paparazzi

Don’t you hate it when you just can’t find something? Your car keys? Your cell phone? Your stalker?

Where'd she go? She's not down there...

Where’d she go? She’s not down there…

She's not back there?

She’s not back there. Where the heck is she?

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There she is! I think I’m gonna have to get a restraining order.

A Grandpa Story from Isabelle Avenue

For those of you new to my blog, I am also writing a memoir about growing up in Las Vegas. Sometimes I try to be funny, sometimes I just write what I remember. This time I wrote about my Grandpa teaching me to ride a bike.

The King of Isabelle Avenue

On my 6th birthday I got my first bike. It was purple and had training wheels. It was a classic 20″ girls Schwinn. That bike meant freedom to me.
I was not allowed to cross the street to play in a neighbor’s lawn without Mom’s permission. I was not allowed to go next door to see if Susan Cunningham could play unless Mom said it was OK. I was not allowed to ride on the asphalt of Isabelle Avenue until I could ride without training wheels. Once I could ride that bike, the asphalt that lay between me and the rest of humanity, as I saw it, would disappear. Riding in the street and crossing the street would be the same thing. Riding on Isabelle Avenue would lead to riding on 21st Street, and that would lead to riding on Ogden, and then Cervantes where my pal Connie lived. In…

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Cardinals Celebrate the First Day of Spring at the Stone House

Spring in the Ozarks – redbuds, dogwoods, bluebirds, snow…SNOW? You heard me right, snow.

Tonight we are under a freeze warning for the 3rd night in a row. I am heating the cellar to keep the pipes from bursting, I am wearing long-johns, I am stoking a fire – yeah, feels like Spring.

My driveway on the first day of Spring.

I suppose this view beats the bare trees, if it was warmer I would be out shooting macro shots of snowflakes on my daffodils. Before we get a mob together to take out that lying groundhog – there is an upside. My snobby cardinals come out in droves in the snow. They must know that the contrast makes them look amazing.

There’s nothing more classic that a shot of a cardinal in a tree in the snow – makes me feel like Christmas, well, maybe next Christmas…

Ignoring me in a tree...

Ignoring me in a tree…

Puffed and posing in the branches...

Puffed and posing in the branches…

Ignoring me behind a birdhouse...

Ignoring me behind a bird house…

Avoiding my glance in the crepe myrtle...

Avoiding my glance in the crepe myrtle…

Of course, they can ignore me all day out there on the limb – but when the snow stops for a minute, they feed like there’s no tomorrow.

Stomping in the snow, looking for seed...

Stomping in the snow, looking for seed…

Digging through the ice for his next meal...

Digging through the ice for his next meal…

Doing his best impression of an Angry Bird...

Doing his best impression of an Angry Bird…

Out on a ledge feasting on cracked corn...

Out on a ledge feasting on cracked corn…Is it just me, or does he look inflated?

Once the snow starts again, it’s time to take cover and wait for that next meal…

No superstition here, he's taking refuge under a ladder.

No superstition here, he’s taking refuge under a ladder.

Spring is supposed to return sometime around Wednesday. I’ll probably keep putting out that expensive songbird food they like so much. They will likely continue to ignore me. Ungrateful snobs, beautiful ungrateful snobs. I love them.

Does the Friendliness Gene Exist?

Last Summer I wrote about a pair of whitetail fawns growing up in the field beyond the local Elks Lodge. The Lodge sits on one side of a hollow at the base of Pine Mountain, my house is at the top of the mountain,  and my road meanders down the side opposite from the Lodge. There is a large whitetail herd and it’s not uncommon to see the same deer at any spot along the mountain.

This is a shot of the friendly fawn from last summer.

This is a shot of the friendly fawn from last summer.

Over the years I have photographed a doe that is easily recognized by a thin white strip on just above her black nose. She is friendly and curious about me and tolerates me approaching her to take photos. I respect her space and back off if she shows any sign of concern. Last year she had two fawns – one with a black nose and one with a white stripe that had a wide spot in the center. Like it’s momma, the one with the white stripe had no concern about my presence and was actually very curious.

This shot gives a clearer picture of the marking in the fawn's nose.

This shot gives a clearer picture of the marking in the fawn’s nose.

That original doe was one of triplets and was the only one with the white mark. Her sister still stays close and is not at all friendly. She starts snorting almost as soon as I leave my jeep. That friendly doe has had two sets of twins and only one of those has a white stripe and only that one is really friendly like she is. The others have been very cautious and quick to run off. Last year I was lucky to get so close to the friendly fawn on several occasions.

The tail tucked and low like this indicates no sense of alarm. Whitetails use their tails like flags when alarmed - the rest of the herd can spot them in the woods when the have it raised so the white hairs show.

The tail tucked and low like this indicates no sense of alarm. Whitetail use their tails like flags when alarmed – the rest of the herd can spot them in the woods when the have it raised so the white hairs show.

I watched a documentary about the domestication of wolves – the forefathers of dogs. Humans and wolves have always interacted – wolves feeding off of livestock or the trash of people. In a pack of wolves there is usually one or two who are bolder around humans. These wolves are the ones who make friends with humans and by doing so they can secure food and comfort for the pack – they are like ambassadors. Scientists have found that these dogs share a genetic marker and they call it the friendliness gene. This marker is also found in domesticated dogs today.

Not that this has anything to do with whitetail deer, but it got me thinking about why some deer are curious and some are flighty. The deer have no need to befriend me for food. I do find it an interesting coincidence that all of the deer in our small herd who are comfortable and even curious about me and my camera seem to have a similar white stripe on their nose – is it nature or nurture? Does the original doe’s boldness embolden some of her fawns?

Notice how the doe has no concern or alarm, she even turns her back on me when her fawn is nearby.

Notice how the doe has no concern or alarm, she even turns her back on me when her fawn is nearby.

Of course winter comes and the whitetail move deep into the hollow. I put my thoughts about this friendly trait away for winter. The deer stay away from the field once hunting season opens and have yet to make an appearance there this year. I have seen a couple on the roadside running into the woods, so they are on the move.

A couple of days ago I saw a deer ahead of me on the road. It didn’t bolt – it just looked my way and walked leisurely into the woods. I pulled up along side and it looked over its shoulder at me…

Unconcerned with me or my noisy jeep, this yearling looked at me.

Unconcerned with me or my noisy jeep, this yearling looked at me.

I stayed in the jeep – opened the passenger window and snapped a few shots. I was taken aback by how long the young whitetail looked at me and at its calm demeanor. And then I saw it…

20130321-121924.jpgThis was not any yearling, this was my friendly fawn. No wonder it showed no concern for me, it knows me. It survived the winter in the hollow and is now roaming over the hills.

It’s nice to catch up with old friends.

The Bluebirds of Happiness Move Into the Neighborhood

Spring is showing its face at the newly remodeled Stonehouse Buffet and Condos. Potential new tenants are stopping by daily to check out the facilities. The Bluebirds of Happiness are considering moving in…

Mr. Happiness takes a look around

Mr. Happiness takes a look around…

“This looks promising – I bet we can find something move in ready.”

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Mrs. Happiness is skeptical…

“I’m not moving into that tin roofed shack. Better find something soon – I’ve already started nesting.”

Mr. Happiness reassures his mate...

Mr. Happiness reassures his mate…

“No dear, not that place. I don’t want our children raised in an old oil can. I’m talking about the cedar condo down the block.”

Mr. Happiness checks things out...

Mr. Happiness checks things out…

“Nice front porch…”

Mr. Happiness inspects the roof...

Mr. Happiness inspects the roof…

“A brand new roof…”

Mr. Happiness beckons the Mrs.

Mr. Happiness beckons the Mrs.

“I think you should come check this one out…”

Mrs. Happiness takes a look inside...

Mrs. Happiness takes a look inside…

“Wow – this place is turn-key – move in ready!”

Mr. Happiness moves in the furniture...

Mr. Happiness moves in the furniture…

“Where do you want me to put the couch?”

Mrs. Happiness rearranges the furniture...

Mrs. Happiness rearranges the furniture…

“Move it over on the other side of the fireplace – no, not in front of the TV! A little more to the left, no the right – can’t you get anything right? The cable guy is going to be here any minute.”

Mr. Happiness takes a break...

Mr. Happiness takes a break…

“Next time we’re hiring a mover…”

Mrs. Happiness is finally happy with the living room...

Mrs. Happiness is finally happy with the living room…

“I think we are going to be very happy here…”

Mr. Happiness has one concern...

Mr. Happiness has one concern…

“I think we will be too – as long as we don’t have to deal with that nosy landlord!”