Wynn Goes to Paris

Shoots Film

Eiffel Tower, Paris France

Eiffel Tower from Place du Trocadero ©2018 Wynn Geary

 

As a child my son’s passions were art, architecture and soccer, photography was his Dad’s domain. It wasn’t until I taught a pinhole workshop at his school that he made his first photograph. Later, I gave him a 35mm point and shoot which he personalized by covering it with bug stickers. I loaded it with a 36 exposure roll of film and not fifteen minutes later he was back for another roll. That little camera is still tucked away in a drawer in the kitchen.

I began experimenting with digital photography using a Nikon Coolpix. I later purchased a Canon D30 and gave the Coolpix to Wynn to preserve my film stash.

My strategy worked for a while. He’d shoot as much as he wanted then download the photos onto his Mac G3. Then one day I asked him if he needed fresh batteries because I knew the Coolpix was a power hog. He dug through his backpack but couldn’t find the camera. “ I must have left it at school,” he said. 

A week later he came home and pulled the camera from his backpack. He told me he had it with him when he and his friends where hiking in the woods and that a girl had tripped and injured her knee. In typical Miquon School fashion everyone dropped everything and rushed the girl to the office for first aid. The Coolpix had spent the week outside, along a trail in the woods, in the rain. I did appreciate his honesty.

The Coolpix survived a week in the elements, what did it in was a broken battery door from the toss of his backpack onto the sidewalk.

Later, Wynn got an iPhone and of course, aside from the ability to text and make phone calls, it had a built in camera. For several years the iPhone was all the camera he needed. With each new iPhone version the cameras got better and better as did the photography related apps.

 

View from Eiffel Tower

Champ de Mars from Eiffel Tower ©2018 Wynn Geary

When Wynn went off to college I gave him my old Canon 20D. Not wanting to give up any of my L series lenses I  bought him  a used 35-80 kit lens.  Coming from an iPhone he found the 20D’s settings and menus confusing. The LCD was too small and the kit lens was too slow. The iPhone remained his camera of choice.

For the past couple of years I have been collecting film cameras. Some, people have given to me, others I find in thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. I still carry a torch for film, especially black and white. I shoot with these cameras occasionally and still maintain a darkroom. You can see some of my recent  b&w work “Thanksgiving Day Parade” in a previous post.

Wynn mentioned he had friends at RISD that had done film photography when they where in high school and that they would like to try it again. I sent Ryan a Pentax ME and an Olympus OM-2 to Skye for their birthdays.

View from Eiffel Tower to the East

View from Eiffel Tower to the East ©2018 Wynn Geary

This got Wynn to thinking maybe he’d like a film camera too and that maybe he’d like to have it for his trip to Paris over spring break. I thought it a bit risky, taking a used camera you have never used before on such an important trip. Then I decided, what the hell, he would be taking photos with his iPhone too. 

While I had multiple cameras I could have given him all were 60’s or 70’s era manual cameras in need of some amount of restoration and I wanted to give him a camera with at least one auto exposure mode for insurance.

 

Detail, Eiffel Tower

Detail, Eiffel Tower, Paris

 

Luckily, a few days before Wynn would leave on his trip, I found a Canon AE-1 program at the local thrift shop. It was in great shape and came with a fungus free, 50mm 1.8 lens. It even came with an owner’s manual. When I got it home I installed a new battery and everything worked perfectly. The program mode was a big plus, I would rather he concentrated on content, light and composition than on technical issues.

I shipped the camera along with five rolls of 36 exposure Tri-X which he could send back to me for processing, printing and scanning when he returned. For inspiration I sent him a link to photos of Paris by Andre Kertesz. I told him to not come back with ANY unexposed film.

It wasn’t until the day of his flight that i realized we had never had a discussion about flying with film and x-rays! I texted him while he was on the train to the airport and he texted back that the film was in his suitcase and that it would be checked. I told him that was the worst pace for it as the x-rays for check bags is much stronger and would surely fog the film. He removed it from his suitcase and at the airport he asked for hand inspection. 

 

Here’s what Wynn had to say: Having the AE-1 Program in Paris was a blast, it really gave me the motivation I needed to go into full tourist mode. The AE-1 ended up giving me exactly what I needed, a camera that was super easy to operate, light and durable, and yielded exactly the kinds of photos I was looking for – images that look like they could be prints from IKEA. I’m excited to continue to use my new film camera but am hesitant to take it out without a special occasion. If you would like to send me a roll of film my address is 02 College Street, Box No. 0617 Providence RI, 02903

Check out Wynn’s website to see more of his work in multiple media @ Wynn Geary Design.

 

 

 

Carousel in Paris

Carousel near Metro Saint-Paul, Paris ©2018 Wynn Geary

 

Gardens at Versailles

Gardens at Versailles ©2018 Wynn Geary

Wynn was happy with the results and so was I. I’ve never been to Paris so it was fun to go there vicariously through his photographs.

       Au revoir pour le moment!

Backyard Pinhole Photography: Diptych

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Sunday, April 30, was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Anyone who takes a pinhole photograph on WPPD can upload one image to their gallery which hosts over a thousand images from 53 countries. There is no entry fee, no judging, no rights grabs, no advertising, no prizes. Just a celebration of lensless photography.
 


It’s been five years since I participated, not for lack of interest but because I didn’t have the necessary chemicals on hand or the weather was not conducive. This year was different. I selected a camera, had paper to produce negatives and developer and fixer for processing. While it was overcast, it was bright enough to produce a good exposure and it wasn’t raining.

I had a box of 8×10 paper that I cut in half and loaded into 4×5 film holders. Not only was this economical but the large paper negative could be contacted printed, or scanned and inverted in Photoshop. Another option would be to peel the emulsion from the backing and print the negative using an enlarger.

Another advantage to making paper negatives is that processing can be done in trays under a safelight, using only developer; stop, fixer and a short water wash. As you can see the image coming up in the developer you can quickly evaluate both exposure and composition. The paper was outdated so I added a bit of liquid orthozite to the developer to minimize fogging.

As I hadn’t shot paper negatives in a while I limited my subject matter to the backyard. By staying close to home I could leave the camera set up while I ran into the darkroom and processed the negative. If that negative wasn’t quite right I could go back to the camera and recompose or vary the exposure time.

Determining pinhole exposure times can be tricky as the apertures are tiny and the photographic paper has an ISO of around 3. I took readings with a handheld light meter. Using a pinhole exposure slide rule, I found the suggested exposure for my f/419 pinhole, 8 minutes! 

4×5 Speed Graphic Pinhole camera

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The Speed Graphic is perfect for pinhole work. It produces a large film or paper negative. It can zoom from wide angle to telephoto depending how far I extend the bellows. It can be used in either horizontal or vertical orientation. I can load multiple film holders and stay in the field as long as I like. The flip-up eyepiece and wire finder aids in composition. It folds up for easy transport and with the exception of the bellows, is anything but fragile.
 

I purchased laser drilled pinholes from The Pinhole Resource to remove any doubt concerning the quality and size of the pinholes. I also bought two additional lens boards from eBay so I could have a choice of 60mm,160mm or 240mm focal lengths.
 

Unfortunately, the cloth shutter stopped working shortly after I purchased the camera. I now use a refrigerator magnet as a shutter.
 

If you participated in W.P.P.D either this year or at some time in the past, leave a comment with a link to you image. If you haven’t participated yet but would like to in the future, just remember it’s always the last Sunday in April.

 

Pinhole photograph of two girls

Pinhole photograph of two girls sitting in backyard made with paper negative in ice cream container.

During his long summer vacation, we enroll our son Wynn, in several, week long camps. They’re usually nature study or soccer camps. We’re careful not to over do it, leaving at least a week between camps for unstructured leisure time at home. We urge him to do some math or reading or to practice playing the piano or his new electric guitar. He usually complies but after a while we find him on the couch watching Sponge Bob or the home and garden channel.

Remembering that I had an empty 5 gallon ice cream drum in the basement, I asked him if he wanted to do some pinhole photography. His response was an enthusiastic, “Yes.” I had taught pinhole photography at his school as part of the aftercare program and he was involved but he had to share me with several other kids, now it would just be him and me.

We cut a hole in the container and spray painted the inside flat black. We cut a small square from an aluminum cooking pan then bored a tiny hole in it using a pin like a tailor or seamstress would use. I sanded the opening with some emery paper to remove any burrs. We taped the aluminum square behind the hole inside the container. Next we attached a piece of black gaffer tape on the outside over the opening to act as a shutter. Lastly, we taped an 8.5 x 11 sheet of photo paper inside the cylindrical container opposite the pinhole. I sent Wynn off to make an exposure while I cleared out the long neglected darkroom and mixed fresh chemicals.

When Wynn enter the darkroom, he removed the paper from the container and placed it in the developing tray. To our mutual surprise, his first paper negative was perfect. It had good exposure and was very sharp. It also had a bit of distortion due to the curved film plane. All in all, it was a very nice pinhole image. Wynn told me that making pinhole photographs was a lot more fun than watching television. He wanted to try it again. I had plenty of paper left over from the pre digital days, so I told told him to use as much as he wanted. After helping him with his first exposure, he was able to go out and shoot on his own and I was able to get back to work in my office.

Wynn spent the entire afternoon outside, taking photographs. He even walked with me to the barbershop, so he could make an image in the park on our way home. When the shop owner asked, “What’s in the can?” Wynn was silent, and then another patron said, “I bet it’s a snake!” Wynn then explained that he was making photographs with it. From the look on their faces it would probably have been better to let them think there was a snake inside and just leave it at that.

Later in the afternoon one of Wynn’s friend’s Meagan and her friend Melissa were curious as to what Wynn was doing. He explained he was making pinhole photographs and asked if he could take their picture. They posed for the 90 second exposure then followed him into the darkroom to watch, as he processed the paper negative. After washing and drying the negative he made a contact print for each of them.

I use a paper cutter to crop my negatives but this edge treatment was Wynn’s idea.