In which things are squared, and vintage.
Back in August, I talked about photo framing, and the use of square frames. In fact, if you’re viewing this on the main page, there’s a good chance it’s down below somewhere, I’ve been writing so few posts lately. In essence: nowadays you get a rectangular photo, and it’s very, very easy to crop your photo to whatever aspect ratio you like. Back in the day, you got a square photo,* and if you wanted to crop it you had to take a guillotine to your print.
I’ve been trying for a while to be more disciplined with my aspect ratios, and either keep all my shots to the same aspect ratio as the camera uses,** or crop them to square. And, moreover, I’ve had the vintage cameras out. Back in August, I posted a test shot I took to check exposure. Today: the actual shot I was trying to take!
This was taken on an Ensign Selfix 420. The one big problem I have with it: getting the camera straight. It has two viewfinders: a glassless frame finder on the body, and a small brilliant finder attached to the lens. The former doesn’t really tell you if you’re pointing it in the right direction, and the latter is too small to see if you’ve got it properly upright. The light leak, on the other hand, I rather like; it’s only noticeable in bright sunlight in any case.
* Bear in mind that right through the 1950s 35mm cameras were a relatively rare thing, and the majority of the photo market used 6cm film such as the 120 format. It wasn’t until the 60s that the 35mm camera really started to take over the market, even though they had been around earlier.
** 121:81, in case you were wondering.
In which things are squared
Hot weather is not very nice. How people manage with it, never mind enjoy it, I’ll never know. The brightness of the sunlight is something; but even then, winter sunshine is much better for photography. Midsummer sunshine, in the middle of a clear-skies day, is just that bit too harsh.
Recently, our burgeoning vintage camera collection has made me reassess the use of square photos. They’ve often been a bit of an unpopular photography style, seen as a bit awkward, a bit ungainly, and hard to make interesting. Generally, I suppose this is all down to even numbers: they make it rather harder to make a composition interesting, and a square frame is as even-numbered as you can get. With lots of 120-film cameras, though, you don’t get a choice: square or nothing.
This photo started out as a test shot for one of the 120 cameras. So far the film in question hasn’t left the camera, so I’ve no idea how successful it was. As a digital photo, cropped down to square, I think it works rather well, though. Despite the sunshine.
Update, October: the 120-version of this shot is now out of the camera and back from the processors, complete with some interesting light leaks which make me worry there might be a hole in the camera’s bellows. I will have to try to get it scanned some time.
Update, November: well, I scanned it, and it is in my queue of things to upload to the internets. Which might happen some time this year.
In which nothing happens, once more
Currently, I’m trying to hunt down some second-hand picture frames. Good-looking, ideally quite cheap, second-hand picture frames. I’ve trawled through the local charity shops and the local junk shops, but good-quality picture frames seem to be in rather short supply.
This is not because we want to turn the front room into our own version of Francis Alÿs’s Fabiola, although it is a tempting idea. It’s just because I want to frame some photos and see what they look like. See if they deserve to be framed, and see what effect it has.
Apart from that, though, my creative projects have foundered somewhat at the moment. It’s the summer tiredness; or, at least, I’m blaming it on the summer tiredness. I can barely drag myself to do the washing up of an evening, never mind do anything creative. Suggestions for getting around it would be greatly appreciated.
I’ve managed not to catch swine flu, at least. Both me and K have known people who have come down with it, so far, but we’ve avoided falling ill. Maybe we’re not susceptible. Clearly a good thing, because I hate to think how we’d cope if we both came down with it at once.