Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day at The Car Show

"... nothing like an old-car show to close the summer with, the smell of fresh-popcorn wafting in the air, baloons and fiddle players, childrens with painted faces running around..."

... and people with cellphones clipped onto their ears... :) oh, well, so much for tradition... but hey, there are seems to be more cars and goers this year at the annual Downtown Festival at Denton Texas. 

About 30 minutes from Dallas on I-35E, Denton, which could be considered a suburb of Dallas, is the home of the University of North Texas (famous for its Jazz music program).

Thanks to online maps, finding my way there is not the least problematic. Keeping my daughter cool under the scorching Texas sun, is another story.  By the way, this would be my first date with my daughter that involves more than an hour driving, half of which, thankfully, she took her afternoon nap.

We arrived at the downtown area, all parking spots are practically full.  We meandered around, already building the anticipation upon seeing tons of people, nothing could put a damper on the mood when seeing a "festival" with barely enough people to run it.

Having found our parking spot, my daughter and I made our way to the town hall proper where the festival is centered around.  We were stopped by a handful of friendly people from the local church handing out cold bottled water and a BIG 100 dollar bill look-a-like with the Ten Commandments printed on the other side. Neat!

Then I whipped out my Ansco Super Speedex, especially loaded with expired Kodak Portra UC 400 for this occasion.  I started taking pictures of the cars, the people, the beautiful sky, whatever.  It sounded easy, but it's more work than I thought, because I want to keep an eye on my daugther all the time.  Add to that, I tried to slap a filter in front of the lens and manually compensate for it.

Beautiful summer clouds over the downtown:

Just another red car (albeit beautiful, stylistic, and with attitudes :):

A face painting session, that's not my daughter, by the way:

A Studabaker Commander (also known as, the Cloud Reflector):

Almost on top of the keyboard player:

I don't know why this reminds me of "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned..."

I'm a Texan and so is my car:

Now this is just sick...:

We only spent less than an hour there because of the heat, other than that, my daughter seems to enjoy the butterfly painting on her arm, the music (very cool Jazz/Blues/Rock'n'roll band playing), and the baloons.

Next year, you bet we're coming back, and this time, Mom's gotta go too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fed Up!

"... the level of amazement corresponds directly to the distance between low expectation and high quality ..."

Nothing described my experience with Former Soviet Union (FSU) -made cameras better than that quote.  Despite my very frustrating bout with the first FSU camera I ever owned, a Zorki 4 with faulty film take up spool shaft, I can definitely say that I am a big fan now. 

And the camera on the menu today is a further proof.

Fed 2 is the only camera that meets my "beauty" standard among the Fed camera series made by the FED working commune and later acquired by the famous KMZ factory. For more info on the rich history on these cameras, just use your favorite online search engine for Russian cameras.

This Fed 2 lacks the refined feel of the black Kiev 4A that I have.  My toddler daughter can't even trip the shutter release because it's so heavy.  Boy, did that bummed her out ... for about 3 seconds :)

Although, my other Kiev, the 4AM still takes the cake when it comes to total "clunky-ness" scale with its extremely dodgy shutter speed dial.  But I digress...

Without the act of kindness of a certain Mike from Colorado who generously sent me a film take up spool, this blog entry would never have made it to publication.  Responding to my desperate WTB post on Nelsonfoto forum (a very good photography forum by the way), Mike simply state that he has a spare spool and voila! a few days later, it materialized in a padded film canister, in a padded envelope right in front of my door.

It's the community spirit done right by decent people, I say!

I don't know exactly what to expect from this camera. I mean, the camera looks ok, and the shutter speed seems to be ok, and the extremely small aperture opens up and closes down, so I should at least get some recognizable pictures, right?

So I decided to finish my (seems-like) neverending stash of Ilford XP2 Super (expired, that is :) ) by using it as the film of choice for the test roll on the Fed 2.  I have since learned that this batch of XP2 is best treated as 100ASA eventhough it's rated as 400 *Seven* years ago!

Now, the loading, I observed the take up spool I got from Mike closely and noticed at first that the metal curly "lip" (barely liftable) that supposed to catch the end of the film leader cannot be pried to open tall enough for inserting even the start of the film leader... hmmm, jumping into conclusion, I grumbled and get the scissors and start looking for that website that shows how to trim film leaders a'la Leica III.

Upon further inspection, I didn't pry hard enough, the whole "lip" turns out to be liftable.  So now I have a half-trimmed film leader and a film spool that doesn't need the trim in the first place.  Great...

So finally I got the film hooked up onto the film spool and I'm ready to put it into the camera body cavity.  No surprises here, I gingerly started to rotate the spool expecting at anytime to relive my nightmare of slipping take up spool on the Zorki 4.  But... everything rotates as it should, even the film holes latched confidently on the sprockets and the take up spool continues to roll without slipping.  Hooooray!

I put the back back in its place and I was ready to roll.  The question was, to where...?

Enter Deep Ellum.  The one section of Dallas downtown that I've never dared to venture into before (that and I just don't have the time).  It was said that the Deep Ellum is where the cool people hang out or hanged dry.  Caution is definitely needed... Sounds like the perfect testing ground for the Fed!

This is what greeted me there... Uh, hello...?:

Guitar man:

Cheerful guy:

Check out that texture on the old door:

How did I get here?

Weeds on Windows:

Flamin' Pillar:

And as I pull out of the Deep Ellum area, I spotted this Valiant in front of an old warehouse turned chic graphics studio:

Overall, I'm impressed with two things, the Fed 2 with it's shifty-looking Fed lens are obviously a good shooter.  These FSU cameras are definitely a unique piece of photography history and a joy to use to boot. That is, if you can get over the clunky operation and its beauty that is somewhat an acquired taste.

And Deep Ellum provides a very interesting testing ground.  Next time I'm gonna have to bring a sharp color-correcting lens.