08 March 2011

Project Orange

A month of orange.

Day one is here.

Day two:

Alas, I'm using a digital camera for this particular project. I've got to start somewhere & this will get me used to working on a theme for a month. I'll move it on over to a film camera with the next theme (b&w won't work for an orange theme anyway).

02 January 2011

Photography Goals for 2011

In a somewhat progressive order:
  • Resume the snapshot a day + post on my Landscape Therapy blog (2 down, 363 to go)
  • Continue reportage of my film cameras on this here blog
  • Find a few more cameras that want to be mine
  • Create and then follow a list of monthly themes
  • Use each of my cameras for a month (in random order) to follow the theme(s)
  • Actually have the film developed and printed
  • Ponder developing my own film
  • Do show and tell of the results on this blog
I think that's enough. Happy 2011!

01 June 2010

An Agfa and a Kodak Retina II

This started as a story about the two 35mm cameras that my dad gave me last year—an Agfa and a Kodak Retina II. He told me that he’d bought them in Germany after his first camera (which already had film and exposures in it) was stolen. Why was he in Germany? He was on leave from the Army and traveling with friends through a couple of countries before it was time to ship out back home. So, I asked him to tell me a little bit more….

He bought the cameras in September 1955 when he, Phil Friend, and Jerry Kresky were on leave from their base in Orl√©ans, France. They’d asked to go to Denmark and Norway but the army said no since it was so close to the end of their tour of duty they weren’t allowed to go that far. Stupid Army.

Dad’s a Korean War veteran even though he was drafted and sent overseas after all the shooting had stopped. He hadn’t quite graduated from college when he went away. And, when he came back again, he completely changed his major so he had a long undergraduate career. I think he might have stayed on the ranch without his army experience which would mean that he never would have met my mom and my brother and I wouldn’t exist. He hated the whole army thing and I don’t blame him (we’re too much alike). There were too many illogical decisions and, really, who likes to be ordered around?

On the way to Europe in February 1954, he shipped out of New Brunswick (?) and was terribly sea sick starting on day four. People kept telling him that sea sickness is all in your head but he couldn’t fight it off any longer. Finally got some Dramamine from sick bay and that fixed him up except for his heightened sense of smell. After days, they finally got off the ship in Bremerhaven, West Germany (at the time). It was cold, really cold when they arrived. They took a train to Innsbruck and a former German barracks. The next day he was reassigned to be a medical aid man which is what he started out as during his first 8 weeks of basic training at Fort Ord (where he’d gotten terribly sick—probably with pneumonia –and they wouldn’t let the soldiers have medical assistance until their temperature reached 104 degrees. There was a meningitis outbreak on base at the time though he didn’t get it--“just” pneumonia. You could tell he was sick because he was smiling in his army “yearbook” photo from that time). Then, when he was sent to Fort Sam Houston, they were in the process of switching all the medical training to Fort Sam Houston right before his arrival and still didn’t have their acts together. So, at Fort Sam Houston he was in the veterinary corps.

He remembers that in Texas they weren’t allowed off the base unless they had brown shoes or boots while at Fort Ord they hadn’t been allowed off unless they had black shoes or boots. They all got their shoes painted brown and well, it didn’t stick too well and cracked and flaked off. He did manage to get off the base a couple of times—driving once with some friends up to an area where a spring was gushing out of the ground and starting a river. He also got off base occasionally by hopping on one of the busses routed through the base and into town. There he had his first Jim Crow experience. He and some friends got on an empty bus and made their way to the back as one did to be polite in order for new arrivals to fill in. The bus driver insisted that they could not sit back there because “that’s where the ‘colored’ folks sit.”

I don’t ever remember Dad carrying his own camera around. The two I have now always lived in the bottom drawer of his night stand in pretty much pristine condition. He always keeps things in really good condition—a trait I wish I shared but my brother got that gene, not me. It seems like my mom was always the designated picture taker in the family. Possibly a function of the fact that she has always absolutely hated having her own picture taken. Or maybe because Dad’s Kodak stopped working properly and the camera shop in Sacramento (much later) couldn’t seem to fix it. I shall have to see if it’s workable myself. And ask him why he stopped taking pictures.