Baby Speed Graphic – Impulsive eBay buy at 1:00 A.M.

    I always liked the 6x9cm format. It is large enough to bridge the world between medium and large formats, small enough to take any place, rectangular enough for landscapes, and since you’re using 120 roll film much cheaper than 4×5 or 5×7 sheet film. At one time it was the main format in the amateur level folding cameras any one over 80 is familiar with. As a matter of fact here is my dad playing with one of those during WWII (he had me very late in life.) It was such a popular format that there was sheet film made in that size in just about every emulsion available, though it was known by it’s “English” nomenclature as 2-1/4X3-1/4 or simply 2X3.
I have a massive Mamiya RB67 but find I can’t hand hold it and it weighs as much as an 8×10 view camera, that makes it a studio/tripod only camera. I wanted something I can hand hold. The Fuji Range-finders are great but out of my budget right now. Then I remembered my college days wanting to be the ghost of Weegee and using a Graflex Crown Graphic 4×5 hand held. I also remembered Graflex made a camera in  2-1/4X3-1/4 and if I bought one made after 1955 it would be able to easily use roll film adapters. Add to that limited movements and a ground glass I’d have a poor man’s Linhof 2×3 camera. It’s also easily hand holdable.
I thought about it on and off for a year or so. I bought a box of 6×9 roll film backs from a friend of mine, talked to a photographer I know who had one for sale but it just never clicked (I probably will buy his soon actually.) Then late one sleepless night I saw one on eBay. Well to be honest I saw a lot of them on eBay, but none I wanted to invest in. This one was different though… The price was not too high and somehow it called to me. I put in a low ball bid not thinking I’d actually win it; I rolled over and closed my eyes trying to sleep again… Minutes later I heard the “you just won an auction” chime on my iPhone. I was the proud owner of a mid 1950’s Baby Speed Graphic.  The seller, Mario, went so far as have me call him when he thought I misunderstood something about the auction and told me how this was his uncles life blood when he had a wedding photography business. I promised to take good care of the camera in it’s new life and anxiously awaited the box to arrive.

A week later it was there waiting for me when I came home from work. It great well loved condition. The parallax correction dial fell off in shipping. No big deal. The Cable release to the front lens shutter was broken but I am sure no one knew that and it’s an easy work around. The rear shutter did work and seemed spot on. The range-finder was very dim (the sliver oxidizes off the beam splitter over the years.) I can easily fix that or do as I did and put some red cellophane over the top window for extra contrast. I loaded up some Ilford HP5 and drove off to Stockbridge MA for some “test” photos I have bellow. All said and done I gave it a little TLC and have a great vintage camera for hand held or tripod mounted 6x9cm camera.

Badly Needed Website Updates

When I switched over to the WordPress format I did so because it was easier to manage galleries, images, and general content. I just never kept up with it. I think I still had the mental block thinking about all the HTML coding I needed to do to change images around before. I finally got around to it and here are some of the changes you will see.

  • Fewer Images and Galleries: At one point I had over 56 images on this website. It’s supposed to be a quick glimpse of what I am doing not a flickr page.
  • Newer Content: I had things I shot in 1999 or 2000. Yes they where nice images, but my taste in composition has changed since then.
  • Digital Images in the Color Gallery: I am a die hard film shooter and there is also some home processed E6 and Kodachrome in there, but I have been shooting a DSLR for what I used to shoot in 35mm for about 3 years now.
  • No promises but I may also do some more blog stuff on my photography and what I am doing.

Water Street Mills On Labor Day 2011

Water Street in Holyoke has looked the same since about 1875, that is until this spring. With very little fanfare or effort by preservationists several Victorian paper mills are succumbing to the wrecking ball. The mills are dying a slow and prolonged death as salvage men pick them bare for anything valuable. Soon weeds and brush will consume the lots. By next year for the first time since President Grant, the street will be nearly devoid of structures.

Today was Labor Day, and I met my photographer friends Robert and Gene. We went down to the mills to shoot what we could. We were having a productive time shooting until chased away by workers. I can not speak to their photographic vision, but to me this is not “Old Building Porn,” as some have called it. Yes, it is morbid curiosity to photograph these buildings, but all too often we forget these buildings used to be alive.
They once whirled and clacked with the sounds of machinery. Young girls stood amongst rags bleaching them and running machines that mashed the rags into pulp. Men ran the machinery turning cotton pulp into fine writing papers. Hundreds crossed a foot bridge across the canal every day and worked harder than most 21st century people can imagine. Filled with machinery and people, these buildings were truly alive.

It was the the 60’s and 70’s when these buildings started to die their slow deaths. The machinery fell silent one mill at a time. Some of them struggled on as warehouse spaces. They survived the massive fires of the late 70’s. Other small industries came and went, occasionally filling them with life once again… It was never the same. They eventually sat abandon, neglected, almost all memories of their life erased. Decay took its toll and a long processes of demolishing by neglect began. They sat there like American ruins. Towers adorning them like castles, awaiting their rescue. It never came.

I will make sure to have images up from the shoot sooner than later. I also hope to go back and find the construction foreman so I don’t get chased away again. You can see some photos of Water Street from about 2001-2006 in my portfolios on the website.

Welcome Statement.

5x7 View Camera

My Korona 5x7/4x5 camera.

Welcome to the latest incarnation of my photography website. This is something new, not just a web based portfolio but a living entity. I have set it up to be a blog style website. I’ll be able to add and subtract images much easier. I can also add blog entries and captions much easier. So this is just the start! Check back often, comment often, and lets see where this new website leads us!