Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Konica WaiWai

Picked up a Konica WaiWai camera recently. This is a wide-angle (17 mm), fixed-focus disposable from Japan (there was a US version at some point). They are out of production, but you can pick them up on eBay. Nice thing about them...they are "disposable", but they can be reloaded with 35mm film with a little work! In my next post, I'll have some instructions on doing this. There are a couple of Chinese sites that show how it's done, but I figure some English would be nice, as it gets a little complicated towards the end.

As you can see, there is a mirror on the front so you can take self-portraits (as advertised on the package). The viewfinder also shows an approximation of what you are shooting, though with much greater parallax than the photos have. Still, it helps visualize the final image. What is pretty amazing is how wide the lens actually is. You can be about one foot in front of something and six feet to the left, and it still appears in the photo. The focal range is a bit odd, too. You can pretty much focus on something an inch away, but things in the distance are out of focus. So it really does require a some adjustment when shooting. I took it out for a practice shoot on my bike. The interesting shots are those with something directly along the edges of the camera. Quite a few of my shots didn't have anything close by, defeating the extreme wide-angle purpose. One negative, though maybe not, is the amount of lens flare. Doesn't bother me, but there was a LOT of it, as you can see in these photos. There is also a decent amount of vignette, which can be increased by using the flash.

All in all, a really fun camera! Now that I have a better idea of what it does and how to take advantage of its quirks, I want to take it out again right away! I have another roll of color film, but I need to pick up some black and white for "artsy" experimentation. I like the effect much more than the Lomo fisheye, and can see using it for art and just for fun. In my next post, I'll try step-by-step instructions on reloading it. It does take a regular 35mm canister, instead of one of those DC-whatever canisters that other disposables just have to do some of it in the dark. Until then...

Monday, October 09, 2006

A few more olden moldies...

Some more playing around in the darkroom. These are from 1989 and are part of my final assignment in Photo 101 (or whatever it was called). I mostly put out crap for the semester and then suddenly 'blossomed' at the end, with all kinds of ideas. Guess it took me awhile to get used to the medium and move beyond the point, shoot and print attitude.
I initially shot a roll of film, focusing on textures and pattern. I copied the negatives using a zoom function on a copier onto transparent overheads, then used an overhead projector to..project (duh!) them onto my then girlfriend. I printed a few of these as stright shots, and some I used for experimenting in the darkroom.

This is a straight print:

And this was done with a small version of the print used as a paper negative:

Another thing I messed about with was using photocopies as negatives. This is the original photocopy:

And the print:

Another photocopy neg:

And a print made from a contact print of the print made from the paper photocopy neg (if that makes sense):

An example of the projected image on the model (funny, I never noticed the iron marks from mounting the photo!):

This is the same overhead used as a mask while printing:

Anyway, just a few more ideas from the past...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why I need a darkroom...

Way back when, from 1988 to around 1992, I actually had a full darkroom. I currently just develop my own film and scan the negs onto my computer. That's fine for straight "prints", and photoshop does have some nice controls that are difficult to duplicate with an enlarger. On the other hand, there are tons of things I can do in the darkroom that are impossible to replicate on the computer. And if they are, it's not as much fun, anyway.
Since I haven't done anything new for the past month, I figured I'd hop in the wayback machine and post some experimental stuff from my darkroom days. I would spend hours in the basement playing around with developer, contact prints, zeroxed negatives, overheads, anything I could make a print from. I hadn't really thought about any of this for awhile until I was looking at Bea's site (see links on right side), and she was describing (I think) placing a paper negative into the enlarger, which was something I used to mess around with. So here are some things I did back then. None of this stuff is matted or was ever meant to be displayed. I haven't really cleaned any of these, either, so sorry for the dust and hair. It's just stuff I created from screwing around...most of it postcard size, since it was cheaper to work out ideas that way. I'll explain what I remember. There are some shots I have that have so may steps that I can't remember exactly how the finished product came about.

This is a fairly simple concept. Two separate negatives, with one half being blocked and exposed and the other side then exposed with the other neg...

This shot was a contact print from another contact print. So I printed the shot, used that shot as a contact to make a negative contact, then used the neg contact to make another positive. It's a nice way to soften the image and give it an interesting texture.

Further exploration of that theme produced some interesting effects. There are actually at least 30 shots in this series. I just kept using each contact print as another contact print, occassionally playing around with solarization or whatnot, until the image loses most of its definition through continious printing through thick paper. I'd like to try another more controlled experiment with this someday.

I can't remember the method here, where you take a neg and make a really high contrast neg out of it...maybe something to to with lithography? Anyway, I did a lot of that, too. Used to be big into combining nature and machine.

Not sure what I did here. Must have been some toning going on or multiple negs. I can't really tell, but I kind of like it. Looks very early 1990s, too. The streaks are actually part of the image and not damage or scratches.

Probably cut out paper contacts here, or possible cutout paper negatives, judging from the loss of definition. Like making a collage negative. Toned a couple of times, it looks like...sepia and blue. Again with the mechanical theme.

A continuation of the above shot, contact printed who knows how many times and solarized.

I'll post more of this stuff later. One of the reasons I like toy cameras so much is that they do a lot of what I tried so hard to do in the darkroom automatically. Not everything, but a lot of the low-fi effects are 'pre-installed' in my shots now. I'd love to take them and see what I could do with an enlarger. Anything to remove the computer from the equation. I love analogue. Someday...more money and more time.
On a side note, I haven't seen these girls in forever.

On another side note, a couple goofy things I found inside my old photo file:

I would LOVE to be installed today. Makes me think of Doctor Who.

I also would take those realtor mags and deface every single portrait on a page (where they would have 30 realtors listed on a single page)...because they deserve it (and, I know, realtor is caps and with a registered trademark, and I don't care, the rebel that I am...and it's sad that I know how realtor should be printed). Maybe I'll locate them someday. I save everything.