Friday, September 6, 2019

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

On Friday before Labor Day and again on Labor Day, I took a hike down the trail to the Henry Clay iron furnace at Coopers Rock.

These days, it's pretty rare for me to come across a new plant.   And this one is doubly notable, because it's also an orchid.   Meet the Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens):


This shot composed of two different shots that were combined in PhotoShop is not very good, but I wanted to be able to show the entire plant.

Most of my shots showing the leaves were blurry.  I need to stop farting around and use my tripod!  This is the best of the lot:



I wanted to show the leaves because of their reticulated pattern.  Oddly, when I tried to find the origin of the orchid's name, the emphasis is on their resemblance to the plantain.

Sadly, I missed catching this orchid in bloom.  Here's the inflorescence as I found it:


I was surprised to read that Goodyera pubescens is considered to be the most common orchids native to eastern North America.  How is it that I've only now stumbled across it?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

SX-70 Alpha 1, Model 2

In an earlier posting, I described the Polaroid SX-70 that I recently acquired.  I ordered a laser-cut leather skin from Etsy, and over the Labor Day holiday I started on removing the old skin.

I watched some YouTube videos about removing old skin, so I did not go into this unprepared.  However, I'm not particularly proud of my results.

I got some Pro Power Goo and Adhesive Remover, which was recommended in one of the how-to videos.  This helped some, but  the old glue was incredibly stubborn.    I used a straight-edge razor scraping tool and I tried to be as careful as I could in removing the skin and adhesive, all the while being careful to not get any of the Power Goo into the camera.  The glue was like a rock.  I managed to slip a bit along some edges where I left some scars.  I used a dremel tool to smooth out those scars, but the end results were still far from perfect.

Here's the finished product.


I'm showing the side with the worst scarring.  Note the left side of the triangle above the bellows.

Did I ruin this camera's resale value?  Maybe.  Probably.  It's still one hell of a nice camera, though.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Morning Woods

On Friday, August 30, I was hiking back up from the Iron Furnace at Cooper's Rock State Park.  Off the side of the trail, my eye did see something a bit unusual.


It appears that a branch or another tree altogether was growing out from a crack in the main trunk and reentering about a foot or two up above.

If you believe in pareidolia and your mind is in the gutter, you may see something of a different nature.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Y.A. SX-70

Yet another SX-70.

I acquired this in the nicest of ways.  A co-worker, who knows I am into old cameras, asked me if I could give this unusual looking Polaroid a good home.  It came from an old nearby industrial facility that is being torn down.  As you can see, this isn't your mother's SX-70.   It has been customized for scientific photography or perhaps quality control.  The entire addition is of a sturdy metal construction.

The addition on the front says it's from Technical Enterprises of Gainesvill, Florida.  There must have been a bunch of these produced at some point, because it features a model and serial number.  The lens assembly on the front looks like it's configured to attach to another tube, such as a microscope.  There's a remote shutter control attached.


I didn't know if this camera was any good.  It was frozen into an open position, and I could not collapse it down.   Looking through the view finder, all I could see was blackness.  I carefully removed all the Technical Enterprises hardware and discovered an Alpha 1, Model 2.   


Lo and behold, I can now see through the viewfinder, and I can close down the camera.  This one has lugs for a carrying strap and a socket for a tripod mount -- something my older model is lacking.   I looked up the serial number and I found that this one is three years younger than my first SX-70.

Serial Number :5J825789173
Config :Alpha 2 Electronics & Alpha 'K' Focus Wheel
Model :Model 2, SE, Sears or Alpha 2
Birthday :Sep 25, 1978


Cosmetically, the leather trim is cracked in places, and it's considerably worn around the tripod mount area.   I'm thinking of plopping down $20 for laser cut replacement skin that I found on Etsy.

I'm now running a pack of Polaroid Originals color SX-70 film through it and the results so far are quite good.  Better, I dare say, than my Model 1.   I shot this Polaroid of the nearby Marriott:

The one problem that I've found so far is that the focus stops a bit short of infinity.  Until/unless I can fix this, there won't be many landscape shots in its future.

I will be giving this camera a good home.

Edit:  see the update here.

Friday, August 23, 2019

In to thy hands, oh Lord

I'm boggled and perplexed. Millions of Americans believe that the election of Donald is the fulfillment of God's will.

God wants Vladimir Putin to be perfect.

People pray that God will guide a surgeon's hands.

Is there any line of demarcation?  Perhaps not.

Let me go back to the Great Orange One (Trump, not God).   Is God putting stupid words into Trump's mouth?  Was this, too, prophesied? 

Was it God's plan to have toilet paper stick to Trump's shoe as he boarded Air Force One?  It must have been.

Et tu, Corinthians?

Truly, these are strange and mysterious ways.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Polaroid SX-70 Shots

Previously, I mentioned that I got an old circa '75 vintage Polaroid SX-70.  I've taken a few shot with it, and I wish I could be more impressed.   I was hoping for more bright colors, but as you can see, this isn't Kodachrome.  This is what you get with Polaroids.

This is the first shot that I took, which I had posted previously via iPhone capture.  The car is silver and the siding of the house should be like a light chocolate milk color.  You can notice one good thing, however, there is very little lens distortionin the front and back lines of the house in the background.  

This is Morgantown shot from the sixth floor of One Waterfront Place.  Despite the cloud cover, I thought that it should have been an adequately bright day for this landscape shot.

I'd held out the most hope for this last picture of some yellow lilies growing in a flower bed alongside of One Waterfront Place.  This was taken in very bright sunlight.  So bright, that the flower petals are almost over exposed.  Orange day lilies in the background are orange, and the green foliage lacks saturation.

I'm not deterred.  On the positive side, the pictures definitely have a vintage quality to them. 

I can think of a couple of things that might be done differently.   First of all, these shots were ejected from the camera in very bright conditions.  I tried to put the undeveloped film into a dark box as quickly as I could, but there could have been enough exposure to mess up the saturation.   The solution might be to get a film shield.

Another factor that I can think of would be the film itself.  With a little bit of modification, I could use a newer Color 600 Film.  It has a much higher ISO value, which consequently captures much more light.



Monday, July 8, 2019

Polaroid SX-70

I scored another great buy on ShopGoodwill.com last week.   Meet the latest addition to my camera  family, the Polaroid SX-70:


As you can see from the picture, it's in good cosmetic shape.   Even more importantly, though -- and this is the risk you take with Goodwill auctions -- it seems to function perfectly.  And something that you probably didn't know:  this SLR camera had a  4-element 116mm F/8 lens.

According to a serial number calculator that I found online, my model came from about the third year of production.

Serial Number :0J501905064
Config :Hybrid Shutter
Model :Model 1 or Alpha 1
Birthday :Sep 22, 1975

The lack of a tripod mount and strap connectors means that this is a Model 1.  It has the old split-lens viewfinder that I really love.

The shot below is not exactly a faithful scan -- it's just an iPhone picture:


Also on display is the package of SX-70 color film that I bought from Amazon.  It's 160 ASA film and I've read that you really should use it out of doors in bright sunlight.  It does have a mount for now-obsolete flash bars, but I don't even want to go there right now.

I've had (much) less than stellar results with previous Polaroid films.  I have a couple of Polaroid Spectras, and I ran a couple of packages of Spectra film made by the Impossible Project.  Most of the shots were crappy.  I suspect that it had a lot  to do with the age of the film, however.

The Impossible Project has recently given way to Polaroid Originals, and the improvement in production quality appears to be substantial.   Of course, I'm basing all of this on my one test shot.  Really, though, my opinion is shared by many other people on the net.

The future brings more experimentation with this camera.  I've read that with a minor adjustment and the addition of a neutral density filter you can run the faster and more easily available Polaroid 600 film through it.   Now that I know this camera works, I feel safe in trying that out.