Film day, snow day, work day

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I’ve been on eBay again, looking at old Nikon lenses to use with my D7100.  I always browse the old film camera category, because people will sell an old SLR with its lens(es) in a single deal. I’ve acquired a few good old prime lenses for a bargain price that way, and in the past I donated the unwanted sad old cameras to Goodwill.

But this time around I’m paying attention to the cameras too. I bought some film and I’m shooting with a few old SLRs – all Nikons so far – in the bundles I bought.

A few days ago I took light rail downtown to my job on a day that started clear – see the first photo, above –  and as predicted went all snowy. I took along a Nikon EM with a crummy old 35-70mm Hanimex lens (don’t ask, long story, bad choice of lens), shooting Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400.

When I went to lunch, the snow had started:

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By quitting time, I was happy to be riding light rail and not having to drive home.

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Or to bike home.

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Not critical work

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I love the innernets. Today I researched an old Promaster brand zoom lens – once bundled with Nikon “amateur” level SLR film cameras and now often found for sale, cheap. As often happens, I found a discussion on point, on a photography forum, with only a few conflicting details (it’s definitely manufactured by Tamron vs. it’s for sure a Tokina lens).

And then I found this, from a guy who started a discussion by asking about that lens. He thanked the others for the information and said, about the lens:

it will not be used for critical work, just for snapshots and holiday memories

Just snapshots and holiday memories.

Oh, dude. Really?

The photo above is a crop of a picture I took back in the 80’s or 90’s, of my aunt, clowning around at Christmastime with a row of stuffed animals on the hearth. She adored her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and loved making a big fuss over them at Christmas especially.

I won’t put her face on the Internet today. She’s now the prisoner of a vicious disease (Parkinson’s) and not in good physical or mental condition. So bad that she’s incapable of consenting to my posting an identifiable image. It’s beyond sad. The energetic, smiling woman in that picture is only a memory now.

I don’t remember what camera I used to take that photo. It was probably some decent point and shoot with 35mm film. I’m glad it came out pretty well.

But, if I’d had a top of the line, revered, camera and lens, to take that photo? It would have been worth it.

Critically.

Grandmother’s vase. Unless it isn’t.

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This little blue opalescent vase sat on the windowsill above the sink at grandmother’s house.

It’s a Fenton piece, probably from the 1940’s, just 4 inches tall, and not valuable.

It reminds me of childhood summers in a small town. The sound of a screen door slapping closed, the welcome shade of a big pecan tree in the back yard, a wavery old lady’s voice humming a tune as she washed dishes at the sink. High-ceilinged rooms and old-fashioned furniture. A big old clawfoot bath tub, an old bathroom sink with separate hot and cold taps.

I’m not sure this is the exact vase from my (step)grandmother’s house. I went in search of more like it, and found them. They were, I think, individually hand made – not machine made although manufactured in commercial quantities. I shopped for Fenton vases in antique shops and flea markets for a few years, and I found there were slight variations between pieces when compared side by side. I think I sent the original little vase to a relative and kept the closest copy.

But it’s possible I didn’t send it off. I just can’t remember. And I’m enjoying the small mystery – is it the one I knew as a kid, or one just like it?

Kodak Holiday

Kodak Brownie Holiday camera and box

Yesterday I took this camera out to a photo meetup. The rules were, to bring an item and photograph it, then post the photo without a caption so that the photo itself tells a story.

This Brownie Holiday was my first camera ever, a gift for my 6th birthday. I’ve bought, sold, lost, and given away a ton of cameras in my lifetime, but always kept this one.

Yesterday morning when I took it out of its box, I slid the catches down and opened it. That’s when I learned it still has film in it!  I have no idea how old that film is, no memory of the last time I used the camera as a kid. Obviously I ruined some of the film by opening the camera. After I closed it again, I rolled the film past exposure 5 and left it on exposure 6. Research on the 127 film indicates that there are 8 exposures on the roll.

At the meetup, I asked about it, and was advised to take the film to Englewood Camera, and that because it’s black and white it may well still be good.

I’ll take three more exposures first. I’m still deciding what they will be. I’m trying to keep my expectations low, to be prepared for the film being ruined.

Woodworker

Wallet propped on closed door

My father was a carpenter and cabinet maker. Among other things. He started life on a farm and never really got over wanting to be a farmer, but his life didn’t go that way.

When I was a kid he started his own business, doing custom finish trim and cabinetry in nice homes. It was (saw)dusty work, often in sweltering weather, Daddy and his small crew. He’d come home from work, step into the utility room from the garage, and change from his dirty overalls into a t-shirt and cotton trousers, then head straight through the house to take a shower. He was fastidious, my dad.

He died suddenly, too young, of a heart attack, when I was just out of college. Many years later, after my stepmother died, I came into possession of his wallet.

Today I went out on a photo meetup shoot. The rules were to bring an object and take a picture of it, then post it without any caption or comment so that the photo would tell the story.

I decided to take along my first camera. When I reached in my memory box for the camera, my hand touched the wallet. I was a little late to the meetup because I stood there going through the cards, slips of paper, and photos he carried. In the wallet that he pulled out of his pocket on that long ago Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, not knowing he would never touch it again.

My dad’s wallet smells a bit of sawdust. The photo insert sleeves are scratched and rubbed. He probably carried the wallet for years. The leather is smooth, with the feel that new leather can’t match.

As we walked around old downtown Littleton this morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d pull out the wallet for a photo. I’d brought other things along to shoot. Coming out of an alley, I turned a corner and my eye was caught by the turquoise garage door and trim of a small building on a side street. Then I saw the sign on the glass door: Custom Woodworking and Cabinetry.

I propped the wallet on the door of the woodworking shop and snapped a few photos. It felt peaceful and exactly right.

The Esperson Buildings

Esperson Buildings Entrance 1970's black and white photo by Suzanne Saunders

A long time ago, in Houston, I was a young woman fresh out of college, with a BA in History and no desire to teach school or to pursue a graduate degree in History. In that place and time, teaching and grad school were pretty much the usual options for young women with history degrees.

I had to earn a living to support myself. I’d always liked researching things in the library, and thought that I might like being a lawyer if it involved looking things up in books. I didn’t know any lawyers, so I figured I might as well work for some and see what it was all about.

I got a job as a legal secretary. My first job was with a downmarket small law office, in a small building out on the Southwest Freeway. Where one day a few months into my job, I took a call and found myself being recruited.

Thank goodness. It led to a job as a legal secretary in a really good firm, downtown, in the Esperson Building. Well, technically there are two Esperson Buildings, Mellie and Neils. I don’t remember the name of  the one we were in, but it was a wonderful old office building. With character. The firm was on one of the lower floors, with huge arched windows.

I found this picture that I took in the 1970’s. I worked for that firm for 6 years. When I left I had been promoted to be the firm’s first paralegal,  earned my law degree (night classes), and passed the Texas Bar exam. I moved to Colorado, to take another bar exam and go to work for the Public Defender’s Office.

I’m glad the Esperson Buildings still stand.