Back in September, while on vacation in Vermont, my beloved Nikon D40 broke. This made me sad because, although I have many, many other cameras (including a respectable digital Canon Powershot), the D40 is my go-to camera, what I would instinctively grab for any pictures I was taking around the house, what I would use for Etsy photos, what I would always throw in the car even if I was going out to take pictures with film cameras.

The shutter mechanism got stuck, a problem which seems to happen sooner or later to cameras of this model. I was reluctant to send it in to be repaired, partly because of the cost, and partly because I didn’t like the idea of sending it anywhere. A few months went by, and then finally Travis decided to have a go at fixing it himself.

Following a tutorial he found somewhere online, he opened up the body partway until he found screws that were too stripped out for him to remove. Fortunately, a bit of the shutter mechanism was visible, and he was able to drop a few drops of oil into the workings. And behold, the Nikon snapped back to life!

It’s not perfect – the shutter has stuck a few times since then, which is always greeted with a sense of dismay. We’ve stopped being gentle with it and have taken to giving it a firm smack on the bottom when it’s finicky. For now, it works. I definitely foresee buying a new digital Nikon sometime in the new year, though. Hopefully, it’ll wait until I’ve got the money put aside for it.

When the D40 was in its sad, extended period of not working, I had the thought that I should get a Nikon 35mm film camera body – something that would let me use the lens that came with the D40 and my Lensbaby Composer with the Nikon mount even if my Nikon digital camera wasn’t working. So this year, for Christmas, Travis bought me one. Meet the newest member of the family, the Nikon FM2N:

My Christmas present

Since the D40 is still roughly functional, I outfitted the FM2N with the Lensbaby Composer. I’ve always wanted to try shooting film with the Lensbaby, and now I’m finally able to!

The first roll of film I shot through the FM2N was, ironically, the last roll of Kodachrome I’ve shot. Considering that 1. the Kodachrome was probably outdated by at least a decade, 2. this was my first time using the FM2N, 3. I shot half of the roll outside at night without using a tripod, and 4. I knew I needed to get through the roll quickly in order to get it shipped off to Dwayne’s before today (the last day they’re accepting Kodachrome to develop EVER), I bet that roll is a hot mess. If it did make it to Dwayne’s in time to get developed, I’m not holding out a ton of hope that I get any decent results off of the roll. If nothing else, though, at least I’ll have some new junk slides to make curtains and lamps out of. 🙂

Speaking of Kodachrome, we shipped off 6 rolls to Dwayne’s a few weeks ago. I haven’t heard anything from them, but hopefully there were no post office shenanigans, and all of the film made it there safely. Honestly, I only shot the Kodachrome because I felt obligated to – I shot a few rolls of it back in the late 90s, and then never went back to it, probably because of the delay it took to get the film processed. If I hadn’t’ve accumulated some Kodachrome this summer when I went to the camera auctions, I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to acquire any before the great Kodachromepocalypse. As is, I had to force myself to shoot with them, which seems sacrilegious, I know, but I just really like shooting film that I can develop myself. Process K-14, why must you be so mysterious and complex?!

I won’t even mention the 12 or so reels of Kodachrome movie film I never got around to shooting. As much as I want to, I just can’t force myself to get into shooting movies. Oh well.

Anyway, back to the FM2N! I shot the roll of Kodachrome through it, then an old roll of Kodak Vericolor from 1990 which I’ve yet to develop (it’s C-41), and then I finally loaded up something I could develop quickly – a roll of black and white Rollei R3 400 that expired in 2008. Semi-fresh, even! We took it out for a test drive yesterday and developed it in Kodak HC100b last night.


Hey, it works! Maybe there’s some hope for the roll of Kodachrome, after all!

The FM2N is really a great little camera. The shutter mechanism is entirely mechanical, which means it doesn’t use battery power to operate. The only thing in the camera that uses the battery is the meter, which actually works better than the Nikon D40 did when using the Lensbaby. Whenever I had the Lensbaby on the Nikon, I couldn’t get a meter reading at all, and would just wind up taking a bunch of pictures in order to find the right exposure. Since it was digital, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but with the Nikon FM2N, I don’t need to do that. The exposure indicator lights inside the viewfinder let me know if I need to adjust the shutter speed without having to do any guesswork. I shot two rolls of film yesterday using only the in-camera meter as my judge of shutter speed, and I got perfect results.


Also, when I wasn’t looking, Lensbaby released a new product, a lenshood/step ring for filters. It’s like they anticipated my needs and met them before I had even realized what I needed! Spooky! Anyway, this nifty little gadget screws onto the Lensbaby lens and allows you to use 52mm filters, which is perfect, because all of my good filters are 52mm. Hooray! When I took the photo of the pony, above, I used a red 25A filter to darken the sky.

So, this is all leading me towards the ultimate goal of shooting infrared film through the Lensbaby. Exciting! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and I may wait until spring to actually give it a try, but at least now it’s possible. I’ve got a few rolls of the color infrared film left, too (the one roll I shot got sent to Dwayne’s for processing, since I wasn’t sure when I’d get around to developing more E-6), and what could be more awesome than shooting color infrared film with a Lensbaby?

Spooky sun

The FM2N has made me a lot more interested in shooting 35mm film in general. It’s not my preferred format – I far prefer 120 or 4×5. However, I’ve accumulated a boatload of 35mm, a lot of it really weird stuff that was never available in the larger formats. Now I have an excuse to shoot through it and be excited about doing so.

I also shot through a roll of color film (some Rite-Aid branded 200 speed expired film) with the FM2N yesterday. We took it to CVS for a quicky developing, and got pretty good results with that as well. Since most of the pictures on both of the rolls were of the same subject (I was trying out the different optics and taking notes! Go, me!), here’s one of the non-test subject pictures.

Blue house

On the lower left edge of the above pic, you can just barely make out one of the stars from the star aperture disc. Fun!

Anyway, now that the Nikon D40 is working (sort of) again, I should be getting my Etsy shop back and running here in the next week with misc. camera weirdness in stock. I like the Canon Powershot SX 1S that we have, but it really sucks for doing product photos. Nikon 4-evah! I’m also going to try and post some articles about using different filters, since it’s something I’m interested in learning more about right now. I did a really wacky filter experiment yesterday, but want to try it again with a different subject before posting the results.

I’ll leave you with one of the few pics I took on vacation with the Speed Graphic. The entire frame is cropped since I can’t scan in a complete 4×5 negative in my scanner, but it’s enough to give you an idea until I make a print with it. Waterfall goodness!


My new baby

I had a baby and it was a Lensbaby

Ever since I found out that Lensbaby had revamped their product lens, I had a case of serious WANT, even though I had only got my 2.0 in July. I’m normally not the type of person to be constantly upgrading gadgets, but I couldn’t help it with the Lensbaby – the Composer’s optic swap system was just too tempting. Especially since I have a fondness for pinhole photography, I was thrilled by the concept of Lensbaby digital pinhole and zone plate optics.

Anyway, I was finally spurred to order the new Composer when Travis and I began planning our DC trip – there are a few places we want to go to where dealing with film cameras isn’t exactly going to be easy (the Air and Space Museum, for one), so I decided to go ahead and get the Composer before we went so I would have a bunch of different options while not having to juggle a bunch of different cameras.

The Lensbaby showed up yesterday, complete with adorable packaging (see above). I have to give mad props to the Lensbaby company, by the way – I ordered directly from them, have had great communication with the company, and received the goods uber-fast. The way they package and market the Lensbaby, too, is brilliant. When you get a Lensbaby, it makes you feel like you’re part of this goofy, camera- and art-mad family that doesn’t take itself too terribly seriously. I’m a fan of that, and as such, Lensbaby now has my fierce customer loyalty.

The Composer differs from the Lensbaby 2.0 by having a focusing ring and tiltable lens. To take pictures with the 2.0, you had to both squish and tilt the lens to get the desired effect, which was a little fiddly to get accustomed to. The Composer is easier to use, since the focusing ring and tilt functions will both stay where you put them without having to constantly squeeze. This is a really nice feature especially for those of us with a Nikon camera, since you have to manually adjust your shutter settings. I guess with other brands of cameras, you can just switch the camera to aperture priority mode, and it will take over dealing with the shutter speeds, but the Nikon just doesn’t comprehend that, so you have to do everything yourself. That’s not a big deal, but the new design of the Composer means that you don’t have to constantly recompose your shot if you discover that you need to change your shutter speed.

The Composer comes with double glass optics, which is the sharpest of the 4 optics options. That’s all nice and such, but I was more interested in what the other optics – Single Glass, Plastic, and the Pinhole/Zone Plate option – would yield. I’m planning on doing a test shoot of a neutral subject using the different optics later on today, but yesterday I spent most of my time shooting with the Single Glass optic. Here’s a pic taken with the Plastic optic, first:


I think this was taken with the Plastic optic as well. Oh, I also got the Creative Aperture kit, too, so this was taken with the star disc in place.

Revere Eye-Matic is a star!

The star aperture cracks me up.

Stars on my Fit

Can’t wait to try making some different shapes with the blank aperture discs that came with the kit.

Like I said, I spent most of the day shooting with the Single Glass optic in place. I could still get a relatively sharp area in focus, but also got odd color effects and lens flares here and there. I never knew exactly what my pictures were going to turn out like, which is a lot of fun for me.

Lens flare:

Have a seat

Surprising sharpness:

Abandoned barn

The optics were a little more of a pain in the butt to change out than I had expected, but became easier once I stopped detaching the Lensbaby from the camera before I switched them out. I don’t like having to juggle a lensless camera, a camera lens, an optic switching tool, and a new optic all at once. This will probably become easier after I get more used to it, though.

Some more Composer pictures:

My favorite cow

Another shot of grass

Fence with hose

4 Things

More later.


I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille!

Focus. I needs it. I think my problem is that I have too much shit – I’m overwhelmed with the amount of cameras I have, to the point where I some I haven’t even tried out yet, plus now I’m getting back into making pinholes again – it’s too much. The result is that when I go out to take pictures, I have a buttload of cameras I’m taking with me, and I wind up just getting flustered and wanting to make sure I try out everything. Not good.

Anyway, yesterday I tried making a Polaroid pinhole camera using some Polaroid film boxes and got a massive FAIL instead. Wasted two shots of 600, which isn’t tragic, but with how expensive (and near-extinct) integral film is, I kind of don’t want to be wasting more of it than I have to. I think I’m going to wait to do further experimentation with Polaroid pinholes once I get the extra Fuji peel-apart film in. At least they’re still making that.

So, instead of having a play day with the Polaroid, I took a few shots with my new pinhole cameras and then screwed around with the Lensbaby some.

Forsythia buds

Waiting for sun


Later on at night, Travis and I went out to shoot some pictures. He wielded the Canon AE-1 with the telephoto lens, whereas I has the two 35mm pinholes, a Polaroid, the Yashica C, and the Brownie that I can get 4×5 film in. Oh, and there was the Nikon, too. And besides learning that I need to just focus on one camera at a time, I also learned that night photography with film is a new, scary animal. It wouldn’t be so bad, I guess, if I actually used some sort of exposure calculator. But I didn’t. I basically made a few second long exposures with the Yashica and Brownie, shot a few Polaroids that didn’t come out (the theme of the day for me), and popped open the shutter on the pinholes and just let them sit until either the wind blew them over or we were ready to leave. I have no idea what, if anything, came out (especially since I wasn’t using a tripod either).

After I ran out of film, I switched to the Nikon (it’s my safety).

This one is blurry, but I like it anyway.

Travis, all black and white-ified

Traffic cones at the Walmart

Tried taking a bunch of multi-exposure shots (sans tripod!) to HDRify, but this was the only one I was kind of happy with. I like the colors in it, at least.

Shooting night for day

Will try to develop some of the film over the next few days. If I get one decent night film shot out of the lot, I’ll be happy.

Oh, we also stopped inside Walmart (The Great Satan!) to check out developing prices and such. They still develop APS and 110, which is nice, and it would be even nicer if our APS camera still worked. We discovered yesterday that it doesn’t, which is kind of a bummer, since I’ve got 5 or 6 rolls of APS film. So I guess we’ll be on the lookout for a new APS camera next time we hit Goodwill. Anyway, if I read their info correctly, apparently to get a roll of film developed only (no prints) is $1.76 a roll. I don’t know if that’s just for 35mm or if they do 120 too – I know I’ve seen people on Flickr talk about getting their 120 film processed there. It’s not something I would want to do a lot (except for the APS and 110 – since I don’t have any way to develop those), but would be nice if there was something I absolutely wanted to get developed right away.

Peel Apart love

Vincent Van Goop

Didn’t realize it had been quite so long since I posted here. Huh. Well, the last photo in the last post showed the Polaroid 230 Land Camera. It was part of a mixed lot of cameras and film I got on eBay. It was one of those auctions that actually has a ton of crap in it, but the description and first photo were really bad, so only a few people wound up bidding on it. I wound up getting a ton of 126 film…

I died and went to Instamatic Heaven

…in addition to the Polaroid 230 and 4 packs of film for it. There were some random other cameras in it, too. I relegated the Instamatics and the Polaroid 600 into the bin of cameras for me to eventually sell on eBay. God knows, I am flush with Instamatics and Polaroid 600s. A Kodak Brownie Reflex (127 film) was also in the package. The viewing mirror and glass were grotesque, but it cleaned up just fine and I look forward to trying it out.

The Polaroid 230 was the main attraction, though. It needed a new battery, so I ordered one from Adorama and got a pack of the Fuji peel-apart film too to try out. I’m not sure if any of the Polaroid film that came with the camera will still work. I’m guessing not, but on the odd chance that it does, I wanted to work out any kinks I had with this camera on Fuji film first. That turned out to be a smart thing to do, since I wasted my first two shots with the 230 trying to figure out the camera settings. Now it’s working okay though.

Dodge Dart

The van next door

Pretty impressed with the Fuji film. It has nice saturation and depth. I don’t have any issues with it, maybe because I’m a Polaroid n00b, but if this is the only color film I have available to use in this camera, I’m okay with that.

I’ve also been experimenting with the Goop aspect of peel apart films, as you can tell with the top pic. The goop is fun because it’s so unpredictable. I’ve taken 4 successful pics with the 230, and of the 4, the goop turned out to be a negative image on 3 pics. The fourth, the van pic shown above, had a positive goop. Sweet random, mysterious goop!

The 230 is a rangefinder, too, which is something that takes a bit of getting used to. The only other rangefinder I have is one of those stupid Argus bricks and I hate it. I’ve got a roll of 12 pics in it right now, and it’s taking me an eternity to shoot the roll, just because I hate the camera so much. Can’t wait to be done with it. The 230 isn’t so bad, though – you change the focus by shoving the bellows left or right. It’s not difficult at all.

In other news, found some fun film at an antique shop:

116!  Woot!

Unexposed 116 film, baby! Process C-41 even! Can’t wait to get into that. Also have picked up a few random cameras here and there that have rolls of film in them. A lot of Triple Print, actually. Stupid Triple Print. Guess I’ll be developing all of that in black and white. Oh, I also got some Diafine developer too, when I ordered from Adorama. Maybe I’ll do a developing day this week where I get a bunch of my old films developed.

Got out the Lensbaby and the macro filter for it and screwed around a bit today:



Don't cry for me Argentina

Did a Polaroid/Lensbaby mash-up:

Polaroid, then Lensbaby

Still waiting for the weather to get warmer.