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December 24th, 2023

Between My Drafting Table And My Cameras…

I’ve said elsewhere here that I couldn’t make it professionally in the arts because I never had the kind of focus it take. Case in point: just a few days ago I was all about my art gallery, and now it’s pretty much back to the photography.

I have two routes I use for my morning walks, one of which is to zig-zag through the new “luxury” rowhouse development nearby, where the container factory used to be. That development has been a muse ever since they started building it. Today on my morning coffee walk, while going through one of the narrow alleyways between the rows, I saw the sort of slightly cloudy, sun streaked sky overhead I love to work with, and just then it was making that narrow alley look really interesting to my photographic eye.

I had to have that shot. But at that moment all I had was the iPhone. Olay…it can can do a good job with my art photography, I have lots of examples. So I snapped off an iPhone shot just to get it. Then I hightailed it back home and got the Petri out.

I see now I haven’t written about this here, but probably on my Facebook page and I was neglecting this blog. But some time ago I found a Petri FT for sale on one of the used camera sites, that looked to be in very good condition. So I bought it for its nostalgia value to me. The Petri was my first SLR camera, simple and affordable to teenage me, and it opened a new world to me artistically. Now I could precisely compose to the frame in the viewfinder, because now I’m looking through the same lens that will take the photo. It was what you see is what you get, and I could be as specific about composing a shot as I wanted to be. Plus, you could change lenses from wide angle to telephoto, and no matter what lens I had on it I was still seeing exactly when the film saw when the shutter opened. You just don’t get that with any other sort of camera.

When I first got the second hand Petri I ordered I took it to Ocean City New Jersey for an ultimate nostalgia trip. OC became one of my photographic muses back when I was a teenage boy, and it still is. Many of what I consider my best shots from that period were taken with the Petri. Back then I could not afford its native 28mm or 135mm lenses, so those were third party compatibles from Soligor and Vivitar. Now I can, and that is what I shoot with on that camera.

Last summer I took the Petri with me because, perhaps irrationally, I wanted that example of my first SLR camera to see and photograph the land of my birth. I bought it back home to Baltimore still loaded with some Tri-X Pan I’d taken to California with only a couple shots on it. So I had the roll to finish. It still had the 28mm Petri lens on it. I put a red filter on that and gave the camera a fresh battery. Fortune smiled on me and the sky was still pretty interesting when I got back to the rowhouse development and that narrow alleyway, and I finished the roll pretty quickly.

That makes 7 rolls of Tri-X I have waiting for me in the darkroom. I have another partial roll of Tri-X in the Canon F1N that also came back from California. I finish that and it’s an even eight which works out for the four reel tank I have. Still have three rolls of 120 NeoPan 100, three or four of 35mm NeoPan 100 out of the Leica, and five rolls of Agfa Copex to develop when I can mix up some H&W Control developer.

Obviously my inner compass has swung back to the cameras. So it goes…


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