Friday, September 7, 2012

What's old is new again...

A couple of months ago, my wife Monika presented me with a gift. It was one of those sweet "just because" gifts.
It was a 1950 Tower 120 medium format film camera. Manufactured for Sears and Roebuck, it is a very simple, very basic "box" camera. It's design is elegant in it's simplicity and I was thrilled to receive it. I cleaned it up and gave it the once over straight away. I was especially excited to shoot with it because it features a 110mm fixed lens and being a box camera and not an SLR or TLR, looking through the primitive viewfinder offered what I imagined would be only an approximation of what the lens would capture...

Downtown Los Angeles 8-2012 ©Mike Vega

Unfortunately, I was all out of medium format film and it would be a few weeks until I had the opportunity to buy some (I try not to pay for shipping on things like film when possible, this hobby is pricy enough as it is!). 
As it turned out, Monika and I were lucky enough to have a relatively "free" day (no derby bouts) and we took the time to head up to Los Angeles to purchase some film (okay, a LOT of film...) and spend the day shooting around downtown and enjoying the eateries and shops.

The cooolest Ducks in town. @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA. 8-2012 ©Mike Vega

Based on the internals of the Tower, I was initially under the impression that this camera would produce a square negative, but was puzzled by the vertical rectangular viewfinder... As it would be revealed when the film was developed, it in fact produces HUGE rectangular negatives!

The Rosslyn Hotel. Skid Row, Los Angeles, CA. 8-2012 ©Mike Vega
As this first roll was a "test" roll, I took a lot of chances with my exposures and composition, and was more than pleasantly surprised at how well the little box camera performed (even during a hand held long exposure using a slow film in low light as pictured above).

Ponies. Mira Loma, CA. 9-2012 ©Mike Vega

Every now and then, you come across something that simply and strangely "fits" the way that you, as an individual, do things. Sometimes it is something like a tool, or a motorcycle, or in this case a "new" vintage camera. I have been lucky in this way most of my life. To find things to integrate into what I do that allow me to do them more naturally and closer to what I imagine them to be. 
Thank you to Monika for introducing me to this gem, which is sure to have a regular spot in my ever cramped camera case.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Magic Kingdom...

I talk to many people who tell me that they don't "get" Disneyland, and how people can be "all into it'.
As someone who grew up in Southern California that is kind of hard to imagine.
For me, going to Disneyland was as much a part of growing up as going to Grandmas house, or the beach, or shopping for school clothes...
That said, going to Disneyland now isn't about re-living my youth.
I take my daughter to the theme park to experience just that, the theme(s) of the place. The Imagineers at Disney go to pain staking lengths to ensure that every detail of an attraction is well thought out, and sorted before anyone sets eyes on it. It is that attention to detail that allows the visitor to become immersed in the experience.

The Columbia ©Mike Vega 2012
400asa B/W 35mm film

I wouldn't call it escapism, but spending a day or evening at Disneyland with family or friends can be somewhat of a re-charging experience. You are in a place where your only requirement is to enjoy being there. You are free to experience as much or as little of the entertainment as you like. That coupled with the myriad images and scenes created and re-created with exacting detail can be captivating.

Point Mugu Tattoo Gift Shop
Disney's California Adventure
©Mike Vega 2012
400asa B/W 35mm film

These things coupled with the right attitude can make for an oasis in the middle of the sprawling Southern California suburbs today, just as it has for decades.
Whether you are seeking thrills, or stepping back in time, the park is what you make it.

The Riverboat Mark Twain
©Mike Vega
400asa B/W 35mm film

Some of my favorite times at the park are spent between hustling to rides and deciding what to do next... 
Those moments when you see the people and the park as one entity, inseparable and complimentary.

Paradise Pier at Disney's California Adventure Park
©Mike Vega

400asa B/W 35mm film