Grasses in a pond

For some reason I went out the other day intending to take some pictures of water. As I walked around, I came across this pond. I’ve seen it before, and it seems to come and go. Sometimes (as with today) there’s quite a lot of water; and sometimes it appears to be completely dry.

I think it’s a vernal pond:

Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds or ephemeral pools, are seasonal pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. They are considered to be a distinctive type of wetland usually devoid of fish, and thus allow the safe development of natal amphibian and insect species unable to withstand competition or predation by fish. Certain tropical fish lineages (such as killifishes) have however adapted to this habitat specifically.

Vernal pools are a type of wetland. They can be surrounded by many communities/species including deciduous forest, grassland, lodgepole pine forest, blue oak woodland, sagebrush steppe, succulent coastal scrub and prairie. These pools are characteristic of Mediterranean climates, but occur in many other ecosystems.

An inundated rock vernal pool on Enchanted Rock. Note the one inhabited by cacti in the background.
During most years, a vernal pool basin will experience inundation from rain/precipitation, followed by desiccation from evapotranspiration. These conditions are commonly associated with Mediterranean climate such as the Central Valley of California.[1] Vernal pool basins are often characteristics of Mediterranean climates, but occur in many other ecosystems, such as forested areas of the Canadian Shield, where they are difficult to identify because of the forest canopy.[2] Most pools are dry for at least part of the year, and fill with the winter rains, spring snowmelts and rising water tables. Some pools may remain at least partially filled with water over the course of a year or more, but all vernal pools dry up periodically. Typically, though, a vernal pool has three phases each year: it is inundated in the winter (inundated phase) with the vernal pool holding onto the water from 10–65 days, it dries slowly during the spring (flowering phase), and it dries completely during the summer (dry phase). Vernal pools favor native species because many non-native species cannot tolerate the extreme seasonal changes in environmental conditions. (Wikipedia)

Whatever it is I thought it would make a worthwhile subject


Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Lumix G Vario 14-140 f3.5-5.6

Film Camera 2024 -1: Polaroid SX-70 – Results

Of course, after I got my hands the Polaroid SX-70 mentioned in the previous post I rushed out immediately, eager to try it out – right? Actually, that was not the case. I think that I acquired the camera and film in 2022. When I opened the film package today, I noticed that the film was made in 2021, which of course makes it three years old. Polaroid warns that you should not use film more than one year old, which may have been a contributing factor to what happened today.

So how did things go? Well, I put the film in the camera and the dark slide popped out as it should. So far so good. I left the house and walked down towards the Hudson River. On the way I spotted something that I thought would make an interesting picture. I carefully focused, framed the picture and pressed the shutter release. The camera whirred but no picture was ejected. After tugging for a while, I managed to get it out. Of course, the picture was blank. I continued walking and took another picture with the same results. The third picture at least ejected from the camera without any assistance with me, but it looked as if it had been taken with a 150-year-old camera rather than 52-year-old camera that it is. I continued walking and taking pictures and they all ejected and were all pretty much of the same quality. When I got to the last two pictures, I pressed the shutter release…and nothing happened. Frustrating, but then I remembered that while the old Polaroid film allowed 10 exposures, the modern variant only allows eight. I imagine that the first two exposures did not register on the frame counter, which showed that there were two left when in fact there the film pack was finished. When I got home, I couldn’t get the film pack out of the camera, but after some YouTube browsing I managed to figure out how to remove it and also how to clean the rollers (which now had some bluish grey gunk on them, probably from my efforts to remove the film from the camera when it wouldn’t eject by itself).

I don’t consider today’s efforts a total disaster though (although I might have done if I hadn’t gotten any pictures at all). I was bit disappointed with the results, but not at all surprised. It’s an old camera that’s been sitting around for a while. The film was beyond its sell by date. Clearly the camera is not working properly, but all things considered I quite liked the results. They have a certain vintage look that has a charm of its own.

I also wanted to see whether or not I’d like the instant camera experience. I was surprised to find that I did, and I intend to continue. I might see if I can get the camera repaired. I browsed around for a while and discovered that a lot of people had good things to say about Brooklyn Film Camera. I live close to NY City, so I’ll probably give them a call, and if possible, take it in for them to have a look. If they can fix it for a reasonable cost I’ll probably do it. If not I might consider getting another one that they already renovated. It’s such a beautiful camera that I wouldn’t at all mind putting it out for display.

All things considered it was an enjoyable experience.





Taken with a Polaroid SX-70. Pictures messed with in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Film Camera 2024 -1: Polaroid SX-70

Even when they were in their heyday, I wasn’t much into instant cameras. I guess I shouldn’t even say instant cameras because back then there was only one brand: Polaroid. However, I witnessed the death and resurrection of Polaroid and admired they way that a group of determined and dedicated individuals had brought back both the film and the cameras. Good for them!

So when I was thinking about what new kind of camera I could try it occurred to me to go for a Polaroid camera. It seemed to me that the Polaroid SX-70 was arguably the best of the bunch so that was what I got, along with some Polaroid SX-70 black and white film.

The SX-70 is a folding single lens reflex Land camera which was produced by the Polaroid Corporation from 1972 to 1981. It helped popularize instant photography…There were a variety of models beginning in 1972 with the original SX-70, though all shared the same basic design. The first model had a plain focusing screen (the user was expected to be able to see the difference between in- and out-of focus) because Dr. Land wanted to encourage photographers to think they were looking at the subject, rather than through a viewfinder. When many users complained that focusing was difficult, especially in dim light, a split-image rangefinder prism was added. This feature is standard on all later manual focus models…Though expensive, the SX-70 was popular in the 1970s and retains a cult following today. Photographers such as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, and Walker Evans praised and used the SX-70. Helmut Newton used the camera for fashion shoots. Walker Evans began using the camera in 1973 when he was 70 years old. Not until the $40 Model 1000 OneStep using SX-70 film became the best-selling camera of the 1977 Christmas shopping season, however, did its technology become truly popular. More recently, it was the inspiration for the Belfast alternative band SX-70’s name. (Wikipedia).

I guess if it was good enough for Walker Evans it out to be good enough for me!

There’s a good review (along with some example photographs) at Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Review & How to Use this Iconic Camera, by Sara Johansen. For another interesting take on this camera see: Polaroid SX-70 Instant Film Camera Review – The Pinnacle of Polaroid by James Tocchio on Casual Photophile, one of my favorite photography related sites.

It’s certainly a beautiful camera, and a technological marvel to boot.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Leica DG Summilux 15mm f1.7

Scales

I came across these two old scales in a coffee shop right next to where I used to work on 44th Street between second and third in New York City. It wasn’t then when I was still working.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Lumix G Vario 14-140 f3.5-5.6