Saturday, February 4, 2023

Yule Fortnight with The Populist

My favorite desktop tripod ever was a little ProMaster which folded into a flat 110mm x 45mm x 10mm slab, easy to fit in almost any pocket. A few years ago, after a day out in Boston, I took it out of my pocket and discovered a leg had broken off.  Although I previously had several of a similar, but a little longer design, there wasn't anything like it on the market any more. I've bought six or seven others trying to replace it but nothing as convenient or as usable. 

After being bugged for weeks to come up with a list of hints for Yule gifts, I saw a Facebook post featuring exactly what I was looking for! Without looking who the vendor was, I copied the link and added it to my wish list. It turned out it was from England but Sarah just held her breath and paid more for shipping than the tripod cost.

It's wonderful. In addition to the extremely compact folding, it has a few other features that make it the ultimate support when operating under Populist Rules. It has non-slip feet which allow you to hold it firmly against shiny surfaces. The ball and socket can be variably tightened so you can adjust the pointing while holding it against a wall yet it keeps the camera in place when you pull open the shutter. This one seems more robustly built and sturdy than my old one and it's solid black until you extend the legs.

I had to give it a spin and loaded the original Populist to document the Yule festivities.

Like many American families, our holiday visits are constrained by the availability and cost of airline tickets. On Christmas morning, Sarah made a special brunch we enjoyed by ourselves.


The monthly challenge for the Fox Valley Photography Group was holiday lights – later changed to just "Lights" when nobody submitted anything. (I didn't get my film back in time.)

Sometimes the sun reflects off the neighbor's window and creates sunbeams through the north window in our dining room.

Two survivors from the previous dining room bouquet accompany the crystal candy jar in the kitchen.

Sunbeams in the sun room.

The view from the other corner of the room.

Some oversize sparkly balls and bells.

I had to get to Oaks Candy to replenish our supply prior to Andy and Kristin's arrival. I thought it would be quick the day after Christmas but the place was packed with people visiting the home town and just having to stop at Oaks and pick out a selection. It took forever but there was plenty of time for the exposure.

Their flight came in to Appleton in the late morning, so we went straight to lunch at Pullman's at Trolley Square. We use to drive right by the location all the time when Andy went to school here early in the century. It was an empty lot then. The terminal for the trolley system was there when that still existed.

It's right under the Oneida Street Bridge.

It's along the Fox in an otherwise nicely renovated factory district.

Just before the pandemic, we all went to the theater to see Knives Out so we were kind of excited to watch the sequel Glass Onion together.

At some point during their visits, Andy will pick up my Alvarez acoustic and make it sound a lot better than it ever did when I was playing it.

For the novelty, we went to have lunch in one of the domes at the Fox River Brewing Company.

Not as scenic as downtown Appleton, but there is a bridge in the view.

Beer battered cheese curds should probably be the official appetizer of the state of Wisconsin, and to be different, fried pickle chips.

The red onions made my sandwich visually appealing, but I didn't eat them.

Luggage waiting for an hours-before-dawn departure.

After the sun came up, reading What if? 2; Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Hey Randall, how big of a shade and what size pinhole would you need to project an optimally diffracted image of the earth that covered the moon?

On the theory that if it was better lit, we might get around to organizing the basement, we went to Lowes to get a fixture. Short exposure, but not really anywhere to place the camera.

With Yule duly celebrated I could get back to obsessively making cameras. Stopped at DPI Printing to get the latest templates.

A thick fog covered Oshkosh one morning.

It was accompanied by reasonably tolerable temperatures. Couldn't pass this up and went for a bike ride with a new camera.

Speaking of my bike, riding around to look for pictures seems to be an integral part of my photography. To extend the reach of my pinholes, Sarah got me a rack for the '99 Mustang so I could take pictures in other municipalities without having to ride 30 miles to get there first.

The Nutcracker in the Castle at the Paine Art Center doesn't change much from year to year but it's still worth a visit. I believe they serve treats during the highly produced guided tours at these tables. No one cared if there was a pinhole camera sitting on one for a while.

The Great Hall is where most of the dancing part of the tour takes place. At the far side of the entrance, a small camera on the floor is out of the way.

What looks like the grisly result of a nutcracker battle in the gift shop.

We proceeded to the Conservatory for the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cafe.

Just next to our table, an extraordinarily patient young dancer, staying in character, interacting with several children, one of whom did several pliés with her.

After the pastries, a stroll through the frozen formal garden was called for.

A normally submerged planter in one of the water features.

The Populist has a .15mm Gilder electron microscope aperture 24mm from a 24x36mm frame. The film is Kodak Gold 200.

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