Monday, March 13, 2023

Photo Opp and photo-oops.

Photo Opp is a new organization in Appleton dedicated to photographic education. They're renovating a former synagogue to house a community studio, darkroom and meeting place. They have been hosting several events to engage the community.

Last Saturday, they held a Photo Walk in downtown Appleton. It was a little dismaying when I realized they were referring to the interior of the City Center Mall, somewhat of a challenge for pinhole. I chose the EyePA 30 for it's eye catching design and it's f133 ratio - the fastest I have - loaded with reciprocity-failure-tolerant Ilford FP4+. Exposures in my kitchen measured about 3 minutes so there should be something possible in the interior of the mall.

It turned out to be a fun event. I have wanted to chat with the organizers about some possible role for pinhole. In addition to making contact with the Photo Opp leaders, it was fun to interact with other film photographers among the phones and DSLRs. I saw a Hasselblad, two Leicas and the cutest little black Voigtlander Bessa. One of the young men I met does direct positive processing with black and white film and exhibits the results with a slide projector. There were lots of interesting conversations between, or for me, while taking pictures.

Both the lighting and the socializing made pinhole photography challenging. This image illustrates both issues. I hesitate to lead with this because it might reinforce the wide spread conception that "Isn't pinhole photography zany!" This is a double exposure. Because I was just standing there while the shutter was open, I was often engaged by people curious about my handmade cameras. The first exposure ended in the midst of all this discussion and when that broke up, I forgot to wind the film! The other problem was that City Center is lightly occupied and it's not worth it to keep the main corridors lit as brightly as a store or workplace. Exposures were measuring from ten minutes to hours. The dimness is demonstrated because the first exposure was ten minutes during the introductory remarks on the ground floor and you can hardly tell it's there. The only recognizable thing from the first exposure are the legs and shoes of someone at the lower right who happened to stand under one of those spotlights.

I'd better find some light. The third floor of the atrium is an event space. This little platform is probably where they put the musicians.

At the end of the wings of the mall are elevator lobbies. More brightly lit, but still six minutes and no one down here to talk to.

While that was being exposed I walked back into the mall and saw this lit-to-code section below me on the second floor. In the space on the left were a group of children being led in a vigourous dance. Their parents waited next door. While making this exposure, a woman approached me and asked why the place was crawling with photographers. I explained about Photo Opp and the Photo Walk. I didn't mention she just happened to be in about the only place with people and light. She never mentioned the cardboard camera with the eyeball on my tripod.

Another double exposure. The next frame was a giant gumball machine right by the front doors, but still six minutes. While waiting for that, a young woman who had been a student employee in my department during my last years at the University introduced herself. She was a Radio-TV-Film major and is now a free-lance video editor. When I cleaned out my office, I had given her eight sheets of 16x20 RC Paper left over from a 1997 pinhole workshop (I was trying to impress the participants with a giant camera).We spoke about the possibility of some pinhole photography videos. The second exposure is another more brightly lit area, Murray Photo, a co-sponsor of the event, who probably sold every film camera there. I had two more cameras in my pockets. When the exposure time was over, I was showing them to two photographers who wondered how the tripod mount was made. I think I might have moved the camera without closing the shutter and got a third exposure on this one.

It was getting a little tedious waiting around for these long exposures, so I went outside. The half block City Center Street terminates in this turn around with all the lights on under the sheltered drop-off zone on this gloomy day.

Getting out by myself didn't prevent another double exposure.  For the first exposure I was in a parking space in the street next to a construction fence right at the curb. There was a giant pile of snow between me and the oncoming traffic, so I wasn't in any danger. After closing the shutter, I wanted to get to a completely legal spot about thirty meters away and forgot to wind the film when I got there. There wasn't much silver left for the second exposure of a distinctive modern church. The two images kind of compliment each other.

Anywhere else, East Johnson Street would be described as an alley full of the backs of the businesses on College Avenue. The one establishment with the front on this side is a kitchen/cantina with a Dia de los Muertos theme which my square format camera insisted I capture.

The City Center block is generally modern and a little brutalist but has this one slightly Parisian facade. When trying to decide whether to try for this picture, I noticed that it was a store for high quality ink pens. This one's for you, Joe.

Across the street in Houdini Plaza there was an enthusiastic rally for Women's Rights. The extreme wide angle fooled me again. The tall central plaza pillar and the 222 building behind it seemed to call for the rising front, but that might not have been the best choice. I burned in the sky to represent the stormy path ahead for us in hopelessly gerrymandered Wisconsin.

I didn't want to go home with one frame left in the camera. On the way back to the Mustang, from the island in the middle of Appleton Street, here's another parking ramp with a bit of a selfie in the door.

The EyePA 30 has hand-drilled .23mm pinholes, on the axis and 11mm above it, 30mm from a 6x6cm frame. The Ilford FP4+ was semistand developed in caffenol.

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