We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto – An upside-down world

7 February 2021

I’ve put off uploading the first of my blog entries this year for so long largely for one reason; it’s been hard to write anything positive when so much across the planet is so out-of-whack. True, I’m lucky that my immediate situation is mostly stable and that I and most people around me remain healthy, but the rest is just so hard to believe. It’s now been 11 months since I last set foot in my physical workplace and it’s been 14 months since I boarded an aircraft. That’s the longest stretch between fights (by far) I’ve observed during the past 16 years of my life, by the way.

Where’s my photography in all of this? The drive to actually get out and do something constructive continues to be hampered by the weather on the Soggy Island and the 5km restriction still in place for travel within Ireland. Most days, I feel that if I have to look at another stitch of the 5 km radius around where I live I’ll simply scream. I do realize that’s not fair to the many people who are in much more confined situations that I am, though. At least I have Galway Bay to the south and 5km of bogland to the north and west. The east isn’t so good - it’s the ‘burbs of Galway city and I don’t venture that way unless I have to.

One recent development (no pun intended) is that I acquired a 6x9 folding camera last month. It’s a near-mint Agfa Record I without any of the bells and whistles. The particular camera I purchased has the ‘base’ triplet lens and the bottom-of-the-line Pronto shutter.

I’m only one roll of film into our nascent relationship, but the experience has already shown me a few things. 1) I’m glad I didn’t plop down a lot of cash for all of the parts required to build a (Dora) Goodman Zone camera (yet), 2) zone focusing is a bitch, and 3) eight images per roll really is drastically more limiting than the 12 one gets with a 6x6. On the up-side, 1) I really like the camera’s feel and operation, 2) 6x9 suits my style of photography a bit better than 6x6, and 3) high-quality, mega-negatives are what I needed to keep me excited about film. On a tripod, and with a cable release, I find the old Agfa absolutely lovely to use (except for the focusing part). Handheld, not so much. More on that beast as we move forward this year.

Untitled photo

1953 Agfa Record I with the Agnar 105mm, f/4.5 lens and 4-speed Pronto shutter

Too much isolation and a desire to remain ‘inspired’ led me to actually start a Flickr account and upload to it. I’m trying to use it differently than my website. Here (the website), I want to keep images that I feel are my best. On Flickr, I want to experiment a bit and see what the world gives me for feedback. I am uploading a mix of old and new images as well as a load of things that I have not ever shown to anyone. So far, it’s been fun. In about a month of uploading, I’ve gained some followers, begun to follow a bunch of people’s work, and have found some thought-provoking images and words along the way. Good stuff, mostly, but, like so many other things on the ‘net, it’s a time suck if I’m not careful.

We’ll see what the balance of 2021 brings. I’m not overly optimistic, but I haven’t lost hope.

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