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Mamiya RB67

Capture Date/Time:July 1, 2007 10:14
Aperture/Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec, f5.6
Focal Length: 90 mm
ISO: 100
Flash: none

Today is BOTH the 500th posting on MikesRightBrain, and the third anniversary of this photoblog. For those of you who visit regularly, I cannot thank you enough for the comments that you leave here or send to me privately. It means a lot to me, and I am truly flattered to have a little bit of a following. It has been a true challenge, and it has been fun. I hope you have enjoyed it, and there is much more to come.

I struggled for a long time trying to figure out what to post for Number 500, and late last week it finally occurred to me as I was cleaning up my closet. I found my father's old Mamiya RB67, which is a huge tank of a medium format camera, and the camera I remember my dad using most often when I was little. I reacquainted myself with the controls this weekend, and found a pack of expired polaroid film still in the corroded polaroid back. I took a few shots of my kids yesterday and this morning (this shot is from this morning), and I was stunned at the different feel and look of the shots. Yes, there are still film devotees, and I certainly understand the appeal of film and "analog" shooting. But I really did forget how different a medium-format shot feels, and how much more freedom you have to frame and crop a shot in-camera with a square or near-square frame.

This camera, especially, is truly manual. I do shoot the D2X in manual mode most of the time, but it's not truly manual because you can see if you've messed up a shot right away on the viewscreen and just shoot it again if you want. But with this camera, I had to either eyeball it or use my handheld light meter. I finally managed to figure out the right calibration for the latter, and things started working better. It took awhile, but I got back into the swing of it. Between setting the crop, the shutter speed and aperture, and most importantly, removing the darkslides, you do get the hang of it and it came back to me fairly quickly. I had not picked this thing up for nearly a decade.

Of course, then there's the whole polaroid thing. There is nothing like the anticipation: taking a shot of the kids and having them count to 90, dangling the tabbed polaroid sleeve and ripping the tissue paper backing off to reveal the print in its chemical-smeared glory. There are so many uncertainties: Did I pull the sleeve right? Will the chemicals leak? Did I forget to pull the darkslide out and waste another $2 shot? It's just a whole different thing.

Most of all, I found myself staring at this particular shot for a long time today. Here they are, my two boys, both of them looking kind of like I did when my dad used to take pictures of me when I was their age... using this same camera. And he used to look through this very lens and viewfinder and compose the image of his kids the same way I did this morning. He wasted shots and got it wrong probably the same way I do, too. I very much remember the hunched back he would always have as he looked down into this viewfinder, with his eye in the eye cup and his glasses on his forehead as he composed the image. I realized that I did exactly the same thing this morning with my sunglasses cocked over the top of my head, just over the eyecup, with my kids laughing and saying that I looked funny...


07.02.07, 04:46 AM, Bob:

Congrats on the anniversary. Your description of the pleasures of using the old camera say a lot that rings true with my own recent return to "old school" photography. Great idea to use the camera to replicate your father's style.

07.02.07, 09:25 AM, Pieter:

A heart warming and wonderful post. The image has a beatiful softness to it. Very nice indeed. Congrats at five hundred. I know that is a lot of work but most of all a real commitment.
Finally thank you for being an inspiration to me in the photo realm.... I often admire and am blown away by your creative juices and technical knowhow of the camera.

07.02.07, 10:34 AM, Jeremi:

Mike congrats on your anniversary and 500th post, that is just very cool!
I love the description you gave of your dad doing the same thing you did. I'm sure you miss him alot!

Thanks for the continued source of inspiration! Your blog ranks right up at the top for me!

07.02.07, 02:01 PM, Archie FlorCruz:

Happy Anniversary Mike! The story of your father was very touching... that medium format camera of yours holds alot of sentimental value and thoughts.

I've been thinking alot lately of going back to roots and wanting to acquire either a 35mm Manual focus SLR or a Medium format body just to change things up a bit... If i do that though, I am going to have to tape a little square piece of paper on the back of the body that says, "stop looking here!" ;)

07.02.07, 06:58 PM, John:

Contratulations on both the 3 year anniversary and the 500th post Mike. It'll be nice to see what you come up with on your Mamiya and anything else with film.

07.02.07, 09:09 PM, Mark:

Congratulations, it's a very appropriate photo and gets a wow in my book. There's nothing like a Polaroid in my opinion. I've shot 3 packs over the past 2 weeks and it's the one type of photography in which the subject becomes an active participant. Hunched over watching the film appear (I have a Spectra) then agreeing to reshot it when it doesn't come out right.

Hang on to your Dad's camera, I'd love to see more of the shots.

07.03.07, 12:23 AM, navin:

Congratulations on the 500th post and the 3rd anniversary. Must have felt very good and nostalgic to tale pictures the way your dad used to. My dad has a 120mm camera and I think I should try that sometime too.

07.03.07, 08:40 PM, cool daddio:

What a great narrative a warm wonderful photo. You have definitely been one of the photobloggers who have inspired me with your great talent creativity and sense of balance as to photographies place in your world.

07.10.07, 09:03 AM, Diane:

Mike, your narration is beautiful and moving (made me cry!). Your images speak for themselves as you have a special way of capturing people's energy, particularly children. Keep exploring, keep posting for all your fans!

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