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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

camera quandry

We went to see The Ettes play a great set last night as part of their residency at The Echo this month...they've recently come back from recording their album in London at Toe Rag studios (yes, that one). I should've taken some pictures, but I'm having some problems in that department.

You wouldn't know it to look at this blog, but I like to take pictures. We've got a couple of cameras between us, but unfortunately none of them are well suited for photographing people jumping around at midnight on dimly-lit stages...this became very evident to me on tour when I expected to burn through tons of film and only managed two or three rolls at most for the entire trip. We do have a digital camera, the most sensible option for blog posting--except that ours is from the Pleistocene era and is unbelievably slow, basically incapable of taking a picture when you actually press the trigger. Anyway I haven't got the money to buy a digital camera that would deal with low light in a way that appeals to me.

I do still use and love my wonderful Minolta Autocord, but it's not all that handy for club photography either: the viewfinder is okay but is still hard to focus in extremely dim light, the lens isn't especially fast, and a waist-level finder is a disadvantage in a crowded club. Anyway, I've been having trouble finding the time to finish off a roll of film and process and scan it fast enough to update the blog these days. Maybe if I could figure out the sports finder and attach a flash this might become more workable, but I'd still rather be able to focus at eye level and use available light in this case.

Mary actually has a pretty handy alternative: her Polaroid. My brother bought this for us at a junk shop for 5 bucks. It's not the kind that spits out a blurry snapshot with the whirring of electric motors, it's an old folding model from the 1960's that uses packs of peel-apart film. It's totally great, it can take very sharp, beautiful pictures and give you a scannable print in 30 seconds, if you can put up with the teensy tiny impossible coupled rangefinder focusing. But unfortunately it is a consumer model, it's got autoexposure and the lens isn't very fast. You can attach a flash to it, which makes it useable in clubs, but it isn't an electronic flash: it takes flashbulbs. These are little lightbulbs that literally explode and melt when you trip the flash. They're messy, but they work great, and the resulting pictures look a lot better to me than electronic flashes. The thing is that they're very, very, very, excruciatingly bright: I remember being at an Angela Correa show at Hotel Cafe a while back, and when Mary took some flash Polaroids a girl was overheard in the audience snapping "well, I'm blind now."

Tough luck, kid. The pictures look amazing.

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