I’m not sure why, but at some point I uploaded some photos to google plus almost eight years ago. Here are some of the street photography photos I was making at that time in Rochester, NY. Then, my ability to make these photos were limited to breaks during work and group night walks with other photographers.
What do you do when it gets in the 60s in February in Rochester, NY? In my case, you use a personal day you have to spend by July 1st. With looming unemployment bearing down on me and a case of the winter blues, a good walk is what I knew I needed. I of course brought my camera. Normally I would fire whatever social media app I was using and send messages to some local people to see if they would like to join me. I’m not on social media anymore. I can’t say if it is a break or a complete farewell to Instagram or Twitter. I can say is that I do not miss either at the moment. Nothing has changed in my life other than that I do not feel the need to see what’s going on in the world. It’s not that I don’t care, I just prefer to get my news and personal relationships to be outside of an app. To me, the apps replaced making an effort and has made lazier and ignorant people even more lazier and ignorant (and amplified).
I woke up normally like any other day, had breakfast with my girlfriend and left the apartment when she left work. My first stop was to go to Java’s to get a coffee. On the way, I bumped into another local street photographer I had yet to meet (but knew on social media), Dan Witkowski. I wouldn’t bump into anyone else I know for the day. I did, though, meet a few interesting people/strangers who would like to talk about cameras, photography, haircuts or birds.
Recently, the Flower City Arts photo department had their annual garage sale. I picked up a couple ridiculously cheap Canon QL17's, loaded them up with Kodak film and set off into the streets of downtown Rochester to photograph businessmen (mostly bankers and lawyers). Here's five frames from my first roll of Tri-X. Still getting used to rangefinder focusing as well as zone focusing on the fly. I do not use the meter during the day as I always shoot at f11 or f16. It's fairly easy to guess the shutter speed I need to use.
After the Presidential Election, there was an Anti-Trump rally at the University of Rochester. I figured this would be a good chance to practice focusing with Retina and to try to get better acquainted with the camera.
Like before, the Retina IIa didn't like mid day sun much at all. You have to work to get an exposure that's not overblown. I'm not sure how much I like the small coupled rangefinder either. I pretty much just zone focus and point and shoot. This is the first rangefinder I have shot with so I'm at a disadvantage comparing it to other rangefinders.
KEH had a film sale a while ago and I took advantage, getting a stash of film at around .75 to .80 a roll. Most of it was Lomography color film. I stuck with the Lomography to test out the camera. I also shot two rolls of HP5 at the rally. Those will not be processed until sometime this winter by me in a darkroom.
Anyways, the Retina performed pretty well. If you are a street shooter who likes wider lenses, the 50mm lens will require a little getting used to. I'm still adjusting, positioning myself where I would be with a 35mm or wider lens.
I recently acquired a Kodak Retina IIa from a retired Kodak engineer. There's usually quite a few of these cameras popping up but none in the condition I was able to find. The camera looked brand new and had the original leather camera case.
The Retina IIa is very easy to use. The best feature of the camera is that everything is manual. No batteries are needed to run a meter. One downside is that while focusing the lens I sometimes moved the aperture dial. The Retina IIa seems to be more of a camera you would use for deliberate shooting. I found the rangefinder to be a bit tough to focus quickly at the start. I have never shot with a rangefinder before. As I used it more, I was able to be quicker to focus. You will get better results zone focusing.
The Retina IIa is perfect for places like Rochester, NY. You can only go to 1/500 second shutter speed. The camera may not like very bright sunny days unless you use 200 speed film or are able to find some expired 64 speed film.
I tried to shoot in as many conditions as possible. The 50mm f/2 lens seemed to work perfectly in fairly bright and dark conditions as well as in some challenging lighting conditions like the parking garage in the above photo.
I have since shot a few more rolls. Once I process the black and white film I used in the darkroom I will share the results. I think I will enjoy shooting with this camera through the winter.