Graflex Speed Graphic Medium Format Film Camera

If you study the history of photography from it’s first shot through today’s almost incalculable iterations, you will see the art form takes on an enormous range of artistic expressions. I’m actually proud to say I started off in the age of film photography. I know what it’s like to have to be super intentional about the exposure, about getting it right the first or second time because film cost a fortune, and getting it developed cost even more. I also know what it’s like to take a photo and not see the results for a week or more (that was probably the worst part about shooting film back in the day), which made improving as a photographer a slower, more intentional process. Looking back at all that film I shot, I know it helped me tremendously when it comes to shooting in today’s digital world.

My grandad was a photographer as well, and he of course also did all of his work in film, but it wasn’t the 35mm film I grew up shooting, it was a medium format, 4×5 film, and still popular 220 film roll that he used. The one 4×5 negative I still have of his is this self-portrait, taken with the very camera showcased in this post. It was taken back in the 1970’s (when you kept cameras for more than a year or two), back in a time when these were called “self-portraits” not selfies.

I was given his camera a few years ago and took it back out over the weekend. I’m always contemplating giving film a go again, until of course you consider medium format film now is like $40 for 10 sheets it’s hard to pull the trigger. So instead I took it for a spin and made it the subject instead of the shooter. Maybe one day I’ll splurge and shoot some film through this camera, but for now, it’s such a great looking classic view at a little piece of photographic history.

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens
Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens
Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens
Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens
Flash for Graflex Honeywell Strobonar
Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers
Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers
Alpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed Graphic
Graflex Speed Graphic Camera Case

Rural Decay Exploration of Old Schoolhouse

Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.

For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.

The ones below is one that is more well kept in a family cemetery adjacent to our property. I’ve taken this little house for years now and always seem to be able to keep capturing something new about it. I love the stories they tell, the history they’ve seen. Below is a collection of what I refer to as “Structure 1.100,” which is just the number I give it in my catalog so I know which is which. The one above had some kind of not-so-happy-animal guarding it so interior images will have to wait for another day. Next time you drive to work count how many of these types of structures you see, I bet you would be surprised.

Rural Decay Structure 1.166
Abandon one room house in the woods on a rainy day
Rural Decay Structure 1.100
Inside of single room structure abandon on a family cemetery
Rural Decay Structure 1.100
Inside of single room structure abandon on a family cemetery
Rural Decay Structure 1.100
Inside of single room structure abandon on a family cemetery
Rural Decay Structure 1.100
Rural decay showing an abandon one room building/house sitting in a family cemetery
Rural Decay Structure 1.100
Rural decay showing an abandon one room building/house sitting in a family cemetery

Setting Up Field Astrophotography

The clear summer skies are upon us it seems, so my nephew and I setup for some viewing and photography last night. For more of a how-to-tutorial I should at some point talk equipment and setup but I’ll save that for another day. The skies were clear last night but the atmospheric conditions were not the best for planetary astrophotography, so we stuck with “night shots” and the Milky Way.

Unfortunately the Milky Way faded quickly and I was only able to fire off one usable frame (below), so we will have to try again later in the summer. The one frame I did manage to take was a 30 second exposure at f/3.5 with a 20mm lens (30mm equivalent on this APS-C sensor), at ISO 1600, secured on a telescope tracking mount. We were hoping to stack about 30-40 images at 30 seconds a piece but we needed to start around 2:30-3:00am instead of 4:00am CDT.

Telescope Setup at Twilight
Setting up the telescope for lunal viewing as the sun sets
Moon Rising Over the Telescope
The moon shines bright over the telescope. Self portrait.
Moon Rising Over the Southern Sky
Moon Rising Over the Southern Sky
Milky Way Before Dawn
The Milky Way just before dawn breaks. 30sec, f/3.5, ISO 1600, FL 30mm.

Photography at Southern Museum of Flight

I finally made it over to the Southern Museum of Flight. I have lived, worked, and traveled around Birmingham for the better part of my life, but had never been over to this particular museum, even when I worked at the Birmingham Airport. On Saturday I had some uncommitted time in Birmingham and I decided to head over towards the airport to check it out. I wasn’t real sure how much there would be there to see, but I was pleasantly surprised and I had basically complete access to shoot throughout the museum. I love aviation museums (the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is probably my favorite, thought I haven’t been to the Smithsonian yet). There is a civil aviation side (hanger) and a military aviation side, each with unique displays.

One of the most interesting displays was a B-25C that crashed into a lake in 1943 and was just recently recovered, and brought to the museum, and is now being restored for display. The cockpit (see below) is one of the displays that has been finished. The colorful interior is thanks to the museum lighting on the display.

Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
North American F-86F "Sabrejet" from the Southern Museum of Flight aviation display with self portrait
North American F-86F “Sabrejet” Southern Museum of Flight aviation and self portrait
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Cockpit of a B-25C that crashed in 1943 and recovered by a salvage team for the Southern Museum of Flight aviation display
Cockpit of a B-25C that crashed in 1943 and recovered by a salvage team for the Southern Museum of Flight
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display Civil Aviation Hanger
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display