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Photography: 13 Days of Unusual Shots With Vintage Glass

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As part of a project to force myself to expand my artistic horizons (as well as my technical competence) in the field of photography, I’m forcing myself to try to use one of my vintage manual lenses – without the aid of focus assist or peaking of any sort – to take pictures which are out of my standard comfort zone*, and to get at least one “keeper” shot to exhibit for each day, starting on the Fourth of July. I am updating this post with both copies of the photos, as well as meta-data and links to the originals on Flickr.

* “Out of my standard comfort zone” is a subjective measurement. Hopefully these captures won’t be subjects or framings which I’ve heavily relied upon in the past, but as everything is derivative in _some_ sense, I guarantee nothing.

30-Day Vintage Lens Challenge

Day 01 (July 4, 2016)

“The Magic of Smoking”

My friend’s stepfather cooking a rack of ribs on his smoker for the Fourth of July. This was converted to black and white using my gegl c2g process. This image makes heavy use of both a lens which I have neglected over the years (the Vivitar 80-200mm F mount), as well as a large amount of negative space in the center of the frame.

  • Lens: Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 F mount
  • Settings: 100mm @ f/5.6
  • Original Image

The Magic of Smoking by Jeff Buchbinder

The Magic of Smoking

Day 02 (July 5, 2016)

“Maggie in a sliver of light”

Although Maggie is one of my favorite subjects – mainly because of her propensity for staying perfectly still when a camera is pointed at her – this is a relatively unusual picture because it involved a bit of playing around with the available light. One sliver of light fell on Maggie’s head, so I adjusted her to be framed properly and this is the result.

Maggie in a sliver of light by Jeff Buchbinder

Maggie in a sliver of light

Day 03 (July 6, 2016)

“Bug”

A took a series of photos at night of a swarm of gypsy moths and other interesting insects at the convenience store down the road. I selected this as my “pick of the day” because of the interesting reflection and the use of the Vivitar lens’ macro mode.

  • Lens: Vivitar 80-200mm f/4.5 F mount
  • Settings: 80mm macro @ f/4.5
  • Original Image

Bug by Jeff Buchbinder

Bug

Day 04 (July 7, 2016)

“Sneakers”

A long exposure (20 second) shot of my fairly worn sneakers. It’s at an unusually low angle, as well as relying exclusively on the very low levels of ambient light in the room.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/4
  • Original Image

Sneakers by Jeff Buchbinder

Sneakers

Day 05 (July 8, 2016)

“TT”

I put my skittish toy poodle “TT” up on a stool and tried shooting up on her – which I usually can’t do, due to her diminutive size. She’s also difficult to photograph since she tends not to stay still.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/2.0
  • Original Image

TT by Jeff Buchbinder

TT

Day 06 (July 9, 2016)

“Maggie”

Time after time, I keep coming back to Maggie as a subject. This time, I was playing around with artificial practical light sources (in this case, a bar of halogen lights) combined with extremely wide apertures to try to nail focus by eye.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/1.4
  • Original Image

Maggie by Jeff Buchbinder

Maggie

Day 07 (July 10, 2016)

“Danielson at Night”

A shot of a deserted street in the middle of the summer in Danielson, CT. This was a very low-angle long exposure shot.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/4.0
  • Original Image

Danielson at Night by Jeff Buchbinder

Danielson at Night

Day 08 (July 11, 2016)

“Low-angle Maggie”

I usually end up shooting down or at eye level when I take pictures of Maggie – and I usually end up working with small bits of additive light. This time, I put her up high in a flood of light to try to get a usable exposure out of her.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/2.8
  • Original Image

Low-angle Maggie by Jeff Buchbinder

Low-angle Maggie

Day 09 (July 12, 2016)

“Weeping Angel”

What had started out as an attempt to experiment with forced perspective turned into an attempt to create a fairly stunning black and white rendition of a relatively popular character.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/4.0
  • Original Image

Weeping Angel by Jeff Buchbinder

Weeping Angel

Day 10 (July 13, 2016)

“Luna on the windowsill”

This was my attempt to capitalize on a natural frame I saw – which was, in this case, a cat on a friend’s bathroom windowsill – and use it as natural frame.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/2.8
  • Original Image

Luna on the windowsill by Jeff Buchbinder

Luna on the windowsill

Day 11 (July 14, 2016)

“Crack in the pavement”

Off-center composition, and something I would normally ignore. The texture completely made this photo for me.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/2.8
  • Original Image

Crack in the pavement by Jeff Buchbinder

Crack in the pavement

Day 12 (July 15, 2016)

“Maggie behind a fogged window”

I don’t usually go out of my way to obscure or distort my subjects, but this seemed far too fitting.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/2.0
  • Original Image

Maggie by Jeff Buchbinder

Maggie behind a fogged window

Day 13 (July 16, 2016)

“Match in motion”

Motion and blur are things I generally try to keep to a minimum, so this moving image of me pulling a lit match through the air is generally outside the realm of my comfort zone, even when dealing with fairly long (2+ sec) exposure times.

  • Lens: Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42/Pentax mount
  • Settings: 50mm @ f/4.0
  • Original Image

Match in motion by Jeff Buchbinder

Match in motion

Conclusion

I tend to favor the 50mm-range lenses – the Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 – but still managed to get some additional use out of a few of my 135mm-range lenses as well as a Vivitar zoom lens with a fascinating macro mode. I’m also much quicker with manual focus adjustments and eyeballing range than before I started the project.

Unfortunately, the biggest issue I ran into was my own procrastination. Knowing that I had to try to pick a single new and interesting photo every day led to me waiting until after dark to try to cram in a quick photo session between 11:30pm and midnight – which is exactly what I shouldn’t have been doing. It’s far better to work at carrying the camera at all times and snapping photos of interest than trying to shoehorn a quick photo in after a long day. This was originally going to be for a month, but after two weeks of realizing that I needed better preparation and a better plan, I left it at thirteen days – and I intend on planning a more effective methodology and trying again.

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