Celebrate Northeast

The ‘Celebrate Northeast’ parade always makes me feel like Minneapolis is a small midwestern town.  It’s classic Americana — marching bands, firetrucks, Shriners in go-carts, suburban beauty queens…  the list goes on.  It’s a fun celebration of the diverse population of Northeast Minneapolis (‘Nordeast’) and surrounding communities.

I shot these images with my trusty Yashica Electro 35 on Kodak Portra 160 film.  Scans are from Dwayne’s photo, and are straight from their scanner except for resizing and adding the watermark.

This camera never ceases to please me.  It is quick and easy enough to use that I can get fairly fast shots, even having to focus on moving subjects.  I’ve used it enough that I can reach for the focus ring quickly and know which way it needs to turn.  The rangefinder patch is big and bright enough to make focusing easy.  And I’m always more than happy with the sharpness of images, great color and contrast, and nice natural feel to the images.  And I love the 45mm focal length.

The fact that I’ve gotten to know this particular camera and am comfortable with it leads me to ponder one big problem that comes with collecting a lot of old cameras.  It really takes time to get to know a camera, but when I’m always trying out some ‘new’ old camera that I picked up, I seldom really get comfortable with many of them.  I have several cameras that I’ve only put one roll of film through, and when you shoot your first roll of film you spend a lot of time tinkering with the settings and dials and just figuring things out.  It can sometimes be hard to focus on the actual images you’re shooting, when figuring out the functioning of the camera is taking so much of your attention.  I think this is why many great photographers probably used a single camera almost all of the time.  I’m sure when Cartier-Bresson picked up his Leica, he never had to waste a moment of thought on how to operate it.  The camera likely became an extension of his eyes and his hands, and he could probably compose, focus and shoot an image nearly as quickly as someone today with an autofocus digital SLR (though he couldn’t fire off 12 photos per second, then pick the best image out of hundreds or thousands shot in one day).  He never had to decide which lens to put on his Leica, because I think he always shot with the same lens.  The images he captured and the compositions he created with such simple equipment stand up to anything created today, and I think some of that may actually be because of the simplicity of his equipment — he wasn’t weighed down with equipment to figure out, technical decisions to make.  Many people today focus so much on having the latest, best, hot new camera and so many lenses and accessories and gizmos, that they probably don’t have much attention left to give to the images they’re creating.  That’s certainly not true of everyone, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.  I’m guilty of that when shooting my digital SLRs, and when I’m using so many different old film cameras I tend to have the same problem.  I’m not going to stop collecting old cameras, because the cameras themselves are of such interest to me and I so enjoy fixing them, learning about them and using them.  But it doesn’t at all help my image making — in fact, it hinders my image-making.  This may merit further discussion in a later post.


5 Comments on “Celebrate Northeast”

  1. Miranda Bryant says:

    Hey, we can reply to now! Are these comments public? Love the shot of the little girls waiving at the woman on stilts. Interesting thoughts to ponder in your posting. I have long felt somewhat hindered by the technology of digital photography. I often know what I want to do, but don’t know how to get the camera settings right. That said, having great fun with – of all things – my iPhone camera & several editing apps.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Rick Schuster says:

      They sure are (public, that is). Hey, Miranda! Thanks for looking and reading. I love using my iphone camera, too, maybe because it’s so simple. Check out the app called Snapseed if you want to do nice editing and adjusting of your photos — it’s my favorite app.

  2. Jim says:

    Oh, oh yes, you’re so right. Trying all the old cameras is a lot of fun, but it absolutely detracts from that photographer-camera bond that ultimately makes the latter invisible to the former.

    I took to a few of my old cameras very well and go back to them when I just want to shoot. My Pentax ME and my Canonet QL17 G-III are in the top three or four.

    • Rick Schuster says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jim and Mike. I know you guys both deal with the same issue of using lots of old cameras. It is fun to find a few favorites that you keep going back to. For me the Yashica Electro 35 and Rolleicord III are the ones I’m most comfortable with and take with me most often. Though I don’t always do it, I like to put a few rolls through a camera before I write too much about the camera, otherwise it doesn’t seem fair.

  3. Mike says:

    Nice job on this photo story. You can really see the dedication of the participants to the event.
    I agree with you and Jim about the distraction of constantly going from one old camera to another. I try to cope with this by attempting to make the best possible pictures, both technically and aesthetically that can be had from the camera. Sometimes that gets done with a single roll of film, but it usually takes at least a couple to get something I can be satisfied with.

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