|This camera belonged to a very special person.|
These photographs and this story are to honor his 22nd birthday in some small way.
I live in a rural coastal community. Previously, I scouted out the drugstore for film supplies when buying lens cleaner to use on the untested Polaroid. I checked the two grocery stores. This is an 'online ordering' place to live.
110 film hasn't been widely distributed since 2009. Kodak and Fuji stopped producing the stock in 2010. Adox is trying to work out the kinks for reintroduction of b+w film stock.
My Dad always called it "Chicken Shack," a chain of more-frustrating-than-not electronics stores that can be found anywhere in America, though what you're looking for is rarely there.
I purchased an AA battery holder to modify the Polaroid and was surprised to see faded Pentax accessories, especially considering my recent book find. The store owner reflected upon his once-thriving Pentax dealership. But no 110 film, not for "years and years."
On this same day, 12/17 my friends called while traveling through Bandon Oregon. "You need anything from Radio Shack?"
"Why yes. Do they have any 110 film? It would be a miracle if they did."
Two cartridges of were bought at a discount because of the considerable expiration: 09/2002.
What a lucky break! We were all pretty satisfied with our accidental and mildly triumphant group effort.
I loaded it up the next day 12/18 and went out shooting.
It was time-travel for me. After so many years snapping digital and 'being serious,' this camera was altogether different. To clink the plastic shutter with the analog leap of faith that an image would come later was disconcerting. It takes a long time to shoot a roll of film when you're aware of what you want to capture with a grainy 110 photograph. The first 14 shots were mostly not good. Like other unsuccessful shots, they will find their way to interested people with my print sharing efforts.
Two days later, a stormy, rainbow sky led me towards Libby Pond. On the way, the perfect subject appeared!
This image has been featured on the Rusty Mailbox blog. Thank you Mike. (Digital alternate)
Libby Pond was flooded and access to the memorial wasn't possible. The rain and lack of sunlight were tough for the few digital photographs, and not at all suited for the Minolta. I paused to figure out the macro focus slider on the 440E before continuing on the photodrive upriver, around Lobster Creek Bridge.
A few moments later, the clouds broke in the most stunning way. Justin's Rainbow.
That night, I stayed up to attempt to photograph the lunar eclipse through the clouds. 12/20 is presented in this blog.
I put in the second cartridge without verifying the camera and film were working. "Is this a good idea?" I asked myself. On December 29, I was at the westernmost edge of the Lower 48: Cape Blanco. That day's blog is here
What a lens flare! "Yes. A good idea."
The 48 exposures seemed to take forever, though it had only been two weeks. On New Years Day, I was itching to complete the 110 experiment and send the cartridges to the lab. On other photographic fronts, I was experimenting with long exposures of moving water with my dslr. At the swollen banks of Euchre Creek, the 440E took the first shot.
The long shutter experiments were unsuccessful on this day. The final exposures for the 110 experiment seemed to fly out of the camera after a few days passed.
I stopped at the Wedderburn store to check again for 110 film. Wedderburn is another forgotten echo of times gone by, perched on the steep northern banks of the Rouge River. I perused a book of photographs down the Rogue river shot with a large format camera. The deli clerk gave me a funny look when I asked if he'd consider making a grilled cheese sandwich. It wasn't on the menu, and he warned of not having the right grill. With a swiss and provolone on sourdough soaked from being grilled in nearly rancid margarine in hand, I struggled to get it down. I crossed the street and walked to the footing of the Patterson Bridge, looking back towards Gold Beach. There were signs of homeless shelter. With grease dripping down my left arm, I felt grateful for my circumstance. I whipped out the Minolta:
I took my last photowalk with the 440E on a loop I knew well, miles to the north.
ldquo;Woo hoo! I can send this in now!” But some logistical things came up. I sent the package on January 12th.
The camera has been in their family since it was new in about 1978. Turning the pages of my friend's life, this image jumped out of the album, from around 1978.
The remarkable richness of color and superb quality of the grain did not come through on the scan. This is easily one of the best looking 110 shots I've seen.
The Minolta Pocket Pak 440E will probably be retired along with commemorative enlargements from these two rolls from 2010. Thank you little buddy. But the 110 experiment is not over.
As if on cue, the remaining films were picked up this afternoon. Also, an email:
"This camera is available, and in good working order. If you won't be up in Portland any time soon, we can ship it down to you by USPS Priority Mail for $7.00."
Will the remaining cartridges of 110 film find their way to the light through the incredible Pentax Auto 110? $87 for a "last of the V-8s" micro SLR from a trusted shop? Or perhaps more reasonably priced alternatives?
Photography Year 1973. Thanks, mom!
Dedicated to Justin Lang. You're loved and missed.