Soup Night

I like cream soups more than I like brothy ones.  I also like to use items that are kind of not at their peak – not spoiled – but not really the best they could be.  However, I don’t think true cream soups – made with half and half, full-fat cream, etc., are the best for overall health.  So, I use my own methods.  Follows is a spinach soup, but you can use any vegetable you want in its place.  I even use lettuce that is not really perky, and it all comes out fine.  So, here you go!

Cream of Spinach (or Whatever) Soup

  • olive oil – 2-3 T.
  • 1/4-1/2 chopped onion
  • 6 oz. spinach
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • Pepper, salt, garlic powder, nutmeg – or other flavors for seasoning
  • 1 c. unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • Parmesan cheese, sour cream, full cream, or whatever you want for garnish

Saute onion in heated oil.  Add spinach and saute some more.  Pour in chicken broth and cover.  Cook until spinach is soft and wilted.  If you use other vegetables, you may need to simmer longer.  If you do, watch your pot and add more liquid if necessary!  Season with your choice of seasoning.  Remove to blender – or use immersion blender – and puree until very smooth.  Return to pot and stir in almond milk and yogurt.  Blend well.  Heat through.  Strain if you have bits of stuff you want to get rid of or just to be fancy and serve in bowl.  Garnish with garnish of your choice.

Serves 2-3.

Gonna Keep It! (or, The Beast Can Stay)

Awhile ago I decided to move more into the medium format world of film photography. I have a Yashica D TLR (6×6) and a number of 6×6 folders from varying years, a 1930s 6×9 Voigtlander folding rangefinder, and now have a Mamiya 645 (6×4.5) and, the latest, a Pentax 6×7 beast with a 135mm f4 macro lens. This last one is the subject of today’s commentary. You can google it, as well as read about it here on Wikipedia.  It’s not something to take lightly – it’s quite the weapon!

Okay!  First, as the name implies, it takes a 6×7 size negative, which is big, big, big.  Not as big as a 6×9, but still bigger than a 35mm by a lot.  Here is a good article on the size comparisons, complete with images.

I would imagine that, as with digital, the larger the negative, the more important the quality of the image – focus, sharpness, and so on. Of course, film is not digital and has its own personality, but it still needs to meet certain criteria, I am sure.

The first roll of film I ran through the camera was basically a disaster. 3 out of 10 images were there, and all were under-exposed. For Portra 400 film, they were trash. This made me wonder about the camera – does it work, are there problems? Having read about the camera and the trickiness of loading the roll of film, I gave it another try with two more rolls.  The first three photos below are the first roll.

The one above was worked on in post, just to see if anything could be done with it. Not much could be to save it from its ugly self. The ones below are SOOS (scanner), and they are really awful, too.

To make the decision to keep or return the camera meant I needed to do some photography in a very controlled environment. I needed to check the aperture and exposure factors. Out came the tripod and the light meter. Bracketing and moving things around. I took about 20 pictures in about that much time – maybe longer – and documented what I did. In doing so, I learned a bit more about the camera and the lens, as well as had a rather scientific bit of testing.

The effort was worth it, and I think that this beastie is going to be fun, and a challenge to my normal scatter gun approach to things. Below are the results, taken using Lomography 100 Color Negative film (120), with some cropping and touching up in post. I didn’t check for spots, come to think of it, so I may need to do that, too. I did clean the negatives before scanning, and used Digital Ice in the scanner . . .

Pentax 6×7 – Lomo 100
Pentax 6×7 – Lomo 100
Pentax 6×7 – Lomo 100
Pentax 6×7 – Lomo 100

Altogether, very pleased with this camera and the lens. Lomo 100 did a fine job.  It’s doing quite well for a camera that dates from ca. 1969 (older than my husband!). I think I want to get a waist-level view finder for it and probably some shorter lenses. The Yashica TLR is a waist-level viewfinder camera, and I really enjoy that; hence, a waist-level viewfinder for the Pentax, and perhaps the Mamiya.  Unlike all my other medium format cameras, the Mamiya and the Pentax allow for lens changes and other bits that the Yashica and the folding cameras do not have.  That is for the future, though, as I think this camera has a lot to teach me in the meantime.

So, Wuzzup?

Wuzzup? 

I have been following my New Year’s resolution pretty steadily.  Painting, photography, study, socializing, reading, and doing things I enjoy.  Somewhat scheduled, somewhat not.  I kept a record for about a week of what I did in the morning and afternoon – in between which was lunch and a nap usually – and thought about how I felt about my day.  In general, I found I enjoyed each day a great deal more.  I didn’t do the same things every day (other than the usual boring daily routines), but found I did enough to find satisfaction.

Doing some watercolors was satisfying.  I hope to do some later this morning before heading out to meet up with a friend.  I haven’t done any gouache this year, but that is also on the agenda.  Here are some of the paintings.

I also read some fiction – a favorite novel from the 1940s – and started some nonfiction, a book about photography I received as a Christmas present, Behind the Camera.  It’s nice to sit outdoors with a book and a cup of coffee or tea, put my feet up, and read.  The weather has varied from chilly to warmish, and so have I!

Add to that, I have been learning about a camera which I recently bought: a used Pentax (Honeywell Asahi) non-MLU (mirror lock-up) 6×7 camera.  It has been frustrating and fascinating.  First, the thing weighs in about 5 lbs.  Lugging it around is amusing.  I pulled out a tripod.  It takes 120 film, and you get ten 6×7 images out of it – supposedly.  Out of the 10 exposures I made, only 3 came out, and all came out under-exposed.  No idea why. 

As a result of these mishaps, I loaded up more film, and logged every picture I took.  And did it with a second roll, too.  I bracketed my images as well as varied exposure factors to get the same picture exposures (i.e. 8 @ 1/30 then 5.6 @ 1/60) using Lomo Color Negative 100 film.  I took the two rolls yesterday morning, and dropped them off around noon. 

Here are the three images from the first roll, which is Portra 400 – what a waste!

I am really curious as to what comes back from the photo lab – hopefully fairly soon. If these are also dismal failures, back the camera goes to the vendor!

So, nothing exciting in my life, like flying to Paris for lunch on a whim. But, some satisfaction, and some frustration, just like real life!

A Non-Blobbish Resolution

The first day of 2020 and we all think about what we want to do, or not want to do.  Yours truly is in the category of the “want to do” crowd.  I want to do everything I like doing, but the resolution is

Find the time to do what I want to do!

How’s that for something unique?  Yeah, right.  But all joking aside, I followed the suggestions of a few people to “just let things happen” and I found it left me floundering around, indecisive, and just waiting for things to happen.  If I wait for things to happen, I sit there, blob-like.  Such an attractive way to spend my time.  So, to thwart this blobbishness, I plan to

Schedule!

I think it will make for a happier 2020 as far as general living . . . more productivity and creativity and sense of satisfaction and so on and so on and so on.

No blobs in 2020, thank you!

2020 Visions

I know I am not the first one who will be making bad jokes about 2020 and eyesight, so at least I have gotten mine out of the way!  Still, I really do hope that the year ahead proves to be one where things improve for many – 2019 has been quite disturbing in many ways.

For myself, every year, at the end and into the new, I look ahead and think about what I want to do.  Personally, I have no grand aspirations.  Certain things keep me rather limited in what I can accomplish, but in other areas the only limitations are my imagination or lack thereof!  And, in truth, my aspirations are more personal than external, though there are some thoughts moving into the areas outside myself.  I realize that sounds rather vague, but that is exactly what some things are – vague.

One thing I have been thinking a lot more about is photography.  I’ve never been especially passionate about it, but I enjoy it as a pastime.  Some people I know are so good at it, take classes, win prizes.  I don’t do any of those things.  Also, in many ways, while I like the convenience of digital, there is a lack of tactility with it because you can snap-snap-snap without thought, and possibly get some good images. This lack of tactility in digital is what keeps me from being a “passionate photographer”.  Digital is great to learn from, too, as it is cost-effective and very instructive if you take the time to, er, focus on the essential parts of what makes a photograph – iso, time, aperture.  I have learned a lot in the digital photographic world and really like certain parts of it – but I also miss the deliberate qualities film forces on me.  It is through the digital photograph that I have been able to improve my film photography, and that is where I am turning more and more.

Film has a life that digital does not.  There is that indefinable quality of film.  Combine that with a deft hand, a good lens, and a bit of luck and / or talent, and it becomes something you can drown in with pleasure.  I’ve discovered that in the past year.  I have a small collection of film cameras, some really limited in what they can do, others more sophisticated.  Some are 35mm and others are 120 format, in 645, 6×6, and 6×7.  I’ve only just moved into the modular medium format and plan to explore it in the coming year.  The modular medium format cameras allow for different lenses, as do SLRs and DSLRs.  Being able to work with different systems, their limitations and gifts, is a great experience.  It makes me think differently in each situation.

In this next year, I want to learn to develop my own film successfully, both black and white and color, both 35 and 120.  Currently I have a lab which does a decent job – not great – nearby and for a reasonable cost.  I scan my own films using a Pakon for 35mm and, currently, an Epson V600 for 120.  I want to try digitalizing my 120 using a light box and my full frame Nikon with a macro lens.  These are the tactile elements of photography that I find missing in digital photography – the processing on different levels.  Yes, the images are ultimately digitized and edited in Lightroom and other software, but getting them there is part of the fun, and very different than using a memory card!

But I also want to do more with my photography.  I am an admitted addict to landscapes; however, I also want to move beyond the natural world and consider other elements of photography.  For instance, look at the images I have put into this post.  They aren’t mine.  They are ones which have been staged and tell a potential story.  It is this I want to explore in greater depth, too.  The creative side of photography in what is put into the photograph itself.  That is perhaps the biggest challenge to me with photography (digital and analog) – creating a scene to convey a thought.

Along with the more intense “doing” of photography, I also want to paint and draw (as I try to do), read more, spin, knit, walk, work out, garden, travel . . . and continue to enjoy the life I have and share it with friends and family and the blogosphere, too – readers and comments, though I seldom mention it, are a pleasure to me.

Here’s to a new year of adventure in 2020!