May 272015
East Coulee Alberta bridge

Hanging with film photographer Robert Pohl (yes I said film), means breaking out the old Minolta. We’ll be forgoing all the conveniences of digital, wonderful technology that works so well in fact that it kind of makes us lazy and sloppy, to shoot a roll or two old school style. We’ll have to slow down, not easy for us, and calculate each and every frame carefully. We’ll have to think.

Yes, they still make film and we’ll be shooting it here. For the first time in well over a dozen years. The film camera comes out of retirement.

Admittedly, we found find the transition back challenging and awkward and we fumbled and struggled a lot. Odd, we used to shoot film regularly years ago but it’s like we’ve forgotten everything. Add to that a cranky camera messing up the exposures slightly (unbeknownst to us at the time, since resolved), then mix in the occasional focusing problem (who knew, I need glasses, soon to be resolved) and should it come as a surprise to anyone that we were disappointed with many of the shots? About half were plain and simple unusable, either over or under exposed, or soft in focus.

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We shot black and white film, Arista Premium (given to us by Rob) with an ASA of 400, for a bit of artistic grain. We also shot digital concurrently. We had three subjects to capture and selected a single film image of each to show here. We’ll be doing more detailed write ups latter on all of them and this is more about our back-to-film experience than the things we photographed.

Our film gear includes a Minolta X-700 body, a fairly advanced and reasonably well regarded camera from its era (80s and 90s – ours had a date of 1989 on it). It’s more featured and better built then a typical consumer camera from the time, but is not quite professional level. It’s fully manual plus has has aperture priority and programmable modes. We shot AP, which is what we used to do in the old days, so why stop now.

It came with 28mm, 50mm and 130mm fixed lenses and a 70-210mm zoom, plus a good assortment of accessories and filters. The two short lens are good quality, and were the only ones used this shoot. Overall though it’s not a bad rig.

This camera has sat in our closet for a couple years. We acquired it in a complicated trade back then and immediately forgot about it. Until we met Rob that is. He’s been suggesting we shoot together and since his forte is film (he a large format photographer) we thought what the heck, let’s do it too. It’ll be a learning experience and we’ll have some fun. For back up we brought the digital. Of course. Just in case.

How long the Minolta sat before we came to own it is not known, but I’d suspect, given how dusty the carrying case it came in was, it was some time.

Even before this report was published, we accompanied Rob on a second film-photo expedition, to a wonderful place called Red Rock Coulee. In between-time we’ve given the camera a good cleaning which seems to have fixed the main problem we had with it earlier. I might add the the frame counter did and still doesn’t work, the only other issue we had, but it’s not so critical and hardly worth noting. It’s gummed up, I bet, from lack of use and maybe it’ll free itself over time.

I feel this second roll of B&W film will turn out much better then the first. The camera seems to be working right, we’re more comfortable with it and I paid closer attention to my focusing.

Moving on, let’s look at the subjects seen here, very briefly…

1) The Minolta getting ready to take its first photo with us, with an old abandoned homestead seen in back.

2) This house is one of the more photogenic we’ve seen in some time. It’s a stunning location near the top of a meandering coulee. Connie makes sure to capture things digitally in case using film does not work out.

3) Pretty much all that’s left in the ghost town of Sharples is this grain elevator. Built in the 1920s it’s sat abandoned since the rail line that once passing in front was pulled up in the 1980s. Nice! This is our favourite film shot from the trip.

4) This bridge, in East Coulee, once carried trains and road traffic. Built in the 1930s, it was last used in the 1980s. Today it’s abandoned and is in kinda rough shape.

Stay tuned for more detailed reports on each of the subjects seen here. This was just a teaser, we have a lot more to say and more photos, digital and film, to share.

More of our adventures captured on film decades years ago…
Road Trip 1989!
Roseberry BC railway barge slip.
East Coulee Alberta – 1992 (the same bridge seen here).

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: May, 2015.
Location: Carbon, Sharples and East Coulee, AB.
We had to venture onto private land, with permission, to take some of our photos.

Minolta film camera

1) Our first time using this old Minolta film camera.

Old farm house

2) A forgotten homestead near Carbon Alberta.

Sharples AB grain elevator

3) The very photogenic grain elevator at Sharples.

East Coulee Alberta bridge

4) The old road/rail bridge at East Coulee.


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4 Comments on "Out of retirement"

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Denise Martin
Denise Martin

I miss him so much. Makes me very sad.

Emily Overes
Emily Overes

(via Facebook)
I still have my film camera too. Might be fun to try it out again. Sometimes I shoot Polaroid just for kicks