Yashica Electro 35 GSN – Sample Photos and Problems

Before I go into a lengthy description, let me say I’m beginning to like my Yashico Electro 35 GSN more and more.  It’s taken a while.  In my opinion, the Electro camera normally needs a repair or two and a bit of understanding to take good photos.  But I think it can be worth it.

This is a photo of friends on my back porch lit only by candlelight.  Handheld, ASA 400 print film, wide open aperture (3 seconds approximately).

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Friends by Candlelight

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Friends by Candlelight

If you’re interested in night photography as I am, you might also want to read my Yashica Electro Night Photography blog post.

Before I go much further let me relate a brief story.  Last week I took a walk in Chicago around 10 PM taking photos with my Yashica Electro 35 GSN.  I developed the photos and liked them a lot.  Yesterday evening I wanted to take another evening walk with another camera.  And then I realized something.

The only 35mm film camera I had capable of night photography was the Yashica Electro.  I could have taken some 90’s point and shoot cameras that can do night work.  But the Yashica Electro from 1970 is just a much better night camera in my opinion. 

Yashica Electro 35 GSN Prices

That’s what you really want to know, correct?

Today is August 18, 2011 and I just checked eBay for completed listings for the Yashica Electro 35 GSN.  This is what I learned.

  1. $9.00 was the lowest for a beat up camera, quality unknown.
  2. $270 was the highest sold price for a pristine complete camera set.  As good as the day it was purchased 35-40 years ago.
  3. $40’s.  I’d say the bulk of cameras were in the forties (U.S. dollars).

So how did I get one camera for less than $10 and another camera for $30 plus shipping on Craigslist.  Actually both cameras came from Craigslist.  The $10 camera was in a bundle of 4 cameras from Denver Craigslist.  The seller tossed it in with the rest.  The $30 Electro came from near Baltimore, the seller said he had re-done the foam seals (well he did, but not terribly well).

If you purchase on eBay, check the seller’s ratings and his/her description.  If the camera has been tested (why don’t eBay vendors sell “tested cameras” more) from a reputable seller, it’s worth more money.  Ordering an Electro GSN from Craigslist in a distant city seems like a poor idea.

My next Yashica Electro 35 purchase?  If I purchase another, it will be a camera I can check out first in my own hands.  There’s a lot of things to check out on a Yashica Electro before purchase.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN Technical Details

You can find Yashica Electro 35 GSN write-ups all over the Internet.  I first saw a description at Photoethnography, and certainly value what Ken Rockwell and Yashica Guy have to say about the camera.  Their explanations are more thorough, my technical details are more for a novice.  Here’s my novice analysis.

Summary:  The Yashica Electro 35 GSN is a Japanese rangefinder from the early 1970’s.  Heavy, inexpensive to purchase, some people believe it has excellent “glass”.  It is aperture preferred when automatic.  Set the aperture, it determines the shutter speed.  What is so remarkable about the Electro is that it can take photos in very low light with up to a 30 second shutter exposure.

Quirky Technical Details:  The shutter has a very long “throw”.  You keep pushing the shutter button until it actually takes a photo.  Very different than other shutter buttons I have used.  The battery is quirky, more on that later.  Seals will probably need to be replaced.

Provenance or History

Again, no histories on my two Electros.

I have the Denver and Baltimore cameras.  The Denver Yashica Electro GSN was a “throw in” on 3-4 cameras.  Perhaps the fall of 2010.  The light meter works a bit erratically and I think it needs new foam seals.  So I haven’t shot a photo with it yet.

The Baltimore Electro also came from a long distance Craigslist purchase.  Most likely fall of 2010.  The seller said he had replaced the crumbling seals.  He did but it was an amateurish job.  The light meter does seem to work.

I think one advantage of garage sales is that you can talk to someone about who owned a camera.  Knowing the history of the camera makes it more enjoyable for me.

My Repairs for the Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Let’s talk about the Yashica Electro from Baltimore’s Craigslist.

I received this camera early in my collecting phase.  I barely knew what I was doing initially.  Now I check out cameras much better than I did initially.

Over time I learned what this camera needed.

  1. Camera seals.  As many of you know, the foam inside a camera used to prevent light leakage degrades and crumbles over time.  In this Craigslist Yashica Electro, the seller did replace the seals.  I did notice that it didn’t close easily and in some cases the plastic foam used for sealing wasn’t cut well to fit certain locations.  It wasn’t a great repair job.  I wondered, will it hold?
  2. Batteries.  The original battery for the Yashica Electro was a mercury battery.  They don’t make them anymore.  If you want your Electro’s light meter to work, then you need to make your own or visit Yashica Guy for his Yashica Guy Pro Adapter for your camera.  I purchased my adapter from Yashica Guy and it works just fine.

After purchasing batteries for this camera I was able to check out its shutter speeds.  Remember, it’s aperture priority:  set the aperture, the camera sets the shutter speed.  And this only works with the correct batteries and/or adapter.  The shutter speeds were fine.

So the seller did the light seals and I purchased the Yashica Guy Pro Adapter for the light meter.

My first 24 exposures with the Yashica Electro 35 GSN

My first 24 exposures with the Baltimore Electro 35 weren’t very good.  I think many of the photos were taken when it was bright and it overexposed the photos.  If I had to guess, I’d say that it was photographer error or a 40 year old light meter.

I suspect many of the photos were taken at wide apertures, which was an old habit of mine.  Now I thoughtfully decide on the aperture of each photograph before I take it.

Here’s an overexposed photo from my first roll.  A kitchen in daylight caused this overexposure.

Yashica Electro GSN, Overexosure in a Kitchen by daylight

Yashica Electro GSN, Overexosure in a Kitchen by daylight

This second photo hints at the capability of the Yashica Electro.  It’s not exciting as photos go but it’s taken at dusk on a Chicago street.  Seems like the Yashica Electro likes taking photographs in low light.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Northwest Highway in Chicago, IL, at Dusk

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Northwest Highway in Chicago, IL, at Dusk

An Evening Stroll with my Yashica Electro 35 GSN

A few weeks ago, I was at home after sunset thinking about taking a summer evening walk near Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL.  Naturally, I thought about taking along a 35mm film camera.

Then I remembered I had never given my Yashica Electro 35 GSN a chance to do what it does well:  night photography.

So you can read another blog post about Yashica Electro night photography and learn from my mistakes and successes.  The basketball courts were empty at 10 PM this summer night.  By the way, it was pretty dark when I took this picture, much darker than it appears.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL - Empty Basketball Courts

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL – Empty Basketball Courts

Do I like the Yashica Electro 35 GSN?

Some friends you don’t like immediately.  You need to get to know them, their strengths and weaknesses.  For me, the Yashica Electro has been like that.

But we’re becoming better and better friends.

If taking photos in low light, I think I’ll be reaching for my Yashica Electro 35 GSN more often.

Yashica Electro Night Photography

The Yashica Electro is meant for night photography.  I think it’s better than even my digital cameras.  Here’s volleyball at night in Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL.  I know there’s flare in the photo (too wide an aperture?).  But my gosh, you can see the cloud in the upper right.  Photo taken with ASA 200 color print film at 10 PM.

Yashica Electro GSN, Flare, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL Volleyball Game

Yashica Electro GSN, Flare, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL Volleyball Game

I’m excited again about film photography, thanks to my Yashica Electro camera and a discussion on Flickr titled Show off your Yashi night shots.  Years ago when I was near penniless in Seattle about 1980 I sat in my taxi cab in downtown Seattle at night with 400 ASA speed film and my Nikon EM camera, hoping that something exciting would happen.  I’ve always been fascinated with night photography.

One of the reasons I enjoy film photography more than digital photography are the elements of craft, serendipity, and surprise.  Let me explain.

Craft, Serendipity, and Surprise in Film Photography

Digital photography has 2 of these elements:  craft and serendipity.  But only film photography owns the element of surprise.

Craft in Film Photography

Both film and digital photography have craft as an element.  You learn how to use the camera, you read your instruction manuals, you experiment with test rolls in preparation for important shots at a future time.

On my 45 year old Yashica Electro I had to send away for a battery contraption to make the light meter work.  I’ve had to do the same thing with my 3 digital cameras (nothing worse than losing battery power) that are a half century newer than my Yashica Electro.

If you’re interested in night photography (somewhere Brassai and Weegee are smiling) you learn more craft in preparation for a night time stroll in Chicago, IL around Kilbourn Park.  (Not to disrespect Kilbourn Park, but it hardly occurred to me that some young gangbangers might harm a bald 60 year old guy that looks like a retired cop.)

Craft means carrying your Yashica Electro already screwed to a height adjusted tripod as you walk to, through, and around Kilbourn Park in Chicago, IL.  Hand held night photography with a Yashica Electro might be possible braced against a building or pole, but carrying a tripod with the Yashica Electro set at infinity for distance, 1.8 for maximum aperture, and automatic exposure setting is my craft for August 11, 2011 and my nightly stroll.

Serendipity in Film Photography

Again, both film and digital photographers are blessed with or without the element of serendipity.

I had just finished photographing a sidewalk path in Kilbourn Park lit by one park light.  I hear the rumble of the Metra trains carrying people to and from downtown Chicago and the northwest suburbs.

I pivot with the tripod, point literally into the darkest part of the park looking eastward to the train tracks, verify shutter and infinity focus are set, and I set the time delay switch.

Then I press the shutter, hoping the train will still be rolling past when the 8 second time delay finishes and the shutter itself goes click.

Then I see it, serendipity.  There isn’t one train, but actually two trains going both north and south.  And I believe, just as the northbound train was slowly passing, all of its interior lights were on in a greenish glow that I can see even now in my mind, rolling slowly right to left, and northward.

That my friends is photographic serendipity.

Surprise in Film Photography

Film photography owns the element of surprise compared to digital photography.  I’m not being a film snob, it’s just what I believe (yes, I do shoot with digital).

But here I am on Thursday morning writing about film serendipity and trains when I have no clue if my northbound train photo of last night will ever come out.

With digital, there are fewer surprises.  WYSIWYGK.  What you shoot is what you get, kindof.  The feedback on your craft and serendipity comes much quicker with digital, a second or less.

With film, every undeveloped cannister of film may yield a surprise.

To paraphrase Forest Gump:  “Undeveloped  film is like a box of chocolate.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

But the joy in film photography is your ability to envision a photograph before it’s developed.  Your craft and your serendipity reduces your element of surprise in your film photography.  The better you become at envisioning photos from snap to development is an affirmation of your craft and serendipity.

The only light in this photo came from the train whizzing by with its green interior lights.  Although not perfect, this is why I shoot film with old cameras.  Here is my Metra Night Train photo from Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL.  Preparation met serendipity, and the surprise is this photo.

Yashica Electro, Chicago Metra at Night

Chicago Metra at Night

My Love/Hate Affair with my Yashica Electro

The Yashica Electro was one of the first cameras I read about and acquired.  Both of my Electros came from Craigslist:  one from Denver and one from Baltimore.

I’ve shot two rolls with my Yashica Electro.  Neither roll was impressive.  But there was something about the overexposed photos and the warmth of the lens that kept calling to me:  Try me again, try me again.

I know what I don’t like about the Yashica Electro (at least the one I own).

  1. The light meter is a little flighty, you do need to have it working before you go shooting.
  2. Focusing isn’t fun.  Somehow I can’t quite get it to focus.  I’d rather set it to infinity for distance and fire away.
  3. And the photos seems overexposed.  Was this the battery or an old light meter?

But I know I’m supposed to like a Yashica Electro.  Isn’t that what Karen Nakamura said when I first started reading about the Yashica Electro?

So I theoretically loved the Yashica Electro and then disliked it (hate is too strong a word).  But then one day I decided it was perhaps the photographer who was at fault, not the Yashica Electro.

These cameras are made for low light photography.  Let’s see if the Yashica Electro can actually take a photo in the near darkness of Chicago’s northwest side Kilbourn Park in summertime.  It’s a perfect environment for low light photography.

  1. Not too many people but just enough for shots at a distance.
  2. High intensity lights for night baseball games and solitary lights that illuminate sidewalks.
  3. I’ll probably find baseball games, soccer games, basketball games going on long after sundown.
Yashica Electro GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL - Baseball at Night

Yashica Electro GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL – Baseball at Night


Yashica Electro GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL - Volleyball at Night

Yashica Electro GSN, Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL – Soccer at Night

Excited and Disappointed about Night Photography and the Yashica Electro 35 GSN

I began this blog post being excited about the prospects of using a Yashica Electro GSN for what it was designed for:  low light photography.

My photos were imperfect, with a few keepers.  I’m a little disappointed but undaunted.  Obviously some of my night photos have flare (how can I have flare at 10 PM?).  What is a Film Camera is about a journey into film photography, with all its successes and problems.

I hope you enjoyed both my successes and mistakes in Yashica Electro 35 GSN night photography.

Uncle Ernie and German Film Cameras

This is a short post, nothing fancy.

Only recently did I realize that my earliest memory of a good film camera comes from Uncle Ernie.

Uncle Ernie’s Prize Belongings

When I was younger than 10 years old, perhaps five or seven, we would visit Uncle Ernie and Aunt Claudine somewhere on West Devon in Chicago’s northwest side.  This would be the late 1950’s.

I remember a big clock, perhaps a grandfather clock in his house.

And I remember a heavy metal camera.

Uncle Ernie’s Camera

But Ernst allowed me hold the shiny chrome film camera.  This was over 50 years ago, what was it?

I seem to be fond of rangefinders.  I don’t think Uncle Ernie’s camera was an SLR.  He allowed me to hold the camera but I don’t remember it having the shape of an SLR.  I remember the camera being very rectangular.  The camera I remember was more “shiny metal” than black.

It might have been the Leica.  Could Ernst, a young husband and new immigrant from Germany have afforded a Leica?  I can only imagine whatever camera he owned was German.

Thanks Uncle Ernie

So one of my earliest memories is holding a beautiful rangefinder camera in the late 1950’s.  My parents were into Brownie cameras, not 35mm rangefinders.

As you can tell, my website What is a Film Camera is about many things, camera memories included.

Did Uncle Ernie own a German rangefinder camera, a Leica?  Only Aunt Claudine might know.  It doesn’t quite matter if they really did own a fine German rangefinder camera.  As a young child I remember a shiny chrome/black camera in their house.

Uncle Ernie passed away a few years ago, so all I can do is say thank you to Aunt Claudine for my deeply rooted love of film cameras, especially German cameras:  Herzlichen Dank.

Andy Warhol’s Olympus AF-1 Camera

There is evidence on the Internet that Andy Warhol used an Olympus AF-1 camera.  Although I can find pictures of Andy Warhol using an Olympus AF-1 camera on the Internet, I don’t know who owns those photos so I won’t show them here.  But The Shutter Goes Click has a nice article on Andy Warhol and his cameras.

Andy Warhol
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sonietta46
Since I visited an Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, PA with my family, since I do shoot film cameras, because I had read on the Internet that the lens for this camera was very good, I purchased two of them on eBay.  $12 plus shipping in the fall of 2010.

For now, I would call purchasing the Olympus AF-1 a minor mistake.

Perhaps Andy Warhol and I would agree:  the Olympus AF-1 camera is an average film camera from a great manufacturer, Olympus.  I can’t speak for Warhol, I can only speak for myself.

Decent Photo with the Olympus AF-1

Here’s a taste of what an Olympus AF-1 camera can do with ASA 200 speed film.  This photo was taken near dusk as shadows covered the alley behind my Chicago, IL bungalow.  It may not be exciting, but it’s Chicago.

Olympus AF-1, Alley at Dusk, Chicago, IL


Olympus AF-1 Technical Details

Thinking of purchasing an Olympus AF-1?  They also were sold in Europe under the name Infinity.

  1. Clamshell design not made by Mr. Maitaini (Olympus’ greatest designer).
  2. Lens.  35mm, f/2.8.  Some people think its a fine lens.
  3. Autofocus.  It has a button for this.  I’m still not convinced that it worked.
  4. Autoflash.  OK, it has autoflash.  But my indoor flash pictures looked primitive with this camera.  Also, there are no controls for the flash as in later point and shoot Olympus cameras.
  5. Autoexposure.  I think the camera did well in this regard.  No complaints.
  6. Battery.  Purchasing a new battery may cost more than the cost of your camera.

OK, I’ve been a bit negative about this camera.  But if you’re photographing landscapes that aren’t too bright, I think the Infinity can do well.  The photograph below was taken from inside my Toyota Camry in rush hour traffic on North Milwaukee Ave in Chicago.  I think it’s a pretty good demonstration of the accuracy and clarity of this camera on a good day.

Olympus AF-1, Chicago Traffic, N. Milwaukee Avenue

Provenance or History

Sorry, I don’t know where it’s been.  As I said before, purchased two of these cameras on eBay for $12 plus shipping.

As I purchased them I was thinking:

  1. Andy Warhol used this camera.
  2. The lens might be great.
  3. It’s cheap.

Sometimes the reasons for my film camera purchases is a little quirky.

Repairs – Olympus AF-1 (Infinity)

No repairs needed.

Luckily I had a spare battery hanging around the house so I didn’t need to buy one.

I think the autofocus on the camera isn’t working but I’m not investing any money to find out why.  Just not worth it.

Working in the Garden with my Olympus AF-1 Camera

My test roll was shot driving around, on my lunch hour walk in Mount Prospect, IL, and working in our Chicago bungalow’s backyard.  ASA 200 speed color print film from Walgreens.

Olympus AF-1, Rich in the Garden, Chicago IL


Nice features of the Olympus AF-1 camera.

  1. The lens shows promise.  There were a few photos on my ASA 200 color film roll that looked quite good.  A good lens.
  2. It’s an early Olympus clamshell design.  It’s not waterproof, but I could easily take it out during a rainstorm and not worry about it.

Will I use the Olympus AF-1 (Infinity) again?

I don’t think so.  I have 20-30 other cameras waiting downstairs for some future testing.

Perhaps what I disliked the most about the Olympus AF-1 is that it was absolutely a point and shoot for me.  Even my newer point and shoot cameras (Yashica T4 for example) allow me to adjust my photos in some way and be thoughtful in the act of taking photographs.  This camera just doesn’t encourage thoughtful photography, for me.

I wonder what Andy Warhol would say about his Olympus AF-1 camera from decades ago.

Nikkormat FT2, The Africa Camera

I own two cameras that I will never sell.  One camera is a Canon AE-1 and the other camera is a Nikkormat FT2.  Paul’s Nikkormat FT2 is shown below.  It has a small dent on its 50mm lens, perhaps dropped on safari in Africa.

Nikkormat FT2

Nikkormat FT2

Paul’s Africa Nikkormat

The Nikkormat FT2 traveled to Africa in 1975 in the hands of a recent college graduate named Paul.  I met him 3 years later, he was the best man at my wedding, and I named my son after him.  He died at the age of 50.

Paul’s Nikkormat FT2 went to Africa, was with him when he dined with cannibals one evening over 35 years ago, and was with him when he photographed lions with its telephoto lens.  So as you can understand, some film cameras just aren’t meant to be sold.

When Paul passed away I inherited his two cameras and his Africa slides.  Cameras and slides sat in the basement for 8 or 9 years in a box.  I haven’t found the slides yet.  But 9 years after his death, in a digital camera age, I started looking at Paul’s old cameras.  That’s how I began collecting, testing, recording camera stories, and yes, also shooting 35mm film.

Nikon FT2, Flowers and Bokeh

Nikon FT2, Flowers and Bokeh, Chicago backyard

Nikkormat FT2 – How does it feel?

It’s heavy, darn heavy.  And cool to the touch.  Perhaps its because it’s part aluminum.

My FT2 has a Nikkor 50mm 1.2 lens on it.  Also, I own an 80-200 mm zoom.  Together, the camera and lenses weight 3.4 pounds.  It has a great solidity to it.  Even at slower shutter speeds I don’t feel any camera shake.

Would you carry 3.4 pounds through an African summer just to take photographs?

Nikkormat FT2 Technical Details

As is my custom, I don’t rip quotes from photographer’s blogs.  But since Wikipedia has a few nice words about the Nikkormat FT2, I encourage you to visit Wikipedia .

I’m hoping Camerapedia is in the public domain because I’m going to quote an important section from their website regarding how you attach lenses to the FT2 so the light meter works properly.  Read this carefully if you own an FT2.

Manual indexing on the FT-2 When attaching a lens it must be set at F/5.6 so the camera’s meter coupling pin will be aligned with the lens’s meter coupling fork(rabbit ears) above F/5.6 then you must rack the aperture ring all the way back and forth so the camera will know the maximum aperture of the lens.

In time as this blog develops, as my skills grow, I hope to become better at explaining technical details for my cameras.

Provenance or History

As described, my friend Paul carried this camera to Africa during the summer of 1975.

Nikkormat FT2 and Zoom Lens

Nikkormat FT2 and Zoom Lens

The camera knows where it’s been, I can only tell you a few stories.

  1. The camera photographed a lion on the African plains.
  2. The camera accompanied Paul to visit a local tribe for an evening dinner.  After dinner he was given a tour of the village, most likely with his camera on his shoulder.  He turned a corner and found some bones on the ground.  “What are these bones?”, Paul asked.  “Don’t worry, they’re from a local tribe we don’t like.”  Cannibals.
  3. There’s a photo of my friend drinking Coca-Cola from a local Coca-Cola stand.  (I’m going to find those slides.)

I can’t find the original price for the Nikkormat FT2.  But the minimum wage was $2.10 in U.S. dollars.  I wonder how long it took a minimum wage college graduate to pay for the camera plus 2 lenses.  Long time.

My Repairs for the Nikkormat FT2

I’m happy to report that Paul’s Africa camera needed no repairs at all.  I guess that made up for his Canon AE-1 that cost me $200 in repairs for a camera I could probably purchase used for $40.

But as I said, the Nikkormat FT2 required no repairs after waiting over 3 decades for someone to take it out for a stroll.  I put a new battery in it and the light meter worked just fine.

Nikkormat FT2 Test Roll

Do inanimate objects have a memory?  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.

I found myself walking around Mount Prospect where I work and my Chicago backyard taking photos, wondering if the camera realized it was no longer in Africa.  Sure, go ahead and laugh.  But perhaps my FT2 was missing a more adventurous stroll.

When taking the photograph below with a zoom lens, I imagined someone photographing a lioness over 35 years ago.  This is my lioness.

Nikon FT2, Lioness on Backporch

Nikon FT2, Chicago Lioness on Backporch

Will I use the Nikkormat FT2 Again?

I think so.  The camera feels good in my hands and the photos are better than average.

I do know I’ll never sell this camera.  Walking with Paul’s Africa camera put me at final peace with his passing 10 years ago at the age of 50.

A Final Note on Paul the Photographer

His last name is his own.  Privacy is a good thing.

After Paul finished his Africa trip he raised 250,000 dollars in the late 1970’s in Chicago to start a non-profit taking care of Illinois orphans.  His little agency grew and today its one of the biggest in Chicagoland.  Last time I checked, his agency had over 25 staff members and an operating budget in the millions.

I met him when I worked as a volunteer for his non-profit.

He became a therapist and later became a psychologist.  He preferred the most difficult cases imaginable.  He was a tough as nails advocate for the rights and welfare of abused children and teenagers in Chicago, IL USA.  He was my best friend.

As I said, I’ll never sell his Nikkormat FT2 camera.

Film cameras under ten dollars

I own a bunch of film cameras purchased for ten dollars or less.  Some that I have tested with film, some that remain untested.

Some people boast on their photography websites about their best camera purchases or “steals”.  The cameras listed below aren’t steals.  I think you can find these cameras for under ten bucks.  I did.

One day I’ll have large write-ups and photos on these cameras.  For today, just write-ups.

Nikon FE and Nikon F

Okay, I guess you would call purchasing these two cameras a “steal”, I would not.  I told the owner what her Nikon F was worth and that she could sell all her cameras on eBay for much more than I offered.  She liked me, trusted me, and wanted a cash offer.  I obliged.

Honestly, if I do the math, I purchased each camera for under $10 at a Chicago area garage sale in 2013.  It was the best camera sale ever.

I love my silky smooth Nikon FE but haven’t tried my Nikon F yet.

On a Chicago basketball court in mid-summer, the Nikon FE made me feel like a professional photographer, with professional results.

Nikon FE, June 2013, Basketball at Kilbourn Park, Graceful Layup

GAF L-ES Aperture Preferred Screw Mount

This camera was a throw-in on an eBay sale.  I paid 5 dollars for it.

Here’s my GAF L-ES review.

It’s lovely camera that both feels good and takes good photos.  It’s electronic metering goes way beyond the one second advertised and seems to go as long as 10 seconds.  I love taking photos at night with long exposures.

GAF L-ES, June 2013, Tripp Street at Night, Cropped

Olympus Stylus Epic

You can find articles about this little fixed lens film camera all over the Internet.  The camera was designed by a Mr. Yoshihisa Maitani of the Olympus Corporation.  The man was a genius.

One website said this camera takes “pin sharp” photos.  I’d say it’s true.  Although not waterproof, you can toss it into your jacket, go out into a snowstorm, and take a good picture.  I especially like it for up close portraits.

In the photo below, I focused on the plant in the foreground hoping to get some great bokeh.  I like the bokeh, do you?

Olympus Stylus Epic - Bokeh - Pixlr Adjusted

I own two of these black beauties.  One was a “throw into the box” gift from a Craigslist seller in Arvada, Colorado.  The other I purchased at a garage sale or re-sale shop.  One was free, the other was 5 dollars.

Agfa Optima II

Superman “finger” required (more on that later).

This camera came to me in a “for repair” bundle from eBay.  I purchased 4 cameras for $12.  Three of the cameras worked, the 4th did not.  So this camera cost me 3 dollars plus shipping (under ten dollars).

Guess the focus zone (am I 3 feet away, 10 feet away, or more).  Press the shutter half way down.  If you see a green light in the viewfinder, the photo will be properly exposed.

Only one problem, pressing that shutter half way down requires the strength of Superman.  And beware of camera shake.  This photo was one of my best in 2010.  I purposely blocked the sun with a branch, took the shot, and hoped for the best.

Agfa Optima II, Tricky Exposure

But the photos are worth the effort on this 3 dollar special.

Kodak Motormatic 35F

A delightful wind-up camera that takes nice photos.  Seriously, you insert the film, and wind up the camera.  Shoot, shoot, shoot up to 5 times and the film advances from the wound up spring.

Sounds cheesy and poorly built but its not.  Its fun.  And the photos have a nice warmth to them.  This beautiful photo was taken with a $5 Kodak Motormatic that people thought didn’t work.  The odd part is that it was taken in a shopping center, the clouds appearing above a Kinko store.

Kodak Motormatic 35, Clouds at Sunset

This camera came in my 4 cameras for 12 dollar bundle with the Agfa Optima II.  I could have purchased a 2nd one of these cameras for $10 in Delevan, WI and passed it by.  Wish I had purchased it and its beautiful case.

Canon A35F

Read my article on my wonderful Canon A35F.

I’ve photographed this pond with cameras worth 50 times more than what I paid for my $5 Canon A35F.  But none of those cameras took a better photo of this pond I see every day on my lunch hour walk.

Canon A35F, Beautiful Pond

Purchased for 5 dollars at a Chicago garage sale.  I call it the Son of Canonet.  But you’ll need to read my article for the Canon A35F.

Canon 130u

Purchased from a retired couple in Lindenhurst, IL at their garage sale.  Whenever I fish at Jack and Lydia’s Resort in Lake County at Deep Lake, I swing into the suburbs looking at a few cameras.

My mother loved purple flowers.  This one’s for you Mom.

Canon 130u, Purple Flowers

I sometimes think that if I had to carry just one film camera to take a good photograph up close or at a distance, this might be the camera.  The sellers of this camera said it took great photos of their trip to Ireland.  I shot one test roll of film and loved the results.

Nikon L35AF, Pikaichi (“top notch” in Japanese)

During the summer and fall of 2011 I believe these cameras were looking for me.  I ended up purchasing 3 of them.  One too many.  But when some unsuspecting photography student asks for a nice film camera, I think I’ll give one to him/her.

The photos with this came out very nicely.  And, the camera requires manual rewind, which to me is a good thing.

If you want to read a great write-up on the Nikon L35AF, visit Ken Rockwell’s photograhy website.  His website is a great photography resource:  http://www.kenrockwell.com/index.htm .

Another great website to visit is Matt Denton’s website.  You can visit his write-up on the the Nikon L35AF or Pikaichi (“top notch” in Japanese).

Olympus Infinity Zoom 200

A black chunky film camera that takes nice photos.

Purchased for 2 dollars as I recall at a garage sale in a fancy neighborhood in Chicago, IL called The Villa.  Nice people in that neighborhood, nice houses, and nice cameras.

This photo may look ugly to you, but it was taken at night, timed delay, no flash, in my Chicago alley.  I think the exposure is great.  This is the real Chicago friends.

Black Chunky Olympus, Good, Night Alley Shot

The camera is almost as heavy as a brick, ugly as heck, but takes nice photos.  Is ROI a good phrase for a camera?  My return on Investment for a $2 camera has been quite good on the Olympus Infinity Zoom 200.

Can you find a good $10 film camera?

Yes you can.  Mine have come primarily from garage sales and bundled eBay sales.  What’s your favorite film camera for under ten bucks?  Leave a comment on this blog so I can write about your camera on what is a film camera.

Canon A35F Review, Son of Canonet

I prefer my Canon A35F over my Canonet 28 if I’m grabbing a quick camera for some shots.  They’re both very good.  It’s just that the Canon A35F is normally cheaper than the Canonet 28.

Have you read about the Canonet 28?  Have you ever seen the movie named Pecker about the rise and stumble (not quite a fall, a coming of age) of a teenage photographer?  The Canon A35F is the “son” of the Canonet 28, the camera used in Pecker.  (Visit the movie blog http://fritzflicks.com/ and ask Fritz to review Pecker.)

Can your $5 camera take a shot like this?  There’s a special pleasure in getting a great little film camera that works for under ten dollars.

Canon A35F, Beautiful Tree and Basketball Hoop

Canon A35F, Beautiful Tree and Basketball Hoop

The Movie Pecker and the Son of Canonet

Is it just me or do we have special reasons why we acquire a certain film camera.

Have you ever heard of the campy movie from 1998 named Pecker?  This is what the New York Times said about that movie:

As the title character, allegedly nicknamed Pecker because he eats like a bird, Edward Furlong plays the happy, innocent shutterbug at the center of this giddy satire. Pecker takes pictures just because he loves to, and because, like Mr. Waters, he thinks art is anywhere and everywhere. The film watches what happens when Pecker’s photographs of his inner-city Baltimore neighborhood somehow catch the fancy of Manhattan’s art establishment…

So I watched the movie Pecker, and like a lot of people, guessed at what camera Pecker was using.  Was it the Canonet 28?

Naturally I purchased a Canonet 28 on Craiglist (east coast, summer of 2010) and have never used it.  Metering seems to work fine but the camera seals are crumbling badly within.  I’ve been too busy blogging to learn how to repair camera seals (yes, on my to do list).

Why do I call it Son of Canonet?  The Canon A35F was made just after the Canonet 28’s.  Unlike the Canonet 28, the Canon A35F had a built in flash, and it seems to work fine.  I think Pecker would have loved it.

So that’s why I named the Canon A35F the Son of Canonet, because really, it’s father was the Canonet 28.

Canon A35F Review – Technical Details

So far, I’m not good enough technically to ramble on at great length about any camera.  And neither do I want to summarize/plagiarize other photographer blogs.  So…

Visit The Other Martin Taylor website for his write-up on the Canon A35F.

The best I can tell you is that this is a Canon rangefinder film camera that comes with its own built in flash.  Its father, the Canonet 28, had a hot shoe for a flash.  The Canon A35F is simpler from a flash perspective.

Keep a film cap on your lens.  Without a cap, the light meter runs constantly and will run down your battery.  As I recall, you do need a battery to shoot this little camera.  It has no manual settings.

Provenance or History

I purchased this for $ 5 at a garage sale on Chicago’s great northwest side.  Wonderful little camera that feels right and shoots nicely, fine lens.  So no fancy provenance on this camera, just a short history.

During the summer and early fall I realized there were some nice garage sales on Chicago’s northwest side running from Sunnyside and Central Avenue to about Canfield and the Kennedy.  On some Saturday mornings I would take a drive looking for cameras in these middle-class neighborhood.  Point and shoot cameras, but decent ones.

One Saturday I came across a garage sale and found a black Canon camera.  It look familiar but I couldn’t quite place its lineage.  It’s a rangefinder I think, what is it?  The shutter didn’t work but the shutter did work when I popped in one of my spare batteries (you carry spare batteries going to garage sales, don’t you?).

The lady wanted five dollars and I tried to bargain her down to $3.  Silly on my part.  She knew I wanted it but I had to try.  You win ma’am.  $5 and its sold.

My Repairs for the Canon A35F – None

No repairs needed.  It just plain worked.

This camera was early on in my collecting so I wasn’t even wise enough to run an expired roll of film through it to test film advance.  I just cleaned the lens a bit and then shot a roll of ASA 200 color print film with it.

Two Test Rolls with the Canon A35F

I shot one roll with the Son of Canonet during the fall of 2010 and then one roll after a horrible snowfall on February 1, 2011.  My neighbors and I dug out our alley with snow shovels and snow blowers.  We knew we couldn’t depend on the City of Chicago to do our alley with easily a foot or more of snow.

I include this photo not because its good or great, but because its decent.  Isn’t that what we expect from our cameras (film or digital)?  We just want to take decent photos, hoping for the best.

Canon A35F, Chicago 2011, Happy Snow Shoveler

Canon A35F, Happy Snow Shoveler, Chicago, IL

Nice features of the Canon AF35F.

  1. It does feel good.  Nice weight and heft.
  2. Manual film advance, quiet.  When you take a photo, you have to wind it yourself.  Not a bad thing unless you’re into sports photography.  This is a quiet little camera.
  3. Portraits.  I have taken some portraits that have come out very nicely.
  4. It’s cheap.

The light meter runs constantly.  Your light meter battery will run down.  Put a cap on the lens (sometimes hard to find one) or place the camera in a dark place so it won’t run down its battery metering light.

Will I use the Canon A35F, the son of Canonet, again?

You bet.  Here’s a photo of soccer practice at North Park College in Chicago, IL during March 2011.

Canon A35F, Chicago, IL, Soccer in March

If you can find a Canon A35F at an affordable price, buy it.  Ten dollars at a garage sale would be a good price.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how well the Son of Canonet does with beautiful landscapes and portraits.

Thanks for reading my Canon A35F review today and visiting What is a Film Camera.  Really, if you can find a Canon A35F for $5 buy it, they’re terrific.

Yashica Lynx 1000 Review

This is my review for a like new Yashica Lynx 1000 that is over 50 years old.  To be brief, if you can purchase it at a good price and it works, enjoy.  It’s a nice rangefinder.

Here’s a taste of what a Yashica Lynx 1000 can do with ASA 200 speed film.

Walkers in Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL

Yashica Lynx 1000 Technical Details

Most of what I have learned about the Yashica Lynx 1000 has come from someone I’ve never met:  Yashica Guy.  Read what he has to say about the Yashica Lynx 1000.

First made in 1960, the Yashica Lynx 1000 runs off of its own power.  There’s a power source towards the top of the camera (I think it’s selenium).  As a kid I was fascinated with solar batteries, so its no surprise I wanted a camera that kind of uses a solar battery, the Lynx 1000.

Yashica Guy tells us that the camera has a Copal SV shutter.  I’m not sure what that really means.  But to me it means that the shutter is quiet.  You could easily use this indoors and nobody would hear the shutter.  A nice advantage.

The aperture ranges from a max of 1.8 to a tiny f22.  I’m still new at this, and maybe you are also.  The large 1.8 aperture means you can take photographs in less light than some other cameras.  The f22 or tiny aperture means you can experiment with depth of field and producing photos with nice bokeh.

Read what Yashica Guy has to say about the Yashica Lynx 1000.  He’s the best source that I know of regarding Yashica rangefinders.

Provenance or History

Sorry, I don’t know where it’s been.  Purchased it in June 2011 from eBay for $22 plus shipping.  It looked good in the photos and I had reason to believe the camera might be in good condition.

Purchasing from eBay is always a risk.  If someone goes into technical detail about the condition of their film camera, you have an expectation that it’s a good camera.  And, the ultimate price will be higher (others are reading what you are reading).

Some sellers just say:  “I don’t know cameras.  Buy the camera as is.”  In that case, you might get a bargain or a bust on eBay or other places.

So no fancy provenance on this camera, just a short history.  It’s from eBay.

My Repairs for the Yashica Lynx 1000

I was pretty excited when the camera arrived via USPS.  Beautiful lens, shutter and apertures worked correctly, meter responded to light differently as expected.  But then I put in a test roll of film (I always “fake” shoot a roll of expendable old film to test film transport).

The film does not advance.  The film advance lever feels smooth as silk, but the film does not coil or advance as it should.  I researched the problem on the Internet, found a few possible fixes, but I felt hesitant in tearing down a beautiful old film camera.

I took it to my camera repairman Mr. Lee.  He seemed impressed to see a Yashica Lynx 1000.

$50 for a CLA:  clean, lubrication, and adjustment.  Also, Mr. Lee my repairman fixed the film advance so it works.  Also, holding the camera I had accidentally pressed in on the rangefinder window and it had collapsed a bit.  I guess the cement was old.  Mr. Lee took care of that problem also.

Morning Strolls with the Yashica Lynx 1000

I take photographs on morning strolls in my Chicago neighborhood.  You might want to read my article, am I a good photographer where I write in great detail about a stroll with my Yashica Lynx 1000.

Nice features of the Yashica Lynx 1000.

  1. It just feels good.  It has a nice weight and a nice balance to it.
  2. There’s absolutely no camera shake at lower speeds.
  3. It’s forgiving.  I shot the first half of my ASA 200 roll of film with the camera set at ASA 100.  I thought the photos would be ruined.  The photos were fine, the camera forgiving.

Some trouble with bright horizons (half bright, half dark) as you might find in a park.  But these exposure problems were photographer related.


Exposure Problem, Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL

Will I use the Yashica Lynx 1000 Again?

You bet.  I had the Yashica Lynx 1000 with me when I did my best street photography yet.  It’s the camera I used to photograph Oly the homeless man of Kilbourn Park.  This is Oly as I first met him at 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning in August, 2011.  He was reading his precious notes at a picnic table at the north end of Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL.  Oly knew perhaps more about the Yashica Lynx 1000 than I did.

Yashica Lynx 1000, Meeting Oly the homeless man of Kilbourn Park

If you can find a Yashica Lynx 1000 at an affordable price, buy it.

Thanks for reading my Yashica Lynx 1000 review at What is a Film Camera today.

Salvation Army Film Cameras

Visiting the Salvation Army on weekends for film cameras is both a pleasure and a sadness.  First the sadness.

Count Your Blessings when you visit the Salvation Army

At first when I visited the huge Salvation Army store on Clybourn Avenue in Chicago, IL, it was a candy store of cameras given away by their owners.

But after a while I progressed beyond my film camera fervor and looked at the people shopping.  Most people weren’t looking for camera bargains.

Yes, there are patrons looking for bargains.  A camera collector looking for cameras, a young college couple purchasing used appliances for their first household, people like that.

But mainly the shoppers are just plain poor, trying to survive in the big city.  Mothers purchasing bright clothing, hoping to please their little children.  The little children in the store smile with glee testing out old toys while the older children in the store have sterner faces as they try on clothing.  The older children know why they’re at the Salvation army shopping that day:  they can’t afford to shop at Wal-Mart.

Sorry, no photos from the inside of the Salvation Army store.  They don’t allow it.  And I respect their rules.

So count your blessing when you visit the Salvation Army looking for cameras and other collectibles.  I do.

The Camera Counter at the Salvation Army

My Salvation Army has a camera counter on the 2nd floor.  I seem to visit it once a month

It’s a glass counter about 2 X 2 X 3 feet in dimensions stuffed with cameras so tightly you have no idea what’s in there.  You look as much as you can but you really need to get your hands on everything, if only the staff will let you.

I’ve been to the store 3 times asking for permission to “go behind the counter”.  Three times they said no.

Today they said yes.

  1. An Olympia camera is easily visible at the front.  I pull it out and show it to the 2 counter ladies answering questions from the throng of customers.  “It’s a Chinese fake of an Olympus camera,” I tell the ladies.  They smile nicely.  They don’t care (and why should they).
  2. Minoltas everywhere.  I can’t even keep track of all the Minolta SLRs that I see in re-sale shops.  I wouldn’t know a good one from a bad one.  I just try each one out to see if they work without a battery, they don’t.
  3. Canon AF 35ML, $45 dollars.  I have one of these cameras already and wouldn’t mind having another.  They have a 1.9 aperture and are a great low light camera.  No stealth though.  They are as loud as blender when you take a photo.  “It’s only worth $5 I plead.”  No, $45.  Just because it’s more modern they want more money.

Sears TLS and Asahi Pentax Spotmatic

Buried in the camera counter I find two bodies:  Sears TLS and Asahi Pentax Spotmatic.

I missed out on a Sears TLS with 3 lenses earlier this week for $63 plus shipping and I’m still thinking about it.  But you just can’t get into bidding wars on cameras.  Unprofitable, unpleasant.  Matt Denton has a nice write-up on the Sears TLS and you might read it.

I remember what Karen Nakamura wrote about the rock solid Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SLR and I wanted one.

I test them as best I can.  No lenses, just bodies.

  1. Shutter speeds work.
  2. No lenses means no aperture to test.
  3. Film transport seems to work.
  4. Camera seals are not too bad, may not need replacement.
  5. Meter dead as a doornail.

I try to open both battery covers and they won’t budge with my borrowed penny from the counter ladies.  Corroded batteries are a possibility.  If so, the meter will never work.

Ten Dollars for Each Camera

The cameras have no price tag.  I ask the lady what they want for the two cameras.  “Ten dollars a camera.”

I tell her the batteries may be corroded and they have no lenses (both true).  She just smiles.  “Ten dollars a camera.”

I offer seven dollars.  Yes, she said, “Ten dollars a camera.”

“OK, ten dollars a camera.  I’ll take both.”

They lady I thought could barely speak English smiles, jumps a little off the ground (honest) and says to the other counter lady, in English:  “I won.  I won.”

Good camera deals at the Salvation Army?

You bet.  It was almost worth $20 just watching the counter lady jump for joy when she won our camera negotiation.  I’m happy with two used camera film bodies that I can test with a lens and film.

At home I worked on the Sears TLS and the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic battery covers.  The Sears TLS is definitely corroded.  But I can always shoot the Sears TLS manually.  The Spotmatic batter cover came off with a good screwdriver.  No corrosion.

I tried one of my screw mount lenses on both cameras and they seemed to work fine.  The threads are still working.  I have two new cameras to test, in time.

What is a Film Camera?

Yes, I will answer that question more technically as this blog evolves.  I’ll talk about 35, 120, 220 formats and more.

But “What is a Film Camera?” for me is an opportunity to collect film cameras, take photos, meet people, and count my blessings at the Salvation Army store.

Am I a Good Photographer?

This blog article could have had many titles.  But ultimately it’s a blog article about how photography can enrich your life, and the lives of others.

I’d like to become a better photographer.  I don’t obsess about it, but I do own about 10 photography books that I read again and again.  (I think it’s time to take a photography class.)

I want to be good at photographing…


Photographing your wife on the back porch is easy.  My wife is getting used to it.

Perhaps you want to become better at landscapes, or sports photography, or bird photography (like my friend Kim).  Or, do you prefer commercial, aviation, or portrait photography.  I’m self taught so I can’t describe all the different types of photography.

I want to photograph people that I meet on the street.  I just realized why.  I never knew why before.  It’s a connection to my Dad who died 40 years ago.  My father could walk up to anybody, anywhere, anytime and strike up a conversation.  On Sundays during the late 1950’s when he didn’t work, my Dad would take me to soccer games in Chicago at Winnemac Park.  I never understood soccer but I learned how to establish a rapport with complete strangers, watching my Dad.

I want to walk up to total strangers, strike up a conversation, and take their photo if they’ll let me.  I’m not looking to take a secret photo of someone without their permission.  The skill is in making contact, establishing a rapport, and commemorating the moment with a photo.  One friend said one of my hidden skills is walking up to strangers and chatting with them amiably for 5-10 minutes.  (A priceless talent I learned from my Dad.)

July 24, 2011 – Yashica 1000 Test Roll

I purchased a pedometer and now take walks as much as I can (becoming healthier).  Today was a Sunday so I started my walk at about 7:15 AM.  I normally walk about 1.5 to 2 miles in the morning around Kilbourn Park on Chicago’s northwest side.  This Sunday, storm clouds are building in the west.  (An hour later a new rainfall record would be set at O’Hare airport in Chicago.)

I took my refurbished Yashica 1000 with me for its first roll of film (ASA 200, generic film).

I’ll write about the Yashica Lynx 1000 on another day.  Let’s just say that it’s as beautiful now as it was when it was made 51 years ago in 1960.  The question remains:  Is the camera usable, is the photographer good?

Look behind you, you’re missing good shots

As I crossed under a train viaduct approaching Kilbourn Park, I learned something for becoming a better photographer:  look behind you for good shots.

So many times we look forward as we walk hoping for a good photograph.  We see only 180 degrees forward.  Did it ever occur to you that there’s a great photo or perspective if you just look behind you?  More importantly, pause for a moment and do a complete circle.  You may find a very good photo behind you, waiting for a good photographer.

Street Photographer Basics

As I wrote before, I want to become good at photographing people, especially strangers.

As I entered the park I met a woman who was finishing her morning walk/run.  I said hello, she said hello, and I asked her if I could take her photo.  She said no.  I gladly accepted her wishes.  People have the right to decline having their photo taken.  She and I parted on good terms.

The Park this Morning

It’s a Sunday and there are more walkers than normal taking laptops around the running track.

One person walks ahead of me as the train roars past on its way to downtown Chicago.  To the left you can barely see one hoop of the basketball court.  It’s empty today.

Kilbourn Park, Chicago, IL, Train passing by

Meeting Oly, a Homeless Man

I walked through the park and as I neared Addison street I saw a man at a picnic table reading some plastic covered pages in a 3 ring notebook thick with documents.  His tobacco pipe was near his hand.  Next to him by the picnic table is a large box, perhaps 3 feet X 3 feet X 4 feet.

Yashica Lynx 1000, Meeting Oly in Kilbourn Park, a homeless man

I had seen this man before in the near distance on another day, and had walked on by.

RK – Good morning.  How’re you doing today?
Stranger – Fine.  How are you doing?
RK – Great.  I’m taking my morning walk taking photos.  Mind if I take your photo?
Stranger – Sure, go right ahead.

I didn’t take his photograph right away.  I sat down on the other side of the picnic table and began chatting with the stranger, we introduced ourselves.  His name is Oly.

Oly was reading a binder on theories of religion, on a picnic table, on a Sunday morning at 7:15 AM, in Chicago, IL, as storm clouds grew in the west and thunder rumbled in the very far distance.

Oly discussed his unifying theories on religion and I listened politely.  It was a little too complex for me this early in the AM.

Oly revealed after a few minutes that he was homeless.  He didn’t complain about it.  It was just a fact.  His landlord evicted him for $4400 in unpaid rent.  Oly looked older than me (I’m a young 60, so they tell me.)

RK – May I ask what you did for a living?
Oly – I worked in a photo development lab.  They don’t need that kind of thing anymore.  The big stores do it for you.  I was also a taxi driver.
RK – What do you do when it rains?
Oly – I pull this large sheet over me and my box.
RK – What’s in the box?
Oly – My favorite books.  I couldn’t leave them behind when I was evicted.
RK – May I ask, how old are you Oly?
Oly – I’m 65.

Oly chatted on and mentioned a teacher named Mrs. Smith that hooked him on reading when he was in grade school.  She introduced him to Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Raven”.  Oly recited the Raven for a minute or so.

What Oly taught me about Street Photography

As I said at the start, this blog could have had many titles.  But let’s get back to street photography.

I had established rapport with Oly and he had established a rapport with me.  A very nice guy suffering a period of homelessness.  What of all your possessions would you store in a box if you were homeless?  Oly chose some clothing and his important books.

After a few minutes of chatting with OlyI showed him my Yashica 1000.  I took a closeup of Oly at the picnic table.  I took another closeup with Oly in the foreground and the hot dog stand in the background.  Another shot with Oly in the foreground and the park in the background.

After a while I offered that Oly could take a photo of me.  He declined.  He didn’t want to accidentally break my Yashica Lynx 1000.

What did Oly help me learn about street photography?

  1. Say hello first.  Ask a question like, “How’s your day?”.
  2. If the person answers you, keep going.
  3. Chat a few seconds if you can, then ask:  “May I take your photo?”
  4. If the person says yes, chat a moment or two if you can.  Engage them.  Don’t pretend to be their friend.  But honestly carry on a conversation, even if brief.
  5. Take the photo.
  6. Thanks them for the photo, the conversation, and leave.

I’m sure I haven’t discovered some secret method for street photography.  But I learned from experience and tha’s precious.  Each time I ask someone to take their photograph I get a little better at the process.

Thanks Oly, Bye

Towards the end of our conversation, Oly asked me what I wanted to be doing career wise.  He wanted to help me if he could (imagine that).  Yes, I gave him my cell phone.

As I stood up to leave I asked Oly if there was anything he needed that day.  (I never once offered Ollie money, that didn’t seem right.  I’m not offering money for photographs.)

Oly said he was fine.  I told him to call me if he needed something.  I didn’t promise any magical favor.  I did promise to help if I could.

Am I a Good Photographer?


I took a dozen photos yesterday on my walk and in meeting Oly on July 24, 2011.  Then I got home and realized I had not set the ASA speed for my camera to 200.  The speed was on 100.  Will the photos come out?

Yes, the photos came out fine.  Remarkably, the Yashica Lynx 1000 took well exposed photos at ASA 100 even though the film was ASA 200.  On another visit, here’s Oly.  You can see his worldly possessions box next to the bus shelter.  The bus shelter protects Oly from bad weather, unless the weather comes from the north.

Yashica Lynx 1000, Oly's Homeless but not Hopeless


But I did get better at street photography as a photographer?  I think so.  Every day a little better.  Thanks Oly.