Tag: usa

Reenactors – Behind the Scenes

Reenactors – Behind the Scenes

A little sidebar, I wrote this blog post a while back as a post if I had nothing to post here for the week sort of a filler. However recent news made me post this sooner! That great news is that Ektachrome is back! Kodak will be releasing a new version of Kodak Ektachrome E100G in the fall of 2017.

There’s more than battles, drill, and lazing about to a reenactment. Once the public leaves, the camps become the social centres for the evening. And being a reenactor one thing I have been a little lax on is capturing these behind-the-scenes moments once the public’s eye is turned. When I started attending reenactments I was always carrying a camera and capturing the battles, drill, and such events. Now that I spend most of the day in the field carrying a musket. I really needed to remember to bring a camera as well to capture the social side of things.

Lieutenant!

Connie's a Corporal

Almighty Stein

While these aren’t as exciting as some of the battles and actions. It reminds everyone that we love this hobby and have built some amazing friendships around it. One of my favourite events is the Mississenawa 1812 which takes place over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in Marion, Indiana. While the event is designed to commemorate the battle of Mississenawa, we don’t actually portray that skirmish. Since it was mostly American troops fighting the Delaware and Miami tribes that once occupied the region.

Pours the Beer in the Stein

Mike's Happy

Living the High Life

The unit that I fall in with, the 60th (Royal Americans) makes a point to go to this event because for a reenactor it’s fun. Often we’re fighting with a smaller British army so as light infantry we can move a little more around the field and really show off to the public that the soldiers of the 19th-century weren’t just drones standing in a line and firing volleys. Skirmishing was a valid tactic against enemy troops and often lent itself better to the environment of North American during the war.

The Bruce Man

Andi!

No.

Hopefully, I’ll remember to bring the camera more often at the events I attend next year. The Contax G2 seems to stand up well during these events. I mean it came to Waterloo’s 200th last summer!

Technical Details:
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Ektachrome E100G
Processing: Unicolor Rapid E-6 Kit
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2015.5)

CCR Review 49 – Minolta Maxxum 700si

CCR Review 49 – Minolta Maxxum 700si

While I have reviewed many cameras over the course of the two years running this project, and there have been many satisfying cameras. The one sub-type of cameras I haven’t explored in much detail is the SLRs from the 1990s. That is the plastic consumer SLRs that dominated the market before the advent of digital SLRs. The only other one I’ve checked out was the Nikon F90, which is a fantastic camera! And after listening to Episode 152 of the Film Photography Podcast I decided to check another one out and landed on a sweet deal on the Maxxum 700si!

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

The Dirt
Make: Minolta
Model: Maxxum 700si
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135, 35×24
Lens: Interchangeable, Minolta A-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1993

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

The Good
At first glance, you may just dismiss this camera. And after using top of the line manual and auto cameras, I was the same way. However, the 700si is incredibly satisfying to use. It’s plastic, but it’s a solid plastic. And it does this without being too heavy either. It sounds great when you press the shutter, and the whole camera operation has a very classic sound. It reminds me of the shutter sound my first digital camera made which was a recreation of the Maxxum 7. My favourite feature is the Eye-Start. Eye-Start is a series of sensors in the grip and on the viewfinder that if engaged (you can switch this function off and on) will set the exposure and focus the shot upon bringing the camera up. Eye-Start is great and if I had a prime lens on it means you can quickly shoot the camera one handed. While I have used Minolta cameras in the past, we’re talking the SRT and X-Series, but I found the camera controls very easy to use right off the bat. Finally, the meter on the camera is spot on, no need to worry about getting the wrong exposure with this one, even in full program mode.

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

The Bad
The biggest issue I have with any camera is the battery. And in this case, the camera takes a specific camera battery that you can only get at a camera store. Thankfully it does last a long time, so you don’t need to worry too much. But in cases if you’re using the camera in a city that doesn’t have a proper camera store or that store is closed, you better pack a couple of spares. In the previous paragraph, I praised the eye-start functionality; it can be a bit annoying if you’re holding the camera and it’s close enough to give the sensor on the viewfinder the shadow it needs. The camera will constant be focusing and checking the exposure. Thankfully you can turn it off. The final issue I have with the camera is more of a cosmetic problem. The grips like many cameras of the era do degrade over time and can crack and get tacky. The example I have is okay, but it’s not perfect either. I don’t really see this as a breaking point on the camera just mild unpleasantness when using it, but it can be cleaned.

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

CCR Review 49 - Minolta Maxxum 700si

The Lowdown
The Maxxum 700si is a solid and accessible choice for getting into film photography. It takes readily available 35mm film, it’s entirely automated, cheap, easy to use, and with the Minolta A-Mount if you use the Sony line of Alpha digital SLRs, your full-frame lenses couple perfectly with the camera. I don’t think I have to say anymore.

All Photos Taken in Baltimore, Maryland
Minolta Maxxum 700si – Maxxum AF Zoom 35-70mm 1:4 – Eastman Double-X (5222) @ ASA-200 – FA-1027 (1+19) 10:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – The Forts of Maine

Project:1812 – The Forts of Maine

During the British invasion and subsequent occupation of what is today eastern Maine, there were several forts involved in the action. While many have unique histories, there isn’t much to give each one their blog entry. So I’ve decided, for the sake of you readers, to combine them all into a single post. In the interests of geography, I’ll be moving from east to west if you want to follow along the route on a map.

Project:1812 - Fort Furieuse
The historic sign is the only remains of Fort Furieuse in Castine, Maine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The small settlement of Eastport, Maine is located on the formerly contested spit of land named Moose Island. Located near the New Brunswick/Maine border, the US Army fearing British encroachment established Fort Sullivan in 1808. A single four gun circular battery with a powder magazine, blockhouse, and barracks. The island remained in the care of Major Perley Putnam and a small garrison of men from the 40th US Infantry. When the British showed up in the fall of 1814, Major Putnam surrendered without a fight. The British renamed the fort after the governor of Nova Scotia, John Coape Sherbrooke and left 800 regulars to prevent any American attempt at retaking the fort. When the war ended with the Treaty of Gent in 1815, the issue with the border remained unsettled, even though the treaty stipulated that every return to how it was before the war, the border wasn’t settled before the war. As a result, Moose Island and Fort Sherbrooke remained in British hands until 1818. When the American army returned the fort reverted to Fort Sullivan and the garrison would stay at the fort until 1873. The post remained intact until 1880 when the locals began to remove items for constructing other town buildings, today there is little left. A sign marks the location of the fort and a cannon from the war now sits in front of Shead High School, that sits next to the fort site. The powder magazine should still be there; I was unable to locate the ruins. The 1808 Barracks moved from the old fort site to Washington Street and now house the local historical society and town museum.

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The Historic Sign marking the site of Fort Sullivan, I was unable to locate the ruins of the powder magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1812 era cannon on display
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1808 Barracks at their new location
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Next along the route is Fort O’Brien in the Town of Machiasport, Maine. One of the oldest forts on the list, the post, was built in 1775 as Fort Machias by two officers in the Continental Army, Captain Jeremiah O’Brien, and Major Benjamin Foster. Established in response to a possible attack following the capture by American forces of the HM Schooner Margaretta. The British attack was swift and in 1777 chased off the defenders, but the British did not stick around, and the fort was reoccupied by 1781 under the name Fort O’Brien. With the end of the Revolution, the fort was abandoned and fell into disrepair. When border disputes in the early 19th century threatened to boil over the old post was rebuilt a stone and earth bastion mounted four guns. The fort never saw action during the British invasion of 1814 but was the final American post that was destroyed by the British after they had established the occupation. The British simply took the guns and demolished the position rather than commit the troops to occupy it. The American army would rebuild the post for the third time during the American Civil War mounting three 32-pound cannons along with a pair of rifled 24-pound guns. Due to the position the fort never saw action and was abandoned in 1865. Today a single brass Napoleon gun from the civil war is mounted on the earthworks; the powder magazine is still there as an overgrown mound. The site is designated a state park and sits behind Fort O’Brien School.

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A close up of a Napoleon Brass Cannon from the Civil War Era
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A wide look at the earthworks that remain at the site
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
The old powder magazine over grown
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

A fascinating fort on my journey was Fort George in Castine, Maine as it has the richest history of all the forts. Established in 1779 as the primary British post in the colony of New Ireland. Major General Francis McLean would hold out against a great American Siege in the later days of the American Revolutionary War. Fort George is also the largest fort visited, sitting on a ridge above the village of Castine, with a clear view of the Penobscot River. The American force of 45 ships and 200 infantry failed to dislodge General McLean and were compelled to flee upriver and burn their ships. The debacle known as the Penobscot Expedition would be a low point during the Revolution. The massive earthen walls would remain above the town, and when General Sherbrooke arrived in 1814, he would order the post rebuilt when he reestablished New Ireland. The 200 square-foot Fort would mount some 60 guns, and the British surrounded the town with a ring of smaller forts and artillery batteries. When the war ended the garrison marched out in 1815 with much fanfare from the townsfolk. The American Army would occupy the old British fort until 1819 when Fort Knox was completed further up the river. Today you can still see the massive earth walls as well as the ruins of a casemate and powder magazine. A small marker in one of the bastion identifies the site, and a lone cannon from the British occupation is just by the parking lot. The interior of the fort has a baseball diamond.

Project:1812 - Fort George
Casemate ruins at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
The old Powder Magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
Play Ball! What better use for a 200 square foot area than a baseball diamond!
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The final fort that I visited was Fort Madison, also located in Castine, Maine. Established in 1808 during the border tensions between the United States and British North America the simple earthen bastion mounted four 24-pound cannons, a blockhouse, and brick magazine. It would be the only fort to engage the British during the invasion in the fall of 1814, the garrison commander; Lieutenant Andrew Lewis would fire a single volley from the heavy guns before beating a retreat. The British would operate the post as Fort Castine during the occupation. At the end of the war, the British destroyed Fort Castine along with the rest of their fortifications when they retreated in 1815. The American army would operate the post until 1819 before moving all operations north to Fort Knox. During the American Civil War, the site was rebuilt and manned by local volunteer troops who operated the site, calling it Fort United States. The Civil War-era earthworks still stand, and the site is a city park, an 1812 era cannon is located at the site as well.

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
The Historic marker for Fort Madison
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
A War of 1812 era 24-Pound Cannon that marks Fort Madison, it’s twin is now up at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
Looking down at the Civil War Earthworks
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

While not much to look at, in reality, none of them having anything beyond some old cannons, earthworks, and maybe an information sign they still make up a strange and relatively unknown part of the War of 1812 and themselves weaved into the fabric of the tale. I do highly recommend visiting at least Castine, Maine as they have a thriving historical society that loves to share their town’s history with any who are interested.

Special Thanks to the Castine Historical Society for helping me on my journey and providing additional information and location details!

Written with Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. Print.
Web: castine.me.us/welcome/history/history-of-castine/

CCR Review 45 – Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 – Minolta Minoltina-P

If you have ever used the Olympus Trip 35 then, you’ll be right at home with the Minoltina-P. The camera is a fixed lens, semi-automatic point and shoot from the 1960s and honestly before I saw it on the shelf at Burlington Camera I had never even known this camera existed. But don’t let that scare you, Minolta produced a lot of underdog cameras through the 1960s that often were as good as their competitors. The Hi-Matic went up against the Olympus 35 and Cannonet Series, and the Minoltina, well it’s an Olympus Trip 35.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Dirt
Make: Minolta
Model: Minoltina-P
Type: Point and Shoot
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Fixed, Minolta Rokkor 1:2.8 f=38mm
Year of Manufacture: 1963

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Good
I’ve always been a fan of semi-automatic cameras, and the Minoltina is no different and what a great camera to use. The Minoltina is a nice compact camera that easily slides into a pocket or a haversack. You can adjust the settings with a simple lens mounted dial then adjust to the match needle system on the top of the camera, and that will adjust the aperture and the shutter speed based on the readings taken by the front mounted selenium meter. Additionally, there’s a window on the lens barrel which shows an EV number so if you use an external meter should the selenium cell give up, you can set an EV number for exposure, and since it’s a selenium based camera, so no batteries required. The lens on the camera is a 38mm f/2.8 Rokkor, so the images it produces are sharp, and the fast lens means it works well in low light situations. And best of all it’s quiet so that it would make an excellent street photography camera.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Bad
The first thing I dislike about the camera is the focusing. Unlike the nice icons that you get with the Trip 35, there’s no such luck here. The focus is done by a click dial on the lens barrel (probably to prevent you from adjusting the wrong dial, each has a different feel). The focus is marked in distances only, meters on the top, feet on the bottom. So you do have to guess the distance. I only missed focus on two images which is not bad, but I was also shooting in bright light and was affording a wide depth of field. An external rangefinder would certainly be a useful accessory to carry around. Or just be able to guess the distance, stop down, and pray. As for flash photography, you won’t be mounting a flash on a shoe as there’s none on the camera you’ll want a flash bracket and a PC Sync cord. I’ve always been a fan of match needle metering, so I’m not ragging on this camera for having the system, it’s more a placement issue. Having the needle on the top of the camera makes it hard to meter on the fly with an eye level finder. It did not cause me too many problems but in mixed light or changing light or waiting for a shot where the exposure may change having to lower the camera to see the meter reading may bring about some issues. Also the placement of sensor cell means that I often would block it with my hands. You will also have to look out for ones with dead meters, but with a light meter that gives EV readings you can manually set the camera without trouble.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Lowdown
The Minoltina is not a bad camera, although rare. As I mentioned in the introduction, I had never heard of the Minoltina line of cameras until I had seen one. But after using it I am pretty impressed with the results. The best part is that if you do find one they’re likely to be cheaper than your average Trip 35 as they don’t hold the same cult following. But don’t let the fact that this isn’t a Trip scare you away, it is a solid camera despite having a couple of what I would call design flaws. And I could even go as far as saying that I prefer the Minoltina over the Trip 35 because it does offer a much better manual functionality through being able to adjust the aperture/shutter speed via the control dial on the lens.

Photos take at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York
Minolta Minoltina-P – Minolta Rokkor 1:2.8 f=38mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock)

Project:1812 – Siege of Prairie du Chien

Project:1812 – Siege of Prairie du Chien

While one of the least known engagements during the War of 1812, the siege of Prarie du Chien, was part of the drama that happened during the entire span of the war and sealed British dominance in the northwest until the signing of the Treaty of Gent that ended the way. The battle was the only one fought on the soil of what would become the state of Wisconsin. Two hundred years ago the small fur trading post of Prarie du Chien was a part of the Illinois Territory. Founded by the French in the late 1600s, turned over to British control following the French-Indian War of the mid-1700s and became a part of the new United States of America until the Treaty of Paris in 1783. While officially the post and the small population of fewer than one hundred people were American citizens the post was British in all but name, and the population was mostly French.

The Mighty Mississippi
The Mississippi River as it stands today near the battlesite
Intrepid – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 (Orange) – Kodak TMax 100 – FA-1027 (1+14) 9:30 @ 20C

But the United States did see the value in the small settlement, but the start of the War of 1812 saw their energies focused elsewhere. But when William Clark (of Lewis & Clark Fame) became governor of the Missouri Territory in 1813 he started to see a problem with a very pro-British settlement to his north. Should the British decide to enforce their influence at Prarie du Chien there would be little to stop them from sailing south on the Mississippi and capturing St. Louis and gaining an even bigger foothold. Governor Clark became annoyed as the far-flung outpost received little support from Washington. Using his authority he spoke with two local leaders, Fredrick Yeizer and John Sullivan both captains in the local militia. Together they raised a volunteer force of 150 men on a sixty-day enlistment. The volunteer army gained strength by the arrival of 61 men of the 7th US Infantry under the command of Brevet Major Zachary Taylor (who would become President of the United States). Though destined for Fort Clark, Governor Clark presented his case, and Major Taylor agreed to head north to establish a garrison at Prarie du Chien. Three gunboats would provide transport north. Just as the expedition was to start, Taylor was recalled to Kentucky to attend a family member who was ill, in his place Lieutenant Joseph Perkins, who was in St. Louis recruiting for the 24th US Infantry was installed as the commander of the regulars. The expedition departed St. Louis on the 1st of May, with Governor Clark joining them a few days up-river. The flotilla saw minor action along the route but landed without resistance by early June. Using a local warehouse of the Mackinac Trading Company, Clark realized they would have to work fast as his volunteer force was already half-way through their enlistment period. Soon a wooden palisade fort with a pair of blockhouses rose on a mound to the north of the village proper. Governor Clark named the post, Fort Shelby, after Governor Isaac Shelby, the governor of his native territory of Kentucky. With the post’s construction well in hand, Governor Clark returned to St. Louis with much fanfare upon his return. But in the North Perkins realized that if he didn’t have the post done soon, he would lose a majority of his force. But by the 19th, the post was nearly complete.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
A reconstruction of a blockhouse that would have stood over Fort Shelby and later the first Fort Crawford.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The local population was not too pleased with the arrival of the Americans and three days later two men showed up at Mackinac Island with news for the commandant of the post, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert McDouall. McDouall was disturbed at the news of the American garrison and was even more troubled with natives brought rumors of violence against their tribes at the hands of the Americans at Prarie du Chien. These rumors reached McDouall as the native allies cried out for revenge. The main reason that McDouall was concerned was for the extensive fur trade network, and without Prarie du Chien it would be difficult to maintain the supply lines. McDouall had his problems with a limited force and word of an American attack against Mackinac, but he could not ignore his allies. Giving local militia captain a field promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, William McKay, would take a force from his unit, the Michigan Fencibles along with local traders that formed a group called the Mississippi Volunteers, a single 3-pound field gun with a Royal Artillery crew was attached to McKay’s force as well. The local tribes provided warriors from the Sioux and Winnebago tribes commanded by two captains from the British Indian Department Thomas Anderson and Joseph Rolette. Departing on the 28th of June, McKay would gather more militia and native troops at Green Bay. When McKay’s force landed at Prarie du Chien on the 17th of July it numbered 650 troops. For Perkins he only saw his numbers drop as a majority of his volunteer force left with Captain Sullivan, Captain Yeizer was willing to stay with forty volunteers to man the gunboat Governor Clark. But the sudden arrival of McKay gave the American garrison a start when Captain Anderson approached Lieutenant Perkins, who was out on a ride with the order of surrender. The garrison refused the surrender order promising to fight to the last man.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
The historic plaque on site outlining the battle.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

McKay realizing that his biggest threat was the gunboat on the river ordered his lone artillery piece to fire on it first. The Royal Artillery crew worked fast, moving the gun around to give the crew aboard the gunboat the impression they were under attack by multiple guns and after a few hours had taken massive damage. Rather than risk the boat and the crew Captain Yeizer cut his moorings and headed south. The fort’s garrison watched in dismay, trying to call them back, as most of their supplies and ammunition were aboard the gunboat still. Both sides managed to fight to a stalemate, with both McKay and Perkins running low on ammunition, McKay going as far as to collect the American round shots and fire them back, of course, neither side realized this of the other. Inside the fort was another story, the well had run dry, and in an attempt to deepen it, the whole thing had collapsed. And while McKay was preparing heated shots to set Fort Shelby on fire, Lieutenant Perkins raises the white flag of truce, after two days of solid resistance. Both Perkins and McKay agree to delay a formal surrender for fear of retaliation against the Americans by the native warriors in light of the rumors. McKay would use his Michigan Fencibles to guard both the American prisoners and the native troops before the formal surrender the next day and then has the Americans escorted down-river without any incident. With a British flag flying over the fort, now named Fort McKay the northwest was firmly in British hands. The Americans would twice send a force to attempt to retake Prarie du Chien both would be stopped first at the Rock Island Rapids and again at the Battle of Credit Island. The British maintained the post at Prairie du Chien throughout the remainder of the war, destroying it in 1815 when they marched out to conform to the terms of the Treaty of Gent.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
Probably not the original well from the battle, but I figured it would be good to have a photo of one anyways.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Today you can still visit the site of the battle, and while the town has moved over to the mainland, the battle site is open to the public as part of the Historic Villa Louis, a historic home built in the 1840s after the American Army abandoned the site completely for a mainland fort in 1832. But visitors can see the footings from the 1816 American fort (Fort Crawford) and a rebuilt blockhouse. The site also hosts a reenactment of the siege in July.

A special thanks to the volunteers at Villa Louis for helping me out and letting me freely wander the site for photographic purposes.

Written with files from:
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
Ferguson, Gillum. Illinois in the War of 1812. Champaign, IL.: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Web: villalouis.wisconsinhistory.org/About/History.aspx

CCR Review 41 – Nikon F90

CCR Review 41 – Nikon F90

True to form, while the professionals were shooting the F4, many of those advanced semi-pro photographers were clamoring for something a little better than the entry level auto-focus SLRs. Nikon gave them the F90, in a system that Nikon keeps pretty much to this day. And what a camera the F90 turned out to be! This is a fast, accurate, and surprisingly quiet semi-professional camera that doesn’t feel like a cheap system despite the price they command on the used market (You can get a decent body for under 50$!). But don’t let the price scare you because you’re getting a whole lotta camera without dinging your wallet too much!

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

The Dirt
Make: Nikon
Model: F90
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1992-2001

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

The Good
This is one of those cameras that you really can’t say anything bad about it, or you want to wax poetic about it, so I’ll try and restrain myself. First off this camera is comfortable to handle and light weight without feeling overly cheap and plasticky either. It also packs the same matrix metering system that the Nikon F4 has inside it, which is one of my favourite meters next to the one in the F5. Next off the camera works great with both auto and manual focus lenses and AF is certainly a step up from the system in the F4 and is quick on the older D-Type lenses and the focus assist is nice and easy on manual focus lenses. As for ease of use, this is probably one of the easiest menu based cameras to operate because everything is laid out pretty clearly on the camera body and with a nice command dial even working in manual mode is nice because the aperture control is on the lens!

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

The Bad
While not really a bad thing over all, this camera doesn’t support the modern Nikon G-Type autofocus lenses completely. They will attach and auto focus but you can only run the camera in full program and shutter priority mode. While not a total loss, it does limit you in what you can do. And as someone who shoots mainly in aperture priority or manual, it means I can’t use my lovely 14-24mm f/2.8G lens completely with this camera. Another issue is that the F90 cannot support the vertical release that is found on the optional battery grip only the F90x/N90s can. But overall neither of these are real deal breakers on the camera, only minor annoyances.

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

CCR Review 41 - Nikon F90

The Lowdown
It isn’t like I need another strong autofocus Nikon SLR, I have the F5 and it is a nice piece of equipment, but it’s heavy. The F90 is the best of both worlds, it gives me a fast, accurate camera in a light weight package. Since I do most of my street shooting with the 105mm and an autofocus SLR the F90 gives me a smaller lighter camera to work with. Plus at the price point you can get these cameras at you can afford to have one in your collection! And if you already have the lenses you’re in luck!

All photos taken in Chicago, Illinois
Nikon F90 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Rollei Retro 80s @ ASA-80 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 40 – Mamyia RB67

CCR Review 40 – Mamyia RB67

There is a reason that this camera is nicknamed the fridge it’s big, heavy, clunky, and near awkward to carry with you. But if you treat it right it will give you big beautiful images that will give you a cheaper alternative to 4×5 with near the same quality and more importantly the same aspect ratio in your negatives! Of course, for those unfamiliar with the system, there are two models of 6×7 Mamiya cameras the one being reviewed is the RB version. Special thanks to Alex Koroleski for loaning out this camera for this review!

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

The Dirt
Make: Mamiya
Model: RB67
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 120/220/Type 100, 6×7
Lens: Interchangeable, RB Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1970-1974

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

The Good
This is a beast of a camera like many 6×7 cameras it can easily be used as a self-defense weapon in a pinch. But it also means that it is a very solid camera, and Mamiya medium format cameras are no slouches. With the small but mighty m645 system was the mainstay of wedding photographers for many years the RB and RZ series cameras were king of studio work. Because honestly this is a studio camera but I have seen many people use these as their field cameras for the fact they don’t want to use a 4×5. The big 6×7 negative was perfect for many different applications and was for many years the standard for the fashion photography industry. And the lenses are fantastic as well, and probably the best part of the system is that you can get one with a back, lens, and finder for fairly cheap these days on the used market. But probably the thing I really like about this camera is the big bright finder I had no issues focusing without the lope and composing my images. The one thing I could see being an issue on the RB models is going into portrait mode.

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

The Bad
Okay so the biggest issue I have with this camera is weight in the field. Honestly, my Crown Graphic is lighter! So I can see after a day of lugging this thing around I would not be too happy with myself and probably my other body parts would begin to complain as well. Now if I had a studio I certainly would want to keep on there on a tripod. Now coming to the actual operation, loading the back is a pain in the butt, of course, this could just be that I had never loaded one before and was just randomly guessing at what I had to do. I’m sure with practice it would become easier but would still be a pain, I’ll take my Hasselblad and Pentax 645 any day. And finally, there is just general operation. While setting the shutter speed and aperture is pretty easy with the lens mounted controls, the mirror return and film advance that is a two-step process, mirror up, advance film, with two separate controls. Not exactly the best system out there, but this also is not a run and gun camera, nor is it meant to be.

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

The Lowdown
Honestly, I can see why people like these cameras and use them. They produce great images and can produce a good volume of images over say a 4×5 but for me, I just can’t see myself getting into 6×7 in general especially the Mamiya system. For the fact that I already have a good investment in two 4×5 cameras that produce a bigger negative and I have a solid lens kit for it, and secondly, I find the cameras a little t0o finicky to operate out in the field, especially the film loading. So while I would recommend this for someone with a strong back who does not want to get into large format but still wants a similar system using roll film, the RB/RZ67 is a winner. Probably the only way a Mamiya 6×7 would come into my kit would be in the form of the Mamiya 7 rangefinder, but the RB/RZ67 won’t be added to my kit.

All photos taken at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rochester, New York, USA
Mamyia RB67 – Mamyia-Sekor 1:3.8 f=127mm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100
Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 7:30 @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival – Agfa, Ansco, GAF, and the Third Reich

Classic Camera Revival – Agfa, Ansco, GAF, and the Third Reich

ccr-logo-leaf

agfa-ansco-gaf

In the convoluted times that was the Second World War the American photographic industry saw some interesting changes in Up-State New York, specifically in the city of Binghamton. So Alex took a trek down to Rochester, NY to speak to photographer Andrew Hiltz who has done extensive research into Ansco, Agfa, GAF, and the Third Reich. A short summary, Ansco was founded in 1842 as E. Anthony & Co, by 1901 the family has picked up the camera business of Scovill Manufacturing, becoming Anthony & Scovill, this would be combined to become Ansco before 1905. By 1928 the company has merged with German camera giant Agfa. In fact many Ansco cameras are re-branded Agfa cameras. But the USA did not directly enter World War II when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, but there was already trouble in Binghampton fearing German spies and influences. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of War on German the US government took action against an enemy company on allied soil and rolled everything up into General Aniline & Film (GAF) by 1941. While the company continued to operate well into the 1960s, today GAF no longer produces anything photographic, but rather building materials are the company’s product these days.

Ansco Super Memar with Solagon 50mm f/2 lens and Synchro-Compur shutter
An Ansco Super Memar — a rebrand of the Agfa Silette.

Chapel Doors
Ansco Super Memar – Agfa Solagon 1:2/50 – Kodak Tri-X 400

Quietude
Ansco Super Memar – Agfa Solagon 1:2/50 – Kodak Ektar 100

Ansco Autoset CdS with Rokkor 45mm f/2.8
A GAF Ansco Autoset — a rebrand of a Minolta Hi-Matic

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

CCR Review 39 – Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 – Ricoh XR7

When Pentax developed their K-Mount, they decided that this, like the M42 they had used before would become the standard for bayonet mount SLRs. And while the K-Mount remains to this day pretty much untouched it did not become the standard with Nikon and Canon developing their own lens mounts. However this didn’t stop other companies from latching onto the K-Mount band wagon and several clones soon popped up. One such camera was the XR7 by Ricoh (oddly enough it was Ricoh that ended up buying up Pentax). And what a camera the XR7 is, this is a small light weight semi-automatic SLR that can use pretty much any K-Mount lens out there, but even the Ricoh lenses stand up to anything from the big P. Special thanks to Andrew Hiltz for loaning this camera for review.

CCR Review 40 - Ricoh XR7

The Dirt
Make: Ricoh
Model: XR7
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1982

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Good
As I kept saying as we walked through the High Falls area of Rochester New York this is a satisfying camera to use. And I would take it over any semi-automatic Pentax offering out there, hell if I didn’t have a family connection to my K1000 I would trade it for an XR7 and keep my Pentax lenses. Yes it is that good of a camera. First off the size and weight, you hardly feel this camera if it’s in your bag or in your hand it’s so compact and light weight you can easily take it on long walks shooting roll after roll without breaking a sweat. All the controls are well placed and even the film advance throw is beautifully short and can easily rapid fire without a motor drive. The view finder while a bit dimmer than others I’ve used has a diagonal split focus finder which means that you can easily get your focus nailed in both portrait or landscape without having to find a line that is better oriented to get that split screen focus locked in. And finally there’s the shutter and mirror sound, it’s a lot louder and more satisfying than you’d expect from this all plastic camera.

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Bad
No camera is perfect and while the XR7 comes pretty close there are a few things that I do take issue with. While some may light the shutter speed indicator I personally found the jumping needle distracting and often would find it hard to see if it was pointing at 1/30 or 1/60 while not that big a deal when I’m trying to compose a shot I would find my eye jumping to that. And secondly is that the body is plastic, while I’m not picky on my cameras and I do like the weight of the camera it does feel a bit like a toy at times not that it’s a bad thing in particular it just sometimes you want something a little more solid in your hands.

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Lowdown
Put a metal body on this camera and have a nice motor drive on it and honestly you’d have a serious contender for a professional camera for the early 1980s, which all the features a pro would ask for and a huge range of solid lenses behind it with the Pentax and Ricoh systems it really could have gone far. But if you’re looking for a solid budget starter camera and want some level of automation then keep an eye out for the XR7. Just don’t go driving up the price on them in the used market or Andrew would be very cross with me.

All photos taken in the High Falls Historic District, Rochester, New York, USA
Ricoh XR7 – Rikenon 1:1.7 50mm – Rollei Retro 80s – Blazinal (1+25) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 35 – Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

CCR Review 35 – Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

There have been many photographers of fame that have inspired me, people like Ansel Adams to really pay attention to the details, be precise and to think first then take the photo. Stanley Kubrick for his composition and then there’s Robert Capa. Capa was the delfacto combat photographer of World War 2 in Fortress Europe, and after reading his WW2 book, Slightly Out of Focus I wanted to put together a historic impression of a WW2 combat photographer. And while many cameras of the era are in the realm of the collector and in poor functionality I wanted to go with something newer or similar. Capa had three cameras with him during the war a Rolleiflex (I got one a 1969 Rolleiflex 2.8F so check) and a pair of Contax II rangefinders. So when I was offered the chance to buy a really nice Contax IIIa kit, I jumped at the chance. This camera just clicked (sorry) for me, it’s easy to use, heavy in the hand and is a nice easy no-nonsense mechanical rangefinder that also takes amazing photos. I will be getting along rather well with this beauty!

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

The Dirt
Make: Zeiss Ikon
Model: Contax IIIa
Type: Rangefinder
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Contax RF Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1951-1962, This model was produced in late 1953

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

The Good
This is probably one of the best 1950s rangefinders that I’ve had the pleasure of using, it’s built like a tank and fits nicely in my hands without being bulky. There’s two focus options a dial up on the body or the lens itself, the actual focus helical is mounted on the camera body. So most of the shorter lenses are just that, the aperature and the optics (this of course causes issues with adapting the lenses to mirrorless you need an adapter that has the helical built in). The trouble comes when you’re using say a Jupiter-9 which is a dual bayonet mount (pain to mount but worth it). It also is thankfully a single viewfinder with a split image focus indicator. While calibrated for the 50mm length you can mount an auxiliary viewfinder on the cold shoe. And probably the bit about this camera that I like the best is that it is a full removed back for film loading, none of this bottom loading that Leica used (still!). But overall this camera handles like a dream, good weight without being too heavy and plenty of good optics to back it up!

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

The Bad
Not every camera can be perfect and there are a couple things that aren’t exactly ideal with the IIIa. First off is the lenses, they are hard to come by these days so watch out with your glass. I was lucky and got a kit that came with three lenses (the Sonnar, a Jupiter-8, and a Jupiter-9). But even on the used market KEH/B&H and local shops the RF mount is hard to find. Another thing that isn’t so much a totally bad thing, just an annoyance to me is the infinity lock on the focus, it seems a little un-necessary to me and can ruin a good shot because I locked the focus. And finally there’s the selenium built in meter, this is actually the first camera I own that has a dead meter, at least it’s uncoupled so it doesn’t affect the camera, the read out is on the top of the top of the camera so it makes it a little difficult to meter set and then shoot. But since it’s dead it’s really a non-issue for me.

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa

The Lowdown
Okay so the simple fact is that this camera isn’t really for everyone. But if you’re looking for a good mid-twentieth century rangefinder the Contax or Russian cousin the Kiev-3. They make a great choice if you’re going for a historic impression and want a solid camera that will actually take excellent photos or just as a prop (if you are going for a prop, get a non functioning unit). They make for great conversation pieces and if you use Sunny-16 they are a really fun camera to run and gun with.

All photos taken in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee, USA
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss-Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-32 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:45 @ 20C

© 2018 Alex Luyckx | Blog