From the Archives:
Voigtlander Vito B – Week 63 Results

The Vito B remains one of my favorite small viewfinders. The controls have a light, mechanical feel to them. It has full manual control and no meter, so it takes a bit of thought to get the best images from it.

(I’m a bit disappointed in the color of this roll, but I rushed it. I took it to the local 1-hour place instead of using my regular lab. I always end up regretting that decision.)

I haven’t forgotten Week 62, I just haven’t had the time to develop them yet.

Red Light District

Almost a year ago now, the pdexposures crew began running a darkroom feature entitled Red Light District.  I keep intending to submit something. . .

Red light district

My darkroom is located in a basement utility room.  It shares space with the boiler and water heater as well as a tool chest and a large number of shelves. To the left of this panorama is my enlarger, a Besseler 45MXT with lenses and negative holders to print anything from 16mm to 4×5. I found it on Craigslist for $50. To the right, the workbench features enough space for four baths (developer, stop, fixer, and hypoclear) and a paper cutter.  The bench itself is a salvaged piece of kitchen counter supported by saw horses. The floor is lined with rubber mats retired from my daughter’s playroom.

Not visible behind the photographer is a slop sink equipped with a print washer and a temperature controlled faucet for color developing. A shelf next to the sink holds a set of powered computer speakers (for listening to podcasts while I work) and a dorm-sized film refrigerator. Finished prints hang on a clothesline to dry, while an air cleaner keeps the dust down.

Just visible along the ceiling are my LED safelights. I recently added a second strip to illuminate a dark corner, and now things are almost too bright. They run on 12VDC, so I think I may add a dimmer soon.

The biggest challenge with the space is keeping the other utility functions from overrunning it. You can see some of the shelves in evidence and a peg board above the workbench. I hope to print something every week this year and keep the clutter in check.

Week 86 – Minolta ac301

Kodak introduced its disc format film in 1982 as an advancement of the 110 Instamatic format.  15 8mm x 10.5mm exposures fit in each cartridge, which simply dropped into the back of the camera.

My first camera was a Kodak Disc 4100, which I saved my pennies to get. If memory serves, it cost $40 in the mid-1980s. It had fixed focus, automatic exposure, auto winding, and a built-in flash. It featured a permanent Lithium battery which “never” needed replacement.

It was a great, fun camera; and it took horrible photos. Poor grainy images would be its downfall, and I would replace it with a cheap Fuji 35mm in college.

Fast forward to Christmas 2013 when Mrs. Mack505 found this gem for my collection: the Minolta ac301!

Minolta disc 7/ac301Minolta disc 7/ac301Minolta’s Disc-7 model sported all of the common features of disc cameras: fixed focus, power winder, auto flash.  Minolta added a feature ahead of its time, however. The camera features a convex mirror on the front to facilitate self-portraits. It also has a self timer and a closeup mode.

The ac-301 was an interesting gimmick. Minolta partnered with the French fashion house André Courrèges to style a special version of the Disc-7. It features a white case with gold trim adorned with the Courrèges name and logo.  I have no idea how successful this version was, but it sure stands out among disc cameras today.

Disc film is no longer available. I have sourced some from eBay and some from friends. This week’s disc is among the freshest in my refrigerator.  We shall see.



eBay (all Minolta disc cameras)

Meet Leroy

Almost three years ago now, I introduced Earl the Plow Truck to the world via this blog. Earl served us well, suffering the indignities of plywood bodywork and duct tape repairs, never complaining and never leaving the yard.

Until last spring when he suffered the final fate of all farm trucks, the Expensive Mechanical Failure. Now he sits behind the barn awaiting the ramp truck from the NHSPCA vehicle donation program. We got our money’s worth.


The search was on for a replacement. I spotted a good looking one on a used car lot, then couldn’t remember where I’d seen it. Eventually I passed it again, and we brought Leroy into the fleet.


Significantly fancier and more expensive, Leroy should last longer and be more useful. It brings the total number of GMCs in the fleet to 4, joining the 1965 (Connor,) the 2004 (Emmett,) and the 2013 (Emma.) I’ve joked that now I need a 1972 and a 1984 to complete the set, but Mrs Mack505 starts to mumble about more horses so that won’t be happening.

Week 85 – Olympus Stylus Infinity


The Stylus Infinity is a pocket 35mm camera from the late 1990’s. It features auto focus, auto flash, power winding, and a nice 35mm f3.5 lens. It has a cult following among film photographers.

I’m not so sure I am a fan, though. I’ve been carrying it intermittently for a while, but I just haven’t bonded with it. When I developed the film I discovered images from last January. I think it’s too automated for me. The images are great, but the experience is not much different than my cell phone. Aim, click, done.





Overheard on the scanner, 2014 edition

Overheard on the scanner recently:

Dispatch: “Ambulance 84?”

Ambulance 84: (sirens wailing) “84, go ahead.”

Dispatch: “84, are you taking the MVC call or the scheduled transfer?”

Ambulance 84: (sirens still wailing) “What?”

Dispatch: “84, are you taking the crash or the transfer?”

Ambulance 84: (siren now changed to Yelp mode) “[unintelligible]”

Dispatch: “84, are you doing the MVC?”

A84: “Yes.”

You could hear the sigh in his voice.  I wasn’t sure whether to scream at the radio or laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine, I guess.

random musings from the life of a firefighter, paramedic, train buff, photographer, family man