Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr. Moominstein returns! Polaroid 195 head transplant...it lives!

My poor Polaroid 195 has seen a lot of use and abuse. I've probably taken 2,000 shots with it (and it was already 30+ years old). A couple years ago, I kinked the cable and had to replace it, which I talked about here, and I replaced the bellows. More recently, I tripped on the dog's leash and dropped it on the sidewalk. Ever since then, it has had issues with focusing, only working sporadically. While I now mostly use my 190, it seemed kind of pointless to just let the 195 die, unused on a shelf...so I kind of started from scratch! What's old is new again, with a 195 lens fitting on to a 250 body. Many folding cameras are nearly identical in build, with the lens being the main difference, so in theory, the fronts should be swappable. I looked at various folding Polaroids, and didn't want a plastic body, and I wanted a Zeiss lens. I don't care about back timers, and a local shop had a couple 250s for cheap, so a 250 was going to sacrifice its life so my 195 might live again. Yes, I didn't even dig up the corpse of an already dead 250...he was alive and healthy, and I killed him for my project. It was worth it.
First thing to do is to remove the "good" part of the 195 (and the bad part of the 250) - the front. The body is a mess, but the front part that houses the shutter and lens was in perfect working order. This is really a simple matter of removing a screw and a bolt on the bottom, and the four screws inside that hold the bellows to the front.

First, remove the four interior screws, then the screw on the right bottom. This will leave the front swinging from the bolted post.
There are a couple small differences between the 195 and other cameras. The 190 and 195 have a small support foot on the bottom that none of the other folders have. Also unique to the 195 is the absence of a spring on the bottom. Instead it uses a piece of metal that creates resistance, similar to the resistance from the springs. You need this resistance to focus the camera. I was figuring the 195 front would work fine with the 250 spring system since the 190 uses a spring and the 195 and 190 are almost identical otherwise.

So after removing the bolt (I used a monkey wrench), the front slides off of the strut pole.

I had also had a couple issues using the 195 with light leaking in a circular shape on some prints, so I opened up the lens board and wrapped some electrical tape around the inner lens to make a better seal.

Here you can see how bent the 195 is...that bar should be parallel with the base.

I made an effort to bend everything back into place, but between the damage done when I replaced the shutter cable and dropping the camera, it was beyond repair.
And we have the head of the 195 awaiting transplant alongside the donor 250.

I took apart the 250, clipping and removing the wire that powers the meter, since the 195 doesn't have one.

The front comes off easy...just don't lose the spring!

All that is left to do is to put the 195 front onto the 250 body. I couldn't really take photos of this because it was a two-hand job, but I'll describe it quickly. First, slide the 195 front into its bar, line everything up and put the right bottom screw in, so that is holding the strut, front and under slat (the part the spring will go in). Feed the knob on the bottom strut into the hole under the camera and then attach the smaller end of the spring onto it. While holding the stretched out spring, fit the first left-hand hole over the exposed vertical bar end. Before feeding it through the second hole, you need to fit the spring end over the post, then feed the post through the second hole. Then you replace the washer and bolt! It's easier than it sounds, really...maybe a three-minute job. Then you replace the four screws that hold the bellows in place (just close the camera and it will all line up), and reattach the cable (which I forgot to mention, but you can see how it works here...just a matter of three screws and a small flathead screwdriver).
Just remember, work right to left!
In the end, we have a living, breathing 195!

This 250 has a better Zeiss finder than the 190 (and 180), with a larger viewing area (the other 250 at the shop had the smaller finder). If you are looking for Polaroid cameras with the Zeiss finder, this is something to anticipate and look for.

It's a family reunion!

Of course, I had to take some shots to test the focus...and it works beautifully! Very expired 669 and a setting sun...

Good stuff!
On a side note, I no longer have my 195 front cover because I set it down (along with a now missing print of some vintage arcade cabinets) so I could take this long exposure at this semi-abandoned ropeway station on Shikoku. I walked out without the cover and print.

Moominstein's monster lives! Argh! Grrr!

For more interesting monsters, check out Mijonju's Konica/250 beast!
Until whenever, adios!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Expired: A Photographic Exhibit

I haven't been able to think of much to blog about recently, but I do have an upcoming gallery show that I guess I should promote a bit. It is titled "Expired", and will feature about 25 peel-apart prints "in real life", meaning they will be small and ragged and beautiful for what they are...Polaroids! Here is the flyer:

And my little artist statement about the show:

Many things come to mind when hearing the word “expired”. Death may be first and foremost for some, while others may think of milk. Expiration is inevitable for all things, living or not. Disorder comes from order, and nothing lasts forever. The American Southwest has a particularly unfriendly attitude towards so-called permanence. Extreme temperatures (sometimes low as well as high in a 24 hour period), a baking sun, dry desert winds, insects, animals…you name it, it exists here to tear down all things. As well, the Southwest is an odd mix of old, somewhat old, and the fastest-growing “new” in the country. Humans destroy the old at a rate tenfold what nature can do, and replace it with an often bland newness. Expiration is all around us, in the bare mountains, the dry desert plains, the decay of man-made and natural forms, the sun-baked storefronts with warped wood and peeling paint, the rotting automobile carcasses, and the near empty towns scattered throughout the region.
We often strive to preserve which will eventually be no more, those expired objects that surround us, and photography is one method of preservation, to create an image of what is and what was, or may soon be no more. Sean Rohde chooses to preserve the concept of expired in the Southwest with film that is also expired. More specifically, expired Polaroid instant film. Using fully manual, vintage Polaroid cameras from the 1960s and 1970s (more specifically the 180, 190, 195 and Colorpack III), he explores the deserts and towns of Arizona, California and Utah to record and preserve images of objects and places that are often gone six months after. The film he chooses includes Type 669, Type 690, and ID-UV, all color films, all expired anywhere from 1995 to 2008. Polaroid film itself is a virtually expired medium. There are those that continue in the spirit of Polaroid, but these specific Polaroid films will soon be long gone.
Sean Rohde shoots what he sees, making no changes to the environment, yet the images often display the essence of the Southwest rather than being straight shots of what is in front of the camera…a combination of film and camera choice, technique and photographic eye. The colors of red, orange and blue are present throughout the Southwest as shown in these photographs, and the colors often seem burned by our desert sun. The prints themselves are sometimes ragged and faded, which only serves to enhance the subject matter. The prints are expired objects, presenting images of expired objects, and it is worth noting that they will not last forever. They will crack and peel, curl and fade. These Polaroid prints are literal, tactile representations of the “expired” theme that is presented in the photographs. These are here to look at, these expressions of expiration…for now.
Sean Rohde has lived in Phoenix since June of 1997, having spent 27 years of his life previously in northern Indiana. Working as a registered nurse, he spends his free time shooting many analog film formats with vintage cameras. More of his work may be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjrohde and you may read his ramblings about film and camera reviews/modifications at http://moominsean.blogspot.com.

Still working on the frames and some other stuff, but should be a good time when the time comes.

The show runs from March 17th to April 16th, and the opening is on March 17th from 5pm to 9pm. The gallery is at 14010 N. El Mirage Road, El Mirage, AZ. El Mirage is a community in the northwest Phoenix metro area.

View Larger Map

The building is a nice little community center looking area on the west side of the street. Contact the gallery for visiting hours outside of the opening times.
Be there or be 3 1/4" x 4 1/4"! I'll be the one with a Polaroid camera in my hand.

Soon I plan on talking about the Kowa Super 66, and I also have some TLR action happening. Another trip to Japan in a couple months, as well!