Playing with “Vintage and Retro”

Emily Lowry of MicroFourNerds has been running a photo contest series this year. I’ve enjoyed her videos for some time and have tried to post something each month according to the prompt she sends out at the beginning of the month. I think I’ve only managed to miss participating one month due to life and schedule and such. Anyway, this month’s prompt is “Vintage and Retro”. I’ve been rolling the idea around in my mind and working through a few options, but what do I REALLY want to shoot? The first that came to mind is to use my oldest DSLR, the Canon EOS Rebel T1i. It is paired with my oldest lens, a Zenit Helios-44 2/58 that my son gifted me. It’s matched up with a RAFCamera M39X1F to Canon EF adapter. Now that we’ve got the equipment selected, what next?

The Helios 44 is a fun old lens to play with. What better to shoot through it than good ol’ monochrome. I’ve got the T1i set up with both B&W and Sepia options, so that gives us a starting point. First up, a good old fashioned “still life”. A KJV was propped up along with my dad’s old pocket watch that Mom gave me. It’s not exactly what I was trying to accomplish, but it trimmed down to a 1:1 image and I tossed it up on Instagram. Emily allows one to submit more than one image, so the search is on for one I’ll submit through her contest page instead of via Instagram.

This next one is a variation on the first. Different background, added a hymnal that we used to sing from as a family, back in the 20th Century, but had difficulty nailing the focus. Aging eyes damaged by glaucoma make manual focus an interesting endeavor. Again, not exactly what I was looking for. Not “bad”, just didn’t quite come out like I’d seen it in my mind’s eye.

The first one was handheld, this second one was on the tripod. Time to get outside and see what we can see. Leaving the tripod behind it was out the front door to hunt up photo opportunities. Again, manual focus, old eyes – a lot more snaps than usable images. The “Angel’s Trumpet” across the street is flowering again. So it was an obvious option. The Helios-44 gives interesting bokeh when the light’s just right. Let’s see what we can get.

The lighting under the trees isn’t the best and focus is hard to nail in a light breeze that kept moving the flowers and branches. Shooting in monochrome gave a darker, less detailed background than I wanted, and I’m not enough of an editor to do much about it. So I picked another flower and a different angle. The bees are busy pollinating and harvesting nectar and pollen. This little girl posed for me long enough to almost get the focus right.

So we moved on over to another section under the trees. There’s a lovely begonia type plant growing there and so an attempt was made to capture the beauty of the blossoms with monochrome as our medium.

Somehow none of these images seem to quite capture the “Vintage and Retro” idea I was trying to convey. So what shall I send in this month? Back across the street in the tiny plot beneath our front window we have a few flowers planted as well. I’m not sure what this next flower is called, but it’s right under a clover leaf and there was an ant busily running all over it. Of course she didn’t stand still, but still got her portrait taken as she navigated the underside of the flower. The bright sun made it difficult to get all the delicate details so this one’s a “no go” for the contest as well.

Among the flowers and decorative grass in our tiny “garden plot” is a cluster of small roses, diverse in color. Somehow I managed to almost get the focus right and the rest of the image came together more or less. I’m no photo editor, but decided to run this one through Corel PaintShop and hit it with a bit of an edit, seeking that “Vintage and Retro” look. After a few tweaks here and there a daguerreotype filter was applied to finish it up and I quite like the look, myself. So this is the one we’ll send to Emily. It’s not up to the quality of many of the submissions she receives each month, but for me the joy isn’t in winning but rather in participating and looking at the world around me to see what might match the prompts we’re given.

Thank you, Emily! I appreciate the chance to do something a bit different from “pics as usual”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *