Over IST, I had the pleasure of reuniting with all the trainees from Khutul. These were the folks I spent the three months of PST with and they’ve become some of my closest friends. Seeing everyone again gave me the idea to reimagine my fellow trainees as film cameras, and seeing as I fancy myself a photographer, cameras are about 50% of what I spend my time thinking about anyway.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Alex, Holga 120N: Alex’s natural speaking voice is actually just a laugh. Alex is either making you laugh or laughing herself. Her sense of humor gives her a knack for storytelling and after hanging out with her your bound to have a few of your own. The Holga is a quirky little camera with a lot of personality. Due to it’s 60mm plastic meniscus lens, its images often feature a lot of dramatic vignetting, blurs, and light leaks giving them a unique look. Although production of these cameras recently stopped, the Holga continues to live on as a cult favorite loved by many photographers.
Amanda, Yashica-Mat 124: “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” As you may have guessed, Amanda hails from the great state of NY. I know this because she was sure to mention it 934 times exactly during PST. On a more serious note, Amanda is one of the most resilient people I know. She has a laugh that can fill a room and that’s how you know the party has started. She’s a great and loyal friend that’ll always have your back.
The distinctive styling Amanda’s NY personality is one only to be matched by a TLR (twins lens reflex) camera. One lens is used for framing while the other actually takes the photo. Like all TLR cameras, the Yashica has a matte screen on top of the camera which you look down into to frame your image. The classic black look with it’s iconic chrome elements make this a timeless camera.
Ashleigh, Pentax K-1000: If you were ever having a stressful day Ashleigh was sure to give you a hug or massage. This trend became so popular that massages became a regular thing in Khutul and came to surprise some of our cross-cultural trainers. Ashleigh is very kindhearted and looked after everyone at site. She did, however, notice that every animal I touched seemed to died. She wasn’t wrong.
When I was a photo major at Carroll U this was the camera I shot with. Ironically, this camera was labeled the “students camera” since they were so popular amongst…well, photo students. The K-1000 had one of the longest lifespans I know of, being produced from 1976 until 1997. Something that makes Pentax lenses interesting is their unusual choice in focal lengths such as 31mm, 43mm, and 71mm.
Brain, Canon AE-1: To me, Brain was the glue that held Khutul together. Not that people didn’t get along, but Brian has one of the most positive personalities you’ll ever encounter and that brought everyone together. As a practice teaching partner, he was super easy to work with and I’d imagine many other people would share that same sentiment. If you’re ever feeling down, listening to Brian’s stories would probably change that. He did witness his host family communicating with the dead, after all. Also, he apparently doesn’t know how to brush his teeth.
The Canon AE-1 is one of the most popular consumer SLR cameras of all time. Hell, I have 3 of them back in the States, and it was the first film camera I ever shot on. Rolled out in 1976, the AE-1 was one of the first affordable cameras to feature TTL metering with autoexposure functions. The cameras popularity was a result of its accessibility, both economically and technically, and its overall value.
Elisha, FED 5: Elisha and I bonded over our mutual love of snacks. Specifically, her love of my snacks. Whether we were dancing to the Spice Girls or buying meat out the the back of a van in the summer heat, we always had a good time. Fun fact: We also co-directed a short film together during one of our technical sessions. Somewhere Elisha is laughing.
The FED series of rangefinders is Russia’s version of the Leica M. Known for being virtually indestructible, these cameras will probably outlast humanity and still be around after whatever apocalyptic event consumes humanity. These cameras are fully mechanical but still have light meters built into them. The FED 5’s meter has a solar sensor that uses the available light to power itself. Neat stuff.
Eric, Olympus OM-1: Eric is the married man of Khutul group. He was also the only person to live on the east side of town (west side in the HEAZY). Eric fancies himself a man of politics, good drink, Catan, and maybe even some D&D if other PCV’s would stop dragging their feet. Eric is a hospitable man who, along with his host family, was kind enough to host us serval times for get togethers amongst PCT’s throughout PST. His wife, Emily, is a lovely women and the pair make for great company and drinking companions.
What drew me to this camera for Eric was an interesting story about the camera itself. He seems like the sort of guy that would appreciate it. When the OM-1 was initially released in 1972, it was named the “M-1.” Soon after, a complaint from Leica forced Olympus to renamed the camera to the “OM-1” as “M-1” was too close to that of Leica’s iconic line of rangefinders. Those early models dubbed with the “M” logo are now extremely sought after by collectors.
Jenni, Nikon F3HP: Jenni is about as Type-A as they come – she brought an Excel spreadsheet with us on vacation for God’s sake. However, this fact only reinforces one thing: she gets shit done. Jenni is one of the most professional people I’ve worked and is razor-sharp intelligent. She’s always keen to the details and eats up information like she kimchi. Don’t let her Type-A facade fool you though, she’s extremely introspective which always makes for great conversation.
The Nikon F3 is a classic camera. Utilitarian in it’s functions, the F3 was the go-to professional SLR of the 1980’s. It’s known for it’s durability and high level of performance which helped it stay in production even after the release of the F4 and F5. To boot, this beauty was an Italian designed camera by the genius auto designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. You know, the guy who designed the Delorean. The F3HP (high point) even sports a taller viewfinder making it easier for people with glasses to use.
Logan, Pentax 6×7: Logan’s a big and solid dude with a personality to match. You always knew Logan was in the room when you’d hear a joke about someone getting poisoned. What I loved most about Logan is his ability to given people a hard time. When I first met him, I was fairly quiet to which he commented, “Gosh, Ian, why don’t you just shut up?” I had known him for 5 minutes. It was great.
The 6×7 is a beast of a camera (it weighs 4 pounds) with a hell of a shutter slap (the sound the mirror makes when flipping up and down to take a photo). Discreet really isn’t a word you’d use to describe this camera. Like Logan, it has a hint of the classics with a fancy wooden handle. And for the money, I’d day it’s one of the best film cameras you can get for under $1000.
Matt, SRT-102: Matt is extremely laid back and chill. Think of him as an air bender from the “Avatar” series. He has an understated personality that when coupled with his calm disposition, gives him the demeanor of a wise old sage. He has a broad range of interests such as archeology, astrology, history, and most notably, “Star Wars.” This is obviously why Matt and I are such good friends.
The SRT-102 was a camera of simple design and function. While it isn’t a flashy camera, it has a lot of subtle functions one could miss if you weren’t looking. The 102 has a simple trick for taking multiple exposure photos. The camera allows you to press the film rewind while still being able to release the shutter without actually having to advance your film.
Nik, Polaroid 600: You never know what you’re going to get with instant film; the same can be said for king of slime time, Nik.
At Soup Bar ordering our food –
Nik: I’d like a large coffee.
Waitress: We don’t do our drinks by size. Only single shot or double shot. Which would you like?
Nik: Oh. (Long pause) Sugar. (Blink)
From psychological warfare to shirts with vikings on them, Nik is quite the personality.
Oliva, Bessa R2M: One of the things I like most about Olivia is that if she see’s something she wants, she gets it. I like and respect someone who is willing to get what they want without constantly second guessing themselves. Olivia has a elegant sense of style lends which is probably why I don’t think I have a single bad picture of her. Well, that isn’t entirely true, haha. She’s smart as a whip and I always love having one-on-one convos with her.
The R2M is apart of a long series of Voigtlander rangefinders featuring an M mount for its lenses. This of course means it can fashion many of the famous Leica lenses. Unlike other rangefinders, the frame line selector lever is located on top of the camera and even has a built in hand grip. A fantastic and beautiful little camera.
Paul, Fujifilm GF670: The grandpa of the group, we once tried to describe Paul as “ancient” when using adjectives in Mongolian. I mean, come on, the guy wears suspenders, a flat cap, and his wardrobe has the same color pallet as a 70’s motel. Surprisingly, Paul is anything but, and I think this picture captures my point.
The GF670 resembles a fold out camera from a different age, but, in fact, was just released in 2008. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Renee, Contax S2: Renee speaks very quickly and likes to talk with her hands. This makes her quite expressive at times. She’s an amazing writer (read her blog) and this is probably spurred on by her introverted nature. Renee loves her time alone with a book or music – which is something I can definitely relate with. She might tire of groups quickly but she’s always a joy to have around.
The S2 is a small, lightweight, mechanical camera that can meet the needs of any user. You also don’t find many cameras that come paired with Zeiss glass (Zeiss makes really good lenses if you’re wondering). This camera has been “rediscovered” so to speak in recent years and prices have started to go up. This isn’t a surprise because, let’s face it, Contax makes some damn good cameras. This one was ahead of its time.
And there you have it!
Songs of the week: All songs are from the live album “All Access Arenas” by Justice.
- New Lands
- Audio, Video, Disco