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Back to Basics – Using the Konstructor

The Konstructor Camera

Thanks to a high volume of workload recently and an interest in experimenting with something different, I decided to pick up a camera – a very simple camera. I had gotten  my hands on a Konstructor.  That’s right a  lomography camera. That simply means it is a back to basics 35 mm film camera. So what is the Konstructor like?

The Konstructor does not provide much in modern conveniences. It has no auto focus. Focus is done by hand and although it allows for some close-up work, it is not as easy to work with using the top-down viewing window. What it is however is discreet compared to the a contemporary DSLR.  Drawing the camera to the eye always draws attention to the photographer but a waist high viewing camera on the other hand doesn’t draw as much attention.

Another area were convenience is lacking is metering. Metering has to do be done by an external light meter. Thankfully, I have been able to make use of a light meter app on my phone. I don’t expect it to be absolutely perfect, it doesn’t need to be.  But, it needs to help me determine whether there is sufficient light to make the shot.

A fixed shutter speed of 1/80 s is another thing to look out for. It is not an inconvenience. After all, a faster shutter speed means less shake. But, it also means I either need  significant amounts of light if I am making use of film with a low ISO or simply opt for a higher ISO film. The one setback I have experienced with this is that I am limited to taking shots around noon.  This is especially so during winter because the skies are usually overcast. Sunny days are far and few between and even then the sun only shows in spurts.

The last issue which is a little inconvenient is the fixed aperture of F/10.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my images tack sharp and with a plastic lens like the one fitted to this camera it needs to be dialed down to give the best results. But, like the fixed shutter speed, it requires either large amounts of light or higher ISO film to be effective.

The limitations the camera imposes require some skill and patience to work around but it is doable so long as you are willing to commit to learning it. It also means that you have to rely on some external instruments to help  determine when to take your pictures. But, the experience simplifies the  photography process and encourages the user to get back to basics. And, overall, makes for a very rewarding experience.

P.S.: I am keeping my fingers crossed once I have the film developed.

Pink Carnations

Pink Carnations
Pink Carnations

Feeling some anxiety to experiment with light, I decided to take it upon myself to see what else can be produced with shadows. I was reminiscing on the work I had done on Memorial Day and wanted to see if I could create something equally intriguing by enveloping my subject with light. I decided to conduct a series of light experiments on some pink carnations which I found in the office at work.

The premise of the light experiment was simple. I simply worked on eliminating the background completely, leaving the focus on the subject matter. This is exactly what I did by utilizing my external flash to overpower the existing ambient light. What resulted is a simple, but beautiful landscape of pink and brown hues which slowly fade to black. The effect is effective to the point that it creates a perceived three dimensional depth to the image.

In all it was a good experiment, but I think that it only touches on what I wanted to accomplish with the image. Something still felt absent and I believe only more experimentation is going to reveal what is truly possible with the lighting set-up I am putting together.

Nevertheless, it came close to what I was trying to create since I was shooting for some mystery with the display of the pink carnations.  But, it helped me see what is possible through strategic lighting of a scene and aptly fast shutter speed.

Playing with Shadows

Memorial Day
Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, I decided to get out on the road and visit a village which I have been anticipating visiting for quite some time – Northport. It was no surprise to come across a parade or similar celebration today. What was surprising to me was that I parked in close proximity of the route of where the parade was expected to pass through – talk about serendipity.  Without any time to waste, I set about taking photos of the moving parade of veterans, soldiers, scouts and others. It was during these shots I started to experiment with something that was ever present because of the sunny day and which I thought would make an equally interesting subject. I started playing with shadows.

It was while playing with shadows I noticed the silhouette of the American flag being hoisted by one of the uniformed soldiers. It was at that point the image in this post really coalesced for me . However, I wanted very much to anchor those shadows and tie them to something physical, or rather what created them. It was that thought which lead me to include the legs of the uniformed soldiers in the shot, thus completing the experience.  Of course, I took many other shots besides this one as I am never satisfied with a singular shot. But it was this photograph which I would say capped the event for me.  In a way, it symbolizes the current soldiers who are standing in the shadows of those who came before them.

In retrospect, I think the shadows communicate more in a photo than do the actual subjects. And, this is reflected in this photo where I was playing with shadows during the Memorial Day activities of Northport, NY. It is the one shot which stands out most for me because it is suggestive that the current soldiers are standing in the shadows of the ones who came before them.