5 Frames… Of a 1969 Olivetti Valentine on Kodak ColorPlus 200, Overexposed 2/3 stop (35mm Format / EI 125 / Nikon F3 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI) – by Lucas Dul
I find myself with a lot of typewriters on hand, usually due to my job as a repair tech. A few weeks ago, one in particular arrived to me, a 1969 Olivetti Valentine. The intriguing thing about this machine was its high status in the design industry, often being referred to as the piece that defined 20th-century industrial design. It took the idea of a utilitarian office machine, and flipped it into an accessory. The Metropolitan Museum of Art referred to this machine as “the handbag machine“.
I thought to myself, “this would be a cool photoshoot“, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore it. Being a native film photographer, I automatically knew exactly what I wanted to shoot it on. Kodak ColorPlus 200, with my trusty Nikon F3, a camera that has served me flawlessly.
Normally when I capture machines on film, it’s to showcase their utilitarian use and, in some cases, minor elements of design. Never once had I worked with a typewriter as an accessory in the sense that this one was designed to be.
So without further ado, I enlisted the aid of my good friend (and masterful photographer) Adeline. Before I headed out, I loaded my only roll of ColorPlus 200. This film stock, made by Kodak, remains the only unchanged stock available, virtually chemically identical since the 1960s. I figured it would be the perfect medium to imprint an icon of the 20th century.
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I was told once that ColorPlus was very light hungry, and by god does overexposing it really work wonders. I mounted my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI — a fantastically sharp all-purpose lens — to the F3 and threw it into a cheap basket on the front of my bike. The typewriter also fit into the basket, and while it made steering very difficult, it remained decently stable.
Three miles later, the two of us were at the top of the local parking garage. We had a lot of fun that afternoon, and the moment I pulled the negatives out of the tank, I knew the time spent was well worth it. I selected the five I thought were the best, the ones I thought showcased the machine in the unique manner it was intended for.
Side note: on one frame, you can see an intentional light leak/bright spot I created by double exposing the bright sky over half my frame. Unfortunately it didn’t come out as pronounced as I had hoped, but with a longer shutter speed I’m sure the desired results will come out next time.
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