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.
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.
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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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