Some months ago, I tweeted asking you to send in suggestions for the editorial content on EMULSIVE in 2016. There were lots of suggestions, some good and some very good. I’ve stuck everything in the bank and will be writing up the experiments and reviews that were suggested over the coming weeks and months.
One of the craziest, most interesting ideas that came out of it all was to pass a camera around members of the film photography community, with each person taking a few shots before passing it on to the next.
To cut a long story short, we all ended up deciding that the camera should be something a little different, a half frame, as the format affords double the number of shots to be taken on a roll of 35mm film and creatively it can be used a little differently from a standard 35mm camera.
The path was set.
Welcome to the Half-Baked Half-Frame Tour
Cutting to the chase, I’m sending a vintage Olympus Pen off for a little tour around the world and you’re invited to keep it company.
This first tour will include eight stewards (it sounds better than “players”), each one is responsible for taking eight shots before sending it on to the next.
Players Stewards are tasked with taking at least one PEN-o-RAMA (panorama, sorry), consisting of at least three images. Each shot/PEN-o-RAMA must follow the theme chosen for the tour. More on that later.
Who’s going to be hosting the camera for this first tour? Glad you asked. In order, the EMULSIVE’s very own hateful eight are:
- Hamish Gill (UK)
- Jonas Lundström (Sweden)
- Kristen (USA, NJ)
- Ray Larose (USA, NH)
- Jef Price (USA, OH)
- Daniel J. Schneider (USA, CO)
- Andrew Tonn (India, Mumbai)
Stewardship of the Half-Baked Half-Frame is a serious responsibility and you’ll see from the names above that we’ve brought together some of the community’s most serious and brilliant minds (according to them).
Oh, it’s worth saying that this is as much of an introduction for you, as it is for them, so please read on…carefully. I’ll try to keep my terms and tenses correct but no promises.
The Half-Baked Half-Frame
Before this little project got started I’d never really considered half frame cameras but it quickly became clear that the idea was a winner.
There were many, many half frame cameras produced over the years from Canon’s Demi series and the Olympus’ Pen,to the Russian Chaika-3 and the outlandish Canon Dial (branded as Bell and Howell in the US). Oh and let’s not forget Yashica/Kyocera’s insane Samurai series.
I wanted something with a great quality, fast normal lens that had a newer CDS meter and most importantly, good reliability. Also, if the camera was going to be bustled about from country to country, it would have to be able to take a bruise or two and couldn’t be too expensive. So, I set a budget of around $150 and went searching.
After resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be getting an Olympus Pen F, or FT (one I really wanted), I went with my next choice, an Olympus Pen D3.
Ultimately, the D3 was a better choice than the Pen F/FT. Being restricted to a single lens has its advantages sometimes, I think.
The D3 is the final iteration of Olympus’ Pen D line and has a fast 32mm f/1.7 lens – equivalent to about 50mm on full frame 35mm film. The Pen will go from ⅛ second up to 1/500 and also has a bulb mode for long exposures.
This particular camera is from (I think), July 1967 and is in pretty good condition. I’ve slapped a generic third party UV filter onto the lens, along with a pinch cap to keep the precious glass safe. If you want to find out more, you can grab the manual right here. (Pay attention, stewards, you should really grab the manual).
Here are a few example shots from a couple of test rolls on Fuji’s Japan-only “Commercial 400” stock and my stalwart Kodak Tri-X 400.
The theme for this first trip is Urban (DE)generation.
I want shots that embody the ruin, or rebuilding of the local environment.
It’s up to the stewards what they shoot, be it a once-busy urban hub now in the midst of falling into ruin, or the creation of a new glass and concrete skyscraper. They can choose to shoot a rotting forest lodge, rusting cars and half-demolished buildings, or perhaps there’s somewhere close by that can demonstrate the stark difference between disuse and gentrification.
It’s their choice but each PEN-o-RAMA must be taken in one place and in one sitting.
This was a difficult one. Black and white, color, slide film…there are too many choices and too many variables that inform them. So, I’m doing the only sensible thing and keeping quiet about the actual film that’s been loaded in the Pen.
What I will say is that stewards will be shooting an ISO400 film that could be color, or black and white depending on how I process it. I’ll be asking for feedback on what they’d like to see once the camera gets back to me.
I’m not permitted to send batteries internationally, so stewards will have to meter manually, or use the Sunny 16 rule. The camera’s battery is inside the film compartment, so there’s no way to get around it.
I want to keep things moving along, so I’m asking the stewards not to hang on to the camera for more than a couple of weeks – drop me a line if there are extenuating circumstances.
There are two packs of cards in the box. Read them and follow the instructions. When you’re ready to send the camera on, make sure everything’s packed nicely and please throw in a chocolate bar for the next recipient.
We’ll be tracking the progress of the Pen D3 via Twitter using the hashtag
#TravelHalf, so keep an eye out!
Seriously, that’s it.
Very much looking forward to where this is going and what ends up coming back in a few months!