Kodak Instamatic 104 – Monday Morning Redemption

Kodak INstamatic 104 outfit box set 1975

My dad’s habit of finding quirky gifts strikes again. A crisp $1 bill got him this nifty Kodak Instamatic 104 Outfit box set at a garage sale. Sweet yellow Kodak box contains an Instamatic camera, unused flash cube, old AAA batteries and box from the last 126 cartridge that expired in May 1975 all stored inside. Now I’ve just got to find a 126 film cartridge to reload and get snapping with this camera!

The surprise gift just sucker-punched this sluggish Monday. It was his original find of a manual Minolta 35mm camera that got me hooked on photography way back in the teenage years. A Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, Agfa folding bellows camera, this Instamatic 104, and a handful of garage sale and auction treasures have been great surprise gifts since then!

Can’t wait to try out some Instamatic 35mm photos!

Monday reminder: go shoot some photos today! -eB

Previously Unpublished – Stockholm at Dusk – 2000

Stockholm Sweden at dusk winter 2000

Image © copyright Eric Bucholtz 2000, all rights

I shot this on an exceptionally photogenic day in Sweden, a day that started out with everything outside covered with frozen fog frost. While visiting the capitol city with my flatmate and Finn friends the sky that was perfectly clear blue in the morning had incredible clouds at dusk.

I didn’t have very fast film, a fast lens, or a lot of light for sharp hand-held photos and didn’t take a tripod with me. I did what my years of shooting cheap and watching MacGuyver taught me: improvise. I had in my backpack a hacky sack beanbag for the occasional time wasting fun and makeshift camera stabilizer. (Dual purpose travel accessories are great space savers!) With the camera strap over my neck I balanced the camera on top of the beanbag on a bridge railing and composed this shot.

Minolta Maxxum 7000i, 35-105mm lens, Fuji
cheap stuff ISO400.

Previously Unpublished – Saint Augustine Shadows 2001

Black and white balcony iron shadows film print

Previously unpublished film photo copyright © 2001 Eric Bucholtz, eB Photography. Saint Augustine, Florida

While meandering Saint Augustine, Florida during my time at port near Jacksonville, the lines and shadows from a balcony with sun high overhead caught my attention. I had a roll of C41 color-process black and white 35mm film in one camera and snapped away.

What are you (am I) waiting for? Shoot.

Sailing ship Jacksonville Florida 2001

“I need a newer/older / film/digital / manual/automatic camera/lens/computer first.”

This new year has been 3 days -and a few leading up to it last year- of kicks in the pants to get a camera and use it. Not a new one – one within reach. A phone if I have to. Create already. Reminders I find in old film photo prints I keep running into that I had no idea what I was doing when I took most of the shots, but I tried an idea anyway. Reminders I find in the photos of friends very new to photography who are trying their ideas wildly and doing so with great creativity.

The shot above is flawed, flared, and yet is a favorite (from film photography follies in Florida if we’re going to go on with the alliteration). My job at the time relocated me to live on a ship in a tiny town marina outside Jacksonville, Florida. In what has been a trend since my elementary school days I am up awake into the morning hours writing, and did so often in my travels. I had a pair of 35mm Minolta SLRs, a compact tripod, and hours of the night to think. For my first eBay purchase I picked up a light meter to help me judge nighttime and long exposures and began to photograph the ships, marina, and town around me after dark.

I had an idea of how to set the film camera to get correct lighting where I wanted it. I knew a few tips. Most of all I knew that if I wanted to take a photo I’d have to press the shutter release. I’d have to just try.

When I got the prints back from my evening shoot around Jacksonville I was a bit let down that I had been blasted with lens flare. I liked the way the street light looked in the foreground but forgot altogether what might happen with a light source right in the frame shining my way. I shot for 15-30 seconds to soak up more background light and let the lines of people going by blur. This much had worked as planned.

What surprised me was that behind the moving crowd sat a couple along the walkway’s railing. They sat still enough to remain sharp in contrast to the crowd in motion that now appear as streaks. If I had arranged the shot I could have recreated this look easily. They are a happy discovery from a photo made while just tinkering with ideas and playing to motion blur during long exposures, reminders that you never know what you’ll find unless you try.

Go create something.

Shot by Eric Bucholtz with Minolta 7000i and 35-105 lens on the cheapest ISO 400 or 800 35mm film in bulk packs, summer 2001 in Jacksonville, Florida

First dream of 2011

Minolta X-370 35mm film SLR manual focus camera

Woke up with a laugh at the first dream of the new year – I was shooting 35mm film with my first SLR camera, the Minolta X-370. Nerd alert. Manual focus, manual exposure, thumb lever winder style. Vaguely remember I was shooting some outdoor wedding stuff and keeping up with the action just fine winding after each shot.

I’ll take that as a sign and shoot some film today, see what a little suspense to see the photo can do again.

Go have fun with whatever camera you can find!


A friend shared this video over the weekend, enjoy a smile.


This film’s a good reminder to say something nice today.
You never know how far a compliment can go!

Smile, smile, smile!

Summer Newlyweds by Holga

Last summer I picked up the classically cheap and funky photo making Holga camera as part of my creative escape from the immediacy and trigger happy shooting of digital photography. The Holga has become a quick low tech favorite of mine, and I’ve had some pretty cool candid snaps printed from some of our summer weddings. One of my favorites is… this one!

Holga Wedding Photography: Tara & Dwight by EB Photography

This outdoor wedding day was not only a fantastic celebration but a perfect day for Holga photos. I snapped 3 candid frames and especially liked the way this one came out. A high-res scan of it made it into the album too.

Check out that classic plastic lens Holga look – semi-sharp center and wonderfully “soft focused” and vignetted edges – all in camera! All that from medium format film from the mid 1990s – not too shabby!

Add this low-fi look to your photo arsenal! Pick up a Holga on eBay or Amazon. If you like what you’ve read here, buying through these links drops some change in the photo supplies jar. Thanks! 

Endeavors in Illumination

“There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.”
– James Thurber

It’s hard to say when it began to stir, but I welcome the nudge to do something new, to try new ideas, to expand on proven practice of what I understand in lighting.

The changing of seasons always seems to inspire me. New years has its resolutions and new start, spring breathes new life into the frozen, summer lets loose with bare feet and the smell of cookouts with friends, fall paints the landscape and gets out the warm fuzzy clothes as winter returns and the circle completes. Even while this current year’s winter inundated us with shut-in, bone chilling days, I do enjoy the seasons in Indiana. There’s something inspiring about the changes happening.

Weather patterns aside, it’s easy to get in a creative rut when you stick with what you already know and don’t get to try new ideas. It’s safe, but reliable, predictable but repeatable. Peppered throughout last year’s wedding season’s celebrations were so many photos that just popped. A new look, a different angle, a moment where everything just worked the way I hoped it would come together. It is in the pursuit of these dramatic, creative photos that I find myself wanting to do more with what I’ve learned and try new ideas. Inspiration can feel dangerous.

This March especially I’ve had a lot of ideas running through my mind’s eye. It is, in fact, some of those same creative brainstorms that kept me from returning to sleep early this morning. Watching the sunrise, even if I’ve been up most of the night leading to it, always sparks a bit of creativity and refreshing. As we count down till April 26th, the start of our spring wedding season, the stirring to hone my use of lighting has been growing.

To explain what has been stirring reminds me of the first few rolls of film I shot through my first SLR. What a sound as the shutter snapped! What a feeling to hold a manual 35mm body, focus a 50mm lens, and see your ideas in print. In 2003 when I checked out some photography books from the downtown library I was surprised to find a sticky note with my handwriting on it stuck inside some of my favorite books I read over and over when I started off with my 35mm camera.

Minolta X-370 35mm film camera body

Everyone needs a creative outlet, and more so, I think, when you use your creative outlet for work. When I was so busy with photo work last summer that I didn’t get out much to shoot on my own I picked up a Holga to try new ideas and get away from the things I did for work. I loved the break from the digital realm and really love the funky photos the Holga makes. It was a shot in the arm for creativity. I even snapped a few photos with this $25 plastic gem while at “work” with $10 grand around my neck and waist in optical Nikon stock. That’ll turn some heads!

Short story long, I ran across an impressive photography and lighting blog that has really outlined this quest of creativity. The Strobist Blog outlines The Lighting Journey as such:

  1. Ambient light is best. (I love working with great ambient light and using minimal extra gear! It is, however, only one of the ways I light a photo.)
  2. Competent on-camera flash. “It is comfy and predictable – which is not necessarily a terrible thing. Warm milk is not a terrible thing, either.” Eesh.
  3. Overdone off-camera flash – going nuts with lighting setups, “nuke it till it glows” (not a problem I’ve run into, thank goodness!)
  4. Experimentation – while the other stages are “comfy and predictable, experimentation is error-prone, and sometimes random in its quality. Which I will take over predictable and boring any day.”
  5. The Bag of Tricks – knows what works, versatile and flexible, knows what will sell. Hey, can hear a camera shutter and know if it’s too slow for a sharp shot, or see a flash / lens combination and know if there’s enough range to get a good exposure. But then again, I should know it that well when I rely on reflexes to catch fleeting moments. I have a good bag of tricks techniques I use very well.
  6. Personal and Unique Lighting Style – Often with this style comes huge financial success – and rampant, blatant imitation from others. (Not there yet on either account.)
  7. Subject-driven Lightdefined by absolute mastery of the craft to the point where it transcends into art on a regular basis.

    The command of a wide array of techniques leads to a pure versatility unmatched by other shooters. The key is a variety of styles – singular or combined – from which to choose The Appropriate Response to a given challenge.

    It’s the difference between a very good cellist playing a piece, or that same piece being owned by the late Pablo Casals.

    It is being so far beyond the mastery of technique that “how-will-I-light-this” is replaced by sheer, instinctive vision. It’s craft to the point of genius. It’s Dean Collins in his prime.

So much to ponder. The sun’s bright in the sky lighting the overcast morning sky, coffee’s done and I’ve got music streaming. This day is looking pretty inspirational.