Through The Looking Glass
The Infrequent Blogger returns with some images from the archives with variations on a theme: Through the Looking Glass.
At one time I was into collecting old and unusual cameras and lenses. About 18 years ago when I was teaching photography in Singapore, I acquired a vintage 1970’s Minolta 35mm film camera kit with a variety of different focal length lenses. One of those lenses was an 18 mm Minolta fisheye lens. I was curious about it and shot a few rolls to experiment with it. I liked some of the results, but using the Minolta body was kind of clunky, so I didn’t use it much at all. A year or two later, I found a lens adapter which allowed me to fit the vintage Minolta 18mm lens onto my Leica M6 camera. At that time I was still shooting a lot of black and white film and developing and printing it in the darkroom. I still didn’t use the lens a whole lot, but I carried it in my bag and occasionally I would encounter a scene where I felt that perhaps the exaggerated optical characteristics of the fisheye could transform what I was looking at into something very different, and maybe possibly extending it into the realm of “art”. Sometimes I felt I came close to that goal, but just as often I failed. Either way it was all a learning experience and certainly a whole lot of fun to experiment with. Remember, this was back in the days of analog so there was no instant feedback on a little screen at the back of the camera. It was all very intuitive, up in the mind. I had to wait until the negative was developed and washed before I could get a clue as to what the images looked like. It was a lot like Christmas morning every time you unrolled the film from the developing reel.
One of the things I liked about the lens was that when set at f11 or 16, everything would be in focus from about two feet to infinity. Very often I wouldn’t even look through the viewfinder, I would just estimate the framing, hold the camera out in front of me at whatever angle seemed like it might be cool, and released the shutter. It was liberating and I enjoyed that freedom.
In the next few entries I thought I would post a selection of some of the images I made with the 18 mm Minolta Rokkor f9 lens. The first set are those I made in Singapore with it attached to my Leica M6 on black and white film. Some are definitely warped and wonderous, and I would imagine, not too much unlike Alice’s experience through the looking glass.
View from the back seat of a Comfort Taxi in Singapore
Just another odd post-modern shopping center in the Seletar Hill region of Singapore
21st century Singapore viewed through the 19th century windows of the Asian Civilizations Museum at Clark Quay
The Cavenagh Bridge over the Singapore River
Iron work detail on the Cavenagh Bridge
Bum Boat on the Singapore River
Buddha statues at the Asian Civilizations Museum
Taking a break
Family fun on the last piece of lawn
21st century craftsman
Make up artists
Take out lunch
Ornate colonial era building near Gallang Road in Singapore
Convex reflection-wide angle selfie
My Leica M6 with the Minolta 18mm lens. I use a Novoflex lens adaptor to merge the two.
Keywords: analog photography, Asia, b&w, b&w film, b&w film photography, fisheye lens, minolta 18mm rokkor lens, Singapore, vintage lens, wide angle lens, wide-angle photography
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