Miru Cameras 35mm – First Impressions

I guess one of the advantages of having a presence on the internet is the kindness of strangers, and this post is the result of just such an instance. Through Instagram, I was contacted by David creator of Miru cameras asking if I’d like to test his 35mm camera. Of course, I jumped at the chance, after all who wouldn’t. The camera arrived with me over Christmas, and I took advantage of the break to throw a roll through the camera.

Before I get on to the results though, a word about the camera itself, I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram of me unboxing the camera and of the camera in action (making the featured image for this post). For ease, I have embedded them below so you can see the camera itself.

Unboxing the @mirucameras pinhole camera #pinhole #believeinfilm #filmisnotdead #mirucameras

A photo posted by Alex Yates (@pinholista) on

Coffee and pinhole @thedandyhorse

A photo posted by Alex Yates (@pinholista) on

As you can see, the camera is really nicely packaged, and I have to say the written materials that are provided put many more commercial cameras to same – well done David. The camera itself is lightweight, I’m not sure of the wood used, and nicely finished with wax. The design makes loading and unloading film relatively simple as well. There is no tripod mount (more of that later).

I was a little concerned about light leaks so used some blue masking tape to minimise the risk, which unfortunately removed some of the wax when I unloaded the film (I hadn’t really thought that through). I didn’t see any signs of light leaks with this first roll, for my next roll I won’t add any tape and we’ll see how things go.

www.alexyates-photography.com

David also marks both the top of the camera and the supplied 35mm take-up cassette to allow you to easily count the number of turns when you wind on. Rather then the recommended 1 turn, I wound on for 1.5 turns after each shot, which resulted in me wasting film. Next time I’ll try one turn and see how that works out, it should be pretty good I think. Winding on can be a little stiff, at least it was for me, but nothing insurmountable.

www.alexyates-photography.com

So, how about the actual shooting? Well, I have to confess that I generally don’t like using 35mm film for pinhole photography. First off, I think the images are not as good as medium format, and in my experience are not as sharp (although why that should be I don’t know). I also find using a whole roll a little challenging, at least in any kind of reasonable time. So much is my aversion that I recently sold my Ondu 35mm panoramic camera due to lack of use. You know what though, this little camera surprised me and I really enjoyed using it…much more than I thought I would.

www.alexyates-photography.com

The reason for my enjoyment? Quite simply the size of the camera made it the perfect companion to throw into my bag and have with me. As someone once said, the best camera is the one with you, and this little camera came everywhere with me for a week or so. So much so that by the end of the roll I was excited to get the film developed ASAP, which led to me scanning myself, which in turn led to the really poor scans with this post. This means that you probably shouldn’t use the images to judge the quality of the camera as they certainly reflect my rush and scanning skill.

www.alexyates-photography.com

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed using this camera. There are, however, a couple of things to consider as we close this post. As already mentioned, and not surprising given the size of the camera, there is no tripod mount. This means you have to be careful what and how you shoot. On a solid surface and with a long exposure you’ll have no problems. However, if you wobble like me then hand holding is not going to work well, the image above shows this well.

In conclusion, a lovely little camera and I really think David should be pleased with what he has created. There are lots of 35mm pinhole cameras out there and the Miru definitely deserves some consideration. This is particularly the case if you are looking for a camera you can take anywhere with you. I’ll be making more pictures with mine, and next time I’ll get some proper scans.

Finally, if you want to find out more about Miru cameras then have a look at their Instagram and Facebook page, as well as the website linked above. Happy shooting!

A place abandoned

Somewhere in Norfolk there is a place abandoned. Its in the middle of a forest, you have to work a little hard to get there but its a good place. At least I think its a good place, at times when I was there I wasn’t quite so sure.

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I first starting obsessing about this abandoned scrapyard when I began seeing images made here in various guises on the internet. I realised I had to visit, and after a bit of research I figured out the spot and how to get there. Of course I could tell you where it is, but that would spoil the fun somehow…but I’m sure you can find it.

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What I wasn’t prepared for when I visited was the memories that seemed to weigh the place down. Its an incredible spot, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to photograph, mainly because I didn’t want to leave the path, at least I didn’t want to lose sight of it. I told myself that I was being sensible, there’s a lot of rotten metal and accidents waiting to happen around every corner. I’m not sure that’s the full story though.

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Firstly, the vehicles showed their original purpose and there was lots of evidence of the businesses that employed them, many years ago. From local building firms to the Navy, all signs of life were there. Then there was the buildings, what looked like once beautiful farm buildings are slowly returning to the trees. Roofs have collapsed, walls look like they will follow suit soon…and yet there were signs of more recent life (like Santa here).

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The wind was blowing as well, and there’s nothing more unnerving than hearing scratching noises from behind you as you’re concentrating on making another long exposure, miles from your own car. I’m pretty certain it was just twigs scratching on metal but imagination began to run riot. I’ve promised myself I’ll go back, and I left my own ghost behind to keep the others company. Hopefully they’ll welcome me again next time and I’ll be encouraged to explore beyond the path.

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Slightly Slower Brittany

In Instant Brittany, the last post that I shared, I presented, for your delight…well…instant pinhole shots from our holiday to Brittany. I probably promised there would be more to come, perhaps you need to go back and check on that. Even if I didn’t though, here they are, the slightly slower Brittany shots!

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We were really rather lucky to have generally decent weather, at least that’s what you would assume from these shots. What they don’t show is the incredible rain showers that suddenly descended at times. For example, just after I managed to capture A capturing an image in the rather wonderful megalithic landscape near St Just we were sheltering under trees wondering if we needed to start building a boat.

We didn’t of course, which was probably just as well as I am not so handy and I’m not sure the local farmers would have appreciated us chopping down their trees. Just as well really. Oh, and of course I probably would not have been able to withstand the humiliation of my boat being simply substandard compared to the local’s fleet.

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The local craft were in evidence whenever we hit the stunning coastline near to Dinan, where we were staying. We found not only incredible sandy beaches, and buoys hanging out on those beaches (I guess they must be beach buoys), but a rocky coastline that in places has to be seen to be believed.

Set amongst these rocks are tidal pools, more sandy beaches, and some of the most isolated yet beautiful communities I have seen. Whilst life is probably not so harsh in those places now, I can only imagine what it would have been like before central heating, electricity and cars. Some of the houses are right next to the crashing ocean (and it can really crash) with only a little respite from the elements. There’s really an incredible savage beauty to the place that I cannot really describe well, and I am not sure my photos do the area much justice.

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With the clouds of course, come somewhat dramatic sunsets…most of which I admired over a bottle of wine (or the local beer, which is getting surprisingly decent now) and a galette, crepe or other such delights. Honestly, at the point when the waiter set fire to a tower of meat and fish at the table next to us (all part of the plan I should stress) I realised that I might never eat again…and there was a particular tarte tatin that nearly finished me off.

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Anyway, back to the sunsets, as you can see they were kinda purty and made me feel all gooey inside as I waited for the trusty Zero 2000 (responsible for all of this goodness) to do her thing. I have often neglected my second Zero as I always seemed to reach for the 69, but since her little accident (more here on that joy!) I’ve defaulted back to Z2K. I have to say that I would prefer it if Z2K was a little sharper, but you know you have to love your children regardless…even if you then purchase other babies to play with (more on that bombshell soon). With that, I shall say adieu, and leave you with nothing but a magnificent viaduct for company. Happy shooting Pinholistas, happy shooting.

Instant Brittany

I have really wanted to try to get back to posting my images on an (almost) real-time basis rather than waiting for weeks, months or even years (I have an un-shared archive now that is, frankly, embarrassing – if of course you believe images are made to be shared which is another debate for another time). In that spirit, here are some images made on my recent trip to Brittany. These were all made with the Supersense 66/6 pinhole camera which I have written about before…more on that later but for now, on with the show.

www.alexyates-photography.com

Every trip to France, in my opinion, should start with a glamorous and luxurious Channel crossing. Sadly, luxury and glamour are far from on offer on most ferries. What is on offer are some rather sad plastic deck chairs, and some interesting nooks and crannies to explore and to get away from the inane conversations of other travellers (I am amazed more people don’t get thrown overboard…she didn’t take a breath!!!). On our rather wonderful Transmanche ferry we also got some really rather decent food, clearly a ship operated by the French and all the better for it.


We were staying in the very charming medieval town of Dinan, fairly close to St Malo, in Brittany. The centre of Dinan is a maze of small streets, creperies, restaurants where they set your food on fire and cobbles. Lots of cobbles in fact, which when wet are particularly slippery, especially when climbing the road up from the river. Its really pretty steep, but unbelievably pretty so that’s OK. Also, when you have a pinhole camera you have every excuse to take a breather on the way up. One word of warning though, the restaurants down by the river and really quite good, and climbing that hill after a long lunch can be a challenge, we had to take a lie down afterwards. Oh, and the cats in Dinan are not well trained in remaining still for the whole exposure as you will see above.

www.alexyates-photography.com

I’m going to pause here to just mention one piece of news that did come through whilst we were away, which was that the very wonderful Stuart Pilkington had suffered a stroke. Stuart is the brains behind 100 Mile Radius (I was selected as one of the 50 photographers, with a pinhole image you can see on the site), The Swap (again, you’ll find my work there) and a fine photographer in his own right. Much more importantly though, Stuart is a wonderful wonderful man. He is incredibly encouraging to other photographers and generous with his time, his talent and his friendship. Pretty much as soon as the news broke the community decided that the best way we could support Stuart’s speedy and complete recovering was by sending him selfies. This is my Selfie for Stu – and you can see a brilliant montage of more here (with thanks to Tim Andrews). I should also mention here that Stuart’s mum, Linda, has taken the time to update his Facebook so his friends can see the progress he is making, which seems really good so far. So, get well soon Stuart and thank you Linda!

Right, back to the Supersense 66/6 and my developing experience with this camera. I have to say it is a delight to use, but not without its frustrations as well. I struggle, at times, to get simple things like horizons straight, so have taken to trying to remember to carry a bubble level with me (perhaps I should try to be less OCD). The way you can alter focal length is a delight, as is the ability to use different pinhole sizes. I tend to use the tiniest of the two tiny holes so I can have an exposure time that is a little bit longer, to allow for the fact that the shutter is pretty rudimentary.

The main challenge with this camera still remains the film. I’m now generally getting better results but the reciprocity is a complete pig. I have underexposed many images, like below, even in decent light. This might in part be due to my metering but I’m tending to still think it is the film’s characteristics that I have to learn. To be fair, this colour film was expired, which probably doesn’t help.

When you overexpose it is a delight though, so that’s OK I guess. What it isn’t is very good at picking up fine details, I have some shots of beds of yellow flowers that have, sadly, just disappeared from the image. Again, that might in part be due to the film being expired.

Overall though, I do still love the camera, and the results when you nail them can be brilliant. Unusually for me, I think I prefer the black and white images I make, partly because I think the film is better and partly because I think it suits the way the film resolves. Simple images are definitely the way forward…and I guess I just have to keep learning.

Well, that’s it for another post. I hope you like the images from Brittany, there’ll be more to follow from my trusty Zero. Remember too, if you want to be featured on Pinholista please just get in touch (here). Happy shooting kidnicks.

We’ll always have Toledo – Part 2

As you know, if you’ve been paying attention at least, this fearless Pinholista ventured into the unknown wilds of the Pacific Northwest. To be fair, it was not hugely wild, although Sasquatch did make an appearance (thanks Jeff). In my first report, I shared some photos and talked about the wonders of Toledo. In this report, I share more photos and ramblings, not on any specific themes this time (but then, dear reader, you must be used to that by now).

I should probably start by noting that I actually didn’t shoot a huge amount of pinhole whilst I was on this trip. This is entirely due to me having recently acquired a magnificent camera with (gasp) a lens. If you are at all inclined, you can see the results of that over at my other site, in a post which also features many of the wonderful people I met on the trip. Well then…off you go, but do hurry back.

Zero Image 6x9 MF loaded with #

The first couple of shots here are from WPPD itself. I should really give a massive shout out to all who helped organise the day, we were thoroughly entertained and it was quite wonderful to meet folks from all over the world joining together to share some lensless love. Also wonderful was getting up wonderfully early (although it felt like the afternoon due to my jetlag) to meet the amazing Zeb Andrews. Zeb is both a pinhole god, an altruist and a thoroughly nice guy. We’ve been in touch by electronic means over the years and it was a pleasure to finally meet.

In the second shot (i.e. the one with the fountain) you’ll notice a light leak in the bottom left. This is due to me checking in to the Zero Image Destruction Palace (ZIDP). This is a real place I promise, check Facebook if you don’t believe me. Remember that jetlag I mentioned in the prior paragraph, well I blame it entirely for what happened at the ZIDP. I was taking a mid-afternoon nap, to prepare myself for beer and pinball with Square Peg, when I thought…I can pinhole that (with apologies to Pinhole Obscura). To be fair, the pinholing was not a problem, set the tripod up and open the shutter what could go wrong. Well, about 1h later, feeling woozy from the nap I jumped out of bed and tripped over my suitcase. What I hadn’t realised is that I had set up the perfect domino run. My suitcase fell and caught my tripod, my tripod fell and my Zero 69 with it. All I could do was dive despairingly across the room screaming “Nooooooooo” as I watched the Zero shatter into a million pieces (maybe 3 or 4 at least) and my LAST ROLL EVER OF REALA flop out and unroll gently on the carpet. I was less than happy.

Zero Image 6x9 MF loaded with #

To be fair, some wood glue was found the next day and the Zero was fixed…ish. Sadly she’s never felt the same and she’s now been retired and sits on a shelf at home looking down accusingly at me as if to say “You…you broke me!”

The rest of the images in this post are made post-repair and do seem a little fuzzy. To be fair though, that might be entirely down to the weather and my stupidity. The first couple (i.e. above and below) and of the mountain near North Bend and Snoqualmie. Where exactly I couldn’t tell you as I made the terrible decision to take a walk. Just remember folks, particularly British folks, if you go to the States everything is much further apart than you think. I walked for hours and got extremely footsore. Also, there are no pavements (or even sidewalks for you yankee-doodle-dandees) and the ever present danger of being wiped out my a juggernaut focusses the mind somewhat.

Zero Image 6x9 MF loaded with #

North Bend and Snoqualmie are kind of famous amongst the geeks of the world, and let’s be honest I’ve never met a Pinholista that wasn’t also a geek. Why…well because they are where Agent Cooper was headed when he said the following: “Diane, 11:30 a.m., February Twenty-fourth. Entering the town of Twin Peaks, five miles south of the Canadian border, twelve miles west of the state line. I’ve never seen so many trees in my life.”

He probably took a different route into town, either that or the loggers have been hard at work since 1989. Regardless, there are vestiges of Twin Peaks all over town. We did, of course, have Cherry Pie and Damn Fine Coffee…but not at the diner. Rather, we ate in the Salish Lodge, which sadly only shares the exterior with the Great Northern. The Cherry Pie is pretty decent though.

Zero Image 6x9 MF loaded with #

After all that food, I had to do one final thing before leaving the Pacific Northwest, and that was to take a gentle bike ride on Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is beautiful, and I had other reasons to go, but if you are used to flat, gently cycling like the good honest Norfolk boy I am, then it has a bit of a sting. That sting involves several climbs that head well North of 15%, which is a little tricky. Still, the cycling was wonderful, and the Korean BBQ back in Seattle at the end of the day, and the trip, was wonderful. A last meal, with some incredible friends, was the perfect end to an amazing trip. I will go back, but for now I have my memories, and…of course…Toledo.

Zero Image 6x9 MF loaded with #