Instaxography

the Instax 200 – instaxographers weapon of choice

Instaxography (copyright) is my latest hobby of the week, for this week, until the film pack is gone that is. I picked this baby up at a thrift shop complete with the batteries, several shots left on the pack, and a new pack of 10 pictures, for cheap – about what the film pack costs. I knew I had to have it after I took a test picture of the clerk in the store who showed it to me. They keep these under glass, like gold jewelry, and you must request a showing. They don’t wear white gloves however, which spoils the entire effect. However, it brings me back to the days of Polaroidography (copyright that too) and my old SX70. I thought the film was expensive 35 years ago! Holy crap! Today…. don’t ask! But Fuji is cheaper, and just about as bad as Polaroid was, so why not?

the bay bridge (not THE Bay Bridge – our Bay Street Bridge)

While out for a bike ride we stopped beneath the bridge and I also did a watercolour sketch.

Looking the other way we have a lovely barge and a lot of water and sky, but Instaxography gives it a very artistic feel, don’t you think? Ugly can be beautiful.

Anyhow, I’m not finished this experiment yet, and I have to say it is still a sort of thrill to watch and wait for the image to appear as if by magic. My Dad had a Polaroid, I had a Polaroid, and recently I sent my son in Germany – a Polaroid! I hope the film is cheaper there. If not he can get himself a Instax, or just forget the whole thing. But one day, I know his genes will express themselves and he will take up instant photography, if only now and then. It’s in our blood! Also, I took Polaroids of the babies… you gotta love that.

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Sketching, Street photography, Technology, Thrift shop finds, Uncategorized

Royal Signet

About 15 years ago I spotted a little typewriter on the shelf in the Sally Ann for five bucks. Prices were reasonable then, in the good old days of thrift shopping. Thrift shops were filled with cheap used goods, and the pricers didn’t check what something was listed for on Ebay before putting it out on a shelf. I brought home the little typewriter and used it a bit, but I got a pain in my neck so eventually I donated it back. It wasn’t until I got the collecting bug that I wondered what sort of typewriter it was. All I had as a record was a Polaroid of me with it, on which I had noted that I was “pretending to be a writer”. The idea of a “writer” seemed the most appropriate label for a person with a typewriter and a glass of beer.

Polaroid

me and the little typewriter c. 2003 (Polaroid SX-70)

I puzzled for years trying to determine what that little typewriter was, but I never knew until yesterday. That was when I found a Royal Signet, made in Holland. As soon as I got a good look at it I knew it was the very same model as the one once had, so of course I had to buy it. I had the perfect excuse!

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me and the new little typewriter 2018 (Fuji Instax)

Now I can say positively that I am a writer, and no longer pretending. This Signet is a great little machine, and is mechanically the same as the Royalite, but with a body style related to the Royal Futura and similar to the Olympia SF of the 1970’s era. These are remarkably quiet, perhaps the quietest typewriters I have used. With a cast aluminum casing, and two tone colour scheme I think it’s a real looker. In the interim Polaroid has gone and I sold my SX-70. Now the film is back, but I have no camera. However, I just found a cheap used Fuji Instax 100 that came with a new pack of film. I am now a Fuji instant film convert!

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Royal Magic

6-IMGP7361Ah, how sweet to find what one has been seeking. I found a 1923 Royal 10 typewriter, which it must be said is genuine royalty. The saga began after I wrote a book last year, titled The Magic Typer. Along the way I chose a Royal 10 to be the magic machine, as it fit the plot well, and when writing fiction you can’t go wrong with royalty.

Once I finished the book, I had the notion that I must have a Royal 10 for myself, after all. So I began searching for one like in the story, with dual beveled glass side panels. I soon discovered what was available was too expensive and too far away. Then by a stroke of good luck around a month ago I noticed on Craigslist a collection of old typewriters that had come from a former office supply shop in Vancouver. One looked like a Royal 10 but there was no way to tell if it was the correct version.

An email to the seller confirmed it was indeed a Royal 10 with twin glass. We haggled and he said he had a very high offer for it. That was the end of that, until a month passed and he offered it to me for a reasonable price. The buyer didn’t want it after all.

A courier went to fetch it from Vancouver. All day I waited in eagerness, wondering if it would be what I hoped for, or just a ruined piece of junk, and not even the right typewriter. It arrived packed in a large cardboard orange crate with a piece of styrofoam over it. I paid the courier, carried it inside and removed the covering. 8-IMGP7354

There it was, old but intact, dusty but not filthy, tarnished yet not rusted. I lifted it out of the box and placed it on the bench. I pressed a key at random and it snapped right up and thwacked the platen. There was an old ribbon and the original spools, a necessary part of the mechanics, since they trip the ribbon reversing levers. I slipped a sheet of paper into the platen which was a bit lumpy but not rock hard. A few taps and there it was, actual type on the paper. Even the red ink worked! According to the seller it had not been used since the 1970’s, when he cleaned it up for his grandfather.

I wiped the ribbon with WD40 and the ink began to flow. I like the idea of having an old cotton bi-color ribbon, since that is what was on this machine from the first. The mechanics are nearly perfect. Everything works, and no solvents or lubrication were necessary. I sucked out a few cobwebs with the vacuum and adjusted one linkage. The keys all work, as do all levers and buttons. One rubber foot was gone however, which I replaced with a cheap bung from a wine shop.

So that is the story. It couldn’t have been better: a Royal 10  acquired from an old typewriter shop where it sat for decades gathering dust, just like the Magic Typer! Now to order up some magic…

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I admire the symmetry of the back panel. The bell has a wonderfully pure tone. The tab stops are missing and the tab bar is slightly bent, but I’m not very concerned about such triviality! 3-IMGP7357

All the beveled glass is perfect, although there isn’t really much to see inside.2-IMGP7356

The left front foot was missing the rubber, but there was a thick felt washer still in place. The feet are remarkably well designed to absorb shock.

Parts of the machine have been repainted, as evidenced by the faint appearance of the original decals on the dished part of the front panel and on the paper feed panel at the top. If anyone has replacement decals please let me know. I have been polishing the paint and it seems that there is an endless layer of tobacco smoke embedded in the black enamel. Whoever used this must have held their smokes over on the right side of the machine, judging by how much more stained the rag gets when wiping the right side! Fortunately there is no tobacco smell after all the years. This machine is close to the last of the dual beveled glass models according to the serial number, as they switched to single glass in the latter part of 1923.

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How to Grow a Bird

The babies are 10 days old now, and have increased in size enormously. They should be in the nest for another 10 days before they can fly. When I arrived the pair were sitting with beaks up, and no mother in sight. Then a squeak and she appeared on the nest. A quick feed and then she was gone. One baby got up and stretched, then they went back to their repose with beaks up.

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momma arrives

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baby stands up for a stretch and a look around

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hey, there’s a world out there

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back to sleep again

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The Inner Harbour

A harbour is a body of water deep enough for ships and sheltered from the open sea. Many of the world’s cities have harbours, or should we say the reverse – many of the world’s harbours have given rise to cities. Thus it has been everywhere I have lived. Victoria Harbour is one of two that happened to be created side by side here at the south end of Vancouver Island; the other being Esquimalt, which is used for a naval base. The most interesting things happen in the Inner Harbour however. That body of water is presided over by the Parliament Buildings of the Province of British Columbia, the Empress Hotel, the old CP Steamship Terminal, and various other buildings of note. It is also an international airport, with seaplanes coming and going constantly.

My favourite sight is the coming and going of the Coho Ferry however, which I happen to have watched so many times I couldn’t count. At one time it was a ritual of morning break to grab a cup of java from the office machine and walk a block to a viewpoint where we could see the ferry leave at 10.30. There was a blast of the air horn and then she’d ease away from the dock and  back slowly across the harbour before pivoting and heading out to sea, destination Port Angeles, Washington. This ship has been doing that trip daily for over 50 years, and it’s still going strong. A few years back they put in new engines and she still runs like a charm, a simple boat with no fancy shops or lounges, and the same old hamburgers and hotdogs wrapped in foil like at a ball game. Last week a fellow came over on foot to buy 2 typewriters from me, via Coho. When the ship gets underway they play a recording of Bing Crosby singing about the Blackball Ferry Line, the owner of the ship. They’re down to this single ship now but once they were a major ferry line around Puget Sound.

My plein air of the weekend was painted on the side of the inner harbour to which the Coho backs up before departing. It looked far away when I began sketching and fortunately I knew it was about to leave so I painted the ship in first. When it backed up it came practically right up to my nose, whereupon it was several thousand times larger than it had been when I began, figuratively speaking. I didn’t even watch it go, as I was too engrossed. Subconsciously I figured it would be here later and tomorrow and probably forever, but one day it won’t be – so at least I have one more sketch of it.

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The Hatching

view from the sunny side – she always has her back to the sun

The baby hummingbirds arrived either Sunday April 8, or Monday the 9th. Anyways, on Monday the mother was feeding and the day before she was not. She keeps her back to the sun and so when I shoot from the east side my camera can’t deal with the brightness of the sky and the dim light within the tree.

feeding baby hummingbirds

I managed to fix them up as best I can, and they do give an idea of what’s going on. I was lucky to get a shot of the mother’s long tongue quite by luck.

Coincident with the hatched hummers, comes the first turtle of the season.

turtle #1

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Plein Air Sketching

Plein air: a term for sketching or painting outdoors.

Recently I read a wonderful book, Defiant Spirits by Ross King, the story behind the famous Canadian painters known as The Group of Seven. They used to journey out into the great woods with portable painting kits, and did many little oil sketches as studies for larger, more complex works that were produced later in studio. I had been toying with oil paint, hoping the magic of oil might suddenly be revealed to me, but my experiments with that medium have resulted in frustration, so for now I am sticking with acrylic, my favourite paint. Acrylic is simple and easy to clean up – that’s for me! I took my sketching kit out this afternoon with some 8×10 panels, a good size for carrying around.

I am trying to keep in mind not to overwork my sketches; to stop just before they seem finished. Usually they are truly finished at that point. I may have overworked this, but I hope not too much. It was a cool, dull afternoon on the side of the mountain looking out to the distant hills. I was lost for over an hour, as the sky spit a few random drops and the breeze caressed the hillside. Sometimes a grey day can be more beautiful than a sunny one.

April afternoon, Garry Oak meadow

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