Analog Photography

    When I was a kid, my dad worked as essentially a large scale repo man.  He had one of those awesome Polaroid cameras for documenting the stuff to be repossessed.  We, the kids, were not supposed to grab it and take pictures.  With that said, Mr. B (for your privacy) if you are reading this, I apologize, I know that film cost money, but we couldn’t help it.  I admit it.  I also do not think we opened any new packs, if it helps, but thank you for making sure we could find your Polaroid.  I’m sure you noticed a lot more than you let on.  

    My first camera was an analog camera, a great 110 that was Ninja Turtles themed!  In fact, film was how I found out there was no Santa Clause.  I was clicking away as we cleaned out a home for my disabled great aunt, with some film I had gotten for Christmas.  My mom told me to stop, I said it was my film, she said she bought that film.  Poof, delusion nailed out.  In all honesty, I kind of figured, but I had a kid sister to act for, and it was still fun.  

    Seventeen years of Digital cameras later (minus me taking 35MM film on my trip to Germany) and the analog/instant photo is making a come back!

How many of you know someone with an instant camera?  I bet most of you (self depracating joke would be to say both of you) know at least one person who has an instant camera, and it is probably some kind of Fuji Instax.  This is my little red beast!

    I have had it for a couple of years now, and it is showing its time in service.  It has been dropped by me, and dropped and thrown by a toddler several times.  It may be running out of time, and there are more advanced models out there, but for the price (between 60-70$) you cant beat this thing.  Point, Click, Bam! Classic instant photos with that good old vintage look.  

    In fact, that is what I bought mine.  I bought it for the point and click, capture a memory, not many second chances (and at around 1$ a shot retail be careful with the second chances) stick it in a journal and move on.  Wow… today is that day where everything comes full circle. That was part of how I started this blog, I was putting our families journal online.  My plans have changed some, I was learning as I went, but that was the idea take photos of our family and glue them in.  Here’s a look back at the Savage past, the infant stages.    

    We have evolved since then.  I do still stick the pictures into my journal, and wouldn’t ya know it, Midori and The Travelers Notebook have accessories for doing just that.  I also have a few extras because I just enjoy them.  

     I have also gotten another camera, which is far less point and click, The Lomo Instant.  Based off of a camera from the former Soviet Union, Lomography has made taking vintage and ruddy photos into an art form.

    This one does have some lenses, and yes there is the ever nifty double exposure mode, but what it really has is a company with soul! Lomography Is a bit hipster up front, but you are going to get some of that when you bring back photos that cost money the moment you hear the click.  They have a shop, you can join and share your photos with the comunity, which I will do when their platform gets a little more user friendly.  Even better, they have the Ten Golden Rules.  I have been trying to abide by the one that says take your camera everywhere, but that is harder than it seems when it is bulkier than a cell phone.  However, we know what my rules are, and one of them is to have a bag.  Now I have one to carry everywhere, and the camera too!  Do not let those rules get you bogged down, use them for inspiration really.  They will help you figure out how you want to embrace this resurrected tech.  

     I went through some experimanetal phases.  I read about a man who took a Polaroid a day (yes it was most likely the actual Polaroid stuff, not just people using the term today) and they are all an album online.  It was a really moving series, which I want to recreate myself.  I started trying it out, and the result was the life in instant photo series posts you see on here.  They did not work, but my desire to complete a Jamie Livingston type experiment lives on!  I have a pretty good stock pile, I just have to figure out how to put them up.  I will get back to formatting later.  Anyhow, a word on the Lomo Instant.  That thing is in no way user friendly.  If you buy it, it will come with some little printed photo cards with printed suggestions, use them.  If you do not you will end up with a lot of blacked out or whited out photos.  You can learn all the ins and outs of this camera, but those cards help you not to waste film.  

    I took my camera to a Red Sox vs. Rangers game and when people realized what I was doing, they started offering to pay for a photo of them and their family that they could hold.  They are great for more than just your journal, you can give them away, you can hand them out, you can start a conversation about something tangible in your hand that is imperfect.  I went through my computer the about a month back.  My hard drive was getting full.  when my first son was born I bought a decent digital camera, DSLR, and went banana sand which taking photos for the next four years.  I ended up deleting 30,000 photos.  That number is not exaggerated, it is in fact rounded down.  Let that sink in, 30,000 photos deleted.  There are around 17,000 more.  That is a decades worth of photos total, but man what was I ever going to do with all of them?  They were not even separate photos, I would point the camera at my kid and hold the shutter down.  It was like a stop motion film, but less fun.  If nothing else, the cost of analog photography slows you down a little.   

    Don’t get me wrong, I have so many memories of my family preserved that did not eat up money or physical space, but at the same time, I almost stopped enjoying taking them.  You have seen me say, do not let recording life stop you from living it.

    I do not know about you, but there is something great about a simple photo, with little to no jargon involved, that looks like it came from the 80s, not taken on a smart phone, on real film.  The ironic part is that you will still want to show it off, and that will require some very digital stuff.  A scanner, or a smart phone with a scanner app.  That is how I do it.  

    If you go down this self developing road, start with the Fuji Instax.  I still have days where I want to throw the Lomo.  Here are my tips:

  1. Order your film on Amazon, it comes out a little cheaper if you buy it in the three pack bundle.
  2. Never buy the Polaroid film (in mini 8) it is the same as the Fuji, and costs 16$ for ten shots, where as Fuji is 20$ (retail) for twenty shots.
  3. Get something to stick your photos in, they dislike pockets, a little tin or something will work.
  4. If you use the travelers notebook, embrace the analog photos
  5. Don’t wait, life isn’t getting longer.

That is what I have for you.  Well that and this.  

    This is my stash of film for while we are in New York, and there are already two packs in my kit bag!  This is the wonder of Amazon, it makes the cost hurt sooo much less.

What is your favorite analog photo?

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

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New Buildings In Moscow, Postage Stamps of the Soviet Union, USSR, 1983

These stamps here are perfect examples of Soviet stamps being meant to be sent and seen outside of the Union.  These are architecture projects in Moscow, that to me smack of modernness, and more importantly exhibiting what they had done for the olympics three years prior.  

The entire series was issued on December 15, 1983.  

     This are the first ones I have catalogued and written about that are printed in relief.  The basic idea is that the image is etched out of the plate and when the object is printed, the ink fills in the spaces that were etched out.  It makes for incredibly beautiful and detailed stamps.  They are some of my favorites, and I often have to fight the urge to touch them to feel the printing.

At the end there will be more photos.


This is the Natalya Sats Musical theater, formally known as Moscow State Academic Children’s Music Theater Named After Natalya Sats.  All infomation cited as (Wikipedia) can be found here.  

Details: Issued 12-15-1983, face value 3 Kopeks-it would have sent a postcard.  

    Natalya Sats was the director of this institution in 1921, long before this building was opened in 1979.  Sats and her institution were part of Lenin’s wife wanting children’s art education to resume.  Sats had a break in her directorship due to the purges, but resumed until she died in 1993 at the age of 90.  (Wikipedia). It is very interesting, and if you have time you should read more about this fascinating institution for children.  
The Central House of Tourists

Central House of Tourists

Issued: 12-15-1983

Value: 4 Kopeks, postcard or domestic letter

    The hotel is now called the Astras, and it is still in use today.  Thirty-three floors, 537 rooms, opened 1980.  What I find interesting is the tiny silohouettes of people in the windows, all the way down the hotel.  

Russian Soviet Federation House

Russian Soviet Federation House

Issued: 12/15/1983

Value: 6 Kopeks, post card, domestic letter, small registered item.  I believe registered to cover international as well.  

    As of 1981 this was the seat of Soviet government, and it is still in use for that purpose today.  It is listed as the Russian White House,  it reads to me more similarly to 10 Downing Street in London, home of the government and Prime Minister.  It replaced the Grand Kremlin Palace, which to me is funny.  It would seem that Bolsheviks would have wanted something clean and modern, unassociated with the czars and aristocracy, so this coming so very close to the end of the Soviet Union surprises me.  Of course, they did not know it was going to end in a decade.  

I love this one.  Just look at it.  It makes stamps today look cheap by comparison.  

Izmailovo Hotel

Izmailovo Hotel Complex

Issued: 12/15/1983

Value: 20 Kopeks, Postcard, but in five kopeks it will be more than a post card ever was, domestic letter, registered item.

     Opened in 1979, this is actually a hotel complex consisting of four separate hotels.  It was built, in keeping with the theme, because there were not enough hotel rooms for the coming olympics in 1980, that were to be hosted in 1980.  These are still in operation today, ranging from 3-4 stars.  Interestingly this was the world’s largest hotel until 1993, when another was opened in Moscow.  It was beaten by the expansion of the MGM Grand in Vegas (Wikipedia).
1980 Olympic Press Center

    This one, I admit, gave me some issues.  I had a hard time with the fact that the words in this case are printed in cursive.  I turned to soviet-postcards.com, and it just came back as “News Publishing Agency.”  I looked at buildings added to Moscow in the time frame, and found the part about it being for the olympics.  

1980 Olympic Press Center

Issued: 12/15/1983

Value: 45 Kopeks, this would only have been used to send a registered item, and I speculate internationally.  Stamps were meant to show off to the world, and historaical rates say that no domestic letter needed more than 40 Kopeks.  Registered was between 6 Kopeks and 1 Ruble (100 kopeks to the ruble).  I figure this to be where all the press conferences, maybe the ceremonies and such were held for the olympics in 1980.  Now it is simply noted as being used as office space.  That is a step up from all the abandoned spaces created for the Olympics.  

Building the Kono Bell Tetrahedral Kite 

This was my first kite build! 

   I bought this kite from Bridge Kite Shop, and this kit can be purchased here.  When I had found the website for Bridge, this was what caught my eye.  Not just the prospect of building a kite myself, but the idea that the units or cells could keep going.  Four cells make a kite, then make each kite into a cell and assemble four of those, well you get the idea.  This kit comes with everything you need except for scissors and glue, which both the website and instructions tell you.  

    I will not say much about the design, as I cannot say anything the website does not already, but it is named after the designer of this kit, Greg Kono, and Alexander Graham Bell, who apparently made something very similar to this.

The kit itself could not be simpler with very good instructions.  My biggest tips is to dip both ends of a spar (stick) in glue at once, as you will not be able to move the whole frame to the glue so get both ends ready for connectors at once.  Also, I used a brush to put the glue on the paper folds that go around the spar.  I also recommend decorating the sails ahead of time, the kit papers are clearly marked so you will know where you will be placing the designs or coloring.  I went with rubber stamps of the the Death’s Head Moth, but I was attracted to the idea of Bridge’s kites because I can color and decorate them with my kids.  

    I could have let each stage dry before continuing on, but it was not necessary. I did let the fram dry for a day before applying the sails, and I let that dry for another day before attempting flight.  My kids and I took it our first in eleven MPH winds, and that achieved lift very well.  It was the lack of sustained wind that stopped us from getting a sustained flight.  We had a similar issue with thirteen to fifteen MPH winds, plenty of lift, just no sustaining winds, so it is not the kites fault, nature was just teasing us.  

    We have it on a quick reel, which is not what it came with.  The reel is not a problem, but I feel that clipping the quick connector rather than using two overhand knots as recommended, may have destabilized some of the flights, and that was very much my fault.  The quick connect, goes on one spar, while the over hand knots would secure to the entire top connector, making a solid tie point, rather than encouraging it to spin on an axis.  

     Another tip, do not worry about excess glue, this will help create a very complete and secure bond between spar and connector.  I tried to be cautious about excess, which I later realized was a mistake.  I had to reglue several connections where I had left room for the seal to break, after the first flight.  The second flight saw no broken connections despite higher flights and falls, because the seal was complete.  

    My oldest also got the hang of sustained flight with his Spongebob diamond he recieved for his birthday.  If it had not have been for heat, we would have stayed out flying, ignoring the TV and electronics.  Safe flying and make sure you get something from Bridge Kite Shop.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Life in instant 3

I have given up on the slide shows, they were a nuisance.  I have opted instead for a few photos hear and there with a link to the full collection.  There should be little to no narration, just analog still frames of life with no do overs.  Full album here.

Kites, Kites, Kites: Analog Activities

We love analog toys, and Kites are one of the very best.  

     It does not get much simpler than kites.  This photo is as analog as it gets, instant photo of a kid running around with a kite in hand.  

     When was the last time you enjoyed something simple?  Something where you went out and waged a small battle against the elements?   That is how I see kite flying.  I got the love from my grandfather, he seems to be obsessed with making odd little things fly.  He used to have a couple of wooden planes with motors and wires that I suppose could be made to fly in a circle.  

    Say the word to yourself, kite.  There is something life affirming about it.  I mean yes, there is also something Charlie Brown about it.  You could lose your kite, my son got one stuck once.  We got it back.  He gets frustrated with the erratic winds ( so do I ) and he thinks maybe the kite is broken.  

    Today we went to a kite shop.  Call me Vikrum, a real kite shop.  If you have not heard of them, get Bridge Kite Shop on your radar.  They do not have a retail front yet, but they will in the future.  You can book them for parties, they do workshops, and best of all they sell kits for classic washi kites.  I sent them an email, seeing if I could come by, why pay shipping if you do not need to, and these awesome guys just had us right on over.  

    Cade and Stuart are two of the nicest people I have met in the kite industry.  Given, they are the only people I have met in the kite industry, but they are still amazing.  They had us over, let us shop, did not complain about kids, and passed the ultimate test, they let my kid use their own restroom when he inevitably had to go, despite going before we left.  We left with some kite kits, some of which you can get in sets of five, or more, to entertain groups.  These guys have taken San Antonio up a notch.  

    Kites do not have to come in kits, the Walmart ones are good, they do what kites do.  They go together in under a minute and they have string.  Get one, for 5$ you can kill the tv for the afternoon, take your kids outside.  You only have to unplug and engaged a little everyday to take the parenting away from the electronics some.  Stay tuned and we will show off our kites.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Dungeons & Dragons: pencil and paper roll playing games: Analog Win

The Savage is back to discuss one of the great analog wins, pencil and paper roll playing games, and the king of them all, Dungeons & Dragons.  

     Have you ever seen this guy?

     That is Gary Gygax (RIP) and way back in 1974 he gave the world (along with Dave Arneson) something great.  He gave us Dungeons & Dragons.  

     You may never have heard of this game.  You may have heard of one like it.  You may have heard of this one in a less than favorable manner, as it has a notorious reputation that is utterly undeserved.  I’m not going to go into it, but lets just say the zealots blame this game for a lot (along with metal and Harry Potter.)  This kind of thing is amazing.  I was brought in when I was around nine by my cousin David.  Later as an adult I joined the army and moved away, but any time I was home I was welcome in the games of David, My cousin Seth, or my Uncle Lonnie, family gathers around the table.  

    If you know the game, even a little, if you just know about it, then the mere mention of a D&D session causes something in your soul to spark, the promise of adventure, the smell of the trees and grass, the calm before something sinister comes into being.  If you are a player, then this is, of course, paired with the smells of Mountain Dew, cheetos, and a table full of books and dice.  The pleasurable tingle of an impending D&D session SHOULD be like the opening sequences of Skyrim in your head.

     That is the point, it is kind of like video games, but better!  Why better?  Well it forces you to get in touch with something you may have forgotten.


    People have forgotten their imagination.  Here are some more reasons that tabletop RPG is superior to the video game.

  1. It involves books.  You get locked into the books, you learn the worlds, lets face it, books ar amazing.
  2. No video game will ever be as open world as a pencil/paper RPG.
  3. It involves real people, gathered together, doing real things.  
  4. Going with the imagination, it does not involve artificial stimulation, it allows you to exercise your creativity.
  5. It allows you to get locked into a pretty serious dice collection.  
  6. Again, you have to talk to people, with your mouth.
  7. No call of duty kids.  You start being a nine year old and suddenly the other players might just roll up on you and straighten it out.  

     I tell you this.  You need a place to play.  Most of the games I have ever played, were in the homes of other people, or my own.  In fact, that is how I met my best friend Carl…by spying through the window on a session being played in his home, which I was later welcomed into…but that is another story.  You will also need a place to acquire your books and dice.  I’m going to slam down my die hard belief in shop local for this kind of thing.  The local game store must not die.  The game store does not neccesarily end up being where you will play, but in my case it is, and that is why I buy my stuff from them, they give us a place to play with local soul and players.

    I give you Knight Watch Games of San Antonio Texas!  This place is amazing.  The owners have made such an amazing store that, it has a Facebook players community all of it’s own.  That was how I got my current game put together.  The owners told me about the community and within a couple of hours I had players.  That can be one of the hardest parts of playing, is getting committed players together.  I was concerned about this when we moved recently, having to leave Carl and all, but Knight Watch and their community made it all a lot easier.  Now I am there till closing a couple of nights a week.  The new boy has made friends.  

    You don’t have to know all the lingo right away. Here’s a primer though.  

  1. Numbers paired with an E is a reference to the addition of D&D.  
  2. Editions last quite a while.
  3. 4E was pure garbage.
  4. Hot garbage.
  5. Most people stuck to 3.5.
  6. Others turned to pathfinder.
  7. 5E is amazing.  It is simple, elegant, beautiful, and gets back to the game.

In my opinion, 5E is what always should have been.

    If you have been on the fence about getting into a game like this, let me give you the push, go for it, get into it, give it a go.  However, some things to keep in mind that will enrich your playing experience, and that of those around you:

  1. Shower. 
  2. Be willing to commit to play semi regularly, everyone needs to sit down with their schedules and plan as much in advance as possible.  Some land mines are unavoidable (my last game was made up mostly of fellow college students and a night cop from campus.  I didn’t make it easier by getting into a play during the semester.)
  3. Do not expect to have an easy go.  Embrace player death.  That is part of it, if there is no risk, the game is no fun.  Be ready to be written back in as a level 1 and enjoy the hilarity that ensues. 
  4. If you witness a player argue with the DM a few too many times, ask the other players if the DM sucks, if not, punch that argumentative person. (Kidding)
  5. The real number 5 is for the DM.  If you are new, utilize the guys who have the books mostly committed to memory.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Try to imagine.
  8. Play the character that makes you happy.  They are not always practical (bards), and may die fast (bards), but you will die smiling.

A side note:  D&D is obviosly not the only game like this.  It is kind of a rule #34 effect.  If you want it, there is most likely an RPG for it.  Star Wars, Warmhammer 40k, Zombies, The Lord of the Rings (which is actually set up to work with the current edition of D&D *happy noises*).  Try one, try them all!  I really want to play the Star Wars games, and am hunting on eBay for the old Robotech RPG books.

    Get off Xbox and fire up the brains.  Sharpen your #2 pencils, and prepare to roll the dice.  Be ready for the thrill of success and the plunging sickness of a rolled 1.

Brandon Bledsoe

Analog Savage
Some Shots of myt current game, players, and the much beloved Knight Watch Games of San Antonio Texas.

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