Photo of the Week, vol. 1

Just flying home.


I think I may start doing a photo of the week.

I’m thinking I’ll make these posts every Wednesday and Ill pick what I think was my best shot the previous week. I had a nice view on our final approach to Toronto City Center Airport. The skies were perfect, and I rolled that focus ring over just the right amount. It may have helped that the plane I flew in on was brand new and the windows were perfectly clear. I had a colour copy, but the black and white just looks to good to me.

Toronto Skyline
Nice and clear on the way home from work today.

Until next time,



Agfa Silette Vario…local buys.

I have to say I am pretty excited. I fixed up an old Agfa Silette Vario I picked up off my local by and sell. It was a bit of a battle getting it going, but I think I have fancied myself a working camera.

I present, the Agfa Silette Vario.


After doing a little research online, I figure this camera is likely from the early-mid to late-mid 50’s! Agfa, a German company, produced the line of “Silette” cameras and totaled 6 different variants throughout the 50’s.  This is one of the earlier models from what I gathered and it has quite favourable reviews online. It’s no professional grade camera by any means, but it was an everyday camera. And not to detract from its quality or potential might I just add a little inspiring quote…

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it”
– Ansel Adams

Quick aside, I must pay homage to where I got my info about the camera. If you hop on over to – – you can find all the information I just wrote above and more!

Now, I think I paid a bit too much for it, I gave twenty bucks for this, and as soon as I got home the shutter seized. Funny enough, it had a roll of film in it! The things you can get on the local buy and sells. Now it was wound up, so in a later blog post, when I attempt to develop my own film, that’s going to be my test roll.

Ok, carrying on. The shutter seized. NOT good. Now I’ll be damned if I buy a 65 plus year old camera and don’t get to run a roll of film through it. The nice part of these cameras? The build quality is decent and they are entirely mechanical. No batteries, no electronics, just machine.

So this led to a, dare I say, half-assed disassembly that would probably make a real camera technician shutter (PUN intended). That was bad…..What will follow after the jump is my basic understanding of what is going on inside this camera from fiddling around and my “repair” which pretty much involved removing what I deemed “Non-essential components.”

Can you tell I haven’t got Lightroom/photoshop yet?

So above is the inside of the lens/aperature/shutter housing. It’s also one of the deleted scenes from the movie Clockwork Orange…

Anyways, number 1. That little pin is an integral part of the shutter mechanism. The next picture will make clear how it works. Number 2, that is the stop for the shutter speed selection. Number 3 had a piece there that has since been relieved of duty. Finally 4, in its entirety, is the intricate network of gears and springs that make up the completely mechanical timing device for the shutter.

Don’t mind my gross fingers. I am a mechanic.
  1. You can see the pin I was talking about earlier. It slides in that channel as you select your shutter speed. The variations in distance que the timer to operate the shutter in the selected time frame.
  2. As you can see, the shutter selection is at 200, the last selection and the stop prohibits you from rotating the bezel any further.
  3. You can see the slot for my missing piece. It was a spring loaded pin that engaged in the grooved portion of the bezel. My intuition is telling me that it is some sort of “lock” to secure the bezel once you have made your shutter selection. However, I felt there was enough friction that the bezel stays in place. Additionally,  the pin would slip underneath and lift up on the bezel. This, in turn, was causing the pin from #1 to also slip underneath the bezel. The result is that the timer for the shutter would jam in the open position.
  4. Just showing your shutter speed selections, 1/200, 1/50, 1/25, and B. The first three are in terms of 1 second. So One two-hundredth, one-fiftieth, one-twenty fifth. B, allows the shutter to remain open for as long as you hold the shutter release button.

So after some tinkering around, I was able to get the shutter working and to my untrained eye, it sure looked like it was firing at the appropriate times and speeds.

I also had to remove the front lens group to do a little cleaning. I, rather foolishly, didn’t take note of the positioning. Since the front lens group (which is your focusing lens) threads in and out, when I removed it I forgot to note how many threads were showing. To focus, you simply rotate that lens in and out of the body. I have no idea if it can be set to far into the camera or not far enough, so I returned it to what I think would be the infinity setting (i.e. for landscapes) and all the way into the body. Obviously…the ultimate test will be when I put a roll of film through it.

Chris Determined “Non-Essential”

Note the piece that did not go back into the camera above. However, the film advance works, the shutter arms and fires, and I can still vary my shutter speed. I am not really sure what else that piece could do.


All put back together, you can see its really quite a simple camera. The interesting part about these cameras is that the view finder is a clear plastic. There’s no way to tell if the camera is focused or if your exposure is set properly. You have to set everything up manually before you shoot.

So before I run around and waste a lot of money on film, I have some studying to do. In order to properly take photos with this camera, I’ll have to have a good understanding of film speed, aperture or f-stop settings, shutter speed, and focus. It may seem like a lot of stuff, and to be honest it seems a bit overwhelming to me. But this is what I find so fascinating about these old “manual” film cameras. They will force me to learn photography.

Compared to my Nikon (which I am trying to use more of the manual settings) in automatic mode,  it still takes great shots. Except it does everything. It determines shutter speed, aperture, ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light), and focus. All one must do is point it in the right direction. However, that being said, anyone can do that and the automatic mode doesn’t always take the picture you had in mind. I think it takes a lot of skill to properly shoot manual. The “fun” part about film is that my mistakes will cost me something and really emphasize points I can learn from. With digital, I can shoot 1000 pictures, put them on my computer, and then shoot 1000 more. With film, I’ve only got 24 or 36 exposures at roughly 5-15 dollars a roll. Then you have to process them. Easily another 10 dollars. So right there, I’m looking at min 25 dollars after tax film/process fees (or 1 dollar every time I depress that shutter). However, I’m not made of money, so I eventually will be looking at doing my own developing (future posts) and finding an affordable scanner.

I plan to run some film through the Silette when I return home, so the results are probably about 3-4 weeks away. In the meantime, next week we will see the results from my Pentax Spotmatic SP. I’ll show off some of my new gear, and I’m going to try to get out around Ottawa.

And I think that leads me to the end of this post so I will finish the post with a shot of the beautifully simple Agfa Silette Vario in equally appealing black and white.


Thanks so much for stopping by, until next time.


Lions, Tigers, and Giant Panda’s?…oh my?

Recapping 6 years of visiting the Toronto Zoo with my *best* photographs.


I did promise a Toronto Zoo post, so without further ado, behold some the awesome animals at the Toronto Zoo. The toughest part about taking pictures at the zoo is trying to get the camera to focus through the chainlink enclosures for some of the animals. (or the glass with all the finger prints on it….and some face prints…how I don’t know). You’ll see some weird patterns in a couple backgrounds, but most of the time, the viewings were quite spectacular.

Backstory hommage. My very good friend Mark (also an awesome wildlife photographer and photographer in general) and I have had the tradition of visiting the Toronto zoo almost every year for the last 6 years or so. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get there this year, but that was not without good reason, and that’s not to say we won’t be going back as soon as is convenient for the both of us!

These zoo trips really kept me interested in photography over the past few years (even though they were really the only opportunity to actually use my camera). And had it not been for these zoo trips, I’d say my camera would still be sitting in the box it came in and I would not be sitting here writing this blog.

So in honour of our yearly zoo trips, the*best*  results of the past 6 years or so.

Hope you enjoy if you happen to stop by. 🙂

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Giant Panda!

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That snake from the Jungle Book


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Snow Leopard
Wolf. But some post processing done here.
I wish I knew what kind of bird this was. So colourful.
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A very gigantic Hippo
African Elephant
Mountain goats of some sort.
Pretty much sums up our trip. Best buddies at the zoo!

I usually tend to read the signs and info about the animals while I am at the zoo, but unfortunately most of the details escape me. I wish I could remember! So I must apologize for the lack of the proper animal names in the captions.

If you are ever looking for something to do. The Toronto Zoo is always an awesome place to spend the day. Every time we’ve been we’ve seen something different, whether it be different animals more active than the last time we were there or something new arriving to the zoo, its a great time for any age.

Visit their website here for more information. One of the best spots in the GTA in my opinion.

Coming up….The repairs to some of my buys aren’t going so well and are becoming quite frustrating. SO, what do you do? Splurge on Amazon. So I have some new gear coming, namely a tripod, remote shutter release, and a filter kit for long exposure. So at some undetermined time, I am hoping to hit the streets of Ottawa and the Rideau Canal.

I explore a town that 97 percent of Canada has never heard of…

I also have had my film from the Pentax developed, so the results of that will be posted, Blue Mountain/Bruce Peninsula pt. 2 if you will.

Chris subscribes to Photoshop/Lightroom.

And lastly I’ll soon be getting my hands on a Nikon D100, a dated, but still practical DSLR (mainly as a back-up Camera) but it will be fun to compare the difference to the D3200.

Things of been pretty crazy lately so I am not sure how soon I will have another post, but there’s lots of exciting stuff I am looking forward to doing and trying out.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,


Aviation and my Introduction to Photography

While I attempt to organize and repair some of my buys from the last week, I’d like to keep some sort of regular post going. I thought I’d throwback (if I dare say) to my first exposure (pun intended) to photography and using a digital SLR. I remember the first airshow I got to go to in my young adulthood, I stole/took my parents variable zoom point and shoot. After that airshow, I had decided I needed/wanted to get my hands on a DSLR. My first camera, as I have previously mentioned, was the Nikon D3200. Entry level amateur photographers camera. And I love it still.

The following is a gallery of images of both static and dynamic aircraft. Most of the shows I went to took place at the following and in no particular order…Vintage Wings of Canada, in Gatineau, Quebec. The other, the Hamilton Airshow at the Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum. This is a compilation of 3 or 4 airshows and pictures that I think were the best. Some were shot with just a blackberry……Can you point out which one?

Any critiques and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged. Thanks and Enjoy 🙂

And now for the second half of the static images. One of images below was taken with my black berry when my camera ran out of battery…who takes pictures with a blackberry…

Well that wasn’t really half, but just a couple I thought weren’t too bad. Lets head onto the dynamic gallery. These images were a little tougher to capture but lots of fun to try.

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Canadian Harvard Associatoin
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A second too late.

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The Canadian Harvard Association puts on a spectacular show. So much fun to watch.

Some Snowbirds and the Vintage Wings of Canada F86 Sabre V.

A frozen prop, a frustrating result of poor setting selection.
Over compensated to capture the moving prop. Failed to focus.
Point and shoot of the Beaver
FW-190 Dora
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Avro Lancaster MK X.
Lancaster going home
Setting off to the skies.


I should make a brief mention of the awesome organizations that put these machines into the sky.

Vintage Wings of Canada Collection includes: The Hawker Hurricane Mk. IV, the Supermarine Spitire Mk. XVIe, the F86 Sabre V, the DHC-2 Beaver, and the North American Mustang IV.

Check out their website and if you’re near Ottawa, definitely worth a visit to the hangar!

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum: The Avro Lancaster Mk. X, Douglas Dakota DC-3

Check out their website and if you’re ever in Hamilton, go to the museum!

Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association: The North American Harvard.

Check out their website!

The Great War Flying Museum: Fokker Dr. I

Check out their website here:

The Fighter Factory: FW 190D.

See their website here…and if you ever go to Virginia Beach…they have an AMAZING and HUGE collection of WWII aircraft.

Going back through all these airshow photos really reminds me of how much I miss airshows. If I were to have a bucket list airshow it’d have to be the EAA airventure in Oshkosh or the Reno Air Races. I’d also love to just go to an airshow, photo pit pass, and spend the whole show trying to nab that perfect shot. Warbirds over the beach would be the dream. Who knows, maybe one day I will get out there.

Upcoming…Toronto Zoo throwbacks, some lens repair and cleaning, Pentax Asahi Spotmatic results, and more!

Until next time,


Local Buys – 35mm/Polaroid Land Camera

Well I just made a couple of purchases on the local buy and sell.
I picked up an Argus|Cosina STL 1000, an Agfa Silette Vario, and a Polaroid Land 320.

The best item in the lot was the STL 1000. It came with 3 lenses. But the real score was the 35mm Super Takumar. It’s a great lens. It needs some minor cleaning.

The Polaroid is likely just going to be a fun conversation piece. The film is hard to find/discontinued and the expired stuff is expensive.

The Agfa, (camera furthest right). Looked to be in good shape. Needs some minor cleaning on the glass but unfortunately while I was testing it, the shutter got stuck (after I had brought it home). I’ve seen some repair videos so I’m hoping it’s just a little oil on the blades that can be cleaned up.

Anyways these should make some interesting blog post and I’ll be sure to document any repair attempts/restorations. Need to pick up a couple specialty tools and cleaners now.
Until next time,


Bruce Peninsula – The Trail Less Traveled

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I had recently taken a trip to the Bruce Peninsula, in Tobermory Ontario. And if it weren’t for the geo tag my phone put on a few photographs, I would never have guessed I was looking at Georgian Bay. It was picturesque (pun intended) to say the least and it proved quite the opportunity to snap some really, in my humble opinion (not biased at all or anything…), beautiful pictures.

Lo and behold, Bruce Peninsula is a national park. Had it not been for an edition of a seat back magazine on my flight to work one day, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you it even existed. I happened to be staying in Wasaga Beach for the week, so it was about a 2* hour excursion (one way), less a few , what I’ll call, “arbitrary reroutes” from my trusty google gps…It also turns out that it just happened to be one of the busiest times of the year, ever (I’m looking at you Canada 150…). Now we (my girlfriend and my brother) were determined to see the famous spots, Indian Head cove and the “grotto.” But I didn’t do my homework so when we showed up, we found out there were only certain times you could park and the lot was full. Now we got there at Noon, the time slot for parking was 12-4. It was already full. However, after some convincing, I went back through the gates and we got a pass for the 5-9 timeslot. BUT. now we had like almost 5 hours to kill and were 200 kms from the cottage…

Thankfully, the parks worker told us of another area that had similarly scenic views. So we decided might as well, we drove a long way to not see anything. So we went to an area called “Halfway Log dump.” From there we figured it was a 6km or so walk to the famed “grotto.” Easy. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. After not realizing that it was an actual hike, it took about 2.5 hours to go 3 kms. But we ended our hike at a spot called Storm Haven. We then had enough time to hike back, get back in the car and visit the grotto. So it all worked out and it turned what was supposed to be an afternoon trip into an entire day trip. But it was well worth it and if you ever have the chance to go. Its an amazing area.

So enough about the adventure, on to the photography. I ended up pulling some interesting photos (or so I think anyway) but the weather was on and off rain/sun/cloudy. So this presented a great deal of challenge for my amateur photography skills. I found I had a hard time getting the image, that I saw, onto my Camera. Luckily with some basic “post processing” (I use that term lightly because I am just using the windows editor…which is nothing to write home about.) some turned out well. I got to play around with one setting on my Nikon D3200. I could set my camera to compensate and either over or under expose an image. This helped a lot, but that still wasn’t enough. And as you’ll see from some of the photo’s the colours of Bruce Peninsula are beautiful and with the lighting I was having a tough time capturing that. I also learned that with editing, you can make a photo look considerably different in a good way and in a bad way haha and some photos just can’t be saved. But that’s the beauty of digital. You don’t have to worry about losing your money on an expensive roll of film. – Side note. I also had my Pentax Asahi Spotmatic with me, so I am looking forward to seeing if my film shots turned out and how they compare! But that’s for another post. So without further ado, my photography:

Just a neat feature my phone had, Panorama of Georgian Bay
I wasn’t kidding, we had a tough hike.
The trail was magnificent.
The white markers lead the way.
Here I was playing with focus.

Oops. My foot….now I could have cropped that out…my bad.

From the same spot, different focus.

Just had a little fun with the focus. It is interesting how it makes the cliff seem just a little steeper by blurring the background.

Again the same spot. But so many different shots.

The green of these trees was mesmerizing. I can’t quite remember what I was thinking when I had taken this one but it turned out great. The original was a bit more yellowed, but with a little colour boost, I was able to bring the green out and make the shot to one I am quite happy with.

Cropped, colour boosted, darkened, and cleared up. All on the computer.
The original.

With these two photos you can see that they are very different. I was just having some fun. The original picture is closer to what the naked eye would see, or my own eye anyway. But I really wanted to draw the attention to the water and highlight the different tones. So I tried playing around with the lighting and colour on the editor.


This was where I noticed the biggest difference and power editing has on your photos. Again, the original is more akin to what I was actually seeing. The rocks were very white, and the shallow water clear as tap water. But the original is dark, the sky is kind of boring and you don’t get to pick up on that beautiful two tone water.

It will not print…

I thought this photo might look good in black and white, but no amount of editing will make this printable. If I make the image lighter, it just doesn’t look right to me. Even this, I am not happy with. I much prefer the original and the coloured up one.

On a side note, we stacked the rocks on the right side. We saw one on the left and were inspired to leave him with a buddy. While we were driving up to the grotto we couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else would do the same and how cool it would be if there were a whole collection left there.

We made it to the far point!

A nice view of a beach I have no idea how those people got too. Again, I played around with the colour of this photo to really show the difference. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was some tropical ocean front.

The famed Indian Head Cove.

This was the esteemed/famed Indian Head Cove and Grotto. And as you can see its packed with people, which is a good thing, it just doesn’t make for nice nature photo…but I’m sure there were some interesting photos out there. (Like the photo below)…The walk from the actual parking area was much easier than our earlier hike. But there were so many people it kind of detracted from the feeling of being out in the wilderness. Nonetheless, the scenery was still astounding, and the next time I go back, I’m definitely packing some swim gear.

Some people far braver than I.

And after all that, I ran out of room on my DSLR. Imagine that. So I have no photos currently of the grotto. It’s down to the left. I do have some, somewhat ironically, on my roll film from the Pentax, but that’s being developed. I have never shot with a 35mm SLR, so I hope they turned out. There’s a lot that can go wrong between loading the film to developing so fingers crossed!

I’m always looking to improve my skills so if there is any advice for shooting and editing please share. I shot all of these photos on Aperture Priority. So the camera always automatically controlled my shutter speed. On future shoots, I plan to pay a little more attention to my set up/settings. If I remember correctly a majority if not all were also shot with ISO at 100 or 200. However I am also still learning on how all of these settings affect your final product.

If you have the chance, the Bruce Peninsula is a great place to visit. There are so many camping and hiking areas and the scenery is just absolutely amazing. And if you were wondering why I called this the trail less traveled…I actually found the first area we hiked more enjoyable and more beautiful. After a chat and directions from one of the wardens, his words ended up being true. So many people overlook other areas because they’re so focused on seeing the “grotto” or the “cove” that it leaves other equally beautiful areas with amazing vistas to those willing to venture onto the trail less traveled. I’m sure glad the lot was full when we had first arrived. Otherwise, we would have missed out on an amazing experience.

I know I am supposed to be writing a photography blog, and I promise I will. I recently am suffering from a bad case of G.A.S…..gear acquisition syndrome. I have a fix on some vintage 35 mm cameras, a light meter, a tripod, and a DIY Twin Lens reflex camera….so there’s going to be lots of cool stuff coming up. Will likely go into a little history since I am a bit of a nerd and I like writing about that sort of stuff. And of course, they claim they are functional so we will be checking out some of the sights around Ottawa. And though I still haven’t fully decided on the direction with this blog (ie. frequency of posts, topics, etc), I hope you enjoyed and thank you for stopping by.

Until next time,


The Adventure Begins

So. My first blog post. Don’t think its going to be profound, or ground breaking. I’m not even really sure what I am going to write really, I’m doing this on the fly. I think I will mention my plans, maybe what got me into this idea of blogging, share some photos that made want to get serious about photography (while still having fun).

This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to England to visit one of my oldest friends. Which is not very old because I’m only 26, but 21 years of friendship is pretty dang long time I guess. So were doing pretty good.  ANYWAY. I have a Nikon D3200. My first ever digital single lens reflex camera. Also the nicest camera I own. But to be serious here, its nothing special. Its entry level, amateur photographer. Not even amateur, beginner I guess. But that’s not the point, it still takes pretty amazing photos. Back to what I was talking about. You can guess, I brought this camera with me to England.

While I was there it reignited a spark. The same spark or feeling I had the day I brought that camera home. I wanted to use it, take it everywhere, take amazing photos. I was going to be the next latest and greatest. But I’ve had this camera damn near 4 years and prior to this England trip, I could count on both hands how many times I’ve actually put it to use. I had my yearly Toronto Zoo trips, maybe that’ll be a throwback blog one day, and a few airshows here and there. So the point of this blog is to get me out there, using my camera, exploring the vast world of photography, and maybe learning a few things here and there.

So let’s get to some pictures that get me really excited about getting a little more serious about photography.

Dan being Dan.

So the above is my buddy Dan. He gets the honorable mention, because if I hadn’t traveled England to see him, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog right now.

Hadleigh Castle

This is my favourite picture of the trip. After what must of been about 4 hours of walking, we made it to this castle. Now, it was a 2 hour walk from Canvey Island, but we didn’t know how to follow a trail, so we got lost, found the Olympic Mountain Bike track, walked across farm fields, and just when we finally got there, we couldn’t find the right gate, and just about walked into a cow pasture. I think maybe it was the adventure that makes this one of my favourites. But from a photography standpoint, I was lucky to capture this. You can still feel the magnificence of the once proud castle.

Looking out over Canvey Island

That’s where we came from to get to this castle, I’m not kidding you. I think my step counter totaled 31kms walked that day! My attempt at being a little more artsy if you will.

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Hadleigh Castle

Now this is a similar picture, just doctored a little with whatever windows lets you do to photos. Took out that sun spot, black and white, etc. I’m hoping to frame this one.

The trail, playing around with B&W

Same sort of deal, this was while we were walking back to the train.  I really like black and white. I’m a bit of a nostalgia seeker if you will. I like old stuff, and black and white obviously brings that feel to this image.

Canvey Island Waterfront

This was earlier that day, before we went to the castle. Literally the furthest point you could be from Hadleigh, or it sure felt like it anyway.

British Museum, neat architecture
British Museum Blue Whale

Some photos from inside the British Museum. The cool part about England is that almost all of their museums are free. Now I’m not trying to write a travel blog, but if you get the chance, there is so much to see and do in London. Definitely worth a visit!

I had a brief foray into street photography while I was in England also. I think there are definitely some cool stories that you can pull from everyday life. The photo on the left is from the Camden Market. There was so much food and it was packed, everyone just enjoying themselves. If I had more money I could have stayed there all day trying all the different fresh foods from every culture imaginable. The second was while we were waiting for the train to head home after a long day. Almost empty platform but it made for an interesting shot. Now I’m not really a pro photographer so my definition of street photography may not be accurate but whatever we want to call it, it was an interesting experience.

and a little macro.

I can’t remember exactly when I took this, there were a lot of nice gardens in front of peoples flats.

Anyway the point of sharing these photos and a little about my trip was that this sorta thing reignited a spark or interest in photography. I just found that I really enjoyed trying to compose a shot that I was happy with. The result was that I ended up spending a lot more time (in some instances) at some of these places and really just got to enjoying being there and taking a half decent photo. I’m sure there’s lots of people that would argue some things you just have to remember, but for me, a photograph can take you back. It can bring forth all those compressed, packed up memories. Every time I look at that picture of the castle, for the rest of my life, I will remember that journey/trek/borderline expedition.

Now I guess my future blogs will eventually become a little more detailed, focus on whatever photographic adventure I had at that particular time. Get a little more technical as I learn, etc. For the next couple posts anyway, I took a trip to Bruce Peninsula and I recently picked up an Instax Wide 300 and a Pentax Asahi Spotmatic that’s about 45 years old. I’m hoping to go on an adventure with those and hopefully I’ll have some more new stories. I’m also hoping to attempt developing my own film negatives, so once I have all of that stuff and a “dark room” (which will more than likely be a bunch of sheets hung up haha) set up, you’ll just have to wait until then.

If you took the time to stop by, thank you. I hope you enjoyed my photography, terrible grammar, and story. And if there’s any constructive criticism I am all ears.

Until next time,