Manten|Photography | Behind The Scenes: American Dream

Behind The Scenes: American Dream

September 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

About the image I used for last week's American Dream haiku

I created this image a couple of years ago, when on a business trip to Southern California. I was testing a 1950's FED2 camera that I jut purchased, and I decided to take it on this trip.

The "American Dream" for many people still stands for abundance, shopping, and good living. I remembered taking this picture, and the whole feel of the setting inspired me to use it for last week's blog postAn American flag, some shopping carts, the clear blue sky, and a tree that nicely filled up an area that otherwise would have been too much negative space in the image. And the whole scene nicely framed between the flagmast and the lamppost to the right. It all came together.

There even was a branch of one of the major US banks nearby which I, unfortunately, could not capture in the frame without ruining the composition with the flag and the shopping carts. When I took this picture I was standing on a sidewalk that was about 6 foot lower than the parking area where the flag and shopping carts were. I did some cropping in Lightroom to exclude a wall with the bank and other advertisements, and to ensure the top of the retaining wall is just visible in the bottom of the picture, adding the notion that the American Dream might be a challenge to realize.

It was only after posting last week's blog, that I noticed that the trunk and branches of the tree more or less form the old Soviet hammer and sickle symbol. I don't know if there is any symbolism here, but it seems to be a strange and interesting coincidence.

picture of shopping carts next to an American flag and under a tree on a parking lotAmerican Dream, 2013picture of shopping carts next to an American flag and under a tree on a parking lot

About the camera and the film

I learned later that the camera I have actually is a FED2b, version PE0395. It is a rangefinder camera built some time between 1956 and 1958 in the former Soviet Union, and it came with a 50mm Industar 26M lens. Some people claim the FED cameras were even better than the Leica it was copied from. If you are interested in FED and other old cameras manufactured in the former Soviet Union, is a good place to start.

Black and white image of a FED2 camera with Industar 26M lensFED2FED2 camera with Industar 26M lens

The film stock I used for these test shots was Kodak Portra 400, which has a very nicely balanced contrast and color.

All shots came out quite nice: the combination of this camera and lens, with the Kodak Portra 400 film, resulted in what I would call a good vintage look. And I actually was happily surprised with the quality of the shots in general: color, sharpness, and overall "feel". Remember these have been taken with a camera that is almost 60 years old! Below are some more images from that first roll with the FED, starting with the original image (not cropped) I used for the blog post. You also will notice that I had some flare or a light leak showing in one of the images.

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