Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘photobooth

One Last Tintype Session At Photobooth

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We headed to Photobooth San Francisco this week to get what will be our very last tintype portraits made in its studio. Photobooth will be closing at the end of March 2014.

If you’ve been following my blog for the last few years, you know I love this place. Vince Donovan, one of the owners, helped me revive my dad’s old Land Camera on my second visit to the shop. I blame him for getting me hooked on shooting pack film. I discovered quirky cameras like the Lomokino at Photobooth, and connected with some really cool local artists as well. So yeah, I’m pretty bummed that its doors are closing.

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But what better way to say goodbye to this truly unique studio than to have your tintype taken? Bridget had hers done a couple times before, but this is the first time I’ve been immortalized on a metal plate. We walked out with of total of eight tintypes, all brilliantly crafted by the super talented Michael Shindler.

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So long, Photobooth, and thank you!

Written by Jonathan

March 22, 2014 at 7:14 am

Yet Another Visit to Photobooth

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Fuji XPRO-1 +  35mm f/1.4 XF R | 1/50 sec, f/1.4 ISO 1250 

So, one of Bridget’s good friends invited us to go check out a private opening event for the San Francisco Fashion Film festival, which just happened to be at one of my favorite spots in the city: Photobooth! What better place to hang out and snap my first frames with the Fuji XPRO-1.


Fuji XPRO-1 +  35mm f/1.4 XF R | 1/50 sec, f/1.4 ISO 640 

The most fascinating place to be at Photobooth is right at the store’s centerpiece, the tintype portrait studio. I hover there with my camera, taking advantage of the ample exposure value from the modeling lights that falls upon many an interesting face. Chemical reactions on sheets of metal immortalize those faces. I never get tired of observing the process:

Bridget didn’t have her tintype taken this time around (she already has two), but posing her next to the pretty light emanating from the studio made for a pretty nice snap:


Fuji XPRO-1 +  35mm f/1.4 XF R | 1/50 sec, f/1.4 ISO 800 

All images shot with the Fuji XPRO-1 and 35mm f/1.4 Fujinon lens. In-camera processed JPEGs. The XPRO-1 is a-ma-zing. I’m not giving up my X100, but the XPRO is just as fun to use and the image quality is just phenomenal.

Written by Jonathan

April 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Another Tintype Portrait

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This is the second tintype portrait Bridget had done at Photobooth, and it’s a stunner. I love how it brought out her beautiful freckles. Look at how razor-sharp the eyes are with everything in the frame immediately behind them just melting out of focus.

This little production shot I took with my iPhone 4s shows photographer Michael Schindler getting all his light modifiers in place before firing off that beautiful 4×5 camera. Now you can see what was responsible for those crazy cool catch lights in Bridget’s eyes!

If you live in or around San Francisco, you’ve got to pay this studio a visit and get yourself immortalized on a steel plate, or at least get some help firing up that old Polaroid camera of yours ;)

Written by Jonathan

March 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Coffee, Chocolate, Tintypes and Lomo Gear

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This amazing tintype portrait of my wife was taken by Michael Shindler over at Photobooth SF on Valencia. The folks there were nice enough to send me a digital copy of it (pictured right). The original, of course, is a beautiful photograph forged on a metal plate using early 19th century tech. You can see more examples of this amazing artform on Photobooth’s website.

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you probably know that I frequent this shop. I originally discovered it on opening night, and came back again later to purchase some  film and get schooled on Polaroid photography.

This time, there were a bunch more reasons to return to Photobooth. First of all, a free coffee and Pacari chocolate tasting. Hello! Coffee and Photography are like, my favorite things ever. Favorite-things-ever overload goin’ on here.

Despite the fact that it was raining, we decided to bring Suki. She was looking quite stylish in her silly 70’s coat. The three of us hung out, checked out the new Lomography gear, watched the tintype studio in action, sipped on our (free!) Blue Bottle, and nom’d on some seriously good chocolate. Ok, obviously Suki didn’t eat, but she did meet people, sniff stuff, and made us look cooler than we tend to look without her around ;)

A few more snaps from the event:

That’s what I’m talking about. I normally pay 3-4 bucks a cup for Blue Bottle pour over. Went perfectly with little nibbles of Pacari chocolate.

A tinype of Suki would have been cool right? Impossible. I was told that the exposure time for a tintype is about 4 seconds, requiring the subject to be perfectly still for at least that long. Suki is used to being photographed, but not like that!

Another reason we really wanted to check out Photobooth again was the arrival of the Lomokino Movie Maker, pictured above. Vince, one of the owners, showed me how it worked and let me and Bridget view a finished roll of film shot with this camera. Hmmm, should we get one?

Should we get one!?!??!

We totally got one. I’ll run some film through it and share the details and results in another blog post. Stay tuned!

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Images: Fuji X100

Written by Jonathan

November 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Reviving a Vintage Camera

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Fuji X100 | 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 1250

Ever since Photobooth’s grand opening, I’ve been thinking about the two Polaroid cameras I recently found among boxes of old photo gear my dad gave me. The first one I discovered was an all-plastic model. Pretty cool. The second one, however, is a much more exciting camera. We brought both to Photobooth, but the Land Camera 450 pictured above is what got all the love and attention.

The 450 is a beautifully made, vintage Polaroid camera, fully loaded with an all glass lens, auto-exposure system, and a big, bright Zeiss Ikon finder for focusing and composing. Unlike my plastic model, the 450 has a solid metal build, folds down into its own case, and has a cool-looking leather strap:

Vince, one of the studio’s owners and an expert on Polaroid cameras, was very helpful in getting us started. After making sure it was in working order (to our surprise, the battery that drives auto-exposure still had juice), we purchased two packs of Fujifilm cartridges and learned how to load up the camera:

Land Camera 450 training: Framing up your subject, focus, cock the shutter, release the shutter. Bridget gave it a try first:


Fuji X100 |  1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 800

What to photograph for our very first instant print? Hmm…


Fuji X100 | 1/950 sec, f/4, ISO 800

Ok, here’s the tricky part. The Fujifilm stuff seems to be a little thicker than the original Polaroid Pack Film the camera was designed for, so we had to be really careful when pulling out the first 3 or 4 exposures. Those first few frames are pretty tightly packed:


Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 800

Get the frame out, wait about a minute, and…drum roll!

Keep the drumroll going….


Fuji X100 | 1/240 sec, f/4, ISO 400

You wouldn’t think this would be such a big deal, right? But when I first saw this print, I was completely and utterly giddy. Like, hop up and down and clap your hands giddy (not that I did that, but you know). The entire process felt more like forging a picture instead of just taking one. I was instantly hooked.


Fuji X100 | 1/850 sec, f/16, ISO 800

Suki wasn’t as excited.

The late afternoon light was beautiful, and what better way wind down the day than to go out on a photo walk with our “new” camera around one shoulder and digital camera around the other:

Outside the studio, we got little anxious with our first film cartridge and damaged a few frames trying to yank the tightly packed film out. At a little over a dollar per click, it’s not something we wanted to make a habit out of, but hey, you have to learn somehow.


Fuji X100 |  1/750 sec, f/10, ISO 400 (Provia Film Sim)

The Mission District surrounding Photobooth is such a great place for a photo walk. I took the above with the X100, and then took the same shot with the Land Camera 450:


Polaroid Land Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film

The super sharp, high-resolution, colorful digital file looks great, but there’s something really special about the instant print. These scans seem to lack the contrast of the actual prints, which look fantastic right next to my keyboard as I type this.


Fuji X100 | 1/140 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200

Here’s a frame that got jammed in the cartridge as we tried to pull it out of the camera. Even though the print didn’t properly develop as a result, I kind of like how it turned out. I think the damage gives it character:


Polaroid Land Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film


Fuji X100 |  1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 1250

Bridget tried mightily to get a frame of me taking a picture of her. She did great, but again, the frame jammed.

As the picture above (right) shows, we had to place our prints right on the ground as we stopped to take photos since we had no place to store them as we walked about. I think Suki stepped on one of them at one point. More character. =)


Polaroid Land Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film

Way to go Jonathan, ignore the shadow from your big head in the frame. That’s ok, I can just photosho–aw, wait a minute…


Polaroid Land Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film


Polaroid Land  Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film


Fuji X100 | 1/450 sec, f/2, ISO 400


Fuji X100 | 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800


Fuji X100 | 1/160 sec, f/2.5, ISO 400


Polaroid Land Camera 450 | Fuji FP-100C Color Instant Film

I was hoping the two cartridges we purchased would last a couple weeks. We ended up shooting both within an hour. Oops!

To think this beautiful camera has been sitting in storage for decades, a little box of fun that I didn’t even realize was there all these years. Well Mr. Land Camera, you have a second shot at life now. Let’s make pictures.

Written by Jonathan

September 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Photobooth Opening On Valencia

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Last night we headed to Photobooth, a brand new studio in the Mission District that features all things Polaroid. The first thing that drew my eyes as I entered the studio were these amazing, 4×5 blow ups of tintype portraits at the back of the studio:

The place was jam packed when we first arrived. With free food, drinks, and music going, this turned out to be a great Saturday evening hangout. The shop wasn’t set up for selling retail items just yet, but we had with us an old Polaroid camera that we found somewhere the house. Brought it to one of the owners, a really cool guy, who assured me that he has the film I need and can show me how to use the thing (you can see Bridget holding it above).

The retail store will be selling all sorts of Polaroid films from the Impossible Project, as well as Lomography gear and items created by local artists:

Speaking of local artists, we had a blast meeting other photographers there, including the Lomo expert below who stabbed me in the eye with a yard stick to make sure I was in focus. Now that’s what I call a rangefinder! Ok she didn’t really stab me….nice meeting you Amy. =)

Even ran into someone who had the Russia Day limited edition L-CA+. Then there was the guy who stuck his macro lens equipped DSLR into a tube connected to an older camera. Very interesting.

The center of attention back inside the studio was the Polaroid rig, a beautiful piece of equipment indeed:

I ordered up a tintype portrait of Bridget and watched the photographer do his thing:

It was all over in seconds, and the print went to the back to develop and dry off:

Looks pretty hot if you ask me! I’d love to get a 4×5 blow up of this image. Such a cool experience! I’ll definitely be back here to get some Polaroid film, and I’m pretty excited that we have a shop like this in San Francisco now.

All Images: Fuji X100 (Provia/Astia)

Photobooth SF
1193 Valencia Street @ 23rd.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open: Wed- Th 1-8, Fri – Sun 1-9
www.photoboothsf.com

Written by Jonathan

August 21, 2011 at 12:42 am