Monthly Archives: November 2011

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“Hey…Remember that time I went to England?”

I have to admit. Every year around this time, I get a fit of nostalgia (or, a dull pain in my heart, to be more accurate.)  That’s because I went to London in November of 2006. I’m sure most most people who hear me reminisce about it think I must have been there for a year or some other extended amount of time in the Motherland. It really was just a eleven days. But those were among the most important eleven days of my whole life.

Why am I talking about all this now? It was five years ago, and I wanted to commemorate the anniversary for myself by revisiting the photos from the trip and the blog I wrote once I’d returned. The written portion of Shoot with Personality didn’t exist until 2009, so I registered a WordPress url and officially had my first blog. It was my first official blogging experience.

Things to know about me and England:

  • I have felt an affinity with England since my fourth grade class studied the country. This also began my career as a baker, because I made “tea cakes” for my class’s British-themed party.
  • I bought myself a ticket to England as a birthday present to myself in 2006. Some people thought it was a sudden decision. It wasn’t. I had started saving for such a journey, I thought I should check plane ticket prices so I’d  know what number I was saving towards, and I found some insane deal: a round-trip ticket for a little over $500. I had $500. I picked travel dates in a way that only just qualified as being “non-arbitrary.”  I bought the tickets.
  • I quit my job a week and a half before I left for England. This made people think I was making a rash decision. I wasn’t. I had been wanting to leave this job for awhile so I could move to Memphis. Once I got my plane ticket, I decided I had better work up until nearly time to leave, so I could have money to navigate “Old Blighty.” It was my exit strategy.
  • If it wasn’t clear up until this point: I went to England alone. One of my friends thought it would be so boring to travel on one’s own. I explained that I actually enjoy my own company. I knew I wouldn’t mind hanging out with myself exclusively for most of my stay in Great Britain. It didn’t occur to me until after I left for England and returned that it was sort of crazy that I went so far away on my own. I came back in once piece though, so I guess it my decision wasn’t that bad!
  • My main activity in England was photographing my journey. That’s probably a given, considering that it’s me, Amanda, who’s writing this. What did I pack in my camera bag for this transatlantic photo journey: some film and a few 35mm cameras. I had a good digital SLR, I just didn’t want to do digital photography in my “favourite country I’ve never been before.” Even though, as tends to happen when over 4,000 miles from home, I ran into some problems with one of my cameras, but I still wouldn’t have changed a thing. Film all the way!
  • On the subject of photography: One upside to traveling alone was that I was able to spend as much time as I needed at any given point of photographic interest in order to get the photos I wanted. If I travel with others, I do my best to be considerate of those other people with whom I’m traveling. It was good to know that I wasn’t being selfish by spending so much time photographing whatever I wanted.

Five years ago today, the 22nd of November, was a pretty good one in London. It was rainy, but I got to do some great things.

I lunched with a very nice African lady I’d met at a church I visited that week.

I visited the National Gallery for a second time. It’s free, so why not??

I walked to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey and produced some of my favorite images of London.

I ended my day by going ice skating with an American ex-pat, on an outdoor rink at the historic Somerset House. I felt like it was a once in a lifetime experience for a girl from the Mid-South in the U. S. of A.. Even if I am horrible at ice skating (or anything that involves skills of coordination!)


I’m hoping sharing this fit of nostalgia (slash dull pain in my heart) with all of you will help me get over it more quickly. It’s still my next goal in life to return to England in the next year. I continue to pour coins into my bluebird of happiness bank, so I can exchange those US coins for some British pounds sterling one day. I even held on to a five pound note from last time. I thought I could buy a cup of soup and baguette with it upon my return to the Motherland.

And, hey, maybe next time, I’ll bring someone along with me.

If happen to be interested in such things, I don’t mind if you take a look at my little “Amanda Goes to England” blog from 2006.

{Forgotten Frames} Waterproof

File this under “that’s just crazy!”

I pride myself on being fastidious about getting film developed in a very timely manner, as well as making sure I know what the content of each roll is when I get it developed. Well, I thought I was fastidious about that, until this past year or so. First there was the half 2006, half 2010 roll of film, then there was the mystery Holga roll, next it was this test roll from 2006 I sorta forgot to get developed, and now the subject of today’s post! I think I am going to have to add a new category to my blog called “forgotten frames” since this keeps happening…

Backstory: When I moved this summer, I noticed some rolls of film in my things. I assumed they were blank (that perhaps they had been misloaded in a camera and rewound before actually being exposed, that they’d accidentally been exposed to light, etc.) I thought it would be good to take the film into the photo lab just in case my normally fastidious film record keeping skills had failed me. When I picked up the developed film, I’d found that I was right: some of the film was unexposed, some of it had been fogged by exposure to light, and my record keeping had failed me when it came to one of the rolls. And this failing in my film record keeping is one of the biggest treats I’ve had in some time. I am smiling from ear to ear!

That’s because the forgotten frames of film held some gems of my favorite person, when she was half as old as she is now. Once I looked at the pictures, I knew EXACTLY what was going on here. I remembered this day well.  And fondly.

It was summer of 2007. My aunt was staying in a motel while damage to her house was being repaired. My niece, who was five at the time, and I went swimming at the motel’s pool. I took my Yashica Electro 35 GT into the water with me, which probably wasn’t advisable since I could have completely ruined the camera if I got it wet. I came out with some of my favorite photos of my niece ever (see here).  I also had another camera with me that day. It was an underwater/waterproof camera I’d purchased a couple of years before but hadn’t gotten much use from since, you know, it’s not like I spend my weekends kayaking or snorkeling. But swimming in a motel pool was a good chance to use it!

I don’t know why I didn’t get this film developed at the time it was used. I think it may have been because I wasn’t that keen on this camera. I hadn’t much liked results I’d gotten from it previously. But, as I said, I am so glad that I got the treat of seeing these for the first time four years after they were taken! They’re so precious!


I am pretty delighted right now.


Now, maybe you noticed the colors are kind of weird in these photos. There are also dark curves at the top and bottom of each photo. The weird colors are from years of heat damage to the film – that can make the colors get all whacked out. The dark curves, well, I was surprised at the source of those. I thought that perhaps the film had curled up in the negative scanner at the photo lab because heat damage can also cause film to curl. But, no, the blackened areas are actually ON the negative. I dug out the (now broken and unusable) waterproof camera and found that the the plastic frame inside it was bent. Basically, the weirdness of this roll of film is all due to the sort of happy accidents that happen from time to time when shooting film. I couldn’t reproduce if I wanted to.

Yard Sale Finds: Canon Sureshot Supreme

I admit: I have too many cameras. But it’s only because I love cameras SO much! I justify the fact that I have so many tools in my photographic arsenal by how little most of my equipment cost. I could probably lay out all my “camera stuff” and I probably didn’t pay more than $20 or $30 for each item. Yes, there’s my digital camera set-up that cost a pretty penny, but other than that, everything else was purchased on the cheap.

Today’s featured “cheap as chips” camera is the Canon Sureshot Supreme.

My mom brought this camera, as well as a Polaroid, home with her from a yard sale last month. She is always on the lookout for cheap camera equipment on my behalf! For the Sureshot Supreme and the Polaroid, she paid $3. Yes. That’s $3 for BOTH! That means the camera I’m showing you today cost $1.50. See, you can’t hate on me for getting new cameras when the deals are that good!

Shockingly, the Canon Sureshot Supreme is not a camera I had ever heard of before having it placed in my hands. That meant I had to do a little research on it. Here’s what I found out:

Some technical specifications about the Sureshot Supreme:

  • 38mm/2.8 lens – For a point-and-shoot camera, that’s a FAST lens! Oh, and that lens is glass. Nice!
  • Shutter speed range – 1/8 sec – 1/500 sec. I like that 1/8 end of the range!
  • Auto flash – The flash is automatic, but can be forced to fire or forced to not fire. More on that later though.
  • Close focusing – This camera focuses down to 1.8 feet. Seriously, dude, that is highly unusual for a camera of this ilk. It’s more usual for cameras like this to have a minimum focusing distance of 3 feet or so.
  • Self-timer – Ten second self-timer, which is standard. But there is a really interesting design feature Canon added to go along with the self-timer. I’ll describe that in a second.

Oddities about this Sureshot Supreme:

  • Recessed “cancel flash” button on the bottom – I don’t care for flash photography and use existing light whenever possible, so I always want the ability to turn the flash off when using a point-and-shoot camera. Usually, that is done through a flash menu or a simple on-off switch. On the Sureshot Supreme though, it’s a little more tricky. You have to shove your fingernail or something into a recessed area on the bottom of the camera in order to cancel the flash. That’s not so handy.
  • “Rubber flash cap”Never have I heard of such a thing in all my days. Just as I mentioned in the above paragraph, you can generally force a camera’s flash to fire through a flash menu or on-off switch. This camera, however, has an accessory that is stored on the camera’s strap which is popped into the sensor below the lens which reads the light and  tells the camera whether or not flash is needed. Basically, you trick the camera into thinking there is not enough light in the scene you’re photographing and the flash needs to brighten things up. Seriously though, why didn’t they just put a switch on the camera so you can turn the flash on and off at will?!
  • The “tilt knob” – This is another first for me. So, what Canon has done here is decided that they want to help you make better self-portraits using the camera’s self timer. You are supposed to put the camera on a flat surface and swivel the tilt knob so the camera is pointing slightly upward at you. I guess so you don’t have to crouch down for the picture? I mean, I didn’t realize that this was a huge problem in the lives of casual photographers. Maybe it was in the 1980s when this camera was made though. Maybe back then, photography consumers needed the ability to tilt the camera “up to 16.5°” (according the the camera’s manual.)

Despite the great detail into which I’ve gone about the Canon Sureshot Supreme’s features and quirks, all that  matters is how the pictures turn out. And chances are, most of you just skipped forward to the photo section of this blog anyway. So here are some shots from the first couple of rolls I ran through the Sureshot. These were all shot on Fuji Superia X-tra 400, for those who like to know that sort of thing.

Best of Roll 1:

My first photo with the Sureshot Supreme. A deceased bird outside of Urban Outfitters. I figured it died from hipster overload. But I was pleased how the camera handled the shot! And is that vignetting I detect at the edges? I sure hope so!

It’s shaaaarp. And I thought the lens rendered the sky beautifully.


Gelato at YOLO

Afternoon in the park with my niece

The inside of the leather case that came with the Sureshot. I LOVE when I get used camera equipment which has the previous owner’s name written or engraved on it.

Best of Roll 2:


I mostly wanted the focus to be on the Lego figure, and the camera mostly came through

Great old register at a local fabric and notions store in my family’s town.

It even works on snapshots of my niece with a chocolate bar!


Pink chair in the woods

Check out that creamy bokeh!

Srlsy. Nice bokeh, Sureshot!


The Canon Sureshot Supreme is kind of an odd bird. I honestly haven’t seen any point-and-shoot like it before. Certain design features have left me scratching my head. But I really can’t complain, since the lens on the Sureshot is pretty fantastic, the camera only set me back $1.50, and auto focus point-and-shoot cameras were still in their infancy back in the mid-80s – these weird features of which I speak were probably considered totally rad innovations back then!

Gabba Gabba Hey Hey Hey

You know how I have been going on and on lately about local music? Well here is another little tidbit on that subject. As I have lamented several times this past year (via this blog) I have been out of the local music loop for the past couple of years. So many responsibilities, so little time for attending shows…

At any rate, Wicker was one of the local bands I hadn’t seen in a loooooong time. Srsly. A long time. This past weekend I decided it was high time I remedy that situation. I couldn’t be more glad that I did! I had forgotten how fun seeing Wicker could be. It was actually a great reminder for me that fun is sorta the whole point of this band. I mean, you’re pretty much guaranteed that at least some members of the band will be in costume during their set and, more often than not, some type of hijinks will occur. And boy, do the kids (as I like to call them) have a good time at Wicker shows! Anyone who saw me while they were playing would have seen that I was feeling pretty dancey as I watched the band. That’s right. I could be seen dancing in my place as I took pictures. Told ya I had a good time…


Wicker. Nov. 12 ’11 @ The Smithseven House. Cordova, TN.

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