Florida Medical Clinic’s annual Foundation of Caring event was held at the Mainsail in Tampa last weekend. I was asked to cover the event. Their theme this year was of the Emerald City variety, complete with a cornfield in the parking lot, Tornado debris filled hallways, and characters in Steampunk costume that bore an eerie resemblance to the Wizard of Oz characters, but in a Tim Burton sort of way.

Tin Man & Lion

Tin Man & Lion

Scarecrow and Wizard

Scarecrow and Wizard

Glenda and Wicked Witch

Glenda and Wicked Witch

In conversations with event coordinator, Janeen Salzgeber, prior to the event, I relayed a small connection I have with the original movie. In 1991, my son was a kindergartener at St John Greek Orthodox Day School in South Tampa. His class put on a rather elaborate production of The Wizard of Oz, my son playing the Cowardly Lion. The guest of honor that evening was Mr. Karl Slover, who made a brief presentation prior to the performance. Mr. Slover, who had lived in South Tampa for many years, had the distinction of playing several different roles as Munchkins in the original 1939 film. Because I was video taping the play that evening, my seat was front and center, and Karl was seated next to me throughout the play. He was very nice, and quite talkative.

Fast forward a year, maybe two, and my wife was in a South Tampa antique shop. She spotted a beautiful old AgfaAnsco camera, circa 1930 era. I had a small collection of old cameras (isn’t that what all photographers do?). Father’s Day was coming and she snatched it up and took it to the register. The man behind the counter looked at the price tag and noted that it came from Karl Slover’s booth (it was a consignment antique shop). He asked her if she knew who Karl was, and she said “Sure do!” The price tag, still connected to the camera today, says “SLOV” on it, so the shopkeeper knew who to credit after the sale. On my shelf, that old camera proudly sat for over twenty years.

Circa 1930, AgfaAnsco No 1 Readyset Royal

Circa 1930, AgfaAnsco No 1 Readyset Royal

After hearing my story, Janeen insisted I find out if that camera still worked, if I could get film for it, and if I would shoot a roll of film using it during the evening. Luckily for me, it turns out the camera used B2 film, which is the exact same size as today’s 120 medium format film. I called another good friend, Tom Wilhoite, who works for Kodak Alaris and told him what I needed. Within a few days I had the film.

I loaded a roll and took it to the Mainsail to test it out. Since the camera only has two settings; “Instant” (take a picture) or “Bulb” (take a really long picture), my goal to was find out if the camera would function, not have light leaks, and how much light would be required to get a decent exposure. The results from the lab revealed it worked, had no leaks, the shutter speed was slow (maybe 1/20 sec) but the Fstop was small (F22), and the TriX-400 film I had would be fine.

Fortunately the actors had a walk-through prior to the guests arriving, and after their rehearsal, I had five minutes with them. I took them outside where the daylight was still very good. A roll of 120 in that camera produces a 6x9mm negative, slightly longer than the 6×7 or 6×6 most of today’s cameras create, so I was only going to get eight exposures tops.

I accidentally wound the camera past the first frame, so I now only had seven. I took four shots of them in the shade, then three more in the Sunlight. Unbeknownst to me, the camera accidentally fired when I moved the tripod, (twice), so two of my frames were double exposed (not something most of today’s photographers have ever experienced, to be sure). Long story short, I got three decent frames of the characters, all of the same composition (shown below). I scanned the negative and manipulated it in Photoshop (which some would equate to having smothered a steak in ketchup, I know, I know).

Photographed on a camera, once owned by an original Munchkin, Mr. Karl Slover.

Photographed on a camera, once owned by an original Munchkin, Mr. Karl Slover.

This little exercise has stirred up some of the excitement of working with film. The mystery of not knowing what you have for several days until the lab calls you. I have other cameras. I still have film. And I’ll find the time.

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