L-Ken’s and a “Spearmint.”

Last Sunday.  A beautiful, sunny day that visually masked a bone-chilling wind.

At some point in time, they’re going to tear down that beautiful L-Ken’s advertising sign on Central Avenue.  But until they do… I’m going to use it as a go-to-shoot-and-see-what-happens part of my photography experiments.

And on this sunny-chilly Sunday, I had my AGFA Clipper Special f/6.3 camera in the car with me.  Two rolls of Instamatic splitfilm – one a roll of Kodak Gold 200, one a roll of 3M film that came as surplus in an eBay auction – are packed in the camera’s chassis.

Long-time readers, you know the drill.  You know what I want to achieve with this camera.  You know what I want to achieve with this film.

A few shots here.  A few shots there.  A couple of snaps.  A couple of visual captures.  And if I do this correctly… I’ll have an amazing photograph collage art piece.

Yeah.  Right.

And I know some of you are screaming right now, “For the love of God, Chuck, it’s just an old sign for a fried seafood place that shut down ages ago.  And your attempts with Instamatic film have been hit-or-miss at best.  Give up.  Do something else.”

Pfft.  YOU give up.  Not me.  Not now.

Because it’s time for a “Spearmint.”

And no, I’m not talking about chewing gum.

No, this “Spearmint” is just me using short-speak for “Experiment.”  You know, short-speak is when you’re in Pittsburgh and you say to someone, “Jeet jet?” and they say back, “No, Jew?”  (Translation: “Did you eat yet?” “No, did you?”)

And after I completed this “Spearmint,” I took the film to McGreevy Pro Lab.  Yep, it’s not a Monday morning unless I’m dropping something off at McGreevy Pro Lab.  Right?

Tuesday night, I picked up the film.  And wow, I got seriously lucky with this film this time, both rolls of film actually held up well.  I guess 25-year-old print film can survive these days… plus, I now know the difference between Kodak Gold 200 Instamatic film (green bars) and 3M print film (yellow bars).

Scan.  Clean.  Digitally remove as many scan-interrupting Newton rings as possible.  Clone out the sprocket holes.  And…

L-Ken's sign with Instamatic Sprocket Holes
L-Ken’s Instamatic Dichotomy. AGFA Clipper Special f/6.3 camera, Kodak Gold 200 Instamatic film (green bars) and 3M Instamatic film (yellow bars with red flare). Photo by Chuck Miller.

Nice.  This is the cleanest I’ve ever achieved with Instamatic film; again, to even use this decades-old-film is the equivalent of trying to shoot a bull’s-eye while blindfolded.  If you keep trying… you get some good results.

Nice little spearmint, don’tcha think?




3 thoughts on “L-Ken’s and a “Spearmint.””

    1. Well, this weekend I’m taking the cameras for a couple of photo shoots… so there should be more photos in the blog as soon as McGreevy Pro Lab can get the film developed.

      By the way, I should let you know that the picture above was the best of the batch, some of the shots didn’t align properly and the layers of film started to overlap each other in the middle of the roll, which I didn’t want for this exposure. But that’s why we do “Spearmints,” right? 😀


  1. Wow!!! You are achieving the most amazing photos w/the L-Kens sign, Chuck! I don’t know what you’re doing. I never got past my old Kodak Instamatic dropping off a gazillion cartridges at the old Einstein’s Pharmacy then treating my long-suffering family to a slide show! What you do sometimes is just astonishing!
    On another note, I am surprised L-Kens is still there. Given development along Central Avenue/Rte 5 that rivals that of Wolf Rd, I have to wonder why L-Kens is still standing, rotting, forlorn, a blight along the commercialized Rte. 5. I would’ve thought if the Leonardis (?) family had not long ago put it on the market, the Town of Colonie would’ve condemned the property and replaced it with another strip mall or something. It certainly should be an attractive property given its footage, parking, etc. It would’ve been an ideal location for the Colonie Ted’s Fish Fry given it was already designed for a fast food establishment. (Alas poor L-Kens, I knew it Horatio! In its prime, it was a fabulous drive in food place. Excellent food for a good price, friendly efficient service… So sad when these places deteriorate & lose their patronage. Memo to SK et al of Ted’s: DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU.
    Keep the pictures coming, Chuck! They’re an improvement over the ever-decaying L-Kens.


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