The “Lane 2” series

A few weeks ago, I attended the All Over Albany birthday bash at the Takk House in Troy.  The Takk House is a banquet hall / entertainment center / reception facility in the heart of downtown Troy, and is built from what used to be a Knights of Columbus facility.

As I was hanging up my coat, AOA co-founder Mary Darcy made an off-handed comment to me.  “Did you know they have a bowling alley in the building?  It’s behind the coat rack.”

Sure, I thought.  Right behind the coat rack.  What’s next, will I see a talking lion and a snow witch that will offer me Turkish Delight?

But as the party progressed, so too did my curiosity.  A bowling alley in the middle of a Troy city building?  It just seemed so incongruous, yet the more I thought about it… the more I had to see if it was true.

I walked down to the coat racks.  Nobody around… and as I walked past the coat racks…

Holy Howard Tupper … there was the remnants of an old four-lane bowling center.  No lie.

And at that moment, I thought to myself, I could get some amazing shots with my Nikon Df of this little bowling center… crap, I don’t have the Df on me.  Maybe I can use the Kodak Medalist II – aw, nertz, I don’t have “Little Red” with me.  Oh man, if I could get some sweet shots of the lanes with my ultrawide Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera… aw, Raskolnikov, I don’t have Raskolnikov with me.

But you know what I did have with me?  My BlackBerry Q10 camera phone.

And an initial shot in the darkness… to whet my photographic appetite.

Bowling Alley.  BlackBerry Q10 camera phone.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Bowling Alley. BlackBerry Q10 camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Hmm… I can’t enter this picture into any competitions – heck, I’m even embarrassed about showing it on this blog – but what if I was able to return to the Takk House at another time, with my cameras, and really take some photo-worthy shots?

And at that moment, I had three options.  I could either:

(A) run back to my apartment, grab my camera gear, and run back to the Takk House and shoot before anybody notices…

(B) Keep taking about 300 photos with my BlackBerry Q10 until I got one that was even close to presentable…

(C) Walk away and forget that I ever saw a bowling alley in the basement of an old Knights of Columbus facility.

And in the end, I chose Option D.

And Option D was – find the owners of the Takk House and politely ask permission if I could return on another day and really give this bowling alley a true and distinct photo session.

They agreed, and an appointment was set.

Last Friday, I arrived at the Takk House.  I was told to be at the door at 7:00 p.m.  I looked at my watch.  6:59 p.m.

The door opened, and the owner of the Takk House, Frank, welcomed me in.

And there it was, in all its glory.  Or what was left of its glory.  The bowling lanes.

“How long will you need?” he asked.

“Maybe 45 minutes, tops,” I replied.  Oh man this looks great…

“That’s fine, just let me know when you’re done,” he said, going back to whatever other work he would need to accomplish.

I quickly get to work.

Using my 50mm f/1.8G lens on the Df, I was able to create a couple of HDR compositions.  Like this.

Bowling 2
Bowling Center 1. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, three images converted to HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And like this.

Bowling 1
Bowling Center 3. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, three images converted to HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And by throwing a completed HDR in black and white, I came up with this little image that I’m putting in the “short pile” for Competition Season 2015.

Lane 2
Lane 2. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, three images converted to HDR capture, then converted to B&W. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I even picked up a shot of this waycool sponsorship sign. Awesome.

Knights of Columbus Bowling Sponsors
Knights of Columbus Bowling Sponsors. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay, that’s done.  Now for some film shots.

I packed a roll of Kodak Portra 800 into my Nikon F100 camera, and with a 50mm f/1.4 lens on the chassis, I shot some pictures of the floor…

Right-handed lane 2
The right-handed lane. Nikon F100 camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, Kodak Portra 800 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Damn, there’s a lot of right-handed bowlers with plenty of arcing shots on this lane, based if nothing else on the black marks near the lane’s guide arrows.

Oh yeah, and I did get a photo or three of the pins at the end of the lane.

Lane 2, Kodak Portra 800
Bowling Center 5. Nikon F100 camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, Kodak Portra 800 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Oh, I did bring one more camera to the party… and as much as I enjoyed shooting the bowling alley, I wanted to see if this camera could also have some photographic fun.

Experiment with Krasnogorsk ФT-2 “Raskolnikov” camera

PARAMETERS: To photograph a room in ultra-low light, and capturing it in ultrawide exposure.


SOFTWARE: One roll of Kodak Portra 800 film.

Kodak Portra 800 35mm

☭ ONWARD, COMRADE! ☭

Oh yeah.  Let’s see what this camera can do with its F/5 lens, a canister of ISO 800 film and four shutter speeds on an affixed tripod.

That’s right, folks… Chuck is “Mad Russian” nuts about this camera.

Bowling Lanes 2-FT2
Bowling Lanes. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Portra 800 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay, let’s try another shot.  Move in a little closer, adjust the angle, and…

Bowling Lanes 1-FT2
Bowling Lanes 2. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Portra 800 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Oops… didn’t mean to turn that into a Dutch angle… Yeah, I gotta work on making these shots more level.  I mean, the camera does come with its own built-in spirit level…

And when the film was developed, I got this shot on the last frame of the film.

Bowling Lanes in Kodak Portra
Bowling Lanes 2A. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Portra 800 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Hmm…  As you can see, this film was so sensitive that even in the room itself, with artificial light, there was enough ambient light to accidentally expose some of the film in the roll.  That explains the sprocket holes on TOP of sprocket holes.  Not good.  Must be more careful.  Seriously.

Didn’t matter.  I got some great photos of the vintage bowling center, and my sincere thanks to the owners of Takk House in Troy for letting me spend time down here to capture this vintage set of lanes before they get restored or renovated or whatever Takk House plans on doing with them.

And as for the black-and-white “Lane 2” photo…

I have a feeling you may be seeing it again, blog readers.

Around “competition season” time.  Yes?

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