A little blast of Kolor out of Leica Green

It’s Friday morning, and I’m cleaning out my car for its upcoming tuneup.  Trash, trash, candy wrappers, soda bottles, Leica Green –

Leica Green?  Have I had my rangefinder film camera in the car all this time?

I looked at the film counter.  There’s still about 30 shots left in the camera.

And the last time I used this little shooter… was in September, when I visited the Big E.  I had packed the camera with a cartridge full of boutique film, Revolog Kolor film, a formula where swirls of color permeate the entire film, giving resulting photos an ethereal, dreamlike construction.  Maybe I took a few photos, but then I put the camera away.

And forgot to take it out of the car.

Wow.  There’s still 30 shots left in this camera.  I think I should go and photograph some things with Leica Green today.

And then I remembered… I’ve got a broken foot.  Even with a walking boot, I’ve still got broken bones in my foot.

But I can’t just sit around and mope.  I need to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

I just need something to inspire me.

And after running a few errands … I found something to inspire me.

Note: What I’m about to do in this blog should not be done by anybody.  Trespassing on private property can get you arrested or beaten up or injured or worse.  Do not try this at home.

Okay, now that the “public service announcement” part of our blog has been achieved…

I’m in Latham.  Paid some bills, picked up some groceries, drove by what used to be Hoffman’s Playland …

Hmm.  There’s still some structures there.

Nah.  Don’t go there, Chuck.

Don’t pull in the old parking lot, Chuck.

Don’t get out of the car after you’ve parked there, Chuck.

Don’t look for an opening in the fence – oh there’s one – after you’ve gotten out of the car, Chuck.

This is what happens when I stop listening to that little angel-shaped conscience on my shoulder.

Wow.  You can see the footprints of where all the great rides used to be – the Ferris Wheel, the sky rides, the Kidney Buster roller coaster … all marked by stone pathways and circles.  And by “footprints,” I also mean that there were still footprints on the ground.

Footprints. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Footprints. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

No. Literally. Footprints.

The Revolog Kolor film has a tendency to boost reds and purples and greens and blues, so these pictures are almost like the sparkly remnants of memories.

I walked around, shooting where I could, remembering to stay on grass and ground and to not enter any buildings.  You don’t know what three years of inactivity on these buildings could lead to.  Some of the buildings were vandalized with profane graffiti; others looked as if they would fall down with a good wind from the Big Bad Wolf.

Concession stand. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Concession stand. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Wow.  So many memories.  And after a while, it wasn’t about the memories.  At least not the memories of Hoffman’s Playland.  It was about the memories of shooting with my cameras.  Little steps here and there.  Little measures.  That feel of having a piece of precision technology in my hand and using it to create images.

Arcade. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Arcade. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

For new readers to this blog, “Leica Green” used to be the precision shooter for a Times Union photographer, Evan Richards.  He passed away some time ago, and his family gifted the camera to me.  I had it tuned up and replaced its worn casing with soft green kid leather, and thus “Leica Green” was born.

4x4. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
4×4. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And Leica Green is truly a vintage shooting machine.  It’s got a “double stroke” mechanism, meaning I have to use the advance lever twice to move to the next film frame.  And here I go… stroke stroke aim shoot.  Stroke stroke aim shoot.

“What are you doing here?”

And at that moment, I realized that I violated the one rule of urban exploration.

Don’t get caught on private property.

Yep.  A man was walking towards me.  I’m sunk.

“You know there’s no trespassing signs all over the place, right?”

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to get some pictures, I’ll leave now.”

“You didn’t go into any of the buildings, did you?  They’re not safe for entry.”

“No, no, I stayed on the ground and didn’t enter anything.  I just wanted some photos.”

“You’re leaving now, right?”

“Yes sir.  Yes I am.”

He looked at me.  Then he said something that, at that moment, I wasn’t completely expecting.

“Is that a film camera?”

I think at that moment, we both realized that I wasn’t on the grounds to cause trouble.

“Yes it is, sir.”

“Okay.  You should leave now.  You don’t want to trip on anything here and break your other leg.”

That’s right, lads and lasses, I was doing urban exploration with a broken foot.

Station. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Station. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50mm lens, Revolog Kolor film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

But I got the photos.  And for a while, taking those photos felt like the best dang medicine for me.  Yeah, it was my first time working with Revolog Kolor, and I do need to figure out the best way to use this formula in the future.

But man oh man, it felt awesome to shoot film again.  It was almost as if I had swallowed my minimum daily requirements of Flintstones Chewables.  It felt good to be back.

One baby step at a time.

Even if it’s a baby step and a baby limp.

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