Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Nancy Rexroth

Nancy Rexroth (born 1946) is an American photographer noted for her pioneer work utilizing the Diana camera. In 1977, she published Iowa – the first printed monograph of work completed with a plastic camera (Wikipedia).

Her work was just acquired by the Cincinnati Art Museum (link). 

I've been looking at her photography quite a bit lately after reading an interview with Alec Soth.  He says he was influenced much by her work and said he owns several of her photographs.  Long ago (in the 1990's), I got infatuated with toy cameras and used them quite a bit.  Then I got interested in other things and put them aside.  They've been sitting on the shelf since.  Two days ago, I picked them up to look at them.  They still had partially shot rolls of film in them.  Hmm.  I took them out and began shooting with them again.  The old Diana camera takes 120 film, but shoots 4.5x4.5 images.  You get 16 images per roll.  When I finished the film, I took it out and found that it was Fuji Velvia, a positive slide film.  There are not so many places that process slide film any longer.  I wondered at what might be on the roll.   I will send it off to The Darkroom, a film processing place in San Clemente, California that I've been told is top-notch.  Curious as to what I shot so long ago in color. 

I still have a couple shots left on the Holga.  I don't think that film is as old.  I'm pretty sure it is Tri-X, so I will be able to develop it myself. 

Rexroth's photographs are beautiful and evocative, more about light and shadow than subject.  I am going to begin using the toy cameras again.  You can buy new Holga and Diana cameras from Lomography, but I've read that they are not the same.  To wit. . . I just bought a "brand new" 1960s Diana still in the box, never used, on eBay.  The Diana 150.  Screwy plastic lens with all sorts of imperfections.  I will shoot with it for awhile since I've spent a million dollars on Leicas and lenses, and on medium format Hasselblads and Mamiyas and Rollieflex.  There is nothing more appealing than a plastic camera when you have all that. 

I'll show you the results soon.  Probably.  Maybe.  We'll see. 

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