What I’ve Been Up To Lately

Happy July 4th, everybody (or to the handful of people who read this blog anyway). Rather than go to one of the big fireworks shows this year, we decided to stay home and enjoy the air conditioning. I can hear neighborhood kids setting off illegal firecrackers down the street as I write this. The cats are curious about the noise.

Over the last several months, I’ve continued playing with vintage camera equipment but I’ve slowly been transitioning from shooting with vintage roll film cameras to SLR and DSLR cameras with a variety of vintage lenses. I started out with a KMZ Helios 44-2 lens that came with a Zenit SLR. I’d been wanting a Russian camera for Commie Camera Day. I used it to shoot photos of some vintage Russian MIGs. Then I picked up an M42 to EOS adapter so I could play with the lens on my Canon 40D.

In April I found a bargain Yashica YUS 135mm f2.8 lens. With a Y/C to EOS adapter it works great on the 40D. In May I came across a Soligor 300mm f4.5 with Nikon mount. I can use it on the 40D with, you guessed it, a Nikon to EOS adapter but it also mounts on Susan’s old Nikon FM as well. The Trinity river basin picked this time to sprout millions of bright yellow Mexican Hat flowers, turning the Trinity Greenbelt into a yellow belt. I hauled all my new old lenses along and tried them out, along with my old old Canon 300mm f4.

I’ve continued experimenting with film as well. With the help of Steve Reeves, I managed to get some color photos from a roll of 1968 Ektachrome that I’d found at an estate sale.

Other than photography, nothing new on the art front. Despite our clock doing really well in last year’s SEED auction, I wasn’t able to get in this year. But I’m still hoping to be involved with this year’s ArtCon somehow, if not as an artist, at least as a volunteer.

One project that has been taking up lots of spare time lately is scanning. I’ve been scanning family photos, negatives, slides, and documents dating from the early 1900s to the present. I’ve scanned several thousand items already and there are many, many more still to do.

I’m still taking it easy on DPRG and Makerspace activities but I’m beginning to feel a little more motivated and may try to get a project or two going again soon. Ed and I have been talking about Noise Boundary a little lately, so more robotic music hardware is one possibility.

Robots, Cyborgs, and Androids of A-Kon 22

Borg cosplay at A-Kon 22

I attended A-Kon 22 recently and tried to spot all the robots, androids, and cyborgs among the 18,000+ cosplayers and anime fans wandering the downtown Dallas Sheraton. You can see all my A-Kon 22 photos on Flickr or read on an overview of the robots I spotted.

Two R2 robot at A-Kon

The most obvious were the two full-sized R2D2s built by Dallas Personal Robotics Group members Jeff Koenig and Glenn Pipe. These two robots attracted massive crowds where ever they went and spent hours posing for photos with cosplayers. (Jeff’s R2 has its own Facebook page with at least 300 more photos from A-Kon 22)

R2D2 wasn’t the only famous fictional robot there, of course. Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were also around, as was some distant relative of Tom Servo who was part Transformer and part evil, tentacled alien (or something).

Brad Foster at A-Kon

Robots of all types were all well-represented in the art department. Well known artist Brad Foster was there. I first met Brad at an AggieCon back in the 1980s and he’s still going strong, drawing robots of all shapes and sizes. He’s published a book of some of his best robot art called, appropriately, Bots. You can find Brad’s Bot book and other art on his website.

There were also books like Sherard Jackson’s Draw Mecha that could teach you how to draw robots. And there were plenty of comic books and graphic novels about robots, cyborgs, exoskelton-clad super heros, and just about every other form of robotic hardware you can imagine. Oh, and robot T-shirt artwork too.

Three dimensional figurine type things have also become common at conventions lately. Most seems to be aimed at either gamers or collectors of tiny replicas of scantily-clad female Anime characters. However, robots are represented amongst the dolls and figurines too. Some of these tiny robot models are amazingly detailed little machines.

I’m sure I’m leaving out some of the robot goodness of A-Kon 22 as well as all the other crazy stuff such as the ballet group that was re-enacting famous dances from Cowboy Bebop and other Anime, the major steampunk contingent that showed up this year, and the blinking, glowing ravers who appear in the early morning hours. Go check out my gallery of A-Kon 22 photos. Or my older sets from A-Kon 20 and the A-Kon 20 rave.