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The Non-Mechanical Me

Is it right this time?

I am not the most mechanically inclined person. I’m just not. I was 13 before I knew how to operate the radio dial in the family station wagon. I still get confused when using copiers as to which buttons I’m supposed to push. If I were living in the time of The Jetsons, I wouldn’t be able to survive the button-pushing lifestyle!

So taking a class on film and digital cameras and lenses was a stretch for me…a really big stretch!

Last Tuesday I had the final for the class (it was a half-semester course). Katie Hill, our amazing teacher, was a camera assistant in LA. I absolutely loved learning from her!

The final had three parts: (1) a written portion, (2) loading a magazine with film, and (3) putting together a film camera. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay. So was I!

I studied very hard and finished the written portion in under seven minutes. I was feeling good! I love written tests. I’m good at them, and I know how to study for them. Now to load the film mag.

We learned how to load three kinds of mags: Aaton®, Arri®, and BL®. We all drew the name of our mag/camera out of a hat. I drew Aaton®.

Normally, the film mag would be loaded in a darkroom but we tested in the light with already exposed scrap film–that’s why it’s okay there are pictures of me. Don’t worry, I wasn’t ruining any film. It was already ruined by someone before me!

Is it right this time?

Is it right this time?

Loading the film mag!

Loading the film mag!

Now, this is a momentous occasion. I never put things together. As a kid I could handle Legos® and K’nex®, but the closest I get to putting anything together is changing harp strings, which actually is pretty hard, especially the low strings (note: wear goggles when changing wire strings or be like me and have your harp regulator change the wires for you). Check out this article on changing wires 4th and 5th octave, 3rd octave and up strings (scroll past the rather ridiculous “Santa Harp String” story).

After a few tries remembering how to load the mag, I finished…or so I thought. I suddenly realized I had loaded it backwards! The film emulsion side (where the picture is) wasn’t the side that would be “seen” by the lens. So I undid it and quickly rethreaded the mag with the emulsion side out.

Now came the building of the camera–drumroll, please! Let me just say that I studied and it still took me fifteen minutes to put together the camera. But hey, I knew what every part was called: dovetail, sliding base plate, camera head, port cap, matte box, follow focus, etc.

Camera Building...

Camera Building…

So I may not be the most mechanically inclined (feel free to disagree, however I’m sure no one will), but at least I’m musically inclined!

Next week I’m releasing my second Christmas CD Jazzy Christmas to You II! It’s filled with fun jazz/pop songs like “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” and “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus,” plus religious favorites like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “I Wonder As I Wander.”

Stay tuned for more updates!

Follow focus, matte box, etc.

Follow focus, matte box, etc.

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About Jillaine: As a professional jazz singer who also studies law, savoring daily nosh with family refreshes me. You are invited to my table to try great food, hear tasty music, and join in upbeat conversation!

  • Chasedone October 25, 2012, 11:47 pm

    Love the action packed pictures! Actually it’s pretty cool to see what it looks like!!! Good work!

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