Previously unpublished photos from my Kodak Pony 135

I have been feeling burned out lately. I’m settling into my new job okay, but there’s a lot to it and I still have a lot to learn, and that’s stressful. Also, we’ve been working on a rental house we own, painting and laying new flooring, after our longtime tenant abruptly moved out. I’ve left Margaret and a couple of her sons holding most of the bag there, as I just don’t have it in me to devote my weekends to the place. I urgently need downtime.

Except for a little noodling around with my Canon PowerShot S80 and a recent long-weekend trip to bourbon country in Kentucky with my Nikon FA, I haven’t been making many photographs. My blog doesn’t depend entirely on fresh photographs because of the stories and essays I write. But being burned out, I haven’t had anything to say.

I’ve been updating all of my camera reviews. They drive a great deal of search traffic to my blog, and are therefore my blog’s calling cards to the world. Especially on my older reviews, I wanted to make the text more compelling and reprocess the photographs using the tools and skills I didn’t have then but have now. It’s been a nice little project, one that gives me feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment with little mental strain.

In updating my review of the Kodak Pony 135 I discovered that I only uploaded to Flickr about half of the usable photographs from the two rolls of film I shot. I use “usable” broadly as my Pony 135 suffered from a wicked light leak that affected nearly every photograph. But today I find the effect to have a certain charm, and on many photographs it doesn’t detract all that much from the subjects or the great color and sharpness the Pony’s lens captured on Fujicolor 200.

I walked through my neighborhood with the Pony in my hand and captured some of my neighbors’ homes.

Neighborhood houses

Almost every house in the neighborhood was faced in brick all around. This was pretty common for 1950s-1960s suburban homes in Indianapolis. Today’s suburban homes tend to be wrapped in vinyl siding. Having now lived in both kinds of houses, I prefer the brick.

Neighborhood houses

The houses on every corner were duplexes, while all the ones in between were built for single families. This is one of the corner houses. The green Mustang parked in this carport only for a few weeks before it disappeared.

Neighborhood houses

I’m pretty sure I had Walgreens process and scan these. The store near my home still had a one-hour lab in 2011.

Neighborhood houses

Sometimes I look at one of my old photographs and wonder why I shot it. This is one of those photographs. I’m not sure what I thought the subject was. Yet somehow it pleases me today.

Blue skies

I’d had my blue Matrix just a couple years in 2011. It still looked pretty good. In the years that followed its paint chipped off, faded, and went chalky on pretty much every panel. When I sold it last year it was the worst-looking car I ever owned. Still, I miss it and would have another Matrix. I could carry so much stuff in its wayback, especially with the back seat folded down.

Blue car

I used to work near the Monon Trail, a former rail line converted into a pedestrian trail. Where the trail runs under Interstate 465 there’s a small parking lot and a restroom. These benches give hikers and bikers a place to rest for a minute.

Red benches

I’m sure these restrooms are welcome sight for people who travel the 20-mile length of this trail.

Red door

I liked using the Kodak Pony 135. I thought I’d try to fix that light leak. Degraded light seals are a usual culprit of leaking light in old cameras, but the Pony 135 seals light using deep channels where the door attaches to the body. There’s nothing to replace. Then a Kodak Pony 135, Model C, fell into my hands. It didn’t leak light, and its wider lens (44mm vs. the original Pony 135’s 51mm) was more useful for the kind of walking-around photography I do. So that’s the Pony I kept.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.


14 responses to “Previously unpublished photos from my Kodak Pony 135”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I am enjoying reading your refreshed reviews, many of which I had not caught the first time they came around.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! Given the number of pageviews they’re getting, a lot of people agree with you!

  2. Dan James Avatar

    I thought you’d seem “quieter” the last couple of months, even though there’s been a steady stream of review posts.

    Don’t forget that posts where we might say “I’ve been struggling to write” for whatever reason, usually resonate with plenty of people, because they feel similarly. We don’t have to be the accomplished and efficient blogger the whole time.

    I think my favourite photo is the tree and clouds Jim. I often try shots like this, I think trying to imply some connection between the shape of trees and the shape of clouds, or something. Also I like seeing/making shots that are 100% nature, with nothing man made in them, so it pleases on this level too.

    I hope you find/make the downtime you need soon, and take it easy on yourself.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The stress here has been intense, after an incredibly stressful 2018. I told Margaret the other day that if one more major stress happens I’m likely to crack.

      I find it challenging to write when I’m in this state. The writing I’ve done has been more “write to the photographs” or “stream of consciousness dump.” But even that kind of writing takes all of my available energy to do. To write something more ambitious just isn’t in me right now.

      You mentioned something about routines in a comment to me on your blog. Yes, they are incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, too many of mine have been upended for too long and I’m worn out!

      1. Dan James Avatar

        Sorry to hear that Jim. I wonder if you could go back to basics and just take up one or two daily rituals that can bring you some space and happiness, then build from there.

        As you said, the world goes on whether we blog or not, don’t feel pressure to keep up if the time would be better spent in other ways to improve your health and give you some valuable downtime.

  3. J P Avatar

    I am feeling you on the burnout thing. I need to get my head in the right place but it is a work in progress. Maybe getting my taxes finished will help. Getting them started may feel even better. Yes, I put the Pro in procrastinate.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We pay an accountant to do ours. She’s coming over Thursday. Its worth every dollar.

  4. Mike Connealy Avatar

    My impression is that your interest in using old cameras is similar to mine. My objective is mostly to thoroughly explore the capability of the cameras for making photographs. Many others are primarily oriented toward restoring the cameras to pristine appearance and operability. A close analogy is found among old car restorers who want their machines to look like the day they did when they came off the dealer’s floor. Using the restored vehicles for their primary purpose of driving to work or running errands is generally far down on the list of priorities.
    Regarding light leaks in the old Kodak bakelite cameras my experience has been that the leaks are usually the product of chips in the bakelite casing which are not always obvious because the breaks tend to be quite clean. The bakelite latch tabs are particularly vulnerable. Such damage is difficult to repair unless you are a real artist with plastic bonding materials, but a strip of electrician tape usually will make an evaluation of the camera’s capabilities feasible.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I agree, we are largely aligned on wanting to experience the camera and what it can do. There’s real joy in that discovery. I was surprised by how capable this Pony was, light leaks notwithstanding.

      For the second roll through this camera I taped every seam but light still leaked a little, so I declared this camera a basket case and got rid of it. I still own a Pony B and a Pony C, and I like the C best of all because its lens is a little wider, 44mm vs. 51mm.

      I’m not sure that heavy Pony repairs are worth it given how common and inexpensive these are. Of course, at some point you run out of Ponies as they break, but that day seems well off into the future.

  5. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    I’m impressed by the volume of writing in each of your posts. I tried lengthier posts myself when I first started my own blog, but soon discovered that it’s much harder than it looks when you have other things vying for your precious free time. My regime of two or three lengthier posts each week tapered off after a few months and I found that I was posting less and less often.

    The solution that worked for me was to write much less and publish every day – something I managed for several months until events in my life brought things mostly to a halt for a while. Eventually, things turned around and I’m now into my fourth month of daily publishing again, but my posts are rarely longer than a paragraph or two, and almost always only with a single photograph.

    I’m not sure why I blog to be honest, beyond maybe a desire to leave my mark on the world in some small way, but I’m glad I do it nonetheless.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love to write. I started this blog in 2007 because I had been a writer professionally earlier in my career and missed the feeling of putting words into the ether. Through blogging these 12 years I’ve become a fast and fluid writer and it feels great.

      That said, if you look at my posts over the last 3-4 years they have become shorter. My normal post used to be 800 words and now it’s closer to 300. But I also went from 3 days a week to 6.

      I blog because I enjoy the community and want to leave something useful in the world, so I get you!

  6. DougD Avatar

    I’m feeling the burnout too. Too many years with the same employer, when new initiatives are announced we just go “sure, that’s just for the people in the big european offices, not for tiny outposts in the new world”

    Fun to have a hobby though, I’m enjoying dialing in a new/old guitar. And to have a good woman to share it all with. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s a shame when it gets that way, where you feel so disconnected from the business and its objectives and successes. You end up in a place where you wonder whether you and your work matter.

  7. […] earlier reviews, adding new information and new sample images to freshen them up.  This week, he updated his review of the Kodak Pony 135 with some new sample images from a photo session in 2011.  Although the Pony 135 isn’t one I’ve come across, I do […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.