Duck-hunting with a Nimslo

Three-dimensional photography intrigues me.  It really does.  From 120-year-old cardboard stereoview pictures, to 3D movies, I’m amazed at the ability to create depth and perspective in what was previously a flat surface.

Animated flowers. Trio3D camera, generic print film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

In the past, I’ve worked with 3D film cameras – most notably the three-image Trio 3D 35mm shooter.  But that camera was cheaply built and cheaply constructed, and I never got the images that I truly felt would work for me.  In fact, here’s a floral photo I took in Saratoga Springs a few years ago with the Trio 3D; I actually tried to combine the images to make an animated GIF; it was only then that I noticed that the Trio 3D’s middle lens was out of alignment, causing the center picture to tilt askew.  It just doesn’t look good.  Yeah, it looks like a three-dimensional image, but don’t ask me to upload the necessary Drammamine after watching that footage.

Plus, that Trio 3D camera kept putting horizontal scratches on my film, either when it was wound to the next frame, or after it was wound back to the cartridge.  Urgh.  Waste of my time and my day.

And even as I sent the Trio 3D camera away, I knew there were plenty of 3D cameras out there, but they were either too old (did you know that you could purchase your own camera to make personal View-Master slides?), too bulky (like I need another Russian camera, sorry Sputnik 120 shooter), or just a bunch of plastic junk.  I’ve even tried making 3D prints by using my digital cameras and just “shooting and moving” from left to right.  The efforts were okay… but I’m not settling for okay.

And then came the Nimslo.

Woah.  The pictures come to life?  You can hug the people in the photos?  Hell, if this is the future of photography, I’m dumping Kodak Red and Leica Green and the Nikon Df in a shoebox and forgetting about ever using them again! #hellnoiaint

[hdnfactbox title=”NIMSLO Camera”]The Nimslo camera was first manufactured in 1980, and survived until 1990.

Prints from a Nimslo camera were developed as lenticular “magic motion” photos.

Other multi-lens analogue lenticular cameras include the Nishika (4 lenses) and the Trio 3D (3 lenses).[/hdnfactbox]First, however, I have to get my mitts on a Nimslo.  Most eBay auctions will sell a Nimslo and speedlight for about $75-$100.  And after getting sniped by someone who spent entirely too much for a Nimslo at one eBay auction, I immediately saw someone post a “Buy It Now” auction for the camera (with speedlight) for $50.  Whoever says I can’t find a bargain, they can go haunt a house.

When the camera arrived, I immediately cleaned two decades of dust and lint off the lenses, threw a roll of Fuji Superia 400 film into the chassis… and went for a walk.

Well, for a drive, considering I arrived at Congress Park in Saratoga Springs…

At this time of year, Congress Park’s most populous tourists are ducks and geese.  So in the early morning, I took some shots at the waterfowl.  Don’t worry, I had a hunting license.  Well, my hunting license was a small black four-lensed box with the word “NIMSLO” in capital letters on its face.

The idea was to shoot the ducks in the water, or shoot them as they were resting on the shore.  And after a few dozen photos (and four rolls of film, damn this camera goes through shots like a Hummer goes through premium), I sent everything off to McGreevy Pro Lab, with the processing instructions to not cut any frames.  “Sleeve them long,” I said, and I’ll cut them after they’re digitally scanned.

Here’s what a Nimslo negative looks like.  Four images, with a red dot above the image to the far right.  A lab that develops lenticular prints would know that this image was the first in the pattern, and would create the “magic motion” photo from that spot.

Photo of spring at Congress Park.  Nimslo camera, Fuji 400 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Photo of spring at Congress Park. Nimslo camera, Fuji 400 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yeah.  Well, I have to do things the hard way. :/

After the images were scanned, I set myself to the task of aligning every one of the four frames.  I needed one focal point in all four frames – whether it was the tip of a blade of grass, or the duck’s eye, or a corner of a feather…

And from that point… I created these graphics.  All shot in a Nimslo camera with Fuji Superia 400 film inside.

And you remember that spring photo at the top?

Yeah.  Those four images becomes THIS when it’s converted into a lenticular image.

Okay.  Some work must be done here, even though I have made a major step forward on this.

One of the Nimslo’s lenses is cloudy, which is making some of the animation frames soft.  Will need to give these lenses a more thorough cleaning.

And as for the ducks..

Can I say this?  The ducks didn’t seem to give a crap about my photography that morning.

Well, that’s entirely not true.  They did give at least a crap.

Lots of duck crap.

And let me tell you something… when you’re zooming in to photograph these ducks, and you’re laying on the ground right near where ducks have congregated… your shirt and jeans will eventually be coated in grass stains and duck crap.

I guess that’s the duckies’ revenge for the human creation of foie gras, fake duck calls, and discovering that their soulmate was a carved wooden decoy.  Yeah, ducks go through the Ashley Madison phase, too…

I guess it could have been worse.  One ruined T-shirt is not the end of the world.  The ducks could have told me to AFLAC off.

Anyways… this is a good start with the Nimslo camera.  And I have a couple of ideas for some autumn photography with this little shooter.  I just need to make some adjustments here and there…

Yeah, I think this will work.