5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Yashica-Mat TLR & Portra 400 on a road trip to Anchorage – Dan Smouse

April 5, 2021

The text message from my brother said there was a package heading my way but I was not to open it until Christmas. Being we are both camera junkies and most of our weekly phone calls are camera related, I assumed the packaged contained something pertaining to photography. When the package arrived I was surprised, as well as intrigued, by the size and heft of it. Christmas was still a week or so away and the anticipation was killing me. To put it mildly, I was like a child at, well, Christmas!

Christmas Eve arrived and after celebrating the holiday at church and enjoying fellowship with some family friends, I discovered that it was a few strokes after midnight which made it Christmas Day. Without much trouble I convinced my wife that we should open our presents before going to bed. Opening the box from my brother revealed two separate packages with very specific instructions regarding the order I was to open them. The excitement grew.

When I unwrapped the box I was instructed to open first, I was greeted by the sight of the Yashica-TLR pictured above. Shock gave way to giddiness in the span of about 5 seconds. I had never even handled a TLR camera, though I had seen them several times before in various antique shops and a couple of dusty, small town camera shops I had visited in various travels. I won’t go into a detailed overview of the camera as there are plenty of thorough write-ups to be found, but, suffice it to say, the old world vintage mechanical workings and the waist level viewfinder completely captured my imagination. Thankfully, the second package contained a roll of FP4, TMax 100, and Portra 400.

To familiarize myself with the camera I shot the roll of FP4 around town here in Kenai. I had to make a trip up to Anchorage in the next couple months to pick up my granddaughter from the airport and wanted to save the roll of Portra for the drive up there and for some shots around downtown Anchorage. I had previously shot Portra in my 35mm Nikon (you can see some of them here  and here) and loved the muted color tones that take me back to the snapshots of a bygone era. Once again, Portra did not disappoint. Walking around downtown Anchorage, the Yashica garnered more than a little attention from those on the street who were very much interested in what kind of device I was shooting with.

Kenai River at Russian River Crossing, Cooper Landing, Alaska

Country church just south of Anchorage, Alaska

Downtown Anchorage, Alaska

One of the more popular hangouts in Anchorage, Alaska.

Ice climbing near Girdwood, Alaska, about 30 miles south of Anchorage.

Thanks for coming along on this short trip to Anchorage with me and my new Yashica-Mat. If you have never shot a TLR, you owe it to yourself to give one a go!

You can see more of my work on Flickr (here) and IG (@in_the_image_photog). I also share my thoughts on life and theology at A Float on the River. God bless!

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  • Reply
    Fred Nelson
    April 5, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Very nice! was thinking of getting one. Now that I have seen your pictures I will!
    Thanks for the write up

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 6, 2021 at 4:42 am

      You really should try one. The Yashica-Mat’s are very budget friendly and take great images.

  • Reply
    DeeDee Yelverton
    April 5, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    What a great gift, and you’ve made some beautiful images with it! Thanks for sharing these! I especially love the first two you shared here.

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 5, 2021 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I was so surprised and I am loving it.

  • Reply
    Fred Nelson
    April 5, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    Did you use a light meter? If so what brand?

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 5, 2021 at 9:00 pm

      I having been using a light meter app on my iphone.

  • Reply
    Michael J
    April 5, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    Great stuff, and great pics- you clearly have a pretty good brother. I wrote a thing on this blog about how a TLR changed my life, they’re splendid! May you have many adventures with yours.

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 6, 2021 at 4:40 am

      I can’t recommend strongly enough trying one. It is such a different shooting experience.

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    April 5, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    A nice set of pics! Alaska is so beautiful, but I must confess I’ll stick with our short winters here in Connecticut!
    However, I’d think the Cafe Paris would be kinda cool to visit.

  • Reply
    Gil Aegerter
    April 6, 2021 at 2:32 am

    Nice images! I used to live in Anchorage, and your post raises some memories.

  • Reply
    Fernando Martins
    April 6, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Really cool images Dan! Congrats! I own a 124 G and I love it. You reminded me to use colour film again, as I normally use it with B&W…

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 6, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      I’ve found that Portra converts very nicely to B&W!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    So your brother sent you a Yashica-Mat, your first TLR, and some film for Christmas. What did you send him? Lovely photos too, by the way.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Dan, you got a great gift with that Yashica-Mat. But the best gift you have is having a loving brother. My one regret in life not having one.

    But I do have a Yashica-Mat! Mine was made in December 1966, or so I am led to believe by the serial number. A wonderful camera and one that often is the focus of attention by passers-by when used outside.

    Alaska looks wonderful from a photographic perspective. Yet another part of the Globe I’d love to visit. Thanks for the post.

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 6, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      A big “AMEN!” to all of that!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Memories indeed. My High school photography class used Yashica TLRs. What fun! And that’s where I learned about parallax – the sun was above the house in my eyes, but still below in the viewfinder,

  • Reply
    Elisha Zepeda
    April 13, 2021 at 1:15 am

    Love that Country Church shot. Did you do any post-sharpening? I can’t believe how crisp the mountain and trees look in the background. Makes me question the sharpness of my 124 lens!

    • Reply
      Dan Smouse
      April 13, 2021 at 10:12 am

      I did do some minor adjustments in Lightroom but did not do any sharpening. I usually shoot stopped down a bit (f8-f11) which probably helps. I don’t trust myself to nail the focus if I shoot more open than about f5.6 with this camera.

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