Coney Island

I grew up near Coney Island, the beach and boardwalk area known for its fun & games and cheap thrills. (The Cyclone, the famous roller coaster, was down the block.) I still live within an hour’s walk from there, but since my family moved away, I don’t go that often any more.

The area has been in the news lately as the Astroland amusement park has been sold to a real estate developer who wants to tear it down and build a year-round indoor entertainment complex with hotels and condominiums. (The community is against the condo idea.) At any rate, this summer has been declared to be the last summer of Astroland being where it is now and of Coney Island as it is now.

With this in mind, I’ve thought of the idea of making a series of photos of Coney Island this summer. The Holga is my camera of choice for this and almost seems made for a place like Coney Island. After all, both are cheap and meant for having fun.

I thought of beginning this project yesterday as it was the day of the annual Mermaid Parade, and I figured that there’d be plenty of colorful characters about. On the other hand, I’d hurt my back the day before and could have used this an excuse to stay home and watch TV. (I wrote about photographic inertia in an earlier posting.)

When I woke up and got out of bed, my back was still hurting – but I decided to head off to Coney Island anyway with my Holga and several rolls of 120 film. I also had not been doing much long walking without a cane since my foot surgery last October and this would be a good opportunity to start becoming active again.

In the end, I shot three rolls of film with the Holga. I already know that I messed up one picture. I took a photo of a retro model who was posing with two cohorts on the boardwalk for a bunch of photographers, and if I’m not mistaken, I took a photo of something else before advancing the film. (With the Holga, one does not need to advance the film to cock the shutter.)

I found this to be a major problem with the Holga when I first began using it last year – I didn’t always advance the film after each shot and before taking the next one I had to wonder if I had or hadn’t. It’s therefore easy to make unintentional double exposures – but I must admit that sometimes these are even more interesting than the single images! I’ll post some of those sometime down the road.

It’ll be a while until I develop the B&W film that I shot, but for now, here are some of the photos I made with my pocket digital camera, showing some parade participants along with the Coney Island scenery. The girl with the green hair recognized the Holga for what it is, and I told her that it’s my ‘real camera,’ with the digital just being for fun.

In the end, I didn’t stay for the parade as I try to avoid crowds, especially if I’m stuck in one spot. (Perhaps if I still had a valid press card from the NYPD as I did a few years ago it might have been different.) I don’t know yet if I got any good photos on film, but at least it was nice to get out into the sun and the breeze for a few hours instead of sitting at home in front of the tube.
(By the way, the fellow with the beard here looks a bit like a photographer friend of mine. He’ll know who he is if he reads this.)

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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