Tag Archives: film photography

80 Year Old Camera Explores the World Again

This Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder accompanied me on a recent business trip to Sri Lanka, and although I didn’t have much opportunity to use it there I did get to take a few frames (on an overcast day..) which is better than nothing, and then took a few more back in Japan.

These old cameras are handy for travel due to their compact size- when folded and stowed away they are slimmer than your average 35mm slr.  Of course without automatic winding stops you have to watch the number in the window for each frame, and when framing be careful not to crop things out of the top when in close range due to parallax (like I almost did in the portrait of the three friends in below), but this is all part of the experience.  A speed camera it is not.

Slave Island Fellows

These two friendly guys were enjoying the afternoon in this narrow alley in Slave Island with their beautiful cat. They jokingly offered to give me the cat to take back with me to Japan (the cat went along with it for the sake of the joke, but wasn’t that keen on it I don’t think). 

I did ruin a frame due to the bag of lychees I was carrying in my left hand contacting the shutter tensioner while taking one exposure thus slowing it from 1/100th to probably around 1/15th and causing the camera to shake slightly. This is something I like to do with my thumb on my Superb as well.  It generally takes one frame of doing this I’ve found and then I am ok for the rest of the time using the camera:-)  Then I forget again when it is put away for a few months..

slave island alley lychee dream

Doh! Darned lychees. They were delicious though (and cost only about ¥100 for 20pcs).

The Voigtlander Bessa RF was made from 1936-1951 I understand (according to Camerapedia). They were fitted with Skopar, Heliar, Heliomar, Helomar, and Color-Heliar lenses.  I like the 5 element Heliar 3.5/10.5cm, but I have heard good things about any of them.  It does get soft in the extremeties below f8, and swirly opened all the way up. This can look pretty cool for portraits etc if that is what you are going for. It has a yellow filter attached which conveniently flips up and down.  I don’t have a lens shade for it yet so have to watch the flare though haven’t noticed anything too shocking yet.

This high contrast photo of an old Japanese farm building would have benefitted from the zone system (and a tripod) in order to get more detail in the shadows and some more depth of field, although I like all the shapes, textures and shadows as it is.  Probably around 1.5 more stops exposure and then n-1 development?  Next time..

japanese rustic

Film was Arista Edu 100 (Foma 100) shot at ei200 just to get a little more speed for better handheld use. Development was HC-110 E 8 minutes/20C (recommended was 6 min at 20c at box speed).

This camera also is able to shoot square format which would give 12 frames instead of 8, and centralise the image to the area where the lens performs best.

 

Acros/HC-110/and the trusty FM2

I purchased this FM2 at a camera fair around 25 years ago and it has served me without fail ever since. It is my most “nostalgic” camera.  It hasn’t gotten as much use the last few years due to my growing collection of cameras, but I always take it out again eventually.

Usually I have the 50/1.8 attached which is compact and a wonderful portrait lens, however this time I grabbed the 55/3.5 macro, which is a great macro lens and a fine all rounder.

I used Acros pushed one stop to ei200 developed in HC-110 dilution E (1:47), developed for 7 minutes at 22 degrees C. For Acros at ei100 I would normally develop for 7 minutes at 20 C, and I saw on the Massive Dev Chart that someone recommended 7 minutes at 24 C for ei400 so this was a guess but it worked out fine I think.

I am cognisant that since getting this bottle of HC-110 my use of caffenol has nearly stopped.  I also have the ingredients for D-23 waiting in the wings but alas, the corruption of convenience.  I think some of it has to do with my concern about the HC-110 expiring before I get through it.  Due to the dilutions this stuff goes a long ways!

 

 

 

FM2 Yoshidamachi 02

Old town, Yokohama.  Nikon FM2 50/1.8 Nikkor / Tri-x / HC-110 E (and fixer that looks like it probably should have been replaced a couple rolls back- doh!)

The wires on the side of the building look like vines to me.  I like how the shapes and patterns attract the eye amongst the jumble and worn disarray of human life- somehow more comforting to me, and definitely more interesting to look at than our new modern sterility.

Slow, really slow

Never put off until tomorrow what can be done the day after tomorrow. -Mark Twain

My blog is finally starting to live up to its name;-) It has been a long while since making a post.  It’s not that I haven’t been taking photos, I just hadn’t gotten around to developing and scanning them.

Well we finally had some nicer weather after what seemed like endless grey, drizzly days so I took the Superb out to stretch its legs. I found a press on yellow filter and hood awhile back that fit so used that this time. I tried some Arista Edu 400 I got from Freestyle and some trusty Tri-x, and developed in HC-110 preparation “H” (1:63, or 15ml per 1l water). The Arista is about half the price of the Tri-x.

superb

At first I struggled with familiarity of the controls, which are a bit unusual even for TLR’s, having been around 6 months since I used this camera, but by the second roll it became second nature and it flowed better. Later when inspecting my drying negatives I saw that I made two double exposures. This despite what I thought was a pretty ingrained habit of always winding just before the shot.  What happens I realised is that I might compose a shot but change my mind at the last second and go look for something else. At the next shot I don’t remember and think I must have already wound it for the last shot..  Old school photography is really good practice for being in the present and remembering each thing- or not:-)  The second roll shot a couple days later was fine. I noticed also a light leak in the first half of the frames on the first roll due to not properly shutting film doors all the way (the Superb has interesting barn doors that snap closed), something I will be more careful with next time.

Loading the developing reel the Tri-x feels more substantial, thicker, and it dries flatter than the Arista (this is helpful for scanning- especially if you have a cheap scanner like mine, a Canon 9000f, whose holders don’t flatten the negatives).  I think I like the look of the Tri-x more, but the Arista works fine for the price.  I can definitely refine my exposure and development with it.

I shot them all at ei280, exposed at 140 to allow for the filter- using my phone exposure app and Sunny 16 depending.  Development for the Tri-x was 11 minutes which seemed about right to me for the lightly overcast situation on that day.  Development recommendations seem to be are really spotty since they changed the film but generally seem to have gotten shorter .  The Arista for 11 1/2 minutes (Arista recommends 6 1/2 minutes for HC-110 B at ei400 starting point on the box), which was sort of a middle of the road calculation since on that day I had both high contrast as well as low contrast scenes on the same roll. Snaps really so not to be too scientific;-)

superb flower arista400 hc110h uncompensated

Straight scan. Exposed for sunny 16 (f16/100 exposed at ei140 due to yellow filter) this would have benefitted from exposing for the shadow and N- compensation development.

Ideally what one should do of course is try to take similar contrast scenes on the same roll so that compensating development can work for all the frames and not adversely affect some. Or take two or more cameras, one for each condition requiring different development. In fact if you are “really serious” you should rewind your roll whether you are finished or not once you have “the shot”, and develop just for that one:-)

The Heart Sees Deeper Than The Eye

What do you call those little bits of paper that they attach to teabags so that you can easily grab onto the string or wrap the string around the finger handle of your teacup?  The paper doohickey?  Yes that’s the one.  Well, I have one (from Yogi Tea) that has been on my refrigerator now for around 8 or 9 years that says, “The heart sees deeper than the eye”.  That is a keeper.  All that wisdom for only around 20 cents:-)

I think this relates to photography in that we shouldn’t get too hung up on rules and should let our heart tell us what and how we photograph. In other situations, take advertising or a con artist for example, we can be distracted by flashy talk and promises, yet if you give your heart a chance it can tell you when something is not right.

Angel

Angel, Yokohama Japan.  M3 / Summaron 35 f2.8 / Tri-x (ei 1600) / Caffenol semi stand 85min@20c.

Coming home late from a function one night I almost walked past this angel standing in the cold in front of an izakaya (Japanese old style family restaurant).  The old black and white photographs of ships behind her add an interesting element, along with someone’s bag draped over her head, and the whole thing looked very peaceful to me. Well.. I only had had a couple drinks (I said as I held up 3 fingers)..

In comparison to some HP5+ I had shot also at 1600 and developed at the same time in the identical caffenol stand recipe I thought I noticed what I thought to be a bit more grain in the HP5+, however after looking a bit more closely they seem pretty similar.

Below is a frame I took with some HP5+ at 1600.

IMG_20160111_0005

Morning bullet train, somewhere between Yokohama and Nagoya. M3 / Summaron 35 f2.8 / HP5+ (ei 1600) / Caffenol semi stand 85min@20c.

These are full size crops of the scans of each (at 2400). Not much in it.  Both are good considering the two stop push and the type of film I think. I would have to scan at a higher resolution to get a definitive answer.. Technically I suppose I would have to ensure both were the same exposure and the area compared of similar density but I don’t intend to get that technical about this stuff.

Best!

Jordi

Perspective

YK Cemetary

Ilford HP5+ (ei1600) / Caffenol stand developed / Summaron f2.8 35mm / Leica M3

This shot was taken as the sun was going down over Yokohama.  Perhaps I should have saved this for Halloween, but I took it only a month or so ago so decided not to wait.  I like the similarity of the structures in this scene as well as its symbolic contrast.

My M3 had been languishing due to my preference for the smaller, lighter and simpler screw mount lllf, however I don’t have a 35mm for the screw mount and really like that focal length so have been using the M3 a bit more recently.

I guess it doesn’t need to be said, but the M3 really is a great camera in every way.  I think the large, bright view finder is its best attribute.  Like all older Leicas it is built so well and looks so nice that you just feel good using it.  Call it Leica therapy.  They may be a bit expensive but are still a lot cheaper than a therapist:-)  The M3 is so nice you could carry it around just to hold and show people (and some people do just that..).

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Perspectives on Death

The West has such a dark and dismal approach to death- cold and lonely for all eternity, the worms nibbling at our flesh, etc.  While I enjoy the gothic Edgar Allen Poe flavour of it in stories, Halloween and whatnot, I don’t subscribe to it at all in my personal philosophy.

We cling to life and fear death, which is referred to as attachment in Zen, but as I understand it they compliment each other a bit like night and day. Without night you do not have day and vice versa, like yin and yang or the tides of the ocean.  If we are not attached to living so much I think we can enjoy it more.

In the last few months 3 people in my family have passed on.  My daughter was also in the hospital for a week with bad bronchitis and asthma.  This has caused me to reflect perhaps a bit more deeply about life recently.

 

“The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither colour nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.”

~ Tokushou Bassui (1327-1387) in a letter to a dying disciple

 

 

 

Afternoon Winter Shadows

shadow of bicycle

Shadows of a bicycle and leaves next to a canal in Yokohama. © jordi vollom

Leica M3 / Summaron f2.8 3.5cm / Tri-x / HC-110 “E” /

“It’s not the quantity of the light it’s the quality. ”  I can’t remember which photographer’s documentary I heard that but it definitely is true.

The afternoon sun in the Winter can give such a nice quality of light.  This image caught my eye while strolling near Yokohama station one afternoon last month. I like the different shapes and textures in the leaves and concrete vs the tonality in the shadows.  The combination of exposure given to the Tri-x and amount of development in HC-110 is showing nice grain I think.

Old Port 01

Ravages of time.  Wharf in Daikoku-Futo, Yokohama. © jordi vollom

I guess most people wouldn’t find beauty in this scene, but I do. This was from the same roll but taken in the harshness of the direct sun and a bit earlier in the day. On days like this it is sunny 16 to calculate exposure.  Easy!

Best!

Jordi