Tuesday, August 15, 2017

the best laid plans

teacher's pet
My plan was to try the combination of cheap Kentmere 100 and Rodinal 1:50.  That basically went ok.  The results were a little grainy, but not unpleasant.
    Then, about half way through scanning the roll my old XP desktop died.  That left me with my Windows 7 laptop running an old version of PhotoShop and Epson Scan which are much inferior to PS/CS2 and SilverFast on the old machine.  I guess I can live with it a few days until I figure out what to do about my hardware and software dilemma.


pine tree clouds

The camera was my Minolta Minoltina AL-S, my best ten dollar find, from an El Paso junk shop.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The Mamiya C330 will never be a favorite shooter for me.  It is too big, too heavy and too hard to handle.  It does, however, have some unique capabilities , mostly in the area of close-up work due to the extending bellows.  Also, I have invested in several accessories for the purpose of taking full advantage of the camera's possibilities including an eye-level prism finder, a paramender for parallax correction, and a left-hand grip which frees up the right hand to operate all the right-side controls.  Recently, I loaded the C330 with a roll of Acros and took a slow stroll around the nearby botanic gardens.  Two hours later I had only managed to use half the roll of twelve frames, so I took the beast home and unloosed it on my our home's four-legged contingent.


Heritage Farm

Buckboard Wheels




Sunday, August 06, 2017

Acros; Day Two

I used the second half of my roll of Acros in the Retina I during a walk through the riverside woodland.  The sky was hazy and produced nice light in the cottonwood forest, but presented a challenge for the little viewfinder.  Most of the shots required an aperture of f8 or f5.6; that worked ok for subjects at a range of ten or fifteen feet, but anything closer got rendered sharply mostly by luck.  The Retina I has a very smoothly operating shutter release, so I was comfortable shooting it as slow as 1/25, but that still did not get me acceptable and predictable depth of focus. 

Had I given a bit more thought to my equipment and where I was taking it, I could have brought home quite a few more good shots.  For instance, I have a couple of accessory rangefinders that could have given me sufficient precision in focusing on my subjects.  An even better solution would have been to mount the Retina I on a tripod, allowing the possibility of shooting at the smallest aperture of f16.  At a focal distance of three feet that provides a depth of focus of about a foot, while at a distance of six feet the sharp focus zone has a depth of over four feet.   All of that information is made available on the dof scale on the bottom of Retina I.  Next time, I'll pay closer attention.

All of which is not to say that I considered the experience a failure.  I learned something, and I spent a couple hours wondering through the cottonwood forest admiring the lush mid-summer vegetation, oblivious to the cares of the world.  Then, I went home and spent about six hours processing the film, scanning the negatives, editing the pictures and writing up my ideas about the experience.  All good.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Old Town

I decided recently that I would like to shoot some 100 speed black and white film in 35mm, which I have not done in some time.  I bought several different brands from B and H Photovideo including a couple rolls of Acros, and I loaded one of those into my Retina I.   I devoted the first half of the roll to a sunny day walk through Albuquerque's Old Town.

The Retina I is the smallest and simplest of my Retina cameras.  It has a reliable Compur-Rapid shutter and an excellent 3.5/50 Kodak Ektar lens.

My Retina I is a post war model. There are many small variations in the viewfinder types, but the features are essentially the same as the first one produced in 1934 which was designed to accommodate the 35mm cartridge developed by August Nagel. The history of the long Retina line is thoroughly presented in the Kodak Retina Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Bilora Bella

I've always liked the sporty style of the Bilora Bella.  Since I have a good supply of 127 film available now, it seemed like a good excuse to indulge my interest, and I found one easily on ebay for twelve dollars and shipping.  The Bella line of cameras made in Germany from the mid-1950s to the mid-'60s included models that used 120, 127 and 35mm film formats.  My 3c model produces an image measuring 4x6.5cm on 127 film.  There are two apertures, probably f8 and f11, and a self-cocking shutter with speeds of 1/50, 1/100 and B.  The lens can be focused by estimation from 3.5 feet to infinity.

I did a poor job of loading the film in the camera and managed to fog several of the frames, but the ones toward the end of the roll of eight exposures were ok.  I don't think the lens is coated, but it seems about as sharp as that on other simple cameras and the choice of apertures, shutter speeds and full focusing does offer a bit more versatility than the average box camera.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Portra Adventures

We are having afternoon clouds and some thunder, lightning and rain at night as the monsoon season sets in.  I shot a roll of 127 Kodak Portra 160 in my Foth Derby today at 1/50 and f-9.0.  I'm happy with the results, but they don't look much like the low contrast, rather pastel images I see other people making with Portra.  My bulk roll of Portra shows no expiration date; I've had it in the refrigerator for about five years, so it is at least that far along.  I used some freshly brewed Unicolor C-41 today for processing, so the expired film and the uncoated Foth Anastigmat lens seem to account for the unique color signature.

I'll likely use up most of my 127 Portra in the Foth Derby.  The camera's compactness and consistently good performance makes it a pleasure to shoot.  I did try one roll of Portra in my Brownie Reflex, and I will probably shoot a roll soon in my Brownie 44A which also makes square images.   I'm hoping too to make some full-frame vest pocket size images in a Bilora Bella which is on the way to me now. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A hazard of shooting old film cameras is that the variables that determine success or failure tend to proliferate over time.  It gets hard as a result to determine the cause of certain problems that arise, and I find myself sometimes questioning the effectiveness of my developers.  The only thing to do at that juncture is to load some film in one of the cameras in which I have a lot of confidence and see what comes up in the developer.  I chose recently to do that with my Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 35.

I found the '50s era Ikonta about fifteen years ago in a Las Cruces pawn shop.  A little cleaning turned it into a solid performer; the Synchro-Compur shutter is very reliable, and the coated Tessar lens always yields sharp images.  I loaded a roll of Kentmere 100, shot most of it on a walk through Albuquerque's Old Town, and then dunked the film in HC-110, dilution B for six minutes.  As little as 9.4 mL of HC-110 will do for a roll of film, so a bottle of the stuff takes a long time to get through.  I was pleased to see that my half-bottle looks good for quite a few more rounds.