Yesterday I went for a walk up the Longmynd with a friend (and a dog). We started in Cardingmill Valley in Church Stretton and walked a long loop up which took us to the end of the valley, up on the moor on the top of the hill, to the highest point at Pole Bank – 516 m (1,693 ft) – and then down again via a parallel valley. Then we had jacket potatoes in the Cardingmill Valley café, which I felt we had earned (It was a very late lunch – nearly 4pm!). We had missed the nice weather, and it was cold and grey, but warm enough once you got moving.
I didn’t measure the route beforehand, guessing about 5 miles, but it turned out to be nearly 9 miles. It would have been 7 miles, but for an unplanned detour – ie, took the wrong turning. We took a planned detour on the return leg of the walk, through the old rectory wood. The walk took us almost exactly 4 hours.
This was, of course, a fine opportunity for photography. After long deliberation – a couple of hours, at least – I decided which of my 20-odd cameras to bring. I took my Fuji XF1 and my new camera, a Voigtlander Bessa (1946 version, loaded with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 B&W). I won’t get the Bessa negatives back for a week, which is one reason I took the Fuji.
This is the 2nd roll shot with the Baby Bessa. This one shoots 12 6cm x 6cm negatives on each roll of medium format film. It is a little unusual taking square photos, it can make framing the shot more of a challenge, but at least you never have to turn the camera on its end to get a shot.
I shoot this view of the English Bridge frequently, it looks different every time, and I’m usually using a different camera so get different results. This one, you might have noticed, isn’t square – there was some horrible lens flare on the bottom half of the shot, so I cropped it (and some off the top for balance).
This is another ‘stock view’. As you can see the framing is off – the viewfinder on this camera is rather primitive (a hole in a piece of metal!) and I’m not yet used to it, I often cut the top off a shot. This could have done with more sky and less road.
St Mary’s Church #1
Another one that could have done with less ground. This church photographs beautifully when the sun hits it just right.
I really like this street for photographing, especially with the light catching the details on the medieval building on the left. This is about the 10th attempt so far!
These shots taken with 1938 Voigtlander ‘Baby’ Bessa 66, Fomapan 100 B&W 120 film.
It’s always a bit of a gamble buying cameras from eBay, you’re never sure what hidden faults quirks the camera might have, especially if the camera from 1937. I’ve recently bought another old Voigtlander folding camera, like the Baby Bessa but larger. This one takes 9cm by 6cm negatives (with an optional film plate to enable you to take 4.5cm by 6cm photos).
The first roll would tell me if the camera worked, if there were any light leaks in the bellows, and if the shutter speeds were anything like they were designed for.
As you can see, it all works fine! The one disadvantage with taking 9×6 photos, is you only get 8 shots on a roll.
I’m new to medium format cameras (but I’ve already got 4 of them!) so I don’t get everything right. My first roll, shot with a Lubitel 166B, came out looking horrible, as if I’d deliberately overexposed it. The 2nd, shot on a Diana F+ was beyond terrible, only 2 shots came out ok, the rest it looked like fungus the Bogeyman had been sick on them (light leak problems were the least of it).
Yesterday I got the rolls back from my Baby Bessa and my Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16. I shot B&W for the Baby. I shot what I thought was normal colour film with the Zeiss. I was slightly surprised/mortified to get an email form the lab asking me if i was sure I wanted this slide film processed in normal chemicals. I checked the box of films again – sure enough, it was slide film. Since slide processing is an extra £1.50 and I am nothing if not a cheapskate, I said ‘sure what the hell – cross process it!’ (or words to that effect).
Cross-processed film (sometimes called x-pro) is notorious/celebrated for the unusual and sometime bizarre things that happen to the colours. These pink trees are not only cross-processed, it is also a double-exposure. This is very easy to do with these old cameras without meaning to.
This photo of some trees (I get impatient shooting test-rolls and tend to snap just anything) is a bit more normal, but still obviously different, like this bridge.
The English Bridge, Shrewsbury (X-pro)
I think I’ll be doing some more X-pro films, soon.
Finally got the scans and negatives back from my test roll taken with my 1938 Voigtländer Baby Bessa 66. I now have a scanner that will scan these negatives, which should speed things up next time I have to send some 120 films off for development.
Because the lens is uncoated, it is less contrasty than it could be, but I like the look. It seems sharp enough for my photos, I just need to learn to guess the lighting conditions a bit better – scanning the negatives in myself it seems I’ve underexposed the shots quite a bit, they are very dark. This means more tweaking to get them to look right.
Now I know the camera works and there are no light leaks in the bellows, I can go and take some more shots – I think maybe some colour film next time. I was using Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film for these shots.