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.
One of my more recent camera purchases has a neat feature: you can take the lens off and use it as a pinhole camera. Photos taken like this have a dreamy look to them, or sometimes surreal. These are my first shots to be developed (apart from 2 on a previous roll that didn’t come out that well).
Flooded Park #1
These were taken in the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury, where the river Severn has burst its banks.
Flooded Park #2
I get confused sometimes which shots were pinhole and which were normal, as I can change from shot to shot with this camera. Generally the focus on shots taken with the lens look sharper, but I can’t always tell…
I have been trying to get back into running this year, after buggering up my hamstrings. Days like this don’t help: I usually run 3 to 5km along the river, and two lines of trees here next to the flooding River Severn are where my usual running route is. It’ll be days before this goes down enough to run.
It floods a little most years, not usually this much. I’ll just sit here and get fat, then.
I often shoot photographs in colour and then make them black and white when I get them onto the computer. It’s cheaper to do that with film, as both film and processing is a lot cheaper if you stick to colour. Today I tried shooting on my digital camera in black and white mode, with a virtual red filter on it. This is easier than trying to guess what effect the filter will have later in processing. The red filter is great for definition in clouds, which is handy as English clouds are often just different shades of grey. (I also have the option to use a green or yellow filter).
The Severn at Shrewsbury
I have a few filters for my film cameras, including orange and red, I really should try shooting with them. I could even shoot in colour then convert to B&W later the filter will still have the same effect.