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.
With the sun out this week, I took my Bessa 66 out with some B&W film in it. I won’t get the negatives back for a week or so, I always try to sent at least 2 films off at the same time, to make the postage more cost-effective. If the weather is good tomorrow I might go up on the Longmynd with my Belair, (last time I went I shot 3 rolls of film with my Olympus Trip 35 and Fed 2 cameras) and then I’ll post it all off. I’ve still not received the 12×6 film mask, so I’ll have to shoot 9×6 which is still a pretty big negative, and I’ll get a few more photographs out of my 120 film.
This is one of the things I shot with the Bessa 66, this is a great door on the remains of Old St Chad’s church in Shrewsbury, which collapsed in the late 1700s. All that is left is a side-chapel with this weathered door on it.
I took this with my Fuji XF1, I expect the film version will look quite different.
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.
No, I haven’t had a baby – it’s a camera. A Voigtländer Baby Bessa 66*. You might be thinking it’s looking a bit corroded, that’s because it was made in 1938, and has been stored badly. The insides look pristine, though.
It is otherwise in fairly good nick – the bellows are still light-tight, the shutter still works (although all speeds work at 1/150 second), and the lens is in fairly good condition with no scratches. The aperture looks really good. The viewfinder has no glass or lens in it, just holes in two pieces of metal – it is meant to be like that. That’s how they did things before the war.
It had a roll of film in it when I got it, only 7 of the shots had been taken, but I’m not paying to get that developed (B&W medium format film is about £10 to get developed, that’s without printing!). I’m keeping it carefully until the day I finally get around to developing my own negatives, then this can be a test roll!
I’ve already shot a roll of film with it – B&W – which I hope will be back by the end of the week. If it comes out ok, I’ll post some pictures. Or I might post them anyway.
*The 66 refers to the size of the negative – 6cm square. They also made a 46 which was 4.5cm x 6cm.
Yes, I have too many cameras*. It’s not yet become a problem, none of them have cost me over £35 and I still have room underneath my bed to store them. Here is my new one:
This is a pretty small camera, as you can see from the film canister – only 95mm long. The lens partly retracts, making this more-or-less pocket-sized. There is a selenium light meter on the top, which will be handy while I teach myself to use the Sunny-16 rule accurately.
In truth, I have two of these – I bought one as ‘spares or repair’, as previous owner had got the retractable lens jammed in the ‘out’ position, plus other things (The broken one coast me slightly more that the working one!). I’ve sorted the lens, now got a couple of other things to fix. No idea what I’m doing with it then, it’s a bit too beaten-up to sell.
*So far: Voigtländer Vito C (broken), Voigtländer Vitoret D (going to sell this, I think), 2 x Voigtländer Vito B (I love these), Zorki 4, Fed-2, Rollei B35 x 2, Recesky TLR (Gakkenflex clone)