Thursday, February 08, 2018

Kentmere 100

In shooting the last roll of Kentmere 100 I put through the Leica I looked for subjects and lighting that I thought would challenge the film's capacities.  Exposures were one stop below box speed.  I processed the roll in PMK Pyro for ten minutes at 71 degrees, with two tank inversions each fifteen seconds.  The negatives were scanned on my old Epson 2450 flatbed using SilverFast SE with the Ilford Pan-F Plus 50 film profile.

Monday, February 05, 2018

At the Drone Races

On Sunday there was a exhibition of drone technology and drone racing at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum.

The crowd in attendance was enthusiastic but not large.  I suspect that adding wagering to the mix might one day create overflow crowds on the Museum's field.

The small racing drones ran noisily over a hilly course at about a hundred yards distance from the viewing area.  They were only intermittently visible as they were maneuvered at close to 100 mph through a series of arched wickets.  The pilots and a few spectators were equipped with VR headsets to follow the action with a cockpit view.

The participants were oddly sedentary and seemed detached from their physical surroundings.  The experience appeared to resemble that of a video game, except that mistakes had real-world consequences.

The event suggested to me a re-enactment of scenes from William Gibson's prophetic 1984 sci-fi novel, Neuromancer.

I don't think anyone noticed that the action was being recorded by a time-traveling Leica.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Pentax ME, Part 2

I shot off a roll of Fuji 200 to verify that my small repairs to the nice little Pentax ME had met with success.  The worn mirror bumper had been replaced with a small strip from a sheet of foam from Walmart; it was a bit thicker than the original, but seems to work fine.
    The ASA dial I found on ebay looked identical at first glance, but it did not quite fit due to a difference in a small toothed bracket on the underside.  Luckily, the screw holes on the brackets were in the same locations and I was able to swap the parts successfully.
     The nice surprise in the process was the ease of fixing the misaligned latch which caused the back of the camera to pop open.  It seems that the ME back gets a bit dished in with use and pressing on the back near the hinge end was what was causing the problem.  I found a note on the net which indicated I just needed to open the back, grasp it at either end and apply a tiny bit of pressure as if to bend it.  Problem solved.
    The only thing remaining is a missing cover for the motor drive connection; however, that is a cosmetic issue which has a low priority for me.  The camera seems to work perfectly at this point and is a real pleasure to use.

I shot the whole roll after a visit to my dentist whose office is in Albuquerque's Huning Highlands Historic District.  Many of the homes there date back to the early Twentieth Century.  A lot of the houses are Victorian in style, but there is quite an eclectic mix of wooden construction, brick and and stucco.

In addition to the interesting homes there are also quite a few larger historic buildings in the neighborhood including a Greek Church, the 1925 Pueblo/Spanish Revival-style Special Collections Library and the repurposed Albuquerque High School which has been turned into apartments.

I've made pictures of all those buildings in the past with other cameras.  The most interesting structure in the neighborhood, though, is something of a stylistic outlier.  The Albuquerque Press Club was built in a rustic log cabin style in 1903 and it sits on top of a hill in a park overlooking the historic district; it is said to be designed after a Norwegian villa.  I noticed when I visited the site today that the cottage next door is occupied, perhaps by a caretaker.  The dog that met me at the gate there was very friendly.  It could be the most charming place to live in the whole city.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Leica on Leica

My 1936 Leica IIIa had the good luck to take a walk yesterday with an actual Leica lens, a 5cm f-2 Ernst Leitz Wetzlar Summitar.  I have never held such a well-crafted lens in my hand, let alone shot pictures with one, so it was a marvelous experience all around.

 The outing was made possible thanks to an ultra-generous loan of the lens with the stipulation that I should use it as long as I want.  So, my plan is to devote the better part of February to exploring the world through the Summitar.

The Summitar has an all metal body and weighs over seven ounces, so it adds more weight to the camera than would an Elmar or my Industar 22, but the lens is collapsible like those lenses and the whole package is still compact and pocketable.

The Summitar first appeared in 1939, but this particular lens is a post-war product, as evidenced by the beautiful blue coating.  In fact, the Summitar was the first of the Leica-thread-mount lenses to have such an anti-reflective coating.  The lens has seven elements in four groups.  The focus scale on this one is marked in feet.  There are virtually no signs of use on either the metal or the glass.  Given the superb construction and the good condition of the lens I had little doubt that it would turn in a fine performance on the first outing, and I was not disappointed.

[ left-click the images to view full size ]

My first inclination when I learned I would be able to use the Summitar was to do some systematic comparisons between the performance of the Leica lens and my Soviet LTM lenses.  On reflection, however, I'm not sure that would be particularly useful as the seven-element Summitar is clearly in a different league than the four-element Industar and FED lenses.  Also, there is no lack of good data available about the capabilities of all these old lenses.  One of the best sources of information about all the screw-mount Leica type lenses is the SLR Lens Review where there is an excellent page on the Summitar and three thorough chapters on all the common LTM Soviet lenses.  For examples of pictures made with the Summitar, take a look at the rangefinderforum thread.
    My thought is at this point is that if I work for the next month at learning to make good use of the Summitar's capabilities I will be able to use that experience as a benchmark for better judging my results from the Soviet lenses as well as from some others that are closer in design to the Summitar such as  some of the six and seven-element lenses from the same time period from Voigtländer, Zeiss and Kodak AG.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Parting Shots

Shutters on the Beach Hotel at Santa Monica

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm (out the window at 70 mph)