Monday, May 21, 2018

The Car Show

Perfect weather for the annual car show at the Albuquerque Museum; lots of sun, but not too hot.  The sun, of course, does pose some difficulty for photography as the reflections of the sun on the acres of chrome are just about impossible to avoid.  I could actually deal with that with the use of a polarizing filter on an slr, but I always end up choosing to use my older rangefinder and scale-focus cameras for which a polarizer is not very practical.  On this occasion I shot Tri-X in the Benzin Primar plate camera and Fomapan 200 in the Leica.  Here are some from the Bentzin Primar, which always amazes me.

It is not hard to imagine why the plate cameras became so popular for a time in the 1930s.  The 6x9 or 9x12 format behind a 4-element Tessar produces images of extraordinary resolution, and the camera folds flat enough to slip comfortably into a coat pocket.  The Rada rollfilm adapter I use adds a considerable amount of bulk to the outfit, but it is quite a bit more convenient in use than a stack of individual film holders.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nikon F2

The Nikon F2 is a heavy-weight, but still nice to shoot because of its smooth precision in operation.  I took off the bottom plate and repaired a corroded wire to the photomic meter, but it is still not going to work.  The meter itself responds when I apply voltage to the contacts, but it appears likely that there is some additional corrosion of the connections at the battery holder, and that is inaccessible without some major disassembly which I likely won't undertake.  That is not really an important impediment to using the camera, however, and I may still find a non-metered finder some time.  I put a roll of Kodak ColorPlus through the camera, with most of the shots being made with the Nikkor-P Auto 2.5/105mm.


Randall Davey Audubon Center, Santa Fe

Studio Gate


grape leaves

my fence

My desert four o'clock


social networking

Saturday, May 12, 2018

June Albuquerque Meet-Up

New Mexico Film Photographers are invited to attend a meet-up each month to talk about any aspect of film photography.

The next Meet-up:

When: Sunday, June 3, 9:30 AM
Where: Michael Thomas Coffee Roasters, 202 Bryn Mawr Dr SE
Who: Veteran film users and anyone looking to get started in film photography.

Please note that the June meeting will take place on a Sunday rather than on a Saturday because of scheduling conflicts.

 The monthly Meet-Up is sponsored by the New Mexico Film Photographers group at Flickr.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


I am going to like Fomapan 200 once I get its peculiarities figured out.  One of the attractions of the film is the ISO200 rating which potentially provides more flexibility in responding to lighting levels than the Kentmere 100 that I have been using lately.  I started off this first roll at our favorite local craft brewery.

I shot the Fomapan 200 at a stop less than the box speed with the idea that I would be processing it in PMK Pyro which with Kentmere requires a shooting speed reduction of around a stop.  I did not find any very good guidance on line for the Fomapan/PMK combination, so I took a stab at it with 9 minutes at 23C in PMK 1+2+100.

I was very pleased with the Fomapan's fine grain which compares favorably with the slower Kentmere film.  However, most of the outdoor sunny day shots did not achieve my goal regarding tonal depth.  Sorting out the many influences on that quality involves many elements including the camera, lens, exposure and processing.
  • The Nikon EM appears to be operating well, but there is a faint flare spot appearing intermittently in the images which indicates a probable need for a light seal replacement.
  • The 28mm Rokunar lens has good resolution, but the wide-angle often captures a bit too much of the bright sky.
  • Giving the film a full extra stop of exposure may have been a bit too much to retain good detail in both shadows and highlights on a bright day.
  • My guessed-at time and temperature for the PMK processing may have significantly  missed the mark.
I am encouraged to experiment a bit with this film because of the many good results I have seen posted on line in the Fomapan 200 Creative Flickr Group.  The film seems to respond well to processing with a great variety of developers including a couple of my favorites, Rodinal and HC-110.  There are also poor to awful results posted in the same place and some naysayers.  My feeling is that the people who denigrate the film have just not taken the time to work through issues of exposure and processing.  It is instructive to examine recommendations for processing times and temps suggested by the Massive Dev Chart site for a variety of films using HC-110B:

Film               Devel Dil  ASA/ISO35mm120SheetTemp

Fomapan 200HC-110  B      200        3.5   3.5   3.5      20C
Ilford SFX 200HC-110B    200         9       9              20C
Kodak TMax 100HC-110B200         7      7    7.5      20C

So, the very short time recommended for Fomapan clearly shows a significant difference in the film's chemistry.  Most people including me would be reluctant to use times under 5 minutes, but the option to use HC-110 dilution H at twice the B dilution gets around that issue.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

A Fine Day for Tractors

The Corrales Tractor Club put on a show Saturday.  Lots of restored tractors, custom cars, military vehicles, and good hotdogs.  What more could a guy ask for?  I took along my Argoflex Forty loaded with Lomography 100 color film to test the results of the shutter cleaning.

Toy tractors were a big toy store item for many years.  I don't know if they remain so popular today.  I always had toy tractors of various kinds as a kid, the most common being the green John Deere models.

The appeal of tractors to city kids is a little mysterious since few would have any experience with the real thing.  My guess is that some of the attraction is attributable to family histories of migrants from rural areas to the cities during the Depression years.  Back then, having your plow pulled by a tractor rather than a team of horses or mules was certainly a symbol of prosperity and progress.  I don't recall family conversations about tractors, but they did keep me well supplied with the toy versions.  My grandparents moved from rural Wisconsin to Seattle in the late 1930s.  My father's family were farmers in Nebraska.  My grandfather ended up working a long time in Seattle at a John Deere warehouse, so I did have a little direct experience with the machines as a child.

I actually reversed the family migration history in my mid-thirties, moving from San Francisco to rural Idaho.  I did some farm work there which included a year as the maintenance man for the Elmore County Fairground.  Part of that job gave me the frequent opportunity to drive a Farmall tractor.  It was great fun.

I shot the cars and military vehicles on a roll of Fomapan 200 in the Nikon EM  which I'll run through some PMK Pyro developer later today.  While I was pleased to see the Varex lens turning in its usual fine performance, I was not as happy with the Lomography film which has given me better results in the past.  This roll showed some odd white spotting.  I can't yet rule out problems with my processing, so I'll try some other color film with the Unicolor kit soon to try to sort things out.  I also got some light leak along the film edges which shows I need to exercise more care in respooling 120 roll film onto the 620 reels.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

foreground / background

I am trying to be more mindful of foreground/background relationships in the photographs that I make.  I have been helped along in that effort by the use of some late film-era cameras that feature aperture priority exposure control.  Needing to first set the aperture forces me to think about the resulting speed selection and the consequences of the aperture for capturing the depth of field of a particular scene.  I had the Nikon FE with me during a recent visit to the historic Gutierrez-Hubbell house in Albuquerque's South Valley.  In the shot of the child's room I wanted to focus primarily on the iron bed ornamentation while retaining the character of the rest of the room in the background.

Most of the rest of the roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 was shot in the Botanic Garden, also with the Series E Nikon 1.8/50 lens, sometimes with the addition of a push-on +4 closeup lens.

High contrast can provide good separation of foreground and backgound picture elements, but also challenges a film's capacity to maintain a good range of tonal gradation.  I think the ColorPlus does very well, particularly considering its modest cost.

Lens characteristics exert great influence on forground/background relationships, mostly in the way that the out-of-focus areas are depicted.  The Nikon normal lens I was using produces very smooth out-of-focus backgrounds which can yield a watercolor-like effect.

The misted glass behind the succulent in the conservatory provided a kind of filter effect which worked along with the depth of focus of the chosen aperture to provide some separation of foreground and background.

I have used long lenses primarily as a way to minimize foreground distractions such as bars and fences in zoo enclosures.  However, the longer-than-normal lenses can also help in other ways with establishing a desirable relationship to foreground and background picture elements.  I'm thinking this is a possibility I might explore further with the Nikkor-P Auto 2.5/105 which only fits on my Nikon F2.  That camera also features a 1/2000 top shutter speed which facilitates better control of depth of focus in bright light conditions.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dusting off the Argoflex Forty

I decided it was time I got back to shooting some of my simpler cameras.  The representative of that group that always delights me with its results is the Argoflex Forty.  I was surprised when I looked back through my blog postings that it has been two years since I last picked up the little twin-lens Argus.  I re-spooled some Fomapan 100 onto a 620 reel and shot the 12 frames over a couple days.

I developed the film in HC-110b and thought the Fomapan showed good grain and tones.  I also have some Fomapan 200 in 35mm which often gets poor reviews, but I think it will be interesting to see  how it does in PMK Pyro.

The pictures mostly showed me the good sharpness I have come to expect from the coated Varex lens, but there was quite a bit of variation in the density of the negatives even though most were exposed in sunny conditions.  A few of the images I shot at slower speeds also were blurry across the frame.  That indicated a shutter problem, and when I closely examined the action of the shutter as I should have done earlier, I could see that shutter was sluggish at lower speeds and not even closing completely sometimes.  So, time for a clean-up.

The first step in disassembly is to screw out the little pin which stops the rotation of the lens at the infinity position.  Then, you can unscrew the front lens group, taking note of the position of the lens when it comes loose so that it can be screwed back in properly to achieve proper focus.

The face plate with the shutter and aperture indexes lifts off after removing the peg at the top and the small screw at the bottom.  That gives access to the shutter cover plate and center lens group which can be lifted out after removing the long screws at the 4 o'clock and 10 o'clock positions.

By holding the shutter open I was able to lightly scrub the shutter and aperture blades with Ronsonal, and I also brushed some on the gears and levers of the simple shutter mechanism.  After cleaning I found that I could not at first get the shutter operating properly; the release remained locked with the shutter at the B setting and the shutter seemed to operate at just one speed at the other settings.  It turned out that I needed to have the shutter set to the 1/25 position during reassembly in order to get everything properly aligned.  It is also important to hold back the little tabbed lever attached to the star wheel with a small screwdriver blade so that it fits into the slot in the shutter cover.  With everything back together now the shutter seems to be working properly at this point, but I'll run a roll of color through the camera soon to make sure I've got it right.