Friday, January 28, 2011

out of the box

I started acquiring old film cameras to shoot with in 2002; most of my early finds were box cameras that I picked up in Las Cruces junk stores for a few dollars each. Today's Sunday Slideshow features my early efforts with those simple cameras. In looking at the notes that go along with the pictures, I see that I didn't have a scanner at the time; I was using a foamboard light box to make copies of my negatives using a primitive little digital camera. I have to admit that my Photoshop skills were also pretty rudimentary.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shooting 120 in the No.1A Pocket Kodak

Stuffing this rather large Kodak folding camera into a pocket is a challenge most won't want to take on. However, making pictures with it turns out to be surprisingly painless. A Google search on the subject of using 120 film in cameras designed for the big A116 format will turn up quite a few solutions, most involving rather extensive camera modifications. I tried out of few of those myself with my No.1A Folding Pocket Special.

The basic black 1A Pocket model came along about two decades after the red bellows Special, and it incorporated some significant design changes that are not really apparent until you open up the camera. The most important of those is a boxy inner portion that holds the supply-side spool in place without the need for pins to engage the spool ends. The happy result for present-day users is that currently available 120 rollfilm can be used with no mechanical modifications to the camera. In modern terms, the solution is in the programming rather than in the hardware.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

cover shots

Voigtländer Bessamatic

I started this blog just a year before we moved to Albuquerque in January of 2008. I had my Photography & Vintage Cameras web site under way well before that, and the blog seemed a nice way to show some of my current work with the old cameras without all the coding that goes into web site maintenance. In order to link the two sites, I decided to feature a cover picture on the web site homepage that would point to the latest blog entry.

I see in looking back at my collection of cover shots stored in a Photobucket folder that I have recently posted the 300th cover. A few of the photos are digital, and there are a couple not mine which were the work of others featured in blog posts. The vast majority, though, are pictures from my collection of old film cameras. So today's Sunday Slideshow is a look back at the past four years of my photography and my life.

When viewing the slide show, some viewing options are available if you move your mouse pointer down to the bottom of the page. I found it more interesting to use the "reverse order" option to view the series from the beginning in January of 2007. It is also possible to control the speed of the presentation, or to select individual photos from the thumbnail list.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Argus Noir

I like the dark tones that the lens on my old Argus A2F imparts to the images it makes. Stopped down, the lens is capable of giving good sharpness. The image below dates from just over a year ago when I first acquired the A2F.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

dieciséis de septiembre

Mexican Independence Day brings out the folklórico and flamenco dancers in the plaza of Mesilla, New Mexico.

Area 51

Frequent visitors will recognize the pictures as coming from Albuquerque's National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. It is a subject which I have nearly beaten to death, but I found myself there recently again with my little plastic pinhole in my pocket, so I felt compelled to record the event. The last shot was the inspiration for the post title, and most closely approaches my stylistic aspirations for the camera.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

in the neighborhood

Some color from my Kodak Retina IIa.

I have five different models from Kodak's line of Retina cameras. All are excellent shooters, but the IIa rangefinder model if my favorite because of its high-quality construction, compactness and reliability. The lens diagram below illustrates the IIa lens, the Schneider Xenon 50mm f/2.0. As shown, the lens consists of six elements in four groups, arranged symmetrically around the shutter. It was easily equal to anything in its class when introduced in 1951.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Giving digital its due

I originally got seriously interested in photography in the mid-1960s. I then took a thirty year break. What brought me back was a desire to embellish my web design efforts with some photographs. I picked up a little Olympus D360-L with a whopping 1.3 megabyte sensor. That proved perfectly adequate to my purposes, but what I also discovered was that photography had been completely transformed since I was last involved with it. The process had become miraculously simple and quick. The little Olympus let me make super-close macros effortlessly, and everything was properly focused and exposed with almost no effort on my part. As I got more involved in photography for its own sake, I started using the digital camera to make small graphic studies of things around the house.

I gradually moved my photo efforts outdoors into the Chihuahuan Desert that surrounded our home in the country north of Las Cruces. I continued making graphic close-ups, but also extended my range a bit to include desert plants and animals, as well as a bit of scenic work.

In my wanderings around in the desert I often trained my camera on ancient rock art finds. Mostly for that subject, I decided I needed a wide-range zoom that could help me fill the frame with petroglyph panels that were sometimes difficult to access. I therefore acquired up a Nikon Coolpix 5700, a digital camera that was at the time pretty close to the state of the art with a 5 megapixel sensor. I think I paid about $900 for the camera, which seems incredible now.

Around the same time, I also picked up a couple cheap old film cameras from local thrift stores, and then a couple more off ebay. Gradually, my interest in the old film techniques and equipment overtook my devotion to the new digital technology. I now have a little pocketable Canon that gets used mostly for taking pictures of my old film cameras.

Friday, January 07, 2011


Some Albuquerque street photography with the Minoltina AL-S.

The compact Minoltina AL-S is well suited to the task of grabbing shots on the street. In addition to the sharp f1.8-40mm Rokkor lens, the camera provides full manual adjustment of aperture, shutter speed and focus. That means the hyperfocal aperture and distance setting can be easily selected to ensure getting the shot without fumbling around with camera adjustments.

Using 400-speed film in sunlight, the shutter may be set to a motion-stopping 1/500th of a second. With the aperture at f-16 and focus at 10 feet, everything will be in sharp focus from about five feet to infinity. A thumb lever allows rapid and inconspicuous film advance. Strap lugs permit hanging the camera around the neck to shoot from chest level.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

winter day

We took some bread scraps to the ducks and geese at Albuquerque's Tingley Beach ponds this morning. The ducks were floating in the open water, but the geese were mostly standing around on the ice. They were all glad to see us.

Our stroll around the ponds gave me the opportunity to try out my collapsible FED-50 lens on my refurbished Zorki 2-C. I thought the results nicely sharp, and the lens coped well with the contrasty light and shadows of the bright winter day.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

On the Border

Living in southern New Mexico there wasn't much opportunity for street photography. When I felt the need for some of that, I would drive to El Paso and wander around with one of my old cameras. Most of the pictures in this 2003 gallery were made with a Kodak Retina II. The camera's shutter had kind of a weak mainspring, but it worked ok at 1/500, which was fine for hip shots. The f2/50mm Xenon lens may be the best of any in my collection.