Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Neptune Project

The Neptune Project is a fabulous blog about making photographs with old and simple cameras.  Alice and Jem have only been on line with this blog for about four months, but they have already posted a huge amount of information about using their collection of old cameras to make some terrific images.  How a young couple with a bunch of kids and presumably the need to make a living can accomplish something of such outstanding value is hard to imagine.  I could ramble on, but just head over there to see for yourself and leave an encouraging comment or two.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shooting the Voigtländer Brilliant

Even after switching to TMAX 400 my negatives are still a bit thin.  I'm going to try changing the dilution of my TMAX developer to 1:4 in place of 1:7.

I still have some small light leaks which are likely reducing contrast a bit as well as can be seen in the above full-frame scan.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Voigtländer Brilliant

A few more pictures from the Brilliant.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Albuquerque shuts down a large stretch of Central Avenue a couple times each year for street fairs, which always include a car show as well as loud music and lots of people.  Always a good opportunity to exercise the old cameras.  My little Voigtländer Brilliant performed brilliantly; hard to believe the sharpness of the modest 7.7 Voigtar.

Meanwhile, the Olympus XA is, not surprisingly, more nimble on the street.  Mine like most has a rather dim rangefinder, but I pre-set it to f11 and 8 ft. and it got the job done.


caught in the headlights

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I've added a link in the Elsewhere list over in the right column to the Kickstarter Photography Projects, of which there are currently 106.  Kickstarter provides a way to fund creative ideas through small donations.  Rewards for donors, aside from the satisfaction of supporting a worthy endeavor, include postcards, prints and print collections.  For project originators, a Kickstarter presentation provides not only needed funding, but also an impetus and a structure to get a project under way.

Joshua Marowitz
The photo above is from Joshua Marowitz's  The Natives Salt Print Project.  He's got to within 51% of his goal with twenty days to go.  He will only get funding if the goal is met, so if you've got some spare cash, this looks like an excellent investment in a promising talent.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gordon Parks

I was reminded recently in doing some on line researching of the history of the Voigtländer Brilliant that it was the camera with which the great American photographer, Gordon Parks, started his career.  He told the story himself many times in interviews and it has been repeated ad infinitum by others.

There is a wonderful set of pictures by Parks today at the NY Times Lens blog made in the South in the 1950's.  Some of the photos appeared in Life Magazine at the time, but many more have recently been discovered in storage.  I think they are some of his best work.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Playing with the Paramender

I found a paramender for my Mamiya C330 in the classifieds at RangefinderForum.  

The bellows on the C330 allows you to crank out the lens to within seven inches of the subject.  What you see is not what you get, however, unless you can crank up the camera parallel to the film plane so that the taking lens sees what came in through the top viewfinder lens.  That's the purpose of the paramender.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shooting the Dead

I came across a series of articles with excellent illustrations today by Allison Meier about the cemeteries of New York City.

I like cemeteries, and I've been in quite a few with my old cameras.

Albuquerque, New Mexico - Zorki IIc
Hebron, New York - Olympus 35RC
El Paso, Texas - Pinhole
Las Cruces, New Mexico - Contaflex
Las Cruces, New Mexico - Vivitar PN2011
Hatch, New Mexico - Duaflex III

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The box cameras and pseudo-tlr cameras with brilliant viewfinders became very popular in the decade after WWII.  I've enjoyed shooting quite a few of them, including most recently the Kodak Duaflex and the Ansco Panda. It seemed time to try out the granddaddy of them all, the  Voigtländer Brilliant, which first appeared in 1932.

Voigtländer Brilliant, First Model

Later models were bakelite, but this first model had an all steel case.  The shutter is a simple self-cocking type with 1/25, 1/50 and B settings.  The lens is a three-element f-7.7, 75mm Anastigmat Voigtar.

The picture of the VW is full-frame.  The following 100% enlargement of the lower-right corner of the picture shows the excellent edge sharpness the lens can deliver at f-22; quite a lot more impressive than anything you are likely to find on later cameras of this type.

I cropped down the shot of the sewer pumper to show the nice over-all sharpness and tonal qualities which the Voigtar can achieve.  All the negatives on the roll look under-exposed; I think the camera was working fine, but my HC-110 developer is down to the dregs.

The portrait suffers from under-exposure and a bit of backlight flare, but I think the sharpness still looks pretty good at the Voigtar's wide open f-7.7 setting.

I'll get a new bottle of developer and put another roll of 120 through the Brilliant soon.  It's a fun little shooter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

slow news day

A reporter from the UNM student paper, the Daily Lobo, stumbled on my blog recently.  He came by, we chatted about old cameras for an hour and he took some ttv shots through the viewfinder of my Mamiya camera.

Photo by Junfu Han
My grandmother's old Ansco Folding Buster Brown somehow got transformed into a "professional" camera in the course of the interview.  Still, it's nice to see the picture of her holding the camera while sitting in the canoe.  It seems likely that my grandfather was the photographer on that occasion, though there is no way of verifying that now nearly a century later.  I'm guessing that would have been one of my grandmother's favorite pictures of herself.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Nelly Kate

Musician, composer, performer, designer, illustrator, writer, poet, photographer, human rights advocate.

I came across Nelly Kate's blog while looking for information about the Voigtlander Brilliant.  I might not  have recognized the camera only from her illustration, but I like it a lot nevertheless.  Amazing talent.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

time traveling

The Petroglyph National Monument stretches seventeen miles along a series of basalt ridges created by an ancient lava flow west of Albuquerque.  I went recently to a section of the monument that is infrequently visited and found some nice panels mid-way up the longest ravine.  This kachina warrior probably dates from somewhere between the 13th and 17th Centuries.  There are a few like this at each of the major sites within the monument boundaries.

The star face figures such as this one below are also found frequently.  I did not see this one until I walked by it on my second visit when it was illuminated by the setting sun.

Most of the star face figures are depicted as simple four-prong stars, some with rudimentary appendages.  The one below is the first I've noticed that is attached to a well-proportioned body.  As with the kachina figure nearby, this one holds a war club in the right hand.  The left grasps a bow.

Many of the rock art figures have gotten very dim from weathering the centuries.  It often takes many visits to the same site to find just the right light to bring out design features for the camera.  Now that our monsoon season is starting up, I hope to get back to the place again soon to see how things look under an overcast sky.

This set of pictures was made with my Pentax Spotmatic and a 24mm SMC Takumar lens.  The wide-angle is helpful in framing shots when one is forced to shoot from cramped and precarious positions among the surrounding boulders.  On my next visit I'll probably take the Kodak Reflex II, a tlr with a lens that is very helpful in sorting out the nuances of tone and texture of the petroglyphs.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

cool ride

We were riding our bikes one morning recently over near the Albuquerque Hotel when I noticed a welder working on this improbable vehicle.

I wheeled in through the gate of the place and snapped a couple  pictures with the vuws.  Turns out that the machine is a prop for a film being shot in town.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Albuquerque Overlook

When temps headed up in the city we escaped for the day to the summit of the Sandias east of Albuquerque.

Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim

At 10,000 feet the air is thin and cool, even in mid-summer.

Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim

A few years ago we went up to the top on the tramway.

Voigtländer Vito II