Monday, December 28, 2015


Kodakery, a monthly magazine for amateur photographers first appeared in 1913. Single copies cost five cents, and a dollar would get you a two-year subscription. While the publication was clearly a vehicle for advertising Kodak products, it also contained a lot of useful information for the photo enthusiast. Each issue was twenty-five or thirty pages in length, with about equal space allotted to text and photo reproductions. The design and layout of the publication was spare and elegant.

There were technical articles in Kodakery aimed at the advanced amateur on subjects like film and print processing. Most of editorial content, however, was less demanding, and focused on how best to compose pictures of subjects likely to be of interest to the average person who was mostly interested in recording events and scenes of daily living. Portraits of family members, pets, and children got attention in every issue, as did subjects like garden flowers, travel, sports, marine and snow scenes. While many of the published photos had a rather bland look by today's standards, all were technically excellent and clearly made by people who were advanced amateurs or professionals. None of the featured photographers, however, were big-name artists of the time.

A couple pages at the magazine's beginning and four or five at the end were typically devoted to advertising – only for Kodak products. The company's capacity for technical research, camera making, and a near monopoly on film production gave it tremendous market leverage. Marketing was conducted through franchises to small shops like drug stores and photo equipment specialty shops, and was supported by expertly coordinated advertising campaigns in Kodakery and elsewhere. Kodakery ads seemed to exclusively feature domestically made products from the massive Rochester, NY establishment. However, though it was not apparent in the pages of Kodakery, the company very early on also was engaged in developing overseas markets and production capabilities, an effort which included the acquisition of promising innovative companies like the Kodak A.G. Dr.NagelWerk in Stuttgart which developed the stunningly successful 35mm film cassette. The end result for Kodak was an industry-dominant position very much resembling that of Microsoft or Google today.

Pictures of children, pets and women engaged in idyllic domestic activities were most likely to find their way onto Kodakery's covers. The children were sometimes pictured wielding cameras - a clear allusion to the Kodak message that it made photography easily accessible to anyone. Women were also frequently shown using Kodak cameras to record family life. The magazine also featured frequent shots of smiling young women in dramatic poses, wearing stylish clothing at the beach or in some exotic location like a cruise liner. Those same images, resembling fashion shots, over time became very prominent in Kodak advertising presentations.

Kodakery, Volumes 1-12 can be found on line at the mcnygenealogy site along with other Kodak publications.  Beginning in 1943 the "Kodakery" title was used for the in-house publication for Kodak employees.

(This article was originally posted on my web site.)

Monday, December 21, 2015


So, I went to my local used computer guy and bought a not-new laptop running Windows 7 so that I could run the Blurb book creation software.  Not exactly state of the art, but it looks like it will do the job.  Also picked up a $25 19-inch monitor today so that I can see what I'm doing.

After years of putting my photos on line on my blog and my web site I see that I have a lot to learn about producing images for print.  It is a sobering experience, but not without reward.  I've worked through most of the issues with Photoshop at this point.  Now, I'm looking at learning some new things about layout and fonts, along with rethinking some ideas about why and how I make my images.  It is nice to have a project to work with.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Moving along

My vintage camera web site is set to go off line at the end of 2015.  Much of the information is duplicated in this blog which will remain available.  While I could easily reconstitute the web site at some time in the future I am more inclined to revisit some of the images and ideas via new media opportunities such as photo books, ebooks and exhibits.  I'll post notes here on any progress in that direction, as well as reporting on my collateral investigation into the question of whether or not old dogs can learn new tricks.

I have some preliminary findings that I can report now:

1. Retailers continue to ask outrageous prices for digital printer ink.

2. Blurb has announced that it will no longer support my XP operating system.

3. There are some interesting new programs for the black and white digital printing, one such being a shareware utility called QTR that does quite a bit better job of tonal control and producing color neutral prints than Photoshop.

4.  Recent visits to Albuquerque photo galleries have revealed an accelerating proliferation of schlock art in ever-larger sizes on shiny metal surfaces with all the subtlety of  late-night used car advertising.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Shooting the FED 1g

The FED 1g is the last in a long line of Barnack-style Leica copies produced in the Soviet Union.  Mine, according to the serial number, was produced in 1955.  I haven't used the camera in quite a while because of a maladjusted shutter which caused a dark line to appear along one edge of the negative.

The explanation of the problem is that the second of the two cloth curtains in the shutter is under too much tension and it catches up to the first curtain a little too soon after the shutter is tripped.  The solution to the problem is to slightly decrease the tension on the second curtain.  The picture below shows the two little knobs with a screw in the middle of each which allow the adjustment of the tension on the two curtains.  The one closest to the lens controls the second curtain.  There are several places on the net where you can get instructions for making the adjustment.  I used the one at rangefinderforum which can be found in the Russian FSU RF forum.

Truth be told, the instructions are pretty opaque.  I removed the little locking screw while holding onto the big round nut with some pliers and keeping the tip of my screwdriver planted in the central screw head.  The whole thing rotated a bit on its own, so when it got to about 180 deg. from the starting point, I returned the nut to its original position by twisting counterclockwise and put the locking screw back in place.  I'm still not sure if what I did corresponded to the intent of the instructions, but I don't see any dark line  as before in the negs, so I guess the problem is fixed.  Below are a couple full neg scans from the roll I put through the camera following the repair.

There are a couple other common problems with these cameras.  The film cassette tends to ride a little high in the chamber because of a slight difference between modern film canisters and the reusable metal one the Russians used.  There is a little extra black light seal material in the modern cassettes which protrudes at the ends.  That can be cut off to allow the cassette to seat better.  If that doesn't do it, you can lay a penny on top of the cassette before you replace the back.

The other common issue is pinholes in the rubberized cloth shutter curtains. Provided the deterioration is not too advanced, you can fix that problem with a light application of black fabric paint which you can get at any crafts store.

In addition to the FED 50mm collapsible lens I have a 35mm Jupiter 12 and the corresponding wide-angle accessory finder.  Both lenses are of excellent quality and I'm pleased to once again have an opportunity to put them to use.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Shooting the Kiev IIa

My Kiev IIa dates from 1956.  Aside from the addition of the flash synch socket it is a well-made close copy of the Zeiss Contax II.  This is a camera that demands some familiarity to get the best performance it is capable of delivering.  The best explanation of the peculiarities of the Kiev rangefinder I have seen is at Laszio Gerencser's blog, The Camera Collection.

The Contax grip is an essential part of using the Kiev IIa.
Though no fault of the camera, the pictures I snapped during our recent snow storm were not worth posting.  I did like a couple of the compositions from the previous day's outing when the storm was just developing.

Tiguex Playground

San Felipe de Neri
I believe both of these shots were made with the 35mm Jupiter 12 lens which I generally prefer to shoot on this camera, mostly because of the brilliant accessory finder which goes with it.  The 5cm/f2 Jupiter 8 is also a very good performer.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

pardon my digital

Albuquerque gets some snow every winter in the Sandia Foothills.  Significant amounts only reach us in the valley about once in a decade.

I shot some Tri-X with the Kiev IIa which I'll post when it is developed.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Kodak HC-110 Developer

 I shot a roll of Tri-X in my Pentax K1000 at the zoo yesterday.  As I often do to get close to the subject and eliminate foreground clutter, the camera was mounted with a 135 Super Takumar plus a Vivitar 2X telextender.  The film was processed in HC-110 which has long been my favorite for black and white work as it seems to handle about any film well, and it does particularly well with TMAX and Tri-X.

The liter bottle of HC-110 which I popped open yesterday was the first I've used in about two years since the price doubled.  BHPhotovideo where I usually get my film won't ship HC-110 any longer, so I put in my order with Freestyle where I also get my Unicolor kits for color work.  The price for the HC-110 was $35.99 plus about four bucks for USPS shipping.

While I was sufficiently irritated with the price gouging to avoid buying the HC-110 for a long time, the truth is that even at the current price the developer is still one of the most economical resources for home black and white film processing.  The concentrate is used by most people in the 1:32 one-time-use Dilution B form.  That means the liter bottle will produce nearly 8.5 gallons of working solution to process around one hundred rolls of film.  In fact, it is possible to go to Dilution H with little loss of quality, and get twice the mileage.  For the specifics of mixing and using HC-110 the best source of information is still the old Covington Innovations web site.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Getting what you see

I'm often happier with the images from simple cameras than those from some of my more sophisticated models with highly corrected lenses and shutters with a wide range of speeds.  The Argoflex Forty has a decent three-element coated lens, but the shutter has a top speed of just 1/150.  Focus is by estimation.  The camera's big advantage for me is the brilliant finder which gives me a very good idea of what I am actually going to get on the film.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Visualizing Albuquerque

The Visualizing Albuquerque exhibit runs from January 31 to May 3, 2015 at the Albuquerque Museum of Art.  It was not until my second visit that I noticed the sign out front said that photography is allowed at this show.  So I snapped a few shots with Tri-X in my Zorki 2-C, mounted with the Jupiter 12 lens.

Mildred Murphey. "Self Portrait", Aluminum

Ford Model T Speedster (1912)

I have taken quite a few photographs at the near-by Natural History Museum over the past few years.  Photography is not normally permitted in the Art Museum, so this exhibit presents an unusual opportunity to explore the museum experience.  I'll likely return several times with my cameras to try a variety of techniques.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

winter flower

This plant flowers in mid-winter in the Mediterranean Conservatory.  I have made quite a few pictures of it over several years with a variety of old cameras.

Pentax K1000

Pentax Spotmatic

Kodak Recomar 18

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Riding the Swan

I patched the last of the light leaks in the bellows of my oldest Kodak Duo Six-20 and took it to the Albuquerque Botanical Garden.  I seem to end up testing all my old cameras at some point with how well they can render a little garden sculpture there.

My impression at this point is that the lens on this camera is not quite as sharp as the ones on my two other Duo Six-20, but it is still a capable shooter if handled with some care.  

This mid-'30s model is very similar to the one Amelia Earhart carried with her on her last flight.  The camera's Deco style fit her nicely.

I felt I had made a little progress in getting the camera working closer to its potential on my outing at the Botanical Garden.  I was also happy with the combination of Tri-X film and D-76 developer on this occasion.  My last efforts with the combo had yielded some thin negatives, so I gave the film an extra minute this time in the 1+1 D-76 and got better density.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Mission Ruins

We drove southeast from Albuquerque to visit two of the three Salinas Pueblo Missions ruins near Mountainair.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kodak 35

I picked up another Kodak 35 recently on ebay.  I have another very similar, but this one has some interesting differences and is likely the first model which Kodak made in 1938.  

The most obvious difference in this early model is a frame with rollers which holds the film down over the film transport sprockets which both activate the film counter and cock the shutter.  Later models dispensed with the frame, but they all had a tendency to chew up the film strip along the edges.  After I cleaned up this one it seemed to be operating pretty smoothly, but it did tear out a couple edge perforations and caused some difficulties in loading the film on the developing reel leading to the loss of several frames. 

The pictures I got from the camera showed the Kodamatic shutter and the Anastigmat Special lens to be performing well.

Kodak continued production of the camera after WWII and beefed up the design with flash synchronization and a rangefinder.  However, those improvements did not allow Kodak's offering to catch up to the popularity of the Argus C-3 which had interchangeable lenses and no film transport issues.  In spite of the quirky design, the Kodak 35 is interesting historically, and it is pretty easy to work on.  I posted some notes on servicing the camera on about eight years ago.  That model had a simpler lens and shutter than my recent acquisition, but the sunny day pictures it made seemed no less sharp to me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

diy color

This is my setup for color film processing.

If you search the web for tips on doing your own C-41 color film processing you will find people suggesting rather elaborate temperature control schemes, often involving aquarium heaters, turkey roasters or expensive rotary agitators.  None of that is necessary if, like me, you are mostly processing one roll at a time.  I just run some hot water into a plastic pan into which I put the developer, blix and stabilizer to warm to the recommended temperatures.  When the developer reaches 102 deg. I pour it into the developing tank, turn off the hot water and set the tank in the pan.  Since development only takes 3.5 minutes, there is very little temperature change that takes place.  The blix phase is less critical in regard to time and temperature, and the stabilizer goes in at room temperature.   I have developed nineteen rolls of color film using this method and the one-liter Unicolor kit and have not seen any unusual color shifts or other processing problems.  Below are some shots from my last roll shot on Fuji 200 in my Contessa 35.