Monday, June 18, 2018

cowboy days

I enjoyed getting back to shooting my uncomplicated little ultra-wide camera at a car show in Edgewood, east of Albuquerque.  Though mostly regarded as a toy because of its light-weight plastic construction, the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim has a very sharp 22mm lens.  Coupled with a modern wide-latitude color film like Kodak ColorPlus 200, the vuws returns excellent results under a wide variety of lighting conditions.

Staging an event called "Cowboy Days" in a Walmart parking lot may seem a little incongruous, but I suspect similar events are not uncommon across America's midsection.  This car show was more about custom cars than classic restorations, and there seemed to be more stetsons than one would see at a similar show in Albuquerque.  The gently rolling, mostly treeless terrain around Edgewood blends seamlessly into Eastern New Mexico and stretches far into west Texas.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

macro abstract

A typical photo session for me often encompasses a couple miles of walking along the river.  Limiting my field of view to a table top can offer as many opportunities for finding images, but at a different scale.

These images were all made with the Pentax SP and a +4 accessory lens screwed onto either the 1.4/50 or the 2.8/135.  The TMAX 100 was processed in Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand for an hour.  I liked the results ok, but medium format would likely have given me a little wider spectrum of tones.

Monday, June 11, 2018


I am always thrilled to come across greyhounds anywhere.  On Sunday, I went to Hyder Park in Albuquerque to see a gathering of greyhounds sponsored by The New Mexico Chapter of the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas.  Most are former track dogs rescued by the organization.

When I encounter greyhounds in the city, there is always a touch of sadness to the occasion for me.  Most of the adoptive owners I come across treat their dogs like porcelain dolls; they seem afraid they will break their pets if they don't handle them just right.  So, the dogs never get off a leash when outside and they never have a chance to run full out.

Now, to be honest, the dogs never complain about such treatment.  Greyhounds always seem perfectly content to lounge around the house, and to walk sedately beside their owners in city parks.  They are almost never belligerent  toward other dogs or people when in public places.  My guess is that a lot of adoptive owners interpret this gentle and compliant behavior to a sense of gratitude for being rescued from desperate and sometimes cruel circumstances.

What gets overlooked in the well-intentioned rescue process is the real history of the breed, a tradition of selecting traits of stamina, agility, sharp vision and group compatibility that goes back thousands of years.  Over that vast span of time the greyhound was molded to the purpose of chasing down small to medium-sized game animals.  Since the dogs were hunted at least in pairs and often in large packs their aggression had to be finely tuned to focus on the prey and not on their fellow hunters.  So, the sociable character of the greyhound which makes them so appealing today as pets is really the result of rather ruthless culling to eliminate any behavior which would interfere with a perfect hunting strategy adapted to coursing across the deserts and steppes of Asia and the Middle East.

The physical, mental and character traits of greyhounds which made them perfect hunters also made them perfectly suited to competition racing, and the breeding and training techniques for the track are essentially identical to the ancient customs.  The racing industry has come to be held in low regard in recent times; it is seen as exploitative and callously cruel in many cases.  While there is no denying that dark side of dog racing, it is also seems important to acknowledge that it did keep the breed viable to the present day.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Inside the Samoca-35 Super

The little mid-'50s Samoca rangefinder brings a good price on ebay because of its unusual design.  However, you don't see many pictures posted from the camera, and I have never seen anything on line about restoring the Samoca until now.  A few days ago, Urs Fischer emailed me saying he had seen some of my Samoca shots on line.  He asked if I knew anything about adjusting the vertical alignment in the rangefinder as his was out of alignment.  I had to reply that I could be of no help with the problem as mine was in good working order when I got it and I had no need to look under the hood of the camera.

Undeterred, Urs proceeded to completely disassemble the camera, and he sent me the set of pictures.

Urs said he encountered no great difficulty in taking apart the Samoca, or in getting it all back together again.  Unfortunately he did not find the key to adjusting the misaligned rangefinder.  Here is what he reported back about his findings:
I took my camera completely apart, under the topcover one can clean all the glasses and mirrors, but the length adjustment is done by the cogwheel on the frontplate, the beam splitter and the deflector mirror are glued to the rangefinder housing without any possibility of adjustment. The distance measurement is done by a moving lens. That's why I thought of the rangefinder window cover has a adjustment optic and because it is knurled, and because mine is missing.

So anyway, perhaps time will tell,
meanwhile I wait to see the first pictures,
thanks and regards
urs fischer
So, still another chapter to go in the Samoca restoration, but the information Urs contributed is a big step forward for those of us with an interest in the unique little Samoca-35 Super.

Since it has been a long time since I last made any pictures with the Samoca, I loaded a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 and shot all 36 exposures over the weekend in the Plaza Vieja.

I had to make some substantial contrast adjustment to the pictures from the Samoca.  I suspect that was no fault of the camera, but rather a function of my C-41 processing.  I'll try some Fuji next time around to see if I can sort out the processing issues.

July 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, July 1st, 9:30 AM
Where: Michael Thomas Coffee Roasters, 202 Bryn Mawr Dr SE, Albuquerque
Who: Veteran film users and anyone looking to get started in film photography.

No dues.
No rules (except an interest in film photography).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fomapan 100

I was reminded by a posting at Filmwasters how much I like my little Voigtlander Brilliant, so I took it along on a walk through the neighborhood loaded with some Fomapan 100.  The writer at Filmwasters categorized his Brilliant as a box camera as his model has a fixed-focus f-11 lens.  Mine doesn't fit in the box category as it is equipped with a focusing 3-element anastigmat Voitar lens.  Otherwise, the cameras appear identical with metal body construction and the superlative viewfinder.  Voigtlander was the pioneer among camera makers in first marketing a 6x6 camera with the brilliant finder in 1932.  Other major camera producers like Kodak and Ansco only got around to offering brilliant finders after WWII.

I processed the 120 Fomapan in Rodinal 1:50 and like the results better than what I have gotten so far from the two rolls of Fomapan 200 that I've shot so far.  However, the grain and tonality were not up to the quality I used to get from Acros in Rodinal.  I may try the film again with stand development in HC-100 or Rodinal to see if that gets me closer to what I am looking for.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


I've been watching the restoration of the 2926 locomotive for the ten years we've been in Albuquerque.  It looks like all the parts are back together.

On the day of my visit the task being worked on was making the whole thing water-tight.  That is quite a challenge as there are hundreds of old brass fittings that must withstand very high pressures.

The camera was my Fed-1g with the Fed 3.5/50 lens.

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.