Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Long View

The Hektor 135/4.5 lens that came with my Leica IIIc looks new and is very smooth in operation.  It has a fifteen-blade aperture which ensures velvety backgrounds.  The lens has a reputation for good central sharpness with less sharp outer margins.  I shot a roll of Kentmere 400 with the lens on the IIIc to get an idea of how it would perform for me.  The shots that were properly focused and framed looked ok to me, but that represented only about a quarter of the pictures on the roll.

The problem that was immediately obvious when I took the camera and lens out into the real world was that the not-very-bright rangefinder was not up to the job of achieving the degree of precision focus which the 135mm lens demands.  The other issue which only became clear after scanning my images was that a lot more care needs to be given to adjusting the parallax correction on the accessory viewfinder than I had imagined.  I managed to cut the legs off quite a few of my subjects.  Also complicating the process of using the camera and lens was the fact that the diopter adjustment for the rangefinder magnified window has to adjusted for nearly every shot to provide a clear view of the subject.

A technique which is sometimes useful with any long lens is to prefocus on a spot and then wait for the subject to move into position.  I stationed myself at an intersection in the Old Town Plaza and focused on a spot on the road in anticipation of catching a motorcycle I saw circling the Plaza.  As it turned out, the driver turned right instead of left, so I waited for the next opportunity at that location which turned out to be this dismounted couple of Harley enthusiasts.

The beam splitter mirror on the IIIc is actually ok for using with my normal and wide-angle lenses, but it will have to be replaced to make using the Hektor with the IIIc worthwhile.  I may try the lens on my Leica IIIa or my two Barnack-style Soviet cameras which all have rangefinders with better contrast.

Getting the proper performance from the Tewe accessory viewfinder needed for the Hektor will require some concentrated, disciplined practice.  The focal distance selected in each instance has to be replicated very precisely in adjusting the parallax setting of the viewfinder.  That challenge is further complicated by the facts that the scale on the lens is in feet, while that of the accessory finder is in meters, and the scale on the finder is not finely graduated.

Given the unblemished condition of my Hector lens I think it likely the original owner did not spend a lot of time mastering the juggling act required to get well-focused and well-framed images from the Hektor on the IIIc.  I also don't see a lot of images on line with Hektor tags.

Leica did offer alternatives to the challenge of using long lenses on the screw-mount rangefinder cameras.  The PLOOT system of the 1930s and the Visoflex of the 1950s were accessory reflex housings which provided a through-the-lens view when matched with special lenses. In the mid-1950s the Leica M rangefinder cameras. along with bayonet style lens mounts, offered auto-parallax compensation and framelines in the viewfinder for 28-135mm focal lengths.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Testing the 3C

I shot a roll of Kentmere 400 in the newly arrived Leica IIIc.  My main objective was to determine if there were any pinholes in the shutter curtains that needed mending.  There were no streaks or blotches on the negatives, and the shutter seemed smooth and accurate in operation.

All but one of my exposures were with the Elmar 3.5/50.  The lens has a blue tint, so it is likely that it is a post-war model that came along with the camera in 1946 or 1947.  Besides being a competent performer, the collapsible Elmar contributes significantly to the compactness of the camera.  The camera with the lens pushed in fits easily into a small zippered belt bag which makes it easy to carry when I'm out on the bicycle.

The last picture on the roll was made with the Soviet-era f2/50 Jupiter 8.  At f4 and 1/60 there seems to be no practical difference between the Jupiter and the Elmar and I am pretty sure the same will be true with my other Soviet normal lenses.  Nevertheless, it will be nice to be able to shoot the Leica IIIa and IIIc cameras with the proper German glass.  I am also looking forward to trying the 135mm Hector, for which I have no Soviet counterpart.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Colores de Quarai

The Quarai site is close up to the south end of the Manzano Mountains, so it catches a little more rain than the other two Salinas Pueblo Missions as the clouds pile up against the mountains.  In mid-July there is a large amount of coyote gourd starting to produce gourds, and the groves of cottonwood and other trees provide a lot of welcome shade.  I suspect the trees were not a prominent feature of the landscape when the pueblo was still populated back in the 17th Century.  People who rely on wood for cooking and warmth cannot usually afford the luxury of ornamental shade trees.

Roxie enjoyed making a couple new friends, and she was especially well-behaved on the leash during our walk through the Quarai site.

This model of the Quarai Mission church and convent was constructed and restored quite a long time ago.  The architectural studies of the Salinas Pueblo Mission sites are also mostly quite old.  Given the present day availability of 3D drawing software it seems like it would be pretty easy to create much more interesting re-creations of the site.  Archaeologists have begun to use drones and 3D software to document sites and their excavation, but not so much for constructing 3D models of the complete structures.

ClipPix ETC

This interesting little cemetery chapel is in Punta de Agua just before the turnoff to Quarai.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Colores de Abó

I shot part of a roll of Fuji 200 in my Pentax Spotmatic at the Abó ruins in the morning and finished it off at Quarai in the afternoon.  Knowing that my C-41 kit was pretty anemic at this point I decided to drop off the film for processing on the way home at the one place in town that still develops color film.

I was a little surprised to find the the local lab's results had all the same deficits as I have been seeing in my own C-41 results at home.  The negatives looked to be one or two stops under-done, and there were quite a few white spots to be stamped out in Photoshop, along with some red stains bleeding in from the spaces between frames.

The Unicolor and Cinestill C-41 kits I use are out of stock at all the on-line sites I have looked at, and that seems to be expected to persist until the Fall.  I have poked around on the net to get some insight on the shortages and quality issues, but have not come up with any explanations.

* * *

Two more from the Abó site.  The little Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim does a nice job of blending the subject and its environment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Leica III C

I picked up this nice Leica IIIC kit yesterday.  The price was a bit more than I usually pay for my old cameras, but still very reasonable.  The camera came in its original case; on it was mounted the Leitz Elmar f5cm 1:3.5.  The telephoto is a Hektor f=135cm 1:4.5.  The Tewe universal finder works with lenses from 35mm to 135mm.  I already had one of the old Weston bakelite meters, but this one works.

The seller was a very pleasant young woman.  She said the camera had been given to her many years ago by her great grandfather who was a doctor and an African big game hunter.  She never used it because it seemed too complicated, so she decided to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it.

In the camera bag in addition to the original manual were a couple pages of handwritten instructions on the operation of the camera and the telephoto lens.  An import certificate was tucked into a narrow pocket on the back of the camera case.  Everything seems to work properly, so we'll see what kind of pictures it can make for me.

Monday, July 20, 2020


The Abó pueblo and mission ruins are part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument about an hour south of Albuquerque.  The Spanish invaders took control of the Tanoan pueblo in the 17th Century and built the church.  The site was abandoned after about fifty years due to drought and  Apache raids.

These pictures were made on my last roll of Acros which I processed in Rodinal 1:50.  The camera was my Kodak Reflex II.

The challenge in photographing these ruins is to get something that looks different from the many thousands of pictures which have been made of the sites in the past.  There was also a large crew at Abó working on stabilizing the ruins.

The photographer pictured making a shot with a fine 4x5 is Joe Van Cleave.

Friday, July 17, 2020


New Mexico has seen record July temperatures this year.  Even on 100-degree days, however, I can still enjoy an early morning walk to the west beside the river, or to the east in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

red filter

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Morning Light

Dawn comes into our house through the front door.

The low sun lights up the plants and family pictures on the table beside the door.  Daggers of light slide along the oak floor to illuminate dark corners.  If the door is open to let in the cool morning air the glass bends sunbeams into the china cabinet at the back of the room, causing the teacups to glow brightly. On Fall mornings when the sun comes up over the mountains straight from the east, a beam of light shines through the keyhole of the bathroom door and casts an inverted image of the brightly lit front door on the dark far wall.

Friday, July 10, 2020


We enjoyed our 7/7/20 breakfast at Los Poblanos.

The outdoor seating looks out over fields of lavender toward the Sandia Mountains.

This was just the second time we have been to Los Poblanos.  The first was just a few months ago when we took out-of-town friends there for breakfast.  On that occasion we got to visit the huge kitchen and we could have sat at a table there and watched the meals being prepared.  We decided to put that off to the next visit, so that could be some time in the distant future now.

Monday, July 06, 2020

A Date

7/7/70, San Francisco

We have a reservation to celebrate with an early breakfast at a nice local restaurant.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Field Trip

It has been months since I last took a walk around the UNM campus.  I went there yesterday morning with my Pentax H3v loaded with HP5+ which I shot at box speed and developed in L110b.  The lens on the H3v was a 35mm/3.5 Super Takumar that I've had for a long time but not used before.

Not unexpectedly, the campus was deserted except for some maintenance workers and a few people lounging around the duck pond.

There used to be a totem pole  from the Northwest in this courtyard behind the anthropology museum.  The pickup carcass seems a much more appropriate totem for the Southwest.

Near the main library I ran into a fellow carrying a digital camera with a long telephoto.  He was Mike Sandoval, a student in the UNM photography program and a photographer for the student newspaper, the Daily Lobo.  He said the Lobo is being published only on line at present.  We talked a bit about what re-opening the University might look like.  He said classes were scheduled to start up in August, but that the details were still very sketchy.

I gave some more thought to school re-openings as I continued my walk.  I think it likely that an effort will be made to get back to what existed before the pandemic.  It seems to me a better option might be to take advantage of the current situation to re-think the whole educational process (along with issues of over-population, public health, equitable resource allocation and environmental degradation!).  Suggestions are welcome.