Monday, June 21, 2021

Vito III Progress

 I did a couple morning walks through Albuquerque's Old Town with my Voigtländer Vito III; the film was Kentmere 400.  I have gotten a little more comfortable with the unconventional layout of the controls.  However, I am still having a little difficulty framing my shots to properly account for parallax error.

The camera's shutter seems to be working well at all speeds.  The Ultron lens is performing close to my expectations for it.  I still have not summoned to courage to try cleaning the viewfinder, but it is ok for any outdoor setting.

This was my first roll of film with a new bottle of Legacypro L110 developer.  I was pleased to see that it performed well with the Kentmere film, showing no apparent under-exposure.  When I emptied the previous half-used bottle I saw that there was a large, viscous mass at the bottom which probably indicated that some of the components had precipitated out, leaving a weakened developing solution.  For this roll I used dilution-E for 5.5 minutes at 24.5C to cope with an overly warm ambient temperature.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Yerba Mansa

 Summer along the middle Rio Grande is announced by the blooming of the Yerba Mansa.  This year the season started a little early, probably thanks to warm temperatures and some welcome rains.

The dense patches of fleshy green leaves blanket acres of the boggy cottonwood forest floor.  The plants do well in the deep shade, but the blossoms are thickest where a bit of direct sunlight reaches them during the day.

The seed forming flowers are actually the small petals clustered on the central cone structure.  The likely function of the showy white bracts is to attract sphinx moths and other night-roaming pollinators.  In addition to the production of copious amounts of seeds, the plants also spread with dense mats of runners near the soil surface.

While the towering cottonwoods are dominant, they share the space with many other shade-tolerant species including Mulberries, Russian Olive, and Wolf Berries.

These first pictures of the year were made with my Nikon F on TMAX 400 film.  I look forward to visiting the Yerba Mansa several more times as they mature during the summer with other cameras.  I am  also pleased to see that the small Yerba Mansa which I planted a couple years ago beside the house look like they might finally produce a few flowers.

(See: The Yerba Mansa Project)

Ignore this pic.  It is for another post elsewhere.

Saturday, May 29, 2021


 I decided to shoot the last roll of expired Kodak Gold 200 in my Minolta X-700.  The first frames of the roll were exposed on a walk in the Sandia foothills to see the peak blooming of local wildflowers.  We found a lot of Apache Plume, some red and purple cactus blossoms, thistles, and several stands of Indian Paintbrush, along with a lot of little yellow flowers whose names always escape me.

The best wildflower show, though, was right beside the sidewalk on the south side of our house where I planted some Desert Four O'Clock a couple years ago.  The plant produces a big mound of greenery and purple flowers which bloom each afternoon all summer.  I have not found the Four O'Clock in the wild near Albuquerque, but it is common in desert arroyos in southern New Mexico.

The Spring sun has also produced a spectacular crop of artichokes for Margaret; the two big plants look like they will give us about a dozen artichokes each.

Most of our walks in the neighborhood and beyond include the dog, Roxie.  She talks us into trips to the river a couple times a week where she likes to splash in the shallows.

The box the film came in says "Bright Sun & Flash" and "Made in China for Eastman Kodak Company", along with the admonition to "Develop Before 05/2006".  Not being able to meet that requirement, I shot the roll at one stop slower than the 200 ISO rating.  I developed normally in Cinestill C-41 and scanned with my Epson flatbed using a  Silverfast Portra setting to compensate for a bit of color shifting.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

More Street Art

I found this nice mosaic lying in the dirt beside a street.

One wonders how something like this gets lost or discarded.  I probably should have photographed it in place to document the circumstances of its discovery.  Instead I took it home thinking I might frame it and hang it on the wall.

I tried scanning the piece, but result was very dull; it needed to be lighted obliquely in order to properly illuminate the polished surfaces.  I then photographed it with my digital camera against a white background in subdued window light.

A shot of the back of the mosaic reveals something of its origin.

(This post was originally on my digital/political blog which I or anyone else seldom visit.)

Friday, May 21, 2021

Two Pueblo Women

I found this cardboard fragment today in the alley beside our local grocery.  It measures 3"x3.75".  No idea what the original purpose was.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


We spent a few days visiting with friends and family in Las Cruces.  Our motel was close to the little town of Mesilla, so it just took a couple minutes to drive there on a Friday morning to visit the plaza and shoot a roll of film in my Brownie Hawkeye Flash.

The town clings tenaciously to its past; things change, but more slowly than in most places.  The economy is still closely attached to the land, and traveling south or west quickly brings visitors to fields of onions and vast pecan orchards irrigated only with ground water.  The Rio Grande is mostly dry long before it gets to Mesilla; the acequias that run through town contain only sand.

The Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional film I shot in Mesilla was rated at ISO 320; that would be a bit fast for a sunny day in the Brownie Hawkeye Flash, but it seemed like the twenty-seven years beyond the expiration date would likely have tempered the sensitivity of the film sufficiently to allow use in the old box camera.  I processed the film as recommended in the data sheet in the film box and I thought the results were pretty good.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Good News

The Classic Camera Repair Forum is back online.  The forum was the undisputed best place to find information on the repair and restoration of old film cameras.  The archived forum was available online through the Rangefinderforum site for quite a while, but new questions could not be posted and there was no obvious way to search the forum contents. 

I posted a little search widget for the forum on my blog which worked with the RFF site, but that is no longer needed, so I removed it.  Visit the site now and help to get it going again.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Little Brother

Voigtländer Vito cameras and I have a long history together.  My first was a Vito II that I found in a Las Cruces pawn shop around the time my interest in shooting film was reignited. In the shop's display case there were actually two rather similar cameras side by side, the other being a Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 35.  Both featured the high-precision style of the German cameras of the post-war era, and each had coated four-element Tessar-type lenses.  The similar features and quality of the two cameras made it impossible to choose one over the other, so of course I had to buy both.

I also later stepped up to the next level with both camera lines, acquiring a Zeiss Ikon Contessa seven years ago and my Vito III just recently.  All have been superb performers, but the relative simplicity and compactness of the Vito II and the Ikonta 35 have kept me going back to them in spite of the greater sophistication of their coupled rangefinder successors.

After putting a couple rolls of b&w through the new Vito III, I felt a nostalgic tug to shoot some color in my Vito II.  The only color film I had on hand was some Kodak Gold 200 with an expiration date of 04/2003. I shot half the roll on a bike ride to Albuquerque's central downtown and the rest on a walk through Old Town.

The proliferation of painted wall murals over the past year has been truly astounding.  I don't know if that is a phenomenon peculiar to Albuquerque as I have not been more than a few miles out of town for the past year.  We are scheduled to make visits to Las Cruces and Santa Fe later this month, so I'll get an idea then if other towns are experiencing similar adornment.

I gave the Kodak Gold 200 an extra stop of exposure to allow for its age, but I was pretty confident of getting acceptable results because film had spent the intervening eighteen years in a freezer, so I processed normally with a  Cinestill C-41 kit.  Scanning with Photoshop's Kodak Gold profile did produce images with a decided green tint, but using the Portra profile and a bit of further color adjustment got pretty normal looking hues.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Voigtländer Vito III

I decided to acquire this Voigtländer Vito III recently when I came across its listing on ebay at what seemed a reasonable price.  The seller was a photographer who had made pictures with the camera.  He said the camera showed some minor signs of use, but everything worked properly.

   I was pleased to find on receiving the camera that the seller's claims were largely justified.  There is a little brassing on the lower side and a couple corners of the covering will need to be glued down.  The viewfinder could benefit from a cleaning, but it is usable, and the coupled rangefinder is accurate.  The Ultron f2/50 lens is clear, the shutter seems accurate, and the controls work smoothly.

These pictures from the camera were made on a roll of Kentmere 400 which I exposed at a stop slow for processing in PMK Pyro.  The early morning light in the riverside forest was a little on the dim side. 

The light was a better the next day during a stroll through Old Town. 

The images from the camera lived up to my expectations.  It will take some time, however, to get used to the unconventional placements and operation of some of the controls.  Focusing is accomplished by turning the knob on the top-left of the camera which also contains a pop-up rewind key.  The viewfinder window is to the right of center, so parallax must be allowed for in the opposite direction from that required by most of my rangefinder cameras. 

The placement and operation of the aperture, the shutter speed ring and the cocking lever are quite similar to those controls on my Vito II, one of the first cameras I acquired when I got back to shooting film about twenty years ago.  The Vito III is quite a bit larger than the Vito II, but still quite compact and pocketable when folded.  I'm thinking it will be fun to carry both together, one loaded with b&w and the other with color.