street photography

Time does not stand still

Time does not stand still.

I made this photograph last week in Cambridge.  I caught the kiss just right, I didn’t know that until I developed and scanned.  Some have suggested that I should have cropped tighter, but I actually like it with the 1679 clock.  To me, that suggests that time moves on for us – from the age of lovers, to the age of fiddling around with a smart phone.  As has been noted – even the bicycles are up to it.

Captured onto Ilford Delta Professional 400 film, in my Bronica SQ-A, fitted with a rather wide PS 80mm f/2.8 lens.  Developed in LC29.

Cameras and equipment

A Ross Ensign Ful-Vue II

Rain Ghoul

The Ross Ensign Ful-Vue II camera.

We found this camera last week at a local car boot sale.  I’ve seen several Ful-Vues before, so I imagine that they must have been quite mass produced in their day.  However, this one was in unusually very good condition, an Ensign Ful-Vue II, with the original box, canvas carry case, user manual, and even an empty photo wallet.  So I parted with GBP £5, and took it home.

This model was manufactured in England around 1952.  The Ful-Vue range were simple, but oddly styled, snapshot cameras.  They were sort of box cameras, that were trying to evolve into TLR cameras.  Designed to take Brownie film (120 medium format – some later models used 620 spindles), their days were numbered with the increasing popularity of 35mm film.  A cheap simple lens, a simple one speed (or bulb) spring shutter, but with an odd looking viewfinder somewhere between a box camera and a toy TLR.  It has a three point focus.

My car boot Ful-Vue on inspection, despite it’s otherwise lovely condition, had a sticky shutter.  Three small screws, and the shutter mechanism came off.  A little light oil, and it was back in service.  The photo wallet, and a photo lab pamphlet provenanced to Glasgow in 1960.  I imagine that this may well have been when the camera was last used.

I loaded with one of my remaining 120 rolls of Shanghai GP3 film.  We took it out for a quick fun trial.  What do you think?

Hedge Rider

The Pumpkin Field

Halloween mask courtesy of Poundland, in the tight fisted tradition.

medium format

Vikings, the return

Craig-Allen Rayner at the Godmanchester Viking Festival. A very hot day’s battle. The Viking Festival, Godmanchester. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Kodak Ektar 100 medium format film. Lab processed. Scanned on Epson V500.

I did promise to blog another image or two of colour medium format, from my trip to the Viking Festival in the summer.  A very hot day for the poor Vikings to battle in.  Mead was very welcome.  I know that I love my b/w film, but doesn’t the Kodak Ektar look magnificent out of the Bronica?  That’s a great beard Craig-Allen.

medium format

My Girl from the Fens

My Girl from the Fens. Bronica SQ-A, PS 150mm f/4, Ilford HP5+ film, developed in Ilford LC29. Scanned on Epson V500.

Taken a few months ago, with the wheat still green.  Emneth church tower in the background.  It was on a film in a spare film back for a while.  I had no idea of where I had used it.  I prefer LC29 to develop any ISO 400 films at the moment.  The field made a pretty cool back drop to Anita’s new electro bass guitar.

50p camera

One that got away.

Emancipation.  Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera. Kodak T-Max 400 b/w film. Developed in LC29.

Apologies first for being a Flickr and click whore.  I’m well aware how shallow and meaningless that is.  So don’t go thinking that I’m not concerned myself, how we are all directed to respond to Likes and Faves in our day to day life.

That out of the way, I’ve selected the above photo for this post.  It’s one that got away on Flickr.  Not much in the way of clicks or likes, but I “like” it myself.  I guess it is the opposite phenomena to some of my photos that have made it into the Flickr Explore category, even though I think that they are horrible.

This photo is part of the 50p Camera Project – having been taken on my humble and very abused Olympus XA2 compact camera.  It was taken in Wisbech at the Thomas Clarkson Memorial.  Clarkson was an English slavery abolitionist, born here in Wisbech.

I’m not sure what the woman’s posture was about – probably struggling to use a mobile phone while carrying shopping, but it seems to me to say something with the image of a manacled slave next to her.  What it says is up to you.

medium format

Shooting Manual with no light meter

Taken with an Agfa Isolette folding camera, on Fomapan Creative 200 film, developed in ID11.  No light meter of course.

I’m far too novice to give anyone lessons.  I’m apt to give bad advice in photography.  Warning out of the way, I thought that I would share my experience in shooting on fully manual cameras, without any light meter at hand, other than my old eyes and feeble nervous system. Really you shouldn’t be doing it.  Old light meters, often the cheap selenium types, can often be found at car boot sales, or online (although I’d recommend calibrating them). First alternative:  most smart phone systems now have downloadable light meter apps – some even free (still worth calibrating).  Second alternative – carry a modern camera, preferably one with aperture or shutter priority, that displays the auto-exposure settings.  Use that as a light meter.

I’m lazy, and perhaps I like to take chances.  If you are daft enough to be using a manual camera with no light meter, for opportunistic candid photography, then it goes without saying, you have to expect some crap exposures from time to time.  But I’m a crap photographer who isn’t always bothered if I’m off a stop or two.  Anyway, film can be so forgiving to old bodgers like me.  Modern digital cameras have so much technology targeting the perfect exposure – all sorts of light sensors built into them, with an array of programs, and micro-stops between the micro stops.  A digital-only photographer might balk at the idea of using nothing but your eyes.  Still, their images are very perfect.  Mine are not.  I don’t care.

When I carry a medium format film camera, be it system SLR, TLR, or folding, I more often than not risk it with eyes only.  I might sometimes, just check myself now and then using a light meter app on my smart phone.  So how do I manage to make photographs with no light meter?

I use a dumbed down Sunny F16 rule.  I don’t carry a guide card, but I can see the wisdom in doing so, especially at first.  You should know the rule, if not, go to a search engine now.  On a very sunny, cloud free midday, you set the shutter speed to (nearest) your film speed.  For example ISO 100, set the shutter to speed 125, for ISO 400 film, set shutter speed to 500, etc.  You then in theory, set your aperture to F16.  Actually, I don’t.  I might go for F11, or on a step between F11 and F16 – unless very, very sunny, on a beach or in snow, etc.  Film is more forgiving by a stop or two to over exposure than is digital, so it is best to over expose a little than to under expose in my humble opinion.

The Sunny 16 Rule then goes on to recommend that as the light degrades through scattered cloud, shade, cloudy, to abysmal, that you open your aperture more and more.  There are guidelines!  I just can never remember them.

Of course, you do not have to keep your shutter speed set to the film ISO.  Once that you have ascertained the desired exposure value, you can start to trade between aperture and shutter speed in terms of “stops”. A stop is a traditional aperture, ISO, or aperture setting.  Each roughly doubles or halves the volume of light exposed in the camera.  I said roughly!

The traditional stops for shutter speed (those that are useful in natural light without a tripod) – each one in order increases speed, and halves the amount of light allowed to travel to the film, are: 30 (very steady hand), 60 (quite a steady hand), 125, 250, 500, 1000.

The traditional stops or aperture, each one in order opens up wider, and allows (roughly) double the volume of light to pass through, are: F22 (smallest hole), F16, F11, F8, F5.6, F4, F2.8 (largest hole to past most light).

All stops in terms of the amount of light, are roughly, equal.

Once you understand that, and you have decided upon your exposure value, you can trade one for the other.  For example, if, using the Sunny F16 rule on a miserable grey cloudy day, with  ISO 200 film loaded, your shutter speed is 250, aperture F5.6, that you need more depth of field (a smaller aperture), you can swap 250/ F5.6 for 125 (one stop up) F8 (one stop down).  Alternatively, you need a faster shutter? then step the shutter up to 500, and open the aperture by one stop to F4.

I’m sure that any regular readers will be already perfectly aware of this – or will know better, and will want to hit me around the head, as a dumb amateur giving bad advice.

However, just maybe, people even more n00b than myself, perhaps people growing up in a digital age where camera craft is disappearing, might just benefit from this.  If they are daft enough to listen to me.