Dogs and animals

Canis Familiaris

Agfa Isolette I. Shanghai GP3. Developed in Kodak D76.

Now, this photograph is technically imperfect.  However, I like it.  I’m using it here to sum up my frequently made point with regards to the craze in digital photography for sharpness, that you can make attractive images without sharpness or massive detail.

Sure, it’s out of focus.  Not on purpose, but using a sixty year old folding camera without a range finder to photograph a living and frequently moving animal in poor light, it happens.  Thing is, I personally don’t think that it matters.  The film captured it in my eyes, perfectly well – it capture’s his essence.  However, that is how I see it.  I don’t know how others see it.

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medium format

Edward the Great

Agfa Isolette I. Ilford HP5 Plus. Developed in Kodak D-76. Scanned film in V500.

I think that for once, I caught my son Edward here quite well.  Edward the Great.  While we were shopping in Norwich.  I’m not the greatest Dad, but Edward is the greatest son.

Caught on a car boot sale camera, a 1953 (ish) budget folding camera, the Agfa Isolette I.  Great medium format pocket (well, a large pocket) camera.

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Cameras and equipment

The Animistic Atheist

Anita and the lurcher. Portrait using the Agfa Isolette I, Agnar 85mm f/4.5 lens, Foma Fomapan Creative 200 film. Developed in ID11

I’m the crustiest old atheist imaginable.  I know that it annoys Anita sometimes, but I lack faith not only in the existence of any gods, goddesses, or godlings, but pretty much in any supernature or hocus pocus.  Mr Rational, the skeptic, that demands testable evidence.  Not that I think that is boring – the World, it’s Life, and the Universe, as scientific investigation is revealing them, is far more magical than any creation myth.  Still, you get the picture.

Yet, I have to confess to some pretty innate animistic tendencies.  Lots of us have them – we become fond of an inanimate object.  It might be our car, our home, our musical instrument – we invest it with personal feelings.  We might even refer to this object as “her” (or him maybe).  When we handle them, we do so with a care and reverence.  When we change the oil, we might wonder if the car is happier.  We sad atheistic animists.

I confess.  I see old cameras this way, especially when they have been long abandoned, and have ended up at the car boot sale, in a box with old cutlery and scary looking broken dolls (now, they have a Manitou).  You wonder how it feels for them to be cleaned, and carefully loaded with a new film.  To have it’s shutter open onto the 21st Century, a second chance to live.  Sixty year old cameras are not supposed to rise from the grave, are they?

I even imagine their life, if they could talk.  I developed a found film from one, and found photos of steam railway that dated to around 1961.  The camera was last used in 1961.  A different world.  Did they expose rolls of Kodak to happy family scenes from Butlins during the 1960s?

A few weeks ago, Anita, pleased with the results of the Kershaw Penguin, encouraged me to use another of my old folders that needed testing for light leak.  This time, it was a lovely condition Agfa Isolette I folding camera from around 1954.  I actually have two of these, and have previously used the other one – but it started to leak light.  Bellows age.  I still had a roll of Foma Fomapan Creative 200, from a batch that produced some poor quality images with dark blotches.  Perfect for a light test.

So the above and below images were born last week, of that Isolette and Fomapan 200.  The camera said hello to the 21st Century.  No light leaks.  The film did have some blemishes, but I’m pleased enough with the results.

As a post script, the Isolette had a post code and house number on it’s rear.  I took a look on Google Street View at a row of semi detached houses in the North of England.  I thought about that camera and it’s history.  If only it had a memory.

The Limes Farmhouse. Isolette I. As above.

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Film, 35mm, and scans

Seeing red (in black & white) – and the 400S film enigma

Pentax SP500 Spotmatic. Super Takumar 55mm f/2 lens. Hoya 25A red filter. Firstcall (Agfa Gevaert) 400S b/w film. Developed in R09. Scanned film on Epson V500.

I’m starting to brave the infrared b/w film world, as another step on the learning curve.  These photographs barely qualify – shot with a simple 25A red filter, onto Agfa Gevaert 400S budget film.  However, I’ve now got my hands onto an R72 infrared filter, and I have some Agfa Infrared 400S loaded in the Spotmatic.  It’s sitting there waiting for the right light and subject.  I might try it out tomorrow if they are still harvesting pumpkins hear to my home.  I’ll see what light and sky is available.

Actually, I have a question – should any readers be in the know.  I’ve been buying (and loving) FirstCall 400S budget b/w 35mm film for the past year.  It’s actually made by Agfa Gevaert in Belgium, and sold by FirstCall for £2.49 per film (time of publish).  I ordered another 10 films recently, but my provider has been having trouble sourcing them.  They’ve today sent me ten rolls of Agfa Retro 400S.  Now, is there really any difference between the budget FirstCall 400S, the Agfa Retro 400S, the Rollei Retro 400S, and the more expensive Agfa Infrared 400S?  Are they all the same emulsion and film?  Does the Infrared have any special properties to the other 400S versions?

As above image – SP500, 25A red filter, FirstCall 400S.

As I said – these two images were branded FirstCall 400S.  I know that it has near IR sensitivity.  Both of these images shot in the Spotmatic with the plain jane 25A red filter.

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Cameras and equipment, Monochrome, Rants and discussions

Is that a medium format camera in your pocket, or are you pleased to meet me?

Street scene at Norwich, using a folding camera and expired film. Agfa Isolette I. 1954 medium format folding camera. Ilford FP4 Plus film. Expired 2001. Developed in ID11

What can I rave about today?  How about my medium format pocket camera?  Yes, that’s correct, medium format that fits in your (large) pocket.  I bought an Agfa Isolette I at a car boot sale last Autumn.  It was in pretty good condition, clean, and cost me around eight quid.  Photo below:

My Agfa Isolette I. Taken using a Sony A200 DSLR

A folding camera made in Germany circa 1954, the Isolette I was the economy model in the Isolette range, with  a plain jane Agfa Agnar f/4.5 lens, and a max shutter speed of 200.  After purchasing it I read online, to expect the old bellows to leak light.  Although there are instructions and even a template online, for making new bellows, it looked too craft-like for my ten thumbs.  Neither could I justify paying for them.  I tried a film in the camera anyway, but on processing the film, I made a goof and didn’t add enough developer solution to the tank.  Sure enough the result was awful, but I wasn’t sure how much was down to my developing goof, and how much was down to light leaks on the camera.  I lost interest in it, and reverted to using the Lubitel for my medium format work.  Later purchase of the Bronica pushed the Isolette further to the back of the camera cupboard, near to the box cameras.

My Agfa Isolette when folded. Fits nicely into a coat or jacket pocket.

But it’s such a pretty and clean camera, so I kept pulling it out again.  Then around a month ago, I decided to try another film in it – only to develop it better this time.  Ok, I plumped for a very expired old roll of Ilford FP4+ that was probably ready for the bin anyway.  I used up the 12 6 x 6 square exposures on the roll of 120 film.  After processing the film – no visible light leak damage.  It works.

Now I see the benefits to a camera like this.  Ok, the lens isn’t Carl Zeiss and the body isn’t Hasselblad – but it fits in a coat pocket, and it takes reasonable (better than a Chinese plastic toy camera) medium format photographs.  Not only that, but every time that I unfold it, I get a kick.  Even folded, it feels good in the hand – like a stylish flask.  It certainly solicits attention from the general public, but in a positive way, not in an annoyed way.  People with low technical knowledge, of all ages, recognise it as vintage.  Something from another age.  It’s the bellows that do it for them.

My Isolette as I said, is very clean, and very mechanically sound.  A press of a button, and I need to catch the bellows cover as it launches out horizontally, else wise the lens pops out almost violently.  Focusing is purely manual, without a range finder, although the camera does sport a conventional viewfinder.  Max shutter speed is a very slow 200, while aperture opens f32 to f4.5.  Shutter needs to be cocked prior to being fired, just like the Lubitel.

It’s replaced the Lubitel as my back up medium format camera to the Bronica.  The Lube TLR is a good back up, but it’s flattened by the sheer style and potability of this folder.  It’s as near to 35mm portability as medium format photography can get.  It means that I can take it places discreetly, where I don’t want to take a big chunky serious looking Bronica.

The top photo of the young man watching a couple was taken using very expired film, outside of the Forum in Norwich.  I call it the watcher.  Pleasant young man with an African accent.  He asked me about my camera.  It can start a conversation and even solicit voluntary models.

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Film, 35mm, and scans, Monochrome, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

SLF to Love, FirstCall film, Caffenol, Gdansk, Leningrad

Screw Love. Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera (cost 50p from a car boot sale). First Call (Agfa) 400S B&W film (low budget b/w film). Developed in ID11 stock 10.5 minutes.

My latest photo in Flickr Explore.  I’ve seen far better from others not make it into Explore, it really is a mystery.  Taken on my infamous 50p car boot sale camera, a pocket friendly Olympus XA2, loaded with FirstCall 400S film.  It was the first time that I’ve used this film.  Resold by a UK based photographic supply distributor called FirstCall, the plastic 135 film cassette states that it is made by Agfa-Gevaert Belgium.  It’s a low budget b/w film, only costs a few quid a 36 exposure film, which is about as cheap as I’ve seen for true black and white film recently.  Development times were a bit long – ten and a half minutes in full ID11 stock.  Not sure if I like it, it ain’t HP5 +.  Still it is cheap, so might buy some more.  Certainly suits budget 35mm cameras as a true b/w film.  I don’t really like cross processed C-41 in Ilford results.  They leave too much to the digital scanner to correct.

I’ve settled for another film process project.  I’ve not yet tried alternative home recipe developers.  I’ve been looking at Caffenol, the umbrella name given to home made developers based on coffee granules, and usually vitamin C powder, and washing soda.  I’ve even bought a jar of cheap coffee ready for the project.  Where am I going to get the other ingredients here in the UK?  Couldn’t see vitamin C powder or washing soda in the superstore just now.

Other news?  Ok, Iain Stewart is right.  My recent medium format exposures have been poor – often over-exposed, sometimes under-exposed.  Thing is, I broke my only light meter.  It was a cheap old Capital selenium thing that I got at the local car boot for 50p, after three Sundays of haggling down with some travelers (I can be tight fisted).  So I’ve ordered a similar used but this time, a Soviet light meter (a Leningrad 8) from an online auction site.  Hope it arrives before my flight to Gdansk!

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Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR

Nothing to do … but take pictures

Not Forgotten. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry.

I’m incredibly broke at the moment, and I have time off from work.  It’s pretty fortunate then that I have plenty of film, and processing chemicals.  Just can’t afford to go far, and the weather is … British.

We shot some photos yesterday, and I processed them in the Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry later.  Digitally scanned them on the Epson V500 today.  Really, it was a case of looking for colour, in such dreary grey weather.  I loaded the Pentax ME Super with Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200).  The ME Super is a classic little SLR built in Japan around thirty or more years ago.  It was an Automatic SLR camera – not as in modern DSLRs, but Aperture priority.  You can simply set the aperture ring where you want, and the light meter will electronically set the shutter speed.  Unlike some Olympus counterparts though, it does have a full manual exposure option.  It also has a 125X option – if your battery runs down at an awkward time, you simply switch to 125X mode, and it shoots at a set shutter speed of 125.  Using the Sunny F16 rule or an external light meter, all you need do is stop up or down the aperture ring.

Processing was ok.  I’m getting there with C-41.  I am already missing my Ilford B/W films though.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

C-41 Process and Me.

The General Cemetery. Wisbech. Olympus XA2 compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry.

For crying out loud.  I really do not like this C-41 process game, and it does not like me.  However, I’m sticking with it, but it is fighting me back.  Ok confession time.  First attempt.  Screwed up totally, although sort of salvaged a few sprocket hole images.  I’ve posted on that one before, so I wont go into detail.  Second attempt.  I accidentally poured some used bleacher into the fixer storage drum.  I’ve checked with the swots on an analog forum – the verdict is that it’ll gradually degrade and to use it ASAP.  I did however pretty well process a 24 exposure of 35mm, although it wasn’t a very good shoot.  I took it in my 50p Olympus XA2, and it included the above image, of the chapel of rest, in the disused General Cemetery in Wisbech.

Third attempt – just now.  I processed two 35mm films in the Paterson tank together.  Too early to say how they’ll turn out, I’ll see tomorrow.  However, I accidentally dropped 600 ml of precious C-41 developer to waste.  I wanted this stuff to last 6 – 8 months, but it isn’t looking good.

Maybe I’m just too much of a rush-about klutz to process my own C-41 colour film.  Too much worrying about temperature, too many jugs.  It’s certainly another learning curve.

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Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, Rants and discussions, Uncategorized

Cross Processing 35mm Poundland Film

Looking Down. Olympus XA2 35mm compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland. Cross processed in Ilford b&w chemicals / process.

Looking Down. As above image.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top photo.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top image

Well the one use camera project failed – but while Nita was snapping away with a light leaking dog toy, I was using Poundland film in my trusty little Olympus XA2.  This film costs me a quid a roll of 35mm.  Labelled as AgfaPhoto (to distinguish it from the defunct Agfa) Vista Plus 200, it’s rumoured to be a repackaged variant of Fujifilm C200.  Incredible value colour film.  However, I’m not yet inspired enough to try and develop C41 film.  But I do have plenty of Ilford B&W chemicals and a Paterson tank.  I can get it commercially C41 process developed at a local photo lab or two, but that’s more expense, and I’m trying to be the tight fisted photographer.  To be honest, I could get it developed only (no prints) at one local photo lab for only three quid a film.  Tempting, but it’s nice to DIY isn’t it?

So cross process it was.  In the same tank as the Kodak GT800 that I posted on yesterday.  A dilution of 3:1 water/ ID11 stock at 20C for 22 minutes.  Inversions 10s in each minute.

The negatives are ugly, and you need to tweak the scanner to produce results on digitalisation.  I scan using my Epson Perfection V500 set for color negatives, but saving as 16 bit greyscale images.  A bit more tweaking post scan on Gimp, particularly on Levels.  I think that’s passable b&w film photography.  A quid a roll and cheap b&w home developing.  Cheapskate tight fisted film photography, and with the 50p compact camera!

Other News.

Poundland Film.

Talking about Poundland film, I have recently heard rumours that some stores are temporarily retailing 36 exposure AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200, rather than the 24 exposure films.

A few years ago, Poundland stores were selling a mixture of colour 135 film types, but shifting to the AgfaPhoto brand.  At first, this was not a problem, as they were 36 exposure films, incredible value for GBP £1.00.  A local photo lab would C41 develop them for me (no prints) for £2.50 a film – regardless of 24 or 36 frame.  That worked out to an incredibly cheap rate of 8p per exposure – cost of film and developing!  I did buy quite a few, but when new supplies reached the stores a year ago, they were replaced by 24 exposure films.  Still great value, but less exposures for your pound.

I recently ran out of 36’s, and started to resort to 24’s, when I heard the rumour.  My local Poundland is still retailing the 24’s.  However, on a visit to Kings Lynn today, I popped in the Lynn branch …. and there sat a box with twenty beautiful AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 36 exposure 135 films!!!  Of course I bought the bloody lot.  The box underneath were 24’s.  Sorry Kings Lynn cheapskate photographers, I raided your supply.  Twenty quid for 720 x 35 mm exposure frames.  Now that’s tight fisted.

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Film, 35mm, and scans, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

The 50P compact Camera keeps producing…

The O2 Arena captured with 50p film camera. Olympus XA2. Ilford HP5 Plus film, developed in ID11.

The above photo taken with my awesome little Olympus XA2 that I bought at a car boot sale for 50p (circa USD 70 cents).  Seems to produce well on Ilford HP5 Plus.  Other news?  I’ve now home developed over thirty films.  This evening I cross processed two 35mm C41 films with Ilford b&w chemicals – in the same tank together, another first.  I’ve really got a hang of simple straight forward b&w film developing by now, although reeling 120 film can still be a curse.  Anyway, another new photo from the XA2 below:

Child’s Play. Olympus XA2 camera. Ilford HP5 Plus 35mm film, home developed in ID11.

 

I think that the Olympus XA2 has proven itself by now.  What do you think?  I know, I know, it’s not a Canon or Nikon full frame DSLR, but I think it’s a cooler camera.Other news?  I bought a 135 film of AgfaPhoto from Poundland today.  The box had been opened, and it was reduced to 75p HA HA ha hah hah….

Cheapest Cheapskate Film. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

 

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