Category Archives: Experiences in Photography

Family Camera

One of the main cameras used through the decades of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s on my Dad’s side of the family. My grandfather later bought a giant Polaroid. He seemed to be one of the few to operate it, as he’s not in most of the pictures. An earlier family camera was the beautiful Kodak Bullet.

This is a Kodak Duoflex (1947-50). At first glance, it looks like a simple box or TLR camera. It’s actually a pseudo TLR (a modified box camera with a separate viewing mirror above the taking lens). Just like a box camera, you look down through a double-convex lens onto a mirror. (A TLR would have a matte focusing screen looking onto a mirror, through a viewing lens above the taking lens. The viewing lens would focus in parallel with the taking lens.) But this 620 camera has some unusual features for a snapshot camera.

  • Tiplet lens
  • adjustable f-stop from f8 to f16
  • focusable lens from 3.5 feet to infinity, with distance markings
  • automatic double-exposure prevention
  • double-exposure override
  • instant or bulb shutter speeds
  • aluminum body
  • attachable flashbulb bracket and reflector

The design is also quite beautiful. There are hints of art deco in the vertical ridges that run from the top onto the face, continuing to the bottom of the box. The ridges are continued on its plastic strap, making it appear continuous from bottom of camera to the neck. The top and bottom of the face are beautifully sloped. It reminds you of a late 40’s Hudson.

You can tell from the design, both aesthetically and technically, that Kodak was delivering a stylish camera to the post war consumers who wanted more control over their photography, but weren’t ready to spend a lot.

I cleaned up the camera and reassembled it. I shot one roll through it, but I must have misadjusted the focus scale on the lens. I’ll reset that, and maybe replace the pocked mirror before I take it back out.

Shot with a Nikon F2, Micro-Nikkor 105mm/f2.8, F Bellows, Kodak Portra 400

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Shooting with the Yashica Electro 35 CCN Wide

Yas35CCN-IMG_2638The Yashica Electro 35 CCN is a baby brother to the full-size Electro 35. It’s smaller and lighter, and takes a battery that you can still get at the drug store (I buy bulk batteries at Thomas Distributing and Batteries in a Flash because I use so many odd sizes in my vintage cameras). It’s very easy to carry in one hand, but a little too big to stick in a jacket pocket. I took the strap off mine because it was that crappy stiff plastic stuff that came on so many cameras is the 60’s and 70’s. It has some weight to it because of its metal construction. There are very few plastic pieces on this little wonder. The lens rings are metal and the focus tab is plastic. The top and bottom plates are metal with the film advance lever end being plastic. The viewfinder window frame and the battery cap are plastic. That’s all the plastic on the outside of this camera.

Yas35CCN-IMG_2640

Big brother and little brother.

Yas35CCN-IMG_2641

Almost pocket-sized

Yas35CCN-IMG_2642

A little shorter

The camera came from an “as-is” auction that I got for scratch. I had to do some work on the battery compartment (battery and film left in it for God knows how long.) I took the top off, which was very easy. It was a trick getting it back on because of the battery check button. I wound up holding the camera with its back down, then sliding the top on so the battery button would engage the switch inside. Hard to explain without pictures. I cleaned the rangefinder glass which wasn’t bad at all, and scraped the battery chamber free of minor corrosion. I made one slight modification the to camera while I had it apart. The film rewind lever was loose and spinning with film loaded. Having never owned a CCN, I wasn’t sure if this was normal, or if there was a bearing worn out that supplied some drag to the wind shaft. So I found a very thin paper washer that I put just under the wind lever that had enough friction without altering the height. Problem solved.

Yas35CCN-IMG_2636

Even though it says “WIDE,” it’s the same focal length as its predecessors. The marketing department probably bought the engineers lunch that day.

Yashica Electro 35 CCN-Ilford Delta 100, Perceptol 1+3

Yashica Electro 35 CCN-Ilford Delta 100, Perceptol 1+3

The CCN has a very sharp f1.8 35mm lens. I’m not sure what f-stop I shot this at, probably f5.6 because it was in the shade near sunset. I like the focal length for this size of camera. It’s meant to be a quick shooter, so a normal 55mm lens would have me stepping back another 6 feet to get the same perspective. Not something you might want to do in a hurry if you’re a tourist.

An interesting thing about the finder of the CCN is that it is roughly 28mm with inner frame lines. This allows you to see action move into the frame. It takes a little getting used to, but is quite manageable after some practice. If you’re new to rangefinders, most viewfinders show more than 100% of the frame. Anything inside the white box will make it to film. But there is a caveat to this – parallax correction. As you focus closer and the lens barrel extends, the frame shrinks. If you’re shooting an SLR, you see the change in your viewfinder because you’re looking through the lens. A rangefinder’s viewfinder is located above the lens, so you are really seeing an approximation of the view. Medium and distant objects are no problem, but closer objects present a framing problem. Three ways to compensate for this are:

  1. Step back shoot with extra space in the frame and crop in post.
  2. Put a second frame line just inside the original frame line indicating where the crop will be at minimum focus. Any focus length between this and infinity will fall somewhere between that crop mark and the outer frame line, The CCN is this way, but not the full-sized Electro 35.
  3. Have either the finder mirror zoom, or the frame lines shrink, as the lens is focused close. This gives nearly the exact frame crop in the viewfinder. This is an advanced method found on only a few early rangefinders. It’s considered a luxury for vintage camera shooters. Of my many rangefinders, only the Minolta A-2, Minolta Hi-matic 9, Konica Auto S2, and Zeiss-Ikon Contessa have this feature.

I haven’t shot wide open at f1.8 yet, but a few shots were at f4 and looked great. I tried shooting into dappled sunset sun to test the flare, and it looks good without too much wash out.

Yashica Electro 35 CCN-Ilford Delta 100, Perceptol 1+3

Yashica Electro 35 CCN-Ilford Delta 100, Perceptol 1+3

The specs on this camera limit it to casual shooting, which is fine. The fastest shutter speed is only 1/250th, but the fast lens should make up for that. I can’t see sticking a roll of 400 speed film in this camera to shoot in the sun, but cloudy days and indoor shooting should work just fine with that film. All in all, a fun little camera that I will probably always have near the doorway to grab and go. I wish it had complete manual control, but I also wish I had a Leica. For $15, it’s a steal.

Faces From 75 Years Ago

Panel-Art-2015-0216-Neg-23

An interesting find while going through boxes and boxes of pictures from my late aunt’s house. There were several negatives tucked away in this envelope. It’s hard to tell when this is from, but from the distinctive Art Deco font and the negatives inside, it was probably pre-WWII.

Without getting into a digital vs. analog debate, many young photographers that only know digital may not know what this is. It’s a paper holder for your prints and negatives. The corner drug store was a common place to have your film developed until only about 5 or 10 years ago. What’s amazing is that the 75-year-old negatives inside were in near-perfect shape. I scanned them all and saw pictures of family members long gone that I have never seen. I wonder if anyone will be able to recover digital pictures 75 years from now?

Lucille--John-Wineka-Unkown-2015-0216-Neg-15 Dad-and-Unkown-on-Farm-2015-0216-Neg-06 Ruth-on-Farm-2015-0216-Neg-08 Unkown-and-John-Wineka-with-Baby-2015-0216-Neg-02

A Day in Versailles

How I wish it were in France, but central Kentucky is a great consolation prize. For those of you outside Kentucky, it’s not pronounced “Ver-SIGH-ee.” It’s “Ver-SAILS.” Also nearby are Paris (PEAR-us, not pear-EE) and Athens (AEE-thens, not ATH-ens). Took the Yashica-12 medium format 6×6 roll film camera and a roll of Neopan Acros (Fujifilm) to try.

I’m trying to learn new exposure and developing techniques. Today I wanted to try exposing for shadows and making development adjustments to bring out more detail in the shadows. For the Acros, box speed is 100, so I rated it at ASA 50. On every shot, I metered for shadows using a spot meter, then increased exposure by 2 stops. When I developed in Ilford Perceptol at 1:3, I reduced development time by about 20%. From what I’ve read, this keeps the highlights from blowing out.

I have to say that it works. It allowed me to decide what kind of detail I wanted in Photoshop. It’s very similar to, if not exactly like, using the zone system to control contrast. By metering for the part of the scene where you want to retain detail in the shadows, you are essentially placing that in zone III in a 7-zone system. Your camera meter is searching for medium 18% gray, or zone V in a 7-zone system. If I would meter for the shadow detail and not increase exposure, then that shadow would be medium gray and the highlights blown out. The opposite is true when metering bright subjects like snow. The meter is looking for gray, so it will reduce exposure to make that snow gray and block the shadows.

Ansel Adams’ trilogy on photography outlines the zone system and previsualization. By anticipating where tones will be in a picture before the shutter is released is a powerful skill. But Adams’ system encompasses 9 zones, which are perfect for large format photography. But I shoot 35mm and medium format, which has less contrast in enlargements. Plus, I’m not a professional and can’t distinguish such minute changes in shade. I base my view of the zone system on one proposed by Carson Graves in his book The Zone System for 35mm Photographers. This book opened my eyes to the zone system. I had read Adams’ books on it, but it never totally clicked until I read Graves’ book and tried his technique. I suggest you get it (used ones are really cheap!) and try it.

Versailles, KY

“Doublecross” Versailles, KY

Versailles, KY

“Plant Stand” Versailles, KY

Versailles, KY.

“Refershing” Versailles, KY.

Versailles, KY

“Mailslot” Versailles, KY

Grimes Mill

I was on a video shoot about PDR (Purchase Development Rights) land in Fayette County (Lexington), Kentucky. These are lands that are protected from urban development in order to use the land for agriculture, cattle, horses, and even tourism. It costs a lot of money to purchase and protect our disappearing landscape in central Kentucky. We were shooting on the property of Grimes Mill Farm that borders Madison County near I-75.

The featured image was shot this with color film, though I envisioned it in black-and-white. It was mid-morning (and extremely humid!), and I was fighting the dappled sunlight. But it was my only opportunity to shoot these. I think the dappled light actually works with the Boone Creek shot. I like the brown water highlights and the light on the trees in the background. It helps the depth.

Bronica ETRS-Kodak Ektar 100 Bronica ETRS-Kodak Ektar 100

TeleRobin

Canon T-90, Kodak Portra 400, Soligor 500mm f8 mirror lens

Canon T-90, Kodak Portra 400, Soligor 500mm f8 mirror lens

Shot on the massive Soligor 500mm F8 mirror lens on my Canon T-90. Not the best picture of a bird, but notice that the background doesn’t have those out-of-focus rings that are characteristic of mirror lenses. It seems straight lines minimize the effect. I actually don’t mind the rings in some shots, but other times it distracts from the subject.

Diafine #2c – Downtown

Recent outing in downtown Lexington.  I shot both color and B&W this day.  This is a set from the Tri-X I shot in m Olympus OM-4.  I developed in Diafine for my second time.  This time I shot the whole roll at ASA/ISO 1250 instead of 1600.  A few posts on the internet suggested 1250 to be a compromise.  I didn’t think so in my case, as I had to pull a lot of these shots out due to low contrast.  I ran into that on my first roll when I bracketed my shots.  I think the next roll is at 1600 to confirm that my taste is at the higher ASA.

Alice

Alice

Old and New

Old and New

Bells and Bells

Bells and Bells

Stagecoach Time

Stagecoach Time