I’ve been out flying FPV a few times since I last posted about quads & today I feel as though I have been properly indoctrinated into the hobby – by having to fish one out of tree & finally (after 12 batteries!) properly breaking something!
Did the first roll of 120 in the V600 tonight, chose the roll from my Isolette V that I had previously only ghetto-dslr-scanned (if you could even call that ‘scanning’). Unsurprisingly the V600 scans look better.
I’m off on a spontaneous trip to Iceland on Monday & really want to take my RB67, but as it would constitute my entire hand luggage I might just take the Isolette instead for some MF fun.
I’d wanted to try shooting medium format film for a while, but was put off by the price of buying into even a relatively cheap medium format system such as the Zenza Bronica ETR. But then I discovered that old medium format folding cameras & even some twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras go very cheaply on auction sites.So for the grand sum of £20 I bought myself a late 1940’s Agfa Isolette V folding camera, which is completely different to any other camera I own as not only is it medium format, but it’s also a folding design with bellows spacing the lens & shutter assembly from the film plane. As when buying any ‘vintage’ camera there are certain things to look out for, such as whether the light seals have degraded & disintegrated allowing light to leak onto the film. But with old folding cameras the bellows are the most likely source of problems. Because they stretch & compress every time the camera is opened & closed it isn’t surprising that 60 years on they might not be light proof anymore as cracks & holes appear. A good way to check is to unfold the bellows, open the back of the camera & in a dark room shine a powerful torch into the bellows from the back of the camera. Sure enough when I did this in my bathroom I found that most of the corners of the bellows on my Isolette had pinholes that would let light in & ruin the film. Instead of building an entire new bellows from scratch, or buying a replacement, I decided to try just patching up the holes. According to several photography forums there is a certain brand of nail polish in America that achieves this very well, but I couldn’t find it for sale in the UK (& felt a mite silly asking about it in Boots). Instead I used a product called Plasti Dip, which is almost like paint but dries to form a flexible rubbery coat. So after 2 coats I re-did the bathroom check & all of the holes seemed to be gone! I don’t know how long the fix will last, but I have an entire tin of Plasti Dip so I can redo it many times… The good news is that it seems to have worked, as the results back from the lab don’t seem to have any light leaks on them. The bad news is that my scanner doesn’t do medium format, so to digitize these I resorted to a somewhat low-tech approach – using my DSLR to photograph the negatives held in front of a white computer monitor using the cardboard envelope that they were posted in. Hardly an ideal solution, but an adequate stop-gap until I invest in a better scanner! (Sorry for the cellphone photo, but obviously I couldn’t use my DSLR.) The Isolette V is a viewfinder camera, so there’s no focus assist whatsoever & you have to guess the distance to your subject & ‘zone focus’ by thinking about the depth of field at the selected aperture. The viewfinder isn’t particularly great either so framing shots was a bit hit & miss. Of course there’s no light meter, so it was Sunny 16 all the way. I know I shouldn’t be shooting an uncoated (or at least only primitively coated) lens into the sun, but it only seems to glare slightly. Same bridge as in my recent Canonet post, though I think I should’ve rotated this one slightly more counterclockwise. Same house as in the Canonet post as well. Quite different trying to frame it for a square mask. Obviously the cardboard negative holder isn’t ideal & because they weren’t necessarily straight-on to the camera they’re skewed so impossible to crop properly. So I choose to crop loosely & leave the borders of the film in – all the cool lomography kids are doing that anyway.
Okay so it’s more like 43mm on an APS-C sensor, but even so.Walked down the Lade Braes again to put a roll of 120 through my recently acquired (& repaired) Agfa Isolette V folding camera, which I’ll post about soon, but I took the K20D as well. I knew from a previous walk that the Pentax 100mm f/4 macro is just too slow to hand-hold in anything but direct sunlight, so instead of lugging my heavy tripod along I thought I’d just try getting closer with the Sigma 28mm, to mixed success. I discovered straight away that the Sigma focuses so close that I had to take the lens hood off to void poking the subjects… Couldn’t quite work out what to do with this. Somebody told me that close-ups of bugs on flowers is like crack for photographers. Pretty much right. Wouldn’t even turn to face me, how rude! This guy was a much more amenable subject. So there’s a few very similar shots of him that came out alright. This would’ve been great if I’d nailed the focus fast enough. Most of the above were shot at f/4.5, this one beneath was wide open at f/1.8 – not much depth-of-field to play with! But plenty of Camembert-smooth bokeh~
Despite having lived in St Andrews for almost 4 years now, I had never walked along the Lade Braes, a lovely path that follows the old walls of the town out along the route of the ‘lade’ (an artificial stream) that was cut to ensure a freshwater supply to the cathedral.This first one was probably my favorite of the bunch, but at the time I wasn’t expecting it to be anything special. Rewinding back to the beginning of the walk here. I dropped the colour from most of these after I scanned them, but for some reason I left this one with the tint it ended up with after the scan. I took the dSLR with the 100mm macro as it had just rained (& still was a bit) & I was hoping to get some clichéd close-ups of droplets on leaves, but with most of the walk in the shade of the trees, the sun behind the rainclouds & the fact the 100mm macro is only an f4, I couldn’t really get anything without cranking up the ISO into noisy territory. Luckily I grabbed the Canonet as an afterthought as I was heading out the door & was glad I did as even though I still had to shoot most things with a very slow shutter, the combination of f1.7 & not focusing on subjects less than 30cm away meant I at least came back with some usable snaps. I had it loaded with Tri-X & with a yellow filter screwed on. Of course the filter wasn’t of much use with no blue sky about & I think it actually caused the washed-out almost IR look to the foliage, but at least it didn’t completely ruin the shots. A lot of them would’ve looked better if I wasn’t forced to shoot wide open because of how dim it was, but hey – at least I got something. This might’ve come out nicer with a longer shutter (& no ugly sandbag wall in the background), but even managing to get it this slow handheld was a feat! Likewise with this. I might go back at some point with a tripod, cable release & a set of NDs or something. Really need to start taking more attention to my framing. Even with more DOF this would still look bad with the end of the branch jutting out at the bottom. Not really the sort of subject I wanted to shoot at f1.7. This came out better than expected though. The almost IR like quality to the foliage helps it I think. But then I am biased. Wanted to finish the roll before I started retracing my steps on the way back. Time for bench shots. Just look at how this is perfectly framed so the angle of the bench draws the viewer’s eye… straight off the edge of the photograph in the opposite direction to the rest of the image >.< It takes some skill to be able to frame a shot so badly after actually stopping to consider the framing.