Posts tagged ‘Photography’

Dialing it in ………

I’m finally starting to see results from my Autocord. I bought it on E Bay for an amazing price. The camera is like new, not even scratches on the flash bracket……..

One thing though, was the focusing. Focusing was VERY stiff and I knew that the focusing lever on these cameras was it’s one weak spot. They break easily and are very hard to repair. I brought the camera to Stan at International Photo and told him about the stiffness and also to do a C L A (clean, lube and adjustment). When I picked up the camera, it worked like a charm. Focus was smooth, shutter and f stop lever worked well. A few days later, the focus was stiff again. Stan told me to bring it back and he’d take a look. I left it with him and picked it up a week later. Focus was amazing. Two days later, stiff again. This was a puzzle and Stan told me to bring it in once more. He looked at it and was puzzled. I don’t think he believed me when I told him it was stiff again so when he saw it for himself, he was surprised. I left it with him again and he decided to strip the entire mechanism and rebuild it from scratch. The focus is like velvet, even now.

Also, during this time I had shot a few pics to try it out. My first roll came out with the negatives covered in scratches……

All the rollers in the camera were rolling smoothly so I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I mentioned it to Stan when he did the focus repair and all I can say is that I have no more scratched negatives.

The next obstacle was to dial in the proper exposures and learn to read the light meter and the scene. My first attempts resulted in really ugly tones and contrasts.

This was a tricky time. It took me a long time to figure out what was going on and I had lot’s of pictures that were like this.  When I finally started to adjust, I went way over to the other end, too much contrast and ended up with photos like this…………………..

My first set of reasonable shots were taken in Montreal. On a sunny, snow filled scene I managed to get this shot………………….

I was pleased with this since it was so bright and the light reflecting off the snow made it hard to figure out the exposure.

My next set of problems was shooting with close up lenses attached to the camera. I was using them to create some intense bokeh but the flare was horrific. ……

I had to figure out where this was coming from. Was it the camera ????? After asking questions on many forums I finally figured out why this happened. I had put the viewing close up lens on the taking lens of the camera and the taking close up lens on the viewing lens of the camera. There is a prism in the viewing close up lens that corrects for parallax error. That is a problem that any cameras that do not view through the taking lens. The closer you get to the subject, the offset of the viewing lens to the taking lens becomes more apparent and what you see in the viewing lens is not what the taking lens is recording. Anyhow, the prism was causing majour flare in the taking lens. problem finally solved.

I took a few more rolls and they progressivley improved (at least I think so)  ………

Contrast was great, focus was good. I was very pleased.  A few more shots on the same roll were very good as well.

My last two rolls were GREAT , as far as I am concerned. I have dialed in the exposure, getting close to optimum developing times and the orange filter is producing exactly what I want…..

The last roll was even better as far as I am concerned. The sharpness is great, focusing great, exposure good and developing getting there……………and I LOVE the contrast

It took awhile and lots of frustration (where I currently am with my Crown Graflex) but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What I am starting to think is that all these challenges are what’s keeping me interested in shooting film. With my Crown Graflex, I am just starting to solve all the issues and if you’ve read my previous entry, you’ll see all the things that you need to keep track of. One thing, as each photo gets better, it makes you want to get out and shoot even more.

I hope to produce images like this in large format. I just need to keep at it.

When I first started shooting with it I found scratches on the negative and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from.

April 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Two Months Later

Well, it’s been quite the journey. In the last post I talked about my two new cameras. The Monolta Autocord and my Pacemaker Crown Graflex. I have pretty much all I need to develop my skills with these two cameras but I must admit, the large format Crown is going to be a challenge.

I have taken 2 rolls of 120 with the roll film back and both of those were a disaster. There are too many things wrong for me to begin analyzing at this time. Some of it is mechanical, either the film back or the camera. I have stopped trying to get this back to work.

The other format, for which this camera is designed, is 4 x 5. I have taken 12 shots, actually, 14 shots. I develop the sheet film in batches of 6, since that’s all my tank holds. The first batch I developed was a first on many fronts. A first using the tank system I bought, a first loading sheet film into the holders and after, into the tank holders and a first shooting with the camera. There have been 3 runs of developing and each one has been totally different from the last. In the first batch, I had two negatives that I shot and 4 that were in the holders when I received them. My two negatives turned out fine. The second batch had light leaks on ALL the negatives and the third batch , well, let’s see. I had two shots that were good, except for the minor light leak. The two middle shots were completely ruined by a major light leak and the last 2 were actually funny. I took my shot and then changed the shutter and f stop for the second shot. I did not reverse the film holder so I ended up with 1 totally blank negative and 1 double exposure. Thank goodness I was bracketing the scene with a tripod so the blur is not too bad. Anyhow, here are the examples…….

This is a photo of vertical blinds. I shot this to test the shutter and other things. It was more or less my first shot with large format and it was also the first batch of developing. Notice there aren’t ANY light leaks in this shot.

This is from my second batch. Notice the light leaks on both sides of the image. This same pattern also appeared in the third batch and I have no clue where it’s from. The contrast in this one is ok but the image is a little harsh

This image is also from the second batch with the same light leaks. In addition, the whole image is kind of a gray, Contrast is bad. The other images are more or less like this one in terms of the gray and the light leaks. Notice the light leak is the same pattern as the others

These last two images are from my third batch. Out of 6 negatives I manged to get 2 of any use. This image is great, except for the light leaks. This is the result I am looking for. Lot’s of tones, good highlights and detail in the shadows. I had a hell of a time during developing this batch. When you pour the developer into the tank you want to make sure it goes in relatively quickly. For some reason, the liquid would not go into the tank quickly enough. It took over two minutes for me to get the developer in. I extended the developing time by 30 secs and I was lucky with this negative. Note the persistent light leak again.

This is the other image that was more or less useful. It’s a double exposure and you can see from the swirls on the image that the developer didn’t get in there quick enough. It’s still a success as far as I m concerned, lol. Actually, the reason I am very pleased with these two is because of the tonal range in both of them. If I can keep producing images with these tones I will be very happy. Note the light leak again.

The Minolta is another story. I am REALLY happy with this camera. I have lot’s to learn with it but overall, I have been taking some nice photos with it AND developing the film myself. Here’s some of the results with this camera.

This was from the very first roll I shot with the Minolta and probably the reason I kept going with it.

There were LOTS of mistakes with those first few rolls and there are still mistakes being made but I am REALLY pleased with this camera.

And a little later…………

and I blew this one up to 20 by 20 and it’s still crisp and sharp……..

I can see myself giving in to the large format but never to the medium format of the Minolta. I’ll keep trying to perfect the large format and see where it goes. First thing is to figure out where that darn light leak comes from.

Until next time…………………..

April 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm 2 comments

Learning Curve

Sitting in Manic , Alex is marking and I am reviewing the photo session I just had with my Crown Graphic 4×5. It was quite the eye opener when I shot an “easy” setup using the roll film back. All I wanted to do was test the camera and film back. I got out the manual, loaded the film into the back then went and took one shot. I put the camera away and went to do something else. I guess I was going over the process in my mind because all of a sudden it dawned on me that the way I loaded the film couldn’t be right. I went and pulled the dark slide back on the film holder and sure enough, the yellow paper backing was facing the lens. I checked in the manual again and there, in black and white was a little 6 word phrase I totally missed, “with the black side facing outward”. The Minolta Autocord has the yellow paper on the outside but I can guarantee I’ll never make that mistake again. Anyway, the whole roll was scrapped because I couldn’t figure out how to save it. The next roll I loaded was a roll of black and white film. This time I reread the manual AS I was loading the film. Once it was all in and closed up I picked up the camera, put it on a tripod and headed out to the balcony. I wanted to test the shutter and apertures and make sure the camera and film holder were completely light tight. I also wanted to check the range finder to see if it was properly synced with the focus. The first shot was the range finder check…………..

As you can see it passed. The light tight test also passed as there was no flaring in the image at all. I selected my next scene and proceeded to shoot again. When I went to wind the film to the next frame I couldn’t remember if I had removed the dark slide for the last shot. That happened a few times so I just removed it completely. I took pictures of the same scene and varied shutter and f stops to check for consistency.

The frames are all pretty well consistent. I would shoot and then I would wonder if I had advanced the film. I had eliminated the dark slide confusion and had discovered the advance film problem. On this camera, using the 120 film back, the shutter and film advance are two separate functions. Once I had the film developed, I found one blank frame where I had left the slide in and three double exposures where I had forgotten to advance the film.  This made me realize I would have to come up with a procedure and make sure I follow it every time I use the film back. So, the process will be; 1 ) load film into holder making sure you do not advance to first frame, 2 ) Place film back on camera, 3 ) If frame counter is greater then one, skip to 4 otherwise advance film to frame number one  , 4) Remove dark slide,  5 ) Compose scene and focus camera, 6 ) Determine exposure settings and set aperture and shutter speed, 7) Take photo, 8 ) Wind film to next frame, 9 ) If finished, replace dark slide and remove camera back otherwise return to step 5.

Here’s my Crown…………………..

You really have to slow down with this camera. Just wait until I start shooting with the 4×5 negatives…….I’ll tell you all about it when it happens

February 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm 1 comment


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