Friday, April 13, 2018

Bilora Gevabox

 I bought a Bilora Gevabox on eBay because of its "film inside". I'll be processing the film next week. The plan with this project is to re-sell the cameras on eBay once I've extracted the film and put another one or two through the camera. That's the plan. But look at this beauty: two f stops, a B setting, and top right corner, a fully functional PC flash fitting. AND it does 6x9 negatives. The cherry on the cake is that the filters to go with the Agfa Isolette will fit it, with a smidgen of blu-tac.

Which last detail got me to looking on Flickr, where I found this, taken with a YA2 orange filter. I'd like to get that dark sky effect on Glasgow 6x9 architecture shots. And I've got a YA2.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

C22 Conundrum

An ex-smoker has a few drinks too many one evening in the convivial company of a smoker, cadges one, buys a pack of ten the next day, and the next a pack of twenty, and there they are, re-hooked. I am told that heroin works in a similar way. And I can tell you that so does photography, no matter how many years you've been away from it.

My particular obsession right now is "film inside" searching eBay for old cameras with that phrase in their description. I got started on this back in 2009.  I think it got a hold of me when I developed these photos of the Queen Mary and the photographer's family near Southampton. Someone takes photos on holiday or of a historic event. They don't finish the roll so the camera goes in a drawer, life intervenes and it's forgotten there.

When these films get developed you get a glimpse into a forgotten holiday. Before they get developed, the possibilities are endless. And the decades have changed the chemistry of the film in any number of unpredictable ways, giving the images a strange beauty you'd struggle to reproduce digitally.

I've got two "film inside" Kodak Instamatics, with 127 film cassettes inside, 12 or 13 exposures taken in each. One of them is definitely C22 film, I can see that through the wee window. The other is likely to be C22.

I've been looking at reproducing the developer used for C22, back in the day, and managed to google a recipe for it. Or maybe I should use C41 chemistry at room temperature?  There's some sage advice from Film Rescue if you scroll down a little way in this thread on Flickr.  (And go onto Film Rescue's photostream, and you'll see that she or he knows what they're talking about).

So b&w chemistry might produce the best images, like the ones I got from the perceptol - which of course have a colour scheme all their own.  Film on cassette, says Film Rescue, stand up much less well that roll film, apparently, the "difference is hugely significant".  It's a significant decision: getting good images; or losing something that's been waiting maybe 40 years...

Monday, March 19, 2018

Street Level Photoworks B&W Weekend Course

It's taken me since early 2008 to get around to this.

At last, this past weekend, I've learned how to develop and print photos properly thanks to Street Level Photoworks & our tutor Alicia Bruce. On Saturday morning it was the basics of how an SLR works, (you can see my hands in the bottom right of the first photo, here, and my Nikon F in the second one); then we went out and took photos. In the afternoon we developed the negs. None of this was new to me, but it was still useful to go through it all again, professionally. I didn't let on, for example, that I've never used stop bath, I've always just got by with washing up liquid.

The negs dried over night, and on Sunday we went into the darkroom with the enlargers and this is all new to me now. It got really paradoxical: making a test strip, contact sheet, and then the actual print was all pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of obvious no-nos like leaving the photographic paper out of the box, and dipping the dev tongs into the stop... But getting it right was much more difficult. I mean, getting from clicking the shutter in Glasgow city centre, to a print that's good enough to go on the wall - that was not achieved by me, at any rate.

You can tweak with the enlarger, change the aperture and contrast. And there was a brief look at dodging and burning. But these things require much more skill in the analogue process than they do in the digital. Mostly, I realized that the negative must be good: unless you're very lucky, being snap-happy just won't cut it. I raced through 36 exposures in less than an hour. But to get exhibition-quality prints will take more thought in the planning and care in the execution, regarding subject matter, light, framing and composition.

So the next stage is to stick with 35mm B&W using only the Nikon F. It might take weeks or months to get to the standard I want. Thing is, I don't feel right going off into other projects, like developing decades old film found in second hand cameras, until I've got to grips with this. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

My Fed-4: it's alive!

I have a Fed-4 which apparently I've never used... Just now did a bit of research and worked out as best I could, (no one has published online a comprehensive serial no./production date schedule) that it dates to some time in the 70s. It carries a contrary (for a Soviet camera) Queen's Silver Jubilee sticker on the case, so that suggests it was in the UK at some time before 1977.

I thought the ASA/Shutter speed/aperture dial on the top left was some kind of analogue sunny 16 reckoner, when... the needle to the left of it was working! Put my finger over the sensor on the front and... it dropped to nothing. It's alive! Forty years and counting. Makes you wonder how the Soviet Union ever collapsed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Jupiter 8: numpty

Why oh why did I sell my Jupiter 8 lens when I was 'having a clear out'?  Not like it took up a lot of space. But at least having a blog meant I could find out where it was, save all that searching through boxes and wondering what I'd done with it.

Today has been getting re-acquainted with the FED-2 day. See these resolutions I made in 2013. That's where I'm picking up from. I somehow managed to mend the diopter without entirely getting the top off the FED-2.

Monday, February 05, 2018


"The last 'proper' photo I'm going to take for a while, all the spare energy is going into learning the piano.  I'll dust off the cameras after I get to Grade 8."

UPDATE: I didn't get to grade 8, (though I could probably now do grade 1 if I put in the effort). But I have dusted the cameras off after a break of almost 5 years. Watch this space.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Standing Water and Allotment Drainage

There was a lot of snow, slush and ice on the ground until last night. There's been a rise in temperature and some rain, so if the drainage is going to work, this morning was the time to find out.

The pond was over full, the overflow to the Council's drain being a bit blocked. I was able to clear it easily, with the result you can see in the video. There was some waterlogging in the beds adjoining the pond, (see below) and I'm hoping that was a result only of the blocked overflow. Otherwise, I might have to dig another 15 feet or so of drainage ditch, around the NW corner. Or maybe not: the sudden thaw has left standing water all over Glasgow.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Compost warming up as weather worsens...

Cleo assumed this position at the allotment gate the second we arrived: none of her usual sniffing around. Hates bad weather, that dog. So I didn't hang around. There was a new bag from the florist, approx 10kg of green material. I dumped that by the heap, not taking the time to turn it over and mix in the new stuff. There was also a large amount of kitchen waste - a bag of split peas past their sell-by date, and a bag of frozen peas which had been pressed into service as a cold compress, plus the usual teabags and turnip peelings.

But the headline news is in the photo below: ambient temperature 3C, (on a thermometer nearby) and the compost thermometer showing 15C.

Still a long way to go: I've read that with regular turning a heap can get to 50 or 60C, (though I've never seen that myself), so maybe it's on the way. I was turning it every other day, but this week have left it alone since Tuesday. I'll turn it again with the new material over the weekend.

The ideal situation will be that it warms up to 40C+, and stays that way over winter providing a small local microclimate for various wildlife, (near the pond, incidentally), and breaking down at such a rate that it remains at a manageable size as approximately 10kg of material per week is added. It could be like a volcanic vent in the deep ocean of an allotment winter. Or something.

I say 'approximately... per week', I have only just started keeping a record of when I get bags of florist offcuts and guinea pig litter; and I'm estimating the 10kg too - casual work at a Royal Mail sorting office years ago has made me aware of what a 20lb/10kg mail bag feels like.