Notes From The Top Left Corner

Discussion in 'Competitions, Themes & Blogs' started by Chris Bennett, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    It's reminded me how much I like Delta 400, Pete. I haven't shot any for about 9 months or so, but I had a few rolls left and I was using a fairly slow lens, so it seemed a good option to try. Suffice to say that the postie dropped off another 30 metre roll this morning!
  2. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks Wes. I like the butchered Aesculus best!
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  3. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I embarked on a project yesterday. It concerns shooting black and white street portraits with my Minolta Autocord. I'll be using a tripod for this.
    Now, I have never really been into shooting portraits, as they generally really don't interest me. But, you know me, I like to put myself into problem areas and see what comes out! I have a particular film that I will be using but, since I've only ever asked four people if I could take a photo of them in my entire life, I thought I'd better get a bit of practice in before things get serious with expensive film.

    So, I spent 3 hours in Lancaster with the aforementioned kit and a spotmeter and grey card, sidling up to total strangers and propositioning them. Now, this doesn't come easy, as I am naturally rather a shy person. OK, I will come clean - this ought to have had me pooping myself. However, the old TLR acted as my cover and I was able to engage people with no problem at all. I used the full roll, asking 12 people for their permission to shoot them and only received one single rejection.

    Here are some of the results.

    Portrait project no1.JPG

    Portrait project no2.JPG

    Portrait project no3.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
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  4. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    The film was TMax 400 with an expiry date of 2006, a box of which was a recent gift from a friend.
    I got some fogging on several frames, due, I think, to my trying to unstick the sealing tab from the backing paper. It had obviously stuck itself to the paper over the years and my fumbling with it may have been at the root of the problem. One frame was totally lost, but the first one in the above post was affected and I think I did a reasonable job of restoring it with the use of the dodge and burn tool in GIMP on the scanned file. There is another one that's going to be really tricky, which will be a shame because it looks like I really cracked the exposure. Two more frames were underexposed pretty badly due to a balls-up on my part with the light meter.
    Anyway - three more frames from the roll...

    Portrait project no4.JPG

    Portrait project no5.JPG

    Portrait project no6.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  5. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Full disclosure: one of the subjects in the above images is not a stranger!
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  6. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    A fine set of portraits, Really like the third one, there is a real warmth to her.

    You have more confidence than me!
  7. Wes Hall

    Wes Hall Active Member

    The more I look the more I appreciate the appreciation I see in the lady in the wheelchair's eyes.
  8. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Dave.
    I find that people are really curious about the camera, so I ask if I can make a portrait on my old camera and it kind of takes the heat out of the situation. On Sunday, two people, separately, actually approached and asked me if I would like to take their photo, while another actually offered to pay! I was out again for a while this evening and only received one rejection out of seven. I am making sure they can see the result and get a copy if they want one.
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  9. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    We had a good long natter about the displayed items in the antique shop, Wes. This is an aspect of the project that I am really enjoying - getting to chat with strangers and hearing snippets of their stories.
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  10. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    The young photographer and proud new owner of the Canon A-E1 Programme was out and about shooting his very first ever roll of film, which was great to see.
  11. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    As a small diversion, I'll make a note about a little camera that arrived at the weekend.
    It's a Welmy.

    Some years ago, I was looking for a cheap manual focus 28mm lens with an f2.5 min. aperture and I chanced upon one made by Welmy. There was nothing I could find about it on the W's, but it was so cheap that I bought it before I tried to do the research. When it arrived, it had suffered at the mercy of a ham fisted postal worker. I got my cash back but I remained intrigued by the brand. I did a little more rooting around and discovered that Welmy had been a maker of 6x6 folders back in the past and, ever since then, I've seen the odd one for sale and wondered whether it might be fun to try one out. I never did, but then, last week, I spotted a 35mm camera with the Welmy name engraved on the top plate.
    Again, there was very little information about it on the internet, but enough to make me want to take a punt at it. The most interesting thing to me was that it looked to be tiny but sturdily built like a proper camera.

    So, I placed a bid with 4 seconds to go, and as the only one in the race, I snagged it for the starting price of a tenner.


    Right enough, when it arrived, it turned out to be built almost entirely of metal. It was actually a little larger than the photos had led me to believe, but still pretty small. It came in a full leather never-ready case and was nice and clean.
    Turning to the controls was not so good. Every single thing apart from the film advance and the shutter button was jammed up solid!
    However, after only about ten minutes of work, all of the controls were moving fairly freely and the shutter was cocking and firing, but not returning to the closed position. I kept at it and within another 20 minutes, the controls became nicely smooth, the shutter was behaving and responding to the appropriate speed setting - everything seemed fine.
    It's not a rangefinder, so there's no aid to focusing, other than the scale on the lens and your own sense of distances. There is, however, a depth of field scale, so that helps. Also, there's no meter, so we're well into fully manual territory.
    There are four speeds up to 1/200th plus bulb and a 45mm f/3.5 lens. What I had originally thought to be a focusing tab on the lower edge of the lens housing was, in fact a sturdily built aperture adjuster.
    The frame counter is different to most, as you set the number of frames on the film and it counts down, telling you how many you have left.

    So, I stuck a short roll of home loaded Fomapan 200 in it and gave it a whirl. Since the roll only had 4 or 5 exposures on it, I never left the back garden, so the scenes were some much repeated test views.

    Welmy image2.JPG

    Welmy image1.JPG
    Not too bad then!
    There is a little problem with the frame advance, but it can be overcome with a little resistance from a finger on the rewind knob. I suspect the pressure plate needs a little adjustment, so there's a job for a rainy day.
    A tenner well spent!
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
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  12. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    An interesting find, not heard of that brand.
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  13. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I went to the Lancaster Jazz Festival last weekend and loitered around in the outside areas to accost some more strangers for their portraits. Here are a few that came out quite nicely.







    Tabitha and Noona.JPG

    Tabitha and Noona
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  14. Wes Hall

    Wes Hall Active Member

    Tabitha and Noona made excellent subjects- truly a matched couple! Nice shooting Chris.
  15. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thank Wes. I could have done with a bit more light on Noona but it was a wet, grey day and there weren't any other backgrounds easily available.
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  16. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    That serves me right for not keeping up! I missed the start of the project and what an interesting one it is. There are some very fine portraits in there and I always find it interesting to see how people present themselves. I am sure that people respond to the type of camera one uses and the TLR probably makes them take the thing more seriously that say a rangefinder of SLR would. Mind, these days most people either have their photo taken with a phone or make a selfie and so any real camera may see different and warrant a more serious approach. A few years back I made a series of portraits of friends and acquaintances using a LF camera and their response to sitting in from of such a large thing was quite interesting and because it is quite a slow process they really had time to decide how they wanted to present themselves.

    That Welmy is quite a find.
  17. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your thoughts, Pete. It's interesting, isn't it? I haven't ever done portraits at all, never mind with another type of camera, so I don't really have any other experience, but the TLR is certainly the main topic of conversation in the first instance. I have largely been giving no instruction as to how people should pose, other than to tell them to look at the bottom lens if they choose to look at the camera.. I was begining to think the images were all begining to look a little like a file of police mugshots because almost everyone seems to take the same pose. Maybe I should offer a little more direction?
  18. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Recovered film / Time Capsule from 1973

    The Lancaster Photographic Society recently received a donation of a few old cameras, one of which is an Ensign Selfix 820, with a 105 mm f/3.8 Xpres lens. I have been appointed as custodian of them, as one of the very few members who still uses film.

    There was a roll of film in the camera when I received it so, of course, I had to develop it. It was Ilford FP4, so in an attempt to date the images, I did a bit of research and discovered that it was first sold in 1969 and up until 1990, when they added a Plus to the name.

    Camera and FP4.JPG

    So, that gave us quite a timespan over which the images could have been taken.
    The development was a semi-stand in Rodinal and seems pretty good. There were ten 6 x 6 images (this camera is a 6 x 9 but has masks and an extra red window to enable square format too).

    Well, the images showed what look like a family trip to Venice. Here are some, just as they appeared from the scanner.

    Venice no 1.JPG

    Venice no 2.JPG

    Venice no 3.JPG

    Venice no 4.JPG
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  19. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    How interesting, and nice to find a date in one of the images too.

    I wonder what has caused the spots: they seem aligned to the orientation of the film and streak in one direction. An impurity from the backing paper maybe?
  20. Wes Hall

    Wes Hall Active Member

    That second image Chris (I love these, they have a character that I feel is from the defect and time past on the film, which Pete I'm guessing has correctly suggested the cause) has some legible words on that banner. It seems to translate as a play called 'The Servant of Two Masters' (Il servitore di due padroni) and the word 'Harlequin' above it.

    Tried to research a little more, shows this is the title of a very famous Venice opera, which I thought could lead to a little more specifics on dates- sadly nothing more found at the moment. I feel like there's a date like number on the banner (1975 to my eyes, but just a guess).

    Would be great to isolate some more from that text.

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