Notes From The Top Left Corner

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

  1. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    Another fine pair of images.

    The first is clearly an image of our strange times, the lone figure and torn poster make the image.

    The second is very good. If I see a steel bridge I start looking for interesting patterns in the girders, I would never have thought to look for similar patterns in a stack of trollys. Well spotted!
  2. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks Dave.
    The trolley wheels, I found quite fascinating.
    Thought you might like this one too - I like it just as much as the first, to be honest.


    Trolleys are clearly a marvel of engineering in their own right!

    (Spotmatic F / Takumar 35mm f/3.5)
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
  3. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    The negatives from the first colour roll taken with the new Bronica came back, so here's one I like from it.

    Root Star.JPG
  4. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    I do like that one too, the eye is drawn into the narrowing gap between the rows, great perspective.

    The woodland is great. The Dof works well and the contrast between the vibrant greens and almost monochrome stumps makes for a fine image.
  5. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    That colour shot is rather nice and I like the low angle a lot.

    The contrast and grain on the HP5 shots looks much better too. And I like the shots as well.
  6. Rhonda Smith

    Rhonda Smith Active Member

    I like the low angle too. Nice capture.
  7. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks Dave. I couldn't decide which of the two trolley shots I preferred. Now, on balance, I think it would be the second one. I like the single, maverick, out of alignment wheel, that reminds me that selecting a trolley is a little like Russian Roulette.
    Dave Farnes likes this.
  8. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks Pete. I have tried a roll of Delta 400 too, which though so far, only on 35mm, I like a lot. There are a couple of rolls of it in 120 format sitting in a drawer ready to try as well.
  9. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    You can't beat getting in among it all!
    ...but, nowadays only when the grass is dry!
  10. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I have got to thoroughly recommend the service I have just received from Mathers in Bolton. We ordered a 30m roll of Ilford Delta 400 at about 11 am on Monday and it arrived yesterday (Tuesday) at 10.30 am. Given that, for the last 8 or 9 weeks, some things have been taking three or four times longer than usual to arrive from other senders, I think that's nothing short of remarkable!
    Pete Askew likes this.
  11. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Gosh, it's August already and my last post in this thread was on the 3rd of June!

    Lots has been going on. A couple of lenses have arrived, lots of experiments in developing have occurred and that 30 metre roll of Delta 400 is about finished. I have been playing with a variety of cameras and have been tearing my hair out over two in particular. Though I have never, ever been particularly distanced from film photography, I was rather shocked at the realisation the other day that I have taken the sum total of 4 digital photos in the last several months.

    I'll fill in some detail shortly.
  12. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    I noted above that I have only taken 4 digital photos in the last few months. Well, brace yourself, because I am about to post some.
    ...only to illustrate one of the film cameras that have been diverting my attention.

    Praktica VF and case.JPG Praktica VF and case.

    It's the one that started it all with me and I wrote a bit about it back at the beginning of this thread.
    This is my Dad's old camera.
    It's a Praktica VF with a Meyer Domiplan lens.
    It was a present from my mother, bought for him just one week before I was born. Although I hadn't arrived yet, we were about to move to Pakistan for a four year residency and he wanted an SLR to take with him. My Mum is a doctor and she used her British Medical Association membership to secure a discount on the deal. Total to pay: £42 9 shillings and 1 penny.

    This is the camera that my entire childhood was documented with, our travels to Pakistan and Central Africa and our return to the UK, with life in Scotland, the north-east of England and, finally Sussex, so it's a rather treasured and important family possession.

    My Dad lent the VF to my wife years ago when she was studying photography and it has stayed with us ever since. It hasn't been used by her for over 25 years, so I thought I would stick a roll of film into it and see whether it was still performing. I actually swapped the Domiplan lens for another Meyer, it's bigger brother, the Oreston, another 50mm lens, but at f/1.8.

    One of the quirky features that I love about this camera is that the film advance lever is on the bottom plate.

    Praktica VF underside.JPG
    Praktica VF underside.

    It's doubled up with an old fashioned knurled knob on top which also serves as a frame counter.

    Praktica VF top.JPG
    Praktica VF top.

    Quirky feature number 2 is the rewind crank. No side hinged, flip top spindles here, oh no! The VF has a take off spindle which is topped by a double-decker knurled knob with a top layer that is connected to the one below with an off-centre pin. This allows the user to pull upwards and rotate the top part around, locating it into a hidden detent, thus creating a rather fantastic and large circular crank knob. You then realise that the knurled edge is a rotating sleeve, allowing the rewinding action to be beautifully smooth. Fabulous!

    Praktica VF rewind crank.jpg Praktica VF rewind crank.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  13. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    So, to the results of my sortie with the thing. (Ilford Delta 400, developed in ID11)
    Now, the old girl doesn't have an onboard light meter and my Dad used a Weston Master V, which he was insanely proud of. I still have that, but have become a little wary of its reliability so it was Sunny 16 for this outing, something which I am also a little wary of the reliability of (when used by me), but there you go!

    A stroll beside a section of the Lancaster canal.


    Girder Bridge.JPG
    Girder Bridge

    Aldcliffe Bridge.JPG
    Aldcliffe Bridge #1

    An accident with the scanning rendered this one cropped and with a letterbox aspect ratio. I re-scanned it later but preferred this version.

    Aldcliffe Bridge #2.JPG
    Aldcliffe Bridge #2

    So, I am quite pleased with the results and will be trying a roll of colour film in it sometime. I think I'll leave the Domiplan lens on it for that though, in order to try to recreate some of the feeling of those old family photos from the 1960s and 70s.
    Pete Askew likes this.
  14. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    One last picture of the camera itself.

    Praktica VF.JPG
    Praktica VF
  15. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    That is an unusual camera, never seen advance / rewind mechanisms like that before. A fine family heirloom, great that you still have it.
    The letterbox aspect ratio suits that shot perfectly. The gatehouse and drive look almost identical to the ones at Folkington Manor, a couple of miles from me, a standard design perhaps?
    Chris Bennett likes this.
  16. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your thoughts Dave.
    Having worked for several large landowners over the years, I know what you mean about the gatehouse. I suspect that during the period many of these were built, there were a few architects doing the rounds of a very small body of customers, so it's no wonder there are many similar designs. Word of mouth recommendations went a long way in those circles, I'm sure. We lived in a lodge house on an estate in Nottinghamshire for about ten years and, thankfully, it was a lot bigger than that one!
  17. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Konica Autoreflex A

    I mentioned in a previous post that a couple of the cameras I have been using over the summer have been making me want to tear my hair out.

    The most frustrating one is a Konica Autoreflex A which I bought in a charity shop in Kendal back at the end of the winter. I’d never tried a Konica lens before and had heard good things about them, so when I spotted this camera in a display cabinet in the window, I dived inside to ask if I could take a look. Everything looked fine and the price was great, so I snapped it up.

    Konica Autoreflex A.JPG
    Konica Autoreflex A

    The lens, a Hexanon AR 52mm f/1.8, turned out to be a little gem and I got some great results with it on a Sony digital body. The body sat on a table, occasionally winking at me. It was solid and beautifully built and the mechanics seemed to operate OK. There’s a little dink on the top of the prism housing, but apart from that it looks to be in perfect condition. So, really liking the heft and precise ergonomic feel to the camera, I thought it might be nice to reunite the lens with the camera body and see if I could get it going.

    Konica Autoreflex A top.JPG
    Konica Autoreflex A top plate

    I did some research and discovered that this is the stripped down, basic version of the Autoreflex T, which is looked at as a rather poor relation to that much admired classic. Shutter speed is restricted to a maximum of 1/500th and there is no self timer or mirror lock-up switch.

    Konica Autoreflex A. left sideJPG.JPG
    Konica Autoreflex A left side

    The biggest pitfall I found was that the light meter was designed for mercury batteries. I encountered this with the Spotmatic F, but for that camera, it’s not a problem to use a modern alternative of a close but different voltage. The Konica, though, is different. There are adapters but a pair of those is a pricey option if you don’t even know whether the camera is otherwise OK. Some people make a small electronic modification which seems fairly simple, but is a fair bit of work to invest in an unknown quantity. Zinc / air hearing aid batteries are another option, though people tend not to use them, as they no longer meet the electrical specification after a short while - a few months or so, apparently. However, they are r-e-a-l-l-y cheap - so I bought six for less than £3. Swapping batteries every now and then is not something I mind doing and if it turned out it was a dud, then there would be no real loss.

    Konica Autoreflex A right side.JPG
    Konica Autoreflex A right side

    When the batteries arrived, I checked the meter out and it seemed to be giving an accurate result when compared to a digital camera, even though I had read that it might be off by a stop or so. In the manual setting, you set the shutter speed and the meter tells you what aperture is required. There is a shutter priority option too, the EE setting (EE stands for ‘Electric Eye’, of course!) - select the shutter speed and the camera does the rest. Both settings seemed to work fine.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
  18. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    And onto some images.

    Border Rose.jpg
    Border Rose

    Duck Island.JPG
    Duck Island


    Royal Mail.JPG
    Royal Mail

  19. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Did I mention that I love the feel of this camera? The size, the weight and the way the controls work all seem to have been designed with me in mind. I love it!

    Some more images.


    Graveyard #1.JPG
    Graveyard #1

    Graveyard #2.JPG
    Graveyard #2


  20. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Well-Known Member

    Tomorrow, I'll tell about the, still unresolved, problems with this camera!

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