Downtown Toledo

Downtown Toledo
[Taken 17 Jan 2011]

The last time I used this camera was 2007 — this roll came out a lot better than that one did. I’m not sure what’s up with the tobacco tint, but perhaps the negative sleeves I got at Goodwill didn’t come from a non-smoking home.

More photos and camera observations below…

Snowy Morning  Snowy Street

This camera is manufactured to take 620 film; while some cameras can substitute 120, or can use 120 film respooled onto a 620 spool, this one cannot. So, I decided that this camera would be a great one to try out sprocket photography.

However, when I exposed my first test roll a few years back, I failed to sufficiently cover up the hole in the back of the camera that would normally let the photographer see the exposure number (120 and 620 film has a paper backing, while 35mm would get exposed through the counter window). This time around, I think I may have sealed it up enough — but that red tint in the middle makes me wonder…

The Oliver House  Owens Corning, Toledo

Perhaps another symptom of using film for which this camera was not intended: an out-of-focus patch in the center of every frame. I wasn’t sure after the first roll if I was really seeing a blurry spot, or if it had to do with the overexposure due to the counter window not being properly covered. This time, though, I think I’ve figured out the problem: the film is curved and not pressed up flat against the focal plane. So, the middle of the film is maybe just a millimeter too far back, and that puts the image in just that spot out of focus. I’ll bet I could rig something to keep the film plane flush like it should be, though.

While I’m at it, I should put some tape over the interior edges of the camera, where the film goes; I think it’s scratching the emulsion in one or two places (see horizontal blue lines on photos).

Maumee River, Downtown Toledo  Mailbox and Field

I did some experimentation with exposure levels, and discovered the lower and upper limits of light needed — it’s a very narrow range, consisting mainly of sunshine and light clouds. Indoors, even with a large window, is a little too dark (see below — the wines by the window/door are OK, but the apples by the smaller window are way underexposed.

I also took a photo of a cloudy sky with the sun in frame, and it was hopelessly blown out, except for the very edges of the exposure. So, sky OK, sun not OK. (To be fair, I wasn’t surprised. I knew the aperture wasn’t that small.)

Apples and Wine, Monette's Market  Plow In Snow

So, if I didn’t have a film counter, how did I know how far to wind the film? Glad you asked.

After I loaded the film, I poked a tiny pinhole in the film at the near side of the film plane, then wound the advance knob until the pinhole was on the far side of the film plane, and kept track of how many turns of the knob did it (2¼, for the record). Yes, I did waste a good amount of film to figure that out — but I only had to do it once! OK, twice, technically, since I didn’t write it down when I figured it out the first time, years ago.

Something else that’s interesting, and that I can’t quite pin down the mechanical reason for: the space between the exposures increased as I moved through the roll, even though the number of turns of the exposure knob remained the same. I suppose it’s because the diameter of the take-up spool increased, so one revolution would take up more film. (Well, look at me. I figured it out, after all.) Note for the future: probably two turns would be sufficient, especially after the first two or three exposures.

All in all, I only got nine usable photos from this roll. That’s OK, though, because 35mm film only costs $4 to develop, and Taylor Photo (my local film developer) is only a few miles from my house. Plus, next time, I’ll probably get a few more usable photos out of a roll, now that I’ve gotten my experimentation out of the way.

Oh — there’s one more thing I forgot to mention about my particular camera: the rear element of the viewfinder is missing. If I hold the camera about a foot in front of my face, I can see a clear but tiny view of my potential photo; if I hold it up to my eye, though, it’s impossibly blurry. So, all of these photos were basically taken “from the hip,” or pretty close to it.

I really like working with different cameras that have differing limitations (composition, light needs, black-and-white vs. color). I feel like it stretches me as a photographer, makes me think more (or stop thinking so much) about the images I capture.

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