The pictures from the Retina IIIS – continued and end
A completely different light situation can be found in the next picture, the number four on the Fuji Superia 1600 found in an old Kodak Retina IIIS. It was by the way the only one of the seven i could discern on the muddy grey film when i got it back from the lab. It is also the one that shows the most colors.
The first two pictures on this film show a heavy blueish green tint and are not in focus. It’s almost like the photographer took these two shots in order to be sure that the camera transported the film properly to picture one.
We see a street as we find it in a lot of european cities.
Whenever i buy a used camera online or in a shop, my hand goes to the rewind knob to tes whether there is a film left in the camera. A forgotten film, most often a vintage color film from either Agfa or Kodak, a chemical time machine of its own that has not been produced for a long time.
On this last weekend in February 2019 a surprisingly bright sun spreads this special late winter light over the town, promising warmth and spring while a cold eastern Wind keeps the temperatures just a few degrees over zero. In spite of the cold i take a walk around in my neighbourhood where winterly clad couples push baby buggies past the dark shopping windows of a sunday afternoon. The sun falling into the streets like a gigantic spotlight brings out the structures in the walls and patterns them with the branchy shadows of leafless trees.
We all know it: You should not compare apples with oranges. Or a Rolleiflex with a Rolleicord, as the Rolleiflex was a glamorous camera princess of her time and the Rolleicord a twin lens Cinderella that lacked a lot of the lustre her more mundane sister was so famous for. The “Cord” was always the Rollei for the guy who couldn’t afford a “Flex”. So far so good. But what should a dyed-in-the-wool Rolleiflex-fan like me do when he gets a broken Rolleicord for little money and manages to make her run again by cleaning its sluggish shutter? Well, he gets curious and does the forbidden comparison, with an apple in one hand and an orange in the other. Continue reading “Cord or Flex? Comparing two Rolleis”
Every photographic film is, once it is exposed, a little time machine. Even if they are developed shortly after the pictures were taken, the mere fact that time has passed between the taking of a photo and its appearance as a viewable negative on the processed film after sleeping as a latent picture in the depths of the emulsion layer makes film photograpy a totally different thing than the taking of instantly viewable digital pictures.
While the pictures lie as partially exposed grains of silver halegonide in the dark invisibility of the undeveloped film they only exist in our memory and are subject to subtle changes. Once they materialize as real pictures, they can turn out quite a surprise to the photographer who has taken some time ago. I think this phenomenon is one of the most fascinating aspects of analogue photography. It has inspired me to work on a project in which i put exposed films away for months or even years before i develop them and see how the remembered or forgotten pictures mature with the passing of time. By the end of 2019 – so at least is my plan – i will start developing these intentionally “forgotten” films.
But what happens to pictures that have been forgotten in old cameras for many years or even decades? Pictures somebody else has taken, somebody one never knew? These pictures are like the stomach contents of a fish one has caught in Ebays shallow lagoon, inhabited by half forgotten specimens of outdated photographic contrivances. Whenever i lay hand on new bought camera i check whether there is a sleeping beauty hiding inside, waiting for the kiss of live delivered by developing chemicals.
In case i feel some resistance when i slowly turn the rewind knob my heart starts to beat faster. What will i see when i collect the film (they almost invariably are color negative films) from the lab? The older the film, the less there is to see, and many of these films only show a faint veil of silver like they have not been exposed at all.
Only when i put the film into the slide copier attachment on my Sony A7 faint shades of images start appearing out of the brownish fog that the aged emulsion has turned into. I transfer them into Adobe Lightroom and convert them to positives with the Negative Lab plugin before i enhance them further in one of my image processing apps like Aurora HDR or Luminar in order to squeeze as much visual information as possible out of them.
The result of these salvage operations are coarsly grained pictures in strangely degraded colors, most of them trivial snapshots that the passing of time has transformed into almost forgotten documents of their time and their unknown photographers. In case somebody recognizes persons or places in those images i would be glad if they would drop me a line.
Here you can see some pictures of the forgotten films i found in old cameras:
I really like the 6×6 film format. Always have. Before the switch to digital i used it a lot for professional photography and nowadays i like to grab one of my Rolleis and shoot that magic dozen of pictures the 120 film offers me.
Have you ever wondered what happens at night in your camera cabinett when you put an Agfa Silette, one of the many nondescript german viewfinder cameras of the 1950ies and -60ies, too close to a Rolleiflex? Maybe not, but i have a possible answer: The product of this one night stand could be one of my favorite 35mm cameras: the Agfa Flexilette.
For some time i am a keen follower of the category “in your bag” of the also in many other aspects inspiring website Japan Camera Hunter and with every new post i marvel at with how much equipment we as photographers are willing to burden ourselves while walking on the face of this planet. From a compact lightweight Olympus XA to a wooden 4×5 inch “travel camera”. My most prevalent thoughts while reading are „Kudos for carrying the better half of a camera shop over the shoulder“, „That’s a camera i’d like to have“ or „I should send them a picture of my own bag some day“. Continue reading “My CL in „in your bag“”
A stroll through the Olympic Park on one of those magnificently sunny days in October 2018. My companions were Maya, the dog, and a Braun Super Paxette II with a Tessar 2.8/50mm lens. I used a Fomapan 200 black and white film which i developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 10 minutes.
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