California can be so beautiful!
Zeiss Ikon Ikonta, 6×6, TriX 400.
Photography by Naomi Drew
California can be so beautiful!
Zeiss Ikon Ikonta, 6×6, TriX 400.
This is from a summer or two ago. We drove along Hwy 49 in the central coastal area of California. It is a lovely drive – quite unpopulated in many ways. The hills and valleys spread out on either side of the road, with trees dotting the grassy slopes. Grapes are grown here, and the Paso Robles area is known for its wines. If you take some of the side roads off the highway, which is a nicely paved two-lane roadway, you can find yourself under the canopy of old oak trees, deep in the gloom of shade on a bright summer’s day.
Zeiss Ikon Ikonta, Tri-X 400 by Kodak. Scanned and processed with Epson V600, VueScan, and Negative Lab Pro.
Besides acquiring a bit of old glass, I have also, as said before, been wandering through my digital archives. Here, a photo taken in March 2017 using the Retina IIIc with the Xenon 50mm f2 lens and Agfa Vista 200. Some images I desaturated to B&W because I thought they looked better that way. Digitalizing film can be quite a good thing!
When I first used this camera, I found it rather trying. It has an EV metering system which made absolutely no sense to me, even after reading the manual. Yes, I do RTFM! However, YouTube came to the rescue once again, and there are several good videos about the Kodak Retinas from the 1950s. Many consider these to be some of the finest Kodak cameras ever produced. I won’t disagree. Nearly every American in my age group has used Kodak cameras, and many were rather cheap and produced rather poor pictures. But, for a kid, they were just perfect!
This camera came to me about 4-5 years ago from Chris Sherlock at Retina Rescue, across the sea in Australia. He’s great. You can find his videos on YouTube. Playing with it again, and having more experience with older cameras. I really appreciate this camera far more than I did before. I think I am going to throw some film in the camera and see what this puppy can do yet again.
Nothing like a mistake that is rather a fun one – here, double exposure in my Certo Six folding camera. I forgot to advance the film and thought there was an issue, so released the exposure button again by choosing the “bypass” button. (If you have a Certo Six, you know what I am talking about.) It makes me think that it might be a fun exercise to deliberately, rather than accidentally, create double exposures. Maybe even triple. Or quadruple. Such is possible!!
This is with Portra 400, a film I always find way to delicate in color for my taste, but it could be I will change my mind after cataract surgery. This is pretty much SOOC with just some spot removal in post. I don’t like spotty film . . .
I just had to put this photo out there today.
I recently acquired a new-to-me Certo 6 camera, It has the legendary Carl Zeiss Tessar 80mm f2.8 lens. The camera and lens date from around 1953 (give or take). I shot this at f2.8 to check out the DOF and sharpness of the lens. I’m amazed. The Ektar 100 came through, too, with beautiful colors.
The Certo 6 is an odd folder in the sense that it has many features that other folding cameras (bellows cameras) of the same time era do not have. Also, because current 120 film is thinner than that of the 50s, there is a potential for overlap of images – which I did not experience – and other quirks that need to be worked out. I really like folders because they force you to slow down and think, as well as consider what you want to see on your film.
Square format is a compositional challenge as well. As this is part of my first roll through the camera, composition was not of any real importance for me, but using the camera was. For some reason I got only 9 out of 12 exposures on the film, but that is something I think I have figured out, and will run another roll of play film through the camera to check out my ideas . . . like I said, ya gotta think sometimes!
More to come.
Part of my container garden this summer in the Dog Free Zone. I grew hot chilis, herbs, flowers, and, in particular, milkweed. You can see the milkweed seed pods have opened, and the seeds are waiting to blown away by the wind. The milkweed is food that is important to Monarch butterflies, but I have heard that the milkweed with colored flowers is not good for the butterflies. I want to do a bit of research on this – what if all is for naught?
Once more, this is a photo using my 1937 Welta Weltur and Ilford XP Super 400 film. The Xenar lens is stunning, with lovely detail and softness at the same time. I really like what it can do.
This time around I remembered I had the reduction mask in my 1937 Welta Weltur camera. I also used a yellow(ish) filter I have that slides over the lens. I have never used it before, but I am glad I did as it made the plants a bit more differentiated. In theory, I get how filters work, but when I try to remember, it just disappears from my brain. One day it would be really nice to get that clearly imprinted in my memory!
Okay, that aside, I so enjoy making pictures with these old cameras. When they hit the sweet spot, there is something so beautiful in the final image. This one I cleaned up – threads, spots – but didn’t do too much more to it other than upping the contrast a bit. I wanted the white sage flowers to pop against the background. The filter helped, but so did digital post production.
I know some people who claim that digital post is not the same as a real dark room. No, it’s not, but it is a lot easier to do the same things – and then some! – you would do in a traditional dark room.
Anyway, more to come, but perhaps only a couple as a lot of the images are a bit dicey as far as putting out in the public’s eye. I scanned these with the Epson V600 scanner and the film is Ilford Super XP 400, which is a black and white that can be developed in C-41, which is the chemistry for color negative film.
I felt like a tourist when I headed out to the botanical garden a few weeks ago. I had my Olympus XA4, my Kodak Retina IIIc for its maiden voyage, and the Perkeo II loaded with Fuji Neopan 400. I am so impressed with this film – the blacks are black, and the whites are white. I didn’t have an orange or red filter with me, so some pictures were not what I would have liked to see; still, the detail and beauty of the film is seen here (and the Perkeo is no slouch, either). Sadly, Neopan in this form is no longer made – the C-41 form – although Acros is available.
I’ve been on quite a roll using my older cameras. This is one of maybe 2 or 3 images (out of 8 possible on a roll) taken with my only 6×9 camera, the classic Voigtlander Bessa RF from the 1930s. This my first experience with Fuji Pro 400H 120mm film. My scans were not the best, but worse was the amount of crud on the film. Processor or me?
Overall, pleased with both film and camera, especially how dark the trail was from being underneath so many trees, the fact that it was early morning, and that I had to handhold the camera – no tripod! – to get what I wanted. Oh, I guessed at all the exposures too!
Prickly pear are everywhere in my area of California, dotting hillsides and roadsides. They are really quite beautiful – from a distance – but also a wonderful food source. The pears are sweet when ripe, with a deep red fruit. The paddles are also edible, but a bit bland, and are used in making nopales. To eat a prickly pear requires a prickly pear, a pair of gloves to pick what you want, and a fire or blow torch to remove the thorns, which are long and pointy. I don’t go out harvesting, but I always enjoy photographing these cacti. Oh, and before the pears show up, the flowers are really beautiful.