Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I try to bring a different camera system or format for each time I have participated. This year, I am leaving the DSLR and lenses home, and am shooting mostly medium format. I'll have my Mamiya 645E system, a Great wall 6x6 SLR, a Halina AI TLR (crappiness abounds!) and an Argus Argoflex 40 to shoot some expired Verichrome Pan film. I'll also have my Penatx ME with the 40mm pancake lens and the pocketable Chinon Bellami (see previous post) for the 35mm end. An Olympus C5050 will be with me for snapshots of events. I'm also bringing a backdrop, lightstands and umbrellas in case I decide to shoot portraits with the Great Wall.
Hopefully, we won't have rain, but whatever happens, I know it will be good to get away!
See you next week.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
The Chinon Bellami, a little 35mm camera with zone focus and "barn doors" covering the lens, is a very desirable pocket camera. Introduced in 1981, the Bellami shows some similarities with the much-loved Olympus XA series. Approximately the same size as the XA, the Bellami has a retractable lens that is covered by two doors that flip open when you advance the film, which also turns the camera on. The exposure meter can be set for ISO ratings from 25 to 400. The cameras also features a threaded cable release socket, shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/1000 sec., 35mm f/2.8 lens, daylight (fill flash) sync, and battery check. The detachable flash is very similar to that found on the Olympus XA series, and definitely makes for a less-compact camera when attached.
I picked up my example on ebay for a modest price. I was amazed that the camera was still in its original box with all the papers and manuals. I was prepared to be disappointed by this camera, as sometimes the hype on some classics (a modern classic, if you want to call it that)exceeds the results obtained. It IS a small camera, shown here next to an old roll of Kodachrome (which is used only for illustrative purposes).
The Bellami is a stylish design, much nicer than the clunky Rollei 35, though a tad longer. Not too different in size from an Olympus XA, though. With the doors covering the lens, it slides easily in and out of a pocket, and is comfortable to grip. I can set the distance marking to the 10m ft marking, and it's basically a point and shoot. Compare the Bellami with the hulking Pentax 6x7:
Of course, with any camera, the proof is in the images. I found that my camera had some trouble in the beginning with longer exposures, but after working with it a while, it appears to have just been in need of some use. Here are a few shots on color film:
A detail from the Diego Rivera mural at the Detroit Institute of Art.
I later put in a roll of long-expired Delta 400 b&w film, and I think the results are not too bad.
stairs at the UM Museum of Art. The negative was greatly overexposed, but post-processing cleaned it up pretty well.
I'll put more film in the camera this week and do some more shooting with it. Now that I know it's a fairly decent performer, it will travel with me for a while and I'll see how it does when the weather is summery, rather than wintery. So many cameras...
Friday, June 03, 2011
The point I want to make here is that the way to hone your skill and develop a style, is to shoot often. If you are interested in flower and garden photography, architectural photography, nature photography, fashion, trains, or any other genre -- you need to shoot often to better your skill and competence, as well as find a style that gets your creative side going. Not everyone can shoot some subjects every day, but flowers and gardens are good training and preparation for other types of nature and landscape photography. Shoot at different times of the day -- even twilight, to see how lighting changes the atmosphere of an image. Wet flowers and grounds after a rain give the garden a totally luscious look that is absent when everything is dry and less intense-looking. Try different focal length lenses and see how they affect your scene. This is a good time to become familiar with your tripod as well. I recently set up my old plain-prism Nikon F with the standard 50mm f:2 lens, a roll of Walgreens 200 (made by Fuji) color film, my sturdiest tripod, and a cable release. I wanted to shoot in the garden late in the day at f/16 and see what results I might get.
I'm thankful to have such a lovely photographic playground!