Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Back from North Carolina

Mountain Sentinel.  iphone image.
I am finally done traveling for a month or two.  My latest trip to North Carolina, and Asheville,  in particular, was to look at potential areas where we would like to move to in 2019.  With our realtor, we examined a number of homes for sale in the Asheville area.  When we were not doing that, we were exploring the area's natural beauty.   The more we saw, the more convinced we are about making a choice to retire there.  One of my prerequisites is that the future home have space for a darkroom, and some studio space.  It's amazing how many homeowners have completely finished their basements into living spaces, which makes installing a darkroom more problematic.    I am hopeful that we will find the right combination of size, amenities, garden space, kitchen space, darkroom space, and two-car garage by the time we are ready to sell our house here in Ann Arbor.

North Carolina is certainly a great place to move for nature and landscape photography.  The western part of course, is mountainous, and such a contrast to the flat state of Michigan and the Midwest, in general.  I grew up in the Adirondacks of New York, and while I miss that state's topography, I would like to live the rest of my life where winter is not such a big deal.  We have lived in Michigan since 1981, and as much as I enjoy the Great Lakes and the Upper Peninsula, it's an 8 hour drive at minimum to Marquette.  I am looking forward to new adventures in NC and of course, being in the eastern US again.  I am doing a lot of research on the photographic community, and people doing traditional photographic processes, in particular.  The film shooting will go on!

I shot some of the new Kodak Ektachrome E100 on the trip, and will have some examples to post in a couple of weeks. I shot with my Nikon FM, and it remains a great camera for trips.  I took the 50mm f/1.4, 28mm f/2.8, and 105mm f/2.5.    I only shot 6 rolls of film during the week, but I did do a lot of site scouting, and that was beneficial. 
Now I know why they are called the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Parkway just has to be the most scenic route I have been on.  No commercial traffic, which makes the drive much better.  It seems like there was an amazing view of some sort almost continuously as we drove from Asheville NE to Blowing Rock.   I look forward to being able to drive just a few minutes to the BRP and enjoy the scenery!  NC has waterfalls galore, and I picked up a copy of Kevin Adams' "North Carolina Waterfalls."  Splendid photography, and a great guide.  I look forward to doing pinhole photography at some of the waterfalls next year.

Now that I am home, I have a lot of topics and reviews that have been on the back-burner and will start putting them on the blog shortly. 

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Konica Auto S2 - A Handful of Fun

The Konica Auto S2 is a Japanese 35mm fixed-lens rangefinder camera that was produced in 1965 and differs from the earlier Konica Auto S by having a Hexanon 45mm f/1.8 lens and with its CdS meter cell re-located to the ring in the front of the lens. This relocation of the sensor has a couple advantages. One is that the lens cap now covers the sensor as well,  turning off the metering system and preserving battery power. Another is that metering will be correct when a filter is fitted, since the sensor is now located behind the filter. The pull-out hood reduces glare.

Basic Features -
Lens: Hexanon f/1.8, f=45mm 6 elements in 4 groups, 55mm filter
Shutter: Copal SVA (B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500)
Meter: Cds, powered by 1.3v mercury, with battery test  (using a 1.5v cell is fine)
Dimensions: 138mm (width) x 82.2mm (height) x 73.5mm (thickness)
Flash - PC sync socket, coldshoe on top.
Meter scale visible on top deck
True rangefinder focusing
Weight: 750 grams

I owned one of these about a decade ago, and sold it, which I later regretted.  My current camera came from Becky Ramatowski in NM, aka Astrobeck on Flickr and Facebook.  I have a standard 1.5v cell in it, and so far, my shots from it have been perfect.   It’s a shutter-priority camera when in auto mode, but you can also shoot it manually and without a battery.  It takes 55mm filters, and of course, the meter works great with filters.  The slip-out lens hood is a nice touch.  The camera’s ISO settings range from 12-400, and with the fast lens, is great for most photography.   The rangefinder patch is easy to see.

It certainly isn't a tiny rangefinder camera, and in size and appearance, looks much like a Minolta Hi-matic 7.    I have had it on several trips now, and found it to be a pleasure to shoot with, and switching from Shutter-Priority Auto to full manual is not a problem.  Overall, it's a keeper, and that wide aperture makes it great for shooting indoors and people close-up. 

You can find these on ebay from 25-60 bucks. One in good working order is a wonderful camera to have, and you'll be happy with the results!

Here are some examples from the camera. All were taken on the same roll of Ultrafine Xtreme 400 film.

As you can see, these represent a wide range of lighting situations, and the camera worked as I had hoped.  

Sunday, October 07, 2018

ONE ROLL REVIEW - FPP's Emulsion-X film

I had originally meant to put this review up many months ago, but it was delayed by many things.  The reasons will become clear as I progress through the post.  The Film Photography Project's "Emulsion-X" is just as the name describes, an unknown film stock.  Sold as a B&W film rated at ISO 100, it was offered for those of us wanting a challenge.    Back in April, I shot one roll with my Yashica FX-7 Super while on a walk in Ann Arbor's Argo park.   I developed the film in XTOL for 8 minutes at 20°C.  When I looked at the wet film, I wasn't sure if it had even developed, as one side was sort of a gray-green and seemed opaque.  After it had hung and dried, I looked again, and holding it up to the light, I could see faint purplish images, even though it certainly looked opaque unless held up to the light.  What the hell is this film?  It was also very much curled (cupped) from side to side.  There was no way that I was going to be able to scan it, so I cut the negatives into strips and put them into a plastic preserver sheet, and set that aside under some books to flatten them out.
nothing to see here!

oh wait, yes there is.

Well, I forgot all about that sheet of negatives, and just the other day I found them. Now, they seemed flat enough, so I loaded them into the V700 scanner and scanned away.  There was just a tiny bit of cupping, but the film flattened enough for some decent scans, which I did as b&w, at 2400 dpi.  If you looked at the negative strips, they did not look any different than back in April, but sure enough, the negatives scanned fine as b&w.  The film base seems thicker than most films, and sure is not at all like the thin polyester film bases that we see from Svema.  I really am curious.  Is it a color film gone bad?  Maybe I should try a roll in C-41 chemistry, just for the heck of it. 

Anyhow, the film still is mysterious.  The scans came out far better than I had hoped, and while the film is odd (okay, it's just plain weird), I managed to get something from it.  That is the fun is trying something out of the ordinary.   Yes, it is grainy, but there has to be someone out there thinking "this film is for me!"  I would not use it for anything important, but for an interesting "look," it has its appeal.  At ISO 100, you won't need a tripod  for typical daylight shooting.  Here are some selections from that roll of film.

Overall, not too shabby for an unknown film with a mystery past!