Improvised Support For Long Exposures

Hasselblad 500C, Zeiss 80mm/2.8 Planar C, Ilford XP2 Super

I have been bringing my Hasselblad along with me on routine outings where I find myself indoors.  Being a medium format camera with a slower maximum aperture (than say my Nikon gear) you can’t get away with hand holding exposures in low light as much.

I do use my tripod, but I also have been improvising support when needed.  In the above case I placed the Hasselblad on the counter a few feet away from the display of glasses in order to have a much longer shutter opening that I could have possibly handheld.

The classic chrome Zeiss 80mm C lens has a self timer built into it, so I pulled this off without a cable release.  You can use this trick with any camera with a self timer that you set down.

Using the Hasselblad Waist-Level Viewfinder

I’ve been very busy with my Hasselblad 500C and have gotten much more familiar with it.

I have shot with waist-level finder’s before on 35mm cameras such as my Nikon F and my DSW’s Blackbird Fly, but with such a small image size they weren’t very easy to use.  Using on on a medium-format camera like the Hasselblad is much more practical and enjoyable.

I am now quite used to the waist-level finder on the Hasselblad, and find it actually enables a greater variety of viewing angles than an eye-level prism.  You see here I mounted the camera on its side on my tripod at eye height and therefore could look straight ahead to compose.

I have held it below me as I kneel or crouch, as well as held the camera upside-down directly above me to get a bird’s eye perspective.  Being able to extend the camera out as far as my arms can reach provides a lot of flexibility.

While it will never dethrone the eye-level finder for action or fast composition work, I am getting a big kick out of it.

Not Quite the Hassle I Expected

I am giving medium format photography a serious try.

This isn’t my first time shooting 120 film by any means.  I have toyed with Holgas before as well as carted around my behemoth Mamiya RB67 a few times.

But I was able to convince a few relatives of mine (thanks Dad and Uncle!) to pass on a family heirloom to me, a pretty complete Hasselblad 500C system.

It was in great cosmetic shape, but it all needed a good cleaning and some basic repair.  I took the body, one lens and one film back to my friend Manfred at International Camera Technicians in Mountain View, CA and they have come back to me in tip top shape.

While much easier to take around than the RB67, it still calls for a very different style of shooting than my 35mm cameras and will take some getting used to.  But I am having a blast figuring it out!

Sprocket Rocket Exposure Tests

Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6

Those of you familiar with the Sunny Sixteen rule will see that there is something fishy about Lomography’s suggestion to use ISO 400 speed film in the Sprocket Rocket.

It is supposed to have a shutter speed of 1/100 second and “sunny” aperture of f/16.  This would mean you should use ISO 100 speed film for shooting in direct sunlight.

I have experienced and others have noted that the Sprocket Rocket is quite “light hungry”, which simply translates into its published specifications being incorrect!

I shot two rolls of Fuji Provia 400F slide film together, one in my Sprocket Rocket and the other in my Nikon F100 with a 20mm lens.  The results confirm my suspicions:

  1. The “sunny” aperture is more like f/22 and the “cloudy” aperture f/16, both about one stop darker than documented
  2. If you press the shutter release very quickly, you can speed up the shutter dropping another stop of light from reaching the film!

This would indeed mean that you should be shooting ISO 200 to 400 speed film in your Sprocket Rocket depending on whether you are slow or quick on the trigger.

On the bright side (har!), with practice you could get three stops of exposure variability out of the Sprocket Rocket via the aperture settings and good finger speed control.

Down the Slide

Rollei B 35, Ilford XP2 Super

I have now put a few rolls of 35mm film through my latest two new cameras.  My initial impressions shooting with them are 100% positive.

The Nikon F6 is an absolute dream to use.  In theory it is just an evolutionary step up from my F100 (mixed heartily with plenty of DNA from the F5), but it is noticeably nicer to shoot with in almost every single way.

However, I don’t have much film from it developed just yet so impressions on its metering, autofocus, etc. will have to wait.

The Rollei B 35 is an entirely different kind of camera, but has thrilled me just the same.  I have found myself carrying it around with my nearly all the time at night and on the weekends when I am sporting my off-work cargo shorts.

I thoroughly enjoy setting the aperture, shutter speed, and focus distance completely manually.  The Rollei doesn’t even have a rangefinder so I am honing my jedi mind tricks by thinking “Is that four or five feet away from me?” all the time.

The above shot is one of many that I like (most of which are in focus!) that came out of a roll of Ilford XP2 Super film.  This is a 400 speed B&W film which is developed in color print film chemistry, so you can take it into your corner drug store to get it processed.

Stacked Cameras

Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Well, I have updated the design of my blog to include a genuine banner.  The above shot is part of it, but those of you following the feed should check the home page out.

Thanks to my DSW for some Photoshop help to tweak the lighting, color, and shadows.  She wanted to be sure the glory of our jalapeño pepper green kitchen wall came through in force.

You may recognize some of the cameras from a number of my previous posts. The complete rundown front to back is:

  1. Rollei B 35 – I carry this almost everywhere these days
  2. Canon IV-S – sadly the shutter is still full of leaks
  3. Petri 7S – also sadly, its film advance is stuck again
  4. Kine Exakta – I haven’t even tried this yet, its shutter controls are a bit daunting
  5. Nikomat FTN – my workhorse SLR for shooting B&W
  6. Nikon FA – The most advanced manual Nikon ever made
  7. Nikon F100 – My main film camera until recently
  8. Nikon F6 – My new king of the hill

How did I order them?  Not by age, nor purely by size.

They are arguably ordered by technical features as you start with the viewfinder Rollei and proceed to add a rangefinder, average metering, single-lens reflex, center-weighted metering, matrix metering, autofocus, and finally color matrix metering.

I might have ordered a few of them differently, but in the end I think this made for the best looking shot.

New King Of The Hill

Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

My birthday came and went recently (still 30-something, though not for too much longer…) and both my father and my Dear Sweet Wife gave me new cameras.

My dad gave me a Polaroid Automatic 100 pack film camera, which is an earlier but nicer model than the 320 I have been using to date.  This isn’t exactly a “new” camera, but along with it he gave me the matching leather case, flash bulb attachment, portrait kit, and some other accessories all in excellent condition.

Thanks Dad!  I have put a bit of film through it and should have some pictures online soon.

My DSW originally gave me my Nikon F100 nearly a decade ago when she decided I had outgrown my first modern SLR, an N80.  Now she has taken it up a level by introducing our first “true” F into the family by giving me an F6!

This is the ultimate (last and most advanced) 35mm film SLR.  Everyone was surprised when Nikon introduced it back in 2004 as the market had already shifted entirely over to digital.  It is still in their lineup today, but judging from the trouble my DSW went through trying to find a new one it may not be for long.

I wouldn’t have splurged on an F6 for myself, but thank you honey for this gift!  Rest assured I will make good use of it and there is nothing that will ever displace it as my primary serious 35mm camera.

Put Your Hands In The Air


Petri 7S, Kodak Gold 400

The above shot is from that test roll of film I put through my recently repaired Petri 7S rangefinder.

Our boys were amazed when we removed the hard top from our Jeep Wrangler this summer.  We got them sunglasses and don’t take them out when it is too chilly or sunny, but they demand to ride in it every time we leave the house no matter the weather.

I received that roll of zoo shots back from the dr5 lab which processes traditional black & white negative film into black & white positive slides.  I have to say at first glance via loupe they look amazing with great detail and contrast.  This has moved up the queue to be the next roll I scan.

Rest assured I will use my trusty Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 rather than a gimmick like this one.

This Here Giraffe

Canon S90

Which of these is false?:

  1. Flamingos can stand an hour straight on a single leg
  2. Apes have tails and Monkeys do not
  3. Sun bears like to eat corn cobs

If you had spent the day at the Oakland Zoo like we did then perhaps you would know!  My Dear Sweet Wife spent the afternoon teaching quilting at A Verb for Keeping Warm, during which time the boys and I visited the African savannah, rain forest and other exotic locations without ever leaving the bay area.

I used this opportunity to put a second roll of film through my Nikon FA.  Now that I have worked with the FA a bit more I am beginning to appreciate its strengths and understand its weaknesses.

Its Program-automatic and Shutter-priority modes worked very well.  In Shutter-priority it was smart enough to override my chosen shutter speed (usually the slowest I could stand for hand holding shots) down when the available light wasn’t sufficient, indicating so in the finder display (so I knew to brace my camera against a railing to avoid blur).

However, its meter display in fully Manual exposure mode (when choosing aperture and shutter speed myself) left a lot to be desired.  It merely displays “+” or “-” signs and gives no relative indication of how far off you are from the correct exposure like many other cameras do.

The biggest usability snag I encountered was that in Program-automatic and Shutter-Priority modes you need to leave the lens’ aperture ring at the smallest setting such as f/32.  But when switching between Aperture-priority and the other modes I would often forget to move it back leading to an exposure error message in the viewfinder.

I may have more to say after I get the film back from the lab.  I plan to test the .dr5 lab service to product B&W positive slides from this roll.

And by-the-way, I mixed up the primates above.  If you see a tail, you know you have a monkey on your hands!

Matching Monsters

Petri 7S, Kodak Gold 400

Welcome to my first blog give away, in partnership with Quilt Otaku!  To enter the contest merely comment on this post by August 3rd 2011 midnight PST, and for more details see here.

By the way, the above are examples of the Daphne and Delilah Momma and Baby Monster knitting pattern.  The yellow/green one was made by our friend So Sue for our younger son and the blue/red by my dear sweet wife for our older.

(Don’t tell them that our sons call the larger dolls “Daddy”!)

And now back to our regularly scheduled photography material…  I’m happy to report that the Petri 7S rangefinder camera is working well!

I ran one of my random junk rolls through it for test purposes, this one happened to be Kodak Gold 400.  I got it back from my nearby pharmacy hours later and all the shots came out OK.  (“Is this camera working?” shots are about all I trust to Kodak Gold and Walgreens…)

For the most part I exposed based on the Petri’s around-the-lens selenium cell ring which seemed to be metering accurately.  The above shot was an exception which I metered using my trusty Gossen Digisix.

It was taken inside with filtered light from a partially drawn curtain which was just below the sensitivity of the camera’s meter.  I wanted to test the camera’s capabilities, and this lighting called for a fully open aperture of f/1.8 at 1/60 second shutter speed.  Daylight shots at f/16 and 1/500 second came out just as well.

The shutter release and film advance worked just fine, no hint of the issue I resolved in the last post.

The only problems were that the film counter only caught about every fifth frame (by the time I was done with the 24-exposure roll it only read “5”) and the film rewind crank kept popping out as I moved the camera around.  Neither issue was a showstopper, although the “click clack” of the crank didn’t make for a silent experience.

I still have to test the Canon IV-S with the patched shutter, not to mention get even more familiar with my Nikon FA and Petri 7S.