John's Photographic Ramblings

John's Photographic Ramblings

Thursday, 12 September 2013

11 September 2013

I seriously need to learn to resist temptation. I have bought two 'new' cameras this week - a Zeiss Ikon Contina IIa and an Ihagee West Exakta TL500. Neither is in good condition - the Contina has had the frame counter completely removed and the Exakta has had the cover of the film advance removed and the metering system does not work. As picture making machines, however, both are fine and are eminently usable.

The Exakta is a final chapter in a long and noble story. Ihagee, the makers of Exaktas, was a German company owned by a Dutchman (Johan Steenbergen) in Dresden. When WWII broke out, Steenbergen was obliged to leave Dresden and return to the Netherlands. After the war finished, he was unable to return to Dresden in what was now East Germany. His company carried on without him and ended up as a part of the state owned VEB Pentacon concern (and produced an excellent line of Exakta and Exa cameras). Not to be beaten, Steenbergen restarted in West Germany calling his new Company Ihagee West and produced a separate line of Exakta cameras.  The Exakta TL500 that I have just bought is actually made in Japan by Petri. It is, in fact, a rebadged Petri FT camera.


I am going to have an exhibition of my photographs in the Angel Coffeehouse in Lincoln in March and April. That almost seems a long way away but I really ought to be getting on with producing the pictures. the exhibiting area in the Angel is in two parts. I have already decided on the theme for the lower part - The Three Old ladies (I might even call it The Coven and display the pictures with suitable quotes from Macbeth) which are three old wooden fishing boats that have been drawn up on the foreshore at Salen, Mull and left to moulder. The boats are called The Girl Claire, Pavonia and Elsie May (Elsie May was previously the Mint and then the Wisteria). The Pavonia was built in 1955 and the Elsie May around 1964-ish. I do not have a date for the Girl Claire. I have been photographing them for several years and each time there is less boat left - eventually, I shall go to Mull and find nothing.

The hard part here is selecting six pictures out of the several hundred I have taken. One thing I am sure of is that they will be in colour with blue dominating.

The other, upstairs, area will be monochrome but I cannot decide exactly on a theme for here. possibilities are the cathedral, Lincoln streets or macros. I need to decide soon as each picture can take several days to edit, print, mount and frame.


Currently in the Angel Coffeehouse is an exhibition by a Lincoln group called Instachimps These are all produced with mobile phone and they have a standard format of square pictures almost all of which are monochrome - I cannot say black and white as three are sepia. Those that are in colour are very subdued.

These exhibitions in the Angel are one of the joys of my life. They are very varied and range from photographs to drawings to paintings. Some are excellent, some are decidedly amateurish but it is great that people are willing to put themselves out there to be enjoyed and judged.  I am very in line with the Player in Tom Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead' - "the single assumption which makes our existence viable – that somebody is watching - with no audience, what is left?"


I have bought several lenses lately for my Pentax cameras. These all have a 52 mm filter thread. They all, also, came without lens caps. Now, I am not the gentlest when it comes to using and storing my kit. Three lenses with no caps is asking for scratches. Bought as accessories in a camera shop, these are quite expensive - singly, perhaps not too bad, but when you want a few it soon adds up.

I decided to try one of the cheap Chinese companies selling on Ebay. What I bought was a petal lens hood and lens cap - only £2.58 for the pair. I bought two sets.  I am of an age where Chinese goods were always rubbish so I have some long standing prejudices to overcome.  I am aware that the Chinese can do good stuff now: my newish Canon 650D is made in China but that does not appease my prejudices. I am pleased to report that they are both (lens hood and lens cap) well designed and well made. The lens hoods are a screw fit and have a locking ring. The lens caps are a snap fit.


While I was looking through my archive for suitable pictures for my Angel exhibition, I was taken by both the quality and colour rendition of my medium format pictures. A lot of these are taken on Fujifilm Provia slide film. This film has its own colour signature and produces particularly attractive colours in cold conditions.

Colour rendition is dependent on a number of factors. Partly, this is down to the colour of sunlight. At midday on June 21st on a sunny day, sunlight is white (that is almost the definition of 'white'). At other times of day and other times of year, the colour of sunlight changes. Most photographers know that early morning or late afternoon is best for landscapes - the Golden Hour - as the sunlight is more yellow then. In the winter, the sunlight passes through more atmosphere and the yellow/red portion of the sunlight is scattered more - giving us a bluer light. It is this reason that makes snow in photographs look blue. Snow aside, all other colours get a colour shift towards blue making all colours that bit colder.

But there is more to it than the colour of sunlight. Most people will have come across things that are designed to change colour with temperature (at work, we have warning signs that magically show the word 'ice' when the air temperature reaches zero) but even things that are not designed to change colour do so at least a bit. So, sunlight is bluer in the winter (regardless of temperature) and other colours do their own colour shifts depending on the pigment and the temperature. This can give cold scenes an aethereal look which is what I have found in my snow scenes taken on Provia film.  At least one of these is going to find its way into the exhibition.

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