As you may know from my last post, I’ve been exploring black and white film, learning to process the negatives and taking pictures with much older cameras than my usual Nikon D800e. In my last post I wrote about the Agfa Billy Record that I received as a gift. Bitten by the vintage camera bug and enjoying the unique qualities of these older cameras (and film in general) in this post I’m introducing my latest acquisition, a Rolleiflex 3.5f TLR. My Agfa Billy is as old as my Dad; this camera is just a few years older than me. Something rather nice about that. I’ll be on the hunt for a camera that perhaps my grandad may have used as a young man next. This camera was manufactured in 1961
Purchasing this particular model however came out of a challenge suggested at a meeting of the Royal Photographic Society South West Region. The idea was to take some photographs in the style of Vivian Maier and/or Lee Miller. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the meeting where the two photographers were discussed as I was in Iceland. However, I did do my homework and the Vivian Maier story particularly captured my imagination.
I watched a couple of documentaries and was fascinated by this photographer’s life and how her amazing life’s work didn’t come to light until her death. Vivian Maier took pictures with a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) a camera I knew little about other than the name. I was really taken with the design and whilst not having too much success taking pictures in the style of Vivian Maier, I thought the least I could do was take some pictures with a similar camera to Vivian Maier. There is something particularly romantic to me about this classic design. The special feature of TLR cameras is that they have two lenses of the same focal length with their focal planes aligned. The lens at the bottom of the camera is the one that takes the picture (often called the ‘taking lens’), while the other is used in the viewfinder system.
I’ve taken just the one film so far with this camera, using Ilford Pan Plus 50, developed in Ilfosol 3. I didn’t realise when I chose Pan F Plus 50 that it’s considered a difficult film to use. It has a very fine grain and produces fine detail but does have a tendency to be a bit contrasty apparently. I have been advised to over-expose (set ASA rating to 25 rather than 50) and to shorten the developing time. As this was the first, however, I went with standard settings and the recommended developing times.
The garden pictures below came up a little under-exposed however, it was very bright yesterday afternoon, dark shadows were being cast by the sunshine and metering correctly would have been a challenge for even the latest DSLR. I think the camera has done a brilliant job. The tulip and teasel picture came up perfectly exposed. All negatives were scanned using an Epson V600 and then processed in Photoshop. I corrected the under-exposure as best I could, toned the ‘prints’ digitally with cyanotype toner which I think works rather well. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I often say this but I certainly enjoying taking them and processing them.. :-)