Category Archives: Cameras

Bellows Camera in the Snow

With the sun out and the roads passable, I ventured up onto the top of the Mendip Hills with the Thornton Pickard and some film cartridges loaded with Photopaper as paper-negatives. I also loaded the VW Campervan with the darkroom chemicals, trays and red-light so I could process on site to check exposure. This proved vital as the first set of images – though at maximum aperture of F8 were still underexposed with the shutter operating at 1/30s and the paper’s ISO equivalent of 6.

So I went to the other end of the F scale – 64. this gave an exposure time of 4s – long enough to cover minor discrepancies in my manual timing. These shots were much better exposed, though the paper negatives – having been loaded in the not-so-light-tight van were a bit fogged in places.

I am pleased with the results – here are scans of the contact prints made from the paper negatives. Some images show a curved shadow at the bottom – a problem with the bellows sagging caused this. I lifted the lens mount and this reduced the problem. Really I need to fit new bellows – but as the rest of the camera is a bit worn it wouldn’t make economic sense compared to buying another in better condition.

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Still life with a bellows camera

On a snowy day, staying at home was the warmer option and gave me a chance to apply what I have learned about exposure for this camera to still life. Being a snowy day the light coming in from the window was nice and flat. Working close-up meant the camera was extended almost to its limit. After a few trial exposures with the paper negatives, I settled on a 4 minute exposure at f18 for these three images (paper negatives scanned, inverted and flipped in Photoshop).
But I have to admit to preferring the images as they come on the paper negatives seen in teh second set of images.

 

6 out of 6! – 6 Good exposures

On the frosty Mendip Hills this morning, I used the vintage Thornton Pickard camera to take some silhouette images of trees. Building on yesterday’s success with metering I managed 6 good exposures, despite the camera’s challenges including:
Lens aperture adjustment seizing in the cold
Shutter cord getting trapped during exposure.

Images below are scans of the original paper negatives and photoshop’s rendition of the positive of the scans. Tomorrow I will do some contact prints.

Mastering Exposure – Vintage Camera

Very pleased with exposure of paper negatives today.
(Images here have been inverted in photoshop from a scan of the paper negatives)
Using ISO 6 and metering off an 18% grey card on a bright sunny afternoon, I achieved perfect exposure for my driftwood photos. F64 at 4seconds.
I forgot to turn the plate holder around when photographing the lighthouse in close-up so had a double exposure – I’ll have to go back and try again.
The first image of the afternoon I took was metered on the assumption the paper was
ISO 25 so was under exposed. But now I do feel I understand what I am doing.
It helped that I was able to set up a mini darkroom in my VW T5 Camper – with the curtains drawn and working  in the cupboard with a safelight powered off an inverter connected to the leisure battery – I was able to develop a few paper negatives to check I was getting the exposure correct and then go back and take these images with a bit more confidence in the metering.

Metering was done on my iphone using the app “Lux”.burnham low lighthouse-wp

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Success with the antique camera and shutter

Well, some success and still some failures(learning opportuntites). Saggy bellows have caused a shadow on the negative and one or two film holders have small gaps – now filled.  But the ones that workd I am very pleased with.

The big challenge is metering correctly to set the exposure. I realised that in trying to increase the exposures I had been getting, I had been metering the highlights instead of the midtones.

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River Axe – set up for the shot
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F8 1/30s print and negative – Focus not great
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Cornwall F8 1/100s print and negative – Bellows drooped causing shadow
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F8 1/30s print and negative – Just right 🙂

 

How to measure the speed of my antique shutter

My Boots branded 100 year old Thornton Pickard camera has a new addition – a mechanical shutter. This allows me to shoot at speeds under 1 second. With these faster speeds I can use 200 ISO sheet film instead of the much slower photo paper.

To measure the speed of this shutter, I fixed it in front of my digital fuji XT20. I set the Fuji on a 5 second exposure on f8 (as wide as the old camera goes). This gave me time after pressing the Fuji shutter to then trigger the old shutter.

I then viewed the histogram of the image taken – which was of course, at the speed of the old shutter.

I then moved the old shutter out of the way and took a few images on the Fuji adjusting the shutter speed until I found a speed that gave me a similar histogram to that obtained with the old shutter. This turned out to be a useful 1/30s.

The speed of the old shutter can be changed – but it is a bit of a fiddle.

 

Adding a shutter to my antique camera

In order to access shutter speeds of less than 1s I need a mechanical shutter. I found one on eBay for a bargain price – and it is in good mechanical working order. The challenge was to attach it to the camera as the rubber seal has gone solid.

I first rigged a plastic adapter to put the shutter on the front of the lens. This did work OK, but isn’t very elegant. Next, I looked at putting the shutter between the lens and the camera body. I didn’t want to make too many cuts, or changes to the camera or shutter so fabricated a frame to hold the shutter onto which the lens could be mounted. I only needed to make 3 small screw holes into the lens mounting plate. This has worked well, so will now stain the frame to finish it off. Next step (in the next blog) is to measure/adjust the shutter so I know what speed it is running at.