Compactness Way Ahead of its Time

In the nineteen thirties a German company called Welta was making mid-priced folders like this one and they were amazingly compact. This camera, the Welta Symbol, captures 6×9 images on 120 roll film and yet it is about the size of the latest i-Phone, albeit about 2.5 times the thickness. Considering all the huge medium format cameras that would follow (Pentax 67, Bronica GS1, Mamiya RB, Mamiya Press, just about any TLR) the compact form of this Welta Symbol is rather striking! A friend gave it to me yesterday and I ran some Fuji Acros thru it today but alas, there is a pretty significant light leak. No idea how to go about fixing it either. Oh well.

 

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Inspired Again

It didn’t take much. A group of folks were visiting and one of them had a couple chemical cameras he was using; and old Bronica and a Leica. So I pulled out my last remaining medium format camera, the Mamiya New 6 and shot a couple rolls. We were traveling around with visiting relatives so there were some nice photo ops along the way. I shot two rolls of Neopan Acros 100 and developed it in SPD.

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Spring Thaw

In my last post I complained that it was my first roll of film in over six months. Well, that was just over a year ago! I’ve definitely slowed down when it comes to shooting film. Several months ago I sold my beloved Pentax 67ii to finance the purchase of a new digital camera. Then last week I sold my even finer Fujifilm GF670 Professional to finance the purchase of a lens. So now I’m down to my Mamiya 6, a really beatup Graflex Speed Graphic and several 35mm bodies. But I got inspired to get the Mamiya out today and shot a roll of Neopan 100 Acros. Wow, it’s been a long time!

We still have a decent amount of snow on the ground but this morning it rained for the first time in several months, and it probably won’t be long before the spring thaw is in full force. I may have over developed these a bit as the highs blew out pretty consistently. Acros in SPD only requires 4’15” at 20 degrees but my developer was reading closer to 18 degrees so I followed the instructions and let it sit for 5’30” which may have been too much.

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Finally back to film

My last roll of film was shot and developed over six months ago. I’m not sure what happened to cause the long break. Well maybe I sort of know. I belong to two photography clubs. One had their annual exhibition in December and the other one is coming up in February. I didn’t feel like I had many decent images, but was expected to contribute three for each exhibition. Needless to say, I spent the fall feverishly trying to get some acceptable images, and when under pressure I guess I default to digital. Anyway, now the pressure is off and I’m glad to be back into film.

I ran a couple rolls of Acros thru the Mamiya 6 during our holiday vacation. I’m itching to get the big Pentax 67ii out again but haven’t gotten there yet. Hopefully soon though.

I was a bit worried about my chemicals. Last summer I mixed up five liter batches of developer (Fuji SPD) and fixer (Kodak). I wasn’t sure if they would be OK. The initial bad sign was lots and lots of sulfur chunks floating around in my fixer solution. But I filtered it out with a cloth and just used it anyway. It would appear that everything turned out OK.

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Fogged In

There’s a quiet spot in the woods near our house that doesn’t see many visitors. The name means “Blood Lake” and there is an old myth about a beautiful maiden who didn’t want to get married and eventually threw herself into the lake, which has been red ever since. It’s actually just a seasonal pond that only has water in it during rainy season and something about the grasses that grow in and around it make the water look red. The rest of the time it is filled with green grass or snow.

I hiked up there a while ago on a foggy morning while some of Siebold’s Crabapple trees were still blooming and worked on a roll of Neopan 100. I wanted to capture the sense of being completely fogged in. I ended up hiking out to a larger lake and finishing the roll there.

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The People I See

This is the third roll of four that I recently shot to test out the Fujifilm GF670 that was recently returned from the manufacturer saying there was nothing wrong with it. Fortunately they seem to be correct so far!

One of the sweet things about this camera is just how inconspicuous it is. That’s right, an inconspicuous medium format film camera! It really is small though, and the shutter is so quiet that I can barely hear it when shooting outside. I’ve never been comfortable with street photography and am very hesitant to shoot people I don’t know, but the stealth features of the GF670 make it a little easier for wimps like me!

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A Rundown Church

This is a church I try to avoid visiting at all costs. It’s just too painful! It isn’t far from where I live and I’ve known the people there for a long time, but it just makes me so sad when I go there. The building looks like it’s about to collapse at any minute. When you go into the sanctuary the building is leaning so far to the left that it makes you dizzy. It hasn’t seen a fresh coat of paint in decades. Everything looks worn out and run down. I’m sure there are plenty of similar looking churches somewhere out there, although I don’t ever recall seeing one quite this bad, at least not here in Japan. But still, you might think I’m being overly sensitive; which I probably am. Here’s the thing… my dad built that church! He actually built it with his own hands and the help of a few other carpenters. He poured his life into getting that church up and running and there was a time when it was a pretty vibrant community. I have countless old photos of his from those days showing the place filled with people who look happy. And then there is the matter of timing. You see, this wan’t the only thing my dad was building those days. Our family was also the focus of much of my parents’ attention at the time. I’m the last of three kids with two older sisters and from what I can gather it was a pretty happy day when my parents and sisters welcomed me into the family. That was in June. And then almost exactly three months later the new church building was completed and a dedication service was held. So in some ways my life and that of this rundown church building sort of coincide, making it all the more painful to see it in the present condition.

I find it hard to not feel resentment toward those who fail to take care of this place, and perhaps the last straw for me this time was seeing that the primary symbol of the church, the cross right above the front door, is completely rotting away. I wish I could come up with some positive twist on this all but I’m drawing a blank.

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