New Batteries and Loading Film

Olympus OM-1 with remote shutter release on a tripod

Olympus OM-1 with remote shutter release on a tripod

My camera needed new batteries and the film had to be loaded manually. There were  a lot of reassuring levers, clicks and mechanical confirmation sounds. My motor winder missed the engage occasionally and just spun. But the manual winder on top of the camera still worked.

I had replaced the small hearing aid type battery, which operates the light meter.  The response of the light meter seemed dulled so I had to check it with the Light Metter App I have loaded on my iPhone. That worked a charm.  The Olympus OM 1 has an On/Off switch, an ASA ring from 50 to 1600 ISO, a film winder, shutter release button, film release button, self timer and a flash hotshoe. The interchangeable lens has the shutter speed ring at its base, with the aperture ring in the front. That’s it! Oh, and as far as I remember the battery would last a few years. Simple but beautiful!

I opened box of film and unplugged the canister. I had forgotten about the celluloid smell.The cartridge fell into my hands and I loaded the camera easily, checking the drag to ensure it was running and loading just the tip to get an extra frame out of the roll of 36 exposures.

The OM1 is a small camera. The Zuiko optics are great. The viewfinder is tiny and dark especially with an f 4.0 lens.  The focusing screen has a central twin prism surrounded by a circle of smaller prisms and then the ground glass. I have another focusing screen that I can insert (yes, they were interchangeable) that is an open circle and ground glass much like the ones in most DSLRs today. There is no diopter adjustment on the viewfinder, so I had to look through my glasses to see.

Through the (small) viewfinder of the Olympus OM-1 - note the split prism to assist in focussing.

Through the (small) viewfinder of the Olympus OM-1 – note the split prism to assist in focussing.

I took a few pictures around the house with an ISO of 125. I had to use the tripod, and also think about the picture I wanted, then check the light reading with my external light meter.

The beach was more fun. I felt that I had been transported in a time machine and had arrived 40 years earlier, taking pictures the old fashioned way. I only took about 30 at the beach, though a whole lot more than normal and enjoyed looking at the light, the light meter and caressing my camera.

Janvier and I did capture a proposal at the end of the pier. How lucky are that couple to have their special moment captured on celluloid in 2014?

A couple on the pier: he proposed to her….

A couple on the pier: he proposed to her…. ( negative processed in Lightroom)

Reliving the Photographic Tradition

My classic Olympus OM-1

My classic Olympus OM-1

A few weeks ago  a plan came together that had been hatched four years ago.

 I made a major challenge to myself, but hedged my bets. The challenge  was to embrace modern digital DLSR technology, so I bought camera equipment that performs far better than I make pictures.

But I hedged my bets by purchasing some second hand Zuiko lenses for my Olympus OM1. They cost a fraction of what my new lenses did, and weighed only a fraction as well.  I had to because about 15 years ago we had a robbery at home where I lost most of that kit, and all I was left with was an OM1 body and motor winder.

 I hedged my bets because if the digital experiment failed, then I would go back to film.

 Digital photography has not failed me. I have learnt so much and have so much more to learn, and have made pictures that make me smile.

The equipment from Ivor Ginsberg arrived in three boxes

The equipment from Ivor Ginsberg arrived in three boxes

 However, roots are important. In life and in photography.  I trawled the Internet for darkroom equipment: like everyone else I asked, I had given my darkroom equipment away. By a stroke of luck I found Ivor Ginsberg’s contact details on one of the smalls of a site and left a message on his mobile. He called back a few days later and three weeks later I collected 44 kilograms of darkroom equipment from the freight office at King Shaka Zulu airport. I had a large Meopta enlarger, 3 lenses, timers, exposure meters, safe lights, trays, developing tanks, measuring cylinders and some old Agfa Bromide Paper.

For modern film and paper I had been told about Photomax in Durban, so on the way to collect Ivor’s delivery I stopped by and bought Ilford film, paper, developers and fixer. Later I bought a contact print device there as well.

 The next day I unpacked Ivor’s boxes. An original Durst Timer, in the box with instructions. Made in

Classic equipment in original boxes with manuals

Classic equipment in original boxes with manuals

Germany. A Paterson Exposure “Computer” in the box, with the instruction manual. Made in England. The Meopta enlarger in its original cardboard box. Made in Czechoslovakia. Like the timer.

 I stored the film, paper and chemicals in the fridge. I had to look up equivalents for Stop (used vinegar to make up a solution of 1.5% ascetic acid) and dishwasher rinse aid as a wetting agent.

 I cleaned my lenses and camera. Ines tolerated the spare room beginning to look (and smell) like a darkroom. 

It was time to mix the chemicals, black out the darkroom and take some film pictures!

 

 

 

 

A digital picture that makes me smile: Humpback diving in front of a glacier wall

A digital picture that makes me smile: Humpback diving in front of a glacier wall

Almirante Brown: An Englishman in Argentina

This was to be our last morning on land. I was filled with trepidation.

This would be my goodbye to this fragile wilderness and hello to my fragile health.

My health was fragile as we were to cross the Drake Passage after the landing.

William Brown is anathema. He was born in the 18th century in Ireland, emigrated to Philadelphia with his family as a nine year old and lost his father soon after to yellow fever. He was offered a job as a cabin boy on a steamer and worked his way up to captain. He was pressganged into fighting for the British in the Napoleonic wars. He then established and fought battles around Argentina and is an Argentinian national hero, and popularly regarded as the founder of the Argentinian navy. Then the Argentinians named a research base after him on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Vavilov with ice blowing in

The Vavilov with ice blowing in at Paradise Harbour

I often wonder how the passage of world history would have changed if it were not for the Irish that stood up to the English and the United Kingdom. Is say this because of one of my great grandparents who was Irish and who came out to South Africa to support the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War.

Paradise Harbour is a beautiful natural bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. The mouth is not too narrow but steep mountains rise up from all sides, with glaciers reaching the see in the valleys. We landed at Base Brown, and Argentinian Scientific base that was not occupied. A colony of Gentoo penguins were breeding in and around the buildings. The base had suffered a serious fire when one of the Argentinian doctor who was conscripted into military service set he base alight when a service ship did not have space to take him home after his due service. He and his team were forced to camp in tents till the next ship a few months later. The base has ugly debris in its center.

Glacier mouth in black water

Glacier mouth in black water

Most of the Vavilov’s passengers fanned around the base and up the hill to the highest point. The came tobogganing down on their backsides, whooping in excitement. Reece, her boyfriend, proposed to the ship’s doctor, Sarah, on top of the hill. There were loud whoops of joy and congratulations as the messages were relayed down the slope to the base.

The peace of Paradise harbour

The peace of Paradise harbour

I stood alone absorbing the peace and grandeur of the place. The stillness away from the passengers was intense, broken by occasional glacier calving. The sea in areas was black and reflected the glacier faces like a mirror.

Blue….

Blue….

I looked back on the sturdy Vavilov moored in the bay. It was small, but I knew I would be safe in the Drake crossing. I was just scared I would be sick. Then the bay filled with ice as the wind changed.  The winds were only supposed to pick up later in the afternoon. Back on board Boris announced that we would be making a dash for the Drake on account of some serious weather that was coming.

Oh, boy. My heart sank!

Norwegian grave stone: hidden but not forgotten….

Norwegian grave stone: hidden but not forgotten….

Ocean Notes Day 16

Ocean Notes Day 16