koi and swan, sepia

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rolleiflex first shots

I mentioned a while back that I had been given an old Rolleiflex K4A twin lens reflex camera recently, circa 1953.

I have been harboring a secret desire for a while to get back into film.

Couple reasons. There is something comforting about not seeing little pixelations for one thing. Two, I think that at this point in my life it will make me a better photographer, forcing me back to manual settings. I can romanticize about my film days but an objective look at the output tells me that I had more than my share of misses. Digital is just too easy, this will put me back on my toes.

The first camera I ever remember using was the exact same camera, around 1962, my stepfather's. I bought two more rollies last month, for peanuts up in San Francisco, an early Rolleicord with the Schneider 3.5 Xenar, in mint, never used shape and a 1961 Rolleimagic, one of the first aperture priority automatic exposure cameras.

Unfortunately when the selenium goes out in the meter on the magic you are left with a very pretty paperweight and I think that is what I am now stuck with. There is a guy up in Manhattan Beach who is supposed to be a rollei wizard and I will take it up to him and see if he will take a look.

I bought a roll of Ilford black and white and a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 at Oceanside Photo and Telescope and decided to put the Rolleiflex through its paces. Grabbed Brett, one of my favorite people and models, and headed for the alley next to the pub.

I was shooting at about F 5.6 and a third of a second. Have a new Sekinon light meter and I shot off my heavy Induro tripod. The Rolleiflex has a Zeiss 3.5 Opton Tessar lens. They can be soft at times and a little tricky. The velvia transparency film is known to be pretty temperamental as well.

I shot the velvia and Ken was nice enough to take it over to the North Coast lab in Carlsbad for development. My transparencies came back in a day. I have a new Epson v600 scanner and digitized the slides this morning and brought them into Lightroom.

I am reasonably pleased with the output and stoked about the camera. All of the new tools are going to take some dialing in and getting used to. The handheld stuff is pretty worthless. There is some sharpness variation even off the tripod. Will need to shoot the Xenar and see if I can tell the difference.

I like the organic quality of the bokeh and the blur of the film image, which in my opinion can not be matched by digital. Lot of my favorite photographers used this camera, Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Robert Capa, Vivian Meier, Richard Avedon, Imogen Cunningham and the great Eisenstadt. Good enough for them, good enough for me.

Tomorrow a bunch of my fellow photographers and I shoot the downtown broadway theater district on a L.A. Conservancy Tour. Should be a lot of fun.

Everybody is shooting film at some point tomorrow, except maybe for Reardon. Ken just bought a mint Yashica tlr which was delivered yesterday. You can pick these things up for a song.


Anonymous said...

Stunning, gorgeous images. Good on ya!

For stickler a-holes like me, remember it is spelled Rollei, not Rollie, and as a German word, is pronounced "roll-eye." Just sayin’.



Anonymous said...

hose shots look great! Since I’m doing pretty much the same kind of thing myself, I know you’re going to have a fantastic time with your Rollei. I agree; even with full-frame digital, the bokeh just isn’t the same.

I don’t know if there’s the Rollei equivalent of a paramender (or if it’s necessary on a Rollei) but I love mine for keeping proper framing on close up shots.



Anonymous said...

The color version seems flat. Try taking the blacks down darker.

The B&W is great.


Anonymous said...

Great shots....dig that alley...I shot video there in 2007.....such a cool look......keep em coming!


Helen Bauch McHargue said...

These are gorgeous. Is there something about that alley? Everyone looks great in there....

Anonymous said...

I love that shot with the tats in the tight alley...as if the world is closing in on him with only a little light left....


Anonymous said...

Robert... I like your Rolli shots a lot...,the composition is great... Brett does make a good model.

I think the contrast in the color version is fine... I don't see it as being flat. I am troubled, in both images, by the very bright spot In the center. Maybe you could darken that area. The eye tends to go to the brightest spot... And that area is definitely bright!

See ya next in LA!


Blue Heron said...

honestly happy with it, doesn't bother me.

Douglas Keller said...

Hi Robert. Brett is a good model...and I like the B&W shot a lot.

Anonymous said...

the world IS closing in on him and he's only got a little light left... take care, Brett.