Camera, landscape, Nature, Photography

The Severn Way

Shrewsbury is a small town, and you’re never too far from the countryside, but I didn’t realise just  how close. Follow a narrow track from the town’s large Frankwell car park, past the cricket ground, and you are in fields, and following the Severn Way.

Your path leads you through meadows along the river Severn, past black cows blithely chewing, through gates, past allotments,  along the ends of gardens, up stone steps that seemingly go the wrong way, past the back of the garden where Charles Darwin grew up,  through green tunnels barely wider than your shoulders, along the snaking and winding river, all with the faint rumble of traffic only 2 or 3 fields away.

The path peters out after a few miles, and it’s possible to return to your start point in a fraction of the time, as the road goes in a more-or-less straight line. Or, do as I did and retrace your steps. Things look different going the other direction, anyway.


All photos taken with Lomo LC-A

Camera, landscape, Photography, Shropshire, Stone, trees

Expired Film, Lomo LC-A

Quantum Leap Sculpture
Quantum Leap Sculpture

I’ve discovered that some of my rolls of film are waaayy past their use-by date, sometimes by ten years or so.  So now my project this year is to use all the really old films before they’re unusable. They are mostly B&W, although there is some colour slide film.

The roll of Agfa APX100 here should have been used by November 2010.

Some film forums advise shooting expired black and white film as if it were half the advertised speed to compensate for the changed film chemistry.  I recently shot some seriously expired Fuji Neopan and found them to be too dark, so this makes sense.   As it turns out these shots mostly came out too bright! Luckily film is fairly forgiving.

The main problem was half of the film being blank – the batteries were failing, so about every other shot the camera’s shutter didn’t open (I didn’t discover this until I got the developed negatives back).  Some of the shots look a little soft, that’s a ‘feature’ of the lens on the Lomo LC-A.

Here then are a few shots of Shrewsbury.

Camera, Photography

Keep The Light Out!

One of the drawbacks to collecting old film cameras – apart from expense of film processing, and the risks of buying old things – is that the light seals disintegrate in a really unpleasant way. The light seals are the foam strips around the film door and hinge to keep stray beams of light from buggering up your lovely photographs. After 30 years or so, the foam turns into a nasty sticky, staining, black gunk.

Hinge light seals

Not all cameras need light seals, depending on how the camera was made, but most do. Some older cameras, made before plastics and foam were common, use wool as a light seals. I’m replacing these defunct seals with embroidery yarn, as it’s cheaper than foam, and a little easier to work with.

Cleaning this mess up is a time-consuming job. I’ve just cleaned up the light seals on my new (for me) Yashica 72-E, and it’s taken me hours. My prefered tools are:

  • lighter fluid (great multi-purpose solvent. some people use isopropyl alcohol)
  • toothpicks  (the wood is unlikely to damage the paintwork on your camera)
  • cotton buds (for wiping away gunk. watch for stray fibres in the camera)
  • kitchen towel (to catch the gunk before it stains carpet, furniture, etc)
  • sharp knife (for when toothpicks just aren’t enough)
Cleaning out the old seals makes quite a mess
Cleaning out the old seals – this mess is just from removing the hinge seals

To replace the seals I use 1mm foam (bought in a sheet from eBay) for the hinge area, and 4-ply black embroidery yarn (for the narrow slots where the door edges sit). The foam is self-adhesive, and there was enough sticky residue left in the door slots to stick the yarn in place.

So now, I’ve loaded the Yashica with some black and white film, and I’m ready to start shooting.  Only when I get the developed film back will I know whether I’ve done this job properly. If so, I’ll post results here.

Yashica 72-E half-frame camera
Yashica 72-E
Camera, creativity, Photography, Voigtlander

Voigtländer Perkeo

Yes, I’ve bought another ‘new’ old camera. A Voigtländer Perkeo.

I’ve been after one of these for a few years, but the prices on eBay are either too high, or the camera for sale doesn’t look in very good condition. Here I was extremely lucky: the camera is in perfect working order* and I got it for a song, and I managed to snaffle it before anyone else saw it.

£20 plus £2.80 postage – it’s a steal!

“But why Andrew? Why? Don’t you already have enough cameras?” I hear you cry. Well, a number of reasons:

  • It shoots medium format film**
  • It’s really quite small (Perkeo means ‘pigmy’) when folded up
  • It has a case (and the case is in really good condition)
  • It’s more sturdy than some of my other folding cameras
  • It has a better viewfinder than some of my folding cameras***
  • It has double-exposure prevention
  • I like to shoot square photos sometimes
  • I wanted one

This afternoon – it’s my day off, even though it is a Tuesday – I went the long way to the supermarket, a route taking me along the river Severn. I took the Perkeo, loaded with Fomapan 100 Black & White film, and reader, I shot it all****.

I took photos of Tudor-era buildings, a dragon, and a couple of bridges.

The film went in the post to get processed late afternoon, so assuming the shots come out ok, I’ll be posting them here within a week.

Original Voigtländer Perkeo Invoice from 1955

Original Voigtländer Perkeo Invoice from 1955 (I’ve blurred identifying information)

There is a small hatch inside the case lid, where I found this: the original invoice. I’ve blurred the name and address, but the writing’s so bad that probably wasn’t necessary*****.

£13 in 1955 had the purchasing power of about £325 in today’s money.

*It looks hardly used, except for some paint worn from the front edge and some chrome missing from the accessory shoe on the top

**120 (medium) film shoots negatives 6cm across, they capture an enormous amount of detail. It’s cheaper to shoot 35mm, but it’s nice to shoot some 120 as a treat.

***I have 3 cameras from late 30’s/early 40’s and the viewfinder is merely a frame to look through, no glass in it at all!

****The Perkeo takes twelve 6cm by 6cm shots, easy to take all 12 in a short space of time.

*****There is still a photography-related business at this address, called ‘Snappy Snaps’

Camera, Nature, Photography, Shropshire, Stone

Stiperstones Film (Finally)

I finally finished the films I shot up the Stiperstones just before Christmas, and just got the developed negatives back. It didn’t take too long to scan them in, as there are only 8 shots per roll when you shoot with 120 film.

The 1st roll was the slowest film I’ve ever shot with – Ilford PanF 50 – and I think that’s why the roll didn’t come out so well – the shutter speed was so slow that the slight wobble of me trying to hold it steady in a strong (and freezing cold) wind created the slight blur, and lost me a lot of detail, and so I only got  a few usable photos.  I’m annoyed, because the most blurry photo (which I’ve included below) would have made the best shot otherwise. Grrr. Next time with this film I’m using a tripod.

Luckily, the 2nd film came out mostly ok. There are a couple of shots I took around town just to finish off the film, I’ll post them separately, in case I confuse anyone and give them the impression there is a river up there on the top of the Shropshire hills.


In case this sort of thing interests you, the camera was a 1946 Voigtlander Bessa and the films I used were Ilford PanF 50 and Fomapan 100.

Camera, landscape, Nature, Photography

Ynyslas Day Trip

I had a day trip to the beach this week, postponed so many times because of bad weather forecasts for my day off. I had the whole of this week off, so I could choose the day.

The plan was this: catch the train to Borth, then walk a couple of miles up the coast to Ynyslas*. Once there I would record the sounds of the surf on my Tascam, and then sit in the dunes and strum my travel acoustic guitar.

I got there early to avoid the crowds (although the kids went back to school that week, so it was fairly quiet anyway), so I got the 7.30 train.

It all went to plan, except for the bit where I dropped the battery cover from the digital recorder into the rocks, lost forever. Plus I dropped my phone at one point – luckily not into water – and did’t realise for 5 minutes. The ten minutes spent retracing my steps was a bit stressful.

The recordings came out well. My guitar improvisations – with lovely surf roar backing – sound much better than I expected, and I’ve already started work on them. Watch this space, as they say.