Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Expired Film Day 2018 (2)

Rollei 16 with Orwo UP15
On this year's Expired Film Day, as well as making a short film on expired film, I also had the  intention of documenting the process in photographs shot on expired film. Given how intensive the whole process was - shooting the film (of which I shot two takes of the film), processing, scanning and so on - the idea of shooting stills of the making of the film remained just that, an idea. However, I did shoot one length of the same Orwo UP15 film from March 1978 in the Rollei 16 while the film was drying, outside, as it was getting dark between the snow showers on that day. As I was rating the film at an exposure index of 12, the lowest ASA setting on the Rollei 16, this was hardly ideal for the lighting conditions, and green light of the camera's meter hovered between on and off, meaning that most of the shots were taken at 1/30th at f2.8, so are not as sharp as they might have been with a faster film.

Orwo UP15 double-8 film with edge markings
As the film is perforated for double-8 cine cameras, it does work in the Rollei 16 - which needs perforations to advance the film - and the double-8 perforations are the same size as 16mm, with twice as many standard 16mm perforations, but of course, with perforations on both sides of the film, these show up along the bottom edge of the frame.  I didn't get a single frame with the word 'ORWO' written neatly between these perforations, but there was one with the UP15 - backwards too, as seems standard for edge markings on motion picture film, unlike film intended for still photographs.








Monday, 9 April 2018

Paper Cinema


Paper Cinema; silver gelatin prints, 9.5x12 inches each

The text in the two photographs reads:

On the left hand side of the screen, an image of sunlight passing through a canopy of leaves, forming circular patterns on the ground.

Observations in the ancient world of the behaviour of light during a partial eclipse are the first realisation of those properties which allow an image to be formed by projection; that the patches of light beneath a canopy of leaves formed a crescent shape clearly indicated that the circles of light more commonly seen are in fact images of the sun, the principle behind the camera obscura.

This image, of circles of light on the ground, was taken at the start of a roll of film. Stray light, entering obliquely through the film canister's light trap, commonly referred to as a leak, has caused the image to be obscured. In the darkroom, the burning in - or additional exposure of more light - is an attempt to ameliorate this leak.

The photographic image is made positive by the action of light shining through a negative: what appears as the grain is in fact the traces of light passing through gaps in the grain. Each black dot on the photographic paper is an image of the light source inside the enlarger, itself a mechanical analogy of the sun that it indexically reproduces.

***

On the right hand side of the screen, an image of the leaves themselves, animated by an unseen wind.

Among the earliest films shown to the public, the movement of inanimate objects excited a special interest. That animate bodies could be represented in movement was clearly understood as an extension of earlier optical toys that exploited the perceptual basis of the moving image. The movement of the inanimate revealed something else, its archetype being the trace of wind in the leaves forming the background of a shot, returned to by many film makers since.

Film took photography’s capaciousness and extended this through the multiple image with the dimension of time. The lens renders anything within the frame with indifference, its mechanical reproduction does not differentiate between its ostensible subject and that subject's surroundings. Unable to control the viewer's gaze on the screen, the possibility of an open form arises.

A mark of the camera’s indifference was the revelation that film could disclose the life of objects. A screen of leaves becomes indicative of this life, a life clearly seen in its movement, an indexical sign of a force not visible.

***

Notes

One

On the left hand side of the screen: In the photographic print itself, the screen referred to is not explicit in the image: the reader of these two photographs is being asked to imagine a screen, the description that follows makes it clear that the image on the print above the text is that to which the text refers. The left and right descriptions are orientations understandable in relation to one each other in the exhibition display.

an image of sunlight passing through a canopy of leaves, forming circular patterns on the ground: In the Northern Hemisphere this effect is most notable during the summer months; the sun needs to be sufficiently high in the sky to project circles of light on the ground, at lower elevations, these circles become oblique. The distance between the canopy and the ground also affect the appearance of the circular patterns: as with a pinhole, there is an optimum focal length for the formation of an image.

Observations in the ancient world of the behaviour of light during a partial eclipse: In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle observed this behaviour:
"The image of the sun at the time of the eclipse, unless it is total, demonstrates that when its light passes through a narrow, round hole and is cast on a plane opposite to the hole it takes on the form of a moon-sickle. The image of the sun shows this peculiarity only when the hole is very small. When the hole is enlarged, the picture changes..."
Aristotle, 'On The Form Of The Eclipse'
are the first realisation of those properties which allow an image to be formed by projection: At its simplest, this is the property that light waves travel in a straight line. If rays of light are permitted to project onto a surface through a sufficiently small aperture, an inverted image is drawn on that surface.

that the patches of light beneath a canopy of leaves formed a crescent shape clearly indicated that the circles of light more commonly seen are in fact images of the sun: During the total eclipse of 2017, visible across North America on Monday 21st August (a week and a day after the photograph of the patches of light was shot), images of the crescent shape of projected light through the leaves of trees either side of totality was seen across social media with a sense of astonishment remarkable for such a natural phenomenon, particularly in the context of a total solar eclipse itself.

the principle behind the camera obscura: The application of the Latin word camera in English - and many other languages - to describe a device which takes photographs retains this link to the dark or obscured room or chamber. Many cameras obscura utilise a lens to form a sharper, brighter image, but the principle remains the same.

This image, of circles of light on the ground, was taken at the start of a roll of film: The partial visibility of perforations at the top of this image are evidence of its physical substrate. The flexible roll film was designed for the ease of shooting a succession of still images without the need to reload a camera; after early experiments with both paper and glass cylinders, flexible celluloid film was adapted for the first moving image cameras, and perforations were introduced for the intermittent motion required to reproduce a succession of correctly registered still images that could then recreate motion when played back. Perforated 35mm motion picture film stock was reused for still photography, popularised by small format cameras. Less common, other still cameras used other perforated motion picture film stocks.

Stray light, entering obliquely through the film canister's light trap, commonly referred to as a leak: Light is seen as pernicious, wanting to gain ingress, yet it is a substance that can be trapped. In photography, analogies between light and water abound: a light source itself; light 'pours in' through leaks; understanding the relationship between aperture and shutters speed in exposure is likened to turning on a tap, or water passing through a sieve; liquid photographic emulsion is also known as liquid light. There are others.

has caused the image to be obscured: Obscured here in the sense of obliterating the detail in the image, the additional exposure of unwanted light from a source other than the lens, passing over the surface of the film, reduces the detail of the image forming on the surface itself.

In the darkroom: In a mirroring of the process of image formation inside the dark chamber of the camera, after development of the exposed film into a negative, returning to another dark chamber is required to create the final, positive image.

the burning in - or additional exposure of more light - is an attempt to ameliorate this leak: 'Burning in' is another analogy or metaphor; light here, part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, is connected to heat, and this metaphorical heat in connected to the darkness of the image. The darkroom techniques of dodging and burning remain familiar through their emulation as digital tools in image-manipulation software.

The photographic image is made positive by the action of light shining through a negative: As silver halide salts darken with exposure to light, an image formed is inverted in its tonal range. Inverting this a second time provides the required positive image. Demonstrating linguistic logic, here two negatives do make a positive. All photographic processes which produce an image rely on this phenomenon. Although the Daguerreotype is sometimes described as a positive process, the images are not strictly positive, rather the angle of reflection from the polished silvered surface determines whether the image appears positive or negative.

what appears as the grain is in fact the traces of light passing through gaps in the grain: Grain is another metaphor; photographic grains are clumps of silver halide crystals reduced to metallic silver by the process of development. The quality of grain only became prominent when negatives began to be printed by enlargement, dependent on many factors, but chiefly the enlargement ratio and the film's sensitivity to light; the word printing itself is suggestive of the direct contact between the negative and positive surfaces: with enlargement, the photographic print really becomes something else. In the photographic print itself, the grain of the light sensitive paper remains below the threshold of perception as it is not enlarged.

Each black dot on the photographic paper is an image of the light source inside the enlarger: In the 19th century, most photographs made using the negative-positive process were contact printed by daylight; with larger negatives, prints by contact persisted well into the 20th century. Although enlargers did exist, exposure times with the low sensitivity emulsions then available would result in prohibitively long exposure times. Printing by enlargement needed faster emulsions, faster emulsions made the possibility of smaller format cameras viable; early roll-film formats provided relatively large negatives for contact printing. The use of 35mm motion picture film for still images broke this link, making enlargement of the negatives necessary.

a mechanical analogy of the sun: In 1826, Nicéphore Niépce devised the term héliographie - sun-drawing - to describe his experiments with creating images using light-sensitive materials, making explicit photography’s relationship to the sun. Eadweard Muybridge used the name 'Helios' when he began his career as a photographer, and called his business, 'Helios Flying Studio'.

that it indexically reproduces: In the semiotic system of Charles Pierce, signs can be categorised in three different ways according to their relationship to the sign's referent - the reality to which the sign points. The photograph is an index in having a direct relationship to the optical phenomenon it reproduces: light, reflecting from the subject, strikes the photographic emulsion, and causes an image to be formed. In Peirce's terms, photography also fulfils the condition of the icon: the icon is a sign which resembles its referent: photographs tend to resemble their referent in visual terms due to their indexical construction.

***

Two

On the right hand side of the screen, an image of the leaves themselves, animated by an unseen wind: The first image, of circular patterns of light caused by the sun penetrating a canopy of leaves, is joined by a second image, reading from left to right, a spatial juxtaposition in an analogy of the principle of cinematic montage. The wind which animates the leaves - this animation merely inferred by the still image - in unseen in the sense that the actual movement of air is not visible, but its indexical effects on the leaves can been seen.

Among the earliest films shown to the public: Films had been exhibited by projection by the Lathams' Lambda company in New York in May 1895; by the Skladanowsky brothers in Berlin in November; and by the Lumière Brothers in Paris in December (all had previous private or press showings earlier that year). Photographic moving images had previously been shown in Thomas Edison's kinetoscope, the peep-show box seen by a single viewer at at time; cinema as a collective experience - as the institution that it would become - required projection, to which Edison was initially resistant. The collective experience would prove to be transformative.

The Lumières' first public programme exhibited ten films, all 'actualités'. The Lumières' cinématographe, camera, printer, and projector in one, was small, portable, and hand-cranked, thus able to go anywhere, out into the world - and able to encounter the movement of inanimate objects. Such effects were not available to Edison: unsurprisingly, his camera was powered by electricity, and therefore not portable in practical terms at the time. Instead, Edison built the Black Maria, the first film studio, which dictated the content of his kinetoscope reels; other early film-makers conceived of film's possibilities in similar terms to Edison: shooting in a controlled environment, the Lathams' first projected films were of boxing matches, itself a form of theatre, while the Skladanowsky's films are records of circus or variety acts, as were many of Edison's films. With the appearance of new imaging technologies, their application is often confined by the uses of earlier forms. The technical superiority of the Lumières' system endowed the name of their technology to posterity and the institution of the cinema, but there is also a sense that the Lumières intuited the capacity of film for the contingencies of life from the outset. This may reflect the Lumières' backgrounds in photography itself, in contrast to Edison, the Lathams, and the Skladanowsky brothers.

the movement of inanimate objects excited a special interest: Of the many earliest written accounts of experiencing the first projected films by the Lumière brothers, most do not fail to mention the movement of the trees in the background of these films:
"The photographs I hear were taken at the rate of eighty to the minute, and, whilst the principle is not new, the representation of life-sized figures close to you, acting as human nature does act, the trivial and the significant all mixed up together, is totally new, and it is startling to see these congealed moments, as I may call them, suddenly become irrified at the turning of some Pygmalionic handle, the trees and bushes moving in the wind, the workpeople rushing out for dinner, mixed up with bicycles, carriages, dogs, and horses, you only miss the prattle and the argot."
‘Our London Letter’, The Star, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, 19 March 1896.

"But suddenly a strange flicker passes through the screen and the picture stirs to life. Carriages coming from somewhere in the perspective of the picture are moving straight at you, into the darkness in which you sit; somewhere from afar people appear and loom larger as they come closer to you; in the foreground children are playing with a dog, bicyclists tear along, and pedestrians cross the street picking their way among the carriages. All this moves, teems with life and, upon approaching the edge of the screen, vanishes somewhere beyond it.
And all this in strange silence where no rumble of the wheels is heard, no sound of footsteps or of speech. Nothing. Not a single note of the intricate symphony that always accompanies the movements of people. Noiselessly, the ashen-grey foliage of the trees sways in the wind..."
'Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows', ‘I.M. Pacatus’ (Maxim Gorky), Nizhegorodski listok, 4 July 1896.

"The Lumière Cinématographe will begin its fifteenth consecutive week at the Wonderland [Theatre] next week, continuing what was long ago the longest run ever made by any one attraction in this city. People go to see it again and again, for even the familiar views reveal some new feature with each successive exhibition. Take, for example, BABY’S BREAKFAST, shown last week and this. It represents Papa and Mamma fondly feeding the junior member of the household. So intent is the spectator usually in watching the proceedings of the happy trio at table that he fails to notice the pretty background of trees and shrubbery, whose waving branches indicate that a stiff breeze is blowing. So it is in each of the pictures shown; they are full of interesting little details that come out one by one when the same views are seen several times..."
The Post-Express, Rochester New York, 6 February 1897.
That animate bodies could be represented in movement was clearly understood as an extension of earlier optical toys: These 'optical toys', most famously the zoetrope, as well as the phénakisticope, praxinoscope, thaumatrope, and others, were not invented purely for amusement or entertainment: they were devices to demonstrate scientific principles. Their ultimate expression was, perhaps, in Émile Reynaud's Théâtre Optique, which projected a succession of hand-drawn images on flexible film in 1892; these all paved the way for the technological means to conceive and reproduce a photographic moving image, but, importantly, also prepared its audience for the emergence of film as a medium, something early commentators explicitly noted:
“Our readers may probably remember the old “Wheel of Life,” [the zoetrope] and they are more likely still to be familiar with Edison’s kinetoscope. An instrument which is a further development of the principle of both these inventions is now on show in London, which is as far ahead of the kinetoscope as the kinetoscope was of the wheel of life. This is the cinematograph, which may be seen any day from 2 p.m. onwards at the Marlborough Rooms, in Regent Street.”
‘The Cinematograph’, The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, 27 February 1896.
that exploited the perceptual basis of the moving image: The first descriptions of this perceptual basis are attributed to a paper presented to the Royal Society of London in 1824 by Peter Mark Roget, followed by the work of Joseph Plateau, the inventor of the phénakisticope, and that of Michael Faraday. Despite being superseded by the explanation of the phi phenomenon for the perceptual basis of how a rapid succession of still images creates the impression of motion in the viewer, the colloquial concept of the 'persistence of vision' stubbornly remains.

The movement of the inanimate revealed something else, its archetype being the trace of wind in the leaves forming the background of a shot, returned to by many film makers since: In the Lumières' first public showing, as well as the animate, human subjects, the public would have also seen the movement of: water, under pressure, from a hose (Le Jardinier or l'Arroseur Arrosé); waves caused by wind (La Mer or Baignade en Mer); steam and smoke (Les Forgerons); and the movement of leaves (most notably in Repas de bébé, but also in La Pêche aux poissons rouges, and Le Jardinier to an extent). The famous train arriving at La Ciotat station featured in a later screening.

Film took photography’s capaciousness and extended this through the multiple image with the dimension of time: "Like photography, film tends to cover all material phenomena virtually within reach of the camera," Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film. Kracauer's 'Inherent Affinities' in Theory of Film are: the unstaged, the fortuitous, endlessness, the indeterminate, and the 'flow of life' ("peculiar to film alone," in which photography is extended by motion), all redolent of this capaciousness.

The lens renders anything within the frame with indifference:
"Here, then, is life; life it must be because a machine knows not how to invent; but it is life which you may only contemplate through a mechanical medium, life which eludes you in your daily pilgrimage. It is wondrous, even terrific; the smallest whiff of smoke goes upward in the picture; and a house falls to the ground without an echo. It is all true, and it is all false. [...] The newest toy attains this false reality without a struggle. Both the Cinematograph and the Pre-Raphaelite suffer from the same vice. The one and the other are incapable of selection; they grasp at every straw that comes in their way; they see the trivial and important, the near and the distant, with the same fecklessly impartial eye."
O. Winter, ‘The Cinematograph’, The New Review, May 1896.
its mechanical reproduction does not differentiate between its ostensible subject and that subject's surroundings: In comparison with the theatre, on stage, the background remains the background, the actors are in the same contiguous space as the audience, and, like the audience, separate from the set. In film, according to Béla Balázs, “...man and background are of the same stuff, both are mere pictures and hence no difference in the reality of man and object.” (Béla Balázs, Theory of the film: character and growth of a new art).

Unable to control the viewer's gaze on the screen, the possibility of an open form arises: In practice, most films are constructed in such a way as to constrain the viewer's experience and attention, but the possibility remains that this gaze may be distracted by or come to rest on something other that the ostensible subject of the film, or, indeed the film-maker may explicitly design the disposition of the screen to provide a multiplication of points of interest, such as in Jacques Tati's Playtime. The open form may also be achieved through narrative irresolution.

A mark of the camera’s indifference was the revelation that film could disclose the life of objects: Perhaps most notable amongst many other examples, is the way silent comedy found a substitute for verbal wit in the wit of things: Chaplin’s boots, Harold Lloyd’s clock, Keaton struggling to stand upright in the wind, or trying to evade the boulders on a hillside chasing him. In these, the human figure is but one actor in the ‘flow of life’. One may also think of the last minutes of Antonioni's L'Eclisse.

A screen of leaves becomes indicative of this life, a life clearly seen in its movement, an indexical sign of a force not visible: The imaginative screen of the first sentence has become the screen of leaves, filling the visual field, a screen which simultaneously shows and conceals, discloses and encloses:
"The drifting of clouds, the waves of the wind over a wheat field, the onrush of a waterfall, the swing of a pendulum, the up and down of pistons have lent more impact to many a film scene than all the gestures of the actors. This is not surprising for the actions of the inorganic world have a grandiose simplicity, which is not easily matched by the complex instrument of the human mind."
Rudolf Arnheim, 'Motion' in Film as Art.
***

Paper Cinema was shown in the Documents exhibition at Lumen Studios in January this year.

The title, 'Paper Cinema', is borrowed from a chapter title in David Campany’s book, Photography and the Cinema relating to printed work derived from, or aspiring to, cinema; the two prints and the attendant texts began as an idea for a short film with the text as a spoken narration heard while moving versions of the two still photographs appeared as successive split-screen images, the left image first, which would then be joined by the image on the right.

Both images were shot on 16mm black and white motion picture negative film stock. The text, which is, of course, also an image, made photographically, was shot on 35mm black and white document film. The photographic prints were made by exposing the paper to the negatives of the images and the text separately and successively in the darkroom before development.

***

Bibliography

Joseph and Barbara Anderson, 'Motion Perception in Motion Pictures', in The Cinematic Apparatus, edited by Teresa de Laurentis and Stephen Heath, MacMillan, London, 1980
Rudolf Arnheim, 'Motion' and ‘The Thoughts that Made the Picture Move’, in Film as Art, Faber, London 1958Bela Balázs, Theory of the film: character and growth of a new art, translated from the Hungarian by Edith Bone. New York, Dover Publications, 1970. Originally published 1952 by Dennis Dobson.
Stephen Barber, ‘The Skladanowsky Brothers: The Devil Knows’, Senses of Cinema, Issue 56, October 2010 http://sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature-articles/the-skladanowsky-brothers-the-devil-knows/ Retrieved 25/1/18.
Geoffrey Batchen, Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography, MIT Press 1999
Phlip Brookman, Eadweard Muybridge, Tate Publishing, London 2010
Paul Burns, The History of the Discovery of Cinetmatography, http://www.precinemahistory.net/900.htm Retrieved 9/4/18.
David Campany, Photography and Cinema, Reaktion Books, London 2008
Alan Horder (editor), The Manual of Photography, Focal Press, London, sixth edition 1976 reprint.
Siegfried Kracauer, Nature of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, Dobson Books, London, 1960

Written accounts of experiences of the first projected films are from the excellent Picturegoing blog. Italics added for emphasis in these accounts.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Praktica nova I

Praktica nova I with 50mm f2.8 Domiplan lens
On Camera-Wiki and elsewhere, the camera that's the subject of this post is often referred to as the Praktica PL Nova I. This is what's embossed on the camera's nameplate, reading from the top down and left to right; however, the name the manufacturer, Pentacon, uses, rather than that in more common usage, is simply Praktica nova I. The nova part, as well as on the nameplate, is also written in the manual in lower case. The prominent PL on the camera's nameplate stands for 'Pentacon load' or 'loading', one of a number of 'easy load' systems for 35mm cameras, such as Canon's Quick Load (QL) from around the same time, seen on the Canon FTb-N, for example. These easy-load systems for 35mm cameras might be seen as a response, in part, to the introduction of Kodak's 126 cartridge in the early 1960s. There was an earlier Praktica nova which differs most notably in its shutter speed dial, with the fast and slow speeds with separate selection on the same dial; the first Praktica nova was a complete redesign for the Praktica SLR, 'nova' intended to suggest this newness. The Praktica nova cameras were produced after KW, the Praktica's original manufacturer, was merged with the East German arm of Zeiss Ikon (and others) to form VEB Pentacon. In the design of the Praktica nova I it's possible to see this merger in in the evolution of the Praktica nova body style: as well as deriving from previous Praktica cameras, it borrows elements - notably the shutter release design - from the Zeiss Ikon Contax S (which itself derives from the Contax rangefinder before the war).

There are many references to the Praktica nova I online, which suggests that a large volume of cameras were produced - and that many are still being used today. On the Praktica-Collector website, the production for the nova I is listed as 136,400 units, over five years from 1967. My model came in a job lot with a number of other cameras - including the Vest Pocket Kodak and the Kodak No.2A Brownie which I have previously written about. My first impressions of the Praktica nova I were of an unremarkable SLR camera - and the partly obscured focus screen (see below) did not enthuse me to pick up the camera to use it at the time I acquired it.

Praktica nova I with Domiplan lens
As a student buying used cameras in the 1990s, Praktica were generally lowest in price, compared to those of Japanese manufacture (I don't recall seeing Zenit cameras very often at the time); Praktica cameras do seem to have had a not inconsiderable share of the UK market at the time, and as such are a familiar brand. My first SLR cameras were of the Praktica B-series of the 1980s, secondhand and a decade old when I first used them, something I touched on in my post Twenty Years Since.

The Praktica nova I is much earlier than the B-series cameras I was using then. The camera is an entirely manual 35mm single lens reflex with a cloth focal plane shutter. There was a model B version of the camera, which has a selenium light meter incorporated into the name plate. The shutter release is on the front of the body, and angled, not on the top, and is threaded for a cable release; this rotates to a lock position, with a small red dot to indicate this. The shutter speeds run from 1 second through to 1/500th, plus 'B'. It also has a distinct setting for flash and the longer shutter speed numerals are picked out in red. For flash, there are two PC sockets, marked F for flashbulbs and X for electronic flash. The manual states that the 1/30th shutter speed setting should be used with F, while X requires selecting the flash symbol setting: the manual states this to be 1/40th. There is no hot shoe (or accessory shoe) for flash, so using a flash requires an accessory mounting. On the advance lever, there's a film reminder with symbols for black and white and then four different types of colour film: daylight or tungsten in both transparency and negative. Around the rewind crank, where the exposure calculator on the nova I B model is located, is a reminder of the film speed, in ASA or DIN, to be matched up with the length of the film, 12, 20, or 36 exposures.

Praktica nova I top view
The camera back opens by a sliding latch on the side, rather than by pulling up the rewind crank. The PL system features two bars that clamp down on the end of the film as the advance spool rotates with the advance lever. This seems to work very well (on my limited use of the camera) in securing the end of the film when loading. To rewind a film, rather than the more common button on the underneath of the camera, there's a small knob by the advance lever which pushes in to release the film for rewinding.

Praktica nova I opened for loading
There's a red 'flag' in the top left corner of the viewfinder to indicate that the film needs to be advanced. On my camera the focus screen had a white deposit over its surface in a number of places - appearing black against the light when seen through the viewfinder. It looked as though something had attacked the glass, etching it, possibly something in oil that had leaked out over the screen, but the patterns of this deposit appear inconsistent - some appearing to flow, some marks like cracks or stresses. This did not clean off with water; the focus screen could no doubt be changed, but it was still usable.

Praktica nova I focus screen with deposits
The Praktica nova I has an M42 screw lens mount. This allows for a very wide range of compatible lenses, being a popular mount throughout the 1960s; the camera utilises the M42 automatic stopping-down pin; open at the widest aperture for composing and focussing, partially depressing the shutter release stops down the lens to the selected aperture. In the manual it also describes disengaging the automatic diaphragm, with a small lever inside the camera lens mount for "older interchangeable lenses" - i.e., for lenses without an automatic stopping-down pin. The Praktica nova I came with a Meyer-Optik Gorlitz 50mm f2.8 Domiplan lens; this was the lower-priced standard lens for the camera on purchase.

Praktica nova I with 50mm f1.8 Pentacon lens
For a comparison with the Domiplan lens which came with the camera, I also used a Pentacon f1.8 50mm lens on the Praktica nova I. As well as having a wider maximum aperture (giving a brighter image in the viewfinder), the Pentacon lens also has a much closer near-focus: it can focus down to 0.33m, whereas the Domiplan lens will focus to 0.75m, which does not feel especially close for a 'standard' 50mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera. The two images below show the difference with both lenses at their respective close-focus distance.

Praktica nova I with Domiplan f2.8 50mm lens
Praktica nova I with Pentacon f1.8 50mm lens
As well as the difference in close-focus distance, the Domiplan lens is clearly softer, with some flare evident, emphasised by the high contrast of the subject. The design of the Domiplan lens, with the aperture ring on its outside, rather than nearest to the body (an arrangement which seems more common), makes it easier to accidentally shift this ring while focussing.

Praktica nova I with Derek Gardner f2.8 28mm lens
I took a few shots with a Derek Gardner 28mm lens (a rebranded Chinon lens); the lens' aperture blades closed very slowly on pressing the shutter button - slower than than one would normally take over taking a shot - and without realising, a number of shots with the Derek Gardner lens were over-exposed as a result. I also had a M42 2x Teleconverter picked up at a charity shop for £5, named Helios Auto, no doubt to link it to the KMZ M42 Helios lenses, although the converter itself wasn't made by KMZ, for its origin, its marked simply 'Japan'. This worked well enough with the Pentacon lens stopped down.

The Praktica nova I is a basic, manual, mechanical 35mm SLR camera, and the lack of a lightmeter  wouldn't necessarily make it a perfect choice for a camera in its class - there are many better 'entry-level' mechanical SLR cameras, such as the Pentax K1000 for example. However, despite everything that could be placed against the Praktica nova I, in using the camera for a few rolls of film (and mostly using the 'sunny-16' rule for metering), I found the experience of it more positive than my first impressions. In use, the angled shutter release makes sense in terms of the position of one's fingers around the height of the camera's body, with the body design feeling quite ergonomically considered with its angled sides, and the stopping down on partially depressing the release fits naturally in the sequence of shooting; oddly, in using my camera, what feels unergonimic is that the metal advance lever is thin and as a result feels a little flimsy. This would have originally had a plastic tip covering the end of the lever, as one might imagine it should - looking at a number of images online of the Praktica nova cameras, it seems that this loss is not uncommon.

Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford Mark V film
Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford Pan 100
Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford HP5 Plus
Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens (2x teleconverter) and Ilford HP5 Plus
Praktica nova I with Pentacon 50mm lens and Ilford XP2 Super

Sources/further reading
Praktica nova I page on Camera-Wiki
Praktica nova I on praktica-collector.de
Praktica nova I (with pricing information) on Marriotworld
Evolution of the Praktica SLR on Dresdener-Kamera (German)
Filmphotography.eu - Praktica nova I (German)
Collection-Appareils Sylvain Halgand page on the Praktica nova I (French)
From the Focal Plane to Infinity - Praktica nova I (Spanish)

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Expired Film Day 2018


As with photography, on which it depends, the invention of cinema has many claimants and each have their advocates; and, like photography, cinema was equally an idea whose time had simply arrived, largely as a result of other inventions, other technologies, the most important being photographic emulsion applied to a flexible base - film. If the cinema is understood to be a communal, theatrical experience, with an audience watching a projected image from moving photographic film, the first demonstration of projected film to a paying public belongs to the Lathams - Major Woodville, and his two sons Otway and Grey. With the exception of the eponymous loop, the Lathams are forgotten cinema pioneers, despite their first public projection in New York, May 1895. Like the Skladanowsky brothers, showing their first films in Berlin that November, the Lathams are treated as something of a footnote in cinema history due to the inferiority of their technology - the Lumière brothers are more popularly given credit for ‘inventing’ the cinema when they projected films before a paying audience in Paris, in December 1895.

On last year’s Expired Film Day, I shot a short film on expired film; intending to do the same this year, the inspiration came from two distinct aspects of Lathams’ story. The Latham brothers were suitably impressed after seeing Edison’s kinetoscope that they went into business as the Kinetoscope Exhibition Company with their father, and an engineer, Enoch J. Rector. After successes filming their own loops and engaging Edison’s William Kennedy Dickson to increase the lengths of the film inside the kinetoscope - specifically to film rounds of boxing matches - the Lathams, with Dickson and Eugene Lauste, a former Edison employee, embarked on a new company, Lambda, with the aim of producing a projector for their films. The Latham's first tests were made in early 1895: “The necessary motion-picture camera was constructed and then tried out on the night of 26-27 February, with Otway Latham and Dickson filming a swinging light.” The use of this swinging light for their first tests is evocative - although not explicitly stated as a light bulb - but I would like to believe that, if it was, its use seems to be an unwitting reference to Thomas Alva Edison. Edison claimed to have invented the lightbulb, despite prior claims by Joseph Swan and others; the Lathams drew on Dickson's expertise while he was still working with Edison, before he left to pursue the motion picture business with the Mutoscope and Biograph Company: one imagines that Dickson, who worked for a number of years on Edison's kinetoscope, perhaps without feeling like he gained the credit he deserved, worked with the Lathams on projection against Edison's resistance to it, before leaving the Edison Company for greater autonomy. Edison was left to catch up with the projection business, buying out the Phantoscope, renaming it the Vitascope, which made its first showing in April 1896.

Orwo UP 15, develop before March 1976
For this year’s short film, I used part of a roll of Orwo UP15 (15 DIN/25 ASA) 2x8mm black and white reversal motion picture film, process before March 1976. Although described as umkehr panchromatisch (panchromatic reversal), I discovered that the film would yield a negative, unlike the Svema and Technopan films I had used previously. These films could be developed to a negative stage but not fixed: the reversal process demanded bleaching followed by a second development to give a positive image; the films had a colloidal silver anti-halation layer which became black in the fixing process. The Orwo film by contrast worked perfectly well as a negative stock (the information leaflet with the film simply states that the film is processed in “special laboratories”; a return envelope is included - and no recommendations are given for home processing). I made some tests with the Mamiya-16 Automatic, rating the film at exposure indexes (left to right) of 25/12/6/3/1.5.

Orwo UP15 test roll
Despite being over forty years old, I could have used the Orwo UP15 at its original box speed, although these negatives were a little on the thin side. For the film shot on Expired Film Day itself, I rated it at an exposure index of 12. As last year, I spooled out around five feet - the maximum length to fit one reel in a developing tank, and shot the film at 32fps - although precise information is hard to find, one of the most in-depth sources suggested that the Lathams’ camera used 30fps (however, the results when played back at 30fps looked too fast - it's possible that the camera wasn't running at the correct speed; the film plays back at half the speed). The film was shot with the Canon Cine Zoom 512 and developed in Ilfotec LC29, diluted 1+19, for 6m30s at 20ºC.

For the first of two passes of the double-8 film through the camera, I simply filmed a swinging light bulb; the second pass, I filmed another double-8 camera, open, showing a test roll moving through its internal mechanism: that the Lathams are remembered in cinema is through the invention of the Latham loop (although probably an innovation by Eugene Lauste rather than the Lathams themselves). The best description of the Latham loop comes from Ethan Gates’ The Latham Eidoloscope: A Cautionary Tale in Primacy:
[The loop is] a purposefully slack piece of filmstrip, thrown out both before and after the exposure window in the threading path. When the intermittent apparatus temporarily stops the film, the continuously running rollers take up the slack from the loop following the exposure window, while simultaneously restoring the loop immediately preceding the window; after the moment of illumination and registration on the emulsion, the intermittent is then able to advance the strip forward by a frame by taking up the slack from the preceding loop, while restoring the loop following the window.
The arrangement of the two reels inside the camera, and the direction that the film is fed through the intermittent mechanism creates two small loops, which provide the necessary slack. Wanting to use both sides of the film at the same time, and the right way up, meant that on the right hand side I filmed the camera upside down. As a result it is shown running backwards, but this seemed preferable to having the swinging light moving in reverse, whereby it would speed up its motion, rather than slow down. As the camera that I filmed running does not have a very strong motor, it wound down quite quickly, but, in reverse, it is static and then starts up as the film runs. Having to feed the film through the camera when loading also meant that each side’s images had a period of blank film before shooting, but could then be shot to the very end of the roll, so each duration is stepped, out of sync; this also has the effect of showing the light on its own, nearly still, at the end.

Perhaps, ultimately, notions of priority in broadly collaborative fields such as the cinema matter less than the collective endeavour. The Lathams and the Skladanowsky brothers both produced technologically inferior systems, but which were seen by a paying public in 1895, prior to the Lumières’ famous screening at the Grand Café in December; however, the Lumière brothers had also demonstrated their projector to a private audience in March 1895, a month before the Lathams’ press screening - and their cinématographe, a camera, printer and projector in one device, lent its name to the institution on which it depended. However, the newspaper report of the Lathams’ first public screening prophetically understood, even then, the capacious nature of film:
“Life size presentations they are and will be, and you won’t have to squint into a little hole to see them. You’ll sit comfortably and see fighters hammering each other, circuses, suicides, hangings, electrocutions, shipwrecks, scenes on the exchanges, street scenes, horse-races, football games, almost anything, in fact, in which there is action, just as if you were on the spot during the actual events…”
New York World, 28 May 1895




Sources/further reading: 
Ethan Gates, The Latham Eidoloscope: A Cautionary Tale in Primacy
The Lathams Build a Projector - Film, Pictures, Eidoloscope, and Machine
Woodville Latham on Victorian-Cinema.net
https://www.britannica.com/art/history-of-the-motion-picture - which only mentions the Lathams in relation to the Latham loop.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Glunz Model 0

Glunz Model 0
When this small wooden-bodied folding camera arrived in the post, a speculative purchase, there was almost nothing on the camera to identify it, save a small badge inside the body. This has a monogram reading G&S Kamerawerk Hannover-List. This was enough information to turn up some references to Glunz & Sohn Kamerawerk, but there is very little online about the company - the Glunz page on Camera-Wiki is very sparse for example (and I created the Glunz Mod. 0 page on Camera-Wiki myself, and it has only had three minor edits in the five years since). On Collection-Appareils I found a Glunz & Sohn Model 0 camera which looked very much like my version, although not identical - but also more recent, from the 1930s. The serial numbers on the lens and shutter belonging to my camera date them to c.1919. The Model 0 name appears to be a back formation from Glunz's 9x12cm Model 1, presumably produced first, and possibly not named Model 1 when first produced - or it could indicate Glunz's most basic model camera.

Glunz Model 0
The camera is very simply constructed with very few extraneous features. There's no handle on the body, as most folding plate cameras of this type would ordinarily possess. The bellows are single extension only, and there's only a rotating brilliant finder for framing - many other cameras would also have a frame finder; the brilliant finder doesn't have a spirit level attached either. It does however have rise and cross front movements: these seem pretty standard on these pre-war cameras, the movements seen as essential - perhaps converging verticals were distressing to the photographers of the day. The front cross movement is just by friction, while the rise has a standard worm screw. Focus is by ground glass screen, using rack and pinion, with a lock by pushing in the focus knob. The camera also has a scale on the folding bed, which also has an infinity lock, a small lever which pushes in to release the lens standard to advance it further on its rails. There are tripod sockets for vertical and horizontal images.

Glunz Model 0
The Mod. 0's body is made from wood with the drop bed (and lens standard) in aluminium. The oddity of the camera is that despite being made very simply, cheaply, and with very few features, it has what would have been a top of the range lens and shutter combination: a 10.5cm f4.5 Tessar lens (fast for its time) in a dial-set Compur shutter. These were of course bought-in stock items, but for a camera this simple, one might expect a cheaper triplet lens in a Gauthier or other shutter - such as seen on the catalogue pages reproduced on Collection-Appareils. That the shutter function dial has ZDM (Zeit, Dauer, Moment) strongly suggests that this particular model of the camera was destined for the German home market, rather than using TBI (Time, Bulb, Instant) for export. The presence of the Tessar lens in the Compur shutter may mean that the camera's model number may in fact not be the Model 0; it's possible that with the same body, the Glunz's model numbers may actually indicate the lens/shutter options. However, there isn't enough information online to be sure that this may in fact be the case.

6.5x9cm plateholders from A.P. Paris
The Model 0 takes very different plateholders from other 6.5x9cm plate cameras I've used. The camera came with six plateholders, all stamped with A.P. Paris, but of two different designs - three have fabric tabs which appear to be there to make removing the plateholders from the camera easier (other plateholders sometimes have a small indent at the bottom for this). The plate holders are of a block-edge type, without the single or double lip around the holders that seems to be far more common. This means that none of the many other plateholders I have can be used with the camera, nor can I use the Rada rollfilm back with the Model 0. The ground glass screen itself is made from a plateholder; whether this was original is open to question, but the conversion was done very skillfully, unlike some I have seen. This is of the same design as the holders with the fabric tabs, although the tab here is cut off level with the metal (the stamp A.P. Paris is in a different place, compared to the proper plateholders though). The body has a small locking lever to secure the plateholder once inserted for removing the darkslide.

Glunz Model 0 ground glass screen
The ground glass screen does not have a hood attached (and doesn't look like it ever had one); I generally don't use a dark cloth when shooting old plate cameras hand-held, and the lack of a hood does make it difficult to see an image of any clarity on the screen. Apart from a few longer exposures, I shot most of the plates shown on this post hand-held. I shot a few plates when I first acquired the camera, but then didn't really use the camera until more recently - partly due to the lack of plateholders.

Glunz Mod. 0 with Ilford HP3 plate - test exposure
Having just six of these has been limiting in terms of taking the camera out to shoot - unless one is prepared to take a dark bag and spare plates. I've also used paper and sheet film with the camera, but in an equally limiting fashion, having just one 6.5x9cm film sheath.

Glunz Mod. 0 with Harman Direct Positive Paper
Glunz Mod. 0 with Ilford HPS glass plate 
In practice, the Glunz Model 0's construction makes for a light plate camera, partly thanks to its lack of features, which would all add weight, and only having six holders to carry around with it does not add much. The camera doesn't look like it was used very much during its earlier life. The dial-set Compur shutter is in excellent condition, and fires pretty accurately at all speeds, even the slower ones. The Tessar lens is what one would expect, as a pre-war lens, it's not coated but the results are perfectly acceptable. One problem with the camera is that the two arms holding the folding bed do not securely lock out once the camera is opened- these aren't sprung like they are on other cameras I have, and it's very easy to knock the folding bed back, putting the lens standard out of true with the film plane. Although the camera has single extension bellows, in practice its possible to rack the lens standard out to the very edge of the lens board, enabling close focus to around 40cm - as with the HP3 plate shot of the raspberry canes below.

Apart from the shot on Agfapan APX 100 and that on Harman Direct Positive Paper, the rest of the photographs on this post shot with the Glunz Model 0 are on glass plates from the 1950s and 1960s. Most of the Ilford plates have aged fairly well (some of the Kodak plates less so); the Special Lantern plates would have been very slow originally, but weren't intended for 'pictorial contrast', instead these were designed for making lantern slides by contact - or just conceivably via and enlarger - so have a very slow blue-sensitive emulsion (generally, the slower the emulsion speed, the less it is affected by age). However, I also shot some Ilford HPS plates, which came from a box with a leaflet dated to 1952; HPS was the fastest emulsion available at the time - 400 ASA (pre-1960, so 800 by today's standards) and these plates came out well, rating them well below box speed to compensate for age.

Glunz Model 0 with Ilford Special Lantern Plate
Glunz Model 0 with Kodak P1600 Panchro-Royal glass plate
Glunz Model 0 with Ilford Special Lantern Plate
Glunz Model 0 with Ilford HP3 glass plate
Glunz Model 0 with Ilford HPS glass plate
Glunz Model 0 with Agfapan APX100 sheet film
Sources/further reading:
Glunz & Sohn on Camera-Wiki
Glunz Model 0 on Camera-Wiki
On Collection Appareils (French)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Seven Years On

As February marks the month when I began writing this blog seven years ago, not every year, but periodically, it seems like a good opportunity to take stock of the state of film-based photography. As ever, I haven't written as much as I would have otherwise liked to do. In recent weeks I have updated some of my older camera posts with additional images, especially from the cameras which I've used a good deal over the past few years, namely the Kodak Retina IIa and the Zodel Baldalux, as well as the Agfa Optima Sensor, as I've used a greater variety of films with them. I am, as ever, shooting some odd, obscure and sometimes difficult cameras, as well as current and discontinued films, and continue to observe various 'camera days', which form the majority of this blog's content.

After the closure of Silverprint in London, my 'regular' shop became West End Cameras; they closed their physical store in central London last Autumn: they do still trade online, but I found it useful as a shop to drop in for films and chemicals I knew they'd have, and also to try new things out on occasion too when serendipity provided them (West End Cameras introduced me to Adox Silvermax, for example). There remains KVJ Fairdeal, the cheapest place for Ilford films I know of, and Process Supplies UK (there's also Mr Cad and - a relative newcomer - Parallax Photographic neither of which I've personally used). There are other shops which sell film in London, but often at something of a premium: the Photographers' Gallery's bookshop has a very good range of films (as well as being an excellent bookshop; their website only shows a limited range of what they actually have in the shop), but not at competitive prices.

In terms of available films, the announcement last week of the reintroduction of Kodak T-Max P3200 was received with slightly mixed responses. For the fastest black and white emulsions available, I've tended to prefer Ilford Delta 3200, which, importantly, is also available in medium format, but no doubt I'll try T-Max P3200 again. Although their colour transparency film is still yet to appear, the production of Ferrania P30 Alpha looks to have increased in volume, although quantities are still limited: their last update entertains the possibility that P30 Alpha may soon be available in medium format (120) rolls and 127 format is also mentioned. Of new films I have yet to try, Silberra have an ambitious range of films in different stages of development, including a new, fast (for its type) orthochromatic film; with some of the various other 'new' films appearing, it is not always clear if the films are entirely new emulsions, or repackaged emulsions from some of the remaining manufacturers - films like Kosmo Foto (Foma), and Fotoimpex's CHM 100 and 400 films (Kentmere/APX/RPX) - while its notable that others - such as Bergger Pancro 400 - are distinct products. It did feel like 2017 was a positive year for film photography - Emulsive wrote about all the announcements for new film stocks, and had to keep updating the post to keep the content current.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minolta Weathermatic-A
Some cameras I've bought purely on a whim. The Minolta Weathermatic-A was one such camera: a waterproof, underwater 110 format camera, listed on a well-known auction site for a mere £5 plus postage - which gained no other bids. When the camera arrived, my initial impression was that it's surprisingly large, large for 110 format: the camera body is 190mm long, around 50mm at its thickest where the knobs and levers are, and 70mm deep. The Weathermatic-A dates from 1980 and Minolta's decision to bring out a waterproof camera for the 110 format probably reflects the growing popularity of scuba diving and other such sports. The camera is waterproof to 5 meters, and as well as its large controls, designed to be easy to use with gloves, there is also an intergral padded wriststrap which can be attached to either right or left side of the camera. The yellow and black colour scheme also denotes its design relationship to diving gear, and a few other companies made waterproof cameras with yellow and black colour schemes around the same time period in the late 1970s and through the 1980s, notably the Motormarine and the Aquamatic. The Weathermatic-A wasn't followed by a Weathermatic-B, but the concept of an amateur underwater camera seems to have been sound enough for Minolta to follow it with the 35mm Minolta Weathermatic 35 DL (there was also a Minolta Weathermatic Vectis Zoom for the APS format in the 1990s). Other accessories for the Weathermatic-A included a sports finder, plastic case and belt strap.

Minolta Weathermatic-A, top view with aperture and focus controls
The controls are large and simple to use. On the top of the camera are two knobs, one for focus, with a series of symbols to indicate distance, the other, which changes the aperture, has two weather symbols, for sun and cloud and flash. Next to this is the shutter button, a large rubberised pad - not dissimilar to Agfa's orange buttons in their Sensor range. On the underside of the camera is the frame advance lever. The lens is a f3.5 26mm Rokkor, with a close focus distance of 0.9m or 3ft; the shutter is set at 1/200th only.

Minolta Weathermatic-A rear view
The viewfinder indicates the focus setting with a red transparent tab that moves over the same series of distance symbols. There is also a simple parallax indication, and a red underexposure warning. This is powered by a single AA battery, used for both metering and the built-in flash. However the shutter itself is entirely mechanical: I first used the camera without a battery, shooting in daylight with the aperture selector set to 'cloudy'. The Weathermatic-A is sometimes described online as having three aperture settings, but this is more nuanced: the aperture knob can be set to intermediate positions between the two aperture settings, for full sun or cloud, while the flash setting changes the aperture with the focus setting - as the focus is set closer, the aperture reduces.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with strap information for focus settings
Embossed on the underside of the camera body is a numerical key for the distance symbols in both feet and metres, and "actual flash-range on land"; these are also printed on both sides of the strap toggle. The flash distances are given for 100 and 400 ASA film: the camera has the film speed pin to sense either low or high cartridges. On top of the camera, behind the focus and aperture knobs, there's a raised triangle. This might just be a design quirk, but it seems to indicate the film plane: it's in the right place, directly behind the lens, and above the window which shows the cartridge and the frame number on the backing paper of the film.

Minolta Weathermatic-A opened for loading
The camera back has two locks for its rear seal, these have clips that need to be lifted before each lock can be rotated in opposite directions. Inside this, both film and battery can be loaded separately.
For my first tests with the Weathermatic-A, I used 110 cartridges reloaded with double-perforated 16mm Kodak Photo Instrumentation film. The Weathermatic-A is a typical 110 camera in that it needs perforations to function: the shutter release does not work unless the internal pin connects to a perforation. However, unlike some other 110 cameras I've used, the Weathermatic-A's single-stroke lever will advance the film a whole frame - or four standard 16mm perforations - without snagging, with just an odd, occasional overlap.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with reloaded Kodak Photo Instrumentation film
Although I hardly ever use flash, I did test the camera's built in flash unit, seen in the image below, which worked perfectly adequately. There's a small 'flash-ready' LED that shows up on the rear of the camera body to show when the flash is fully charged.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with reloaded Kodak Photo Instrumentation film
When I made my first tests, I didn't use it underwater, but I did take the camera out on a very rainy day with impunity; to test it was still waterproof, I did submerge the camera in a sink full of water, checking for any air bubbles coming from the body to indicate a leak before using it underwater.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with reloaded Kodak Photo Instrumentation film
After the first tests made with reloaded 110 cartridges, I later shot a roll of Lomography Orca film while swimming in the sea, testing the camera's waterproof qualities. I also used the Lomography Tiger colour negative film on the same occasion, but only after getting out of the water. I did try a couple of shots underwater, but these were very uninteresting shots of feet in the mud (located at the end of the Thames estuary as the coastline turns, Southend and Shoeburyness, where I shot these films, are very well known for their mud, from the silt carried down the river); in one shot further down this post, I attempted to shoot camera with its lens half submerged.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Orca film
As with other 110 cameras, the negative size is significantly larger than the 110 film's pre-exposed mask, as can be seen in both colour and black and white images: one benefit of using reloaded cartridges is to take advantage of the whole negative area, which is admittedly compromised by the perforations themselves. However, it would be possible to crop the frame to its full width for a slightly elongated rectangular image inside the perforations.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Tiger film
In the photographs using the reloaded cartridges, the frame has a distinct shape with three notches along the top of the frame. At the top left of many frames, there's a mark which appears to be some form of light leak (outside of the 110 printed frames), but its regularity makes it seem like a deliberate marking, although its hard to see what the purpose might be.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with reloaded Kodak Photo Instrumentation film
I subsequently used the Weathermatic-A while kayaking, taking a number of films, both cartridges of reloaded Photo Instrumentation film and Lomography Orca, with spare films in a resealable plastic bag to keep them dry. Paddling with the camera strapped to one wrist was not practical, but it could be attached to the life jacket I was wearing in such a way that I could lift it to my eye to shoot while on the river (as I avoided capsizing on this excursion, I didn't actually use the camera in the water here).

Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Orca film
In a number of frames, some curious light spots appear in the image area. My first thoughts was that these were caused by water on the lens housing, with the possibility that small droplets might have created this effect by reflecting sunlight into he camera. However, this didn't seem a satisfactory explanation, as some were in shots taken on dry land. When I got the colour negative film developed, there were spots again, but of an orange-red colour. Some research online showed that these marks are caused by minute holes in the backing paper - and the positioning of these spots does seem to match up with the hole in the back of the cartridge in which the frame numbers appear, rather than across the whole film. Looking back at 110 shots from other cameras did show up these marks on occasion, but rarely - which I think must be determined by the brightness of the light when shooting: it's much less likely to happen when photographing inside and on overcast days as I had done with the Agfa Optima Pocket Sensor for example. Reusing the cartridges no doubt also causes wear on the backing paper which possibly increases the likelihood of this occurring, but this effect also shows in the new Orca films. Taping over the cartridge window would be one solution, although this means not being able to see how many frame have been shot.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Tiger film
Other than light leaks from the backing paper, the most common problem I found when shooting the Weathermatic-A was down to user error: the focus knob has a click stop at the 'whole person' icon. This is set to 3.5m or 11ft; as this is the only click stop on the focus knob and is its 'centered' position. I made the mistake of assuming that this might be a hyperfocal distance setting for the 'full sun' aperture at least, which it isn't - resulting in quite a few slightly-out-of-focus frames. Although I've only shot a very limited range of emulsions with the camera, I think the Photo Instrumentation film provides the best results so far; although I don't see it being used regularly, as a camera to take anywhere wet, the Minolta Weathermatic-A works very well within its intended remit.

Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Orca film
Minolta Weathermatic-A with Lomography Tiger film
Minolta Weathermatic-A with reloaded Kodak Photo Instrumentation film
Sources/further reading
Minolta Weathermatic-A on Camera-Wiki
Weathermatic-A on Submin.com
Collection-Appareils page on the Weathermatic-A
Weathermatic-A on Forgotten Charm
Minolta Weathermatic-A manual on Butkus