Taking a chance or two and trying new things are what make photography interesting. Taking lots of chances and throwing caution to the wind makes it even more exciting. My wife Cheryl and I do this quite regularly when going out shooting with old cameras that we’ve found and cleaned up a bit but which haven’t been used for unknown decades. We went for a stroll at dusk along the Platte River trail in the South part of the Denver Colorado metro area last week with a couple of old and mostly untested cameras. She took the Agfa Shur Shot B-2 box camera from the 1940’s that I picked up at a local antique store for $12 US. I had the foolish notion that I was going to keep it for myself and try it out but about 2 minutes after Cheryl got home from work it belonged to her. How could I refuse this line: “You know this is exactly the kind of Art Deco camera I like” along with the wide kitty eyes and I need this camera smile. Oh well. That camera has some really nice features like flaps that fold over the film plane to allow it to take either 6×9 or 6×4.5 shots, two viewfinders with etched lines for either format, two aperture settings – probably around F8 and F11 plus a… drum roll please – built in yellow cloud filter. How cool is that? The first picture is one she took of a construction crane with the Agfa. I think that’s fair since I loaded and unloaded the camera and developed and scanned the negatives. Besides that she’s starting to really develop some talent that I think should be shared.
What I was left to shoot with was a Mamiya m645 that I’d resurrected from the dead. It had corroded negative terminal battery wires which I smugly thought I could resolder in about 5 minutes. Two hours later with a container of tiny screws, a couple of cover plates and some leatherette removed I soldered a tiny wire directly to a switch spring to replace the solder pad what had broken off when I tried to trim the insulation off the other end of the wire. Know I know what a spelunker who has descended into a deep dark cave feels like when he reaches the bottom and gives his rope another tug to make sure it’s secure only to have it fall down around him. Next time I’ll melt the insulation off and tin the wire without putting any pressure on it. Live and learn.
The 645 has fast become my go to camera and favorite shooter. It might be a bit heavy and boxy but everything just feels right about holding it and it takes awesome pictures. I have almost nothing invested in it since it was part of a trade with a collector friend in Oklahoma and we’re both pleased with what we got out of the deal. A Win Win situation. There’s no way I could’ve afforded a Hasselblad and truthfully I don’t really want one. I like the simplicity of the Mamiya and the 6×4.5 image format. The lenses are not that expensive and if my solder job doesn’t hold up I can buy a replacement body for $100 or less. It fits me just fine like my well worn sneakers and we’re buddies now. I always say “I’m not going to part with this one” but this time I mean it.
Here’s my roll for the week, Ultrafine Xtreme 400 B&W 120 stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for an hour with 30 seconds agitation to start and only 2 agitations at exactly 30 minutes. I used a standard Ilford stop bath and rapid fixer and rinsed plus put in a couple of drops of Cascade dishwasher rinse aid and then rinse again. All were taken at dusk facing west towards the waning sunset. I liked the shadows, silhouettes, clouds and reflecting water. Hopefully you will too.