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Monday, October 13

The Vitessa's last hurrah

As promised, here are a few pics taken from a roll of Adox CHS ART 100 I ran through the Voigtlander Vitessa last week. I'm pleased with the results but, as someone who wears glasses, I find the viewfinder of the camera to be a right pain in the bum.

It doesn't have suspended frame lines like a Leica but instead requires that you use the entire window as the field of view. The problem is that I can't see the edges of the frame with my specs on. So I have to focus using the rangefinder spot, take my glasses off and, being quite short-sighted, do my best to compose what looks like a very blurry image.

It's not the most convenient way of taking a photograph but it's just about manageable. At least some of the time. The pictures here were taken quite early in the morning after I'd dropped Cath off at work. The scene is the breakwater at Monifieth beach, a location I visit from time to time as an antidote to the rural shots that I normally take inland.

This was the morning after the coast was buffeted by strong winds. The sand had been blown to a smooth, uniform surface and no one had managed to take their dog for a walk to churn it all up. I fancied making a wee feature of the breakwater and fired off a few looking for the best composition.

As it turns out, the first one I took was the shot at the top of the page and that was also my favourite. I was looking for an arty look and the first shot comes closest to that. I think it's a little Gibson-esque in the use of large, sweeping areas of almost solid tone. Number four is satisfying as well. It's the type of photography I'd like to do more often: more graphic and less chocolate-boxey.

The 50mm f2 Ultron was just about perfect for this sort of thing although I could certainly have done with a faster film as one or two negatives were spoiled through camera shake (I was down to 1/25th at one point) and I'd have liked more depth of field.

CHS ART 100 developed in Spur Acurol-N is a nice combination but the film has to be rated at 50 ISO and that's just a bit on the slow side for what is basically walkabout photography with no tripod for support. This Adox film is the original and not CHS 100 II which I've used quite a lot of and posted about on the blog.

With an emulsion that was basically unchanged for decades - and therefore a good match for the early 1950s Ultron - CHS ART 100 was supposed to have the "vintage look". Are you seeing it? I think numbers one and four might have something about them but it's hard to say.

Tonally, CHS ART 100 looks very similar to CHS 100 II which supports Adox's claim that they tried to mix the emulsion for the new film to match the original as closely as possible. I'd be happy using either one although they stopped making the original a while back.

There were another couple of shots from the same roll that might be worth showing so look out for them this week. They will probably be the last from the Vitessa, though. I've tried my best to persevere with it but it just gets in the way of picture taking so it will be back to the OM2 I think.

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Herman Sheephouse said...

They're beautiful Bruce - I really like the strong blocky-imagery and the tones are gorgeously smooth. Shame the camera is such a pain to use - I can only imagine trying to do it with glasses . . .

Richard G said...

Even an invitation to invoke Ralph Gibson, but that lovely tonality calls up someone earlier, Paul Strand, also a master of filling the frame with a strong graphic. Love that first one.

MartyNL said...

I also like the images. Very aesthetically pleasing.

Doug H said...

The 1st has a minimalist, graphical feel that works very well. The next two are nice as documentaries. The problem I have with the 4th is that it goes soft focus all too quickly.

Bruce Robbins said...

You're right, Doug, about the last pic. It's a consequence of having to shoot at 1/25th at f2. I quite fancy reshooting them on the Speed Graphic.

David M said...

Like everyone else, I like these.
They seem to have escaped from the tether of representation and become objects in themselves. Do we care what actual objects are in the frame? I think not, or at least, not much.
The "of-ness" of photography is difficult to transcend, but you've done it here.

Bruce Robbins said...

This flight from straightforward representation is exactly what I've after, David. As usual, your perceptive faculties are firing on all cylinders! That's why I like much of Ralph Gibson's stuff. It's quite challenging finding material like this, though. At least for me...