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Tuesday, January 10

Fog on the Carse

I love a nice bit of fog and we certainly had some on Saturday. It rolled in off the estuary up the River Tay and settled over the low-lying Carse of Gowrie. Quite often, when I drive out to see it, the sun burns it off or it's swept away by a strong wind before I can get there. But the fog remained just where it was for a couple of hours - long enough to take some pics before yet another equipment malfunction brought an end to the day's fun. But more of the gear troubles later.

I pulled in at the side of the narrow country road to take these pics and the one at the top of the post was the obvious starter. It's a scene I've photographed a couple of times usually when the field in front of the trees is a little flooded. I recently got my old Pentax SV working and wanted to see what the 1960s Takumars were like, having recently been gifted a few, so they were with me in the car. All three pics here were made using the 24mm f3.5 Super Takumar, a single-coated lens. 

I also had an 85mm f1.8 Super Multi Coated Takumar and a similarly-monikered 50mm f1.4 with me but stuck with the wide angle for this wee series. The film was TMax 400 developed in D76 1+1.

Having taken the first shot, I saw a wooden gate at the side of the field and decided to use that for some foreground interest. That's the result below. Then I noticed the nice line the fence on the other side of the gate was making so leaned over the spars to snap that one as well. The last one turned out to be my favourite.

It was time to move on as I wanted to check out the old Grange Orchard a few miles up the road. I'll save a couple of pics of the misty orchard for another post but it was while photographing it that the SV played up. Having worked fine in tandem with the 24mm, it decided to jam on me at the orchard whilst using the same lens. The mirror wasn't returning all the way and the lens then refused to be unscrewed from the body. Nice! I do like a variety of mechanical problems - they contribute to life's rich tapestry.

The bloody lens would unscrew a little and then just stop. Clearly something was getting in the way but I couldn't do anything with the camera as long as there was a film in it so I rewound the TMax 400 and opened up the shutter on "T". The little aperture actuating pin on the back of the lens was on the wrong side of the actuating plate that sits just on the inside of the screw mount. I had to push the pin in with a pencil through the back of the camera to depress it far enough so that it would clear the plate and allow itself to be unscrewed.

I was getting a bit cheesed off again at these equipment problems and the sun had disappeared behind some thick clouds leaving the orchard looking flat and sombre so I decided that was that for the day and headed home.

My initial impression of the 24mm Super Takumar is very favourable. It's nice and sharp, certainly in the centre, and exhibits a good degree of contrast considering the weather. In terms of build, it takes some beating. 1960s Takumars are fantastic examples of lens making. There's nothing much wrong with the SV that a service wouldn't cure but I've got a few cameras needing some TLC and the cost starts to mount up. I did think about seeing if I could pick up something that's a little newer like a Fujica ST801 but I might just end up with more troubles. Sometimes you're better sticking with the devil you know.

So, having had the OM1 then OM2 start playing up and now the SV, I decided I'd pick the most reliable 35mm SLR I have - a Nikon F90 - for an outing on Sunday. More of the results from that jaunt to come once I've finished the film.


Robert Dungan said...

Mechanical problems are one of the pleasures of using old film cameras. Or, the opposite depending on your mood at the time.

Kerstin Jonsson said...

I've had mirror hang-ups with most of my old screw mount Pentaxes, especially the SV. But luckily I found out it's quite an easy thing to fix. Take off the bottom plate and find the pivoting arm that holds the shutter cocked. Often when fired this arm doesn't quite let go and thus the mirror doesn't come back down. If you tweak it a tiny bit, just to shorten the "let go distance", and if you are lucky, the problem is solved. I also find this problem appears more frequently in cold and/or damp weather.

Sorry about my poor "camera-english", being a swede and not knowing the proper terms for this and that. Still hope you get my point. I really enjoy your writing by the way. You have a unique approach to your subject.


Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks for that, Kerstin. Your Camera English is easily understood. :)

John Carter said...

I liked this one, as you know one of my complaints about where I live is: it is always sunny. This last week we did have rain and I was out in raingear (which never wears out when you live here)and burned a couple of rolls. But FOG, I've had trouble metering in fog; it seems that on board meters overexpose. Do you do anything different with your metering. As fog is also not common here, it is hard to get a handle on it.

Bruce Robbins said...

Hi John,

The good thing with fog is that it reduces the contrast ratio and so should make metering less exacting. Any black and white film should be able to capture all the tones in a scene and more at either end of the scale. It's harder to lose shadow detail or burn out highlights. Exposure, therefore, just moves the limited range of tones up or down this easily handled scale.

I tend to meter the foreground and just leave it on zone five. That way I should get all the information I need to print the neg any way I like. When the sun's in the frame as with the pics above it makes life more difficult but seldom do you actually see the outline of the sun in weather like this: there's just usually an ill-defined highlight area and it doesn't matter much to me if I overexpose it a bit.

Herman Sheephouse said...

That was certainly some fog wasn't it . . .I did think you'd be out and there y'go . . bringing home the bacon again.

As for Pentax, well my 66 wasn't reliable, and neither was my MX . . .it does make one question the brand, though a pro car photographer I knew years back (the indomitable Mike Cooper) swore by his 2 LX set-up . . .

Keep it up Bruce!

John Carter said...

Thanks Bruce for your reply. I'll try the foreground metering. It is the season for fog if we get right now.