Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Classic Shooting

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place. As promised, a second dose of photography just for Hohenfels, dealing with old fashioned photography. Before we begin, I need to clarify this week's theme. Your images should be of work being done, not the people doing the work. The bulk of your subject should be the work, not the worker. I hope this helps when creating your shots.

As mentioned previously, we're talking about old fashioned photography. I got some very old cameras this weekend, inspiring me to pick up film again and try out what I've learned. It also inspired me to share pics of them with you and encourage you to pick up your film stuff and shoot that, too. It's a great way to test yourself, using film and what you've learned. It also shows you what you've learned and how well you're progressing.

Hohenfels Volks- Nettar 515/2
ISO 400, f/8, 1/25, 37mm
Zeiss Ikon up close. This shows the lens, the "brilliant glass," used to compose your shot, and the speeds available.

This weekend the family and friends surprised me with some gifts. The first gift, from Mrs. Hohenfels Volks and the princess, was an Altissar box camera from 1951.

Hohenfels Volks- Altissar Box camera, 1951
ISO 400, f/8, 1/25, 37mm
The Altissa box camera from 1951. This beauty is a real challenge, as it only has 4 settings! A great little camera with some great meaning!

Eho-Altissa started in Leipzig in 1892. Founded by Richard Knoll as a photographic shop and studio, they eventually started repairing and then manufacturing cameras. 1910 it moved to Dresden, where it was later bought by Berthold Altmann. In about 1951, Berthold Altmann decided to flee the oppressive and anti-business communist East Germany. In absentia, he was tried, convicted, and his company taken over by the communist run government. They were re-named and finally failed, with the machines being sent to Sarajevo to make imitation box cameras. This particular model of box camera, introduced in 1951, was the last while Altissa remained a free company. That scenario reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, in which all the creators and producers abandon their businesses and creations and disappear, leaving an increasingly corrupt, socialistic, and anti-business society to its own failings. Because of that story, and what I see happening today, this camera has meaning beyond photography to me. It’s functional, still works, and I’m taking photos with it! Once I get some developed, I’ll post what comes out here! This camera had 4 settings, f/8, f/16, B for bulb, and 1/25. The lens was fixed focal length and fixed focus. Using 120 film, it produces a negative that is 6cm by 6cm. Composing your image is through a window above the lens.

The next camera, from our friends, was a Zeiss Ikon 515/2. This little winner was introduced in 1937 as a lower priced Ikonta, with virtually all the features. The one I received has an 11cm lens, which runs from f/4.5 to f/32, and has shutter speeds from 1/25 to 1/125. Outside the shutter speed range is B, for bulb mode shots, and T, where you open the shutter with one click and close it with a second click. It uses standard 120 film, and produces a negative that is 6cm by 9cm. The viewfinder is a pair of metal tabs, and only serves for composition. Focusing is accomplished by adjusting the lens for the zone that should be sharpest, by distance. You can also hold it about waist high, and using the “brilliant glass,” frame up your shot. The brilliant glass is a tiny “periscope” like pair of lenses through which you compose your shot. It only allows for framing and composition. It has a PC Sync port for the flash, should you have one, and has a self-timer for setting it up and activating the shutter, allowing you to enter the scene should you desire.

Hohenfels Volks- Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/2, Circa 1940
ISO 400, f/4.6, 1/25, 33mm
The Zeiss Ikon in all its glory. It takes time to set up your shot with this, which helps with getting your composition tidy.

Zeiss Ikon started in 1926 by the merger of several camera manufacturers and financial backing from Zeiss. Soon several other companies joined the Zeiss Ikon syndicate. Located in Dresden, with plants in Stuttgart and Berlin, Zeiss Ikon split into a West German and an East-German part after the war. Stuttgart became the headquarters after the division of Germany. Later they merged with Voigtländer, who made higher end cameras. In 1972, they stopped producing cameras. After the reunification of Germany, the East and West German divisions re-united into a single company.

The third classic I acquired was a Voigtländer Vitomatic II. This little beauty is a 35mm Rangefinder with a fixed focal length 50mm lens. The lens runs from f/2.8 to f/22, and 1 second to 1/300 second. It uses, like the Zeiss, a leaf shutter, and has no mirror. This feature allows flash to be synched up to the lens’s maximum shutter speed, in this case 1/300. The camera came with 2 filters, a UV, and a green for B&W. This allows for brighter greens, darker reds, and greater separation of greens in your monochrome images. Also included were a lens hood, leather case, and leather strap. Again, through PC sync, my flashes can be remoted off camera and fully controlled. Voigtländer, as you read above, was a very upscale camera maker. They started in Vienna in 1756 as an optics company. Later they introduced the world’s fastest lens at that time, in 1840, it was f/3.5. They were also the first to introduce the zoom lens and the first 35mm camera with a flash built into the camera.

Hohenfels Volks- Voigtlander Vitomatic II 1958
ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/20, 29mm
The Voigtlander Vitomatic II from 1958. In the upper left corner you can see the selenium meter in the camera. Used to help judge your exposure settings.

The cool thing about these cameras is that they show you that even though technology has improved, it hasn’t changed too much since the times represented. Using what we’ve discussed about exposure, composition, and other tips, you can get a great shot, even with old cameras. Don’t give up the learning just because digital means you don’t have to do it. I’ve used my 7D to meter the light for my desired aperture, and then set the old timers accordingly. Remember, being able to sync with your flash means you can do anything with these guys you can do with your digital. I hope this will inspire you to learn more manual applications, so you can put your old film stuff to use again. You’ll be surprised how much you can do with it!

Enjoy the rest of your day, and remember to cast your vote for next week’s theme. Get yours in to have a say! Don’t forget to get your pics posted at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too!

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