Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reflexes, Resonance, and Focusing on Infinity

Focus on infinity
See note for photo pedants, below

20140522 typecast pt1
* GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome, a plague of the camera enthusiast

Argoflex EF

20140522 typecast pt2

It's been far too long since I pulled out a typewriter and whipped up a typecast. I hope not to stray too far from what I consider to be the core act of a Typospherian. This was banged out on the first machine I had at hand, a locally sourced Olympia SM3. It's good to see that I have not forgotten how to make typos, though all the shadowing does tell me that I'm slow to get my hands out of the way of the keys. "Argus" is the camera brand, not "Argo" as my brain insisted. Other typo corrections are left as an exercise to the reader.

I see many of the blogs in the 'sphere are turning cameraward now. Maybe it's just because summer is approaching here in the U.S., and so one's thoughts turn naturally towards being in a dark room splashing around in cool water. The natural pungentness of the homebrew Caffenol-C developer does mean, though, that your dark room should be well-ventilated. (And while we're on the subject, ye gods do my kids look little in those old photos. Five years!)

Other photo bloggers: what are you using for fixer? Seems to me that was the only part of the process where I had to "go commercial" and just used a fixer concentrate. When that finally ran out, I set everything on the shelf again, and then evidently got busy for half a decade.

Film really is tremendous fun, and black-and-white developing is a large part of that. It's alchemy, pure and simple, turning light and microscopic silver particles into art with nothing more than coffee and soap.

The Argoflex EF (says the Internet) is a metal-bodied version of the earlier Bakelite model E and some variants. It's pretty heavy, reminiscent of the Argus C3 "brick" camera that shares the same simplicity and meshed-gear design. It's a basic design, compared to the far fiddlier -- and honestly, much nicer -- Rolleiflex cameras that I inherited from my late grandfather. I would not be afraid to take the Argoflex out to the beach, for example. It does take 620 film, but true to the Typospherian spirit, modern 120 film can be wound onto old 620 spools to fit.

Note for photo pedants: yes, I know this is not how one technically uses the infinity mark on the lens. Although this may be how one sets it for getting the focus coupling sorted out.

For those not in the know, you line up the marks on the lenses with the setting of the aperture -- the opening -- to find out the depth-of-field of your photo. Closing the aperture into a small opening allows a broad depth-of-field, or basically a photo that's in focus for a much of the distance (think landscape shots.) For sweet "bokeh" effects or to bring one area of the picture into focus, you open up the aperture and line up the marks accordingly. Aperture settings are marked in pairs on manual focus lenses. On this camera, the aperture settings are:

18 12.7 9 6.3 4.5 | 4.5 6.3 9 12.7 18

If I were set up for a real photo, that infinity mark should be lined up over one of these settings. For philosophical reasons and because the light was better :-) I put the infinity mark at the central line.


Rob Bowker said...

I think Ted mentioned fix in his Caffenol develped process - worth another look. Happy snapping.

Ted said...

Yay! more photoblogging! :D

Ya, I use generic Kodak paper/film fixer & mix up a half-bag batch about every month to use and re-use. Could prolly go longer than that, as I haven't had much problem with it getting weaker as it ages.

I've read some noise about people using saltwater brine as fix, but that tends to get loudly debunked everytime it comes up.

Michael Clemens said...

@Rob: it's not going to give you super results like a tightly controlled process with premiere chemistry, but it is a "cheap and cheerful" substitute, and truly is magic-seeming.

@Ted, then not much has changed. I think I used Arista fixer from Freestyle photo. It was cheap and easy to store. I did opt to treat it as a one-shot, though, and not re-use. I'll have to dredge out my notes from the B&W class I took ages ago -- seems to me that was the recommendation from the instructor. "It's cheap!"

I've heard the brine trick, too. I has doubts, as they say.

notagain said...

cool camera! When I was starting at the flight kitchen, about a half-year in we switched our salad wash from fixer (sulfites) to stop bath (acetic acid) due to the then-newly-revealed reactions people had to sulfites. Having been through photography classes for two years it made me chuckle.