Three years ago, on December 11th 2010, I posted my first film picture on flickr. Three years later I continue taking pictures almost exclusively on film and I still enjoy using old cameras for it. Although this third analogic year has seen a strong decline in the number of films that I put through my cameras and to the number of posts in this blog as well, there has been no decline in my commitment. I guess the reduced action has probably more to do with rising our one-year-old son, an enterprise which unfortunately (or maybe gratefully so) does not leave one with many opportunities to take pictures, especially with certain cameras.
I am happy this year because I kept on doing my own camera repair and servicing and, although not always with a happy ending (the film advance in a Contina Ia is still waiting for my fourth attempt), I've managed loosing the fear and feeling almost comfortable around dismantled shutters and the smell of lighter fluid.
In this third analogic year I shot 32 rolls of film (13 black&white, 12 color negative and 7 color slide) using 16 different cameras. The camera that I used most often has been a new acquisition: I shot 6 rolls with an Exakta Varex IIa that I got looking for the origin of those uncountable many SLRs with interchangeable optics that we have today (and that already existed yesterday). The discovery of the Exakta has been probably one of the three highlights in camera collecting this year. I do not see myself as a camera collector but as a camera user, because I really use all my cameras, and acquire them solely with the purpose of using them. Nevertheless, I guess to compensate inconsciously for not being able to photograph as much as I wanted to, this year I ended up acquiring a little more cameras and especially accessories than I used to in the past. Living now in Vienna and having a much easier access to many sources of cameras and gear has for sure been another factor. As I said, my Exakta outfit with four lenses and two viewfinders is proof of that.
The second highlight has been undoubtedly the resurgence of Voigtländer. I have always been a deep admirer of the fine cameras and lenses coming from Brunnswick. In fact, the Heliar f/4.5 lens on my Rollfilm 5x8 was my self-given gift for my first analogversary. Ever since then, I dreamed about owning the second variant, Heliar f/3.5, but unfortunately the price tag on them were just too much for me and my moral. This fall I had the chance to acquire this lens, attached to a most wonderful Bergheil 6.5x9 plate camera, for a very reasonable price. And then I remembered just how much of a jewel these cameras are and why do I love them so much. Later on I was able to secure a Vitomatic IIa 35mm rangefinder camera (I already owned a non-rangefinder Vitomatic Ia and gave it away) and a Bessa 6x9 rollfilm camera (which I always wanted) both for ridiculously low prices, ending up with a nice happily growing Voigtländer family.
The third highlight, though, is the one that makes me the most happy. Last year I already wrote about my quest for a camera made in 1912, a camera that would be 100 years older than our son. There have been a number of candidates and near-hits this year: a Vest Pocket Kodak that ended up being autographic and thus some years younger, an Icarette 6x6 from 1918, a much battered and ugly Ansco Vest Pocket No. 1 which could be it but I suspect it to be from a little later, ... Last month I got a non-autographic Vest Pocket Kodak, the camera that many American soldiers (ilegally) had in the trenches during World War I. The production run of the non-autographic VPK is quite short, 1912-1914.
My camera has a fairly low serial number, around 30000, although serial numbers seem not to be a very reliable dating feature for Kodak cameras. I guess I'll never be completely sure if this camera was indeed built in 1912, but I like to think that chances are good. I will try to make this camera fit to take pictures again. It won't be easy, since the body seems to be bent sideways and the camera does not close properly. The shutter is almost working (still have to figure out how can an actuating lever be a fraction of a millimeter shorter than it should) and the receded meniscus lens looks fine.
For my next analogic year I will try to photograph a little more and collect a little less. We recently got a scanner that can properly handle film up to medium format. Until now I have been digitizing my pictures basically by taking a backlit digital picture of the negative. Not comfortable and definitely not fun, especially when it comes to inverting colors by hand in the computer. This year I let my lab scan many films and many others are still patiently waiting to be digitized. There's going to be some learning about scanning film properly this next year. But the photographic challenge I am most excited about is to do my own film development. For my birthday Mar got me a film development starter kit, with a daylight tank, a thermometer, bottles and everything I need. I plan to start with black&white but I still need to do a little research about chemicals and options. And, yes, there is also this very exciting caffenol development thing... :)
I hope that you keep sharing this photographic journey with me! :)