A second Bronica

Yesterday I bought a batch of well stored but expired 120 roll film worth something like 145 Euro. Thirteen rolls of Ilford HP5+, 4 rolls of Ilford PANF, 8 rolls of Fuji Provia 400, 2 rolls of Fuji Superia 100 and one roll of Fuji Superia X-TRA 400.

Without any regrets and with a big smile I splashed out 250 Euro.

Yep, with the film I got a Bronica ETRS with a 75mm f2.8 and a  50mm f2.8. The camera comes with one 120 film back, a dark slide, a manual speed winder and a waist level finder.

I used to have a 75mm f2.8 but then something went wrong with the internal mechanics. So now I have this lens again. It is great for portraits.

The second lens I already have so maybe I’ll sell one of them.

The camera is visually in mint condition. I did not have time to fill a test roll but I noticed there is an issue with the 120 film back. The film advances but the frame numbers don’t move. I changed backs and that worked. Maybe it is something I can fix or maybe I’ll have to get another back. We’ll see.

On my other Bronica, an ETRSi, I have the prism AE-II finder so a waist level finder for a low POV is welcome.

I think this is a great deal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the Provia as I don’t shoot slide film but I’ll keep it stored and when I feel like it play a little with cross-processing.

I love shooting with Bronica. I like the 645 format and the lenses I own are very sharp. I am happy I was able to acquire a second body for almost nothing.

Meanwhile I am selling my Olympus OM-D M10 kit. A few lenses are sold alreade, the very sharp 45mm f1,8 and the very good Lumix 20mm f1,7.

I like the camera but after I got the Ricoh GR II I did not use the Olympus that much as I found the Oly suddenly a very slow camera. I have no complaints about the (image) quality but, well, it is just gathering dust.

Anyway I feel that I am moving more and more towards analogue photography. I like that.

Seeds (2015) Nikon D300 with Sigma 180mm f3,5, studio environment
Seeds (2015)
Nikon D300 with Sigma 180mm f3,5, studio environment





Calla lily II

Another shot of a calla lily this time made with my Bronica ETRSi and a 200mm. I used two studio lights. One for the flower itself and one for a light spot on the background with about 2 stops less power.

Developed with Kodak TMax and that bottle is now empty.

I’ll be switching to Fomadon R09 (new Rodinal) for cost and because I’ll be able do to some stand and semi-stand development with this developer.

When I look at the grain, the tonality of this image and the pleasure of developing and scanning and trying new stuff I now I am really deeply in love with film photography.

Calla lily (2016) Bronica ETRSi with 150mm and Ilford FP4+ Duatoned
Calla lily (2016)
Bronica ETRSi with 150mm and Ilford FP4+




Thoughts – August 24, 2016

In a few days I’ll be picking up a Jobo CPE-2 with lift. This will enable me also to develop color film.

CPE-2 with lift (c)http://processorparts.blogspot.be
CPE-2 with lift

Getting 35mm color developed is not a problem. It becomes more difficult for 120 roll film and almost impossible for sheet film.

By the way I am extremely happy with the online shop I’m buying my films, developer and so on from. Please note I am not affiliated with them in any way. I’m mentioning them simply because of their range of products and service. I discovered Retro Camera by accident and they sell only analogue film products.

I’m also selling gear because I’m not using it. I’ll be scaling down and keep the Sinar Norma, the Bronica ETRSi (maybe get a second body), my very complete Olympus OM-kit with several lenses and bodies and Nikon gear, both digital and analogue. And of course my Ricoh GR II.

Using the Bronica or the Sinar does not make me a better photographer but it sure as hell makes me see and photograph in a  different way. It is about using your gear for what is was meant and to push it even further.

Soon I’ll also be doing long exposures with the Sinar. The only thing that keeps me using it in the field is the weight/transportation.

What is next?

Well I am thinking I should find a way of earning some money with my photography. Workshops or selling prints. Both are not obvious as I am not the only one trying to make it happen for myself.

Then there is the matter of printing. I’ll be using my Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II for color prints and some black and white but I would love to do the latter in a different way.

I would love to make platinum prints. Start with 4×5″ contact prints just to acquire experience. Then move to digital negatives in order to make larger prints.

The only problem I have is that I am running out of space. Since I got the Sinar I set up a small 2-light studio in my living room. Little A. who spends 2 weekends a month at my place finds it chaotic.

So a studio in the living room, a developing lab in the kitchen leaves no place for a UV-unit to process platinum prints.

A few days ago I used my Bronica for the first time in almost a year. There was still film in it and I remembered the last shots I made.
I had about 6 shots left when I went for a walk in the woods.
Yeah, I know this is going to sound extremely stupid.
I enjoyed being outside. Made some minimalist compositions, measuring the light with a spot-meter and thinking zone system.

After 6 shots I started to feel that something was not right. The frame counter indicated 6 and when I transported the film I noticed to my horror it was not advancing.
It took a few minutes before I realized my Bronica was not broken but that for some reason the multiple exposure lever was set on, well, multiple exposure.

I lost a few shots, that is also a part of shooting analog film.

Chaos (2016) Bronica ETRSi with several lenses and Ilford HP5+
Chaos (2016)
Bronica ETRSi with several lenses, 6 images and Ilford HP5+




Yesterday, August 18 I drove to Ossenisse. It is a small village in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The river Scheldt runs near it and that was my goal. I wanted to make some long exposure shots with my Bronica ETRSi. I loaded it with Ilford FP4 (125 ISO) and used a combination of a red filter and a ND 1024 to cut light down 12 stops. The red filter helped to make the blue sky darker.

I used ND Filter Calculator and Reciprocity on my Android phone to make the necessary corrections.  The latter is quite good and reliable.

I used my Pentax Spotmeter V to measure the light and to make an average between the lightest and darkest spots.

I developed the film with my Jobo CPE but encountered some issues.
I feel the film was not developed uniformly. The border of the film seems to have a few lighter areas. Nothing dramatic but it is there.

I used a squeegee to get rid of the water on the film. The first few negatives show parallel lines all over but then they disappear so I cannot imagine the squeegee is to blame.

Biggest issue remains dust. I dry my film in the smallest room but it still gets loaded with dust. Maybe I should put a water boiler in the toilet.

Anyway I enjoyed the shoot. Two guys came over for a chat (have to learn to give people my card, well, to have some with me at least). Composing, measuring the light and adding some gut feeling (an advantage of always using the same film) to the equation. Making long exposures and not having to wait for the digital camera to do something that takes as long as the initial exposure.

Just sitting there, walking, enjoying being in the grand open, me, a guy with a camera.

Later that afternoon, during the golden hour, I regretted not having color film with me. I hope that will change when I find and acquire a Jobe CPE-whatever kit so I can start and process color film.

Mooring-post (2016) Bronica ETRSi with 50mm at f11 and Ilford FP4+ at 45"
Mooring-post (2016)
Bronica ETRSi with 50mm at f11 and Ilford FP4+ at 45″



It had been almost a year since I last used my Bronica ETRSi. There was still a roll of film in it.

I enjoyed being alone in the woods and meadows. In fact I missed it very much. I carefully framed, measured light trying to think zone system.

After 6 or so shots I started to have questions about film advancement. Another shot made it clear, film was not advancing. For a second I felt frightened, was the camera broken? Then I noticed the lever that makes superimposing possible was set to on. I clicked it back and everything worked fine again. I was both mad at myself and feeling silly. Hell, I made a few interesting shots that were now gone forever.

In a darker part of the woods I found these branches with only just one capturing sunlight. It was a good exercise for spot metering.

There was a difference of 4 stops between the darkest and brightest part so well into the dynamic range of the film.

The darkest shadow measured EV 7 (f5,6 – 1/15) and would render it mid grey or zone V. I decided to pull out the less darker shadows and overexposed with 1 stop making the light spot on the branch bright but with still enough detail in it.

I added a shallow S-Curve in Photoshop to boost the contrast slightly. Then I did some very light dodging to make the white light spots in the background a little brighter. That is all.

I started making notes, something I never did before, when I got the Sinar Norma.

Now I have a notebook in my Bronica bag also and I find it interesting to compare notes with what I saw, what I wanted to achieve and the final result.

I feel using the Pentax Spot meter and thinking more about light and how I want to see it in my final result is beneficial for my photography.

Branches (2016) Bronica ETRSi with 200mm f4,5 with Ilford HP5+ f5,6 at 1/8
Branches (2016)
Bronica ETRSi with 200mm f4,5 with Ilford HP5+
f5,6 at 1/8




In the field with the Sinar Norma

Sunday was a nice day and in the afternoon I took my Sinar Norma with me for a walk in the woods.

What a wonderful experience. It was bloody hot and an abundance of horseflies found their pleasure in biting me and sucking my blood. The camera and Manfrotto 074B weighed a ton and so did the metal case with the gear necessary to take large format photographs*. Soon I was sweating and it felt as every inch of my body was itching. With every step my gear became even more heavier.

In a meadow I made 4 photographs. My plan was simple. I wanted to try Ansel Adam’s Zone System.

I always thought it was something for rocket scientists but then I stumbled across and article explaining it as clear as a bell.

After having composed a detail of the bark of a worn out birch standing in bright sunlight I used my Pentax Spotmeter V to measure the brightest spot in the composition. With no extra settings this would be middle grey or zone V. But I wanted it to be white without being blown out with the subsequent loss of detail. So that would be zone VII or +2 stops. I measured the shadows and that value fell well into the range of the film, Fomapan 100, I am using. If this would not have been the case I would have made a note, changed exposure and then developed accordingly. But that is an experiment I want to do later on when I am really experienced with the film. I’ll be also switching developer as I ordered a Rodinal based developer as I also want to play with stand development.

Little flowers (2016) Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC on Fomapan 100
Little flowers (2016)
Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC on Fomapan 100

For the next image I measured the shadow part of my composition and decided it to be almost black but with detail. This would be zone IV. I measured the white fluff and it fell well into the dynamic range of my black & white film.

I made 2 more shots and drove back home where I developed the film. In my dark room/bathroom, I felt how the dark slide of one of the cassettes did not slide fluently. Only after I had developed the film I understood why. I had inserted the film badly in the film cassette. The birch image was wasted, all black, and another image, the other image in the cassette, partly blurred.

I have still much to learn but that is where the fun is.

The Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC is tack sharp. It compares to a 90mm lens on 35mm.
The depth of field is very small though. I’m thinking of getting a wider angle lens in a few months.

Light (2016) Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC on Fomapan 100
Light (2016)
Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC on Fomapan 100

* Pentax spot meter, regular light meter, notebook & pen, magnifier, black cloth, film cassettes, measuring tape, Toyo 4×5 to 6×7 roll film holder, filters (red, grad, ND) and some other stuff. Well, to be honest, it is the metal case that is the heaviest



A first one

Yesterday I picked up 6 used film cassettes 4×5″. I need to keep a close eye on my wallet so I searched for a cheapo film solution. Finally I ended with ordering 50 sheets of Fomapan 100. Fomapan is made in the Czech Republic and the company exists for 95 years already.

I got a 50 sheet box for less the price than an Ilford FP4+ 25 sheet box.

The film arrived this morning but Little A. is staying with me so I had to wait for some alone-time. Luckily I  had to drop her off at 4 in the afternoon at her babysitters job.

Fomapan 100
Fomapan 100

Back home I loaded the a sheet of film in a cassette. Not that hard to be honest.

Then I made a simple composition with a rose and checked everything with my Nikon D300 “Polaroid” back.

When I first shot in my studio I had forgotten I needed to compensate for the bellow extension.
Composed and measured the light with my flash meter.

So I used an app on my Android tablet (Bellows Factor). It told me I had to compensate for about 1 1/3 stop but I decided to go for 2 stops.

Exposed the film.
Got the film out of the cassette and in the Jobo development tank.

Developed with Kodak TMax 1+4 for 5′.  The developer came out green.
Stop bath. Fix bath.
Short rinse.
Checked the neg.
Wow albeit I think about 1 stop more would have been better.

Now the neg is drying and I cannot wait to scan.

Hell, this is my very first 4×5″ negative I loaded and developed by hand. Well, not entirely because the Jobo CPE did some work too.

I think I’ll be soon investing in a second-hand Jobo CP 2 or 3 and develop also color film at home.

Anyway, I liked setting up a flower in my studio (living room), play with light and check the technical stuff like metering light and adding some tilt on the film plane in order to get a more shallow depth of field.

Loading a sheet of film and making the exposure. Developing and then, scanning.

At this stage, with the Sinar Norma, making a photograph has become a real craft and I like that.

Hell, I’m even thinking further. I’m thinking like Platinum print.

But that won’t be tomorrow, or in a few months. I lack the space to create, I lack a room to set up my stuff.
I wish I had a photographic playroom. Studio, lab and digital darkroom.

Maybe one day I’ll have that.

Negative (2016) Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC and Fomapan 100
Negative (2016)
Sinar Norma with Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC and Fomapan 100







A man and his cameras


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