an historical curiosity ...

Discussion in 'Film Camera Forum' started by pdh, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    As we know, I get all gouty about being asked technical details, but here is a historical curiosity that prompts me to talk technical all unbidden.

    Last week I was away staying with friends, and at their invitation cleared out the remains of their grandfather's darkroom. The contents had been shifted lock and stock from Surrey to West Wales in about 1983, where it had lain almost untouched since.

    I can't begin to describe the stuff I found. Some is just for the skip, but I filled the boot with all sorts of things, including a couple of dozen rolls of 120 film, plus the loan of a prewar Voigtlander Bessa 6x9 to play with. The film may be as old as the camera.

    (When I say prewar, I mean that little trouble we had in Yurop between 1939 and 1945)

    I shot a couple of these old rolls while I was there, in the Bessa, and that's waiting to be developed, but in the meantime I shot a test roll in my backyard (also in the Bessa) so as to estimate a sensible EI for the rest of the rolls.

    So here's the best shot from the test roll. Tweaked a bit in LR for show :)redface:) but it would probably print close to this. Remember, this was shot with a camera 70 to 80 years old on film perhaps 60-70 years old that has been in the bottom of a cardboard box in an uninsulated shed for nearly 35 years, in case you want to criticise the "IQ" ... I'll be slightly surprised if any digital camera is working so well after the same elapsed time :smile:




    15244533347_5f34abdca3_c.


    b20141003-1 by _loupe, on Flickr


     
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  2. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    wonderful bleedin wonderful - now you do need to show photos of the cameras cos I ain't got a clue - always nice to put a face to a name
     
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  3. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    it'll have tp wait roger, i can;t be arsed to do it tonight :wink:
    if you google bessa 6x9 that'll probably get you what you want to know :smile:
     
  4. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    looks a bit overexposed :tongue:

    Seriously.... that is VERY nice.... the story and the image.
     
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  5. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    You wag, you.

    I've established that the film is nitrate stock, by the way, which means that I basically have a fridge full of explosive media at the moment.

    The nice thing about nitrate film is that once it's on fire, it'll continue to burn even under water or CO[sub]2[/sub], plus it gives off NO[sub]2[/sub] in volume when burning, which is exquisitely toxic if inhaled and can easily cause an acutely painful and unpleasant death.
     
  6. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    VERY, very cool.
     
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  7. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    Thanks Paul - that was better than my google
     
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  8. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Ah well I knew what I was looking for of course.

    I realised as I was writing the OP that I should have posted a pic of the camera too, but it's too much faff to do tonight. I'll do it tomorrow though.
     
  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    That's so cool! The shot came out great, I never would've guessed it was such old film!

    I finished off a roll of film in one of my old cameras about a year ago; I'd shot the first 25 or so exposures some 10 years earlier. The shots that had already been exposed came out perfectly, but the newly exposed shots looked a mess; I think the film had gone bad. So for your 60-70yo film to come out that good is incredible to me!

    Be careful with the explosives though!
     
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  10. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    it would be worth your wile to check out the prices on ebay
     
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  11. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    For the film or camera Roger?

    I think the prices asked on eBay (as opposed to prices achieved on eBay) for old photo gear often suffer from a large credibility gap.

    The Bessa is realistically worth about £60-£70 but is not mine to sell.

    The film ... well, I think it may have been slit down from 70mm stock and rolled in reused backing paper as it hasn't got any edge marks at all and isn't quite the right width for standard 120. So it's not a "brand film" even though it's in Ilford, Gevaert and Kodak paper.

    Plus it's nitrate which, all joking apart, is horrid stuff once it starts to degrade and there's no guarantee that mine won't start to do that. Before I started messing with it I read the HSE advice on handling it, where it says "On no account should cellulose nitrate film be sent by post, carried on public transport or disposed of as refuse." ... you can just imagine my sending a few rolls off to someone by RM only for there to be an accident where it was exposed to heat, and caught fire. The NO[sub]2[/sub] in the combustion products really will kill you, let alone the ferocity of the fire itself (I know, I (very carefully) tested a clipping and it goes up like magnesium ribbon in oxygen)

    Plus it was a generous gift from a close friend and her parents, because they know of my interest in film and older processes, and it seems very inappropriate to me to try to profit from that.
     
  12. ReD

    ReD SC Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    The Camera - I saw prices of £500 or so for pristine - i'll see if they come up again

    Plus proceeds to the family owner if they want to sell
     
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  13. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Paul, that brings back pleasant memories. My first ever camera was a 6 x 9 Bessa I, later I added the Bessa II, with rangefinder coupling to my stable. This would be back in the early 1970's, used as working cameras including periods when I worked in the Middle East and North Africa. I had no thought then of collecting them, so sadly they were sold many moons ago. It would be good to just be able to handle them now, like a lot of things in life, water under the bridge.

    Barrie
     
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  14. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Barrie, do you have any photos from those times that are digitized and ready to share?
     
  15. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    The thing is roger thatthe pricy one is a very different camera, has a faster better lens, better shutter, coupled rangefinder and was made decades later. You're not comparing like for like. The bessa line is very long and has dozens of models.
    The one I have on loan is worth as I said about £50. The family would not sell it even if it were worth 10 times that, they're just not interested in money even though they could probably do with it to mend the roof ...
     
  16. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Since you ask, yes there are some scanned images from that era.

    15433999011_53e09566b0_o.
    vussel
    by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    I think this is from the very first roll of film I put through my old Bessa I. It shows the barge tug Vussel of W J Reynolds, the only motor vessel in their fleet, the others were all coal fired steamers, the last fleet on the south coast of England to be coal fired. The barge would have been loaded with sewage waste, don't tell me I don't seek out the glamourous subjects to photograph.


    15437202355_879d2545a0_o.
    Trolsworthy_Warren_Farm-snow-634-1
    by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    A hand held exposure meter would have been used here to judge the exposure for the snow, I think I got it just about right.


    15250641657_b2a3b9ae00_o.
    lift-sunset
    by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    A scene with a heavy lift barge in use on the Umm Shaif Super Complex in the Persian Gulf near Das Island in 1976. Capable of lifting 800 tons, they always seemed to do these jobs after dark, we always said it was because they didn't want you to see how they did it!


    15437204245_559891a760_o.
    handling_fish
    by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    A scene from the old fish market in Plymouth, the building is now some trendy up market shop and restaurant, the new fish market is not accessible by the public, so sadly subjects like this are off limits. Not much evidence of health and safety in those days, pipe ash likely to fall onto the Mackrel


    15250493900_1db60a782a_o.
    Brass_Band
    by barrie.whitehall, on Flickr

    The flares worn by a couple of the players here date the picture to some time in the 1970's

    Memories :smile:

    Barrie
     
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  17. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Here we go with the photo I couldn't be arsed to take last night:



    b20141004-1-2.

     
  18. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Paul,

    That's a much earlier model than the ones I was using, I imagine my Bessa I was late 1940's, early 1950's, the Bessa II wasn't produced until 1950 with a relatively short production run until 1956. From memory my Bessa II had a Color-Skopar f3.5/105mm lens in a Synchro-Compur shutter, I seem to remember that my Bessa I was somewhat similarly equiped. However my Bessa I didn't have the sports finder that's fitted to your model.

    Barrie
     
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