Saturday, March 31, 2012


Box, glass, gelatin, digit. Believed to be FM, 50mm f/1.8 Series E.


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, gateway.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, racket.


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, ball.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, flare.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012


Using colored filters to control contrast in black and white photography is sort of passe, but worth exploring. Of course in the digital age one can use the channel mixer in Photoshop to imitate any color filter without any of the downsides of filters (expense, possible loss of resolution or contrast if you buy cheaper or uncoated filters, loss of light (note that the compensation factor depends on the color of the ambient light!), time needed to pick a filter and screw it on, damaged threads, vignetting, storage, keeping more glass surfaces clean, etc. etc.) but a filter can really make (or break) a photograph.

Storing and changing filters is risky business, I almost dropped my filters twice while shooting some test shots like this. I've found keeping them screwed together in a stack works alright, although it slows you down a bit.

No filter:

Red filter (Vivitar no. 25(A)):

Orange filter (Nikon O56):

Yellow filter (Nikon Y48):

Green filter (Nikon X1):

Blue filter (Tiffen 82B):

I tend to find the deep red filters too dramatic, plus they have a large exposure factor (around 3 stops), although this can be useful to give shallow depth of field in bright light. The yellow filters seem to not be strong enough. I think the orange filter is just right to make your sky dramatic. I've heard green filters are often used to darken skin tones for portraiture, although I have not tried it. Blue filters are rarely used (and mine is really designed to allow the use of tungsten-balanced film outside rather than a true blue filter), but I like the effect it can have. It tends to emphasize textures and atmospheric haze in my experience, which I like, but since it lightens skies and darkens skin tones in unflattering ways I see why most people avoid blue.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, rear window.


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, glassware.


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, Chevaux-de-frise (see digital version).

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, afternoon doldrums.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X. On the road.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 P.C. (black knob)

Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 P.C. black knob ('80-'99)
This sample from the late nineties.

Filter size: 52mm
Close focus distance: 1 foot or 0.3 meters
Aperture range: f/2.8 - f/32(!)
Aperture blades: 9
Depth of field scale for f/8, f/16, f/22, f/32 and IR focusing index.
Design: 7 elements in 7 groups.

Comments: This is the more modern black knob version, which is different than the earlier silver knob version. Preset diaphragm (pull back on the front ring and rotate it to set the aperture, the back ring is then rotated to either open the lens for viewing or stop down the lens for shooting). You are supposed to focus and meter with the lens unshifted.

The lens can shift 11mm in any direction, although the mount is click-stopped every 45 degrees and the actual "safe" amount to shift before having coverage issues can be less because of the 3:2 aspect ratio of 35mm film. There are numbers engraved near the base that indicate the recommended maximum shift.

This lens can be difficult to mount because of the rotating base. I suggest rotating it so the focusing scale is on top before unmounting the lens to help you mount it next time. I am thinking about marking my copy with a Sharpie on the mount...

More information: MIR
Ken Rockwell

This is a P.C. (perspective control) lens, which allows shifts in order to control convergence of lines, like using rise or fall on a view camera.

You know how when you take a picture of a tall building you usually have to tilt the camera up, and that causes the vertical lines of the sides of the building to converge? Personally I don't usually find this irksome, but for architectural shots it can be important. With a P.C. lens you can eliminate or minimize the convergence and keep parallel lines parallel by shifting the lens upwards and keeping the camera (closer) to level, parallel to the building. For example, here's a photo taken with the 35mm lens, unshifted, showing a little "keystone" distortion.

With the lens shifted upwards, we are able to correct the perspective distortion. I might have actually over-corrected in this case.

To be honest, I sometimes find the corrected versions more disturbing than the uncorrected versions, since the building seems almost to loom over you instead of receding as you expect it to. For example, see this photo, (from here), for example, or this photo of the Flatiron building from Shorpy.

The most interesting use of the perspective control lens in my opinion, is to abuse perspective! Instead of shifting the lens up to take a photo of a tall building, shift the lens down and angle it up more! It makes the building seem larger than life, an almost bug's-eye-view of the world.

Here's another set of shots...this time vertical and with an orange filter.


Corrected (within reason, even at full tilt with this framing the lens had to be angled slightly upwards):


Unfortunately the P.C. lenses are not inexpensive, although the 35mm manual focus lens is very reasonable. Unfortunately it is not really wide enough for most uses you would want it for, and the 28mm f/3.5 is considerably more costly, but after using the 35mm I want to pick it up too. The modern 24mm, 45mm, and 85mm are very cool as well, and offer tilt to control the plane of focus, (although you can only tilt in one direction compared to how you are shifting, which is limiting compared to a nice view camera), but are prohibitively expensive.

One word of caution: it is disorienting to shift the lens as you look through the viewfinder, and it is potentially hazardous to maneuver around looking through the shifted lens as the camera appears to be seeing from a position a foot or two away from the actual camera position!

Other example photos:


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, windows are eyes to a building's soul, right?

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X

There's a certain je ne sais quoi to this lens I adore.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Leica IIIf, 50mm f/2 Summitar, Tri-X, distracting power lines.


FM, 50mm f/1.8 Series E, Tri-X, double exposure.

I forgot to include this picture in my Zenit APk write-up, I like the faux-impossible triangle

Zenit APk, 58mm f/2 Helios, Tri-X, Tim.