The banner this week is a montage of what I considered were the great character portraits from the recent competition. The Authors were, Frances Allan (1&3), Shiela Gatehouse (2&4), Helen Whitford (5) and Steve Wallace (6). I chose these images because of their unwavering gaze. I was not the judge, but there would be several 10’s in this collection if I was.
The alternate (second) Banner comes from Vicki Crammer from the product photography competition with a strong image called the handbag. Of course all of the original images and a write up of the competition can be found on the club web page.
It is time to choose your favourite images for judging. The end of year competition looms. Of course this year the competition is only projected images, with 2 categories, colour and monochrome. In addition there are 3 special prizes, one for Landscape, one for Portrait and one for Wildlife. Entries are due in early November, refer to the wabpage.
So this month I am going to start a new feature. As there is a lot of trial and error in photography, I have decided to look at the problem solving aspect of capturing an image. This week I will pose a problem and once you feel you have the answer, have a look at the answer page. Best of Luck.
Enjoy this edition of Camera Clips.
There is a change of format this week. Word Press has updated it’s editor and I can no longer nest the pages within each months newsletter. Accordingly I have made each of the articles a post on the home page. However you can navigate to the articles in the usual way from the table of contents below.
Have you ever taken a photo and looked at the view finder and thought “what is wrong with that shot?” I thought I’d done everything right. So what do you think?
It helps to take a step back and ask, what were you trying to do? It was about 9pm at night. There was a frog on the kitchen window and I wanted to take a picture with the off camera flash. The image was sharply focussed, the flash fired, and yet still I have this blurred image. What went wrong?
What does the holiday of a lifetime look like? – Like this!
26th Feb. Jenny and I flew to Santiago, Chile for a few days with friends before going south to Ushuaia at the bottom end of Argentina. Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city and the jumping off point for a trip to Antarctica. From 2nd March for just over 2 weeks we became David Attenborough.
From our icebreaker/cruise ship (just 190 passengers) we visited Barrientos in the Aitcho complex and the Antarctic Peninsula. Landing from Zodiacs we walked among Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins We saw icebergs large (the size of KI) and small. We saw whales blowing but not close to, at least 4 species of seals and half a dozen species of penguins. How about standing on a beach in the middle of half a million King Penguins?
Then stories of Covid being associated with cruise ships reached the far south Atlantic. The one inhabited spot on South Georgia refused us landing. We were uninfected but they were not prepared to take the risk. No worries, we just headed off for our next scheduled stop – the Falklands. Another refusal. At this point, having seen 90% of the intended locations we set course for our disembarkation port, Puerto Madryn about half way up Argentina. Also, no admittance. Ushuaia our port of origin refused our requests to return.
We steamed north to the River Plate estuary intending to land at Buenos Aires and connect with a charter flight home. Standard flights were being cancelled wholesale across the world and many airports were already closed. We remained off-shore for 4 days and were eventually refused entry. Fortunately, Montevideo, Uruguay across the estuary allowed us to come alongside. 9 days later after finding flights home for all non-ANZ passengers the remaining 133 of us boarded our chartered Boeing 787 wide bodied jet – Montevideo – Santiago, Santiago – Sydney. How often do you become part of a 133-person consortium that buys a 260-seater jet for the day! Don’t ask about the money!
Then two weeks in Sydney isolated to one room, meals left at the door. Followed by 14 days isolation here at home. Final release from incarceration 1st May.
Holiday of a lifetime? Absolutely! The final 6 weeks I don’t need to go through again!
It was 2014, a few years ago, when I was introduced to the joys of Paiwalla Wetland by my friend and bird photographer Les Peters. The former dairy farm between Murray Bridge and Mannum has been returned to wetland swamps and lagoons. It is an ideal location for waterbirds, and the soaring cliffs are a home to several species of raptors. It receives no federal funding, being privately owned, and is maintained by an army of volunteers.
If you wish to visit you should go to the webpage and write a message to the manager stating your intention. You will be asked to leave a donation in the metal box in the parking area. Generally they are more than happy for photographers to visit.
After leaving Murray Bridge on the Eastern side of the river start on the road to Karoonda, but after several kilometres take the left hand turn to Bow River and Mannum. After passing the Burdett Hall keep an eye out for Lagoon road that leads to the cliff top entrance, or drive on to the next road, and at the bottom the hill turn left through the gate to travel downstream next to the river until you arrive at the car park.
I usually walk anticlockwise around the embankments that surround the managed ponds. Keep an eye out for water birds in the ponds as well as smaller birds like wrens in the trees that surround the ponds. There is a hide you can walk out to, and several seats where you can stop and watch. Take care of the plentiful tiger and black snakes that enjoy sunning themselves in the tall grass. Generally they are not aggressive and will move away if you stop at a cautious distance and wait.
Below is a collection of birds you may see.
Along the cliffs are Black and Whistling Kites. They float effortlessly through the air with just a flick of their tail, or wing tip to change direction. The Black kites are more numerous, slightly smaller and have a square tail. The Whistling kites are easy to identify by their distinctive descending whistle.
Of course when I get to the cliffs I am watching out for the pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest in the cliffs near a fallen boulder. They are smaller and more compact than either of the kites. However they usually see me first and start buzzing me angrily. They don’t soar, they beat their short rounded wings frantically. Do you know how fast they fly? It’s not an easy shot, especially with a bright sky behind. We usually don’t stay long, not wanting to stress them too much. However they are a majestic bird none the less.
If you enjoy bird watching, I would recommend the drive out to Paiwalla. Take some water and a snack as you will probably be there for several hours.
“Paiwalla Swamp is my magical place, When I visit there it puts a smile on my face. I could arrive loaded down with worry or care, But it soon diminished when got there With flights of birds passing by My trouble and strife also seemed to fly
The breezes that blow through the eucalyptus trees, Seem to bring ones troubles to their knees It is so easy in nature yourself to lose, As over the sound of birds and frogs you muse Do the migrating birds feel the same, And is that the reason why it is here they came
What spirits in those ancient cliffs dwell, And how many stories could they tell? Are the secrets kept by a resident wise old owl, Or are they in the care of one of those waterfowl? Maybe the soaring raptor or wriggling snake knows them all Or are they even broadcast in a lapwings call?
Could you learn them from a gliding nocturnal bat, Open a swimming displaying water rat? One of the things about Paiwalla that I do know Is that it is a place where I love to go This area whose name means the right arm, For me has got its own endearing and enduring charm”
Bill Mountain, Friend of Paiwalla
Poem by Bill Mountain, mounted on a post near one of the observation points.
This is the photograph that I had intended to take. (Sorry I just noticed a little bit of border added with a hard edged vignette). The frog is sharp and well lit. The window is dark.
The answer to the problem was the flash settings. The camera has a range of settings, but the one in question is the “rear curtain flash”.
Normally the flash will fire at the same time as the shutter opens (front curtain) and the camera adjusts the intensity of the flash with it’s TTL software so that the image is correctly exposed. The shutter can be open for a longer period if desired to allow some ambient light, but usually the image is well lit by the flash.
With rear curtain flash the camera will take the picture first, adjusting the exposure for the light settings and then when it has finished and the curtain closes, the flash will fire. In this instance if the exposure has been achieved already the flash will add little to the overall exposure. This is what happened with my first image. Because it was very dark the shutter was open for a long time causing a blurred image, over the top of which is a faint very sharp image created when the flash fired.
I corrected this by switching back to the usual setting of front curtain flash. Alternatively I could have switched to fully manual mode and stopped down the exposure, giving more for the flash to do.
Actually I do wonder if the “bad” first image, which was a mistake, may actually be more interesting than the intended image. A good lesson in not throwing out your mistakes.
So the question remains, if the rear curtain flash can mess up your image, why is it there? How do you control it to get the picture you want?
The reason for having rear curtain flash is to create the effect sometime known as “shutter drag”. If we use a long exposure and fire the flash at the beginning we can get faint motion blur emanating from a moving object as if it was travelling backwards. If we want to create the illusion of foreword motion we need to fire the flash at the end of the long exposure. (The rear curtain)
The “Baby Brownie”, unlike it’s big brother the ubiquitous Box Brownie, is a relatively uncommon film camera of simple operation.
It’s a diminutive camera measuring 78mm wide, 66mm high and 72mm front to rear, constructed of Bakelite. It was manufactured by Kodak in the USA from 1934 to 1941, thus covering the WW2 years, discontinued, then manufactured a second time in the UK from 1948 to 1952. The reasons for its second period of manufacture I feel to be its continued appeal as a cheap, easy-to-use, no-frills, point-and-shoot camera for those people not wanting or needing a more complicated camera.
When I say it’s a simple camera, I really mean “simple”. It’s essentially a box into which 127 rollfilm is inserted, with a fixed 60mm lens, fixed f/16 aperture and 1/50th sec fixed shutter speed. Most Box Brownie cameras, apart from the early ones, had a connection for flash as well as the ability to move a slide where the aperture could be changed. Some Box Brownies had a sliding yellow “cloud” filter. Maybe the Baby Brownie was a camera that was deliberately uncomplicated and was an early type of the “just point and shoot” philosophy. It appears it may have initially been aimed by Kodak at the “fairer sex”, but became a favoured camera for many soldiers during WW2 due to its relatively small size and low weight of 185g (empty). Rolls of 127 film were also much smaller than the 120 counterpart. It therefore fitted into a soldier’s kit bag quite easily, taking roughly half the space of the Box Brownie 120 rollfilm camera, and more rolls of film could be carried around in the kit bag.
Styling is art deco, a further indication this little camera was aimed at the female consumer. Its size meant it could easily be carried in a lady’s handbag and whipped out to take a photo when needed.
The shutter is a simple “rotary” spring-loaded piece of thin flat metal, triggered when the shutter lever is pushed sideways. The shutter lever can be seen at the bottom front of the camera in the preceding image. There’s no double-exposure lock, so every time the shutter lever is actioned a fresh exposure takes place whether the film has been advanced or not. I wonder how many double-exposures resulted from accidental shutter release or when the film wasn’t wound onto the next frame? Film advance is actioned by turning the knurled knob until the next frame number appears in the window at the rear of the camera. It stands to reason the film is spooled similar to 120 and 220 rollfilm, with backing paper printed with frame numbers visible in the rear window.
There’s no internal viewfinder. The subject is composed using the flip-up finder located at the rear upper section of the camera body. Some cameras using this style of viewfinder refer to it as a “sports” finder. This next image shows the rear of the camera with the frame number window and the viewfinder flipped up.
Loading film is also simple. A spring-loaded latch at the base of the camera, when pushed across, releases the internal frame onto which the film is loaded then the frame reinserted into the camera. The system of having a film carriage body separating from the main body of the camera is similar to that used for some Leicas and the first Nikonos (Nikon) underwater camera, with the major difference being the film insert of the Baby Brownie is top-loaded. What it means for this little camera is there is no hinged rear plate; thus no moving parts needed in order to load/unload the film. Simplicity is the key feature. An offset cam inside the camera base is used to secure the insert when it’s pushed into the camera body.
There are only two levers: one operates the offset-cam to secure the insert when repositioned into the camera after loading/unloading the film, and the other is used to trigger the shutter.
This next image shows both the shutter lever at the front of the camera body and the insert locking lever in its closed position at the base.
I thought at first there may be a risk of the insert securing lever being accidently moved, resulting in the insert separating from the body thus fogging a section of the film but the cam, provided the lever is pushed fully home, requires more pressure to open than what is required for it to be accidentally disengaged. A further feature to reduce this risk is the rebated section holding the locking lever.
This next image shows how turning the locking lever to the open position releases the top-loading insert that holds the film transport.
Accidentally exposing the film by the shutter being inadvertently triggered is a definite risk. Whilst the shutter does require reasonably firm pressure, the force needed is not overly strong so it’s possible the camera, when transported in a handbag, soldier’s kit bag or some other bag, may press against some other object that triggers the shutter.
What is somewhat unusual is the film path within the camera. The lens is constructed such that its focal plane is curved. The film carriage is likewise curved rather than being dead flat like most film cameras.
The next image shows the insert fully removed from the camera. Note the curvature of the film transport plane at the bottom of the insert. Focus of the lens is from approximately 10 feet to infinity. A copy of the instructions I found on the Internet indicates Kodak could supply a closer-focus attachment for the lens that allowed portraits of a subject about 3 ½ feet from the camera. I expect these attachments would now be extremely rare.
The insert shows the take-up spool in position. 127 rollfilm is still manufactured but in rather small quantities. Some owners of 127 rollfilm cameras cut 120 rollfilm down to 127 size and attach to 127 spools. I could do this but I need another 127 spool that I don’t have. I’ll check some camera stores to see if they stock any 127 b&w rollfilm and if so I’m inclined to run a roll through this interesting little camera.
There’s no threaded hole at the base to attach to a tripod, so this camera is meant to be hand-held. The astute photographer would be best to place it on a firm surface to minimise camera shake. Images I located on the internet show the lens to be reasonably sharp and not exhibiting the soft focus many similar cheap fixed-focus lenses tend to show.
Given the apparent initial female target audience, this camera was designed to allow photographs to be taken indoors providing the lighting wasn’t too dim, without resorting to flash. The ideal conditions for outside photos would be an overcast day where the lighting wasn’t too intense, using 100 to 125 ISO film. Bright sunshine would result in overexposed negatives, but, having said that, colour negative and monochrome negative film can handle a fair degree of overexposure that can be adjusted in the final prints. Underexposure indoors would definitely present a problem with lack of detail in shadow areas as well as lack of contrast.
There’s not a big choice in 127 size films now and the choice of 127 films was never extensive but this camera is not what you’d call “high-end”. When the limited set controls of this camera are taken into consideration the higher speed films like 400 ISO would, I feel, be the better option for photos to be taken indoors but bright sunny days outdoors would then result in very over-exposed images.
The target consumer would be someone who wanted an easily-transported simple-to-use no-frills camera without flash where no consideration needed to be given to adjustment controls to suit the ambient lighting conditions – just a simple “point and shoot” camera. Perhaps the very model name of this camera gives an indication of what Kodak apparently expected would be their initial target consumer: mothers taking photographs of babies and children in reasonably well-lit indoor rooms.
Conclusion: A very easy-to-use early “point and shoot” style camera requiring little effort or photographic knowledge by the operator. There’s no means of adjusting the shutter or the aperture and no means for adjusting focus. Just make sure the film is loaded and the film wound on to the next frame for the next shot. It’s as simple as a camera can be and even a pinhole camera would require more effort to operate.
What a start to the year. We have undertaken the 31 day challenge in January. This year we have had unprecedented bushfires destroying property and taking lives. The club year started with our first two scheduled competitions and a workshop and now we find ourselves in Covid 19 shutdown. This edition of the newsletter represents all of the activities we undertook before the Covid shut down. We have 2 articles from thedouble exposure workshop, a photoessay from the31 day challengeand anoriginal article by Vicki Kramer. I hope you enjoy these articles. Next edition will be the “Stuck at home” edition.