My Russian camera

For fun I recently purchased an old SLR camera from my local  pub.   It was a Zenit.  I had heard of the make, at art college it was the cheapskates’ SLR.  Posher students having Prakticas and Pentaxes.  My friend Jane had a Zenit – no disrespect,  I think I had some ghastly piece of kit called a Penguin which my father gave me.  I borrowed the college’s Yashica TLR, a kind of cheap Rolleiflex.  That was fine.

Broken Fence

Broken Fence

For many years I gave up on cameras save the odd one trip holiday cam.  Oddly for me these gave remarkable results –  I think they do if the sunlight is bright.

Car park

Car park

Back to my new s/h Zenit.  I purchased some new kind of black and white film from  Boots,  stuff that can be put through colour processors and still come out as black and white (when it’s not pink it has a slight blue cast).  Eager to try it out I ran around town trying to use all the film up.  I took the camera home to check rewinding procedures – first disaster, you had to tweak a collar under the shutter button to release the sprockets.  I thought the rewinding was crunchy but foolishly blamed this on Russian robustness.  I had stripped all the sprocket holes off the film, rendering the film useless and my morning wasted. Never mind, I had three for the price of two and a still sunny afternoon.   Well I don’t know what I did wrong.  When I went Boots to collect my disc and prints the girl smiled and said that she didn’t think that they were very good.  She was right, they were very abstract, with large areas of complete over exposure, and showing only some of the wood grain, foliage and rubbish which I thought I had photographed.  This was like lomography by Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin).  Strange and meaningless as these images there was some allure – possibly the poignancy of failure.  My friend thinks they are worthy of entering for the Ruskin prize.  I think I had accidentally mastered the technique of double exposure by only half pulling the film carriage lever across.  I did wonder why it said I had only exposed 16 images.  I will publish some of the images, the more artistic of course.  Next time will be colour –  I can’t wait to see what can go wrong.

Contents of a skip

Contents of a skip

Please reader do not think I am completely useless at photography – digital suits me fine and I can produce accomplished images – but you can’t get quite the cock ups that are possible with good old analogue film.  Look out for the colour!

Hole in Fence

Hole in Fence

Oh… I now want a fish eye lens – anyone help?

 

 

About Richard Stokes

Richard Stokes. Childhood spent in Milford-on-Sea. Now lives in West Bay Bridport (recent move)Educated in Art Schools - Winchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Worked as art administrator: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Midland Group, Nottingham; West Midlands Arts, Birmingham; Gateshead Garden Festival; Arts Council; Minories Art Gallery, Colchester; West Midland Arts. Also involved with the former Limpets Restaurant. Keen sailor.
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One Response to My Russian camera

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