Tagcommie cameras

Negative Space

shoot-348Negative space in a photograph serves to draw interest to the subject. I’m beginning to think that negative space on my misfit shelf is drawing attention to what I need, and what I really don’t need.

I’ve been ridding myself of cameras lately, creating negative space. I had looked at some of them and couldn’t remember the last time I’d picked them up and used them. I’d looked at others and remembered I didn’t like using them, for some reason or another. Sometimes ergonomics played a part, but mostly it was because I did not like the results I got from them. I even found a couple of lenses I hadn’t used in so long I’d forgotten I owned them.

This is the down side of G.A.S. It will promise you many things when it hits you. The thrill of the hunt. The joy of winning an Ebay auction. The promise of something new in your photography. So you buy, and then the down side sets in. The thrill passes, and you’re left with a camera you really don’t care for, and it becomes another dust catcher. So you let it sit on the shelf, and eventually, the cycle begins again.

There are some folks who collect. I am not one of them. I acknowledge cameras can be works of art, and examples of good science made real, but to me, they’re mostly tools. A tool is to be used, and kept in good repair. If it isn’t used, it’s not living up to its purpose, and it’s time to give it the chance to do so.

shoot-347But the one thing that collectors do right is to look at every purchase with an eye towards curation. The closest I’ve come to this has been deciding what systems I wanted to use: Nikon F mount, M42, M39, P6, and so on. That got me to get rid of some random things a while back. But now, future purchases are going to be guided by what I need to fill in specific needs.

So no, negative space isn’t going to stop my G.A.S. It is going to channel it in to reasonable directions and away from the “oh, shiny!” type of purchases I have been guilty of in the past. While those have occasionally been fruitful, finding something unexpected, the vast majority of them have been a waste of time, space, and money.

Just as negative space in an image brings out the subject, it’s going to draw me towards what I really want, and need, to have, and in a productive direction.

The Pentacon Six- a cautionary tale

shoot-291I got interested in the Pentacon Six because of a hike.

I wanted to get something that would shoot medium format for a particular hike. I didn’t want to carry a huge flipping Kiev 88 CM. The hike was up a mountain, down another one, eight miles down a back country ravine via stream bed, and then a semi-technical climb up another mountain to take photos of an abandoned building. The Kiev is a little heavy to carry on that, considering it weighs around 10 pounds with backs and all, and the rest of my camping gear was around 23 pounds. I didn’t want to take a camera with me that added almost 50% to the weight I was carrying, so I started to research the alternatives. I happened on to the Pentacon Six. It was lighter than the 88, and had good glass options, so I went shopping.

I bought myself a bunch of heartbreak.

There were many opinions on-line about the camera. Many of them were negative. There were concerns about the film transport and spacing. But the glass lured me in. I pulled the trigger on an auction on eBay.

I forgot a fundamental truth. On eBay, no one can hear you scream.

The first camera showed up trashed. The seller and I worked it out and I was just out the return postage. Strike one. I found one that was supposedly in pristine shape, and got that one. While it was not DOA, the shutter cloth was in a bad way. Someone had violated a basic rule for cameras with cloth shutters. Always cap a lens when not shooting. Always. The shutter had been burned though by light coming through the lens. To make matters worse, it was beyond repair. The user never responded, and I got to pay cash for an unusable camera. Strike two.

Next up was a perfect looking camera freshly CLA’d by one of the recommended names on the Pentacon Six user boards. Jackpot, I thought. It came put of the box looking new and smelling of oil. Home run, I thought. I loaded it with film, walked outside, and advanced the lever for the first shot. I fired the shutter and got a satisfying click that sounded like the right speed. I smiled. Finally things were going right. I advanced it for the second shot.


It was stuck. No amount of fiddling got it to move. I took off the lens and found the mirror locked half way up. The mechanism was fully, fatally jammed.

Like I said, no one can hear you scream.

shoot-292After some fiddling around, the seller and I reached an accommodation neither one of us was happy with but was fair. Strike three. Game over.

So, I wish this hadn’t been a cautionary tale. I would have liked to had an interchangeable lens medium format that is lighter weight for hiking. As close as I will ever come is if I buy a Kiev 60. I think it says something about the Pentacon Six that a Russian clone is more reliable.