When I was shooting a lot of my photos on 35mm film, most of my camera’s had a built in light meter or some form of light meter on them and I felt my photos exposed ok so I never felt the need to buy an external light meter.
Since I’ve been getting into medium format photography more, I knew at some point a light meter would be a good investment.
When I was using the Diana F+ medium format camera it had settings on the camera for sunshine, cloudy etc so I never felt the need to get one then either. Also, when I was using the Lubitel 166B, I pretty much went by the sunny 16 rule and would stop it down and change shutter speed by guess work depending on how cloudy or sunny the day was.
Once I knew that I was going to invest in a more expensive medium format camera, I felt it was essential for me to get a light meter so I could hopefully do the camera justice and get the best photos possible to my ability.
I really didn’t know where to begin when looking for a light meter. The choice to me was overwhelming!
The costs were also greatly different and I really wasn’t sure what make to buy or what to spend.
After researching light meters online, I felt I perhaps wanted to pay a bit more to ensure I got a better quality one and had in mind a budget between £80-£150 but I still wasn’t sure what to buy.
I also didn’t know if I wanted an electronic or manual one. Again, so much choice.
I was going to visit my local camera shop and have a chat with them about what would be best for me but as luck would have it, a fellow blogger had read one of my Lubitel posts and asked me if I had thought of investing in a light meter.
After having a chat with him, he suggested the Weston Light meter range. After looking into those light meters in more depth I did like the fact they were british made, looked of great quality, were nice and manual and also didn’t require batteries due to the selenium light cell.
These light meters appeared to have been mainly produced from the 1950s-1970s and I was a little concerned how accurate the reading would be today and if I would be better off buying a modern digital one.
Ian fully rebuilds, refinishes, and restores these old light meters with a new selenium cell.
I checked out the website and saw he had a variety of the light meters for sale. I knew from looking at them I would prefer a Weston IV or Weston V. I read some good reviews online about these particular models. I also liked how both styles looked.
To purchase one would cost me around £139.00 which was within the maximum budget I had in mind. I loved the fact they are fully restored so that gave me great confidence in how well they would work.
Before I decided to take the plunge and purchase one from the website, I decided to have a quick look at the Weston Master IV and V light meters on eBay.
I found several on there quite cheap but they obviously were old and hadn’t been restored so I was happy to pay more money for a refurbished one.
However, I was drawn to a particular one for sale on eBay which was the Weston Master V, as the seller stated that it had been refurbished back in 2014. He described it as being in excellent condition but he would only reveal who had refurbished it to the winning bidder.
This was all rather intriguing and I was really hoping, judging by everything that was included in the photos (manual and cases) that it was refurbished by Ian Partridge.
When I looked at the listing, a couple of people were bidding on the item and it was going for £10.50. I had looked at it on a Sunday and the listing was actually ending that evening!
I decided to take a punt and put in a last minute bid of around £60. I ended up winning the light meter for £31.15 with postage.
The light meter arrived with the original restoration paperwork and it was refurbished by Ian Partridge! I was over the moon!
The light meter looked shiny and brand new and felt of amazing quality in my hands and had a lovely weight to it.
I wasn’t sure how to use this light meter but since the manual was provided, I quickly learnt what I needed to do to make best use of it.
I first used it with My Hasselblad last week and in my previous blog I provided photos of what I took. I was really happy that the light meter seems to work perfectly as I was very happy with the exposure of the photos.
I feel extremely lucky that I was able to pick up an amazing light meter for a great price that will hopefully last me for years to come.
Here are some close ups of the light meter and invercone with their cases:
On a final note, I would like to say thank you to my fellow blogger, 35mm Film Shootist, for all his help on this.
From my previous blog I explained that the Camera Museum in London provided me with a free roll of film when I purchased my Hasselblad camera from them.
The film they provided me with was the Ilford Delta 400 black and white film, which I had never used before.
I also explained in my previous blog that I didn’t have time to try out the camera in London and had to wait until I got back home to Brighton.
I was keen to try out the camera asap so the first photo I took was of one of my cats in my living room:
I balanced the camera on a foot stool to take this image and I was still getting used to the focusing screen so it’s the corner of the blanket which is really in focus. However, I still quite like the image and the way the corner of the blanket is nice and crisp. The exposure could be improved since my cat is really dark in this image.
The actual negative itself is marked and I’m not sure if that was because it was my first time loading film into the camera and perhaps I accidentally marked the beginning of the negative whilst loading since the rest of the negatives are absolutely fine.
I decided for the remainder of the film that I would go to Hove Cemetery since it’s nice and quiet there, which meant I could really concentrate and focus on how to use the Hasselblad.
I personally think it’s essential to use an external light meter when using the Hasselblad and I used one for most of the photos I took. I’m going to blog about the light meter I used separately.
When I took the camera outside and started to use it, I was extremely impressed by the bright viewfinder:
I’ve personally never owned a camera with an amazing viewfinder like this before. I also felt it really helped me in composing my shots.
Here are the photos I took:
This was the first time I had used an external light meter and I was extremely impressed with the results from using one.
I scanned all my images using an Epson V600 scanner and I didn’t have to ‘tweak’ any of the photos for the exposure.
For my first roll, I’m very happy with the results. I handheld the camera when taking the photos rather than using a tripod and I’m impressed with how crisp the images are. The lens is amazing.
I found the camera really easy to hold and use. It still felt fairly light to me and with the strap it just felt like I had a handbag over my shoulder.
I am so happy I purchased this camera, I definitely have no regrets and I’m really excited about shooting some more images with it. I can’t wait!
Since the beginning of my journey into film photography last April, I knew at some point, if the passion didn’t fade, that I would want to invest in a higher end film camera.
I had originally started off with my beloved Pentax K1000 as I knew I wanted a 35mm SLR camera and since this is a fully manual camera, I learnt lots about Aperture in relation to Shutter Speed and ISO with the help of the built in light meter in the camera.
Apart from my investment in some nice instant cameras such as the Leica Sofort and Polaroid SX-70 I suppose my next investment and step up into a film camera was my much loved Olympus Pen FT half frame camera. I love this camera and the image quality it produces.
In recent months I’ve been really getting into medium format photography. I really love having to think about my composition and how it can work into the square style box.
I think I must have a thing for composing a photo in a slightly different photo size as this is what I love about composing shots with the my Olympus FT.
I suppose my love of the medium format style photos first began when I bought a Diana F+ Camera cheaply on eBay.
As the months progressed I then bought another Lomography style camera, the Lubitel 166B which was originally meant to be a present for my husband as he had taken an interest in this camera but couldn’t get on with it when he tried it so I persevered and began using it.
I love the square format of the photos and I was starting to use more black and white film in it since I knew I wanted to do more darkroom work.
I always thought when investing in a high end camera it may be one of the Leica 35mm film cameras but my heart was telling me to invest in a medium format camera.
As we all know, there is so much choice in the medium format world. You can get fairly decent medium format film cameras ranging from a few hundred pounds right up to thousands of pounds.
If you had asked me in the summer of last year which high end medium format camera I would ever consider buying, I would have said the Pentax 67 which isn’t technically square but I was already in love with Pentax since owning the K1000 and thought I would love the fact the camera style and viewfinder can be used like a 35mm SLR camera.
However, I was fortunate enough to try out somebody’s Pentax 67 camera last year during a photography walk in Brighton. I knew instantly that it wasn’t for me. The main reason……because it was too heavy and big! I really struggled to hold that camera up to my eye and I knew that I would never use it or take it out with me if I owned one.
I had always thought that I would never like a ‘shoot from the hip’ style camera as that just seemed too weird to me to take a photo. However, after using the Lubitel 166B, I realised I loved taking photos in this way which I was really surprised at!
I then looked at potentially investing in a decent TLR camera and again was fortunate enough to have a friend who owns a decent Yashica TLR. However, on trying this, the dial placement just didn’t feel natural to me. I can’t really explain why as the picture quality and image in the viewfinder was much better than the Lubitel but I wasn’t falling in love with it. Also, I knew at some point I would like the option of interchangeable lenses. I know some of the TLR’s have this option but I just wasn’t feeling it.
I then looked at the various Bronica’s and Kiev’s at my local camera shop. Clocktower Camera’s had several for sale but again, on looking at each one, I just wasn’t feeling them.
I’m sure there are still loads and loads of medium format cameras I could have tried but by this point I started to consider the Mamiya and Hasselblad cameras.
Whilst I think the Hasselblad camera looks extremely stylish and I love the modular system, I really thought it wouldn’t be the camera for me either. No where locally had one for me to try out and I didn’t know anyone that owned one although one of my friends used to own one years ago and told me how great they were.
Back in December I met up with one of my camera buddies for taking photos around London and we decided to head to the Camera Museum in Museum Street in Holborn so I could check our their Hasselblad collection as they specialise in repairing Hasselblad’s and also sell them.
The staff were really helpful in there and talked me through the different Hasselblad cameras from the more modern ones, to the V series.
Once I held one of the V series one’s (the 500 C/M to be exact) I instantly fell in love! I had seen the prices so knew I would only want to spend within the budget of the 500 C or C/M and I liked the fact they are fully manual which is what I personally look for in a film camera.
I was amazed at how light weight it was for a decent medium format camera! I was easily able to hold it with my left hand and turn the lens and fire the shutter with my right. It felt great. I loved the viewfinder which was very bright and clear, almost like looking at a television screen. The whole camera felt very natural to me.
The quality of the camera was amazing, it felt well built and not at all plastic.
I was very honest with the camera shop and admitted I didn’t have the funds to buy one there and then but that didn’t seem to bother them with the time they took going through the various camera’s with me which was lovely and helpful of them.
Even if I had the funds there and then I would have held back from purchasing one because I knew I needed to do more research. Also, the 500 C/M model from 1981 that I tried in the shop wasn’t in the best of condition cosmetically (although the price they were selling it for reflected that).
I had a lot of chats with different people about the Hasselblad cameras including one of my ex photography tutors who is also a professional photographer and does freelance work for companies such as Sunseeker Yachts and I really like his photography so I value his opinion. He knows my style of photography and also knows you can take photos hand held with this camera and he couldn’t find a bad word to say about this camera either. He also checked with a friend who owned a 500 C/M for quite a number of years before moving to digital and he also only had great things to say about the photo quality and use of the camera etc.
My ex tutor did say that for several hundred less the Bronica’s are quite good but he said I need to go with what I’m feeling and if I settled for a Bronica, I would only end up pining for a Hasselblad so would never be quite happy with the Bronica and I agreed with him.
I could have easily bought a Bronica since I had sufficient funds for one of those but I decided to be patient and save for the Hasselblad.
By this point I had also decided the Mamiya wasn’t for me. Although I had done much research on the different models and heard great things about those camera’s which I know are used by a lot of professional film photographers today. I suppose we have to just listen to what we would like rather than what everyone tells us is best for us and what we should like. Quite frankly my gut told me, buy the Hasselblad.
Through out January, I sold off a load of stuff I’d been meaning to sell for the past year and now I finally had an incentive to do it.
By last week I had made enough money to buy a Hasselblad 500.
I had already decided in my research that I wouldn’t buy a 500C, purely because I wouldn’t be able to change the viewfinder myself and I knew this may be something I possibly would want to change for a particular type of project at some point so it was going to be a C/M model.
I next had to decide on the type of lens as I initially liked the look of the original Chrome lenses but after further chats with the guys at the Camera Museum I discovered that they don’t have the special multicoated layer on the lens so I wouldn’t get as much contrast on clouds etc as I would with a later C T* lens (which are black not chrome). There is also a slightly later lens known as the CF and I was told the image quality wouldn’t be any different to the C T* but it just turned differently so it was personal preference on what style I would like out of these two. The CF lens is also a bit bigger which put me off and is also slightly more expensive so as a newbie to the Hasselblad system, I was quite happy to have a C T* lens when I bought my camera. I also knew for now, I would be happy with the standard 80mm lens since I had tried out the different size mm lenses (from the more zoom type to the wider angle) at the shop and got an idea of the scope of photo I could take through each one.
I already knew that I wanted to buy my camera from the Camera Museum, as they had been really helpful. Also, they provide new light seals with every second hand camera (which would normally cost £80 plus VAT if you asked them to do these for one of your Hasselblad’s) and they provide a 6 month warranty in case of any failures in the camera.
Since I would be spending quite a bit of money, I knew I wanted a warranty. I also knew I wouldn’t be getting any bargains on eBay or Gumtree as they were all going for the same price as what the Camera Museum was charging, if not more on some of them!
Whilst saving for one, the Camera Museum had listed a 500 C/M model for sale which was in a condition I was happy with (unlike the one I viewed in December). This particular model was from 1978 which again, I was happy with. After having a chat with them on Wednesday, I got on a train that morning and tried it out. I spent over an hour with them going through the workings of it. I was extremely impressed by the overall condition, especially the back curtains as you can see in the photo below:
We went through all the shutter speeds which seemed to work perfectly. I was also warned about potentially jamming the camera if I take the lens off and it’s been fired and the camera hasn’t etc so I need to make sure they all match before putting back together. So currently I’m a bit scared of accidentally doing this but hopefully I won’t!
Needless to say I purchased the camera along with a nice original thick Hasselblad strap in excellent condition to give me good support as again, the joys of visiting an actual shop rather than buying the camera online meant that I could try out various straps. I had liked the look of the thin leather strap but after trying it, the camera easily slipped off my shoulder and it just didn’t feel that well supported so I knew that I would need the thicker strap.
They also gave me a free black and white film which I loaded into the camera in front of them so they could make sure I did this properly. It also meant I was ready to go and shoot. I would have loved to have taken some shots in London but I had to rush back to Brighton on the train before rush hour ensued so I used the film locally.
I’ve since got the roll of film developed and am extremely happy with the results. I’ll be blogging about this separately since this blog is really long so thank you to everybody who has taken the time to read it.
For anybody interested in purchasing a Hasselblad, accessories or who would like some more information about the camera or getting a repair done, their website is:
In one of my previous blogs I mentioned my obsession with printing contact sheets which I had been doing for 35mm negatives and I had a Paterson Proof Printer specially for this.
Since I’ve recently been getting more into medium format photography and when I knew I was going to continue to do prints in a darkroom, I decided to invest in a 120mm Proof Printer from Paterson.
I bought mine brand new on eBay since I struggled to find any second hand ones at a cheaper price in this particular format.
I decided to try it out on my first session in the Brighton Community Darkroom.
However, I made a couple of mistakes. First of all I’m not sure if the mistakes were due to me concentrating so much on mixing up the chemicals and getting used to the enlarger but I’ll explain what I did.
Here is a picture of the first contact sheet I did:
I did the usual test strips first to check the exposure times etc. These photos were taken at Brighton Marina using my Lubitel 166B camera and JCH Streetpan 400 black and white 120mm film. The film is naturally high in contrast which I love.
The first mistake I made was not matching the negatives the correct way round in the proof printer. In my haste to get a contact sheet printed and check I was using the enlarger correctly, I had just put the negatives into the proof printer without really thinking about the direction etc which resulted in this print.
Also, I noticed that the end photo hadn’t quite printed fully. I was perplexed as to why this was and thought perhaps there was something wrong with the proof printer?
I re-read the instructions of how to use the proof printer (which quite honestly, is pretty self explanatory) but I thought I must be doing something wrong. I still couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. I then read the instructions again and saw the key sentence that I originally must have kept skimming over when reading them originally and here is the mistake I made:
When I print the contact sheet, I was putting the 8 x 10 inch photo paper directly onto the grey sponge area then shutting down the top screen which contained the negatives and subsequently taking an enlargement:
What was happening was that the border where the hinge is on the front screen, was blocking part of the negative from transferring onto the paper, hence why I wasn’t getting the full photo.
Finally I realised from the instructions that I should have been placing the photo paper into the slot of the where the hinge is directly onto the negatives on the glass front:
I’m sure to most people this would seem really obvious, even without reading the instructions, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I did this mistake, but I do tend to lack common sense sometimes!
Once I realised my mistakes, I decided to re-print these negatives again during another session in the darkroom.
I used a No 2 Contrast Filter and did a test strip using exposure times of 30 seconds:
From the test strip I decided on an exposure time of 2 1/2 minutes. Before I printed the whole contact sheet again, I did another test strip at the full 2 1/2 minutes exposure to check I was happy with that:
You’ll see that the last photo was much lighter but I have to make some compromises when doing a contact print so was happy with this and here is the final result:
First of all, I’m pleased I managed to get all the images the right way round! You’ll see that a couple of the photos are under exposed but at least I get an overview of the photos and can then choose which ones I’d possibly like to work on for enlarging into prints.
I’m very happy that I now know how to use the contact proof printer correctly and will be using it for all my black and white medium format negatives when I need to do a contact sheet.
On Friday evening I went to the opening of the Andy Warhol Polaroid Pictures exhibition at the Bastian Gallery in London.
Since I’m a huge fan of Polaroid photography, I was really looking forward to seeing this exhibition and after a chat with the staff running the exhibition, I was really happy that I was allowed to go to the private viewing on 1st February before it officially opened to the public on Saturday 2nd February.
There were over 60 portrait and self portrait Polaroid photographs on display that had been taken by Andy Warhol. Some of these photos had never been shown before so that was quite exciting.
The photos were taken in New York in the 1970s and 80s. There were a variety of people in the photos from artists, actors, politicians and friends of the Factory group.
I was hoping to see some photos that Andy may have taken on a Polaroid SX-70 (my personal favourite Polaroid Camera) but judging by the size of the photos, I think they were mainly taken on a Big Shot camera which was created by Polaroid for portrait use only. For anybody not familiar with this camera, it’s quite a simple design with an integrated flash, viewfinder and fixed focusing. These types of Polaroid cameras use the peel-apart style film, which was certainly more widely available back then.
What I also loved was the fact there was a huge Self-Portrait of Andy Warhol from 1979 which measured 81.3 x 55.9 cm so I think this must have been taken on one of those large instant polaroid cameras. I had watched a documentary about these large cameras on Netflix which was about Elsa Dorfman who used them a lot in her work so it was great to see one of these photos up close.
The opening night was extremely busy and had a great buzz which I really enjoyed.
I also managed to speak to the owner of the gallery, Aeneas Bastian and asked him about some Polaroid photos I could see on display downstairs (this area was closed off from the official exhibition). He explained to me that Andy Warhol was a family friend and had taken some personal polaroid photos of his family and that was what was on display downstairs but since they were private to him, he didn’t feel the need to have them officially shown in the public display which I completely understood. I think these photos may have caused some confusion in the exhibition if they had been shown alongside the the other photos of well known people.
There were a lot of great photos but here are some of my personal favourites….I apologise for the bad quality but the opening night was extremely busy and it’s quite a small gallery so I had to try and take photos around many people. I also didn’t manage to get a photo of the large polaroid of Andy Warhol since there were too many people constantly standing in front of it and admiring it which was nice to see.
I would highly recommend visiting the exhibition if you’re around in London over the next few months. Below are details of the exhibition dates and the address of where the gallery is in London:
I have now visited the Brighton Community Darkroom a couple of times since I joined and am slowly getting more familiar with the Durst DA 900 enlarger every time I use it.
Currently I’m managing to get there once a week and am spending approximately 4 hours there per session.
I was there yesterday afternoon and wanted to work on developing some prints from my 120mm black and white negatives that I took on my Lubitel 166B Camera.
There was a really nice beach shot I recently took on a stormy day in Brighton and the waves were crashing against the sea defence wall and there were some clouds in the sky.
I’m still very much at the learning/experimental stage of my darkroom work so accept the fact that without a tutor on hand (like during my black and white photography course) I’m going to probably make many mistakes and waste a lot of paper.
Yesterday was my first time enlarging a 120mm negative print on the Durst DA 900 enlarger as in previous sessions I had been making contact sheets.
I was slightly nervous if I was actually going to do it correctly. I had an initial introduction to the enlarger by one of the helpful members of the community darkroom but that was a few weeks back so I wasn’t sure what I’d remember.
Thankfully, as well as an actual manual on the enlarger, there were some helpful notes provided to me by Paul who is one of the community members and in the notes he provided his recommended combination of condenser and lens that he feels work best depending on the size negative I’m doing an enlargement from.
Rather than going by the manual recommendation, I used Paul’s guidelines since he has experience of using this particular enlarger.
I therefore used a Unicon 105 Condenser lens and 105mm enlarger lens for the 120mm (6cm by 6cm) negatives.
After doing an initial test strip, here is the print I did with the aperture moved down a couple of stops from the brightest aperture to f/8:
You’ll see that its quite dark and doesn’t have much contrast. I also was annoyed at the fact there were dust/hair marks on the photo, which I hadn’t noticed on the negative. I currently use a cheap plastic air blower but I’m seriously considering investing in the more powerful aerosol type of blower as I think that will do a better job of getting rid of unwanted hair/dust as I don’t think my current one works very well.
I decided from this initial print that I wanted more contrast in the photo and also to be lighter.
I had learnt about contrast filters at my college course and thankfully the community darkroom has the Ilford Multigrade filters that I can add to the condenser lens.
I decided to try a No 3 contrast filter and again, did a test strip. I also removed best I could with the equipment I currently have, any unwanted hair/dust on the negative.
Here is the print I did with an exposure of 40 seconds:
This photo is much brighter than the original one I did but I’ve also lost all the cloud detail.
I looked at my test strip again and decided to do another print with the same No 3 contrast filter and a slightly longer exposure time of 50 seconds:
This resulted in a slightly darker photo (as you would expect) but there still wasn’t much cloud definition.
I decided at this point that I perhaps didn’t want so much contrast so changed the contrast filter to No 2 and did another test strip. I did the following photo with an exposure of 80 seconds:
I was much happier with this photo in the fact it was lighter than the original one I did and that it had the cloud definition.
I wanted to next experiment with a No 2.5 contrast filter just to see the difference but I unfortunately ran out of time in my darkroom session so will have to try that next time.
Although the photos aren’t perfect yet, I’m really enjoying the whole process of experimenting and the trial and error.
I noticed on this final photo that more dust had managed to somehow get onto the negative which shows in certain areas of the photo so I really do need to find a way of making sure I can fully clean the negative. I do also wear white fabric gloves when handling the negatives to avoid finger marks.
I look forward to blogging more about my darkroom sessions as I learn more.
In some of my previous blog posts I talked about taking a darkroom photography course at Varndean College in Brighton where I had an introduction to Black and White photography and developing my own contact sheets and prints etc.
I took the initial course in the Summer 2018 and ended up enjoying it so much that I signed up to do the course again in September 2018.
After I finished the second course at the beginning of November, I wasn’t quite sure whether I would want to do any more developing of my own prints and wondered if I could settle for digital prints instead.
However, by the end of December I realised I was really missing the darkroom process and the buzz I got from developing my own black and white prints.
I knew in Brighton that there is a community darkroom that I could join so I could continue developing my own prints without having to do any further courses at Vardean college and I wouldn’t have the initial expense of having to set up my own darkroom at home.
Also, the college only caters for 35mm film photography and I have recently been working more with medium format photography (120mm negatives) so require an enlarger that will work with both 35mm and 120mm negatives.
Thankfully the community darkroom was able to meet these requirements with their enlarger.
They use a Durst DA 900 Enlarger and have the equipment I require to develop my own prints such as the developing chemicals, a place to hang prints to dry, masking frames etc., although you need to bring your own photographic paper.
They charge £25 per month for use of the darkroom which is open 24 hours and I plan to use it at least 1-2 times per week for a minimum of 4 hours at a time so for me, I think its great value for money.
I look forward to blogging further about using the darkroom over the next few months and how I’m finding it.