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A Random Anecdote

I take the 6 train home every night from the 28th street station.

Rolleiflex 3.5 in hand along with some Portra 400 (pushed to 800).

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Union Square is the main transfer station. All of the lines come together. It’s hot and muggy. Usually heat rises. But the reverse is the case in the subway, the lower you go, the sweatier it gets.
Out of the corner of my eye were red sequins. A man in a wheelchair had a plaid suit on, bright red pants, a red sequin bow-tie and matching sequin shoes. Friends… I’d struck gold.

But he was moving quick and my Rolleiflex doesn’t focus fast. It took me a moment even to walk as fast as he was pushing the wheels on his wheelchair.

I noticed he was taking the elevator down to the NQR Uptown line. So I went down the stairs and waited upon his arrival.

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And off he went, down the length of the platform. I followed behind, all the while visualizing a nice portrait shot of him and his getup, with a speeding train behind.

But my ideas never came true. He kept moving, even after the train came to a fullstop. He boarded and parked in front of the doorway, facing out the door window. Not much room for me to squeeze in between the bars…

He’s too close and within my minimum focusing distance. I can’t backup anymore. Oh well… we’ve now ridden to Times Square and he’s about to get off. I’ll pull the trigger.

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What next? Why not incorporate the elevator again? It’s the only time when he’s still enough to shoot.

Well, I found the elevator and raced up the stairs, well ahead of him. I thought of standing right in front of the doors and shooting him as a surprise. But I didn’t like the idea. I didn’t want the confrontation.

I noticed a path leading from the elevator to the main tunnel. So I knew where he’d be passing. I got low and waited.

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And off he went. I trailed a little behind to see if he’d slow down enough for another shot. He never did, but I felt satisfied. I got on another train and went home.

My dad would always preface some story with, ‘We were settin therr and…’ (commence the story).

So I was settin there, watching youtube videos as is my wont and came across a Polaroid video. The wheels in the brain started turning and I remembered there was a camera, setting there, on my shelf that came with a Polaroid pack film holder.

Digging through camera stuff, I found the pack holder and LO! she had film in her. Thus is my first Polaroid shot, taken on the balcony:
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Because I didn’t know when it would’ve expired and because I didn’t know what was going on, I exposed the ever-loving-crud out of it. But it’s kinda fun.

Some details:

The Camera – Hasselblad 903 SWC. So the photos are 6×6 and it won’t cover the entire frame. Hence the black area but the one lone square on the upper left corner of the frame.

So I wandered around China Town and shot a bunch of Polaroids. Some of these are cropped to the size of the 6×6 frame, and others are just allowing in the outer un-exposed positive.

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A couple of notes: the second to last one is a quarter of a second long exposure. The last one is of a buddy who got a purple banana-hammock-bike for $30 off some schmoe in Brooklyn.

If you get an opportunity to shoot polaroids, do it. Much more fun and better than instagram.

I drone 0n and on about medium format this and that… but 35mm really is easier. Easier to shoot, carry, scan, develop… And digital is probably easier than 35mm…

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Three things I suppose that are noteworthy about the image.

1) It shows what a 135mm F3.5 Nikkor AIS can do on the subway.

2) The Sepia tone is from the scan. And I like it.

3) This is the first time I’ve scanned with the sprocket holes in the film. You can see I shot with Ilford FP4 Plus. And that it’s scanned emulsion side down. It should be reversed.

Some members on Rangefinderforum.com have been speculating on why the Fuji 690 series is not so popular here in the states.

  • Never strongly marketed to the US consumer.
  • Fuji never gained the notoriety of Leica or Hasselblad (the former having lots of famous photographer adopters and the latter going to the moon).
  • It’s an admittedly big and bulky camera.
  • More reasons on the forum here.

But, all of that doesn’t stop me from loving mine. Here’s a shot from the other day:
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One consequence of having such an unpopular camera is that there are few resources to help you service and use it. I could pay Nippon Photo Clinic to do it, but rangefinders were designed to make it easy to change the alignment. So let’s forgo the $30 expense, take five minutes and just do it.

Note – this should work the *exact* same way for a Fuji G690 or BL690 and probably the same way for a GW690.

#1 – Prepare Thine Throne

I like to have a clean workspace with some quality tools. You’ll need:

  1. precision screwdriver set
  2. wrench or vise grip with rubber pads
  3. paper towel and water
  4. hands with opposable thumbs

#2 – Remove the Shutter Collar and Winder

I’m not really sure it’s called the ‘shutter collar’ but it sounds reasonable so lets go with it. It’s basically a collar that surrounds the shutter release on the top of the camera. You have to unscrew it and then remove the thumb winder and its assorted bits.

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Since the shutter collar is smooth, it can be difficult to remove. I use a visegrip along with a couple of pads of rubber. Using a wrench without rubber would work, but it would chew up the chrome.

#3 – Unscrew the Four Screws on the Top Plate

There are four screws holding the top plate to the camera. Just easily remove them and set them aside. Now remove the top plate. It take a little bit of pressure for it to come off, but just work one side at a time until it does.

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#4 – Horizontal Alignment Adjustment

Now you’re ready for some horizontal adjustment. Go to the front of the camera. There are two screws next to the RF patch mirror window (mine are rusted). Notice the tiny copper colored flathead screw in between them. This is your adjustment screw.

I set my lens at infinite and started playing with different directions of turning and seeing how that impacted the RF patch. If memory servers, turning this clockwise moved my RF patch to the right. The adjustment is very fine-grained so I had to give it about one full turn. After I got it nailed down at infinite, I gave myself a sanity check. I measured 7 feet of distance between myself and a chair, set my lens at 7 feet (the closest my 150mm lens will go) and looked at the rangefinder. It was spot on :-).
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See those lines on the right in the photo? Yep, those illuminate the framelines in the viewfinder.

#5 – Vertical Alignment Adjustment

Now you’ll have to remove the top plate of the rangefinder assembly. Not difficult. There are two screws on the top which need to be removed. There’s a third screw in the upper left hand corner but no need to touch this one. The mirror sitting on a circular piece of metal is what we’re after (notice it on the right hand side of the photo). There’s a small silver flathead screw behind the mirror. This is not* as finely grained as the horizontal alignment and a quarter turn threw off the alignment pretty significantly.

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#6 – Window cleaning

Now with your alignment all setup, why not clean all of the windows that let in the light to your RF?

I cleaned four windows:

  1. External main viewfinder window within the top plate (clean both sides)
  2. RF patch external window within the top plate (clean both sides)
  3. Front internal main viewfinder window – I only cleaned the outside. In order to clean the inside, I would have to disassemble more items and there was no need.
  4. Rear internal main viewfinder window – The same as above, I only cleaned the outside and didn’t want to disassemble more bits.

Now you could have some significant haze within your viewfinder. Depending on what glass that haze lives on, will dictate how much work you have to do. Likely it’s on one (or more) of the four aforementioned windows. In which case, cleaning is a breeze.

You’re camera should be sharp and as good as new.

One photo can make you miss previously owned stuff.

Well, to be honest I don’t remember if this was shot with the Pentax 67 or the Mamiyz RZ 67. I guess I miss the Pentax more. So let’s just say it was shot with the Pentax :-).

A funny quote I read the other day:

“Ostensibly, [street photography with a Medium Format camera] is already perhaps not the most practical of ideas; if one is extremely masochistic, things can be compounded further into the really bad idea class by using film. And a manual focus camera. Without a meter. I think it takes a certain amount of insanity – or at least a healthy dose of optimism – to even attempt it.” – Ming Thein in this blog post.


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I’ll admit it. Holy crap I’ve been missing shooting! I’ve shot a bit with my new 4×5 but now enough and most of what I did shoot wasn’t good or had errors (double exposure… not the right exposure etc).

So I’ve been carrying my trusty Nikon F3 along with the 135mm lens and just loving it. I’ve missed it.

Also, I got a new scanner. The Epson 4990. I scanned a lot of these as contact sheets. Not really worrying about the scans and just plopping them right on the glass. It shows a lot of scratches and isn’t precise at all but I don’t care.

Enjoi 🙂
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