Photography

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

I’ve had little time for blogging lately thanks not only to the bathroom remodel (see Friday’s post), but a hard drive crash. Thank goodness I have good backups! But the recovery road has been littered with setbacks and my main machine is still not fully back. What a mess. To give me some time back, I’m rerunning this post from March of 2011. I now own two of these vintage tripods.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1The more old cameras I buy, the more challenging it becomes to store and display them in my little house. Cameras line the mantle of my fireplace, fill a bookcase in my office, and occupy every unclaimed knick-knack-sized spot in my living room. The cameras I don’t have room to display I keep under my bed and in closets. And at the moment, my desk is cluttered with six cameras I bought recently but haven’t used yet.

So I’m ever looking for creative ways to cram in more cameras. I’ve been trolling eBay for reasonably priced vintage tripods, figuring I could could screw old cameras onto them and stand them in underused corners. I had been envisioning wooden tripods, but the first one I found at a nice price was this metal tripod in fine condition. Meet the Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Collapsed, it measures 15½ inches long. Each leg contains three successively narrower sections and you can extend as many of them as you like. Fully extended, the legs are 48½ inches long. Of course, you have to spread the legs enough for the tripod to stand, so effective height is shorter by a few inches. I screwed my Kodak Junior Six-16 Series II to the tripod for this shot.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

The tripod’s head is stamped with the dates of three patents, so I fired up Google Patent Search. It found two of the patents, one that appears to cover the head mechanism and one that describes the mechanism for extending, locking, and releasing the legs. Check out this page from the latter patent.

Here are some of the same details from my tripod.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Opening this tripod is simple – you unhook the leather strap that binds the legs together, and then just pull out the legs until the locking tabs snap into place. You can extend as many or as few of the four leg segments as you want. The legs are made of brass, with the first leg section painted black and the remaining sections plated in nickel. To close the tripod, on each leg you press in the top locking tab and push from the leg’s foot. The other locking tabs give way and the legs collapse in a jiffy. A metal guide is attached to one leg, and you lay other two legs’ feet into the guide’s slots. Then you wrap the leather strap around the legs and hook it closed.

Kodak sold this tripod for at least 26 years. Thanks to Google Books I easily found advertisements for this tripod (and its brothers, the No. 0 and the No. 2) from as early as 1911 (left, below) and as late as 1937 (right). Given that my Junior Six-16 Series II was made sometime from 1934 to 1936, it is contemporary to this tripod and makes a perfect display pair. My Kodak Six-20, which dates to 1932-1937, would also be a good match for this tripod.

I was fortunate that my tripod came with its original box.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Like this post? Share it on social media with the buttons below! And subscribe to get more in your inbox or reader six days a week.    Click here to subscribe!
Standard

Downtown Fishers

Downtown Fishers
Pentax KM, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax
Ferrania P30 Alpha
2017

Do people actually like apartments like these? I know I’m biased against new construction. I feel like it’s all made with Balsa wood and Elmer’s glue. Give me a sturdy older home any day. Except that within every older home lurks half-assed homeowner repairs and renovations that at some point you’re going to have to tear out and do right.

Photography

single frame: Downtown Fishers

.

Image

Construction

Under Construction
Pentax KM, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax
Ferrania P30 Alpha
2017

Downtown Fishers, Indiana, is under construction.

This was once a sleepy little downtown of a few older buildings alongside a railroad track. Fishers started out as just a place to stop along the Nickel Plate Railroad. Now its burgeoning downtown is called the Nickel Plate District. It’s modern urban density, except that it’s in one of Indianapolis’s most popular suburbs.

I rather miss the little houses that used to dot Fishers’s narrow streets.

Photography

single frame: Under construction

.

Image
Photography

Shooting Ferrania P30 Alpha

What a remarkable time for film photographers, with brand new film emulsions coming to market! And I was fortunate to be among the first to receive five rolls of the first production batch of one of those films: Ferrania P30 Alpha.

P30

Ferrania was an Italian company that produced film from 1923 to 2009. For a few decades it was a 3M subsidiary. I shot some store-branded film as a kid where the fine print on the box said it was a 3M product. I never knew it was actually made by Ferrania.

In 2013 a new company took the Ferrania name, bought the old Ferrania plant, and started a Kickstarter to help fund the return to film. Their original goal was to resume production of an old color slide film, Scotch Chrome 100.

I was an early backer of the Kickstarter. And then Ferrania experienced a litany of woes that set their plans back for months that turned into years. The pushed through, and long story short, early this year they announced that their first product would be a black-and-white negative film to be called P30. Even better, backers would be given first dibs to buy some. I plunked my money down straightaway. How often do you get to try a brand new film?

This new film is, however, based on a movie film the old Ferrania used to produce, also called P30. And it’s lovely, with no discernible grain and blacks so deep you could just fall into them.

Flowers

I shot the first of my rolls in my Pentax KM with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens on it. That 55/1.8 is an astonishingly good lens and was a great choice for putting a new film through its paces. Ferrania’s advice was firm: shoot at box speed. So I did.

Railroad Signal

I shot most of the roll on strolls through downtown Fishers, Indiana, where I work. The blazing sun was directly overhead — suboptimal conditions for any film. But P30 handled it all right. I did have to pull out some of the shadow detail in Photoshop. As scanned, the lenses in the blinkers above were completely black And the bed and nightstand in the photo below were largely hidden.

Bedroom Window

Actually, P30 biases toward highlights in a high-contrast situation. I couldn’t bring out any meaningful shadow detail in this photo of a wall light in my family room. Perhaps next time I shoot P30 I will use a camera with more sophisticated metering than the KM’s center-biased averaging system, and see if that helps.

Light

But this characteristic leads P30 to create smashing shadows in daylight. Its low grain creates crisp lines.

In Direct Sunlight

Those shadows are so good! Here are some more for you to admire.

Bike Rack

I’m also impressed with the detail P30 captures. In real life those bricks are a deep red. This rendering of red as deep black appears to be characteristic. An orange filter would probably soften the effect. But here I rather like it.

Apartments

And when you get a little bokeh with the P30, it is ultra creamy.

Twigs and Tea

And I adore the grays I get on mid-toned subjects. I did, however, have to tone the highlights way down to bring out the pavement markings.

Parking

When it comes to black-and-white film, I’m a Kodak guy through and through. I love T-Max and Tri-X. I’ll probably never get over Kodak discontinuing Plus-X. I’ve tried other black-and-white films, and with a couple rare exceptions I haven’t liked any of them.

I’m deeply impressed with Ferrania’s P30 Alpha. I am eager to shoot more of it, hopefully on an overcast-bright day to see how it handles lower-contrast situations.

This film is still experimental, however. Ferrania cautions shooters not to use motorized-winding point-and-shoot cameras, for example, as they’ve been known to break the film. And given the film’s cinema heritage, it requires specific handling. Finally, Ferrania recommends home processing of the film and favors D76 or D96; full details are on this pdf. But Ferrania has worked with a handful of labs worldwide in determining best practices, and for shooters like me who don’t process their own Ferrania recommends sticking to these labs. Fortunately, one of them is Old School Photo Lab, one of my favorites. That’s who processed and scanned this roll.

Meanwhile, Ferrania is still in line to create its color slide film, and I’m still in line to receive some as part of my Kickstarter reward. All kinds of goodness is yet to come!

Standard
Photography

Sons at diners photographed with box cameras

It was going to be a series: photos of my boys leaning on my car in front of various restaurants where we ate dinner. And I was going to use nothing but box cameras. Then I made just two photos. It’s not much of a series.

Boys at Waffle House

Ansco B-2 Cadet, Kodak Ektar 100, 2016

I suppose I could make more, eventually. But now that both boys are out of high school we’ll simply go out together a lot less often. And what are the odds I’ll have a loaded box camera then?

The boys at Perkins

Kodak Six-20, Kodak Verichrome Pan (exp 9/1982), 2016

The boys live near an Interstate highway, so the available restaurants are the chain diners you expect to find at an exit. I have a bunch of dietary restrictions which make ordering at a restaurant tricky. But I can always confidently order the bacon and eggs.

It so happens that I sent both rolls of film to Old School Photo Lab for processing. I didn’t order prints, but they printed these two images anyway and sent them to me for nothing. The prints are truly wonderful! Far better than these scans. Crisper, more vivid. If I didn’t tell you I took them with box cameras, you’d never know.

© 2016-17 Jim Grey. All rights reserved.

Like this post? Share it on social media with the buttons below! And subscribe to get more in your inbox or reader six days a week.    Click here to subscribe!
Standard

Garrett, waiting

Garrett, bored
Pentax ME, SMC Pentax 55mm f/1.8
Kodak T-Max 400
2013

I shot this while we were waiting for his mom to pick him up. She was late, he was bored.

This photo is in my book, Exceptional Ordinary: Everyday Photography with the Pentax ME. If you enjoy this photo, you’ll surely enjoy the book, which you can purchase here.

© 2013-17 Jim Grey. All rights reserved.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.
Photography

single frame: Garrett, bored

.

Image