Thought I'd have a bit of fun this week so I dusted off my 50's vintage Balda Baldix 6x6 folding camera loaded a film and headed down town. We're right back to basics with this camera. Focus distance, aperture, shutter speed all have to be measured and set manually. Film has to be wound on each time and the shutter release cocked. Not exactly point and shoot.
It was a sunny day so I didn't bother too much with the light meter and guesstimated the exposure using 'sunny 16' as a starting point, keeping an eye on shadows and the sun going behind a cloud and adjusting the f stop or speed accordingly. There are only 12 frames on a role of 120 film so you have to think about each shot beforehand. I have worked like this before, back in the 1980s when I started as a trainee press photographer in Manchester. The chief photographer gave me an old
twin lens reflex Mamiya C330 and a couple of lenses to work with at first. Good training, I had to think about every shot and not waste frames. That lasted for about 3 months then the budget for the year had to be spent and I got issued with a new Nikon FM which had the luxury of an exposure meter , a viewfinder where the image wasn't back to front and 36 frames per film. Anyway, back in Trowbridge I took a wander around town with the camera and finished up the roll of black&white film. Once home I had the fun of developing the film- I use a special changing bag to load the film in to the developer tank, so no need for a darkroom, just the bag, the tank, the chemicals and a couple of bull dog clips to hang the film up to dry - a bathroom is best, there's less dust.
This is one of the negatives produced. Now I've got a negative, which is very nice , but needs turning in to a positive. The traditional way would be to have a darkroom set up with enlarger's, trays of chemicals photo paper etc. I have got one of those but it was far too nice a day to be mucking about in the loft. Second option you can scan negatives on a flatbed scanner with a special attachment. I've got one of those too but it takes ages to scan anything and dates back to Windows XP.
Third option, (see above) which is nice and simple, is to put the negative on a lightbox and photograph it with a modern digital camera. The resolution is as good if not better than a scanner and it only takes minutes to do. Once you've photographed the negatives it's a simple matter to upload them onto a computer and then using Photoshop or whatever your favourite image edit program is- find the invert command to turn the negative into a positive.
Once that's done you can play around to your heart's content adjusting the image exactly as you want.
The results below have been edited in Photoshop Elements using Google's free Nik Silver Efex filter plugins. Hope you like the results, the Balda's lens is a bit soft around the edges, but not bad for a 60 year old bit of kit. If you want to know more about the process or fancy having a go yourself, please send any questions to
All images on this page are Copyright of Glenn Phillips www.gphillipsphotography.com and are not to be copied without prior permission.