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dudler’s latest blog : the chase challenge

The Chase Challenge

3 Sep 2020 10:06AM  
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Different minds work in different ways… My instinct, when I see a camera, is to want to use it: but my friend Janet – fellow member of the Critique Team, Chase – photographs it.

So, when someone locally was looking for a new home for her late husband’s Gnome enlarger and some darkroom accessories, I loaded them into my car and trekked across to the far side of the Midlands to deliver them – and also to see how someone who makes an art of still life works.

Spoiler alert: we agreed not to embarrass each other, and so there are no photographs of the proceedings. Suffice it to say that there’s a room with a clearer floor than any in my house, and a backdrop and table in one corner, and a Mac workstation in the opposite one.

You will, no doubt, be seeing the enlarger on this site in the next few weeks. I wasn’t tempted to plug it in – it’s still wearing the braided cloth cable that it wore when it came out of the Gnome factory in (I’m guessing) the late Fifties or early Sixties, with the original torpedo switch. PAT cleared? I think not!

When we opened the box with the paper masking frame in it, there were a load of prints along with the LPL easel: these have gone back to the donor, who recognised many of the subjects. The other accessories included dishes, a read Paterson safelight, and a Paterson 35mm developing tank, a Mark II, a Nebro measuring cylinder (just like the one I still use, that was part of my first day of developing, 25-12-67…)

With the enlarger, it was love at first sight: I am sure that you’ll be seeing an HDR image or two before long, and the safelight (which I was willing to plug in and switch on) may end up illuminating something as well as making a walk-on appearance in a darkroom tableau.

There’s a little kicker to the day, though. Towards the end of my visit, Janet produced a small camera case: the canvas sort that Brownie cameras lived in. Inside was a rather weird Kodak camera. It’s essentially a box camera, but the only viewfinder is a wire frame at the front that pulls out, and it’s mainly metal (an awful lot of box cameras were largely made of wood and card for cheapness and lightness: this is the exception).

The Chase Challenge – ‘go and take some pictures with this, John’ – and it’s costing me! It’s still possible to get 127 film, but it costs as much as slide film does: best part of £15 per roll, and it’s a brand I’ve never heard of.

There will be more in a week or so, when I’ve got the film and had a chance to use and develop a roll. At more than £1 a frame, I shall be taking a great deal of care!

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