I have always been fascinated with panorama photos. With a background in filmmaking, there are of course many examples of exciting compositions in the wide format. Now, these 5 frames are nothing to do with panoramas, quite the opposite really. But the film in question was purchased by me to be used in my TLR camera to make panoramas.
The Agfa ASP 400S is a 35mm film. It is unperforated (no sprocket holes), to be used in traffic surveillance cameras (of which I know nothing). Being unperforated it is very useful if one, like me, has an inquisitive eye. I’ve used it in medium format cameras (both 120 and 127-format), loaded it into 126-film (Instamatic) cassettes and am considering slicing it up the middle to use in my 110-film cassettes.
Now to the camera in question: The Vito is a 35 mm folding camera sold from 1945 on. My specimen suffered from severe light leaks and a single shutter speed of something like 1/30 ~ 1/50th of a second. Mending the light leaks is a work in progress, as you can see.
Anyway, I looked into the history of the camera since I noticed that the winding spool (is that the correct term?) prevalent in basically all 35mm cameras was missing. Instead there was a slightly knurled spool.
The story goes thus: Originally designed for a 35 mm film type that exposed a larger part of the negative – an unperforated film – the outbreak of war halted production of both camera and film type. After the war, the film type was discontinued so the cameras had to be redesigned for use with the more established perforated 35 mm film. The only thing left from the old design was the winding spool without sprockets.
I decided to travel back in time. To do so I enlarged the film window by saw, pliers and file. I loaded the camera with Agfa ASP 400S and ended up with a camera that never saw the light of day until now (and in that design studio at Voigtländer in 1939).
Again, please excuse the light leaks, their mending are a work in progress.
Using an old camera like the Vito is something which infuses me with joy. I am of the stock of persons that have a strong emotional connection to the (imagined) past, aquired through physical objects. But in the case of photography also the act of using the cameras and technology/techniques does one perform a sort of time-travel. Most of my photography filters down to making photos that feel timeless (more in emotion than quality, perhaps). That’s why I rarely leave black & white territory.
I hope you enjoy the photographs!
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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