My aunt picked me up a 1948 Ferrania Rondine box camera (127 format!) at a yard sale a while back and it’s been used sparingly over the years, mostly sitting on a shelf in my house gathering dust.
I don’t shoot too 127 incredibly often, so it’d been a good while since I had last used it. I decided to crack it open and give it a deep clean and bring it along on a little day trip my husband and I were going on with a house guest…and, of course, I left the cleaning until the very last possible second.
Fiddling with teeny tiny screws and lens fluid on the breakfast table while the boys were finishing their toast wasn’t the best idea and in my mad rush to finish everything up before hopping in the car, I miscalculated screwing the main lens glass back onto the body of the camera and got it stuck.
The Rondine is a guess focusing camera and I had jammed the focus on infinity, which really wasn’t the worst position for it to be, especially considering that we were heading out to Antelope Island State Park with the intent of taking in some landscapes and scenery.
The state park is on the southern side of the Great Salt Lake and accessible by a seven-mile causeway through the shallow water. It was a very gray and dreary day with the clouds hanging low to the ground and a few feet of snow still piled along the sides of the road, making the drive along the causeway feel like an adventure into the abyss.
I had some Rera Pan 100 black and white film on me, and when loading it into the Rondine, the backing paper doesn’t fit perfectly onto the take up spool. I’ve had this problem with this camera before and expected light leaks, and I was interested to see how the leaks would frame the images.
We stopped here and there on the road trying to limit our exposure to the elements as it was a very cold day, and I managed to pick up some textured shots of the monochromatic landscape. I also created some unintended double exposures from forgetting to advance the film.
Bison were our main target on this drive since our friend had never seen one before, and usually the park is full of them. They must have been huddled together away somewhere this time and we only caught a glimpse of a few at a distance munching on a snack.
I sent this roll to be processed and scanned at Old School Photo Lab in New Hampshire, and I was pretty pleased with the results.
Overall, handling the Rondine is a bit clumsy and the prism reflex finder takes some time and squinting to get used to, but, as with many box cameras, as long as it gets pointed in the generally correct direction it’ll deliver something close to on target.
These final images feel haphazard–enhanced by the light leaks–but I like it that way, and I think I’ll be packing along this camera more often.
~ Sarah Arnoff
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