Photo of the Week

I have this habit of selling old cameras and then regretting it.  Usually I finish the roll off, sell the camera, then get the prints back and realize it was a great camera and I had lots of great shots from it.  Then comes the regret….  What does this have to do with this week’s photo? Well it’s taken with my Yashica 124G, and it’s the second straight roll I’ve scanned and realized I wasn’t excited about any of the pictures.  I mean there are a few good ones, but nowhere near as many keepers as from my other cameras.  Of course it’s not the cameras fault, it works flawlessly, it just doesn’t work with my style I guess.


Anyways, that was a long intro… Photo taken in Paris on Fuji Reala with my soon to be former Yashica 124G TLR.

Photo of the Week

Taken in Paris, using my Yashica 124G.  So many small cars all around, found it unique that two identical but contrasting cars were parked together.  Lined them up so the door would be in the centre…. now if only someone had come out the door as I took the picture…

Yashica TLR Light Seal Repair

I bought a Yashica 124G a couple of years ago off of Ebay.  It was an amazing deal as the seller spelt Yashica incorrectly, so I was the sole bidder (he also listed it in the “film” section, not the “film camera” section).  The camera arrived in absolute mint condition except for a small scratch on the back and a non-working light meter.  On a Yashica TLR, the light meter turns on when you open the top.  Upon taking the top apart, it was discovered that the switch was simply sticky from having sat closed for many years.  It’s always nice when it’s a simple repair!

I’ve taken many rolls of film with the Yashica, both 120 and 220.  Something I could never figure out was that I often got strange red stripes across my pictures.  This only ever happened on colour film.  I initially suspected the film as I had some rolls of 220 that were recently expired but always cold stored, as well as some rolls I got off ebay that were incredibly cheap.  I asked around and a few mentioned xray damage, but nothing conclusive.  Finally I posted the question on the I Shoot Film group on Flickr.  For those of you who have never used the groups on flickr, I find they are an amazing resource as you get answers to your questions from across the globe.  As you can see, 8 replies later and the problem was solved!

Turns out the colour film I was using was all 220, meaning there is no paper backing for the majority of the film.  The red streak was actually because of a light leak, likely on the top hinge.

I compared the light seal in my Yashica (what was left of it) to my Seagull (used in the Pan-o-gull experiment).  The Seagull actually uses black yarn as a light seal, leading me to believe that I didn’t need to buy a special Yashica light seal kit.  A search of the net brought me to this site which suggested that you could replace the seals with some sticky back felt which I just happened to have left over from the Pin-Cube.

Using a cutting mat and straight edge, I cut strips of black felt.  I then set about cleaning out the old left over light seal off of the camera. What was left of the seal was bits of sticky black foam.  There wasn’t much left but it still made a mess.  The professional light seal kits come with a “special tool”.  It’s basically a slim piece of wood to help push the seal into the grove. I simply took a bbq skewer and with a chisel shaved the end flat so that it would fit in the grove.  To remove the stickiness I used mineral spirits. Not sure if this is the best thing to use, but I had it lying around and it seemed to work ok.

It was a bit tricky getting the new felt into the thin groves around the camera, but with a bit of patience, I was able to get it all in in under 15 minutes.  Once finished, I realized how bad the old seals were and I’m sure the new felt can only be a huge improvement.  Looking back at some old 120 BW negs from this camera it was obvious that it was actually leaking along both sides as well, not enough to affect the pictures, but it was only going to get worse.

As far as DIY camera repair goes, this was a pretty simple job, highly recommend anyone with this issue to try the repair themselves.

The Pan-o-Gull or Seagullorama

Always a bit daunting to start something new, never know where to begin, in the end I procrastinate for hours debating how to start, where to go, etc, etc.  So for my first post, why not start off with a camera craft of sorts.

I was very fortunate last year to be given an old Seagull TLR from my Uncle.  I took many pictures over the past year, learning to develop the BW ones myself even.  However this spring when I realized the shutter speeds weren’t overly consistent, I jumped onto ebay and found the deal of the century on a Yashica 124G.  Was I hasty in my dismissal of my free camera?  Probably, but I can’t really complain about the Yashica either.

Anyways, back on topic.  I have always wanted (lusted for) a panoramic camera (preferably a Hasselblad Xpan if anyone is interested in buying me a present).  However a brief search made me realize that these gems of cameras cost in the thousands of dollars!  There had to be an easier way.  I’ve tried the crappy 35mm “panoramic” cameras that simply apply a mask over the top and bottom of the neg and give you a panoramic picture, however the neg is also a 1/3 of the original size, and lots of film gets wasted.  Then I had my epiphany, why not insert a mask into the Seagull in order to take horizontal panoramic pictures?  It uses 120 film so if I had a 25mmx60mm mask, I could take 24 panoramic pics/roll.


I looked on ebay and low and behold you can buy a 6×3 mask, but they cost $95!  So, armed with some black construction paper I found lying around the house and an exacto knife, I set to turn my Seagull into the Pan-O-Gull (or Seagullorama, they both sound catchy…).  After cutting out the mask and inserting into the back of the camera, I then created a similar mask to lay on top of the ground glass.  By making it just the right size, I was able to not have to worry about attaching it to the glass in any way.


Next, I grabbed an old paper backing from a 120 format film (Ilford).  Upon inspection, the first set of circles leading up to the number on the back of the paper is approximately in the middle of the standard 6×6 frame.  With this in mind, I purchased a roll of Ilford FP4+ (ISO 125) and set off to take some pics.


Not to sound pessimistic, but I was pleasantly surprised when all 24 shots turned out (ok I did forget to focus one of them…).  While technically not officially panoramic (most people define this as a 2.5:1 ratio, mine are 2.4:1) they are still pretty good IMHO.  The other difference is pano cams generally use fairly wide angle lenses, whereas mine with the cropping is more of a telephoto lens, an effect I quite like.  You will notice some vertical lines on the negs, I believe they got scratched inside the camera, and not because of the paper mask.


Has it cured my panoramic lust? No. In fact it has increased it, and I find myself trolling ebay ever more for the elusive “cheap” Xpan. One day it will be mine, oh yes…