Framing the subject with my Yashica 24
I am out and about with my Yashica 24, to day looking for worthy subjects for the 12 frames I have loaded. The Yashica is a TLR (twin lens reflex) camera from the 1950s. The 24 is armed with a fixed Yashinon 80mm F3.5 lens which has the reputation of being some of the best glass of its era. We shall see. The Yashica also has a match needle light meter which I am hoping will prove to be reasonably accurate but I also have my Twinmate Sekonic in the bag to check light conditions. The 24 is designed for 220 film which is very hard to find, sometimes available through E-bay but is usually expired and you can have no idea of it's integrity. So, I am using 120 black & white film today. The difference between the 2 is 220 only has a leader and trailer backing paper but no backing paper behind the entire length of film, whereas 120 film has backing paper all the way. This will make 120 film slightly thicker. The 24 has a factory imprinted 120 film start mark which would indicate OK to use 120 film. Of course with 120 film there are only 12 6x6 frames and on 220 film there are 24 6x6 frames. The 120 is running through nicely with no hang ups, the only rider being the need to shoot 12 blank frames to bring the Yashica's winding mechanism to 24. The exposed roll can now be safely removed.
My photographic genre of choice is architecture and today I am looking for building features rather than entire structures. Chimneys, window and door details, front gates and interesting steps. Shortly, some nice moss covered steps come into view. These are a perfect subject, especially for black and white. I open the waist level finder which gives a bright view of the steps framed up between the red viewfinder grid lines. Easy to get things straight with these. Activate the light meter which tells me I will be over exposed. I am shooting at F11 which will give good depth of field so I need to increase the shutter speed. 1/125 brings the light meter match needle to
co-incide with the actual reading. Focus, bringing the split prism image into sharp view. Advance the film which also cocks the shutter and hit the shutter release. I start to appreciate that the Yashica will be easy and intuitive to use. Not too complicated. Wandering on up the street there is a magnificent Pohutukawa with a unique spiral curving trunk. It must be several hundred years old as its crown is way above. Our local tuis love it, honking and calling, perched among the top branches from early morning. The curving trunk is a natural subject for the Yashica as I wind another frame forward. Taking a light reading from the dark trunk the Yashica is indicating 1/30 shutter which I feel is too slow so I do a check with the twinmate which tells me I can get accurate exposure at F4 and 1/60. Much better. The shallow depth of field using the wider aperture of F4 is ideal for this type of detailed image. The Yashica light meter was fooled by the narrow dark reading taken from the trunk ignoring infill light around the sides of the frame. Hope I am right, but I won’t have my answer until developing day. Never mind, I am quietly confident. I must say the Yashica is so quiet you would wonder if the shutter had released at all. From this view point, a great street shooter, except for the general awkwardness of the TLR design. Around the corner now and on up the main road where I know there is a pair of magnificent 19th century iron gates. Beautifully rusted with great age patina. Yes, there they are, half open which is how I am hoping to find them. The scene is slightly dark from surrounding overhanging trees so again, a good test for the Yashica light meter. The gates are reflecting more light than their surrounds so, light meter on, Yashica tells me F5.6 at 1/60 and confirmed by the twin mate. I expected the Yashica to be fooled by the Pohutukawa trunk and I am happy now that the Yashica has proven accurate 2 out 3 shots. Around the next corner we come across a 19th century 2 storey duplex. Quite unusual and rare in such good condition. Definitely a subject for the Yashica with the bay window detail exactly the subject I am looking for. This is also a test for the light meter again as the building is black with white timber joinery. The day is bright with the sun nearly overhead but slightly behind. The black building structure will absorb light and once again the Yashica says F4 at 1/30. I am sure this will overexpose so checking with the twin mate which shows F5.6 at 1/30. Even the Sekonic finds this one difficult. I can go with F5.6 but set the shutter at 1/125. Probably underexposed now and I would rather under than over. Some work in photoshop can recover shadows more easily than blown highlights. Well, that is my 12 frames and I am pleasantly surprised at how easy the Yashica is to operate out in the field. A definite must is a hand held meter to check those exposures and subject to developing day, the 70 year old light meter is good.