In my first article for 35mmc I mentioned Jorge Otero’s fabulous little Lumenbox, which has become one of my very favorite cameras. When I ordered my Lumenbox, Jorge kindly included two Lumenbox lenses for me to experiment with. Lumenbox lenses are simple plastic meniscus lenses that offer a lot of distortion and chromatic aberration, just my cup of tea.
One of the lenses that Jorge sent me had a 27mm focal length that he thought might adapt well to my Barnack style Canon IVSb2 rangefinder. With the lens to film plane distance (flange focal distance) of the Canon being 28.8mm, my thought was that I could drill out a screw on body cap to the right aperture and mount the lens to the inside of the body cap with black tac (a stronger version of blue tac), and hopefully that would work.
I don’t have a drill press so drilling out one of the aluminum body caps I had was a total disaster. I bought a plastic body cap off Ebay and proceeded to drill it at the proper diameter to give an aperture of about f/2.8. The Lumenbox uses an aperture of f/4 and many of the shots have a lovely glow to them when the light source is strong. I guessed that if I opened the aperture up a tad more, I might get even more glow and distortion.
Idiot that I am, I did another bad job of drilling and drilled the aperture hole slightly off center. Oh well, that was the only plastic body cap I had. I just went for it and mounted the lens to the cap.
At the time, the only 35mm film I had was a roll of Rollei Retro 400, a film I’ve really taken to, it’s innately high contrast and often gives me the darker skies that I prefer, even without a filter. It seemed though that with a fixed aperture of 2.8 and a film with an ISO of 400, shooting the first roll inside might be a good idea.I have to say, the results exceeded my expectations, the photographs were glowy and distorted in a way that was just what I was looking for. You can see those results in an article I wrote for Emulsive here.
After shooting a few rolls of black and white with the 27mm Lumenbox lens I started to wonder what kind of results I might get with color film? I really wanted to shoot color outside with this combo but I realized I needed a very low ISO film to shoot outside.
I wasn’t able to find a lot in the way of low ISO color films (it just occurred to me that I could use something like Fuji Velvia and pull it a couple stops, but that didn’t occur to me at the time, and I’m still not sure how well that would work). I was able to locate two low speed color films; The Film Photography Project Low Iso Color with an ISO of 1.6 and FPP Blue Ultra with an ISO of 3. I bought a roll of each and decided that I’d start with Blue Ultra as its ISO of 3 seemed a little friendlier for shooting sans tripod than the 1.6 of Low Iso Color.
For this shoot, I really had my fingers crossed. Blue Ultra seemed to be a very quirky film with a mostly dull blue cast to almost everything but with reds that could really pop. I went out with pretty low expectations. It turns out that the shots from this roll were definitely a mixed bag. Some of the photos were rendered in a dull sickly green, but a few of them had a more vibrant blue and reds that did indeed pop. Below are some of the better shots from that roll.
A version of this article was originally published in my humble little blog The Daily Lumenbox. Thanks for reading this far!