Home on Mamiya RB67

By Lubomir Drapal

I didn’t even realize it and two years have passed since I published my first and only article on the 35mmc blog. Even then, at the end of the article about my fascination with analog photography and photos from Iceland, I wrote that I had prepared a few series of photos from my native Slovakia and I would like to publish them elsewhere than on Instagram.

What has changed since then? I still use the great Mamiya RB67 camera, to which the Sekor 250mm was added, and I still enjoy analog photography just as much, if not more. I stopped using Kodak TriX because I still have problems printing the cover paper onto the negative. I currently have trouble finding a Berger Pancro 400 in Slovakia, so I stick with the reliable Ilford HP5. I get a lot of questions about light metering and how I deal with it. I use an old Sverdlovsk 4 exposure meter, which is reliable and small in size, but I plan to get a Spot exposure meter and really learn zone metering. I was looking for something from Pentax, as they are quite affordable, but if you have any other tip, I will be glad if you write to me in the comments.

01-Bergger Pancro 400
02-Bergger Pancro 400

As for the photos, they were all taken around my home, that’s why I called the series Home. They characterize the country in which I live, the Súľovské mountains. It is a home that is in the middle of the mountains, you will find interesting rock towns, forests, it is a landscape that is shrouded in mystical fog after rain or in autumn. The mountains are not particularly high, the highest peak Veľký Manín is barely 900m above sea level (890.6 exc.). But they are very accessible, you don’t need to walk all day to get to some interesting place, half an hour is all it takes and you already have wonderful views of the landscape and various rock formations. The international long-distance route E3 even runs through the central part, so you only need to start in Portugal in Cabo de Sao Vicente or Cádiz and you can walk 6,950 km through the Súľovské vrchy to Istanbul… Of course, if you want to wander all day, or spend the night in the forest, or at some viewpoint, is not a better place.

03-Bergger Pancro 400
04-Bergger Pancro 400
05-Bergger Pancro 400

The photos from this series were also created under different circumstances and during several visits. I almost always wear Mamyia on a trip in the mountains, whether I’m going specifically to take photos or just for a walk. There were days when I didn’t take any pictures, even though the forecast promised a foggy morning and great conditions. But over the years I spent behind the lens, I have already learned that it is not necessary to bring a photo from every trip and it is much more important to enjoy every moment spent in nature. Even if you carry all the equipment on your back completely unnecessarily. And then there will be a situation where, at the end of the summer, you and a good friend will spend the night at the viewpoint on Veľký Manín. You don’t plan to take pictures, even if you carry the equipment, of course, what if by accident. On the way out, you are so engrossed in the debate that you get lost in the forest. When you finally find the way, it’s already dark, but you’ll still enjoy a great evening. Then you lie in the hammock, a million stars above your head and fall asleep with the feeling of a well-spent day. And you wake up in the morning, fog below you, an inversion rolling over the houses scattered across the valley, and you don’t know what to do first to take pictures.

06-Bergger Pancro 400
07-Bergger Pancro 400
08-Bergger Pancro 400

What I like best about this wandering around the mountains is the feeling of surprise, which is already so special nowadays. I remember how I discovered the aforementioned viewpoint on Veľký Manín, whose highest peak is wooded and there is no view from it. Today, almost everyone knows it thanks to Instagram, but in the past, if no one told you about it, you had no way of finding out about it. And you only discovered it by wandering through the forest, trying new paths. And to this day, I still remember the feeling when I set out on a barely visible path and the forest suddenly parted and I was standing on a rock, with an abyss below me and the entire valley to myself.

09-Bergger Pancro 400
10-Bergger Pancro 400
11-Bergger Pancro 400
12-Bergger Pancro 400

And I try to discover similar places for myself all the time. Sometimes it leads to a dead end – in the sense that it is impossible to go any further – but I still manage to find a place where I have not been and from which the view is not so overlooked.

13-Bergger Pancro 400
14-Bergger Pancro 400
15-Bergger Pancro 400
16-Bergger Pancro 400
17-Ilford HP5 400

As I wrote above, the mornings here are often shrouded in fog in the fall, which are ideal conditions for working with a long focal length. That’s why my selection also includes photos taken with the Sekor 250mm. All digitized and edited in Lightroom. As the fog scenes are not very contrasty, I was curious how the film would handle it and how the final images would look. To my surprise, they came out exactly as I imagined. When contrasted, the film grain and overall mystical atmosphere stood out even more. A higher quality scan would perhaps benefit the images even more and it could be done with even higher quality, but my next goal is to work towards similar, if not better, results in a darkroom on some warm baryta paper. Winter is coming, so it’s the perfect time to experiment and try. So, in addition to taking photos of winter scenery, I plan to devote a little more time to the positive process and make a series of photos on paper. I am very much looking forward to it and if I get a result that I am satisfied with, I will prepare a separate article about it. I believe it will be sooner than in two years…

18-Bergger Pancro 400
19-Bergger Pancro 400
20-Bergger Pancro 400
21-Bergger Pancro 400
22-Bergger Pancro 400
23-Bergger Pancro 400

Thank you for reading

 

If you’re interested, you can also follow me on Instagram

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Comments

Philip Huber on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 18/12/2023

Absolutely fascinating images, you definitely managed to capture the mystic atmosphere. I especially like picture 07, it looks like it was taken at the end of the world.
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Roger on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

There are some memorable photos here. I am impressed by the consistent style - celebrating the grain and the high contrast where lots of people (including me) would have smoothed out the grain.
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Jim Evidon on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

I purchased an old but working Gossen Luna Star F Spot Meter. It is smaller than the others and vewry easy to use. The spot head ( 5 degrees) comes off and it can be used as a regular non-spot meter. It is a good meter and pretty pocketable. BTW, your images are stunning.
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Gus on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

These are absolutely beautiful. I love the contrast of the smooth wispy fog and the hard rock formations. Inspiring!
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Louis Sousa on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Epic!
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Brad Hurley on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Gorgeous photos, beautiful and inspiring work. If you are looking for a good spot meter, I can recommend the one from Reveni Labs. It has a mode for Zone-system metering, in which you can sample each zone and it'll average them for you. You can also do a simpler averaging of just the highlights in which you want to preserve detail plus the shadows in which you want to preserve detail, which takes less time (good for when the light is changing rapidly). The only drawback is that it is not water-resistant so you will need to keep it protected if shooting in rainy weather.
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Giuseppe Papale on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

beautiful images, impeccably exposed. I don't think you need a spot light meter. Giuseppe
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Murray Leshner replied:

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Very nice photos. Makes me want to try my RB67 again, but I fear the weight and the foam light trap seals. The Reveni spot meter purchase link on their website gives me a 503 network error. I'll try again someday or probably forget. I have had several of the old Pentax 1/21 analog spot meters, most given to me because they were inoperative as a result of battery leakage. There was a 9V battery for one range and a 1.35 V mercury cell, IIRC for the other range. The 9V one can leak and reaches the analog meter movement. Except when in use, the spot meter tends to be stored horizontally and the battery leakage then migrates. The D'Arsonval meter gets stuck from the contamination and eventually corrosion. I had one that was intermittent and one that was fine. I really did like that meter and got a few years use out of it. I dropped it hauling a pile of gear to my car with winter gloves. That meter movement jammed. Thank you for sharing those images. I would probably have gotten lost in the forest.

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Harry Weide on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

If you want to consider something non-vintage for a spot meter, have a look at the one from Reveni Labs. https://www.reveni-labs.com/spotmeter I don't have one, but it's been on my wish list for a while, and I'll probably break down and buy one early in 2024. There are lots of reviews and how-tos on YouTube and elsewhere. Not inexpensive, but neither are the decades-old Pentax meters. It's also tiny, which is good when you're already hauling a large camera. Great photos, by the way. I've bookmarked the post for future visits. Inspires me to be more active with my Bronica GS-1 (also 6x7).
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Erik Brammer on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Wonderful, Lubomir, chapeau!!!
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Simon Casson on Home on Mamiya RB67

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

A stunning selection of images Lubomir - thank you for sharing them and the story around their capture.
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Reggie Johnson replied:

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Great photographs! I just got an RB 67 & making sure I understand how it all works... quite a bit different from my film Nikons even though they helped me get my RB 67 & some accessories! Looking forward to my test roll. Hope there are no light leaks. Lots to learn. Thanks for the photos. Reggie

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