The Traveling Yashica: Duncan Waldron (Camira, Australia)

By Duncan Waldron

A peripatetic camera? Used by sundry folk on a short-term loan basis? That sounds interesting…

The quirkiness of this project appealed to me when I stumbled across it, so I raised my metaphorical hand. It’s not that I particularly wanted to shoot with this, or any other, camera; rather, I saw it as an opportunity to get out and take some pictures just because someone was expecting it. Often, like my occasional writing efforts, my photography happens when the muse calls, and for far too long she has either been calling elsewhere or I’ve become deaf to her invitations.

I received the T5 just after a house move, so using it took a back seat due to all the other stuff that was happening (sorry Hamish, and those waiting for it after me). However, I eventually stirred myself and loaded the Black Beast.

I have to confess that it wouldn’t have been my first choice for a camera, although I generally subscribe to the view that the best camera is the one you have on you. My first 3 cameras, over 40 years ago, used 620 or 120 rollfilm (a Brownie and 2 TLRs), and I soon came to the conclusion that I wanted reflex viewing, preferably of the single-lens variety, so that I could see exactly what I would be shooting. Still, I have shot compacts, rangefinders, SLRs, TLRs, monorail view cameras and DIY pinhole cameras of various formats since then, so I consider myself flexible if nothing else. How bad could it be?

Bracken | 1500px

On my first waving a trigger finger near the button, the shutter fired. “That’s right, someone did mention that…” Lesson learned. I’ll spare you that first pic, although it was no disaster. What to shoot though? I’ve always found it hard to describe my photography when asked. I’ll shoot the landscape, but not in the Ansel Adams mould. I’m too ponderous in my picture making, so Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment is unlikely to be caught by my lens. I look for pictures wherever my fancy takes me, be it a typical vista or an easily-overlooked detail. I like chiaroscuro, texture and a strong graphical element. And, it seems, I like a monochrome result. But I had a cassette of Ektar that I’d bought several years before and never got around to using, so this time the pics would be in colour.

Dusk planetarium 1500px
Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium at dusk

I prefer to shoot inanimate objects, but am fascinated by street photography. I very rarely shoot people unless either forced or by some trick of light or circumstance I am impelled to do so. I confess to a certain degree of GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome – and may fall in love with the mechanics of a camera, or some other technical, aesthetic or ergonomic feature. I’m sad to say, therefore that the T5 left me cold. I disliked having no control over focus and exposure settings, but I did like that it had a Zeiss Tessar lens. Maybe I didn’t like the plastic. Unlike many others who have used it before me, I won’t be grabbing one if I come across it in a shop or elsewhere.

In looking at the scans, there seems to be noticeable vignetting in blue skies, and I’m not convinced that the focus was always as sharp as I’d have liked (I can see grain in the scans, so it’s not that). However, I can live with moderate vignetting. I have only recently acquired a Canon 9000F MkII though, and just started to get to grips with scanning negs, so perhaps there is yet room for improvement in that department. It does seem that the lens copes with flare remarkably well, so that’s something: one image, where I thought I’d hidden the sun behind a branch, clearly had our nearest star in view, but while it was blazing away and reduced the overall contrast somewhat, I reckon I could have dealt with it if I’d really wanted to use that pic.

Up a gum tree II 1500px Scum 1500px Ephemera 1500px

10, 15 years ago, I always carried a camera in the car, in case anything happened that I really wanted to record. It rarely did, but there was that one lightning shot, caught on the Taron VL that was the car-camera of the moment. Previously I’d kept the Minolta 7s under the seat, and I forget what before that. I liked the Taron, but possibly because it was fully manual and I could make it do what I wanted (since then, I’ve hacked the lens off it and turned it into a 35mm pinhole cam). Automation is great, if you can have some influence over it (I almost always used my Canon EF on auto – shutter priority, being a Canon – but always watching the viewfinder info to see what the camera was wanting to do, and tweaking it if necessary), but I dislike it as the only option.

Old gate 1500px
Architectural salvage yard

Thanks to Hamish for setting up this experiment. If he wants to send an M3 around the globe, I’ll be very happy to give that  a good trial, secure in the knowledge that I’ll like it very much – despite lack of reflex viewing.

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About The Author

By Duncan Waldron
15 years a pro, but that was in the last millennium! Been taking photos since the early 70s, though not with the same gusto as we went into this millennium. A little excited by old cameras. Now on Bluesky rather than Twitter:
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The Traveling Yashica - 35mmc on The Traveling Yashica: Duncan Waldron (Camira, Australia)

Comment posted: 17/10/2015

[…] Photos Morten Sillesen – Denmark. Duncan Waldron – Forest Lake, Qld, Australia – Photos John Weed – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Weldon Poapst – Ottawa, […]

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