5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Minolta SRT 101b and a MC Rokkor-HG 35mm f/2.8 – By Peter Roberts

April 29, 2021

I would be the first to admit that I haven’t taken advantage of the recent need to stay local by investigating the photographic possibilities of what lies but a short distance from my front door. However, pleased with the results achieved when using up my small stock of expired FP4 Plus developed in Rodinal, I am now attempting to remedy this failing.

I had read that Rodinal can accentuate grain, but I can’t say that I’ve noticed this. Not that I’ve ever been overly bothered by grain. Like brush marks in a painting, it is part of the medium.

Being particularly impressed by the rendition of contrast produced by this film and developer combination, I decided to look for subjects to exploit this. For the purpose of this exercise, I chose a couple of old favourites – a Minolta SRT 101b and a Rokkor 35mm. I’m very fond of Minoltas, especially the lumpy SRT series which does have its idiosyncrasies – the awkward meter on/off and battery check switch on the base plate and the rather long throw of the wind-on. All that is more than made up for, at least for me, by Rokkor lenses which I find to be silky smooth both in operation and imaging.

Living as I do in south-east London I’m lucky in that I have almost immediate access to the 40-mile network of footpaths known as the Green Chain Walk which meanders from the Thames to Crystal Palace.

Signpost for the Green Chain Walk

A word of caution, though, for prospective explorers. Despite its name it’s not all green by any means and you may come away having found some parts to have been, in the words of Samuel Johnson, “worth seeing, yes, but not worth going to see”. As one blurb coyly puts it, it “also passes some interesting urban areas”.

So, where to go to look for contrast? Actually, not very far at all, certainly not as far as Crystal Palace. In fact, just beyond that sign post.

On the Green Chain Walk

And I hadn’t gone far down that path when I glanced behind me to discover that the tree which was lurking in the shadows had assumed a Tolkienesque appearance and had crept out to see what I was up to.

The inquisitive tree

This was almost a eureka moment as it set me thinking not just of contrast as an element of the image but also the contrasting aspects of a subject depending on the viewpoint.

Photos of trees are like Marmite, you either love them or hate them, and even if you love them you can have too many of them. With that in mind I made no apologies to myself for doubling back to Avery Hill, which is after all on the Green Chain Walk, to see if I could capture something of the Winter Garden that I was unable to do on my last visit.

The frontage, looking out onto the park in the slanting afternoon sunlight, yielded a suitably contrasty, if closely cropped image.

Winter Garden, Avery Hill

Making a mental note to try it with a 28mm sometime, I wandered behind it to find, literally in its shadow as evidenced by the reflection of the cupola on the roof, one of the college’s more recent, if less inspiring, additions to the campus site’s architectural heritage.

Avery Hill Campus

Only five frames of of two aspects of contrast? I’m sure there must be a lot more just beyond my front door. All I’ve got to do is look for them.

One last technical detail to end with. Given the wide variation of light and shadow I dispensed with attempting to use a meter. All exposures were best guesstimates backed up by bracketing.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    April 29, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Great results from a Minolta classic Peter. Also, nice to meet someone else with a penchant for signposts and trees!

    • Reply
      Peter Roberts
      April 29, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks for the comment Brian.
      I like street furniture as well! Perhaps I’ll do that for another offering 🙂

  • Reply
    Clive Shepherd
    April 29, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Did you purposely darken the edges? I don’t remember Rokkor lenses having issues covering the frame.

    • Reply
      Peter Roberts
      April 29, 2021 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Clive. I’ll come clean on that one. I used the wrong lens hood which gave a vignetting effect that by luck more than judgement seemed to suit the subjects. The photo of the camera was taken subsequently showing a different hood.

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    April 29, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Lovely stuff Peter – I was up at Crossness at the start of the green chain walk myself the other week. Should you fancy venturing out a little further the walk from Crossness up towards Greenwich along the south side of the Thames has a wealth of subjects.

    • Reply
      Peter Roberts
      April 29, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks Bob. I agree that that area, and indeed the Thames Path, has a lot of possibilities and I have often been cycling there. Time to cover it with a proper camera methinks.

      • Reply
        Bob Janes
        April 29, 2021 at 4:41 pm

        Perhaps when lockdown eases a little more we can get some analogue photowalks going…

        • Reply
          Peter Roberts
          April 29, 2021 at 5:41 pm

          Great idea! I’d be up for that.
          It’s always good to bounce off others, puts you on your mettle. Before he moved to Oz my son and I used to enjoy doing just that, albeit digitally.

  • Reply
    Matthias Steck
    April 29, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your images. I really like the ones with the signposts and the trees.

    Being a Minolta user and fanboy, it’s a joy to see the SRT and the Rokkor lens in action (I have an early SRT101 from 1969).

    And it’s comforting for me to read that other people make the mistake with the wrong lenshood, too. But in picture #3 it looks good !
    I spoiled some frames with a slightly too narrow lenshood with my Minolta MC W.Rokkor-SI 2.8/24mm. This lens is so prone to flare that you need to use a hood, but it’s not easy to find one that does not cause vignetting.

    Cheers Matthias

    • Reply
      Peter Roberts
      April 29, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks for the comment Matthias.
      Yes, Minoltas are great. Lucky you to have a 24mm!

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