About Me

Hi, I'm Lee and let me start by saying that I do not consider myself a photographer or an artist.  I am at the start of a learning curve and am sharing my journey.  Nothing I write in this site is with any amount of authority (apart from my own experiences that is), so as with everything, always ask three people.

I've always had cameras, ever since I was a kid, from point and click 110's to SLRs. It's safe to say that, especially when I'm on holiday, I am a prolific snapper but despite always having a camera in my hand I've never really known anything about how they work or what the settings really did.  As you can image the results were quite mixed over the years. This knowledge became easier to avoid as cameras got smarter, I was an early adopter of digital cameras and hadn't used film since 1999.

I love classic machinery but am never going to have the classic car collection that I dream of, or the watch collection for that matter.  Classic cameras on the other hand are super affordable lovely bits of machinery (and very funky). The project (read the details on this page) has opened up a whole world to me that has increased my photography knowledge, taught me new skills and I have made a good start on a collection of cool things.
 
I am excited about it all and have put this site together to share the results with friends and family and maybe encourage others to revive their film classics.  Although brought up in North West UK, I've been living in Melbourne, Australia for 15 years now and love to photograph this city, the majority of my results will be based around it's streets and suburbs.
 
Happy Snapping
Lee

About the Project

One day I decided to visit my wife for lunch at her work (she's a nurse at a local hospital) something I very rarely get chance to do.  As I walked in, past the auxiliaries stands I expecting to see the usual cakes, cards and knitted baby clothes but noticed a table full of beautiful classic cameras.  I assumed that it was just a display, maybe for a gold coin donation, until I spotted a price list next to them and met Trevor the cameras owner.
 
He was selling these beautiful pieces with profits going to the hospital and there were some fantastic models that caught my eye for a potential ornament.  Trevor hadn't made a sale yet that day so I chose an old Vest Pocket Kodak from the selection and told him I’d take it, it would look great on a bookcase.  While wrapping it, Trevor made a passing comment that you can still get film for it and you can even develop film at home using something called a Paterson tank.  Until this point I had assumed you needed a full darkroom and loads of expensive equipment and hadn't even acknowledged the difference between developing negative and printing the pictures (don't judge me).
 
All this came at time when I had recently embarked on a goal to finally learn more about photography to help maximise my digital camera usage and had started reading a few resources.  I left the hospital very pleased with my new bookend and went home to Google Paterson tanks. Two hours later I had a new plan.  I was going to find the film, work out how to use the camera, develop the film, scan and print a frame.  My deadline was one month so that I could show Trevor when he was next at the hospital.
 
Trevor had mentioned a great little shop in Melbourne called Film Never Die where I was helped by Jed to start putting the equipment together.  Their enthusiasm only spurring me on in the venture.  They didn’t stock the 127 film and at the time I didn’t think anyone in Melbourne did, so I ordered two rolls from B&H in New York.  In the time taken to arrive it would allow me to get the rest of the items I needed and have a practice.   I dug out my old EOS 500 SLR (not used this millennium) and used up a B&W film around the city, it had been so long that the concept of not immediately seeing your results was so alien.  Of course I ran it on full auto mode.
 
I decided that I would develop both the 35mm and 127 on the same day so while I was waiting for the 127 film to arrive I spent some useful time on YouTube looking at various topics such as how to load film into the VPK and various videos of B&W developing using the Paterson tank.  I even dug out an old negative strip and practiced loading the reel inside the developing bag. Don't worry if you don't know what I'm talking about yet, I'll cover it in a blog.  Don't get scared, stay with me here as the whole point is how easy and affordable it all is.
 
The film arrived and I managed to load it ok,  I failed pretty quickly as I forgot to wind the film on for frame 2 (even practicing with the EOS didn’t get me back into the swing of doing that).
 
Developing day came and I pooled all my resources.  Starting with the 35mm I wasn’t really prepared for the numerous stages of nervousness, relief, and then joy.  Firstly getting the film onto the reel for the first time; working out how to get the temperature of the chemicals down to 20 degrees; getting through the different stages without the tank falling open; and then the most magical part - seeing that there is actually something on the negative !  That made it sound complicated but it really isn't.
 
Next, the VPK film.  I was overjoyed to get this far and to be honest always thought that using the VPK was pure folly, there was no way a camera nearly 100 years old, bought sold as seen,  would produce anything - especially by me.   However, I was shocked to find that there was indeed something there.  The hardest part of the process is waiting for the negative to dry so that you can scan it and see the results.  I'm sure most people would look at the results and not be impressed but I couldn't be happier.
 
Trevor was shocked when I returned a month later, he seemed equally pleased with the results and that yet another camera was not just put on a shelf somewhere.  I was now hooked, excited that these beautiful classic cameras are still usable and the thought of what images they have taken over the years, not to mention the whole hands on process and the anticipation that ensues.  I bought my next camera from Trevor there and then, a 1958 Ricoh 500.
 
There it begins....