Rhossili Bay on a hot June afternoon with Lisa and my ancient Agfa Isolette folding camera loaded with Fuji Acros; seriously, this is about as good as it gets.  It wasn’t even a proper shoot, I had brought the camera just for fun really and Lisa had decided to join me on the spur of the moment.  It was that kind of day.

Lisa at Rhossili - 1957 Agfa Isolette, Kodak Portra 160


The sun was fierce and yet a thin layer of high cloud was kicking the “F16 at 1/125” rule up a stop to F11.   One look at the little red window on the back of the Isolette told me I had only two frames of Acros left to get a decent shot and I was not carrying a digital camera to test settings.  This was going to be old school and there was no room for error.   The Agfa Isolette is so much fun to use that it’s hard to feel any pressure.  Sure, it would have been a pity not to get a nice shot of such a perfect scene but i figured the enjoyment is as much in the doing of it as it is the end result so “what the hell!”.  I could have ‘shot safe’ with the sun behind me and Lisa at F11 at 1/125 but I knew the image would be lack the soft and dreamy look I wanted so with only two frames of B&W I shot into the sun.  The Isolette has a dinky little metal lens hood which I knew would combat any flare so I popped it on and used my notebook as a reflector.

With the light thus bounced onto Lisa I took an incident reading (F11 at 1/60th) which gave me adequate depth of field and then set the focus.  Focusing the Isolette is a bit of a  guessing game; you simply have to judge how far the subject is away and set the distance manually.  This makes narrow depths of field risky so F11 was as wide as the aperture could safely go.

The rest was a piece of cake.   Everything through the tiny viewfinder looked perfect and I knew if I had judged it correctly there wasn’t a picture being taken anywhere in the galaxy at that moment that was more beautiful.

Lisa at Rhossili - 1957 Agfa Isolette, Fuji Acros



I’m glad I didn’t know at the time that in fact I had only one frame to get this shot.   It turns out a small pinhole has appeared in the camera bellows so all the time I was setting up the first shot the leaking light was fogging up the first frame.  The second was wound on and out of the camera before it could be too badly affected.  As befits this type of image I developed it by hand (Aculux for 8 minutes at 20 Degrees Celsius).

I also had a roll of Portra 160 with me ……. hence the picture at the top! 😀



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