My admiration for the photographer W Eugene Smith goes beyond his images. The man had ‘attitude’ and men with ‘attitude’ are often by default poor. In between assignments W.E.S was a frequent customer to the pawnbroker. His cameras became collateral for rent and food. Often the pledges unclaimed, he lost his equipment. So, when an assignment came along our genius used whatever camera he could beg, steal or borrow. He knew, its the method, not the tool which makes the image.
This writer has never worried about equipment or the name on the pentaprism. If it has a lens and works, it will be the one to use. Indeed in the three small Kindle downloads about 35mm photography I have come under some small minded flak. It seems a few who have read the trio of thoughts believe I’m a Leica knocker! Far from it, I love ‘em and I dislike the price. The German wonders have lenses so sharp that you can cut your imaginative fingers in the negatives.
I have looked for a e-Bay Wreck for some time and a few days ago my eyes spied a 8 pounds ‘buy it now’ + 3.20 post. I knew it would be a chancy purchase, however a weak heart never caught a fair maiden. £11.20 and the camera arrived 3 days later.
The lens could do with a B52 bomber with a tank full of agent orange. The fungus was just what I needed as it was my desire to show that even the worst of lenses can produce reasonable images. The ME Super came with the expected gummy light seals and an unexpected jammed inner meter coupling. Not to be deterred I put 4 minuscule drops of machine oil around the inner ring and waited over night. The oil had seeped into whatever corrosion had seized the coupling ring and the meter worked again. A cloth steeped in meths was then used as a capillary to mop up any oil. Not the correct way to fix the camera, but hey, this is a tough assignment. The lens was cleaned externally. Light seals replaced and the camera seemed to be alive again. One real bug is the focussing screen, someone had attempted to clean it and it is irretrievably damaged. It fulfils its purpose, and one can compose the frame without any problem, the scratches though are a little distracting.
Next I load it with film and take it out to play. It is carried in an old shopping bag, no lens cap only the green-yellow filter and a cheepo lens hood (£3-00 of e-Bay) I wander around the city and take it on a journey to collect an enlarger (the subject of the next blog) During the trip across Lincolnshire I see a few photo opportunities and the little ME Super is put to use.
The film used is Foma 100 and I now have to make a confession! Over the last 30 years I have developed thousands of films. And when I processed the film used in the ‘Wreck’ I had a brain storm and over developed it by 40% .. As a consequence the grain is far greater than it should be. So it may well be that the images you see could have more resolution than you can see in this article. I have printed the scanned negatives using a R3000 Epson and please take my word for it the results ARE sharp and pass close inspection. (click on the images to see the grain)
Well, there it is a £11.20 camera, a roll of film and pictures to be reasonably pleased with.
The next blog is very similar to this. We will look at a £10 e-Bay deal of a Durst enlarger and I will see if I can use the wreck used in this blog and the Durst to take and print an image which I will attempt to sell and get my money back!