Jan 31, 2009

Corfield WA 67 - Photo Gear (3)


Tonight I wish to talk about, and show you, my beloved "Cory".

My last post was entirely shot with this "little lady", and a little research on the Internet will quickly show you that they are not so much common.

Beeing a relatively unknown brand nowadays, at least outside of United Kingdom, I think that it justifies that I try to make a short introduction about Corfield. The experts and collectors will certainly excuse any possible incorrection on my part.

As far as I can say, it was a camera created by Sir Kenneth Corfield. Sir Corfield started his photographic business with his wife Betty and his brother John. They first began by producing an enlarger exposure meter, called the Lumimeter, wich sold 5.000 units during the year 1949. With the success of the Lumimeters, thoughts naturally turned to further products. So they brought out a precision rangefinder, the Telemeter, for focusing still and cine cameras.
Some more products soon followed, like a new version of the Lumimeter, the Optical Exposure Meter, the Corfield Masking Frame, the Corfield 5x4 inches Contact Printer, and, in 1952, the Corfield 2x2 slide projector.

No, I am not so old that I can remember all this stuff. I just looked it up on this site, and found it appealing to put some additional information here. I suggest that you read the whole story on the link I provide. Very good reading if you care about camera development history.

The part that I find most relevant for this post, is that Sir Kenneth Corfield also started developing his own line of cameras, the Periflex, first introduced to the public in the January 28th,1953 edition of Amateur Photographer.
Other models followed, and 1960 saw the appearance of the Corfield 66, making twelve exposures in 120 film.

Then one day Sir Corfield designed a camera called the Architect, that subsequently must have led to the model I am talking about here: the Corfield Wide-Angle 67 Perspective-Control.

I ordered this apparatus in 1995, together with a Gandolfi Precision 8x10 inches. By that time Sir Corfield was also associated with Gandolfi Cameras. The two brothers Gandolfi had decided to retire, and sold the company to Mr. Brian Gould.

Sadly, Mr. Gould is deceased some years ago. He was a very kind and helpful person having the patience of sending me countless faxes elucidating all my inquiries and trying to fulfill all my wishes.
A really nice and competent gentleman. I was lucky to meet him one day at Photokina. May he rest in peace.

Corfield WA 67 + 47mm f5.6 Schneider Super Angulon

As you can see on this side view, this camera is kind of a multinational tool: a german lens, a british shift-body, and a 6x7 japanese revolving back from Mamiya, with the Mamiya 67 Pro S roll-film holder giving ten exposures per 120 roll. Actually the same back and magazine you find in the Mamiya RB cameras.

Please notice that the optical system is not interchangeable! In these photographs, the lens is fitted with a center-filter, for the correction of physical light fall-off in the corners of the image.

That somewhat strange device on top of the camera, is an optical finder, to help you compose the image. This finder sits in a shoe which is coupled to the lens movement by an internal cam mechanism. It follows the lens movement by tilting to show the field of view covered by the lens.

In this position (image above) the camera is "looking straight", no perspective control movement of the lens is applied.

(By the way: the camera is not yet ready to shoot, as I didn't remove the dark slide...)

Now imagine that I am in Paris, and I want to photograph the entire Eiffel Tower from not very far away.

What I must do? Right: keep the camera leveled, with the film plane absolut parallel to the vertical axis of the construction. And I shift the lens upwards, so that I can include the top of the tower in my photograph, of course.

Just as simple as that!

The lockable knob you see protruding from the camera front, just below the lens, controls the raising and lowering of the lens by 19mm (0,75in) each way. While keeping the film plane parallel with the subject, one avoids converging verticals. Eiffel Tower won't be looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

(That is, if I don't forget that dark slide...)

In the meantime, I got to the top of Eiffel Tower and want to make a panoramic view of Paris.

Do I point the camera down and shoot away? No!

No, if I brought along my trustful Corfield, and if I want to keep the surrounding buildings and constructions straight.

I just shift the lens down, so that I can include more foreground in my field of view and put the horizon line somewhere in the third upper part of my image. Half of Paris is at my feet now...

Observe that I have rotated the back to landscape format.

(And this time I didn't forget to pull the dark slide...)

Normaly I don't use the finder and use the ground-glass focusing screen instead. Using a focusing loup, it better allows me to control composition, depth-of-field at a given aperture and possible vignetting caused by the decentring of the lens.

The 6x7 format is covered even at full aperture, but if you employ movements, depending on how much you rise or lower the lens, you have to use smaller apertures, increasing the coverage progressively until a circle of 123mm is covered at f22. The rising and falling scales on the camera show clearly the recommended maximum aperture when a given displacement is used.

This is the scale that you see on the first image of this post. In that situation, the scale shows that you would have to close the aperture to f11, if you wanted to use that lens displacement. Otherweise you would have dark corners on the upper top of the image.
I find the scale to be very accurate and useful.

If you rise or lower the lens to the maximum, you need to close the aperture to f22. I think that in this case lens diffration is still very tolerable and doesn't affect yet lens sharpness very much.
I feel that somewhere between f11 and f16, you attain optimal optical perfomance. That's the apertures I prefer to use if I don't need a lot of displacement.

The 47mm Schneider Super Angulon consists of eight elements in four groups. It is multicoated and is almost symmetrical in construction and is free from distortion, even in close ups.
The lens is mounted in a smooth and engraved focusing mount with depth-of-field scale. Shortest focusing distance is 0,5m (1,6ft).

When focused on 3m (10ft) the depth of field extends from 1,5m (5ft) to infinity at f11.

(Pretty that Tesa Film...)

The beauty also looks good from the inside... Here you can better observe the british design: simple and very efficient.

No frills but lots of thrills!!!

The Corfield WA 67 was commonly fitted with a Prontor-Press shutter. I prefered to ask Mr. Brian Gould to equip my model with a Copal shutter.
I am very used to work with Copal shutters, as the majority of my large format lenses have such a shutter, and I find them to be very reliable.
In this way, I also have a better workflow when I use simultaneously the Corfield and a large format camera. That situation can happen very often, for example doing architectural work: I will use the large format camera for the exterior shots and the WA 67 for interiors.

I also asked Mr. Brian Gould to mount the Super Angulon with both scales on both sides of the camera, and not on top and below as it is common. In this way I don't have to climb over my Rimowa case, or crawl under the camera, to be able to see the scale. In a camera where you have to set everything manually, I find that it helps a lot on your comfort to do things the easy way.

For the very same reason, I would never mount that bubble level on top of the camera, but on the base. At least I would put a second one there, where I can see it easily.

In the 90's I was very intensively doing Architectural Photography. Mostly in 9x12 / 4x5". We did all the E-6 development in our studio, so It had to come to the point were I thought that I needed to simplify matters. E-6 development (color transparency) is not funny thing. It requires lots of care and accuracy. Minimal temperature deviations can cause catastrophic results. We used the relatively simple CPP2 Jobo processor, which involves lots of manual labour and attention. The amount of work didn't justify to acquire a more expensive, more automated machine. On the other hand, I didn't like to bring the transparencies to a professional lab, as we could better adapt the development times to my shooting style and necessities. We could just give some more or some less seconds on the first developer to compensate, we could just fine-tune it to our tastes...

Interior photography requires lots of bracketing, what drove the costs of sheet film very high sometimes. Very often I would do the same series of exposures with different filters to pick up the most pleasant results. Shots in dark places can become a nightmare with large format stuff. It also takes much longer to accomplish.

All that and some other reasons made me think that I should start to shift part of our production from large format to high quality medium format equipment.

I must confess that I first thought about buying a Hasselblad SWC/M equiped with the superb Carl Zeiss Biogon 38mm. As I had already other Hasselblad equipment, I could use the same magazines, and accessories. But it really bothered me that I could not use any lens movements with that camera, no matter how fine the lens, no matter how good the build quality.

For Architectural Photography, I find it of primordial importance to have the possibility of using lens movements!

So I kept looking for another solution. I don't even recall how I first knew about the WA 67, but I know that I quickly realized that it could very well solve my problems and meet my highest expectations.

After thousands of images I shot with the Corfield WA 67, I never regretted the choice I made.
Frequently it is the only camera I take along with me.

That's how much I trust my beautiful "Cory"!...


Jan 25, 2009

Maria José Salavisa - Hockey Caffé, Sintra


I wish to make a post about Professional Interior Photography. In my opinion, it is one of the most difficult subjects to master. You often have to deal with very confined places, exposure times can be very long, and it is expectable that you will be confronted with a variety of light sources that make it very hard to find an acceptable filtration to give a "neutral" look to the images.

Very often those same light sources are a big challenge to your optical system, as they can produce a lot of flare and ghost images on your photographs, and you need to be very carefull on where to position your camera to avoid those adversities. That, in turn, can produce a less interesting composition, or even distort a piece of furniture, etc., etc.

Now you might start to understand that I probably was right with my previous statement, and that it is mandatory to use equipment of very good quality if you wish to practice Interior Photography with a certain seriousness and competence.

If you shoot transparency film you must have a good collection of colour correction and colour compensating filters. Other specialized items, such as a Colour-Meter, can also be of great help. And of course, you shouldn't even attempt such a task without a very good and sturdy tripod.

Still, you will also benefit from your own experience, so that you are able to judge the readings of your instruments (Light-, and Colour-Meter), to decide for yourself the necessary adjustments to make to those readings. Most times you are dealing with situations that are well beyond the scope for wich instruments and films were designed for.
The choice of film type, or even brand, is also of crucial importance. Some emulsions just answer better to long exposures than others, some are better suited for some types of ilumination.

I particularly find it very difficult to get good results under fluorescent lights. We could call it without any hesitation the "photographers nightmare"!
I dare to say, that if most architects would have conscience of how hard it is to get a pleasant image of their wonderfull designs under such light, they would just banish it forever from their works.

After all, they do wish their works to look great on the pages of all that nice shining magazines, or am I wrong on this one?

Maria José Salavisa was a very well known interior architect and designer.
When I first got to know her, I found her to be a very elegant lady, already of a certain age, but still taking great care of her appearance. She was always dressing beautifully, with lots of very well applied make-up. She was very polite, but very sure of herself and of what she wanted.

Every once in a while, she would call and ask if I wished to photograph a work of her. She than came to the meeting accompanied by not less then two or three always-very-nice and very-good-looking female assistants. Her chauffeur would keep a respectfull distance, always paying attention to her wishes.

And I would always be there, yes I confess, feeling a little funny, looking for the best words to say, trying not to be excessively shy and silly, trying not to look very intimidated.
I certainly enjoyed the respect and deference with wich all these nice ladies treated me, but I could never help myself but have plain conscience that we belonged to very different worlds, for each and every second we were face to face.

Then finally, they would jump in the limousine smiling and fading away, while I stood there waving good-buy and feeling a certain kind of relief.
After all it was nice to be alone with my cameras again...

Sadly, Maria José Salavisa passed away on the 12th January, 2006.
She was eighty years old. She is buried in Óbidos.

For this post on Interior Photography, I deliberately choose to display some photographs that possess all the difficulties that I talked about on the lines above: mixed light sources, high contrast, light sources shining directly toward the lens, relatively small area,etc.

Somehow, I modestly think that I managed to make some pleasant images of this Hockey Caffé, that you can visit in the nice town of Sintra, just near to the Palácio da Vila. Not far away from Lisbon.

I lived for a couple of years, in a small village near Sintra, so I can honestly say that Sintra is well worth a visit: one of the nicest towns in Portugal.

The photographs of Hockey Caffé were made using one of the most interesting and unusual relatively-compact cameras that I happen to own and use professionaly: Corfield WA 67.

As a matter of fact, I think that it would be very hard to find a camera better suited for the task.

I know that it might sound a little strange to hear such a statement: maybe sounds so silly like saying "Jimi Hendrix, or Eric Clapton, or someone else, is the best guitar player in the world"...
I really dislike such statements!

I know why I really dig my "Cory", but I will leave that for later on.
It is three in the morning, my glass of wine is empty, and I need some sleep.

Good night, sleep tight!


Mies van der Rohe - Chicago's Commonwealth Promenade Apartments


Nice view over The Loop from Mr. Norsik's apartment...

... and the other way around

Now, I am getting kind of lazy...

I wrote a lot on my last post on Federal Center, so I am taking the chance of just posting one more work on Mies in Chicago, without needing a lot of words.

I just would like to mention Mr. Norsik. He was a very nice and polite gentleman who invited us to his apartment, for to show us the nice view you can see from there. I was just under my dark cloth focusing and composing a shot of the buildings (see last image), when he showed up and introduced himself. A really very nice and friendly person!

I never managed to send him a book, as I promised, because in the meantime I had lost his adress.

So, Mr. Norsik, if you happen to come across this lines, just please send me a mail...

It is not always easy, to fit such a big building inside such a small tiny bit of film...

I had been wise enough to buy a Apo-Grandagon 35mm before the trip.

Just amazing how "wide" it can be!