Saturday the 5th of September was a pretty interesting day. The Dorset Steam Rally or fayre or whatever it was actually called. Travelling from Chepstow took a mere two hours, the traffic wasn’t too bad either. It was out of bed at 6am though. I took with me my Leica M2 (1959) with the Summarit 5cm f2 (1949). This is in fact a screw lens with a Leica M adapter. It works just fine. The Leica M2 is a pleasure to use. With a parallax adjusted bright line finder the M series is a huge leap from the Barnack screw cameras. My Leica IIIc is still a great camera, but, the M2 is just so much better to use. Even after 50 years and a recent service the film advance is still very smooth. Oh! and that satisfying shutter sound. Sad. I decided to use one of my favourite films AGFA APX 100. One needs at least two full days to cover the event in anywhere the amount of detail it deserves. Upon immediate arrival one could not fail to be impressed with the sheer scale of the event. I’m not really ‘into’ steam engines per se, but I think I can appreciate the appeal. They are alive, hissing steam, the gentle or no so gentle rhythm of action, the smoke and that characteristic, timeless smell. I had to be here with the Leica, no other camera would do, certainly not digital. The youngest engines were a not that much older than the Leica, and both from a better forgotten time. A time of when machinery was made by hand, a time of no plastic, no electronics and no control by faceless software engineers. A time where people were actually polite to each other and said “How do you do?”, and doffed one’s hat. Now all gone in a cloud of consumerism and obsessive materialism.
I shot two films, developing one in Rodinal and one in Pyro. The frames I have selected are the ones that came from the Pyro roll. I was after a vintage feel, to be in tune with the idealism of the day. Pyro certainly provides that being a developer popular in the 19th and early 20th century. Pyro does have its disadvantages. It can be erratic and unrealiable, but, notably strongly compensating. See what you think.
and finally Pic six.
For those of a techie disposition, the negatives were scanned using the excellent Vuescan and a Nikon LS-50 with only minimal Photoshopping, just levels, burn, dodge and heal. Really simple.