Sunday, 17 January 2016

Adventures in medium format photography

Photo © Rosie Pentreath


This Christmas, I was spoilt to a beautiful 1970s Seagull Twin Lens Reflex camera. A medium format camera produced by the Shanghai General Camera Factory from the 1950s onwards, the original Seagull was based on Franke & Heidecke's iconic Rolleiflex and exists in several models that take varied film types, although most are designed for 120 format film.

As the name suggests, a Twin Lex Reflex (TLR) camera has two lenses – one for the viewfinder and one that takes the shot – with  a large viewfinder at the top for the user to look down into. TLRs seem to have first emerged in the 1870s to facilitate focusing while shooting and were later defined by the use of an internal reflex mirror to allow viewing from above.

For a modern user it can be quite confusing because everything is flipped in the viewfinder: move the camera to the right, for example, and the image in the viewfinder will jump quite abruptly left. It is quite tricky to get used to steadying the camera to line up with horizons and verticals too, but once you get a feel for it, the 12 exposures come out satisfyingly crisp and bright. Using a fully-manual camera is a fantastic way to learn about which aperture stop (which controls how much light is let into the lens to expose the film) and shutter speed (which controls how long light is let into the lens for) to use in certain light conditions too.

I own the 4-A-I 03 model Seagull and recently trotted along to Sydney Super 8 on King Street, Newtown to pick up my first set of developed 120 negatives. All 12 exposures came out, with none over-exposed and none under-exposed, so I am pleased as punch. I just took a few snaps of furniture in my garden and views of a nearby park to practice, but next time hope to be a bit bolder and try some action shots. And I am still taking plenty of photos on my Pentax MV1, which I often publish on my travel photography blog, The Explorer.

Visit: microsites.lomography.com/seagull

Photo © Rosie Pentreath


Photo © Rosie Pentreath
Photo © Rosie Pentreath
Photo © Rosie Pentreath

Photo © Rosie Pentreath

Photo © Rosie Pentreath

Photo © Rosie Pentreath


All words and photographs © Rosie Pentreath

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