Rescuing Kit, #1

Rescuing Old Kit

It was a sleepy Saturday afternoon and I got wind of a gentleman in Chiswick who was about to throw out a bunch of functioning kit… So I winged it over and rescued it. Here, some old film, which I love since you never know how it’s going to react when you use it… You’ve never even seen #IlfordHP4 220, have you? And these #HP5 135 canisters are sealed! Never seen those before. #filmphotography #filmisnotdead #blackandwhitephotography

Leica Q2 is actually a 51.6 MP camera

Leica meets concrete

And the M9 falls four feet to meet concrete. The filter takes the hit, the camera is undamaged, but that filter is jammed on and isn’t coming off.

It's Playtime

The marvellous Richard Sintchak drops off a bag of lenses for me to play with. Time for a wander around Presidio and then across the Golden Gate bridge and up to overlook the Bay.

M9 Rangefinder woes

I think the M9 took a hit, because the rangefinder is rather out of alignment. Mostly vertically but also, sometimes, on the distance too. So it’s off to Leica USA as soon as I can dig up a copy of the receipt from the UK, and they’ll have to ship it back to me on the road. Slightly annoying to have a camera built like an brick on the outside and like cream cheese on the inside. I suppose it’s a common problem and an easy fix.

Leica M9 sensor quality

A quick response to a question several people have asked me, regarding the sharpness of the Leica M9 sensor, since it has no anti-aliasing filter. Well, ultimately, it can only matter on a print, not at 100%, but equipped with a Zeiss 50mm Planar, here is a 100% crop that should help answer that question. I think it’s incredibly sharp, for those of you who care about these things. Alyn Eye 100%

Project Basics: Water

Water. I don’t even trust bottled water in India. I drink the filtered stuff any time I stay with family, because they all largely avoid water when out themselves, and resolved to filter my own this time. Christina pointed me towards bottles with self-contained filters, but the only one I found was a Pure Hydration one with a filter in the cap. Essentially, you pour any old water in, preferably without particles, shake it up and leave for 15 minutes. Then squeeze through the filter in the cap and drink. I believe that the shaking releases iodine into the water and then the filter takes that out and anything that might be dodgy still in the water. Works perfectly, but you don’t get a massive water flow if you’re really thirsty, like chugging from a bottle. But the bottle is made of this new microbe-resistant plastic and it doesn’t get dirty or skanky. The filter lasts for approximately 350 litres and fails-safely. The water becomes harder to squeeze through as the filter becomes exhausted, so you only ever get clean water, but you will end up getting nothing. Good call.

Project Basics: The Pharmacy

Goodies from the pharmacy Off-the-shelf drugs are quite cheap here, so I stocked up on the essentials: Loperamide, Anti-malarials, painkillers and earplugs. You can go a long way with just those. The ear plugs are just weird though - they sit just inside your ear and don’t really do much plugging. They might keep dust off, or something. From left to right: Ear plugs, Lapromide, Chloroquine, Paracetamol. Bosh. Extras: sticking plasters and rehydration powder. Loperamide stops cramps and diarrohea and is far cheaper here than in the UK. Chloroquine is the recommended anti-malarial with a combination of Malerone/Proguanil - the first takes care of the Plasmodium Vivax parasite and the second takes care of Falciparium, which causes far nastier symptoms. I remember quite vividly learning about the Plasmodium cycle in Biology class, and am happy to see that the drugs are getting better. Time to start packing the bags. Off tomorrow afternoon.

Project Logistics: Keeping Dry

They go colourless when full of water The monsoon has come early to India by a few weeks, and there’s a storm hitting the Bay of Bengal pretty badly right this moment. It’ll be here 15 days after Bombay gets it, and I just don’t know what to expect. It might rain every few days a little bit, or a lot, or often, or both, or there might be floods. Just don’t know. It gets unbearably hot right before the monsoon in Gujarat and it’ll be humid for sure. Tropical humid, not London in August. Everything is likely to get soaked at some point. I’ve been idly flicking through manuals for kit and noting that the maximum operating temperature for pretty much everything is 40 degrees C. I get that every day right now, so add some humidity to that and we’re talking about failure in a big way. Batteries hate heat. Electronics hate heat. I hate heat. So, assuming the monsoon gives us a few degrees of relief, what about the humidity? Silica gel to the rescue. Those little packets you find in all unsealed electronic packaging? Silica gel. But you can’t see when that’s dead, they’re generally white. Silica gel can easily be reused by heating it up in a pan until the water’s gone. If you can tell, that is. Cue Geejay Chemicals and a 1 Kg tub of Silica Gel. Goes from orange to colourless as it absorbs water. A handful in a sandwich bag, some fork holes in one side of the bag and it’s ready to throw into the bottom of the Think Tank carriers, keeping moisture away from it’s not wanted. And then tipped into a pan when it’s colourless and heated until it returns to active duty. That’s the detail, of course. The Think Tank gear is water-proof ripstop and there’s a complete cover with no seams in every carrier. As for me, I might wear a hat and some sandals.

Project Basics: Sunglasses

The Damn Things I thought I wouldn’t need them, and would much prefer to not be wearing them. Several reasons. One, the viewfinder on these Canons is pretty crappy, and I need to be right be close to see the full frame. Glasses get in the way, which is in fact why I started wearing contacts 16 years ago. Which leads to the next issue. I have some spectacles with me so I can wear them instead of contacts if need be. The climate is drying my eyes out quite quickly, and unless that stops, I might have to wear glasses for some of the time. The other reason is of course other people can’t really see my eyes. If you’re trying to communicate with someone, it’s generally a good idea to show your eyes. Glasses are pretty distorting devices: I feel like a drunken sailor on a listing galleon after wearing glasses for the first time in weeks or months. But they are crystal clear in comparison. Plenty of chromatic aberration though. Anyway, I walked out into the afternoon sun and even after my eyes adjusted, I was pretty blinded by the intensity. Our senses do a remarkable job of compressing the huge ranges of volume and brightness into a linear response, but they have their limits. So: sunglasses. I know I’m going to lose them. I’ve lost every pair I’ve ever owned, and that would be at least six, decent pairs that is. And I’m sure to lose these too. Still, I have three requirements for sunglasses:

  1. Glass. I hate plastic. Glass doesn’t scuff up, it’s less distorting and lasts longer.
  2. Polarizing. I hate glare and haze. If you’re going to dim everything by wearing these stupid things, at least they should make things a bit clearer somehow.
  3. Neutral colour. Ray-Bans have either a green cast or a very warm orange shade. Many others have some form of tint. Tints and can really make a dreary day look much better, but they ain’t no good when you’re photographing in colour. Don’t do it.

A small point to note. The screen on the Canon has poor viewing with polarized specs when held vertically, in case you’re using live view or are otherwise trying to read it that way.