Having said that I would be trying out my Seagull camera, and succeeded in buying the right film for it, today was the day. A day not just for discovery, but also for experimentation and, to a certain extent, some frustration. The camera is in excellent condition, the lens clean, the workings smooth. It feels, and looks, as if the camera has hardly been used.
Opening the back, once I had managed to take it out of the leather case, I discovered that the adapter, allowing me to take 16 photographs on a film rather than 12, is in place which is something of a bonus. Loading the film was also easier than I had anticipated, although I was worried, not having used a 120 film before today, when I had to wind so much through to get to the first number! But it all worked out perfectly and, as far as that side of things goes, I was more than happy.
Going out to take photographs I discovered how vital a tripod is, and am more than grateful for that present I received so long ago, although, to my shame, I didn’t have it with me today. It is hard to hold the camera steady, with the exposure button being on the front and the whole casing having a different form to what I am used to. Fixing it onto a tripod makes life and photography easier, especially when it comes to finding the image of what I wish to capture in the large focus lens.
Here I discovered that being right-handed is not necessarily an advantage: rather than focusing with the large button on the left, I inadvertently tried with the large button on the right, and wound the film on two frames before noticing my error. So the first two are nothing, and I will have to be content with 14 images! The viewfinder takes some getting used to, with the markings for the smaller image frame being hard to see and, because there is no telephoto lens, having to move myself back and forth to capture within the thin lines is also something I need to get used to.
One thing I have learned, aside from all the additional movement and the care I need to take framing, is that reading the manual is a good idea, preferably before using the camera. The exposure and speed settings are not the same as on other cameras that I have, and the small notebook with settings included as a guideline doesn’t cover what I need. Fate can bless the Internet, though, as I have found an English / Chinese user manual, which I shall now pore over. A little late, but not too late to rescue my day.
How the first images will come out, as this is just my experimental stage, we shall have to wait and see. I have plenty of patience, though, which I am forcing upon myself in thick dollops. It’s going to take a while, but the first steps have been taken. More will follow!
- Viktoria Michaelis.