Modern cameras and old cobblestones

Back in the days when all photos were black and white. Well, not that far back in time, only to the time when digital cameras were rather exclusive and very expensive. Back in the end of the 1990’s when I was starting to take photos on a more regular basis and I started to develop and make my own prints in a darkroom in the basement. At that time I was using an old Zorki camera as my main camera. It was a Soviet made “Leica 2” copy made in 1955. The German Leica 2 cameras from 1930’s was considered to be one of the best cameras in the world at that time. They were developed to improve the Leica 1 camera that was a ground breaking design in mid 1920’s. The usage of 135 millimetre film, also the simple, but reliable functions along with the optics that was developed and made by Leitz (that founded the Leica camera company). Leitz lenses with and Leica cameras was top of the line back then.

After the second world war, everyone all over the world started to make copies of the Leica cameras because they were so well made and great working. But in Soviet they already had made copies of the Leica camera even before the war. The main manufacturer was the FED factory that was located in Kharkiv (Ukraine). They started to produce cameras in the mid 1930’s, but some years after the war the KMZ factory that was located in Krasnogorsk that is near Moscow, started to make FED cameras due to that the FED factory was behind in production. After a while KMZ developed the FED-Zorki model, but soon after that they changed the name to only Zorki. In fact even the “1” is an addition in recent years. In teh begining it was just “Zorki”. Then with further developments and designs then started to use the add on numbers. It all ended in 1978 with the Zorki 12.

Back to the story. When I was using my Zorki camera, I always used the Kodak tri-x film. It used to have a nice grain and good performance so it became “my” brand of choise. I got great results and it was fun to take photos and later on develop and print the photos in the basement. At one point I was visiting an old city in Germany when I by accident dropped the camera on to the cobblestone pavement! It was a rather high fall for the old camera, so of course I thought that the camera was absolutely smashed to pieces. But when I picked it up I could not find a dent, not a scratch anywhere on the camera! That was a surprise! The Zorki camera was simply built like a tank, robust, sturdy and almost indestructible. I just picked up the camera dusted off some dust and it was ready to take photos again.

Now, many years later and many different cameras later. I have been using a Fujifilm X-100 for the last few years. It is a good camera, the sensor captures the colours and details in a great way, the optics are really nice and the camera works like a charm. When I bought it I wanted to protect the lens. So I bought an UV filter so that the filter would take the first hit when the dust flies around. I also got a lens hood, just to catch raindrops, snow, any fingers or anything that an by accident can make a mark or an smudge on the lens. Both lens hood and UV filter? I hear you ask. Well, you can never be to safe.

When I attended this year Bike in Tweed event, about a month ago. I brought my Fujifilm camera along, there are lots of photo opportunities of the bicycles and the participants, I posted some of the photos I got in a post about the Bike in Tweed event here on Schneebremse. But at one moment when I trying to get a good photo, crawling around on the ground, disaster struck! While was trying to get some nice photos at the start of the event, I dropped my camera straight down into the cobblestone pavement. At least I was kneeling down when I dropped the camera so it was a short fall, at least that was I thought.

The impact was not dramatic or anything like that. But when I picked up the camera, the entire lens hood was smashed like the crash zone on a car. It turned out that the entire impact was on the lens hood when the camera fell to the ground.

The camera worked perfectly the rest of the day, I got great photos in total. But when I got home I tried to get the smashed lens hood off the camera. It was really tight and difficult to remove, all bent and crooked. But I finally got it off the threads. But I need to get a new lens hood now after all I think it is a small price to pay, since I rather pay £15 for a new hood rather than £150 for an new camera.
But remember the old Zorki camera, it was all metal and built like a tank, no electronic or plastic.

Instead of getting a dent, it dented the cobblestones.

(the Fujifilm X100 with the smashed up lens hood and extra UV filter, a cheep protection of the lens)



Bike in Tweed, 2015

Then the day came, it was time for the bicycle event again. Bike in Tweed in Stockholm 2015.

To get a good foundation and build up some energy for the long bicycle ride that was before us. We started with breakfast at an bakery in a sleepy suburb. There we meet up with our friends that also was entering the Bike in Tweed event with an old Rex tandem, just like the one we have. But in a blue color and some other minor diffenreces. At the bakery we parked our bicycle outside went inside for some lovely and fresh bread. While we were sitting there we noticed that the people walking by on the outside, watched, looked and smiled att our bicycles outside. It seems that old vintage bicycles makes people happy. After the breakfast we started our journey toward the centre of the city with the royal castle as goal. It must have been a strange sight, two old tandems after each other, with the riders dressed in tweed clothes just crousing down the streets.
In fact there was at some point people even smiling and cheering at us when we passed them on your journey in to the start of the tweed parade.

Two Rex Duplex tandem bicycles from late 1940’s

At the starting point at Nytorget, we were among the first to arrive.
We parked out tandems beside each other and went to the register office and got our numberplate’s for identification. We got two one for each rider on the bicycle, but we were riding on only one bicycle. That usually makes the officials rather confused. Is it two riders or one bicycle? Is it the bicycle that should have the number, or is it the riders? But we put our both numbers in a rather fun way on our tandem. One number at the front of the bicycle and other at the rear, someone would be confused. But it worked out like a charm, no one did notice that, at least as we knew!
At the start when we all that registered us, we also received an bag with a map of the route, some commercials and a package of Scottish shortbread cookies from the sponsors. Inside there was also an voucher for an beer at the Nordic Museum at Djurgården at the finish. Another of the sponsors, Hendrick’s, said that they would treat us with a gin and tonic just before the finish.

As the time went by, different riders started to join the event. There were old vintage bicycles, new modern ones to. Many of the riders was dressed in fancy vintage dresses, old puffy plus 4 trousers, retro sharp suits, nice flamboyant hats and great really lovely shoes. One of the riders actually said, “we do not dress for fun, we dress in a nice way”. After all, this is not an event to act like a clown (as many bystanders might think). Many of the riders dress like this because they want to, we like the look of tweed and the old style of clothes. But sadly many of us never got a suitable moment to dress up in tweed suits and vintage clothes. Bike in Tweed are an perfect opportunely to embrace the well dressed and use good looking clothes and to use our old bicycles.

Harris Tweed jacket

We all started to cue to have the official individual start photos taken, the start was getting closer by the minute. Then the word was out, it was time to start the parade (more a parade than a race). Then we all were off, all 160 of us! 160 bicycle bells where ringing in the morning. Tourists were confused by the noise, bystanders cheered. There were children on small bicycles, race riders with vintage road racers, really heavy tandems bicycles (I used to call my tandem “the Dreadnought” because it is so big and heavy).
All generations of both bicycles and their riders was represented in the parade. A young girls skirt needed some attention at the start, the advantage with an event like this, is that there always are people available with the know how to mend and fix vintage items. The girl had the skirt mended on location. In every way.

Repairs on location

As we ride along the route, there was some stops along the way, just to let everyone to catch up so we all could ride in a tight formation along the streets. The ride along the waterfront was nice, the bicycle tires silently floating over the walkways. There was old boats at the docks, small cabins along the way and the trees were starting to get yellow leaves on their branches. It was a great autumn day for a tweed parade. No sun and no rain. A perfect bicycle and tweed day.

DSCF7471_sch DSCF7476_sch
Views of the surroundings from a riders perspective

In the middle of the race there was a stop at the park theatre at the Rålambshov park just outside the city.
It was time for picnic and the official group photo of all riders and their bicycles. It was nice to sit down and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. One of the sponsors of the parade I mentioned earlier, Hendrick´s Gin, were there and offered lemonade and cucumber sandwiches to the riders.  We all got time for admiration of the other bicycles, discussions with people with the same interests, laughs and music. It was really nice to have a break at the park theatre. Then after a while we were off again, towards the next stop on the route at Hasselbacken restaurant where a cold gin and tonic was awaiting our arrival.
It was a long way there, lots of hills and traffic. We were going straight in the middle of the city. But it was said that just this day all car traffic in the city was not permitted in order to make it easy for bicyclists, that was just perfect for our parade.

Picnic at the park theatre

I guess there is no need to say anything about the roads that was chosen for us. But I feel that I must say that this year to use the central parts of Stockholm as an route was a bad decision. Roadworks, closed off lines, 160 bicycle riders together with buses and taxis in the same lane. As mentioned, it would be a “car free day” in the city. It was, but sadly not where our route was planed. For me as an bicycle rider on a big, heavy tandem bicycle, keeping the balance in very low speed and at the same time keep my eyes open for buses, taxies and other riders was challenging. It was a fight, as commander of the “dreadnought” I worked all my skills in navigating between people, taxis, buses and other tweed riders. But it all worked out fine in the end.

At Hasselbacken, again the nice sponsor Hendrick´s Gin gave every rider an voucher for a gin and tonic (non alcoholic alternative was available of course) in the restaurants outside garden. We salute the nice gesture with a bow and keeping Hendrick´s in mind for the next gin purchase. After riding for a few hours the ice cold GT was very, very tasty and made the riders temperature go back to normal. Especially after the hills and the traffic in the city. Again we talked a lot and laughed, the spirit was high and we all looked forward to the finish and the events at the Nordic Museum. So after some time we all started again, down the road a few hundred meters to the Nordic Museum where we all was shown to the side entry of the museum to bring in all bicycles up to the main hall where they should make a display.

One of the sponsors, Hendrick´s

At the museum they had an all day long event in the theme of the 1940’s for the public to visit. Cloths, fashion show, dance shows and the restaurant served 1940s themed food. The peak of the day was when we all came and put all or bicycles on display in the main hall. It was a pity that the bicycles was standing there only for a short while. It would have been a great display to watch all bicycles, having all the owners write a small note with information and history of the bicycle. I had my trusty camera with me, the Fujifilm x100. But I must confess. I did not take as many photos as I wanted, there was so many other things to do and see. But I got a few photos, among the ones in this post. Considering the amount of lenses and smart phones that was aimed at us during the parade. I guess that there will be many more photos around the inter-web soon, featuring Tweed and old bicycles. Perhaps one and another “Dreadnought” tandem bicycle.

Riding the narrow streets of old Stockholm

There we were standing, having a beer and waiting for the price ceremony. There had been a jury judging the riders and bicycles right from the start and now it was time to learn what the jury had decided. There was a price for best dressed lady, that was a lovely girl with a fantastic hairdo, all in a typical 1940’s sporty look (she is the girl mending the young girls skirt above). Then we had best technical bicycle, that was a Norwegian chap that came to Stockholm with his Norwegian bicycle. It was really nice! The there was a price for the best dressed youth. It was a girl which dress had broken at the start (also seen on the photo above). Then there was a gentleman from the northern parts of Sweden. He got a price for his appearance, all dressed in a 1890’s bicycle uniform, riding an high wheeler from Holland. Then they announced that there were a price for the best looking carriage. It was awarded… us?!
We got an price for looking great on our 1940’s Rex Duplex tandem bicycle. So we had to enter the stage and receive the cheers from the other riders. Now that was a real surprise!

Schneebremse with brother on the stage

Bike in tweed 2016? Of course. See you there.

I am still here

The summer has been lots of work and being busy all over so the updates here on Schneebremse has been few and far apart.
But still, I want to write a a short update before the Bike in tweed bicycle event takes place in Stockholm.Yes we are there soon. The summer just went by with lots of rain and sadly not so much bicycling as I wanted. Yes, of course.  I know it is all bad excesses. But the joy of riding a bike along a summer gravel road on the country side is a bit better than sliding along on a slippery tarmac road in the city while the rain find it’s way down your back, in the inside of the jacket. Since it has been raining so much that an aqua scooter has been better than a bicycle, I did not quite feel like adventures on two wheel so far this summer.

About the Tweed event, sadly the start will not be at the same place at Kungsträdgården thus year as previous years. This year the event will move to an square just beside the government called Mynttorget. It will be fine there to. In fact I think it will be compact and interesting to meet all people there. There will be a display of all sorts of bicycles and people in all kinds of clothes. In fact I have talked to people that might show up. Among others I have asked the lovely blogger Elsa Lisa Larsson if she might be there. Hopefully she will attend the event with her red old bicycle. It will be fun to meet her again. Perhaps I will ask her to pose for a photo. Because I will not only have a bicycle with me, I will have my Fujifilm x100 camera to take photos of the event, from start to finish and all in between. There will be some stops along the course we will ride. There will be the stop at Rålambshovsparken for the annual group photo and picnic. I better prepare with tea and sandwiches.

For me,the bicycle is almost done. I have mended some things, had a shop attend the rear wheel. I felt it was better to have a shop adjust the rear wheel of the tandem since it is not only I that will ride on the old Rex Duplex tandem bicycle. I also have added some bits and pieces. I will take photos and explain everything I did on the bicycle, details and my thoughts behind it all. The only main thing that is left to do, is toe fix the front light, It seems to be the old Swedish 1940’s ASEA dynamo that have stopped working. After 75 years? Scandal! Perhaps I should contact them for a refund?

My clothes are all set. No matter what kind of weather it will be, I will be there.
Even if the rain finds it way down my back on the inside of my shirt.

To end this update, on a nostalgic note.
Here is a photo of an young Schneebremse from the late 1970’s.
Look at that smile. A brand new bicycle, all red and shiny!

That makes anyone smiling.


Development of cameras, part 6 “epilogue”

There we have it.

Four different cameras used at one occasion. Four different ways to take photos, all with different results.
The Kodak box from the 1930’s with the minimalistic settings. The Rolliecord that took the photographing to a new level with adjustment availabilities with change of shutter speed and f-stop. Then we took a large leap into the digital era with the new Fujifilm X100. That is an camera also used by many pro-photographers as an great backup to their regular cameras. Or as an “back to basics” camera with the rigid lens and old style layout of the controls.
That leave us with the last camera, or phone, or computer or… Well, the iPhone 5s anyway. It is a camera/development laboratory and everything else that you might need for a great everyday photo, all in one.

Of course all cameras has their advantages and disadvantages. The old film cameras has the problem that you can not check the photo at once, if the model blinks, then the photo is ruined and you will find out that a week later. But the advantage with that, are thaty due to the limited frames you have. You really have to see and plan the photo in your head before taking it. Planning, explaining to the model and a lot of thinking of different light settings, pose of teh model, what might work and what might not work. Everything needs to be considered before taking that photo.

With a digital camera its just to get the settings right, set the f-stop to get that depth of field you like. Then it is just to fire away. You can take a photo and then show it to the model to explain what you are wanting from the model and situation. It is a great aid, also if the model blinks. Just take a new photo. Or even better take 3 photos at the same time. After all the roll of film in the digital camera holds about 400 espousers (sort of).

But with your smart phone, there is no settings, nothing. Just point and shoot. The quality are perhaps not so great comparing with the professional camera. But the images are great anyway, all cameras are individuals. The same photo do not look the same with different cameras, as we realized during this series. Here is an image I made (with an app in my phone) where I joined all four cameras photos from the same scene.


Here is one image with the four photos that I have been talking about the last topics. From left to right,
Kodak Box (1930) grainy but genuine.
Rolliecord (1952) the details are great crisp and nice.
Fujifilm X100 (2012) well, the colour and sharpness is fantastic.
iPhone 5s (2013) a good snapshot clear and nice.

The vintage cameras are about the same and so are the digital cameras about the same in style and quality. It all comes down to what you like and what you are going for. Using old vintage cameras with real film would be a great and fun thing if you had possibility to develop and print the photos your self. As an hobby it is just great! I know since I have been doing it. But the digital media is a huge advantage, you can sit by your computer and with a fairly good photo editor you can get really good results. Then the phone, well. If you are only taking photos for fun. For usage to take snapshots of the everyday life, the sunset at the vacation, that girl with the bicycle. Then you can tweak and adjust the photos in the phone it self and get amazing results. The question is, what do you like to get out of the photo? Now on those photos I have been showing you here, I have not edited them in any major way. Only putting my name on them and resize them, perhaps use a clearing up tool for compensating the loss of pixels in the down sizing process. That is it.

Just for fun I took out the phone while sitting on the subway going home from work one day. With an app I changed one of the photos I took with my phone. I started to change settings and colours. Just for fun making a “vintage” style photo. When putting it side by side with the “real” vintage photo like the one created by the Kodak Box. We clearly can see the differences. But when the photo are standing along by it self like below, it really has a feeling of an old photo. Made with a few swipes on a smart phone (that primary are a telephone…).


So what can we say with all this? Any camera is great as long as you get the results you want and captures the scene you see. All cameras has their advantages and disadvantages. For me, the feeling of really taking a photo with the Rolliecord is special. But knowing the amazing results I can get with the Fujifilm really boosts the urge to taking one more photo. But as for pure fun factor nothing beats the iPhone. The accessibility, the easy to take a photo. The way you can take memory snapshots in the moment and still have a great quality photo. That makes the smart phone photos really fun and great to work with.

Just for fun, the photos I have been showing here are just simply examples. One of the reasons for the photo session was to get photos for this post. But we did not only take one photo, there was an entire series. Diferent poses, dresses and settings. Here is one more from that session.


In short I would like to say like this. The best camera is the one you got with you.

The search for the perfect photo is making us wanting to take more photos.
After all the next photo you will take might be the perfect photo. Or the next, or the next after that…

Cameras and bicycles, part 4 ”Fujifilm X100”

It is time for part 4 in my series about cameras and bicycles.

After using old analogue cameras at the bicycle photo session. I started to use my main camera since 2 years back. The first version of the Fujifilm X100.
The X100 was introduced in 2010 at the Photokina show in September 2010 and become a huge success, both because of the amazing image quality. But also because it was one of the first “retro” cameras that combined a modern thinkiong with a stylish design. But they started to make the camera in larger series first in 2011. I got mine from England in early 2012, it came in a great looking box with original strap, some cables, charger for the battery and so on, of course the camera itself was included.

Now, why did I choose this camera? There are other cameras out there that are equally good or better, more “camera” cameras, with changeable lenses and all that extra everything. For me first of all, the X100 has a fixed prime lens (digital 23mm, that equals to about 35mm in the AOV system). So there is no zoom or anything like that. Second it uses the range finder system. That is when you are taking a photo, you are not looking at the object via the lens. But there is a separate window where you need to adjust the focus in and can compose the image in. It is just like my old Leica M camera, and other earlier 135 small frame cameras (including the Zorki 4K ).

The X100 has a unique feature of being able to mix the view finders real optical vision with a electronic information/frame that also creates a frame for the image, just like old the Leica. So you get all information of the digital camera, but you see the objects in real. Like a heads up display on fighter planes.
There are 2 settings for the view finder:
1, optical and digital. You see everything as a old camera but with the extra digital information
2, pure digital on the screen that pops up in the view finder when flicking the lever on the front of the camera. The extra screen shows the image that the information from the lens gives it also adds the histogram and , just like the regular back display on a digital camera battery status and remaining space on the memory card. With that view you see exactly what you get when pressing the release button.

There is settings for different classical Fujifilm films programmed into the camera. You can choose normal, black and white, different versions of Fuji colour films. For example I have always used the settings in digital cameras that gave me more richness in the colours. In the X100 settings there is an option to simulate the “Velvia” film that Fujifilm developed as an alternative to Kodaks Kodachrome 25 film back in the 1990’s. With this setting the colours are becoming richer and there is more power in the photos. To be honest I am not a big fan of pre-production/editing of photos. Once there was a famous photographer that once said that” he crops the photo in the view finder instead of cropping the photo in the development process”. That quote got stuck with me since I started to take photos and I always tries to take photos like that. What I see, is what I want the image to look like. With the possibility of different colour settings in the camera I most rarely need to adjust the colour tones in the post production.
I only edits the photos when I want a black and white photo. Then I convert the image to black and white, raise the contrast quite a bit. Just to get the feel of grainy b/w photos. The old Kodak TRI-X feeling (witch is impossible to mimic).

Back to the X100. One of the other main advantages with the camera is that the aperture and shutter speeds are placed on knobs that are just like a “real” camera. That is the shutter speed is set with a knob beside the shutter release button. The aperture are set with a ring on the lens, like a real camera. I can very easily choose the settings as I like them and also change then in a quick manner. Both on the aperture and the shutter settings there is an “A” mode, so I do not have to think as much. Of course there is also the other digital advantages like menus, settings and a digital display on the back of the camera.
But for me that have been using a Leica M camera for many years, I used a Pentax SLR camera for a short period. But I used mainly the range finder cameras Leica, Zorki and others. I am used to how they works and all that. It feels comfortable for me.

I remember when using the X100 for the first time, realizing that the zoom is in your feet again. The way I had to bend my knees and crawl on the floor to get the image I wanted. It was just like the olden days, except my knees hurts now, must be of not using them. It can’t be the age showing?
It was a way of taking photos that I had forgotten, but quickly got back to. Sometimes I wish there was a possibility to change lenses. Or even be able to fit my old Russian lenses on the camera, it would be fun. But a classical 35 mm lens is good for so many different things, portraits, landscape, everyday life.
I like the X100 very much, but there is a X100s out there that is even better so I heard. It even got the old focusing prism style range finder so I am told. Did I mention that you can focus by turning on the focusing ring on the X100 lens? It is a great camera!

One of the huge advantages with an digital camera is the storage for the photos. As I mentioned the the 2 earlier parts in the series. The Kodak box had space for 8 photos on one roll of 120 film. The Rolliecord had 12 photos on the same type of film. The digital camera uses a memory card, if you use one with 8 GB space and the settings on the camera are set to medium image quality. Then you can fit 4000 images or there about. There is no need to look at every photo you take, just fire away. Take 3-4 photos more than just one, then save all. You never know when you are going back and looking at the ones that was bad at first look, they might be really good at a second look or when looking at them in the computer. That brings us to the second huge advantage, that is the possibility to look at the images at once. Just press the play button to watch what you just took a photo of. Perhaps when having a photo session with a model, you can show the model straight away the look and your visions of how the result would be. After all, the model never knows what you “see”. With a digital camera you can show in a easy way. So the model understands you and can help you to get that perfect image that all photographers are searching for.

The “old” look of the Fujifilm X100 is very genuine, especially after I added an twinned leather strap and my soft release button (the big red dot on the top fo the camera). Also on the top you can see the shutter speed selector know, there is a compensation knob to. That ones allows you to force the camera to create darker or lighter photos. Back in the old days you had to calculate that by yourself. On the front of the camera is the lens and a small lever. That lever controls the digital display in the view finder. But it looks like a old rewind lever. On the back there is buttons for the digital menus and an large display.  As an option I bought an UV filter so the lens would be protected against dust and fingerprints. I do not want to cereate scratches on teh lens, so I have always used UV filters. Some say that using a filter like that is distorting the image. If it does, I do not know. But I am not selling my photos, so for me it is no big difference. Then I bought an lens hood. That is one more thing that I always have used, also to prevent scratches and accidental damages to the lens. The camera looks way more cooler too with a lens hood….

After using the vintage cameras I brought out the X100 camera out of the back. The girl was standing by the bicycle waiting. The camera was set to auto on everything. Now there is a silly thing with the camera. I think it is because of a thing I heard a while ago. In Japan it is illegal to take photos with out a shutter sound. So in the menu of the camera there is an option of 3 different settings of shutter sounds. It is not the shutter itself that makes a sound. It is a pre-recorded sound than mimics a shutter. So there are three sounds, all slightly different. “click”, “clock”and “clack” sort of. Very strange. Since the digital camera has no shutter in that way. The only sounds you can hear with taking a photo is the silent whisper when the aperture sets. But it is so silent it is silly, I think a flies cough is louder.

Anyway, I started it up, looked in the view finder and composed the image and pressed the release button.

“click”, or something like that.