The black bicycle, part 2

My search for a black bicycle had started after I got my interest back for vintage bicycles. I knew it was impossible to get exactly the one my father once had. But I wanted a similar one.

One day I found an odd bicycle shop located in a cellar in the central parts of Stockholm. In the basement they had a range of bicycles for sale. Many brand new bicycles but also used modern ones. But in the back, behind huge piles of rusty mountain bikes and cheep standard bicycles were some vintage bicycles that caught my eye.

Like a line dancer on a windy day I manage to get closer to the vintage bicycles to find out more about them. They were dusty, rusty and had flat tires. But they all had price tags. Oh dear!

Now that was rather high prices for those old beaten up bicycles. I got out from the cellar and talked with the man behind the counter. He said that vintage bicycles was the greatest thing at the moment. He was selling them like never before. There was a huge demand for them. As we talked for a while, I mentioned my idea for the black bicycle. He got interested and asked me to wait a moment. He went in to the storage and after a short while came back holding a frame. It was a old 1930’s frame without any parts attached, it was only the frame.


The start of my first vintage bicycle

He said that he had an storage on the countryside where he had parts that could fit. If I was interested he could collect the parts needed for me. So I could build my own bicycle. It would be cheaper that way, the man said.

A few weeks later I returned to the shop. Now they had some parts i needed to build a 1930’s bicycle. Frame, mud guards and rims, all parts was painted in a lovely black finish with gold pin-striping. The frame had gold filled ornaments shaped like wings. He also had collected spokes, Torbedo hubs (a demand from me) and a set of original screws to fit the entire bicycle. It all was in the shop for me to buy. He had told me that I should thread the wheels myself then return to him when I was done and he would make them true and tuned up.

Some parts were to damaged in my opinion, like a rusty chain wheel and a crooked luggage rack. I thought that I could get them my self on internet auctions. Piece of cake! I would soon have this bicycle running.

I got home happy as could be.


Frame, mud guards, rims. It was a promising start.

The following weeks I started to collect parts, buying from internet auctions. Handel bars, chain guard, chain wheel, saddle and so on. One day I decided to look at all parts I got more closely. It was then I noticed that the frame had drilled holes on the front post. Holes clearly meant for a badge of some sort. Funny thing was I recognized the pattern from somewhere. After searching in my old “could be usable one day parts” drawer I found an old Hermes bicycle badge. It fitted the pattern of the holes! It was an Uppsala build Hermes frame, I looked up the serial number and found out it was from 1933. That was just great! But could I use the chain wheel I had bought on auction? Now I knew that the frame was a Hermes and the chain wheel I got was a odd 1960’s one. It would never look good.


Chain wheel and handle bar post, I have no idea what brand they are.

Never mind. I thought that I would try on the mud guards, just to see how the look of the bicycle would end up. They mud guards I bought from the odd shop in the city was original 1930’s ones. Never used, shiny black with golden pin-striping with duck tails. The front guard fitted like a glove. But I tried the rear guard, it did not fit! The mud guard was to wide for the frame, I could force it in. But then I would destroy the mud guard.  Beside that the front fork was not original to the frame, it missed the wing ornaments and was painted white. What to do?

I decided to go on. Build the wheels and make at least a working bicycle.

Next episode of the black bicycle, the amazing adventure of the wheels.

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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)

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Tweed and bicycles

The theme for 2015 will be tweed and bicycles.

First up is the result of a long time of designing, thinking and putting together a sort of retro/vintage/classic-looking bicycle. It is made of different part from different brands. But the main part is the frame and that ids made by Pelago in Helsinki, so I guess that makes it an Pelago racer. It turned out really nice, the black paint, chrome parts and gold details. I have mentioned it earlier in many different posts. But now it is finished and been out for a test run. The fist impressions are that is is a quick and light weight bicycle. There are some small issues that needs to be adjusted, bolts to be tightened, adjusting the chain and raising saddle and handlebars.

But first, tweed! Later this summer there is a visit to Edinburgh planned for me and a friend. While we are there we will eat haggis, drink beer (perhaps a small whiskey to) and see the town. But more interesting and tweed related, we will take a train ride up to the highlands to look for Harris Tweed cloths. Perhaps I will buy a suit or at least a pair of trousers and a waistcoat that matches the jacket I already got. Then a lunch at the local pub. It will be an interesting journey, I guess there will be a post about the travel to be found later on here on Schneebremse blogg. Complete with images and describing photos of the scenery.

Why this obsession with Harris Tweed? Well that is a difficult question. But the short and simple answer might be that tweed is a classic, durable, great looking cloth. Also the brown Harris Tweed in herringbone pattern coat I got from my father when I was a teenager. He bought the coat at Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm in the mid -60’s. He used it back then, but later on it ended up in an closet. When I got it in my teens, the fashion was a bit different. Everyone was using leg warmers and pink slacks or leather jackets with studs. But I used to walk around dressed in suit trousers, white shirt, dark tie and a tweed coat. Of course I had a black umbrella with a bamboo handle when it was raining.  Mind you, this was in the mid -80’s. I guess I was rather along looking odd, dressed like that (sadly no photos exists from that era). But I liked it. It was long before it became “hip” or “cool” to dress like that. After all, one of my biggest heroes at the time was Harry Palmer.
By unfortunate events I lost the coat but before that I got different tweed jacket from different brand. It was in a dogtooth pattern, almost in a black and white “op” pattern style with a lovely ox blood red lining. I used the jacket so much that it literally was falling to pieces many years later. By then I bought a three piece suite in a red-brown herringbone pattern, yellow lined, Donegal Tweed from Ireland. I used it a few times, but never got around to really enjoy it since it was slightly to small.
After that I went back to the Harris Tweed brand by buying a “stock” pre-made jacket in grey herringbone pattern. Now I had found my way back, it feels just right. Perfect fit and the nice contact with the retailer made the jacket a really good purchase.
It all starts and ends with Harris Tweed from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

So travelling with train to the Scottish highlands in tweed, buying more tweed is either pure madness, or it can turn out to be a great event and a lovely experience.

Back to the bicycle for a moment. The idea was to replicate an 1930’s path racer bicycle. The style of the turned down handlebars, clean design and “less is more” attitude. I think I got it right, it do not look like any other bicycle on the market today. Not like this. I think I got it right.

Let us go straight to the facts about the new bicycle. Here is an approximately price what I paid for all parts. There might be errors all over, so see it as a rough guide and not as an exact list. I was not aiming for the cheep parts, I just bought the ones that I wanted and had the best design in my opinion. The parts was bought over a long period of time. In the end the total price is about 670 Euro, but I like to adjust it up to 700 just to be safe. It feels more accurate that way.

After it being completed, the weight are 14.3 kilos.

Bike in Tweed 2015, here we go

Parts  Brand Price S/H Total
 Break (front) Cavo, bought at an auction  12  6  18
Grips NOS from -50’s 15 4 19
Grease Mirum 8 8
Frame Pelago Bristol “classic” 275 25 300
Pedals Sylvan Touring Silver 35 35
Saddle Ideale 80 42 6 48
Handlebar NOS from -50’s 7 4 11
Cranks (no name from Australia) 15 6 21
Stem NOS from -70’s 10 4 14
Chain Classic cycle (gold) 18 17 35
Saddle post n/a Bought from a friend, 160
Tires / tubes Swalbe Delta cruiser (same as above)
Wheels / hubs Van Schothorst / Shimano (same as above)
 Total, 669€

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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.

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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…).

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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.

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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 5 ”iPhone 5s”

It is time for the last presentation in the series about the cameras that I used on the bicycle photo session a some weeks earlier.

This time I used my own regular mobile phone, an iPhone 5S. It is not only a simple telephone that you can make calls with. It is also an minicomputer, organiser, media player and flash-light. But there is also an very good camera in the phone. The iPhone, or lets us say smart phone since almost every smart phone today got these possibility, got excellent editing possibility with in it self for some after editing.
But with a few simple touches on the screen you can find a large selection of different programs/applications (apps) for photo editing. More of that later in this text.

At the bicycle photo session, after I used the 3 other cameras I mentioned in the earlier posts, the old Kodak box, the Rolleicord and the modern Fujifilm x100. I took out my phone out of my pocket and wiped the lens clean from fingerprints and dust. That is one small but very important thing to do. Grease or smudge on the lens always creates effects that bad. Such as lens flares or an “foggy” look on the photos. The best starting point are a clean image. Then you can let loose you creativity and add what effects you like and create artistic and fun photos later on.
Even lens flares and fog if you like.

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Well, there is no knobs or levers on the “camera” to be honest. Only a few buttons and an touch display. One of the ways you can activate the camera is by pressing the home or sleep button then swipe the camera symbol upwards. There you have the camera all running and reddy to shoot. In that mode you can swipe on the screen at the sides to get video mode or a square frame for the photo. There is other options to. But for now we will go with the standard camera settings. By looking at the screen you compose the photo, the press either the button on the screen (big red button, the shutter) or you press the volume up/down button, remote shutters releases. Then you have taken a photo. As simple as that.

Now when you have taken an photo that you are pleased with. The fun part of editing begins. With almost every smart phone today you have many different options of editing tools and helps. You can choose either with the smart phones own built in effects/filter options. Or you can download for free or buy an app for editing photos. I use the “camera+” app. It costed me a few dollars. But it works for me, I get the results I like.
Beside it is an easy and fun program with many pre set filter options to choose from. There are options for exposure adjustments, tone, colour, contrast and so on.

I will show a few settings how you can change the photo in the smart phone, just for fun.

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Here are some filter options to choose from, there are a few categories of filter styles. Colour, retro, Special, Hollywood and more.

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You can change the tint of the photo, highlights, shadows and even more light settings.

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There is a cropping tool, that make you either choose the crop yourself or use one of the many pre sets crops.


It is fun to take photos with my smart phone! After  The time just runs away and you will end up with even stranger results than intended from the start. Of, course it is a phone. Not a primarily camera. But for all those “on the go” photos and photos for social media like facebook and instagram the smart phone is a really good option. After all, instagram was designed to be used for smart phone photos. There is almost no end to what you can do with the photo. It is like having the entire film laboratory with all skill of the personnel at your finger tips. You take the photo, develop it and then you can get it to any style you like. Things that 20 years ago took many hours of skills and learning to create. There is an entire new way of creating images today. If you with the smart phone connects it to a printer made for phone photos and prints the image you have edited. You only delay is how fast/slow you work with your editing. No more waiting for a developer to do their work for a week or more. Here you got instant result!
Of course the charm of the old cameras has gone in a way. There is perhaps just a matter of simply changing focus. Perhaps there is charm in the modern way of creating photos? After all, everyone is using smart phones today and the best camera in the world “is the camera you have with you” as they say.

In this case, I had my bag with cameras. But when I was going to use the smart phone. I simply picked it up out of my pocket, started the camera, composed the image and pressed on the volume button. Because I use my phone on silent mode, there was no shutter sound (sound playback) As I wrote in last post about the Fujifilm X100 shutter sounds must exist. But here in Europe we can turn it off. So I pressed the shutter release button and…

“……” (no sound at all)

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