Descend from the main stately home of Rydal Mount in the Lake District, pass through a tunnel beneath a bridge next to the flowing stream of Rydal Beck, and you will find a curious little building before a waterfall. The building was originally built in the 1668, and its main purpose becomes immediately apparent once you enter. A solitary window frames the waterfall, making it seem like you are looking upon a living painting. The building served as a retreat for artists, who could sit in the little building and paint the waterfall.
I can’t paint unfortunately, but it made a nice subject for my Semflex TLR. My wife has more talent than me so I took a picture of her as she followed in footsteps of those before her and sketched the waterfall. The light was beautiful through the window.
I almost destroyed these negatives in development, putting in only 300ml of solution rather than 500ml, thinking I was developing 35mm rather than 120. I’m glad I managed to save them.
I recently acquired a beautiful early 1950s Semflex – a French TLR camera. I had wanted a Lubitel but the guy in the shop convinced me that the Semflex is much better.
I took it out for its debut on a walk around Grasmere in the Lake District. I left my wife on a small beach to do some sketching while I attempted to reach the top of Loughrigg. The Semflex is a pretty big and heavy camera and I was soon regretting the decision to take it with me, but I then came across a broken and overgrown bench, and then it seemed worth lugging the thing up the fell after all..
So I got my first Box Brownie photos back – I’m really pleased with them! I wasn’t expecting anything great, as through past experience (see earlier posts) there’s nothing more dispiriting than spending time setting up photos carefully only to find that none of them came out. Therefore, I decided to play it safe, and took my dog out for a walk in my hometown of March on a nice sunny day – ideal Box Brownie weather.
First, here’s a shot of our Victorian town hall. It’s a fine building when looking up but there is an ugly modern car park at the bottom so I chose this angle. I did manage to double-expose one of the pictures by accident, but this one came out the best.
Wandering down to the old medieval church of St Wendreda’s, I spotted this interesting old gravestone, covered in ivy. I didn’t quite manage to get it all in the frame – one of the viewfinders is very dark, the mirrored surface inside is peeling off so I probably need to repair it. Not surprising after 100 years!
This is a shot of the river Nene from the town centre. Not the most exciting of shots but I quite like the mirrored texture of the water.
Lastly, a shot of the medieval church of St Wendreda’s. I was finding the viewfinder a bit disorientating as its reversed but still not bad!
Considering how old the camera is, I’m pleased with how these came out. Now that I know it works, I’d like to experiment using it a bit more – maybe with some nice sweeping landscapes. I’m going to the Lake District soon so hopefully I’ll be able to get some good shots then.
It’s nice to take something that’s been useless for the best part of a century and give it a purpose again. I hope my little Box Brownie camera is happy about that – I like to think so..