“f/8, and be there!”


This, supposedly, was the mantra of the Press photographer. f/8 would cover a multitude of sins and as long as you were there you probably got something that would be good enough for the paper. Those who remember the newspapers of the 1960s or 70s will recall how small photos were normally used. It wasn’t exactly challenging to get something that would look OK printed no bigger than the size of a 4×5 negatives.
However, in theory the old American Press cameras are capable of even better results than the famed Hasselblads or Bronicas.
For this shot, I used my Graphlex in “Press camera mode”, hand-held and focusing using the built-in rangefinder, which is set up for a 135mm lens, the Schneider Xenar which presumably came with the camera when it was made.
As the food carts were in the shade, f/8 was appropriate, with a shutter speed of around 1/150 (allowing for the slightly slow shutter). I lost the side of the negative with a slip of the dark slide, and the old Xenar seems to have picked up a bit of flare on the right-hand side but the focus is exactly where the rangefinder put it and the image is as sharp as it gets.
f/8 and be there is better than just about good enough!

press camera mode

Oh, and “foul” is not self-criticism of the food they serve, it’s the name of a popular Egyptian bean soup.

A version of this photo is for sale as an art print here
Sell Art Online

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About ambientimages

Paul Cowan is a former journalist turned full-time photographer.
This entry was posted in Black and White film, Equipment, Film, film camera, Film cameras, Graflex Crown Graphic, Photography, Schneider Xenar 135/4.7 (Tessar) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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