Category Archives: Engineering

Bob Shell: Starting a Studio

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Starting a Studio

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Several friends have asked me for equipment recommendations for setting up a studio. If I were to set up a studio for still photography today (and I hope to soon do so), I’d invest in a set of Paul C. Buff’s Einstein flash units. I’ve used Paul’s flash equipment with complete satisfaction since he first started building it in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time of my conviction I was using several of Paul’s Alien Bees flash units, and some of his older units that are no longer made. Today I’d buy as many of his Einstein units as my budget would bear. They have every feature I could ask for, and can be used anywhere. On my European trips I used to take a Buff unit that Paul loaned me made for European voltage and a medium umbrella, since European hotel rooms tend to be small, and I used hotel rooms as impromptu studios when traveling.

Other flash systems I have tested that work well are Multiblitz, Hensel, Profoto, and Visatek by Bron. I’m sure there are others. Stick with well known brands, because others tend to go out of business, leaving you stranded if you need parts or accessories. I have one of those orphans, a Venca power pack and three heads. If it ever needs parts I’m stuck.

I’ve not used them, but I’ve been reading about the new LED flash units in Photo District News. Their advantage is zero recycle time. Their disadvantage is lower light output, but with today’s digital cameras that’s less of an issue since images shot at higher ISO settings are perfectly usable. The days of the xenon-filled flash tube may be numbered. But I wouldn’t call traditional flash down for the count just yet.

Regardless of light source, I prefer softboxes to umbrellas when there’s room. Speaking of softboxes, I have used a number of different brands and types, but generally feel the bigger the better for my fill light, since I like to mimic natural diffuse daylight. For years I used Photoflex softboxes, but have not seen mention of them for years and don’t know if they’re still in nusiness. For quality of construction and neutrality of color, I don’t think you can beat Chimera. Gary Register’s Plume Wafer boxes are also excellent, and thinner (but pricier) than others. I also like Photek. While film was generally somewhat forgiving of color cast and mismatches between softboxes, I’ve found that digital really shows these differences, so it’s probably not good to mix brands.

Light stands: The old standard Matthews C Stand is hard to beat. I’ve kept several in my studios for years. Otherwise, the Manfrotto stuff is tried and true. I prefer stands with wheels to make moving lights easier. I avoided cheap knockoff stands. I remember once watching in horror as the upper tube section on a cheap stand I was testing twisted and buckled, sending one of my flash units crashing to the floor. Thankfully the flash’s landing was cushioned by the attached softbox and it survived. The same caution also applies to background support systems. To handle rolls of seamless paper I’ve used the Manfrotto system since the 70s. You can mount the support brackets on light stands, but for a more permanent setup I mounted the supports high up on a wall in my studio and used the plastic chains to wind the paper up and down. That way I could keep three rolls on hand at all times for quick changes. A bunch of Manfrotto Super Clamps and their attachments belong in any serious studio. They are indispensable for hooking things to light stands, pipes, 2 X 4 studs, and numerous other things.

You’ll also want several rolls of real gaffer’s tape. Don’t try to make do with cheap duct tape, which will let you down and leave a mess behind when you strip it off. The real stuff can be peeled off and leaves no residue behind, and will support a surprising amount of weight.

Whenever I needed a dead black background I used a velvety cloth backdrop from Photek. It works much better than any black paper, and can be washed if it gets dirty.

One invaluable piece of studio gear is the plastic “milk crate” sold in many stores. Mine came from CVS. They’re great for storing things, and strong enough to be stacked up to support things. To make a raised platform in my studio I used eight of them stacked two to a corner to support a 4 X 8 foot Radva foam plastic insulating panel. This was strong enough to support several people. Just don’t let any of the models wear spike heels — they’ll punch right through the foam.

If you want a fog machine and have a nearby source of dry ice, Wayne Collins showed me a trick years ago to make lots of fog. Just buy a cheap shop vac. Put a few inches of water in it, throw in the dry ice, put the lid on, hook the hose to the outlet, and turn it on. Fog will pour out and you or an assistant can control where it goes. (If you want to get fancy, add an AC motor speed control, sold in hardware stores). This works better than expensive commercial fog machines because those use mineral oil based “fog juice,” and the mineral oil will condense on your cameras and lenses, and on everything else in your studio, as I learned the hard way. Unfortunately, dry ice is not readily available everywhere, and can’t be bought in advance and stored for any length of time. There are dry ice making machines, but they’re very expensive.

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To fire the flash units you can use the old-fashioned long PC cord, but I’ve never liked tripping on cords or getting tangled up in them. For years I used the infrared systems from Wein products, made by my old friend Stan Weinberg. But, sadly, Stan has shut down the business. I also used radio slave systems when infrared didn’t work, because it won’t work around corners. A number of companies make radio systems for firing flash units, and all of the ones I’ve tested worked well.

Where do you buy all this stuff? My sources for all my studio needs were Adorama and B&H. For the more unusual items I went to The Set Shop in NYC.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-americas-puritanism/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

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Studio News: Bob Shell’s New Book!

 

NEW BOOK RELEASE!

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Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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COSMIC DANCE

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Those of you who have enjoyed my rambling discourses here will probably like my new book, my first in twelve years. It’s titled COSMIC DANCE by Bob Sbell and is available from Amazon now. (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 quality paperback; $ 5.95 EBook; 203 pages). You can get a feel for the book by reading the sample pages on Amazon.

This book is a collection of essays developed from notes written in a series of notebooks during the last twelve years while I’ve been a prisoner in Virginia. But this book is not about that story. While my body has been imprisoned, my mind has been free to wander and explore, and conduct the type of thought experiments, that Einstein favored so much.

The book is divided into four sections about things that deeply interest me:

I. Physics and Cosmology;

II. Biology and Evolution;

III. The UFO Phenomenon;

IV. Religion “Christianity”;

followed by some appendices.

The book is intended for the general reader interested in these subjects. I’ve avoided technical language and math as much as possible.

Each section steps off from established facts to explore my personal take on things. For example, did you know that you can never photograph the event happening now? To find out why, read page 73.

I’ve been an “armchair physicist” since the early 1970s when my old friend Robert Anton Wilson (see his bio on Wikipedia if you don’t know who he was) introduced me to that strange creature Schrodinger’s Cat, who is even more mysterious than the Cheshire Cat, being simultaneously both dead and alive until observed. The title COSMIC DANCE is a tip of the hat to Bob, whose most influential book is titled COSMIC TRIGGER.

Whether we like it or not, quantum physics is how the universe works. This little tablet I write on wouldn’t work in a strictly Newtonian universe. Neither would your TV, cellphone, computer, digital watch, and all the other electronic devices of modern life. Quantum physics does not follow human logic. Or maybe I should say that human logic does not follow quantum reality. Either way, there’s a mismatch between the two. For example, we humans tend to believe that the past is fixed and invariable, but it’s not. In our quantum universe neither past nor future is fixed, and much of the past has yet to be developed. Cause does not have to precede effect. The equations of quantum physics are time neutral; time may not even really exist.

In cosmology, the accepted theoretical model of the evolution of the universe tells us that galaxies should be evenly distributed throughout space, but in reality they aren’t, they’re in clumps, clusters, “walls,” so the theory must be wrong. That’s important, but cosmologists mostly ignore that fact.

In biology, even though I was originally a biologist myself, I’ve never been satisfied with Darwinian/neo-Darwinian evolution as an explanation of the biological diversity we see in the world. The theory simply doesn’t fit the facts. We need a new theory that does.

Back in the 1960s, when I was on staff at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, it was pointed out to me that there was something wrong with dinosaur footprints. They’re simply not deep enough for the projected weight of the animals, and some animals that we’ve reconstructed as walking on four legs left only prints of their hind feet, their forelegs never touching the ground. On page 137 I dig into this mystery and propose a new theory to explain this odd fact.

On page 159 I delve into the UFO phenomenon. The fact, as the New York Times recently uncovered, is that the Pentagon knows that AAVs, Anomalous Aerial Vehicles, their term for UFOs, are real and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars studying them. UFOs are real, remember that. Some official documentations of what they call “incursions” have recently been declassified. Why the secrecy in the first place? Because the Pentagon doesn’t know what they are, where they come from, or why they’re here, buzzing our ships and planes. Simply put, if they were hostile, and some may well be, our military would be helpless to defend us from them. Government is all about control, and something they can’t control scares the bejaysus out of them.

In my section on religion, I tackle religion, specifically so-called “Christianity,” on the simple premise that it’s a political system, not a religion, and is terribly dangerous because of that. It seeks to control the bodies and minds of all, believer and nonbeliever alike, as the current brouhaha about abortion shows anyone with open eyes. Our nation’s founders wanted separation of church and state for damned good reasons, and laws based on religion violate that principle, and should not be on the books. The “Christian” Church held back scientific progress and intellectual freedom for centuries, brought us the Dark Ages, and continues to try to do so today. Today’s “Christianity” has little or nothing to do with the simple, peaceful, and beautiful teachings of Yeshua, the man the Romans called Jesus.

I didn’t write this book to have readers agree with me and accept my ideas. I wrote it to make readers think, often outside their everyday comfort zones.

Like Robert Anton Wilson, I seek to make people agnostic, not just agnostic about religion, but agnostic about everything.

I hope you’ll buy and read my book, agree or disagree.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-female-nudes/

 

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Bob Shell: Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

tony ward cameras meditations industry photography

Tony Ward. Self Portrait. Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

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The first professional level camera that I ever used was my father’s Exakta VX1000. It was an odd beast, obviously designed for a left-handed user, with the film advance lever and shutter release button on the left of its angular body. It had shutter speeds, as i recall, down to 16 seconds, and an internal film knife that let you cut off part of a roll of film if you wanted to develop just a few frames without sacrificing the rest of the roll. That camera was my father’s pride and joy, and he’d saved money for some time to afford it. In those immediate postwar years Japanese cameras were considered junk, and the German photo industry was top dog. The Exakta cameras were made by Ihagee in Dresden, Germany, I have that Exakta now at my house in Radford, just waiting for my release. It came to me on my dad’s death in 2000, along with the rest of his photo equipment. It has the 50mm Steinheil lens, a lens that will focus very close; almost a macro lens, and is super sharp. The Exakta VX cameras were mechanical masterpieces. The VX1000 had a top shutter speed of 1/1000 second, while the less expensive VX500 only went to 1/500. My father got some great photos with that camera. It had no built-in light meter, so you used a separate hand meter or guessed exposure. I got to be pretty good at guessing, plus the black and white films we used were very forgiving. You could miss by quite a bit and still be able to pull off a good print in the darkroom. Of course, we developed our own film and printed the photos in our basement darkroom. For a while my father was the photographer for the Easter Seal Society in Roanoke, and the job came with the privilege of using their very nice darkroom so we would do our developing and printing there.

I must have been 12 or 13 when I “souped” my first film, and printed the pictures. Wow, that was a miracle, watching the images appear in the developing tray under the red safelight! I was hooked but good. And the pleasant addiction never went away. That sense of wonder has been lost in today’s digital world. Not that I’m down on digital, I’m not. I was an early adopter of digital, but never thought of how disruptive it would be to the business I love. Suddenly, almost overnight, major photography companies found themselves in the buggy business while automobiles took over the roads. Some companies made the transition and survived, but some didn’t.

A prime example of corporate head-in-sand blindness is Kodak. Essentially they invented the digital camera, and their electronic sensor division made, and may still make, some of the best digital sensors. But did they build cameras to house those sensors? No, they just sold those sensors to camera companies and gave away that market sector. Yes, there were Kodak professional digital cameras, but Kodak just bought Nikon and Sigma film cameras and modified them with their digital sensors and electronics. They shut down this operation some time ago. You can buy a Kodak branded point-and-shoot digital camera today, but it’s not made by Kodak. It comes from a manufacturer in Asia. So far as I know, the last cameras actually made by Kodak were some APS film cameras made at a Kodak factory in Mexico, where they wrestled with serious quality control issues. The last Kodak black and white photographic paper was made at a Kodak facility in Brazil. Rochester, NY, once “Kodak City” has seen the Kodak workforce drop radically, and people there can no longer look to Kodak for lifetime employment. It’s really sad to see this great American company go down, victim of bad management decisions. The same thing happened to Polaroid, another victim of the digital revolution. Both Kodak and Polaroid were instrumental in getting average Americans to make photographs. None of us in the photographic press anticipated the rapidity of the digital revolution, I’m sorry to say.

And now, there is another digital revolution going on, this one moving faster than anyone could have predicted. It is being driven by the cameras built into cellphones. These tiny cameras keep getting better and better. Last year saw the front covers of Rolling Stone and Conde Nast Traveler shot with iPhones! With cell phone cameras so good, many are asking, “What’s the point of carrying around a camera?”. This is a good question for the vast majority of people. And it’s sending ripples throughout the photo industry. You probably didn’t know that those compact point-and-shoot cameras were the bread and butter of the camera companies, and sales of those cameras provided the R&D money for advanced SLR development. Some companies saw those simple cameras making up 85% of their revenue. Where will that money come from now? I foresee a few camera companies going bust, unable to stay in business from SLR, high end mirrorless cameras, and lens sales alone. I’d say that Sony and Canon have the best chances of survival, as both companies are very diversified, with many other product lines to provide income. Fuji has a good probability of survival, too. I wouldn’t bet serious money on the survival of the others. At the very high end, where digital cameras sell for $ 30,000 and up, companies don’t need to sell many to survive, so it’s likely that Hasselblad, Leica, and Phase One will hang on. At least right now you can’t shoot a Times Square billboard with a cellphone, and there are other applications which require more pixels than even the digital SLRs can produce. Serious photographers will want more image control than phone cameras allow, and for things like wildlife photography only a long lens will work, so cellphone limitations will keep up a demand for more capability. To see beyond about ten years my crystal ball becomes hopelessly clouded.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-music-photography/

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Bob Shell: Pacifism, Guns, Religion, Revolution, etc.

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Pacifism, Guns, Religion, Revolution, etc.

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I’m a committed pacifist (what used to be called a peacenik). No apology.. I hate war and everything associated with it. I believe that human disagreements are best settled by peaceful means. This is not something I came to later in life, I’ve never read Gandhi or Martin Luther King, it’s just always been my philosophy. In the 1960s I was part of the anti-war movement. While living in Washington, DC, I picketed the Whitehouse and was teargassed on the Pentagon lawn. Later, in Richmond, I was associated with SSOC (Southern Student Organizing Committee, pronounced like “sock.”). We were the southern equivalent of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) which was more of a northern group. I toyed with communism, even had my own “Little Red Book,” The Sayings of Chairman Mao, for a while., but outgrew that phase pretty quickly. Politically, I’m a social ultra-liberal and fiscal ultra-conservative.. I believe in what Woodrow Wilson once said, “I don’t want a government that takes care of me, I want a government that keeps other men’s hands off of me so that I can take care of myself.”

I believed then, and still believe today, that war is one of the few things in the universe that is truly evil.

When Dwight David Eisenhower ended his term as President of the USA in 1961, he gave a speech in which he warned of the dangers of what he called “the military industrial complex.”. As a military man himself, he’d seen the growth of war as a business, and a damned big one. The world today is full of manufacturers of the machinery of war. Almost all developed countries have companies that make and profit from war machinery. What happens to these companies if there’s no war anywhere on the planet? They go broke. And they and their stockholders simply can’t allow that, so they stir up regional and tribal conflicts to create and sustain a customer base. Can’t sell more guns, bullets, grenades, tanks, attack aircraft, missiles, etc., if no one is killing anyone else.

Making money from human misery and death is simply wrong, wrong no matter what religion or philosophy you profess. It is ironic that most religions preach peace, but more people have died in religious wars than for any other reason. Christians killing Muslims, Muslims killing “infidels,” even Buddhists, who should be the world’s most peaceful people, killing innocent Muslims in Myanmar. Most of this is caused by an “us and them”mentality. If you’re not one of “us”, you must be one of “them,” and we hate “them.”. Why? Because they’re not “us,” they’re different, and being different is bad, and they probably kill babies or do something else really bad. I think most of “us” and “them” just want to get by and be left alone.

“Thou shalt not kill,” is good advice, but very few heed it. I’ve read that a more accurate translation of that biblical commandment is “Thou shall not murder,” which has a subtle but important difference in meaning. Murder is unprovoked killing, and is rightly prohibited.

Is killing ever justified? I’d have to say “yes,” under certain circumstances. If an enraged man is pointing a gun at me with every indication that he intends to kill me, I’d have no reservations against shooting him first if there was no alternative, but I’d probably try to disable rather than kill. Yes, I’m a pacifist who doesn’t hate guns. I have no problem with guns used properly. Before my arrest, I had two guns, a Remington single-shot bolt action .22 rifle and a 9mm Beretta pistol. I had fun target shooting with them, but never fired either one at anything living, and never would. Both were gifts from my father who thought every young man should learn to handle a gun safely. He gave me the rifle when I was in my teens, and the pistol many years later.

Am I in favor of gun control? Yes. No individual has a realistic need for a machine gun, or semiautomatic rifle of any sort. Remember, when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, and for years after, the state of the art in firearms was the muzzle-loading rifle and single shot pistol. Multiple shot guns of any sort just didn’t exist. And those simple black powder guns were what the authors of the Second Amendment knew and had in mind; guns for hunting, defending the homestead, and for the fun and challenge of hitting targets at a distance. Oh, and for that vanished “gentleman’s sport” of dueling. They didn’t envision personals arsenals like many have accumulated today.

I’ve spent a lot of time in England and Germany, countries with tight regulation of firearms. I could live happily in either country without missing guns. I’m in favor of rational gun control in the USA.

I was just listening to the old Jefferson Airplane song Volunteers, which was one of the late Paul Kantner’s anthems calling for a new American revolution. When that song came out in the early 70s we all thought the revolution was coming in a few years. We envisioned America of the future as a sort of “electric Tibet,” to quote Tim Leary. Well, it didn’t happen. Today it finally seems to be happening, but slowly and against powerful opposition. The legalization of marijuana in all of Canada, the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal, and loosening of draconian drug laws in many US states are all steps in the right direction, but we still have governments that are far too repressive on people. My body belongs to me, not some government. “There shall be no property in human flesh.” I firmly believe that I have the right to do anything I want so long as it harms no one else. I’m not a Wiccan, but I admire the Wiccan philosophy, “An it harm none else, do what you will.”. That was written for Gerald Gardner, founder of Wicca, by Aleister Crowley, whose own motto was ” Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”. Crowley toned it down for Gardner, although to the knowledgeable it means exactly the same thing.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-the-digital-era/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Travel

Bob Shell: The Digital Era

Chevrolet_truck_1940's_rust_grill_headlamps_junk_restore

Photo: Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

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The Digital Era

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Many of you reading this came of age in the digital photography era. Most likely you’ve never used, maybe never even seen, a film camera. My girlfriend Marion was like that. The first time I handed her a film camera she took a shot and then looked at the back of the camera to see the picture – which, of course, was not there! People who grew up with digital photography can’t imagine having to wait to see the pictures. When I first got started, unless you had a darkroom and developed and printed your own, you had to wait days to see your photos. When I had my first camera shop in the early 1970s we had our photofinishing done by a big commercial company called Colorcraft. Their courier picked up film from us every day and delivered the finished photos. As I recall, it took three or four days to get your pictures back. A bit later in the 70s came the innovation of next day delivery. People were amazed to get their pictures that fast. Next came the minilabs that pharmacies, grocery stores, and discount stores installed. Suddenly you could get your pictures back the same day! Some places even offered one hour service. The race was on to be the fastest, but quality was often lost in the rush. People got back poorly exposed or otherwise flawed pictures, and assumed it was their fault, never knowing they could have gotten good pictures from a better lab.

Today those big photofinishing companies are long gone, as are most of the smaller labs. The last lab in my area, run by an old friend of mine, closed at the end of 2018. People who still shoot film pretty much have to develop and print their own unless they live near one of the few labs still in business.

Kodak Alaris has just reintroduced Ektachrome 100 Professional in 35mm rolls and Super-8 cartridges. They must think there’s a market for it, but that leaves open the question of where to get it processed. (kodakalaris.com)

The Lomography people have recently introduced black and white Potsdam 100 and Berlin 400 films. These come in 35mm and 120 roll film sizes, and are “cut from old stocks of a cinematic emulsion, produced by a legendary German company.”. Available online from Lomography (www.lomography.com)

I don’t know much about the current Lomography company. I know they got their start selling a compact camera made by LOMO, Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Works, in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad in Soviet days) and turned that little camera into a cult object. They’ve expanded to selling a wide variety of photographic products. I’d guess that the “legendary German company” they refer to is Agfa. Apparently Agfa had large stocks of film on hand when they went out of the film business. Rollei was selling rebranded Agfa black and white film under their name for some time. In cold storage black and white film will still be good for many years. In a bit of sales hype, they say, “Steeped in a rich past and prestige, this mighty monochrome is not just a tribute to history — rather a part of it.”

I used to collect Soviet era cameras and lenses from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. While the little LOMO point and shoot, the LC-1 was nothing special, LOMO also made the only Russian-built professional camera, the Almas (Diamond in Russian). During the Cold War days, Soviet photographers were cut off from the Japanese professional cameras the rest of the world used. LOMO was tasked with the job of producing a camera for Soviet professional photographers. Superficially, the Almas looks like a Nikon F2, but on closer inspection is revealed as a unique camera. The removeable prism housing is styled like Nikon’s, as are the interchangeable focusing screens. The camera body looks like a Minolta and has a shutter that looks like a Copal, but is a unique LOMO design. To carry on the hybridization, the lens mount is Pentax K mount. The camera is very robustly built and most samples I’ve seen show considerable use. There is a connection on the bottom for a motor drive, but as far as I have been able to determine, that motor drive was never produced. The 50mm lens on my sample is excellent. It’s too bad that this noble experiment vanished when the Soviet Union collapsed and photographers in former Soviet republics gained access to cameras from the outside world. My Almas has no light meter, but there was a meter prism available in small quantities that is rare today. My Almas is the star of my collection of Soviet cameras.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-musical-instruments/

 

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