An online discovery leads to a new way of seeing. The Belairgon awakens old synapses and ways of working. It’s like traveling to the 1950s, but with a crisp new Russian lens.
Early August 2013, I bought a Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter.
It’s not what I had originally planned.
I was investigating old Russian 35mm cameras for possible purchase and came across an article on the Lomography site describing one. It answered some of my questions (I tend to research purchases as if for a Master’s Thesis). I added this info to my ever-growing pile of possibilities.
But wait a minute. What was this Lomography bit?
I began eyeballing that topic and, after contemplation, eventually decided to join.
I wasn’t sure I “belonged” as I prefer making sharp, carefully composed photos. But, hey. When I discovered the Lomography adventure starting with a hymn to a little Russian camera, I figured this could be a place for me.
I’ve been to the Soviet Union/Russia eight times – always with photography as my primary goal, often alone, some jaunts hair-raising (and unknown except in retrospect) and more than a bit dangerous. I miss the place and the friends I made there big time. The first shots I took in Russia in 1991 with my Canon EOS 1 were, of course, analogue.
Browsing through Lomography’s site, I came across the Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter. When I saw that two Russian glass lenses were available for this item, I bought the camera and both lenses.
For a while, I was cautious of loading film into the camera and using it. I’d never owned a 120-format camera before. After examining the Belair, I realized that it resembled the Kodak Brownie that I received at the age of six, the one that used Verichrome Pan 127 film, which is now discontinued.
So I opened the first roll of ASA 400 120 B&W film and loaded it into the apparatus.
Wonderful kinetic memories of childhood wonder coursed over me as I advanced the film and watched the arrows go by in the little red rear porthole. I was, all of a sudden, back in the mid-1950s, when photography was my solace.
I knew, then, I’d found a new means for photographic expression and was eager to try it out.
I walked five minutes to the graveyard on Main Street and exposed three frames.
I walked to the park, five minutes in the other direction, and exposed two more.
Maranacook Lake in the State of Maine, USA
On the way back from the park, I encountered my neighbor, Mark, in his garden and shot an unintentionally headless portrait of him. A bit dark, this one. And lab-spotted.
The roll was done.
When it came back from the lab I was delighted.
Six nifty shots.
They were crisp, moody; timeless. The way I like my work to look.
The Russian Belairgon 90mm f/8 lens was spot-on sharp. What a delight! I’ve so much to learn, to explore, with this gear.
I’ve yet to attach the other Russian lens I bought from Lomography; I’m so fond of this one. But I shall.
I’ll let you know how that works out.