Week 41 – The Goerz Taro Tenax
This week and next week were going to be hard in that I have planned some leave and would be leaving early Sunday, a day I normally square up all the processing, scanning and writing. Next week is sorted with something quite new to me and will be coming on the trip, but this week I needed something that fitted the schedule. Russell made a few suggestions but I felt we had been there before or that it might come back and bite me. Then I spotted the long extended bellows on the shelf. Enter the Goerz Taro Tenax…I duped my wife into researching it! She delved deep with this on google - c1912, a half plate double extending folder, simple 125mm lens pairing, F stops from 6.8 to 45 and shutter from 1 second to 100th + T & B. focusing is by rack and pinion projected onto a ground glass. It is from one of the original 4 that made up Zeiss Ikon and the last one of the group I have to shoot. A good reason right there. Secondly it gave me a chance to tackle the 1952/3 Ilford Ortho again, I have done all right with it but I would like to produce a nice small set with a vintage look. Third and finally I get another go at practicing sheet film which has been a bit hit and miss if I am honest! So the scene is set – an old man with very old film, 65yrs old, and an even older camera, 105yrs old!…
I did the usual under red light conditions of cutting down the sheets to 9x12 and loading 3 slightly iffy plate holders and packed them in a light tight bag. I had said last the time that I felt it needed to be between my previous rating of asa 25 & 50 so 32 it was. Day 1 rain! Day 2 locked into work. Finally day 3 I got 2 hours. First frame I chose the old school building at work. I set up, did all my stuff, checked – re checked! Took the shot… the film popped out as I replaced the dark slide! Grump! Repeat, this time all went well and I wander down to the Barbican and took my final frame as good as the second. You need to bear in mind that also after this I shot 5 frames to test a Kodak conversion appearing in week 51, and then did an 8 frame shutter test on the undead Graflex for week52, please do tune in for that!, and processed them so I am pushing the envelope in this shortened week! Anyway after work that evening/early morning I developed those two frames in DDX to see if it did better and they looked pretty good, some expected and understandable light leaks from the holders along with old film fogging but all else seemed ticketty boo.
Test shots done I reloaded 4 holders this time. Bolstered by the positive response to my interview published by emulsive film that day I set off on a Dartmoor drive with the family, they were very good at putting up with my faffing and I managed all 5 shots slowly but without hitch. I tried a landscape but I suspect this will struggle for detail, a group shot of my girls for something a little closer, a derelict church and an old stone bridge. All good subjects for a vintage feel. I kept with the DDX theme when developing and was pleased to see similar results.
Now, given the bigger negatives size scanning was not an option so I made a small mask to help produce some contact prints and at time of writing I have 3 reasonable prints given the films age and condition, I have confidence the other 3 will follow suit. There is only 6 I know but this is quite a lengthy process and time is not my friend. I think some tweaking in the dark room and with more experience I could cut though some of that fog and push a little contrast in there maybe but they will do nicely. I may add a little contrast post print scan bit will leave all else as is…there is a mountain of dust in those bellows! I got out what I could.
So, I achieved what I set out to do. The sheet film process went much better than before. I think I got as much from this film as I am capable of right now and the camera performed well! It does have a bit of misting on the lens and the leather covering is a bit dog eared but it is too good to sit on a shelf. Its bellows are light tight and a good clean made for clear focusing on the ground glass, it will make a great learning camera for anyone thinking of glass plate negatives…hmmm, there’s a though!