First outing with the Agfa Billy-Clack: Lomochrome Purple in Aveiro, 28 November 2023

First outing with the Agfa Billy-Clack: Lomochrome Purple in Aveiro, 28 November 2023

After giving the Agfa Billy-Clack No.51 a good clean it was time to put it through its paces for the first time in who knows how long. From the state of the camera, with its dirty body and hazy glass, it was clearly a long time since it had been used but it was now clean and the shutter was firing nicely.

The Agfa Billy-Clack  has a single shutter speed of about 1/30s and three aperture settings (f8.8, f11 and f16), which are set with a lever on the front of the camera. In the late 1930s, when this camera was most likely made, the speed of typical films would have been about ISO 30-50. Modern films have a generous latitude and I reckoned that a fil with a speed of about ISO 100 would be perfectly usable in the camera.

For my first test with this camera I chose to use Lomochrome Purple from Lomography, a colour shifting film that turns vegetation to shades of red, as the infrared stock, Kodak Aerochrome, used to do. Lomochrome Purple has an ISO rating of 100-400, so it has quite a large latitude, but I still wondered if that might be too sensitive for the Billy-Clack. I therefore decided that I would set the aperture of the Billy-Clack to its smallest aperture (f16, it was a sunny day) and also used an ND2 filter, which would further cut exposure down by a stop.

To minimise camera shake, I rested the camera on a tripod each time I took a photograph. Thus of the 16 exposures on the roll I actually had 8 duplicated photographs, one without the filter and one with the ND filter. 

On the back of the Bill-Clack is a long swivelling cover, behind which are two red windows to space sixteen 6x4,5 exposures from a normal 120 film. I thought that it might be quite complicated using the two windows, but in fact it was quite easy to keep track of the exposures.

On completing the film around the Melia Ria Hotel in the centre of Aveiro it was time to take it to Forever Blue for processing. Upon fully winding on the film and opening the back I found the film was tightly wound around the take up spool.  No worries about getting 'fat' rolls here. Now there was a nervous week waiting for the film to be developed and scanned. 

Just after lunch today the smartphone chimed and there was a WeTransfer email in my in box. With some nervousness I opened and extracted the directories to find sixteen beautifully exposed images. I was thrilled. A quick check showed that thee were no obvious light leaks, although on one duplicate set there was a large red blob that might have been light getting in somewhere. 

I really liked how these images came out. With most of them there was little difference between the frames taken with the ND filter and those without. In the exposures without the ND filter the grass was a little darker and in the frames with the ND filter the images were perhaps a little bit warmer, but there certainly wasn't much difference between them. With my next experiment I think I'll just use a film without any filters. In fact, I quite fancy trying out the Billy-Clack with some Lomography Redscale. 

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