A very long time ago, I bought a Lubitel 166B. I wanted to experiment with both TLRs and medium-format photography, and I already had a (small) collection of Soviet and Eastern Bloc cameras. It’s not got the style or sophistication of a Rolleiflex, but it’s still a beautiful object and is a joy to use.
The first time I ever shot on this camera was the first time I went to Cambridgeshire to see Katie’s parents. I was mostly just playing around for fun, but here and there I tried to do some ‘serious’ photography. I had the film lying around for a while, because uni and work had caught up with me and I had never managed to get it into the darkroom, but recently I re-discovered it and sent it to a lab to be developed and scanned.
Whether the light-leaks are due to the camera or the fact that the film had been lying around for so long, I don’t know, but most of the images have at least one splotch of white on them, and some even more than that. This one, of the ceiling in the entrance-way to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, is missing a lot of detail, but that doesn’t stop the pattern from being striking, and I think gives the image character.
Some others have come out a little bit better. This is Peterhouse again, this time from the outside. The image has some fading but I think this works in its favour. The beautiful contrast between the intricate pattern on the roof and the texture of the columns, accentuated by the grain of Ilford FP4+, gives the image an almost painterly quality.
The same goes for this image of a church door in Huntingdon. You can see the beautiful grain on the door, contrasted with the decoration and the stonework above. These images have been edited in Lightroom, of course, but not much.
I’m quite pleased with these images, although I probably shouldn’t leave it a year before getting them developed next time. If I had the time and money I think I’d work more with film. I enjoy the feeling of working with a mechanical camera, especially something like the Lubitel, and I do love the quality and character that you get from film that you really can’t achieve with digital. However, like many, I am limited by material reality, so for now, I’ll have to say goodbye to my archaic Soviet TLR.