Sunday, 28 January 2018

Rara Avis - The Focomat 1b in captivity

 A Focomat 1b has emerged available on Ebay. It is most unusual to see one of these enlargers on offer in the UK and it would be interesting to learn how it came to the UK at a time when imports were  restricted. In fact I have never seen one on Ebay in many years of Leica enthusiasm.

The machine is covered in detail in my Blog of 23rd September 2017, but only by use of magazine reviews and advertisements of the immediate post war period. Now, by the kindness of a UK photographer, I am able to show a few detailed shots of the machine now on sale. For greater quality try Flicker which reveals all the series.


Yet another Book Review. James Ravilious.

It would appear that only books I like -a lot- are reviewed here, but I hasten to say that there is no trade influence in my choice of reading.  If I waste some valuable time reading a book I do not like then it will not appear here and may well appear in the local paper recycling.

This is a book I have long awaited , the Author spoke at a Leica gathering a year or two ago and her subject is one of  the most interesting photographers of the last century in British Leica circles, linked as he is with the great Edwin Smith and being the son of Eric Ravilious. To me as a collector of  The Saturday Book, Leica cameras,  Photographic work of Edwin Smith, and the writing of Olive Cooke it is a 'must have' It is a bit early in this Blog for references but a superb background of the times, and far better than I can attempt, is at which provides a superb overview of the subjects early context.

For many years we have had  books of Devon photographs based upon the farms and farmers of this home area. They include some that have become world famous through postcards and greetings cards but real personal detail in a logical form has been lacking. This latest publication corrects that and coming as it does from his wife the source could hardly be more appropriate.

We are taken from the earliest days of James' memory of his father departing to Iceland, never to return, the loss of his mother at a young age, his own subsequent ill health, and his gentle approach to life and work. A vast talent cut short.

Title: James Ravilious  A Life.  By Robin Ravilious  Wilmington Square Books - An Imprint of Bitter Lemon Press. London 2017. ISBN 978-1-908524-942  248 pp. many monochrome illustrations and Index.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Further notes on the Focomat lamphouse

In a previous Blog- Wednesday 26th July 2017 titled 'Thoughts on the First VALOY enlarger' I wrote at some length on the need for electrical safety which seemed lacking in the early days.

I have now been able to disect a late Focomat lamphouse in detail. This is one of the last Colour models which had signs of the modern age with a magnification indicator lit from within by a gas filled bulb (of a type that has not been seen recently). I think a 'fridge LED will fit as long as the final figures are lit in red by a gel filter, but the gas bulb is still live.In fact there is little need for this in the intended Black and White use that I plan.

The lamphouse is of a degree of sophistication not seen in past Leitz heads. It can be taken apart by a series of fine screw threads and the three spring fittings that locate the bulb have captive springs and are a perfect and logical development of the past designs that had faults in the service department. The wiring is three core with a lead to an earth screw fitting within the lampholder. All the wiring seems to show a continuity of earth with a separate earth wire to the screw on the column. They have really tried on this one.