one time it was said that a camera was only as good as its lens. The Wrayflex,
a single lens reflex camera [SLR] was made by Wray (Optical Works) Ltd a British
company whose lens-making pedigree dated back to 1850 - you could say, almost
to the beginning of photography. William Wray the founder was a solicitor and
amateur astronomer who made his own lenses much as the pioneers of any Victorian
trade. Wray lenses were highly respected and though businesswise they had their
ups and downs the name lasted into the 1970s.
writing the story of the camera and how I used it for thirteen months in the Around
the World journey of 1960-61 I felt I should have another go
almost sixty years later.
I have been taking B + W in vintage cameras for some years so light metering by
hand is no problem. My classic Weston Master lll on a neck string in the small
pic is still in working order and as a 'second' I have an East German Werramat
from the 1950s.
any reader who is not familiar with old meters I'll add they are set around a
small layer of selenium which when exposed to light generates a micro / small
amount of electricity. A sensitive votage meter reacts to the amount of electricity
and a needle moves on a calibrated screen. To guard against vibration or bumps
the meter is set on watchmakers bearings.
with light metering sussed I'll move onwards to the next fiddly bit. Wray lenses
like many of the time were a screw fit and changing from wide angle to telephoto
takes about 30 seconds - more with cold fingers. OK
I can still cope with
that but by the time the telephoto is on the bird has flown.
to this fumble the setting of the diaphragm [F stop] to regulate the light passing
through the lens - that's done manually - then 1/ check the light meter and set
the correct number 2/ focus at fully 'open' especially in dull light and then
3/ move the diaphragm control. That corrects the density of the negative - you
can see the lighter or darker negs here on this test film
to all this the shutter speed setting - another factor in controlling the light
reaching the film and you have 1950's Wrayflex photography.
2018 there is plenty about with Ilford leading the British way and others from
Continental Europe - Germany, Belgium , France and Czech Republic for starters.
Chemicals for processing? - No probs and I still have my old Johnson's of Hendon
kit from the 1950s to add to the 'retroness'.
chose a Wrayflex I which has the quirky 24 x 32 frame. You can see the ratio in
the neg strip.
seems to be no sound answer to why Wray chose that frame size for their first
camera. But what is certain is that the ratio of length to width is very close
to the ratio used for printing or enlarging papers dating a long way back.
as for subjects I chose a few that I know date from the 1950s when the camera