Raskolnikov and the Falls

For the better part of a year, I’ve shot pictures with my Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultrawide panoramic camera (the camera I’ve nicknamed “Raskolnikov”, which either means the protagonist in Crime and Punishment, or the barnyard expletive uttered by Boris Badenov in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons).  I’ve had some successes, some non-successes, but I haven’t given up.

And now comes the big test.

I have a hypothesis that there’s a spot along the Canadian side of Niagara Falls that will allow me to capture a beautiful panoramic shot, along with a rainbow, of the Falls.  I could use an ultrawide lens on one of my film cameras, but my ultrawide panoramic camera should be able to capture everything at the widest possible angle.  I would need to load some slow slide film into the chassis, and go from there.

Okay, Raskolnikov… road trip to Niagara Falls.

[hdnfactbox title=”krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera”]

  • This camera is also known as “Tokarev’s Camera,” as it was designed by a Russian general.
  • This camera produces as many as 10 ultra-wide images on a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film.
  • In Chuck Miller’s camera arsenal, the Krasnogorsk is nicknamed “Raskolnikov.”[/hdnfactbox]

I need this location to pan out.  I loaded two cartridges with film – one packed with Fuji Velvia 50; one with Kodak Ektar 100.

I also made a slight adjustment to Raskolnikov’s insides.  The camera has a fixed aperture of f/5.  That is WAY TOO BRIGHT for sunny day photography.  So I taped up the camera’s interior aperture with black electrical tape, hoping that would reduce the amount of light hitting the film.

The camera also has four different shutter speeds; I noticed that lately, the camera is picking up a slight “hitch” at 1:400 (its fastest speed), causing my pictures to develop a vertical “light line” in the shot.  Not acceptable under any circumstances.  However, that little “hitch” disappears at shutter speeds of 1:200 and 1:100, which I suspect is because the camera’s internal brakes are regulating the swing lens properly.

I don’t care.  I just want good photos out of this trip.

There I was.  On the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  And the sun – when it wasn’t obscured by clouds – was at my back.

I can do this.

First shots – with my slowest color slide film, Fuji Velvia 50.  I waited for rainbows to appear.  Sometimes I found them; sometimes I just photographed without them.  And this was the best shot of the bunch.

Niagara Falls with Krasnogorsk Fuji Velvia 50
Niagara Falls Ultrawide 1. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Nice like spice.   The other pictures were okay; either the rainbow didn’t show up, or the boat was out of alignment, or a damn seagull flew into frame and blocked something important. Thankfully all the seagulls did was fly into the frame; I didn’t have to deal with any “bird blessings,” if you know what I mean. Next shots – with my favorite print film, Kodak Ektar 100. I didn’t get any rainbows with the Ektar, but I did get this nice crowd shot.

Onlookers at Niagara Falls
Crowd at Niagara Falls. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay.  Let’s review.  Fuji Velvia works better for slower speeds in this camera.  That, and if I am going to shoot this image again, I need to make damn sure I check my bubble level.  When it’s straight, I can get some awesome level photographs.  If it’s off, then I get that weird “funhouse mirror” look that makes the river look like it’s bending in front of me.

All right, Raskolnikov… this is good.

But you know me.  I never settle for “just good enough.”

Especially when I have ideas for future photographs.

Trust me.  I have ideas.

And I will test them out.

Whether it takes 500 miles or five feet of distance.

I will test them out.