The Bel-Aire ‘Special’

rock wall at Ralph Klein Park
#1596. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.
I shot these photos using the Bel-Aire ‘Special’, which is the new name I have given to my Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter modified to accept a 100mm Anastigmat Special lens mounted in a Compur Rapid shutter. After my successful attempt to shoot Instax Wide with the new lens and shutter,[1]You can read about my modifications and see the photos I first shot with the Bel-Aire ‘Special’ in Modifying the Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter. I took a trip to Ralph Klein Park[2]For some great photos of Ralph Klein Park, check out Shooting Kodak HCP 5369. to test a roll of 120 film.


a chair at Ralph Klein Park
#1597. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.
It was a cold winter morning as I wandered around the park’s Environmental Education Centre taking photos. The Bel-Aire was loaded with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film, one of my favourite black & white films, and the day was bright and sunny as I metered the light using my iPhone before transferring the settings to the Compur Rapid shutter.


Ralph Klein Park
#1598. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.
One of the challenges of shooting in manual mode is the lack of feedback from the camera. There is nothing that tells you the photo you just took was successful. I had to trust my thinking as a photographer, I had to trust my light meter app, and I had to trust that the modifications I made to the Belair would work.


bridge at Ralph Klein Park
#1599. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.
I’m quite happy with the way these turned out. I like the 6×6 format, although these photos aren’t exactly square. As with most folding cameras, unfolding the Belair quickly creates a vacuum which sucks air—and the film—into the bellows. This means that the film is not held perfectly flat and, as a result, the top and bottom of each frame isn’t exposed evenly. I had to crop every photo a little during scanning to compensate, so it isn’t really square.


building at Ralph Klein park
#1600. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.
Shortly after shooting my last frame with the Bel-Aire, I tried to swap cameras[3]I had six cameras with me that day. All of them contained a few remaining frames and I had wanted to finish shooting with them. and put the Bel-Aire back in my bag. Recognizing that my hands were full and not wanting to drop any of my gear, I walked over to a park bench. Unfortunately, I never made it. With a camera in each hand, I slipped on some black ice. I valiantly tried to protect the cameras in my hands as I landed hard on my knees and the backs of my wrists. My cameras survived unscathed, but not my joints. I was in immense pain. I was lucky I didn’t break any bones (or cameras) that day!


tree at Ralph Klein Park
#1601. Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Bel-Aire ‘Special’. Xtol (1+1), 9:30 min @ 20 °C.

Footnotes[+]

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