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Tilt And Shift
Q. I love the effect that can be achieved with a view camera using the tilt/shift bellows. I don't know how to explain this but you probably know what I'm talking about. View cameras are not an option that I have because as far as I know sheet film still has to be developed within a very few hours of exposure. Is this so? I do not have room to develop my own film but price is also an obstacle. My question: Is there any way to get a similar effect with a 35mm camera? I know Canon made an extension bellows for their cameras like the Canon AE1, which I own, but I don't think it has the tilt-and-shift capability. I read about the Lensbaby but the last thing I read said that it was available for autofocus mounts but not manual focus, so I still don't know that much about it. How can I get the effect of a tilt/shift bellows? Any information will be appreciated.
James McElroy
Hanceville, AL

A. View cameras do use sheet film loaded into cut film holders, but the film can be processed anytime, even weeks or months later. You can get rollfilm holders (that typically use 120 roll film to produce 6x9cm size images) which can be much more reasonable than buying 4x5" sheet film and processing. An old 4x5 Speed or Crown Graphic, or similar press camera, would help you get the type of images you want as they do offer some tilt-and-shift movements, albeit limited. Most bellows accessories are intended for extra close focusing capabilities, so even if they do have a front movement capability, I don't believe they would be capable of achieving the effect you seek.
The unique 50mm Lensbaby lens has a flexible accordion bellows like body that can be moved in any direction with two fingers to create an area of sharp focus anywhere that's desired in the image area. The end result is a moveable plane of sharp focus but farther away from this sharp area, there is blurring and prismatic color distortion. It could do exactly what you want to accomplish on a 35mm camera. The only problem is when I first heard about it a year ago and got a sample to try, the Lensbaby was only offered in Canon EOS and Nikon F SLR mounts. True, these are autofocus cameras, but the lens is focused manually and the camera must be used in either Aperture Priority or Manual mode. It's manually focused by pressing the front of the lens in toward the body, using a finger on each hand. Then you can bend it up, down, left, or right to alter the plane of focus. You must hold the lens in this position when you take the picture, which is a bit tedious. Since this is a rather specialized lens for a small niche market, I doubt if it will be offered in other mounts for older camera bodies. You can get more information about it by contacting the firm at: Lensbabies, 135 SE Main St., Ste. 201, Portland, OR 97214; (971) 223-5662; fax: (971) 223-5301; www.lensbabies.com; e-mail: customerservice@lensbabies.com.

Astrophotography Techniques
Q. What are the best methods for taking astrophotographs for an amateur? I am a beginner.
Jim Mullen
via Internet

A. Your question is very broad and does not provide much information for me to try to assist you. For instance, you don't indicate whether you are planning to use a film or digital camera for astrophotography. I spoke with an area friend who does this type of photography using his back yard telescope, but he could not offer any general advice. He suggested doing a Google search on the web, which I did. There is a website for the U.S.A. publication Astronomy at www.astronomy.com. Under "Intro to astronomy" they have a heading for photography. I tried www.astronomynow.com, the site for a British publication, and under Resources found a heading for digital camera astrophotography. This is broken down into starting points and advanced topics. If you are working with a digital camera, you might find some pointers and guidance there. I hope this gives you a bit of help in your quest to do astrophotography.

Print Curl
Q. I received a box of old black and white photos from a family member. Upon opening the box most of the old black and white photos were curled up. Is there any way to flatten the photos so they can be scanned into the computer? I tried to scan one photo but it cracked when I placed it on the scanner.
Frank P. Reade, Jr.
via Internet

A. You probably have a bunch of fiber-based photo prints that often tended to curl on aging. The best way to induce them to lay flat is to soak the prints, a few at a time, in a print flattening solution, which relaxes the paper. Soak them for 1-2 minutes, then drain, blot, and dry them. Unless you have photo blotter sheets or rolls, you can improvise a drying rack using gauze stretched out between some temporary supports so air can circulate under and above the damp print. It probably will take an overnight drying time, but this should do the trick without further cracking or damaging the emulsion. If your local photo dealer does not stock this darkroom chemical you can order it from several places such as Porter's Camera Store, PO Box 628, Cedar Falls, IA 50613; (800) 553-2001 (orders), (319) 268-0104 (questions); fax: (800) 221-5329, (319) 277-5254; www.porters.com. My several year old catalog lists it for $12.50 plus S&H in 1-pint size, which is diluted 1:10 with water. This should last a long time and flatten many prints. This process is time consuming and a bit tedious, but it should help preserve your old photographic memories.

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