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A Rolleicord III and my Grandmother

I’ve had a ton going on recently, so I haven’t been able to post much here in a while. If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know all that’s been going on. You also may know that I recently picked up a Rolleicord III.

It was my first time finding a good camera in the wild, so it was very exciting. Before I get to that, I just want to talk about what has been going on.

My Grandmother

It had been 10 years since I saw my grandmother in person. Because I was so sick for so long, it was not easy for me to travel to New York. We mostly talked on the phone and saw each other through FaceTime.

My grandmother Marie was 93 years old and her health had been declining for years due to several illnesses. She was an amazingly strong woman that went through a lot in her life. Despite all of the things she went through, she was always cheerful and she fought like hell through it all.

I knew that I wanted to get Alaina up to meet her great grandmother soon, and Kelsey really encouraged me to make it sooner than later. So, we made the trip with our soon to be one year old and surprised my grandmother. She was so excited, and I was so happy to see her and have her meet my daughter. She was in good spirits, and we even got to talk about our ancestry.

The next day we went back to see her and she wasn’t as well. She had heart failure for years, and when she started coughing up, I just knew it wasn’t good. When I said goodbye to her that day, I knew in my gut it would be the last time I would see her, on FaceTime or in person. I hugged her and told her I loved her. She said “You know grandma loves you. Call me, ya hear.” like she always said. As I walked away and got farther away, I just felt worse and worse.

Two days after we left, my grandmother went into a coma. She fought it, but died October 25th. If we had put that trip off just by days, I would never have gotten to see her. It almost feels like she must’ve been waiting for me.

Finding a Rolleicord in the Wild

I mention all of this because on this trip I found a Rolleicord III at a junk shop my uncle took me to after we left my grandmother that day we surprised her. I saw it sitting in a glass case with a leather case and lens hood. I, of course, had to rescue it. I did a bit of haggling and got the camera for $100. That camera has now become a special tool to me that I found on a very special trip, on a very special day.

When I got it home, I immediately loaded it with film and shot a test roll. I was initially concerned about the focus because it doesn’t focus at infinity. I was fully expecting the photos to all be out of focus. Instead, they were sharp, but every frame is covered in vertical lines.

I took to instagram and asked what people thought would cause this. My DM’s were full of all sorts of answers. One response that was repeated the most was that I wasn’t supposed to load the film under the roller instead of over it. I had done that because that is the way my Rolleiflex works. It never crossed my mind that it would cause this issue. Now looking at the manual, that is confirmed.

Problem Solved

After developing another test roll from the Rolleicord, this time loaded over the rollers, I was relieved to see no lines this time. That issue was resolved.

I will definitely be shooting more test rolls to test the focus even more, and I will do a review of the Rollecord III in the future.

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Alaina’s first birthday was the perfect time to test another roll. The focus doesn’t look as sharp as the first roll, and I wonder if that is because the film wasn’t pulled as taut this time without that second roller.

Final Thoughts

I have experienced ALOT of familial losses since I first started this blog in 2019, and I have always enjoyed sharing my feelings here as sort of a cathartic exercise. I appreciate you all allowing me the safe space to do so.

I will admit it has been really hard accepting this loss. No matter how many times I’ve experienced it, it never gets easier. I’m sure you all know what I mean.

This Rolleicord will continue to be special to me. It will probably need a CLA at some point, but hopefully it will be ok for a while to give me some much needed joy.

Until next time, stay motivated, and keep shooting.

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7 thoughts on “A Rolleicord III and my Grandmother

  1. Am sorry your grandmother is no longer with you. It is great that she was able to meet your daughter. Can you explain further the issue with loading the film and how not loading it properly resulted in the scratches on the negatives. Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Merlin. Thank you.
      So I loaded it under the first roller and it scraped against the metal frame and I guess against the second roller as well. I could be wrong. But that’s the only thing I could think of since I loaded it the wrong way according to the manual.

  2. I’m sorry for the loss of your grandmother. She sounds like a good one though, so keep her alive with the happy memories.

  3. Wow! Congrats on the camera! So glad u and your family got to visit your grandmother. I agree she was probably waiting for you all, especially the baby.

  4. I am so happy you were able to see your grandmother – she sounds pretty special! Good family memories are important as they can color your life in later years in ways you never expect. Meanwhile, this is a lovely set of photos, and glad you got the Rolleicord. As far as film – was the film all the same – all 3 times? I wonder if that may affect the looks. Anyway, good to see you back as I have missed your posts.

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