I've been subjecting myself to a crash course in rangefinders since this lovely mail delivery. For the time being, the only camera I can use is the Bolsey B2, as I didn't realize that the other two didn't have built-in rangefinders. I'll need to purchase a separate rangefinder attachment for the Seagull, and I think the National Socialist/Socialist camera (har har har) will mostly be a conversation piece. What I've learned is that the rangefinder on the Bolsey is like a viewfinder, but it has a line in the center: You adjust the distance until the two images in the rangefinder line up--if the two don't line up, it'll come out blurry. There was another little dial that I didn't figure out until this morning: It controls the amount of light let in with each shot. And I've also learned what T and B shutter speeds are: B means "bulb", and it keeps the shutter open until you let go of the button; T means "time", and it keeps the shutter open until you hit the button again. Congratulations, you now know as much as I do about rangefinder cameras.
Since the Bolsey B2 arrived, I've been seeing them everywhere. Seems they were very popular cameras--my mother told me that her parents had one as well! I put the cheapest roll of film in it first, and since it had been so long since I'd had a 35mm camera, I loaded it wrong and the Bolsey tore it to shreds. I've sorted it out now, and the second-cheapest roll is in there. Slowly, Bolsey and I worked out how it functions. End result: The first couple of pictures might be terrifying, but the rest should be okay. It's kind of terrifying not having the instant gratification a digital camera provides, but I'm remembering how much I loved having a 35mm. It's a dramatically different experience, and I love my Bolsey.
We can now get the Seagull open. The place I bought it from also had another one, and as we were looking at its pictures a lightbulb went off over Chris's head--he got the camera and pulled the rewind knob up, and lo and behold the stupid camera popped right open. So after struggling so long to get it open, it turned out to be the easiest camera to get into. I just need to put a little money down on a pocket rangefinder, and I know it'll be bliss to use.
Up next, I need an SLR (gee whiz, should I get a digital one at a starting price of $650 or a 35mm film one for $150?) and a medium format camera. I hear medium formats take lovely pictures, and there are places in the world that develop 120 film! Darkroom not required. Life is definitely an adventure now.