March 10, 2014

Smile

Smile

Some images deserve presentation with a big border and prominent attribution. Some images bring it all – content, structure, emotion, intrigue. Some images make you proud to be their creator.

This image was taken on a warm sunny winter afternoon in Santa Barbara. The local camera club had organized an outing to the Santa Barbara Zoo. And, while I wasn’t all that interested in taking animal portraits, I figured the zoo to be a good place to practice a little people photography. People at the zoo is a simple idea, but I had to make it harder. I would spend the day using a vintage 1970′s Mamiya C220 TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera that was gifted to me by a good friend. My film for the day was Kodak TMAX ISO 400 B&W.

Off I went to the zoo, looking for my opportunities and learning to use the camera all at the same time. I shot about 2 1/2 rolls at the zoo, 30 images. Most were boring. Some were down right desperate. For most of the day I felt like I was chasing the picture instead of having the picture come to me.

Lunch came to the rescue, an opportunity to leave the zoo and explore the neighborhoods. As we were looking for a parking space near our favorite Mexican restaurant, I noticed a barber shop on the corner. I walked over and stopped in front of the window. As I started fiddling with the camera, these two girls, bored and waiting for their brother or father for their hair-cut, turned to me and started playing for the camera. I positioned myself to use my shadow to see into the barber shop. Looked down into the waist-level finder, focused, cocked the shutter, and waited for the right moment.

Mamiya C220, Sekor 70mm f/2.8, Kodak TMAX 400, Clayton F76+ 8:00 min @ 68˚

March 9, 2014

My Weekend

Dairy Images

One of my goals this year is to use 35mm B&W film in a diary camera in order to push myself through the learning curve.

This weekend I loaded up the Leica M2 with a 24 exposure roll of Tri-X 400 with the intention of pushing it to 1600. The scene was a local deli, Brents, on Saturday night and a rib-joint in Burbank on Sunday called Ribs USA.

Here are my keepers. For the techies, a write up of my process is at the bottom.

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

Dairy Images

This roll was taken with my Leica M2 and Zeiss 50mm Biogon f/2.0. Most of the images are with the lens wide open at f/2.0 or  f/2.8 @ 1/60th. The lighting was  typically moderate restaurant lighting.

The developing was Clayton Chems F76+, dilution 1+19, 14:30 min @75F. Lowell Huff (the chemist behind F76+) recommends 1+19 11:00 min @75F “for push processing”. I assumed this was for one stop, so for two, I added another 30%. Normal dev is 1+9, 6:00 min @68F .

During scanning (VueScan) I measured a value of 2.09 for the Exposure Lock. The negs were a little thin, so I found myself pushing the Brightness setting to 1.5. I have found it better to push the brightness during scanning to avoid blocked up blacks.

Post in Lightroom/CS5 included small amounts of dodge and burn – artistic license to darken shirts, brighten faces, burn edges, etc…  Very little was done with any constrast tweaking and no curves adjustments.

March 2, 2014

My next B&W film purchase and why?

Kodak TMAX 400 in the Rollei 35

Kodak TMAX 400 in the Rollei 35

I think I’ve reached a first milestone in my B&W film work. I’ve logged enough rolls to confidently select my next, bigger, allotment of film. I’m comfortable with my developing technique and developers.

To date, I have bought only 5 rolls at a time. I’ve tried, in roughly this order, Ilford Delta 100, Kodak Ektar 100, Ilford FP4+ 125, Kodak Tri-X 400, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Rollei 80s, and Kodak TMAX 400. My experiences have been spread across both 35mm, medium format (120, or 2 1/4″ x 2 1/4″ / 6×6), and large format 4×5. I’m used Kodak D-76 developer, Clayton Chemicals F76+, and R09 One-Shot (a Rodinal equivalent).

I’m certain that some of my go forward preferences (or more accurately, dislikes) are as much due to my inexperience as the characteristics of the film/developer combination that I used. Never-the-less, here is where I have landed.

Developers

I’m really enjoying the results from Clayton Chemicals F76+ available from Freestyle. It is liquid, not expensive, available locally (from Freestyle), and easy for me to see how changes in my developing approach is effecting the film.

I’m also enjoying Rodinal for Fuji Acros and want to continue to experiment with it for push-processing some night-time street work.

Films

My work is falling into two main categories: Quiet Nature in medium and large format and Street in 35mm and (soon) medium format TLR

For street I’ve picked Kodak TMAX ISO 400. The choice was between TMAX and Tri-X. The ‘net is filled with forum discussions about the differences and preferences between the two. I’m going with TMAX @ 400 for most of my work because I like the whites. However, I’m ready to start evaluating Tri-X pushed to 800 and 1600 for indoors and night street work.

For 4×5 I’ve picked Ilford FP4+ ISO 125. Even with the little 4×5 work that I’ve done, I love the tones and smoothness of this film. I don’t know how to express this yet, but I love it’s whites. It could be that it just matches Clayton F76+ really well or I just like it. It is also a good price-point in 4×5.

I’ve not shot a lot of FP4+ in 120, but based on my 4×5 work, you bet I’ll be looking to exploit it in medium format too. But I also am committed to Fuji Neopan Acros ISO 100. I’ve yet to find a single person on the planet who doesn’t like this stuff. It has a completely different look than FP4+ and I still need to wrap my mind around when to use which.

The Rollei 80s is the odd man out here. I’ve actually loved the stuff I’ve done with it shooting it with a 3-stop red filter. However, it feels like an outlier film for me. For now, I’ll not be replenishing my stock, but may go back at some point.

 

February 16, 2014

White Sands National Monument on Film

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Four friends, three hours, eighteen exposures, one Hasselblad 500C/M, White Sands National Monument.

It could be a book title, but instead describes a portion of a trip to New Mexico this January. During the trip our band of four visited Bosque del Apache, the Very Large Array, and White Sands National Monument.

I’m primarily known for my color street photography, but I’m also in pursuit of learning myself B&W film photography, both street work and nature work. This is what I was doing hanging out in the land of the birders and landscape photographers with a medium format film camera and some rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and Rollei 80s.

We arrived at White Sands National Monument in time for the late afternoon sun and hoping to catch the moon rise before they kicked us out of the park. I had half a roll of Neopan Acros in the Hassy, but was really looking forward to shooting a roll of the Rollei 80s. Acros is known for its smooth tones and the Rollei 80s is known as a high contrast film – quite different. In addition I shot the Acros with a yellow filter – add just a bit of contrast, but the Rollei with a red filter. The Rollei is already red-sensitive, so adding a red filter should really create deep dark skies and bring out the ripples in the sand.

It was late afternoon, and the sand at White Sands is, as one might expect, white. The light was definitely had a nice blue cast, but I’d be lying if I told you that I understood how the light and color would effect my shots. I’m still quite much hiking my way up the learning curve.

Starting with the images on Neopan Acros. How classic is this film? It is so classic that I though I was looking at a 1950′s guide book. The images that were most striking to me were on the roll of Rollei 80s. I think for two reasons, I was getting warmed up and more creative and the film really picked up on that creativity.

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Neopan Acros 100, Yellow Filter, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Neopan Acros 100, Yellow Filter, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Neopan Acros 100, Yellow Filter, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Neopan Acros 100, Yellow Filter, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar, Rollei 80s, Red Filter, EV -3, Rodinal 1+50

December 29, 2013

Destination: Santa Barbara – Mission: Large Format Photography

SB Mission Church(Click image for a larger version)

This past week, I took my first seriously considered shots with my newly acquired Tachihara 4×5 field camera. I recently purchased it from a good friend who does marvelous landscapes, but says that she is “too old” for film and 4×5 now. Mine is a neutral wood color with chrome fittings. The bellows are a little crumpled at the lens end, but light tight. I have two lenses. The 180mm is considered a normal lens, somewhat equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. The 90mm is a wide-angle, equivalent to a 30mm. I updated the ground glass, which is what is used to focus the image, with a hand made borosilicate glass from Steve Hopf.

My first destination was the Santa Barbara Mission. The Santa Barbara Mission is actually quite small, and not much of an opportunity, outside of the church itself. Unfortunately, the front is under some restoration and was covered with scaffolding and surrounded with ugly green fences. My sights were set on the church interior. I carefully setup and initially pulled out the wide angle, but soon realized that the normal would do. This image is the kind of image that is made for large format photography. I took two more in the courtyard, but they really just can’t compare.

I must admit that I felt a little self-conscious under the dark cloth, a little like an impostor. I recognize this feeling from when I first started doing street photography. It is a kind of I’m not good enough self-editing that will go away with a few more clicks under my belt. It was also fun to see people stop, as if they were going to wait for me to take the picture, even before I had the lens on the camera. I politely waved them through.

SB Pier(Click image for a larger version)

My second destination was the Santa Barbara Pier. It was a little later than I had anticipated and a bit of a race with the sun. With more experience I might have felt the adrenaline of Ansel Adams rushing to get his one shot of Moonrise Over Hernandez, but I just kept muttering “not the way for a novice to try large format photography”. None-the-less, I lined up a nice shot of the pier. I waited a while to avoid some people, but then the kids came into the scene. As the sun was setting, I had no real choice but to work them in, which of course makes the picture.

I’m using Ilford FP4+, rated at 125 ISO, but I’ll be honest, I just metered as if it was 100 ISO to keep things simple. I used the modern equivalent of a Polariod back to check my exposures, my Olympus OMD. It is really no larger or heavier than a spot meter and far more flexible. My developing was with Clayton F76+ using his published times and agitation method as described in a sheet he sent to me. 7 1/2 min @68 degrees; agitation for the first 10 seconds followed by 1 turn every 30 seconds. I scanned with VueScan with no adjustments. Post-processed with a little dodge and burn in LightRoom. The thing to note is that there was no overall tone curve or levels adjustments, the tonalities of the film was just right-on. The image of the pier was cropped vertically to a 16:9 aspect ratio.

December 23, 2013

On a Foggy Morning

Sepulveda Basin 1 Hasselblad 500 C/M, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros, Rodinal 1+50

This is one of those hidden treasures in the middle of the great urban expanse we lovingly call LA. In the middle of the San Fernando Valley, within a few blocks from the congested interchange of the 405 and the 101 freeways, lies the Sepulveda Basin. On a cold morning, mist rises from the warm waters. Birds roost in this unlikely desert oasis only in the winter months.

These three images continue my exploration of B&W film photography. The last image was taken with a high-contrast, red-sensitive film and a red filter.

Sepulveda Basin 2 Hasselblad 500 C/M, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros, Rodinal 1+50

Sepulveda Basin 3 Hasselblad 500 C/M, Rollei 80s + Red filter, Clayton F76+

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