Gardens in Guimares

Portugal, Rolleicord V, TMAX 400

When I showed up in Portugal with a vintage Rolleicord V twins lens reflex (TLR) camera and several rolls of medium format B&W film, Arthur Meyerson, master of color photography, looked at me askance. Of course, I had my usual pack of digital gear centered around the micro-four-thirds system, but with the promise of castles, churches, and gardens, I was hoping to find opportunities to do a little bit of B&W work.

Our visit to Guimares was two-thirds of the way through our 12 day Portugal adventure organized and led by Keron Psillas and Arthur Meyerson. I had almost given up on using the Rollei until I saw these gardens with mossy steps and big over grown trees. It was spectacularly lush. The afternoon we arrived at the Pousada, the light was nothing special though I did get a unexpectedly beautiful sunset-moonset from the window in my room. But the following morning, with rain still dripping from the trees and mist in the air, the sun filtered in in magical patterns. There were several of us photographing that morning and I was the last one out, running so as not to be late for our departure to Porto.

I tend to like my B&W images a little dark and moody, which can make printing quite tricky. I hope you like these. They were a great delight to see come alive as I hung the negatives to dry. [Rolleicord V, TMAX 400]

The Rolleicord V is the low-end of the Rolleiflex line, and this particular model was manufactured between 1954 and 1957. It sports a 75mm Schneider Kreuznach Xenar f/3.5 lens, which I believe is uncoated based on the glow that I see in the highlights of these images. This is a medium format film camera which uses 120 film and the negatives are 6 centimeters (or 2 1/4 inches) square. The camera itself is actually quite small (roughly 4x4x5.5 inches) and light (less than 2 lbs) for a medium format camera. To take an image, you look down on the waist-level view finder and compose and focus a reversed image (reversed, but not upside-down) on the ground glass. This is all done through the top lens, or the viewing lens. The taking lens is just below and contains the shutter. The TLR is a very simple camera which explains why it is still in perfect working condition even after 60 years.

Portugal, Rolleicord V, TMAX 400

Portugal, Rolleicord V, TMAX 400

Portugal, Rolleicord V, TMAX 400

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2014 Retrospective – Part II – various formats on film

This is the second of a 3-part retrospective of my 2014 photography. In Part I, I picked my favorite images from a body of 35mm B&W film work that I did with my 1962 vintage Leica M2 and Zeiss glass. In Part III, I will focus on my color digital street work. What you will see in Part II is all film, but in a mix of formats and genres. I experimented with large format, medium format, and a panoramic 35mm swing-lens camera (go check out Jeff Bridges photography and the work he does with his Widelux to learn more about this type of camera – yes Jeff Bridges the actor, yes the son of Sea Hunt start Lloyd Bridges, yes I just gave away my age). The medium format cameras (6cm x 6cm negative) were of two different styles, the Hassleblad 500 c/m which is a single-lens-reflex and a couple of different twin-lens-reflex cameras – a Mamiya C220 and a Rolleicord V. The Rolleicord is a low end Rolleiflex but still with great optics. Burning Bush Early in the year I took a 3 day trip to Bosque del Apache and White Sands National Monument. I am no wildlife photographer and a limited landscape photographer, but I spent this trip mostly focused on medium format landscapes with the Hasselblad. White Sands National Monument is super photogenic and much easier to navigate than the dunes in Death Valley. My favorite from the trip was using a red-sensitive film called Rollei 80s with a strong red filter. Alien Skin My medium format work is intended to be abstract and simple, an exercise quite the opposite of my street photography. I spent the morning at the Santa Paula Airport, the owners of the vintage planes can avoid certain costs and taxes if they show them several times a year. To support this, the Santa Paul Airport is open one Sunday of every month for the owners to show their planes. This airplane was all chrome. Chrome and B&W just go together. Hasselbladd 500C/M, Fuji Neopan Acros 100. Bodie From May through October, for one Saturday each month, Bodie allows photographers in at sunrise and to stay through sunset (check the Bodie Foundation website, you need to pay in advance). My objective was to use the 4×5 on the buildings, but it just wasn’t working out. I had also just bought a camera called a Horizon Perfekt swing-lens camera. It is a modern Russian version of a camera like the Widelux which you can purchase new through the Lomography store. These cameras take 120-degree panoramas with a 28mm focal length lens that swings from right to left across the scene. It is easy to get barrel distortion so care must be taken to keep the camera level. I ended up really enjoying the use of this camera in Bodie. Here is one of my shots. Horizon Perfekt, Tri-X 400. At Play Ok, I know that I said this part would not be my usual street stuff, but since this was taken on the Horizon Perfekt, I felt I should include it here rather than in Part 1. As I used the Horizon Perfekt, I knew that I can’t always get the camera level so I thought I would play with the distortion. Here on the beach, lining up the moments. Horizon Perfekt, Tri-X 400. Smile Last, but not least, an image which shows what you can do with a twin-lens reflex camera. This was taken with a Mamiya C220 as gifted to me by my good friend Milt Morris. Another reflection with shadow – sort of like my Hollywood Blvd shot in Part 1. The hat is mine, the camera is just visible in the shadows with the window sill. Mamiya C220, TMAX 400.

Aspens at June Lake

June Lakes, Hasselblad 500 C/M

These past couple of months I continue to work both film and digital, nature and street. In May I spent a weekend in Bodie and June Lakes in the Eastern Sierra’s. I spent more time being with my husband than shooting, but I got in some late afternoon shooting at Silver Lake and then the next morning at Bodie. I previously posted my Bodie images from the Horizon Perfekt.

These are from Silver Lake in the late afternoon, around 5pm. Silver Lake is on the northern side of the June Lake loop. There is a nice lake with marshy grass and lots of aspens. The area I was shooting is right off a parking lot which probably accounts for the graffiti on the trees. It seems that no mater how much I work on my nature subjects, I’m still attracted to the scenes with a human touch.

I’m fairly happy with these images, but still view them as learning-sketch images. Compositionally, nature scenics is something that I still need a lot of work at to capture the quiet elegance that I’m after. Recently I learned of the photographer Tim Rudman through an interview with him on the Film Photography Project (FPP) podcast. I like his imagery very much (and the FPP too!).

June Lakes, Hasselblad 500 C/M

In this scene of Silver Lake, I was attracted to the texture of the marshes, the sweep of the shore-line and the bushes on the far side. I have only an 80mm and 60mm lens for the Hasselblad. I am working hard at capturing the right light for these black and whites.

I think the aspens are somewhat more successful. Here is a different composition of the trees with the graffiti. Though I’m not so sure about the space between the group of trees on the left and right.

June Lakes, Hasselblad 500 C/M

Technical Details

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M
Lens: 80mm Planar T*Filters: Yellow, ND Grad on the scene with the lake
Film: Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Development: Rodinal 1+50

 

Black and White and Chrome All Over

Alien Skin

They say that B&W photography was made to photograph chrome. Or maybe I just say this. Or maybe I just willed it. When this image rolled off the scanner, my hair stood on end. What I am learning is that some images roll right off and others take more work. This image, rolled right off the scanner – a little dust spotting and voila.

A fully chromed airplane stilling half in the hanger and half in the sun at the Santa Paula Airport.

Hasselblad 500 C/M, 80mm Zeiss Planar, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Rodinal 1+50, 12:20min @ 70F. (I developed this at 70-degrees because it is starting to warm up here in Southern California. I adjusted the time instead of cooling the chems 2-degrees. The whole roll came out delicious. I may stick with this recipe.)

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˚

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.

 

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