2014 Retrospective – Part 1 – 35mm Film Photography

I spent much of the first half of 2014 shooting black and white film, 35mm street stuff and some medium and large format landscapes and other scenes. Around the middle of the year, I was nervous that I’d not have a 2014 portfolio to show because I was doing so much experimentation with film. Because of this, during the second half to the year I started to shoot more color digital again. In September I was able to focus on my color work with nearly 2 weeks in Portugal with a short stay in Barcelona. For this trip I concentrated on my color digital work.

I’m going to lay this retrospective out in 3 parts:

Here is Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 later next week.

Part 1 – On the streets in 35mm Film 

The year started on film shooting locally at the usual haunts – Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Downtown LA. My favorites in 35mm B&W are a mixture of things I went out looking to shoot and stuff I just found when I had a camera with me. A bit of this was for a project to depict LA in B&W for a group call the Film Shooters Collective.

3 Legs – Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village.

Dairy Images

I wanted to experiment with pushing TriX from 400 ISO to 1600 and 3200, so I bought a bunch of rebranded Tri-X from Freestyle (their Arista Premium 400 24 exposure rolls for $2.69) to experiment with. The camera of choice was my 1962 vintage Leica M2 and a 2014 (not vintage) Zeiss 50mm lens. No filter for this one.

Stop for Clouds – at the corner of Wilshire and San Vicente, West Los Angeles

LA Misc

Chick and I were driving to my friend Jerry Weber’s house, on our way to spend some time shooting down at Santa Monica pier. I looked up out the window and was struck by the reflections of the clouds – a rare sight in Southern California in 2014. I framed up the shot again with the Leica M2 and 50mm lens.

Even in Winter – Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Pier

Even in the winter, southern Californians head to Santa Monica beach. This was on the same day as the image of the stop-light but the clouds had gathered more thickly. I like the composition of elements with the line of people on the beach on the left and the life-guard house on the right. If you want to know what Santa Monica beach looks like in the winter – this is it. I worked this scene fairly hard with lots of different compositions. For this subject I waited it out to get the gesture and the wind in her hair.

Hollywood Souvenirs – Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Reflections

A complex image, to be sure, with a lot to look at. I wasn’t quite sure of this image, it was always one of my favorites but I was never quite sure if it was too complicated for others to appreciate. I like the way you can look all around the image, round and round, and then bam – head right to the center. I also like that it is uniquely Hollywood. I showed this image to Gerd Ludwig at an impromptu portfolio review. It was one of his favorites. Again the Leica M2 and 50mm lens.

Clothes Shopping – Melrose

Walking along Melrose Boulevard this weekend, I happened on these shoppers.

Shopping Melrose

Shopping Melrose Mosaic

The first image was a result of a few minutes of exploring different angles. Just after this image she looked up and the opportunity was over. In the second image the sign post just to the left of the front woman’s head, along with the angled close rack pole, makes this composition look like three different images.

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 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.