I’ve been shooting film for a little over a year now and it has proven a great medium for me to explore areas of photography outside my usual street shooting. This past fall, while visiting Portugal, I used a Rolleicord V twin lens reflex to explore the architecture of the Queluz National Palace in Portugal.
I must say, these images were very difficult to setup with a twin lens reflex camera and its waist level view finder, a large format view camera and step stool may have been easier. But with a little time, so soften the memory of their difficulty, I’m pleased with the result. Seeing these result, and the fact that I have done a lot of street shooting already this year, have motivate me to get out more with medium format and large format. It is raining again tonight and promises to be a beautiful spring in Southern California filled with wild flowers. In the meanwhile, enjoy these few views of the Queluz National Palace.
Taken with a Rolleicord V 3.5 TLR, Ilford FP4+, developed in Clayton F76+ for 8 minutes @ 68-degrees. With these large medium format negatives, I’ve taken the liberty of cropping a two to 4×5, the other maintain their 6×6 square format. Click on the image to see it large and marvel in the detail.
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.
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.
Lately as I’ve scrolled through my “friends” posts on Flickr, Facebook, and Google+ I’ve done just that – scrolled through. Very few have made me stop and look. Most have left a different impression. An impression of the processing over the content. As Jay Maisel would say: “I don’t want to see the fine hand of the photographer”.
As I take my first steps exploring my photography through film, and I see the results of a well exposed B&W, I am reminded of the Stieglitz and the early masters. Their photographs had a quality that, although they used many developing and darkroom techniques to coax the best prints from their exposures, never exposed to the fine hand of the photographer over the fine mind of the photographer.
In this image, which I entitled “The Tower”, the representation of the clouds and sky that has been brought out simply by allowing my roll of Ilford Delta 100 to express the magic baked into the science of its emulsion. The final result is not something, I fear, that I would have ever pre-visualized. I am afraid that I have been too steeped in the 21st century digital mania to have done a digital color to B&W conversion with this subtlety.
While my outing at Morro Bay provided a nice warm up, today’s trip to the Disney center was just the canvas I needed to continue my search for simple. These are proof images off my Oly OM-D w/40 mm lens (which roughly matches the point-of-view of the Hasselblad 80mm lens). In the field, some of these were shot in B&W (Ilford Delta 100) and others in color (Kodak Ektar 100). I’m very interested to see how they come out. Oh, and by the way, there is almost NO processing of these images except to find the right square crop. I was much more particular about what I shot and how I exposed.
Off and running with my Hasselblad, I’m looking for simple. My time in Morro Bay was far too short and the opportunities were sparse. Although the images I will present here will not win any awards, they are my first steps toward simple. Simple, quiet landscapes. This is why I bought the Hasselblad, to pursue something different from my street scenes.
What do I mean by a quiet landscape – I’m looking for forms and textures. These are not about processing and drama. These are not about big sweeping views. These are simple straight forward views of the quiet world around us. I’m looking to get intimate with this part of my work.
These are proofs which were taken with my Canon 5dmkII. I used the 5d to evaluate composition and exposure.
(This post has been sitting in on my notepad since Friday May 17, but I need to get it out so that I post the follow ups. You wouldn’t want to miss a chapter of this exiting story, would you?)
This weekend (May 18-19) I take my 1971 era Hasselblad 500 C/M – 80mm CF T* lens out for it’s inaugural shoot.
I’ve had a few set backs in getting this kit up and running, which, as I think about it, shouldn’t surprise me. When the camera came, I wanted to make sure I understood how to use it. There are three basics to Hasselblad operations:
1) It doesn’t shoot unless the “dark slide” has been removed.
2) You need to make sure the camera is wound/cocked before you do most stuff (like put the lens on and off).
3) The body red/white indicator and the back red/white indicator should match before you put the back on or off.
The camera is ordered in pieces – a body, a lens, a view finder, a film back (or magazine). Each piece can work, or not. Long story short, I went through two magazines from KEH (both rated E+), both with distinct operational problems and by now it is Friday afternoon and I really want to bring this camera out to Morro Bay this weekend.
I started calling local camera stores. Samy’s Camera in Los Angeles to the rescue. I came in with my camera. Mike, at the repair desk, confirmed that my magazines (film backs) were bad and brought me over to the sales desk where Sean showed me a nearly perfect 1990 magazine. Mike took back to the repair desk and checked it out thoroughly giving it a clean bill of health.
Tonight my Hasselblad is finally loaded with Kodak Ektar 100. I’m ready for some color landscape up in Morro Bay.