Monthly Archives: August 2008

Beer Window

(In contrast to Rear Window. And no, not the new one. The real one). Finally, something current! I picked this one up this very day. That’s right, picked up. It’s expired Fuji Portrait NPS 160, so I had to let someone else do the dirty work, and dirty is the right word because the negatives came back with all sorts of grime dried into the emulsion and the prints are a mess. I won’t name any names (CVS), but as usual I am not impressed. I do slightly like the desaturated and low-contrast look of the expired film, but it’s simply not worth doing when developing is $11 a roll and it’s, well, poor. Shooting digital color really does make sense, especially since I have virtually no control over the color film process and can only hope to make furtive changes to my scans once the damage is done.

This is the same building as this and this.

Fujicolor Portrait NPS 160 shot in the Nikon N75, poorly developed by CVS, and scanned from the print. Quality is obviously job #1 from start to finish with me.

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Filed under Film, Landscape

Ice Cream

Not my favorite image, but one I still find interesting. I am having a miserable time getting it saturated enoguh to look even close to how it appears on my full version or how it really looked. Something about the conversion and upload is desaturating everyting and I’m not sure why. It’s a problem I’ve had before viewing images in Firefox, and it’s probably related to conflicting colorspaces and my general ignorance about them. I just recently got comfortable with post processing- why not rest on my laurels for a little?

In other news, the Ricoh is out and shooting now that I’m more or less moved in to the new place, so maybe I’ll be able to stop recycling pictures sometime soon and post something really recent. Unfortunately, 36-exp film is not compatible with short attention span and film miserliness. Unfortunately, I think that’s the only way T-Max comes (in 35mm of course). Atl east once I develop it I’ll feel confident enough handling it to develop my recent DC trip pictures, which I have been terrified of ruining (one roll Tri-X, which I’m not worried about, and one roll of T-Max which is apparently weird). Maybe those will make it to here sooner or later.

Shot with my Pentax digital SLR setup some time early this summer. It’s in the EXIF, so I’m sure you can find the date if you’re curious. I’m not.

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Filed under Digital, Landscape, Uncategorized

Roof/Sky Take II

Something about the original appealed to me, so I re-shot the scene with Tri-X about a week later, and there’s something I find interesting about this one as well.

Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in Clayton F76+.

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Filed under Black and White, Landscape, Self-Developed

Roof/Sky

This is from my first-ever roll of color film, at least since I was ten or so. I started shooting film when my digital body was back for warranty repairs, and this is how I came to shoot various types of film.

Fuji Superia X-tra 400 scanned from print.

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Filed under Film, Landscape

Beach Scene

While my pictorial review of the stages of my photography was amusing (to me), it has left this page devoid of color for a few days, and it seems like time for a change. Additionally, it seems logical to explain the little picture that appears next to my name. Here it is:

This was taken the same day and less than five hundred feet from where this one was photographed. Treated similarly, it has similar mega-saturated tones and is, at least to me, pleasing, overwhelming, and repulsive at the same time. Which gets boring. It also reflects my recent fascination with square crops. A very similar scene with a friend and girlfriend (the same pair chronicled in the other post from this location) sitting on a bench looking over the beach became a Christmas present from him to her. It also took me close to a year to recover the printing cost- can’t beat mixing friends and business,

Shot over a year ago using my new (at the time) digital SLR system.

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Filed under Digital, Landscape

Still Life

Here’s a shot from the first roll of film I developed myself. I was wandering around the house trying to shoot a roll as fast as I could so I could try out the developing, and here’s how one of the frames came out. I was really surprised at how foolproof it seemed. Many of the mistakes I made seemed like they could ruin a roll, but it was surprisingly resilient.

Agfa APX 400 shot in an N75 (for maximum efficiency when trying to get through the roll as fast as possible). Experimented with a few different lighting sources using the lamps on the table.

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Filed under Black and White, Film, Self-Developed

Lily

Well, I guess today it makes sense to continue along my progression to the final step: True black and white film photography. Yesterday’s rant should provide ample explanation if what is and is not to love about the C-41 stuff, and after a few rolls of that I felt the need to try the real thing. A lot of Googling brought me to a basic understanding of how to develop one’s own film, and so I took the plunge and ordered chemicals, accessories, and 20 rolls of real live black and white film for a total of about $79, or about the cost of shooting and developing eight rolls of C-41 black and white.

Secure in the knowledge that I would soon possess the necessary skills to develop it, I bought and began shooting real live black and white film (living in the middle of nowhere for work meant that I had to make many phone calls and drive twenty miles to find any, and all that was available was T-Max. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a big shout-out to The Film Center of Altoona, PA not only for explaining to me that no one uses film anymore and everything is digital now, but also for failing to realize the irony of calling their operation “The Film Center.” If you know film isn’t dead, why don’t you give them a call at 814-946-3648 and ask if they have any Tri-X?). I shot one roll of T-Max 400 and one roll of Tri-X 400 on the summer program’s trip to Washington D.C. (I probably should have been paying more attention to my students and less to my light meter and circular polarizer, but so be it).

The package arrived at my house the day after I returned home from the summer program. I loaded up a roll of film (re-branded Agfa APX 400, but that’s another story), shot through it as fast as I could, gathered my supplies together and worked some chemical magic in my sink. Sure enough, once I fixed and rinsed, I had a three-foot strip of little tiny reversed pictures! I was thrilled that it had worked, so I loaded up a roll in my manual camera and went back to work.

I think this shot is from my second roll. It’s Agfa APX 400 shot at 400 and developed in Clayton F76+, an excellent low-toxicity hypoallergenic liquid developer (I also have more to say about low-tox chemicals- stay tuned). The image you see here was scanned from the negative at Target (more about that later too) and lightly corrected, and it will be printed as a 5 x 7 for a birthday present. Chasing a skittish animal around with a manual-exposure manual-focus camera is a bizarre and difficult experience, but I’m pleased with the results.

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Filed under Black and White, Film, Self-Developed

Mist

Following the evolution of my photography brings us to the transition step, C-41 black and white. While working in a remote (by my standards) central Pennsylvania location, I scored a lens I wanted from eBay that happened to be attached to a 35mm manual SLR. In order to fully assess my purchase and leave all-important feedback, I decided to head to Wal-Mart to pick up a roll of film or three. It was here that I discovered C-41 black and white: black and white film that can be processed at any lab that does regular color film (development of true black and white film is extinct save for a few high-end labs and home processing). The film at Wal-Mart is Kodak 400CN, and I shot the better part of two rolls at Penn State’s Artsfest this summer. While this shot is really not a favorite of anyone who frequents my photography, I like it, which I suppose is probably the point.

For those who are into the technical side, I was impressed with the smooth tones and low grain of this film shot at 400. The image you see here is a mildly Lightroom-corrected Wal-Mart scan (definitely more coming about various scanning services I’ve paid for) of the negative. I guess the moral of the story is that C-41 black and white (a) exists and (b) can produce impressive results with a simple shoot-dump at local big box/camera chain/drugstore-enjoy process. Definitely worth a try for 35mm shooters who don’t want to take the plunge into self-developed black and white.

The verdict: C-41 black and white was fun, convenient, and produced impressive results, but it was not without drawbacks. For me, the biggest drawback was price: Three rolls of 24-exposure 400CN runs about $12 at Wal-Mart, and when you add in about $6 per roll for processing and an additional $2 to have the negatives scanned, it was about $12 per roll or $0.50 per frame. While that’s very inexpensive compared to shooting 4 x 5 or 35mm slide film, it’s still pretty rich for my student blood. Additionally, the C-41 process offers very limited control over output. While I physically exposed the frames in my camera, whoever did the development had complete control over the processing of the negatives and the corrections applied to the prints. When you consider the fact that the “whoever” in question is a machine designed to produce the most acceptable color prints for the Wal-Mart crowd, the situation isn’t exactly ideal. All things considered, C-41 black and white films like 400CN or Ilford XP-2 are great for those who need convenience (on the road?) or want to get a taste of 35mm black and white, but I was not completely satisfied.

This is one of many street shots from ArtsFest I shot on Kodak 400CN with my Ricoh manual SLR and 50mm Asahi SMC lens. The brightness of the day and the fact that I wouldn’t receive my 49mm circular polarizer for another week conspired to limit me to smallish apertures, but in this case it the result is interesting (to me at least) with so much of the frame in focus. Lesson learned: When street shooting on a bright July day, 100 speed film and polarizers or neutral density filters are your friends.

Tomorrow: I progress to true old-fashioned handmade black and white.

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Filed under Black and White, Film, Street Photography

CA SI NO

I started seriously into photography about fourteen months ago. One of my first outings with the new camera was visiting a friend in the vicinity of Asbury Park, NJ. While he was spending time on the beach with his girlfriend (who later that day slapped him after he followed her instructions to “look at that girl’s bathing suit”), I wandered and fiddled with the camera. I didn’t really think too much about the images until I was moving my collection to Lightroom more than a year later, and it turns out I took some half-decent photos that day. My only regret is that I hadn’t yet discovered the bliss of shooting in RAW. Oh well.

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Filed under Digital, Landscape