Monthly Archives: March 2009



I’ve gotten away from my black and white roots.

When I first got my infamous $3 camera, I needed a roll of film to try it out with. I couldn’t think of anything better than Kodak 400CN, a black and white film that can be developed in regular C-41 color chemistry virtually anywhere. Even better, a local shop had an expired roll for $2. If I were Warren Buffett, I can’t help but think my photography would be different.

This is just a door in an alley in Virginia, but I like it.

Kodak 400CN approximately twelve months outdated, Fuji Smart Shot II (the “smart” part always makes me laugh, becaue I feel like an idiot for using it).


Filed under Black and White, Film, Street Photography

Speed I


More toy cameras.

I shot another roll of redscaled film last week with much better results. Wide angle lenses (even if they are plastic and attached to a $3 camera) ar great for close-up perspective-disorting shots. I like how huge the (admittedly huge in real life) brake rotor looks. I had a dream last night that I bought some sort of used Triumph, and it reminded me that I wanted to post this.

Kodak Gold 200 film (expired six years ago and salvaged from my roommate’s mother’s closet) redscaled and shot in a Fuji Smart Shot II toy camera.


Filed under Color, Film, Street Photography



Am I lowering my standards?

After my repeated CVS developing disasters (preceded by my CVS scanning disasters), I’ve finally given up on CVS One-Hour Photo Processing. There’s something so incredibly convenient about having your negatives developed while you wait (they put a develop-only through in about twenty minutes), but when they are routinely destroying rolls of your film, it quickly becomes a problem. Now that I’m taking my film to the local professional shop, the dust and scratch problems have literally disappeared. While the jump from $2.19 to $3 per roll is really hurting my wallet, the real downside is waiting for my film to come back. They only run C-41 when enough piles up, which usually comes to about once a week. Last time I walked in literally ten minutes before they were running film and had my negatives back in twenty-five minutes. The next roll I dropped off has been there for five days, and will hopefully be done tomorrow. As a result, the blog has become a bit sporadic, and when a roll doesn’t work out (for example, because I’m shooting slide film I’ve never cross processed before in a camera with a lens I’ve (almost) never used before and another that I’d not only used before but cost $3.71), it can mean a dry week.

As is my usually style, I’ve been occasionally going back to these for a week. letting them grow on me and seeing if anything I really like emerges. Unfortunately, nothing did. I do think this is an interesting shot though (if just for the documentary value), and it’s also an interesting example of what happens when you cross process. These are the “natural” colors. This is not a Photoshop action or something of that nature (my post-processing consisted of a crop, a little highlight recovery, and a slight “s” in curves to boost contrast, along with the sharpening that is a necessity for every negative scan). Cross-processed films tend to turn either magenta or green to varying extents depending on the film used and the exposure, and this is an example of a strong magenta shift. You can also see how it varies across the tonal range: The highlights (the back of the SUV) have virtually no shift, the lights (brighter portions of the pavement and sky) have a minimal shift, and the darks (farther edges of the pavement and sky) have a strong shift toward magenta.

Also, note that I appear in the image. A decidedly postmodern nod in an otherwise pointless picture.

Fuji Sensia 100 shot in a Fuji Smart Shot II (which is ghetto beyond all imagining, and please be aware that the camera in that image is the “deluxe” model, which mine is not) cross-processed C-41 (and not ruined, but unfortunately also pretty uninteresting).


Filed under Color, Film, Street Photography

No Parking


Two steps forward, one step back.

There is a color version of this that I almost posted instead. See it here.

My local camera shop (fittingly called “The Camera Shop”) only processes film about once a week, but when I walked in today they were getting ready to run some in less than ten minutes. I had it back less than half an hour later. The results make CVS look like, well, a drugstore, and it only cost me $3.

This image keeps bothering me. Somehow I feel like I like everything sbout it except the fact that there’s nothing interesting in it. It comes from a cross-processed roll of Sensia that I shot the beginning of in Trenton in my XD5 last week and finished in a little Fuji point and shoot camera this afternoon. Sadly, the results weren’t exactly what I was hoping for (actually, the $3.71 Fuji camera was the one that produced the technically better images, which is maddening). After a miserable runaround with an eBay seller over a camera with a broken light meter (apparently the absence of “I promise this works” in the item description means “sold as-is”), I gave up and told myself at least I’d gotten a few lenses from the deal. Unfortunately, the 28mm Vivitar I was so excited about is so soft I briefly wondered if I missed the focus on every shot, and has vignetting that is brutal. In the future I guess I’ll try stopping down further, but I’m pretty disappointed. Oh well. No one said it’d be all sunshine and rainbows.

Fuji Sensia 100 (expired last year) in a Minolta XD5 with a Vivtar 28mm “supersoft!” lens. Processed C-41, converted to black and white.

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Filed under Black and White, Film, Street Photography

The Other Side II


Philosophy is important.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing my local camera shop, which is one of the few local “mom and pop” stores I actually feel obligated to support. This is because they actually provide services, information, and products that I would miss if they were gone. The film was closing in on a decade expired, and I thought it might be interesting to play with, The results were incredibly grainy, had unpredicatable color shifts (some warm, some cool), and ugly mottled patterns in the dark areas (light parts of the negatives). This is a black and white-processed image from a color negative scan from this roll. I always feel like I should disclose this, and sometimes I do. The color version, which I think is interesting considering the unique qualities of the film, is here. I like it, but I don’t think it has the same impact, and the coldness of the tones (causing the blue cast) was frustrating me.

So, where are the incredible Velvia desert shots from my backpacking trip (as referenced here)? Unfortunately, they don’t exist, and I don’t mean they aren’t developed yet. I was supposed to leave two Fridays ago, but I had been battling the flu all week. I woke up on Friday feeling worse than ever, and had to make the difficult decision to cancel my plane ticket based on doom and gloom predictions of possible sinus infections, chest constriction and/or breathing trouble, and pneumonia (none of which came to pass). Instead, I spent the week at home, which means no desert pictures. I did do a little shooting (some Sensia headed for C-41 processing and some expired 400CN black and white film in a toy camera I picked up for less than $4), but neither roll is quite finished yet.
In addition to avoiding death in the wilderness (I made a good choice, since it snowed the second day and was cold and windy for part of the week, which would have been miserable while battling a fever at 8,000 feet), I spent some of my week thinking about my photography in broader philosophical terms. In the last six months, I transitioned from a thoroughly modern digital photographer to a lo-fi obsessed cheap and bizarre camera toting weirdo, and I’m not quite sure why. I think I’m closer to being able to photo- (and culture-) philosophically define myself. A manifesto may appear here soon.

Konica VX100 expired while dinosaurs still roamed the earth (2000), shot in a “borrowed” Minolta XD5 with a tons-o-fun Vivitar 28mm lens that is significantly older than I am.

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Filed under Black and White, Color, Film, Street Photography

Another Dinosaur


It’s true, I’ve posted a lot of these.

Here is yet another take on this classic. I like the dark tones and the prominence of orange and blue, along with the slightly distorted wide-angle perspective.

I am headed off to the desert tomorrow (armed with plenty of film of all kinds) for a week’s worth of backpacking, so I hope to return at the end of the week with all sorts of interesting things (hopefully photos- interesting stories about brawling with the TSA about hand checking my Portra 800 or finding more light leaks are not the sort of interesting things I hope to return with). This is a part of the country (and really a world landscape type) I have never seen before, so it’s anyone’s guess what I’m in for.
You know you’re a photographer when you sacrifice precious pack space (and weight) for a camera, two lenses, and roughly ten rolls of film (the final roster has yet to be determined, but I’m planning on carrying everything from Velvia to APX400 to the now-dead 100UC).

This particular shot is another remnant from the days of my Pentax digital SLR, which has been sold off.


Filed under Digital, Street Photography

Authenticity III (or The Literal Other Side)


When I had scanned all of the negatives from my cross-processed slide roll (see here and here) and was looking at my virtual contact sheet in Lightroom, I noticed something strange: The same character appeared twice. Though it seemed completely illgocial, upon closer inspection there really is no denying that the subject of this photograph is the same one shown here (note the tight white sweatshirt, bouquet, and shoes- I couldn’t believe it myself at first). The first was shot through a plastic window as I climbed a flight of stairs on one side of a parking garage, and as I wandered around the roof shooting, this guy apparently made his way all the way around to the opopsite corner where I unknowingly caught him again.

So why isn’t this one color? The more I look at this roll, the more I like them procesed black and white. Part of me feels like that defeats the entire purpose of cross processing (usually done for the crazy color shifts, which I have yet to see), but it does keep the sharpness, graininess, and high contrast intact (in fact, these things might be more noticeable). Though at first I tired to convince myself that the color versions were “truer” to the form, I think I’ll go with what makes images I like better from now on. For most of these, it’s E-6 processed C-41, scanned, and digitally converted to black and white. If I’m happy with the result, what difference does it make how I got there (assuming, of course, that I didn’t steal the image from someone else and put my name on it or something of that nature).

Maybe I should just go back to digital.

Kodak Elite Chrome 400 (expired a while ago), Ricoh KR-10 Super (unlikely to see more use due to light leaks), C-41 (color negative) cross procesing, digital black and white conversion.


Filed under Black and White, Film, Street Photography