So. (Psycho IV: Small World)

So I’ve been away for a while.

In the time since “The 92 Megapixel Holga,” I’ve received two degrees, accepted a faraway job offer, lived at four addresses in two (admittedly contiguous) time zones, moved halfway across a relatively large country, and started a new job (in roughly chronological order). I’ve put enough miles on my car to change the oil twice (something like 12,000, I think).

While I’d love to say I’ve documented all of those experiences with thousands of images, I haven’t. I have some, but really not as many as I should. I’ve put a few rolls through my Holga and had a few outings with the digital setup, perhaps just enough to know that I’ve lost some of my feel for it. Oh well. I’m a little more settled now, a little more comfortable, so I should probably get back to work. So.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G DX (which has been permanently affixed to my D200 since I got it), window light.



Filed under Digital, Landscape

The 92 Megapixel Holga

(Actually, 92.3)

I finally got back the first roll of film from my Holga. I always order my film “develop only,” then scan my negatives and see what’s worth printing. Since I very rarely print anything, it saves me a lot of money. As I detailed in my previous post, I managed to do an extremely good job of messing up the film by overlapping all of the exposures. I was hoping that at least one of the overlapped images would be something at least interesting, and I think it worked out. I tried to take the same shot twice, first using the “f/11” setting and then using the “f/8.” Because of my winding error, it didn’t really work out as planned. I do still think it’s interesting, though.

The first time I scanned this image, I didn’t bother to change the scan resolution. I had left it set at 2800 dpi, which produced scans from 35mm frames in the neighborhood of 10 megapixels, which was a good compromise between giant files and printable resolution. When I scanned this frame at 2800 dpi (which is somewhat cropped from the original), I ended up with a 92 megapixel image (or, to be exact, 92,390,540 pixels). While this is wonderful in theory, it meant a file of more than 227 MB, so unwieldy that it crashed Lightroom on my Macbook Pro (1536 MB RAM and a dual-core 2.0 ghz processor) when I tried to spot correct a bit of dust. It is also utterly pointless, as the Holga lens is in no way capable of resolving the level of detail that would reward this level of resolution. In spite of this, I plan on bragging about this regularly. The next time someone shooting with a D300s and an 18-55 kit lens takes a break from toggling through the auto modes to ask me about my camera, I can just say it’s 92 megapixels. (Or I can be nice – I’m not as mean as I claim to be).

Holga 120N overlapping exposure, Ilford XP2 Super.


Filed under Black and White, Film, Landscape

Stop . . . Holga Time

As a somewhat dedicated lo-fi photographer (I think anyone who has shot a roll of film that cost more than the camera it went into deserves this designation), I have been jealously eying Holga shots for quite some time now. It just always seemed like a silly thing to spend money on, since I would need a new developing tank and 120 film to go with it. All of this changed last week when I accepted a job offer. It seemed like a good time to buy myself a present (especially one that was $19 with free shipping), and since all of my black and white chemistry has gone bad anyway, I bought C-41 process black and white film instead of the traditional stuff (so it can be processed anywhere, although most labs won’t do the 120 film the Holga uses, at least not in-house).

While anxiously awaiting my UPS package (apparently two day air means five days?), I read up on all sorts of Holga info. It seemed like everyone who has tried one has made some sort of silly mistake on his/her first roll, from loading the film wrong to leaving the lens cap on to exposing all of the film when the camera’s back fell off (which I couldn’t really imagine until I held one myself).

After my Holga finally arrived, I resolved not to make any of the silly mistakes I had read about, loaded a roll of XP2, and started shooting. Holgas can shoot in one of two formats: 6×6 or 6×4.5. 120 film has a paper backing with counting numbers in different locations which allow the photographer to advance the film the correct distance. Since the 6×6 images are 1.5cm wider, they require a little more winding between images (and thus only get 12 images to a roll instead of 645’s 16). When I had finished shooting my first roll, I tried to advance the film the rest of the way so I could take it out. As I kept turning the film advance, the numbers went way past 12 to 13, 14, and all the way to 16. I had left the counter set to 645, so all of my images overlapped into one continuous mess. I decided to have the film developed anyway, but I’m not expecting much from it. I guess we’ll see in a few days.

At least now I’ve made my official first Holga mistake.


Filed under Photo-philosophy


I need to do more shooting, and I think I’m going to try cross-processing more slide film. Among other things, I have some Provia 400F on my desk (expired September 2004) which should be interesting. This is from another roll of the same film.

Minolta XD5, Fuji Provia 400F (exp. 2004).


Filed under Color, Film, Landscape

Thank You (And the winner is . . .)

First of all, a big thanks to everyone who participated in the recent contest on this site. Fortunately, I did get more than one participant (n>1!), so I can pick someone to win the “fabulous prize.” But more on that later.

I should probably explain the “and help me out” component of the contest. Earlier this week, I traveled for a job interview which included a short presentation to demonstrate my speaking/presenting skills. Since it is an interest of mine that is fairly unique, I decided to present on black and white analog (or, to be honest, hybrid) photography. I wanted to bring some of my own work to (literally) illustrate some of the points I was making about the medium, but I wanted to make sure I brought prints that were appealing. It’s difficult for me to judge this, because my feelings about my own photos are so inextricably tied to the technical process and the experience of making them. By getting others’ input on what images are appealing and why, I was able to select some images that were hopefully striking for my audience. I got great input, and ended up including one photo I never would have chosen that got overwhelming support.

In exchange for the very useful feedback I got, I owe one submitter a prize (as I write this, I have not yet chosen). The winner has (now) been randomly selected, and has been contaced about his (does that give it away?) prize. That said, if any of you who did or didn’t participate want prints, let me know. I have a few sitting around that I made for this presetation and others, and I would be glad to make you one if you want it. If you want prints, just let me know.

But really, thanks to everyone who gave me a hand with this. I got great feedback and have a new perspective on some of my photos.

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Filed under Photo-philosophy

Contest (Win Fabulous Prizes!)

In an idea shamelessly lifted from the talented Cindy Dyer (whose storytelling contest you should enter right after you finish mine), I am creating a contest of sorts of my own. In fact, it’s less a “contest” than it is an opportunity to win some free stuff (and help me out). So here’s the game:

Pick your favorite black and white photograph on this site (to get just black and whites, either click “black and white” in the tag could on the right or follow this link, which takes you to the same place). Submit it either as a comment on this post or in an email (contact info here) along with your reasoning for choosing it. There is no need for high theoretical explanations (though they are welcome). Your justification can be as simple as “I like the way it looks because ________.” You are also welcome to choose your top three, five, or however many move you. The more you submit, the more chances you have to win, because the winning criteria (and prizes) are as follows:

One lucky submission will be chosen at random. Because a submission will be chosen, multiple submissions mean multiple chances to win. What will you win? An insidiously simple little prize: A print of any photo of mine you like, shipped directly to you (as long as shipping is fairly reasonable to your location). I might even frame it for you. In fact, if you participate and really want a print of something, I’ll probably just send it to you.

I will be thrilled  if there are enough responses to actually pick randomly (that is, n<1). If I get one response, it will be about what I expected. If no one participates, I will be sad.


Filed under Uncategorized

Light Me White (Chaos in the Windy City II)

Black and white can make you crazy.

(Chaos in the Windy City I can be found here). This was another attempt to represent the chaos in the Art Institute of Chicago on New Year’s Eve. Anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time probably recognizes by now that I am big fan of the square aspect ratio, particularly for my more abstract work, and this is no exception. Something¬† about it just makes sense. I actually didn’t even see htis installation because of how crowded it was (this photo was when we were on our way out right before closing time, so the herd had thinned a little).

When I was processing this batch, I spent a lot of time with alternate versions. I had a lower-contrast high-key version, and a higher-contrast version that was a little more balanced across the tones. I couldn’t make the decision between the two almost identical shots, so I decided to come back to them later. After a month, I still couldn’t decide, so I ended up splitting the difference. This version is descended from the low-contrast version, and I think the low-contrast high-key aesthetic might be growing on me.

Big photo-related life event coming up on Tuesday. I will provide more details for those following along at home, but for now, suffice it to say that a print of this photo will likely be traveling as checked luggage on Monday morning, along with some other prints, a small 35mm developing tank, empty bottles labeled “developer” and “fixer,” and n uncut but developed roll of APX400. Curious?

Can anyone confirm or deny my suspicion that real developer and fixer, even in quantities smaller than three ounces, will not fly with TSA regulations? I wouldn’t be using them anyway, at this point I’m just curious.

Nikon D200, Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8 G, long exposure with the assistance of a countertop, security people out of the frame to the right looking at me very suspiciously.


Filed under Abstract, Digital