Photography is a diversion.
I was sitting in my apartment at around one o’clock last night with lots of work to do but zero motivation to do it. I decided another shot at low light 35mm was in order, so I loaded my borrowed XD5 with a fresh roll of APX400 (setting aside the roll I took out, destined for more pulling experiments) and wandered into the night. I immediately realized that, like many manual focus semi-automatic exposure cameras, the XD5’s meter consists of a scale of shutter speeds or apertures (depending on mode) with a red dot that lights up next to the metered value. This works fine in bright sunlight, but when there is no backlight in the viewfinder to illuminate the numbers, it is more or less useless. This is why aperture- or shutter-priority cameras, though capable of full manual operation, tend to be less utilitarian than fully manual cameras for this purpose. I reloaded the film into my Ricoh KR-5 Super II, which has big bright “-,” “0,” and “+” LEDs to give a reading even in complete darkness. Unfortunately, the rewind knob on the XD5, which has always made me nervous, did absolutely nothing to rewind the film (except make the telltale “click” that should mean that the leader has unattached and it’s safe to open the camera) and I ruined some of the film. Also unfortunately, I had taken the batteries out of this camera to play with the KR-10 I had borrowed (vastly inferior for the aforementioned reasons, though built a little better). I found a quarter, swapped the batteries, and stepped out into the night. Let this be a lesson to those of you who want to maintain large collections of almost working but entirely worthless old cameras.
In the fall, I had tried shooting APX400 at 800 and 1600 with really unimpressive results. Now that I have a better understanding of film speed and developing, I decided to try a roll at as close as I could get to 400 (usually 800, sometimes an indicated 400 that wassn’t a very good meter reading anyway) and develop for 800. Within ten minutes of walking back in the door, I had the film in the tank and soaking. In less than an hour it was hanging to dry. This morning, I scanned it. This was a rare burst of productivity that may never occur again.
The exposures worked better, but the fact that most of the frames were lit in the center with barely exposed dark areas at the edges made it diffcult to determine where one negative ended and another began for cutting, and made it even worse on my scanner. I ended up with some frames cut off and a few panoramas. This is one of the cut off frames. There’s a horizon and “sky” here. I may try to resurrect it later, but for now I’m pretty happy with this.
Agfa APX400 at 400-800 developed in Clayton F76+.
Another happy accident.
I’ve been playing with my new film scanner lately, trying to get negative scans that aren’t disappointing on every level. For various reasons (mostly their lack of translucence compared to print films), traditional black and white negatives are notorious for scanning poorly. Many solutions have been proposed (and many photographers swear by various combinations), and I’m trying to stumble my way through some of them to find a process that works for me.
The Digital Image Enhancement Engine (DICE) scanner technology that allows dust-, scratch-, and generally blemish-free scans of color negatives does not work with black and white negatives. However, in my experimenting with software settings, I gave it a shot without thinking. This was the result.
As usual with my “weird looking” posts, this is not some bizarre Photoshop filter. This is the original scan, with only a minor exposure adjustment.
Agfa APX400, Clayton F76+, my K1000’s questionable meter, and scanner serendipity.
Photography is back online.
Basically, the reason I haven’t been posting my photographs is that I myself have had no access to them. I tried shooting digital for a while (the previous three entries), but it wasn’t inspiring. So instead, negatives have piled up with no way to print or scan them. A brief bright spot occurred, however, when I was able to justify some good ol’ black and white shooting for a project I was working on (trust me, the justification was pretty tenuous). It sure was expensive though: Five scans destined for 8x10s and 8x12s cost me $23. For five scans. Not including the price of film, developing, printing, and shipping the prints, that’s $5.75 each. Just for scanning. Regardless, here is the first in all of its glory. Enjoy.
Pentax K1000 (first from the new/old camera!), APX400, Clayton F76+ film developer, $5.75 scan.
Photography is difficult at noon on a sunny day.
Even with the right filters, there’s just too much light to catch on your canvas.
Kodak T-Max 400, Clayton F76+ 1+9.
Photography should be fun.
Sometimes it’s about high art. Sometimes it’s about progressing your art. Sometimes it’s not about art. Unless you have an exceptionally damaged personality, chances are at some point you’re going to burn out on something that isn’t fun. Enjoy your photography and have a good time out there.
Here’s the third of the Lincoln series. This one is my favorite, but I am not exactly known for my taste in my own photography. I tried more “artistic” crops, but this is the one I like best.
I have some cross-processed film waiting to be scanned. It’s Fuji 400 color film processed in my Clayton black and white chemistry. I’m hoping for some interesting lo-fi effects, but only time will tell. Unfortunately, my usual source for inexpensive, quick, and low-quality scanning has changed their pricing structure, and now I’m priced out of the game. I’m looking for another source, but until then, they’ll remain in photo-limbo, suspended in my workflow. One of these days.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+.
Photography is subjective.
One of the great “knocked down to size” experiences for a photographer is to show work he or she is proud of to someone who isn’t “into” photography and to have it flatly rejected. I asked a roommate to compare crops of this image, and she had no opinion between the two. Did she love them both madly? No. She didn’t find either remotely interesting. In a way, it’s like having something very personal taken from you. Maybe it’s like watching your child get picked on (I wouldn’t know, but that tired simile is just trite enough for my liking).
When I told her I thought this particular crop (or one very much like it) was funny, she made a face. Not a “you’re right, it is funny” face, either. An “I don’t get it, you’re a narcissist and no one else thinks your baby is cute” face.
This photo also raises an ethical issue I try carefully not to consider: This is a child. It isn’t my first candid street shot of a minor, and it certainly won’t be my last, but these always make me nervous. I know my legal rights, and this is well within them. Not only that, I can resell prints of this image to anyone I please for any price I please (as long as it isn’t destined for commercial use) without so much as a feeble attempt to locate this girl. However, I am terrified that some crazy helicopter parent is going to bash me over the head with an “I have to capture every precious moment of my child’s entire life to sit collecting dust on a shelf underneath my television” video camera one of these days (which, to be fair, would hurt a lot less than my K1000). I hope that doesn’t happen. However, I am also tired of every parent that sees my camera clutching their toddlers to their chests and glowering. There is this terrible assumption that photographs of children are used for some vaguely evil purpose centered around the great evil, the Internet. I’m not sure what evil thing I’m supposed to be doing, but rest assured, I am not doing it. I need a t-shirt that says that. In neon yellow. Any maybe a helmet.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+ 1+9.