Daily Photo Inspiration #853 By Hai Tran

Hi Brandon and Steve,

Hopefully this will be my second post since Daily Inspiration #691. About a month ago I decided to dive into the world of medium format and after a lot of research and factoring in budget, I went with the Yashica-mat 124G. So far I’ve shot with Portra 400 (13 years past it’s expiry date), and 2 Ilford HP5+ B&W rolls of film.

From what I read about film slowing you down, well in my experience so far, that is absolutely true. Knowing that each time I press down on that shutter button, roughly $3 goes down the drain, so I really have to think before my brain decides to tell my flexor digitorum profundus muscle to flex my index finger to expose that section of 120 film at the back of this black heavy metallic box.

I’ve also been reading around how you have to think differently when shooting black and white, and this is the first time I’ve ever shot with black and white film since using a pin hole camera back in high school. Keeping that in mind, I decided to mainly try to look for scenes with high contrast (ie. looking for light and strong shadows). I’m sure there is more to it than that, so I hope I can get some feedback from people on what they look for when shooting black and white.

I hope you enjoy these pictures I’ve taken so far with this very interesting camera I’ve acquired. All 3 shot on Ilford HP5+ attempting to use the Sunny 16 rule, scanned using Canon 9000f, processed in LR5. Any constructive feedback on them would be greatly appreciated as I am still learning.

Yours truly,
Hai Tran




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  1. Thanks for the feedback guys. I’ve been very busy for the past week, So I didn’t even realise that my little blog was posted up. I forgot to mention that a friend of mine (Zoe) started me out in film when she bought me a Lomography – build it yourself – Konstructor, and ever since then I moved on to medium format.

  2. Hai

    Concerning your processing costs, what service level are you getting; develop only, develop & scan, develop & proof print (proof), or develop, scan, & proof?

    I checked prices for B&W services at labs in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles and prices fell into the following ranges; develop only $6.50-8.50 per roll, develop, scan, & proof, about $26.00 per roll.

    So if you are getting the full service the price you are paying is relatively high but possibly not unreasonable depending on where you live. If you are getting develop only, you are getting taken.

    So shop around your area to find what the local labs are charging and what each service level provides. I suggest that you get develop only, or develop and scan. This should make your per roll costs more reasonable.

    I still use a local labs for develop only and ask for uncut; the uncut film will come in a sleeve. When I get the film home I cut it to fit in a transparent page for storing in a note book. The page makes using a flatbed scanner to generate a “contact” sheet easy. If you have an image that is worthy of printing (high resolution scanning), take the film out of the page for use.


    • Hi Paul,
      I live in Australia, and the local camera store charges $19 to develop only. Film at the store costs about $12 per roll. $8-$10 if I buy online depending on quantity in one purchase. So I’m looking at most $31 to buy a roll and develop it. So it’s roughly $3 a shot.
      I have a film scanner at home so I scan the ones I want. It’s not worth doing high res scanning at my camera store because they charge $4 a photo. A different place quoted me $7 an image!

  3. Great images, but two simple suggestions. There are some decent smart phone apps for lightmeters. Sunny 16 is fine, but sometimes a lightmeter can help…..and one that is free or a few dollars is even better. Also, if you are serious about this, consider developing your own black and white. It isn’t all that difficult so long as you can find a dark area to load film (a closet at night can work just fine). That pulls to cost down to closer to $0.50 per frame ($5ish for roll of film plus another dollar in chemicals)

    • I’ve considered doing that, but I heard that the chemical smell isn’t great, especially on my housemates. So for now, I’m satisfied with getting my camera store to develop it and then I’ll scan it in.

  4. Those images are heavily underexposed as Sunny 16 rule DOESN’T work in high contrast scenes…in fact those scenes must be metered for shadows and developped for the highlights…so the further questions is: who developped it? Those negatives are hardly printable at enlarger (digital printing is NOT part of the game 😉 )
    Said that good compositions instead

    • Hi Massimiliano,
      My local camera store developed it. Plus a bit of tweeking in LR5 contributed in the end product here as well. So the dark look of it was something I was kind of looking for, but also my inexperience with film.

  5. Nice Images. They look underexposed by half a stop i would say (more or less depending on what image you look). Unless you did it on purpose i would suggest to slow down shutter Speed one step.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • But then again you dealt with difficult lighting conditions 😉 quite a challenge for a beginner doing the math on his own. Results are very good under this perspective.

    • Hi Elderin,
      Thanks for the feedback. I was playing around with the settings in LR5 and I was in the mood of trying to crush those blacks as much as possible for high contrast. Also while shooting, I knew that you should expose more for shadows, and then you can recover the highlights, but still having the digital mindset which is opposite, I think factored in the majority of my shots having come out a little under.

  6. These are really well seen images. B&W does require change in mindset, but it is very rewarding.

  7. Awesome photos, all three are great. I like the way the light in the third one illuminates just a small patch of the ground. The second one is very stylish and the first one is a great street photo

  8. Hai

    I would say you made a good choice. Plus, from these images you have a sense for composing within a square.

    Just remember to take your time and make each image as good as possible. Speed will come with practice


    • Oops! I forgot to add i like the first image. This was very good placement of your subject.


    • I think the 124G is pretty good, don’t know the differences with the 120. Definitely takes time getting used to the fact that the viewfinder has everything reversed. Plus the look of the camera draws interest. Also cranking that film is soooo satisfying.

  9. Great work, Hai! Looks like you’re really seeing in black and white–nice work. I was gifted a Yashica Mat 124-G a few years ago and absolutely love it. Keep it up!

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