Feb 102016
 
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A Return to Film from the Leica Monochrom

by James Suojanen

Hey Steve!

I began making photographs in the 1960’s using a 35mm rangefinder and developing my own black and white film. I also made contact prints and did some enlargements. But I fell away from photography through college, professional training, career and early family life; no time, no money. And color photography eluded me. But when digital became affordable with the Nikon D70, I began again. Initially I went the SLR route, but as I got older I disliked the size and weight so I ended up back with rangefinders, eventually acquiring a Leica Monochrom to complete the return to my roots; or so I thought.

Using the Monochrom with just about any decent lens produced unbelievably sharp images.

This image was made using a 60+ year old 50mm Summarit during the Memorial Day Parade in my town (Summarit yellow filter, handheld) – Leica Monochrom

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I made this image I made at the Military Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts. Normally the graves can have NO decoration. But the father of a posthumous Medal of Honor soldier buried there won the right to have flags placed at every grave site for the Veterans Day and Memorial Day weekends. An amazing event in which hundreds of volunteers appear, place the flags and then remove them. (Monochrom with a 21mm SEM on a tripod with a yellow filter) – Leica Monochrom

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On a trip to my old stomping grounds in the South, I made this pic with the Monochrom and a 35mm Summilux FLE (UV filter).

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I like all of these images. The prints have a medium-format acuity to them. But I just found/find them a bit sterile; they lack(ed) a certain “je ne sais pas” for me. So when I saw an announcement of a Leica Akademie workshop on film photography coincident with a trip to LA, I decided I’d take a second look at film. What I like about workshops is not only the focused time devoted to learning and practicing, but also the people the people I meet. I wasn’t disappointed by the cast of characters who assembled. And I was given 2 36-exposure rolls of Ilford XP2 for a sojourn through Chinatown and environs. Great fun, great instructor and a real adventure! Film DOES make you slow down and think about the images you’re making.

XP2 is a Black & White ISO 400 negative film developed using the C-41 process for color films. The images shown here were commercially scanned at the time of development with a 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution. All images were made with my Leica M7 and Voigtlander 35mm Color Skopar, except for Bruce Lee – 90mm macro elmar. I used a yellow filter for about half of them. I post-processed in Lightroom and Nik. I think the color processing gives the files a good bit of latitude for digital post-procesing. The grain is very fine and uniform. For those do-it-yourselfers, I imagine that Kodak TMax would give similar results.

Peculiar – an open but very hostile gate.

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Church in Hispanic neighborhood next to Chinatown

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Building next to the Church. As I unloaded the second roll at the end of the day, I realized I had not rewound before I opened the camera. Steve can’t publish what I said at that moment, but I quickly closed the camera back up and hoped for the best. This bit of serendipity occurs with film and can make for some interesting images. The light from the sprocket holes provides celestial framing for this otherwise boring composition.

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My favorite image of the day. Simple story within a complex image – maybe a metaphor for most of us seeking to find a path through the complicated thing we call life.

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Statue of Bruce Lee. The sprocket light made a spotlight for his face. I had a very difficult time framing since I wanted to get his hand in-between the lanterns, like he was balancing them. I had to account for the lens/viewfinder parallax while I held the camera upside down.

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A bench. The Voigtlander lens renders very nicely on film. It’s as sharp as a 35mm Summicron (had one a while back) with very nice bokeh. Small and light, I find it’s short focus throw terrific for street photography. I spent about $350 for the screw mount lens and adapter. It also looks great on both my M7 and my Leica IIIf.

For me, I saw these images and knew I was home again – at least for B&W. They just breath more that the Monochrom pictures. I don’t really know what it is. Certainly a lens will interact with a 20µ thick film emulsion differently than a 1µ micro prism at the top of a photocell in a digital sensor. It may also reflect an analog vs digital tonal range. Perhaps some/most of you reading this (thank you for taking the time to read this piece and look at the photographs), will think me deluded. That’s okay. Art is art, and a wise man once said, “There are as many paths to God as there are people on the Earth”. I’ll paraphrase him by saying that each of us has our own path (i.e. camera, lenses, etc.) to making THE PICTURE which we all seek.

Cheers and blessings,
JNSuojanen

P.S. Given the rapid depreciation of digital cameras, I don’t think there is any significant cost between film and digital for most of us amateurs (except if you shoot action stuff). My Leica IIIf is 60+ years old and works perfectly (I can’t say the same about myself).

Feb 052016
 

Film Friday: Weddings

by Michael McFaul

Hi Steve!

Happy Friday! And with that being said, I’d like to, once gain, contribute to one of my favorite segments on your site, Film Friday. ‎Last Fall you posted a Quick Shot I submitted titled ‘The Breakup w/ the Pentax Spotmatic’, and I wanted to share some images from a wedding that I had the opportunity to be a part of.

I’d say that I truly do love black and white film. To me, it just feels a bit more artistic, photojournalistic…from the grain, to the different tones of black to grey and white that film conveys…I love it. This is all subjective, of course, but it’s what keeps me inspired. :) And the funny thing about b&w film, is that in the past year, I’ve really utilized the darkroom for printing and toying with different methods of making the print…contrast filters, dodge and burn, etc…which in turn have helped me appreciate LR a lot more, cause I loathed PP.

These were edited a bit in LR with dodging, burning and slight cropping, if at all…I think. Hope your readers enjoy them.

Also, if I can add…I love the simplicity of film. Before I got into investment finance (my current FT job), I was in the golf industry as my first FT job straight out of college. Doing golf course management, giving lessons, grounds maintenance, the likes…and while there, I had access to Taylormade golf clubs at times either for free, or at cost. And as you’d might imagine, I’d be switching out clubs 2 to 3 times a year. Always trying to find the next great club and feeling like the current club was never enough…so I burned out and left. Golf was a passion of mine from my first job as a kid, to competition, amateur tournaments, and was a part of my daily life. Yet I walked away from it.

For a while, digital photography was doing the same with me. I went from a simple p&s, to the Panny GX1, then onto the Oly OMD EM5…and yet in between them, non-stop research. Should I go FF, stay with m43rd…Sony, Leica, Fuji…Aaah! Out of a bit of desperation, and to reconnect with my late father, I bought a film camera. And for me, I’m better off for it. I still love the Oly and use it often for family functions…but film has really slowed me down, work more on the artistic side of photography, focus on composition, seizing the moment, and all the other clichés that have been said in the past. And to be honest, they’re somewhat true. Yet at the same time it really allowed me to appreciate the OMD, and realize that it is a capable camera, has everything I need, and to instead focus on acquiring more m43rd lenses…and appreciating PP in LR, too! :)

Sorry I went off topic, but hope this tidbit of info can help others who are going through the same thought process. ‎As creative individuals, the biggest doubter/critic, can often times be ourselves. Constantly questioning the uses of our tools, and trying to find new products/methods/whatever that IT is to convey our expressions. If anything, give an old SLR a try. :)

As for golf, I’ve probably played 4 full rounds in the past 5 to 6 years. It’s but a distant memory.

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Cheers,

-Michael

Jan 292016
 

Friday Film: Leica M6 Classic

Hi Steve and Brandon,

I hope this email finds you both well. Recently we had a chance to escape the Canadian cold and take a (short!) family winter getaway. I brought only the Leica M6 classic, the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC, a 3-stop ND filter, and a pile of Portra.

It is always exciting to get home, process the film, and relive the experience. (Though there is always that tiny bit of concern that the rangefinder was bumped out of alignment, and you actually have nothing to show for it!)

Fortune smiled upon us this time.

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These are all self-developed, and scanned using the Pakon F135+. Included below are some samples. More images may be found on my site at http://iftimestoodstill.net/the-analog-vacation/

Thanks for considering.

Warmest regards to you and your readers,

Mark

Jan 222016
 

Film Friday: Portraits of Nepal on Hasselblad 500cm

by fiftyasa

Dear Brandon and Steve,

Once again thanks for keeping up the good work with your website!

I just came back from a trip to Nepal and would like to share some film shots taken with a Hasselblad 500cm, Planar 2.8/80 and TriX400 or TMAX100 (last 2 images).

As you might recall, Nepal was heavily hit by a terrible earthquake last year. The signs are still visible with several temples and buildings destroyed. In addition to the earthquake devastation, the country is now suffering from a border blockade (explained for example here) which leaves the population with shortage of fuel, gas and medicines.

In spite of this, Nepal remains a wonderful country and a photography paradise! Nepal needs today more than ever that tourists return to visit its amazing valleys, mountains and villages and enjoy the hospitality of its people. My strong recommendation is to go without hesitation! If you are a travel photographer, this country is a gem!

Most of the images below are taken in remote villages off the beaten tracks where accommodation is home-stay based: you will stay with a hosting family, eating with them and sleeping in their houses. This is an amazing experience that no hotel in the world can give you.

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The rest of the images are visible here: https://fiftyasa.wordpress.com/portfolio/portraits-of-nepal-on-film/

If you also want to see digital images of the trip same (taken with a Leica M9), you are welcome to visit my website here: https://fiftyasa.wordpress.com/portfolio/nepalunknown/

Negatives are digitalized with a Sony A7 mounted on a copy-stand with an Apo-Rodagon D1x (a merge of 2 shots gives you 36 MPixel resolution per frame).

Dec 042015
 

Film Friday: Flamenco

by Dierk Topp

Hi Steve and Brandon,

This is a series of flamenco images. I took these images with the Nikon FA and T-Max 400 in 1987.

My wife loved flamenco, since she went to school and later she joined a small group and they danced just for fun and on small events in public.

The first images of my wife and a friend of the flamenco group are made in our living room with two soft boxes. Images 8 and 9 show the famous Swiss flamenco dancer Nina Corti dancing in the “Fabrik” in Hamburg, Germany. On these images the light was not easy. The lens could have been my 35-135mm or the 180/2.8 Nikkor.

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

analog: T-Max 400, 1987

flamenco Nin Corti

Sony NEX-6 with Meyer Optik Trioplan 2.8/100 @ f/2.8

I digitized the images with the set up that you see on this last image:

making of: Sony A7R, bellows and Leitz Focotar 50mm/4.5

The Sony A7R with a Metabones adapter attached to a Nikon mount bellows with a Leica enlarging lens and a slide/film copy adapter. Light from a Nikon SB800 set on manual exposure. Today (for these images shown here) I use my A7RII with 42 MP = 5.300 DPI and a wireless TTL controlled Nissin Di700A flash. That makes it easy and I shoot a complete set of 6 negatives in about 20 seconds with perfect exposures. Processing with PS for inversion to positive and some cleaning and cropping and with Nik Silver Efex Pro for final B&W.

Dierk

Nov 132015
 
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Spain, Costa Blanca with the Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom

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Hi!

Spent a week in Moraira, Costa Blanca, Spain with my folks and my sister and her husband.

I took the Linhof technical camera and the Mamiya 7 with the 65mm and 150mm lens. These lenses were newly bought and I hadn’t used them yet.

The 150mm has a bad rap, because it is supposed to be difficult to focus with the rangefinder. So far, I only had the 43mm superwide for that camera, which I always zone focused. This was in fact the first time I was really obliged to use the rangefinder.

It turned out that all my exposures were focused spot on. I think the bad reputation of the 150 is because many people buy this lens for street photography (it’s equivalent to a 77mm on full frame (35mm film) and focusing with the rangefinder on moving subjects may be difficult. You need something with good contrast.

Because I was enjoying this vacation with other people, I didn’t use the Linhof. I shot the 150mm all the time, except for one shot with the 65. All in all I shot eight films, 80 images.

Well, enough said.

For the tech people:

Mamiya 7, 6×7 format.
150mm f/4.5
65mm f/4.5
Kodak Tmax 400 exposed for 800, developed in Tmax developer at 24°C for six minutes
Orange filter
Scanned with Epson V750 at 2,400PPI, photoshopped (levels, burning and dodging)
Prints on Hahnemühle Baryta.

Here we go:

Here I had this diaphragm spot. I decided to make it more obvious and use it in the composition. I think it came out nice, but of course it’s not something I do every day.

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Underwater rocks are always beautiful. Black and white isn’t an obvious choice for this, because the brown rock and the beautiful blue water. I think this simple image came out nice.

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On the way to Denia this landscape with three clouds.

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This is the Ifach, the epic rock at Calpe which was a navigation landmark for the Phoenicians.

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When I saw this image, I only had a second. I grabbed the camera and fired. This shot for some reason was extremely difficult to post process, because the coastline in the back was a perfectly even grey. It took four tries to make it into something sensible, and even now I’m not fully satisfied. But I can’t make it any better.

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This tower I’ve been shooting for years. The sky happened to be beautiful this time.

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I just love cloudscapes. A few weeks ago, I thought: “Why don’t I take photographs of just clouds, without landscape underneath?

These are my first images.

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Only shot taken with the 65mm on this trip.

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These cloud shots are a riot. I use the shot as a template and then I burn and dodge to taste. It may sound a little weird, but I take a great deal of time doing minute detail, going back and forth from a big image to a small one. I only stop when it looks perfect and balanced to me. I guess this is the ultimate “Negative is the Score, Print is the Performance” (the famous Ansel Adams quote) experience.

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Well, ten shots out of eighty. Not bad.

The Mamiya 7 is an ultimate fun camera. It handles extremely easy, and the negatives… Well, let’s just say half a year ago I really, really wanted a Sony A7S, well that want has just gone away, I’m on a different road. I’ve never had such a positive photographic experience as with medium format black and white. I must say the rangefinder experience is extremely positive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the show, thanks for looking.

Oh, yes, got a website now: www.kridmod.zenfolio.com

Bye,

Dirk.

Sep 302015
 

A Hot Summer in Rome

by Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve how are you!

I am here in Rome waiting for the autumn looking back at what I shot this summer and I would like to share with you all my roll of film done with the Leica M2 and a great Tri-X. So refreshing to shot with a so simple camera.

Rome in August can be very hot and the city is a bit empty and lonely but so interesting because something that is hidden became more visible. The people in Rome are so incredibly surrounded by masterpieces that sometimes you forget the living ones to focus on what was done by the ancient inhabitant of this city.

Something of the beauty of this city is fading away so do not miss the chance to visit soon.

more if you like there : http://blog.massimilianotiberi.com/rome-in-an-empty-summer/

I wish you can enjoy :-)

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Sep 212015
 

A night of Post Processing

By Dirk Dom

What a night!

I did ten black and white shots of my San Francisco trip.

At first, I got all crazy about printing big and I wanted drum scans made. Since that, and printing four feet would see me bankrupt, I used my own scans and enjoyed these.

I’ll print 12 x 18 inches, 30 x 45 cm, on Baryta paper. With my own scans I can go to 24 inches, 60 cm at 300 DPI.

This was a night of calm creativity and intense concentration.

Ansel Adams, the greatest printer that ever lived, said: “the negative is the score, the print the performance”. I performed tonight.

I’m deeply grateful I can do this.

The tools I use would make any Photoshop specialist laugh so hard he’d get cramps, but I use them until I can’t make the print any better. I do burning and dodging, a little bit of levels, mainly to check if I reach the black and white limits (ALT key), that’s all. Of course the images need spotting. Photoshop is as refined as you want, no limit.

Usually I have a very vivid idea about the potential of the print and what I want it to become, getting there is usually not difficult but takes lots of time.

Well, here they are, I didn’t include shots of the city because buildings don’t fit in this series.

This one I made very high key to offset the jet black charred stump and the rest of the Redwood forest.

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Here I think I got the range of light in the forest.

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Another jet black stump.

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The bank of a creek in Ukiah. This shot is so sharp you see every thread of moss on the trees. It screams “Enlarge me BIG!!!”

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My son.

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One afternoon, the clouds were just magic in Ukiah. I was out for hours watching it all evolve.

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Yummy…

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Finally, I include this city shot, because of the nice sky: San Francisco from Bernal Heights. I think that’s the best view of the city.

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I’m so glad that last year I decided to go for film and not for digital black and white. There are always beautiful structures in the negative, often totally unexpected.

Like the cloud in the San Francisco shot:

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No way you can get such a thing digitally! (Does Nik software emulate this? I’d like to know) Such structures make a print glow. A print shows this sort of detail, to discover and enjoy.
I think there is nothing more beautiful in photography than fine black and white.

Well, enough.

And,

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If it doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s no good.

Bye,

Dirk.

Sep 142015
 

Quick Shot: Analogue Love by Matthijs Beentjes

I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and really enjoy it. At first, I was interested in the articles because of what people got out of their Fuji X-gear (I’m a X-Pro enthusiast) but more and more I learned to check out the photos instead of the gear.

And got interested in analogue photography again. This shot was made with a Yashica D on Kodak rollfilm. The film must’ve been quite old, hence the weird colouring. Other photo’s from the same roll don’t have that. But I like it as it is! The mood, the grain, the speckles, the weird red blob… The anticipation before and surprise after the development of the film… I missed that. But now I’ve got it back. An I love it!

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Keep it up and thanks for reading,

Matthijs Beentjes
Alkmaar
Holland

Sep 082015
 

Six weeks in San Francisco with a Hasselblad Xpan and a Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom

Hi!

For the second time I spent six weeks in San Francisco, photographing. Last time, two years ago, I used a digital Olympus PEN with Canon FD lenses. Now, I wanted to go with my Linhof Technikardan technical camera, but I got cold feet. I just didn’t have enough experience with that camera. So, I took my two favorite fun camera’s, the Hasselblad Xpan and the Mamiya 7.

For the Xpan I bought the 90mm lens, which turned out a very good choice, as I used it 90% of the time. I shot Kodak Ektar with it. The Mamiya 7, I have the 43mm superwide, and I used it with Kodak Tmax 400 black and white, pushed one stop because I’m crazy about grain, and an orange filter.

I didn’t bring a digital camera, which turned out a very good decision.

I walked the city for about five hours each day.

Well, let’s start with the Xpan.

In the beginning I carried the 45mm and the 90mm, but the last three weeks I just took the 90mm. This lens is equivalent (on 35mm) to a 50mm horizontally. Panoramically, the limited height of your image always makes for very nice framing, you can really get into details. Shooting the Xpan is immense fun, it’s a gem of a camera. I took some 220 images with it, only shooting when I had something which was really worth recording and taking great care of composition.

The colors of the Ektar 100 film are real nice and saturated.

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I saw the extremely colorful tattoos on the arm of this British guy and I asked him if I could shoot him during the ferry ride to Sausalito. I got him with the Golden Gate Bridge behind.

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Also on the ferry, this lady with fluorescent sunglasses. This is not a real panorama, but I like the calming width to the image.

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Segway expeditions you meet regularly. This is my best shot of them.

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Due to public transport schedules, because I had to get back to Pacifica every day I couldn’t really shoot during the perfect hours of the afternoon. Only a few times my ex-wife took me downtown between 3 and 6PM. The light is just incredible, then. I did this trip on a minimum budget, sleeping in a little tent on a deck at my son’s, but next time, I’ll go three weeks instead of six and spend the money on a rented car so I can go at any time and also explore the surroundings of S.F.

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Golden Gate Park. Lots of opportunities. Still some poppies: the Xpan can also be used for other things than landscape.

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I also continuously search for abstract opportunities. This is just a piece of pavement in deep shade.

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The Mamiya 7

For some reason I’ve never used with anything else than black and white film. It’s strange, I have camera’s which feel like color and camera’s which feel black and white. Like my Mamiya C330 I have only used with Fuji Velvia so far. Shooting black and white is always very serious to me. These images are quickly postprocessed, the prints, I spend many hours on, perfecting.

Of course, I shot the Golden Gate Bridge.

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See the grain in the sky? Love it.

The next picture I discovered with Easter, when I spent two weeks there. Now I had the Mamiya with me, and did it in black and white.

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In a shopping center I saw a reflection of myself in an elevator door; I held the camera at my waist, after all I had a superwide, and got this shot: I look like a security officer.

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I spent a weekend in Ukiah, about 130 miles from San Francisco. Nature was beautiful, and there was a park with Redwoods. Not like Muir woods, but here, there was no one and I could go averywhere. This is the first time I got good redwood shots. Next time, I’lll try it with someone posing to get the size. I shot from a tripod, with an orange filter, and a spotmeter. Shutter times were from 1/60th to 4 seconds. No way you can do this without a tripod. The orange filter made for very smooth images with lots of nice grey tones. There is a severe drought in California, and I read in the Scientific American that the Redwoods are beginning to die. Isn’t it horrible?

These trees are there from before Jesus Christ, and we manage to destroy them in 30 years. Bravo, Humanity!

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The shot above and the one below are my two favorite ones from the trip. I’ll print them 4 foot longest side on Hahnemühle Baryta and hang them together. The lower shot, my son discovered when he saw the shade of the building on the sidewalk; He photographed it with his Iphone; it looked real nice, so I did it too. The iphone is an amazing camera. I made this composition in three tries, just not having the sun in and aiming for maximum diagonals:

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A last one which is also a favorite, in the graveyard of Mission Dolores, a 300 year old grave.

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Well, that’s it.

Which one is my favorite camera? The Xpan or the Mamiya? They’re both. I do very different things with them. The Xpan is very playful. The Mamiya can get very serious. I used it to its limit this trip, and I’m amazed by what is possible with it. So, they’re both my favorite camera. On trips, when it’s at all possible, I’ll take both. If I can only take one, like on a bicycling trip, it’s an extremely difficult decision.

The Mamiya images are so good that the urge to take the Linhof has gotten less. But I’ll spend a vacation in S.F. with that camera, with a car. The perspective correction possibilities and infinite DOF would do great things in the Redwood forest.

Bye,

Dirk.

Sep 042015
 

Film with vintage Nikon F3HP and Lensbaby

By Art

I haven’t shot film since 2003 and really had no intention of looking back given the great digital tools that are available these days. However I was given a vintage film camera a while back and after testing it out casually just to see if it works, I got pulled back into the world of film. I have since purchased a number of film cameras from the 80’s and 90’s in different formats and have to say, I am having a blast! So far, the camera I am really bonding the most with is an early 80’s Nikon F3HP. The manual focus Nikkor legacy lenses are great. However I had a Lensbaby sitting around that I had purchased for my Nikon DSLR some years back collecting dust on my shelf… I thought I would give it a whirl on the F3. I discovered that the rougher more organic look of film really makes the Lensbaby come alive. The grain of the film just melts with the lens effect and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the result. I have attached a few shots below. They were shot on Kodak Portra 160, a really nice emulsion.

Thanks for reading and you can see more of my photography (both digital and film) at 500px.com/acodron748 and acodron748.tumblr.com

Cheers,

Art

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Sep 042015
 

Meta35: Embed EXIF data in film-shot images, tweak Custom Setting Menus.

By John Crane

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Have you ever wondered how to embed EXIF data into your film-shot and computer scanned images? Are you one of the newly enlightened 35mm film shooters recently in possession of your dream, quasi-vintage film camera (think Nikon F100, Nikon F5, Canon EOS-1V or Minolta Maxxum) – but frustrated trying to figure out how to tweak its Custom Settings exactly how you want? You may have given up, resigning yourself to thinking, “some day someone will figure this out.” Well, that someone is Promote Systems, and thanks to the software company in Houston, Texas, your wait is over. Enter meta35, a new product allowing you to extract EXIF data your camera generates, import to the computer, then embed into the specific frame of film it corresponds to. Not only that, but Meta35 allows interaction with these old, beautiful film cameras Custom Setting Menus; tweak them, then re-export to the camera. Quickly, easily, and without any cryptic cheat sheets.

About a year ago I received an e-mail from a gentleman asking if the Nikon MV-1 Data Reader was the only game in town when it came to retrieving data off the Nikon F6. The answer at the time was, unfortunately, yes – as far as I knew. For those unfamiliar with the MV-1, it’s a glorified CF card reader in a black, velvet pouch that hooks up to the 10-pin ports on the Nikon F6, Nikon F5, Nikon F100 and Nikon N90S/F90X allowing the transfer of Exif data generated by the camera (when this option is activated, as in the case of the F100) – write that data as a tiny .txt file to a Compact Flash (CF) card, then transfer that data to the computer for further use. The MV-1 is perfect for what limited functionality if performs, but there are several downsides. One is cost; at close to $240 it feels dramatically over priced for what it is. Another downside is that it’s one-directional in the sense it’s designed simply to retrieve data stored in your camera and write it to a card. During that process it deletes the data from the camera’s memory. Yet another disadvantage to the MV-1 is they are tough to find – and will become tougher as time passes.

In the old days there was a piece of software called Nikon Photo Secretary, allowing interaction with the F5’s inner functions. I never used Photo Secretary so can’t speak precisely to what it did or didn’t do. It was released about the same time as the F5 and from the looks of things, designed primarily to interact with the CSM (Custom Settings Menu) of the F5, providing easier access to its inner secrets. Regardless, if you can even find it today, and/or a computer that’ll run it – you’d be lucky. So what’s left?

 

Nikon-F100-CSM-Screen

Fast forward a year to an e-mail from the same gentleman a year ago, asking if I’d be interested in trying a new product for extracting data from the F6. Enter meta35, from Promote Systems in Houston, Texas. Meta35 is a new product providing today’s film shooter with the data generated by their cameras, previously inaccessible. And in the case of a camera like the F100 where you actually have to tell the camera to record data (its default is “off”), meta35 is the only game in town allowing access to this function, buried deep in the camera’s brain to wake it up, fully realizing its potential.

Meta35-product-square-lowres-200x200

Meta35 is a software/hardware solution for not only these vintage, Nikon film cameras (F100, F5, F6, N90S/F90X), but also Canon EOS-1V and Minolta (Maxxum, Dynax and Alpha) cameras as well (please see footnotes at end of article). The software component runs on both Windows and Apple OSX as a efficiently designed, standalone application. The 2-part hardware component consists of a small cable with the appropriate connecting head for your camera on one end and standard 3.5mm jack on the other that plugs into a small adapter which connects to the computer’s USB port. Meta35 is extremely simple to use, well designed and fully functional.

Think of the camera’s data in two separate buckets:

– First, the Exif data generated while shooting a roll of film
– Secondly, the camera’s Custom Settings Menus (CSM), allowing deeper, more custom interaction with the camera.

The one-driectional MV-1 is capable only of removing (and erasing) generated EXIF data from the camera. Meta35 is bi-directional in the sense it allows you to read and write information to and from the camera. In regards to Custom Setting Menus, in the past its been difficult or impossible to access that data without some sort of deciphering key explaining what CSM function is mapped to what code in the camera. Meta35 somehow cuts through to not only decypher each camera’s CSM info, but allows retrieval, editing on the computer, then re-exporting altered CSM settings back into to the camera.

In the case of the F6, Meta35 does not allow changing CSM settings on the camera – this is simply done using the F6’s Menu on the back. But if you’re an F5, F100 or N90S/F90X, Canon EOS-1 or Minotla Maxxum shooter you’ll appreciate being able to easily read and alter each Custom Setting in the camera, then push those settings back to the camera and be ready to go.

EXIF DATA: Retrieving and embedding Exif data

meta35-in-action

When it comes time to embedding EXIF data into your image, meta35 is more than up to the task. Here’s a quick snapshot of the process. There are also links to short, informative “how-to” videos available here.

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on
2) Launch the software
3) Import the Exif data from the camera
4) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with
5) The software automatically matches the exif data frame with the proper image*
6) Enter the additional IPTC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, keywords, etc.
7) Click “embed data” button

and presto – your image now carries all the data generated when shot such as f-stop, shutter speed, time, date, camera brand/model, etc.

OK – that’s a best-case scenario. Here are a few things you’ll figure out during your use of meta35, each tied to the number above:

1) Hook meta35 to the camera and turn the camera on. Make sure when you’re finished using meta35 you physically disconnect the cable from the camera or it will eventually deplete your batteries.

2) Launch the software. No issues here. It will run on both Windows and Apple OSX computers and I never experienced a single stability issue.

3) Import Exif data from the camera. This begins a bit of a fork in the road: if you use the MV-1 for the F6 it’s set to actually delete EXIF data from the camera after finished writing to the card. This of course leaves no data on the camera for Meta35 to interact with. So if you’re in the position of having both the MV-1 and meta35, use meta35 first to extract the data from the camera. meta35 allows the option of leaving the data stored in camera after extraction. If you wish to go back later and use the MV-1 to extract the data file you can do it then.

*In case you’re wondering – as I was – whether meta35 can work with data already imported from the camera and living on your hard disc, the answer is yes (!)*

4 and 5) Locate and load the image directory you wish to work with. This is an important step that takes a lot for granted. Without getting into a workflow discussion, I’ll say this: for most compatible use across the board it’s best to work with JPEG images. Here’s why.

a) Though meta35 presently understands both TIF and JPEG’s, it’s more compatible with JPEG’s on both platforms. On the Apple platform there is an issue preventing the software from writing all the EXIF data to TIF files on Apple OSX. It does allow some information like shutter speed and aperture, but not other information like camera brand, camera model and some others. They’re working hard to figure this out and I have no doubt they will. But for now, use JPEG’s – especially if you’re in the Mac.

b) When you scan images from a roll of film, this process assumes a logical, sequential naming convention. I’ve written other articles on this in the past so won’t get into it again here. But if you randomly name your files willy nilly when scanning, it makes associating the proper image later with the proper frame’s EXIF data much more difficult. Meta35 uses a logical sequence-based method. It understands “frame 1” in the EXIF data – and expects you to identify “frame 1” in your image directory. Much of this is common sense – but Meta35 isn’t a mind-reader – it needs you to do your part too.

c) The good news is, once you’ve imported the image directory you want to work with, re-ordering images in the image pane is relatively simple if you’ve not been diligent in your naming conventions while scanning. It’s easy to re-order, or even omit and exclude images from syncing. It’s rare that I scan all 36 images in from a roll of film, leaving gaps between images. No worries for meta35. It allows you to either exclude the data file or the image, based on how you prefer to work.

6) Enter the additional ITPC data at the bottom such as titles, locations, etc. This is a nifty way of adding keywords, descriptions, titles to your images. In the case of the Copyright pane there’s an option to apply to whole roll, saving time of entering the same information repeatedly. Same with the time/date stamp – allowing you to time/date stamp the entire roll. It’s a bit laborious to copy and paste information across all 36 images, but it needs to be done at some point and meta35 provides the most concise and streamlined opportunity to work on a whole roll at once.

7) Click “embed data” button. As noted above, this action will embed all entered data into your images, with the exception of TIF’s on the Mac, which embeds only some of it. The image is then permanently joined to its shooting data. When you open the image in other software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, or DxO Optics the data is there.

meta35-data-embeded-into-image-on-zenfolio

CSM Settings: Retrieving, Altering and Exporting Custom Settings from/to the camera:

Nikon-F5-Custom-Settings-Menu

Working with the camera’s custom settings menu is a breeze with meta35. As noted earlier, when altering the F6’s Custom Settings you’ll continue to do so on the camera’s menu itself. But for other cameras such as the F5, F100 or N90X/S, meta35 makes customizing the camera’s functions a breeze. Here’s the overview:

1) Connect the camera to the computer
2) Launch the software
3) Once the camera is located by the software, click “Import from Camera”
4) The camera’s Custom Settings appear within the software. Make whatever changes you wish. You’ll see short explanations associated with each setting if you need more information.
5) When complete, click “Export to Camera” and the camera is now updated.
6) Disconnect the camera.

It’s really that easy. No deciphering cryptic keys, or trying to memorize codes in the camera and what they mean. All information is clearly presented in the software as readable, easy to understand information.

OVERVIEW SUMMARY

Meta35 is a combination of software and hardware that lets photographers download shooting data from compatible cameras, embed the data into the EXIF metadata of scanned images and configure the cameras built in custom functions to optimize settings to the photographer’s needs. For version 1 software it’s robust, stable, well thought through and fully functional. It will be exciting to see where Promote Systems takes it from here.

Compatibility:

Meta35 is compatible with the following film cameras that record data: Canon EOS-1V, Nikon F100, F5, F6(1), F90X, N90S, Minolta Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 7(1,2) and Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 9(1 ,3).

1. Custom functions can be set directly on the camera.
2. Requires Minolta DS-100 data saver.
3. Requires Minolta DM-9 memory data back.

Features:

– transfer film shooting data from the camera directly to a MAC or PC
– embed the shooting data into the EXIF metadata of the scanned images
– set up and customize camera custom functions

Meta35 retails for $149 for Nikon, Canon and Minolta versions, and is available for both Windows and Apple OSX computers. For more information please visit Promote System’s web site at meta35.com

Also check out the Nikon F6 Project!

Sep 012015
 

NYC, Leica M6 and a pocket full of Tri-X

By Arda Ozum

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to walk the streets of NYC with a few friends and nothing on my agenda except to take photographs with my Leica M6. In an effort to travel light and keep things simple, I took only the Leica M6, 35mm ASPH Summicron and Tri-X film. This is my favourite camera/lens/film combination for street photography.

The Leica is a truly superb camera for this type of photography. It is small and unobtrusive and produces outstandingly sharp negatives. People are often surprised when they see a 16×20 print from a 35mm Tri-X negative because it holds up so well! I shoot Tri-X rated at iso 400 and develop in D-76 diluted 1:1 at 20 degrees C for 9.75 minutes.

ArdaNYC2013-1

ArdaNYC2013-6

I get into a great rhythm with this camera when I am shooting with it for extended periods of time. Without the distraction of menus, buttons, etc. I have a very simple tool with which to create images. I have only three things to consider: aperture, shutter and focus. I love the simplicity! I can focus on image making instead of navigating menus and settings. The viewfinder gives a view of real life as it happens. If there is daylight, I will often use hyperfocal distance to pre-focus the camera so that I can react quickly to things that are happening around me. For example, in sunny condition and relying on sunny-16 for exposure settings, I will set shutter at 1/500 and aperture at f/11. I will then set focus so that 1.5m to 10m will be in acceptable sharp focus. This allows me a nice working distance to react very quickly to what may happen in my immediate vicinity on the street. It is instant. No focus required! The photograph of the young man on the skateboard was captured with almost no warning as he came speeding past me.

ArdaNYC2013-9

ArdaNYC2013-10

ArdaNYC2013-12

In other situations, I will use the meter in the camera and the zone system to determine exposure. For example, at night, I would often meter a dark area of the street that I wanted to capture detail in and place that area in zone 2 or 3. I might also check a brighter area to ensure I wasn’t blowing out highlights. The meter in the M6 is not a spot meter so I would often pick an area in my scene that would be at least 10% of my viewfinder area and make a decision as to what zone I would place that part of my scene and set my exposure accordingly. Although everyone has different tastes, I did very little editing and in most cases, no editing of the film scans and I am happy with the way they look.

ArdaNYC2013-14

ArdaNYC2013-16

ArdaNYC2013-17

The Leica and I had some fun that week in NYC. One shot from the Empire State was shot at 1 second long using my elbows and forehead against the glass to steady the camera. One of the photos was even shot using a pint of beer as my tripod to grab a 30 second exposure of the interior of an old pub! In the week I was in NYC, I exposed 250 images and scanned 190 of them to take a closer look because they had potential. Of the 190 images scanned, I displayed about 60 of them. You can see more of the images from NYC and some of my other photography at www.photo.net/photos/Arda

Cheers!

Arda

Aug 282015
 

titlefilmyear

A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.

Leica

I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3

Hasselblad

This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3

Conclusion

Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website: www.adamlaws.com

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work: https://instagram.com/adamlawsphotography/

Aug 212015
 

A Farewell to the Month of May, Bluebells and my Rolleiflex

By Ibraar Hussain

Hi Steve and Brandon,

Thought I’d share a few pictures with you which I took in May – a month I always love and look forward to as it’s when the weather is fantastic,  The tree’s have young leaves and everything is so bright and airy, and it’s a time when in some woods at home the English bluebells are in bloom.

I love this time of year and try to capture the Bluebells in all their glory as they carpet the clearings and patches of woodland bringing magic with them. They’re only fleeting though and after a couple of weeks they’re gone, not appearing again until the following Spring. I visited a few woods around Epping Forest, but the most amazing carpet was to be found in Wanstead park in East London which is a part of the Epping Forest. The Best time to capture these is at dawn or sunset when the sun is low and warm and illuminates these magnificent flowers and fills them with light, magic and drama.

I took my Rolleiflex 3.5F and a Rolleinar I and II close up lenses with a roll of Fuji NPH 400 Negative Film which has a wide Latitude/Dynamic range.
The Rolleinars are tricky as my eye sight isn’t the best at close up (need to get my eyes tested) and using a Waist level Finder while kneeling in bracken, brambles and stuff isn’t fun – But they’re great for portraits and head shots and give massive amounts of shallow depth in the photos when shot wide open.

I have just bought a Fuji TX-2 aka Hasselblad X-Pan II – a format I’ve been wanting to try for years, so my lovely Rolleiflex 3.5F complete with everything is having to be up for Sale to fund the purchase, and I think this was a fitting adieu to this legendary camera which I have used extensively the last few years and which has been with me to the Mountains of the Hindu kush, Karakoram and Himalaya.

One day I shall buy myself another, and for the time being my favourite Square Format photography will be performed with my Rolleiflex SLX II which I still have.

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