Friday, November 10, 2017

Faulty equipment

I'm somewhat at a crossroads in my film photography right now. No, I'm not having an existential crisis about what film to shoot, what format, Ilford vs. Kodak...nothing like that. I've had several cameras develop problems which have impacted my shooting abilities lately.
My AV-1 was overexposing by at least a couple of stops before I changed out the batteries. The sky is completely blown out here, of course, but you can at least see how Kentmere 400 deals with overexposure. Every frame in this roll was affected, several much worse than this one.  Souped in d-76 1:1.

To date, here are the camera issues I'm dealing with:

  • Canon A-1 with a sticky shutter and infamous 'Canon squeal'.  I'm told that this is actually fixable, and I just might put out the funds necessary to get this done.
  • Canon Elan 7, at one time my flagship film camera body, has a broken door shutter. Up until a couple of years ago this was easily fixable by ordering a $12 USD part.  Everywhere I'm looking that part is showing "NLA".  
  • My Canon AV-1 was overexposing every single frame, and I thought something was wrong with it. A quick battery replacement solved that problem. 
  • My Mamiya C330 continues to display vertical lines on either side of the frame, sometimes randomly, effectively turning it into a 645 when I crop.  I still am very interested in a regular 645 SLR/Rangefinder at some point.
Same camera, same film after changing out the battery. Note to self: Always check AE settings against what feels reasonable at the time. When in doubt, check with a DSLR or light meter. Saling House in historic Weston, Oregon.

As luck would have it, I just picked up a Canon Rebel 2000 in pristine condition, and for a very reasonable price. That will boost my EOS shooting, but I'm still not sure what to do when that film door comes apart...

Kentmere 400 in d-76 1:1, shot in a Canon AV-1 with a fresh battery.
So, I'm down to a single functions Canon FD and two EOS film cameras to shoot with. A Mamiya TLR if I want to put up with its quirks. And a Zero Image pinhole for those times I'm feeling all pinholey.

Kentmere 400 in d-76 1:1, shot in a Canon AV-1 with a fresh battery.
My priorities right now are to get my A-1 working again if possible, and replace it if not. Both are about the same cost when purchased from a reputable dealer (I don't do eBay). I'm really hoping that a door latch for the Elan 7 can be found. At this point, I'd be happy if I could get somebody to 3D print something. We're on the cusp of winter, and I'd like to shoot up some higher speed, bulk rolled films I have in the freezer.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Adventures in Street Pan

I don't do reviews on here, but it would be a mistake to not chronicle my thoughts and experiences about a certain film emulsion. I tried JCH Street Pan 400 at the behest of Jim Hair several months ago. I didn't get around to shooting any until this last August, and am just now processing it. Glad I did, too. This is good stuff.

You can google it yourself for more information, but this is a resurrected street surveillance film that was just re-purposed and re-introduced to the market back in 2016. It's contrasty and apparently possesses a good deal of red sensitivity, quite the opposite of the hp5+ I've been shooting.

Excessive grain acknowledged d/t pushing the curves in scanning.

I wasn't able to get any clouds against a blue sky for this roll, but that will be coming on my next roll (in the tank as we speak). And there will be a next roll. You see, even before processing this first one, I picked up a dozen or so more just because of what I'd been seeing around the interwebs.

I souped these in d-76 1:1 for the prescribed 10.5 minutes on the box. The negatives came out pretty thin, but a quick conversation with Jim told me that he extends that time to 16 minutes. Surprisingly, though, there was a lot of detail present, even when the negatives were fairly transparent. I think my grain is more pronounced because of the compensation in scanning, but examples I've seen show a fairly soft pattern in that regard. We'll see if the extra time in development gets me closer to a more ideal negative.

I can see this being a good film to use for the coming winter months, outside with cloudy/flat light conditions. I'm not sure if it's a good indoor film to push or not; it seems too expensive to do much experimentation on. A brick ran me north of $100 USD. Given the reported effort to bring this stuff to market, I can't complain much. It will be a nice mix up to go along with the rest of my arsenal this fall and winter.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Selecting a new 400 speed film

I need a versatile, bulk load-able 400 speed film that is readily available and that I can work with to get consistent results. As much as I'd love to bulk load Tri-x, that option is simply too expensive to justify it in 2017. I've seen prices for that stuff as high as $120 per 100' roll here in the US, which adds up to a lot more than what you pay for it per individual 36-frame cassette. There is simply no rationale for it.

So what's a film photographer to do for a 400 speed film with plenty of versatility on either end of the ISO spectrum? TMax, Delta, and even Kentmere 400 have all seen the inside of my camera at some point over the last several months, but I've decided to settle on Ilford hp5+. This is a 400 speed film that checks all of those boxes for me.

It doesn't have the gritty punch of Tri-x or the silky smoothness of a T grain like Delta/TMax. But as I work with it and refine my development, I'm starting to see how I can put it's own unique attributes to work for me. And there's a certain satisfaction knowing that Ilford is a stable company, and that hp5+ specifically comes from a rich heritage of hp-labeled monochrome films. My own dad shot hp3 in his Argus C3 back in the late 1950's.

So for me, financial considerations caused me to look elsewhere for my 35mm film needs, and I've landed on this one. As winter sets in and I turn my lens indoors more often, I'll appreciate being able to work with an extended ISO range.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Beer Me

Fuji Acros 100 in a Zero Image 618 pinhole. My exposure settings were just by gosh and by golly, and I figured I would stand develop to realize as much of the image as possible. Negatives were really, really thin, but I managed to squeak these out of the deal.

Perspective is everything in pinhole photography. It's probably been said before, but let that one ring from the mountain tops. The above image was shot with my Zero Image 618 sitting on the table, positioned horizontally. 

This image above was taken from the same spot, still sitting on the table, but this time situated vertically, so that this time the pinhole is a few more inches above the surface of the table. It makes a difference. To me, this is a stronger image because the foreground is much less in your face and less pronounced. The top image might be a better choice if there were some peanuts or other small items placed directly in front of the camera.
This hot mess was the result of a double exposure. 
Even though the negatives were pretty thin, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of detail to be had in the darker areas of the image. Deepest shadows are, of course, completely black. This was a pub establishment set up in a warehouse microbrewery. Lighting was mostly artificial light from the ceiling level, with a few decorative lights closer to ground level.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fujichrome Velvia 50 part 3: Rowena Crest

One thing about Velvia: Despite the occasional magenta cast problems, it picks up greens and blues beautifully. I use a Moose Polarizer in these, obviously set to full strength. Because, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing all the way, right? I'm wondering if a judicious twist of the polarizing ring might help to back some of that intensity off. But no matter, this is what I got.

I've always liked this comp that shows the lines from both the river and the freeway come together in the upper third of the image.

This comp, much tighter, virtually eliminates the river and accentuates the freeway. Those greens, though. 

The Washington side. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fujichrome Velvia 50, Part 2: The Painted Hills

More Velvia pics, these were taken in and around the Painted Hills in North Central Oregon.

Not the Painted Hills, but a scene on the road leading to it. I couldn't resist stopping to shoot this barn. 

Another photo on the road near the Painted Hills. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fujichrome Velvia 50, Part 1

I shot up a bunch of Fujichrome Velvia 50 in the summer of 2016, and just recently got it developed. Luckily, it stayed in the freezer in the year or so in between, so hopefully we were able to stave off any film degradation. I'll be posting more in the coming weeks.
Gulch at Twin Rocks, Wallula Gap. Warming polarizer used. 

Hat Rock, the first Columbia River landmark noted in the Lewis and Clark journals. Interestingly, they didn't mention how awesome the light was for taking photos at this location. 

Bridge at Hat Rock. 

Classic view of Hat Rock taken from the pond below. Fortuitous clouds that evening. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cemetery Series: Craige Cemetery in Lomography Purple

Please see my first post for details on my Cemetery Series.

I spent a day traveling to and shooting Craige Cemetery in rural Southeastern Washington, just a few miles from the borders of both Oregon and Idaho. Although I shot a few different films, Lomography Purple (the newer stuff) seemed to be a good choice due to how green this place was. I had Blue Moon Camera and Machine develop the film, but I scanned it on my Epson v500.  I'm not sure if I got 100% of what the film is supposed to look like, but hopefully it got close. This is obviously a film with a different color pallet, so I wouldn't use it all the time, but in certain situations it makes for a nice effect. I do have a couple more rolls of it I'm going to shoot this summer.

Located in a higher elevation in SE Washington, near the Blue Mountains, this cemetery was quite green and even had some wildflowers when I was here in early July. 

Lomo Purple is supposed to turn green vegetation to purple and blue skies to a turquoise. 

I tried to coax her out of the shadows, but she just stood there for about 10 minutes before heading down the hill toward a little ravine behind her. 

I don't know how much maintenance is done here, but there are occasional visitors who pay their respects.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cemetery Series: Finland Cemetery

Rural cemeteries often tell intriguing stories about the past. For many, their final resting place just reflects who they were and what they did in life. For instance, the small, ordinary headstone at the far edge of the graveyard, the one you have to be looking for to see. Or the prominent, patriarchal dual site of a husband and wife who spent their entire lives together, obviously prosperous and well loved, and surrounded by their offspring. Or a single date etched on a featureless marker, nearly eroded now after perhaps a century. I am embarking on a project to visit these memorials and document their condition on film.

My first location is the Finland Cemetery located just up a gravel road from the Greasewood Finnish Apostolic Church in rural NE Oregon. It is surrounded by wheat fields and is enclosed by a fence. Although overgrown with weeds, an attempt has been made to maintain a map of the headstones at the gate. I may revisit this location at a future date and capture it in the morning with the light hitting the front of the cemetery.

These photos were taken on 35mm Ilford PanF+ and developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Troubleshooting Mamiya C330: Part 2

I previously described my efforts to troubleshoot some vertical lines showing up on the negatives taken from my C330. Suspecting problems with the reel, I shot a second roll of Tri-x, all frames of the same scene. When I loaded the film for developing this time, I reversed the direction of the roll so that it loaded frame #1 first.  You can see the results here:

Frame #1, loaded onto reel first.

Frame #12, loaded onto reel last.

This time, there was no difference in the frames; the vertical lines showed up equally in both.  Back to the drawing board, although I still suspect reel issues. The next time I load onto the reel, I'm actually going to do so upside down and see if that makes a difference. If it does, I will have solved my problem. If not, then it really is back to the drawing board.

Which brings me to my last point: Even though I've narrowed it down to a developing issue, there's still the nagging feeling that's not it. I don't get this problem with my Zero Image pinhole, although it's been several weeks since I've used that camera. In Part 3 I'll show the results from upside-down reel loading and discuss some next steps from there.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Troubleshooting Mamiya C330: Part 1

A couple of years ago, a problem began showing up on the negatives from my C330. A vertical line (and sometimes two) would appear at the edge of the frame, inside the exposed area.  You can clearly see the issue in this image (look immediately to the left of the words "Ilford 100 Delta"):
I sent a test roll out for developing to see if the problem originated from the camera or the actual developing process.  Those negatives came back just fine, so the problem must be in my processing. Still, though, this problem never crept up when using my Zero Image pinhole, so that really had me confused.

I kept trying to work out the problem, but couldn't locate the source, so my C330 sat on the shelf for awhile, only being used occasionally until now.  Thing is, this is a really nice camera that takes otherwise exceptionally sharp images, so recently I began trying to troubleshoot again.

Zeb took a look and showed his folks at Blue Moon Camera and Machine. They reinforced the idea that this is indeed a processing issue, and that they had seen the problem themselves occasionally with Paterson reels. Other suggestions from the internet involved inversion method and the amount of tightness on the reels.  Armed with all of that knowledge, I ran a roll of Tri-x through it again, but this time made an important discovery: The lines showed up in the first few frames of the roll, but not the last. They were somewhat visible in the middle.  If what I'm seeing is correct, that means that, for this roll anyway, the end loaded first didn't have the problem, and the end loaded last displayed those lines.

First frame on this roll, last one loaded on the reel.

Last frame on this roll, first one loaded on the reel
Now, I can further narrow down what is actually happening.  Two scenarios come to mind.  In one, there is something rubbing the emulsion off toward the outer edge of the reel. While this makes sense, I've tried using different reels (four, in all) without seeing much of a change.  The second scenario, which seems more likely, is that fixer isn't getting all the way to the outer edge of the reel and is being blocked up. The second one is a simple test: Go grab those frames, re-fix for a few minutes, and see how they come out.  I'll try both of these out and report back in Part 2 of this series.