Thursday, March 14, 2019

My Purple Summer

One of my favorite unique and idiosyncratic film emulsions to shoot is Lomography Purple. This is a 100-400 speed film type with a unique color palette that leans toward purple in the green/yellow/orange areas, and toward cyan in the blue and purple areas. That said, results are often unpredictable, which lends itself toward a certain serendipity when you finally see the scans and prints.

White River Falls isn't much of a waterfall at the height of summer.

Last summer, I shot a roll of Lomo Purple around Eastern Oregon, as far west as Rowena Crest and as far east as The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City. And a few points in between.

That's an abandoned hydroelectric facility down there, unused since about 1960.
The view out my back window during summer.
Rowena curves. Part of the old Columbia River Highway.
Looking east from Rowena Crest.
Looking across the river toward Lyle, Washington.
Dry Canyon Creek Bridge on the old Columbia River Highway.
Another view of the Rowena Curves
A covered wagon at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. I don't remember the exact color of the gravel just underneath the wagon, but it turned purple on this film.
My wife and grandson on the Oregon Trail. Yes, those are real ruts from 160 years ago.
I've also got some prints that I'll scan and share at some point.

Lomo Purple - this batch, anyway - has been sold out for some months, but as of this writing (Jan 2019) they have allowed some pre-orders for the next one. It's supposed to be out in April. I've got my pre-order in for 5 35mm rolls, and I might try to swap somebody for a couple of 120 rolls. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Cemetery Series: Sixprong

I started off the new year - Jan 2, to be precise - with a trip to a few cemeteries in SE Washington that I hadn't been to before. One of those was Sixprong Cemetery in Klickitat County. Although located in a remote area of the state, it is situated at the end of a dirt lane, just a half mile or so from a modern ranch house. In fact, no sooner had I arrived when a pickup drove up, presumably to see what I was doing. The presence of my TLR probably clued them in to me not making any mischief that day.

And although this was Jan 2, the temps were fairly mild with clouds and intermittent sunshine throughout the day. Perfect for what I wanted to accomplish. I brought along my Mamiya C220 TLR and loaded it with a roll of Ilford fp4+ film. I took advantage of the atmospheric conditions with the clouds and the sun and screwed a red #25 filter onto the 80mm f/2.8 lens.

Grass has grown up within the rectangular bounds of the cemetery, with patches of thorny weeds here and there. The place is by no means abandoned and unkempt, though. In fact, I was surprised that several of the headstones - some dating back to the late 1800's, were adorned with newer monuments. They appear to have been installed in the last decade or so, many of them on either on top top of or alongside their older, existing memorial. Some artificial flowers lay quietly next to a few of the markers. With so few residents in the area, maintaining the cemetery is obviously a labor of love for somebody.

Coming home, I developed the roll in Ilfotec DD-x 1:4, at 20℃ (68℉) for 10 minutes. I've used this combination once or twice before. But not often enough, though; the negatives came out great.  Ilford fp4+ always looks a little on the thin side to my eyes, but it scans beautifully.  I had also considered using a roll of Ilford Delta 100 that I had brought along, but I'm glad I went with the fp4+. We'll break out the Delta next time.

We got 2019 off to a great start with this trip. I've been bookmarking some other locations in the area, so I should be able to get more Cemetery Series posts up this year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019 Directions

Once again, it's hard to believe that we're at the start of a new year. My film habits were tempered somewhat in 2018 with the acquisition of a Fuji X-T20 mirrorless digital camera.  The Fuji's have been referred to as a film guy's digi, and I can see why. Still, I'm not abandoning film altogether. Rather, I'm still shooting it but with some evolving practices. Those will carry forth into 2019.

I had more film printed last year than any other time in my life, and I plan on continuing that in the upcoming year. In fact, that is the one point that I made from last year's Directions post that has had the most influence on my work. This year, I plan on using the Mamiya TLR with more color film and getting it all printed.

My 400 speed b/w film choice will continue to be Ilford hp5+. I have a 100' roll to bulk load, plus 6 rolls of 36 exposure in 35mm format, so that should take care of those needs in 2019. Additionally, I have some rolls of the stuff in 120 format to shoot in the Mamiya TLR.

I also plan on participating in online projects throughout the year. Namely, the fp4+ party coming up later this month, as well as the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day in April come to mind. Here's my 2018 WPPD submission. I'm going to keep my ear to the ground for other film projects to keep up with as well.

And similarly, I need to continue my own personal projects. My Cemetery Series has been neglected for awhile, so I'm scouring Google Earth to see where I can head to next. As the days slowly get longer, I'll be able to take advantage of time after school to fire off a few frames. Even if that's just in the backyard or doing a little macro work.

2019 is going to be a great year for film. I can feel it already. I don't have need of any gear right now (save for an R72 filter; mind did a belly flop onto the sidewalk last year).  I just need to get out and shoot it.

Happy New Year, everybody. Here's to a fantastic 2019.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Rewind

Hard to believe, but it's that time of the year again to reflect on the previous year and start looking forward to the next one. I set out some achievable goals for 2018; namely, to shoot more color film and get more optical prints done at Blue Moon Camera. Mission accomplished, as I currently have several prints made from both 135 and 120 format film over the last year. I also included some prints in with some senior work as well. Some other highlights from 2018:

  • Added a 180mm f/3.5 to my Mamiya TLR collection. I just don't shoot that camera often enough. 
  • Added a Canon AE-1 Program that is in really nice shape; it just needs a little oil job to get rid of a (slight) squeak. I don't even know if it needs a full CLA; but I don't know that I'm up to a DIY job either. 
  • Added a Tokina 25-55mm f/4 in Canon FD mount. 
  • Added a Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro in Canon FD mount. Both this lens and the previous do double duty on my Fuji X-T20 mirrorless. 
Also, I've unloaded most of my Canon EF (EOS) gear, so I'm shooting just FD mount these days. 

I didn't shoot as much pinhole this year as I thought I would. However, I do have some prints made from a shoot along the Oregon Coast, and they're beautiful. 

I ran through a 100' roll of hp5+ in about a year. It's time to restock. Edit: An hour after I wrote this, but before it posted, I walked into a photo store and picked up a bulk roll of the stuff. I wasn't even planning on spending any money, and I wasn't even sure I was going to reload with hp5+. It was all they had in stock in bulk rolls, though, so hp5+ it is. 

2018 was my lowest output on this blog. 

Well, that's about it for my 2018 thoughts. See you in 2019.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New Canon in the stable

I came into contact recently with a Canon AE-1 Program 35mm camera. This is essentially the exposure-priority version of the Canon A-Series line that was popular in the 70's and 80's. I already own the A-1, which adds and aperture priority setting. Both cameras are also capable of full manual as well as 'Program' mode, which makes both settings for you.

I wasn't sure about adding another 40-year old camera to the lineup, but I thought I would give it a go and see how things came out. I ran a roll of Kentmere 400 through it and photographed the same image at different shutter speeds, allowing the camera to adjust the aperture with each click of the wheel. 

Glad I did. All of the exposures are consistent, not something I can always say with the A-1.

I should probably do this same test with my A-1. I'd like to see just how inconsistent those exposures are. Or is it just my imagination? Time will tell.

So, it will be good to have an additional camera in my bag. It can be frustrating to reach for a camera only to realize it has a completely wrong roll of film in it for your situation. I know, film problems.

And yes, I need to post more. I hadn't posted anything since August, over three months ago. But I have another post coming through the pipeline soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

End of Summer Round-up

I don't normally like to get behind on my film developing, but I found myself with a sandwich bag full of unprocessed film last week and decided to do something about it. Most of it was 35mm format, and at least one roll dated back to last spring. There were one or two rolls that, even when I took a glance at my notes in FilmTrackr, I didn't remember shooting. I had to actually pull them out of the final rinse before I could see what was on them.

Ilford hp5+ @ ISO 1600, shot on Canon Rebel 2000. Developed in Ilfotec DD-x 1:4 for 13 minutes. 

I'm pretty certain my only purpose for this roll was to practice pushing hp5+ to 1600. And it looks like I still need some practice.

Rather than create a new blog post for each roll, I decided to just post the best ones here. Or the best of the worst frames, as the case may be.

Ilford PanF+ on a Canon A1. Not the ideal for capturing motion on a bright sunny day, but shoot what you've got. 
In some cases, it's the end of a camera system for me. I've said good-bye to my Canon EOS cameras as I've sold off my digi 5DmkII and most of the lenses that went with it. My remaining Canon system is the resurrected A1 with some FD lenses.

Ilford PanF+ on a Canon A1.  Standard development in d-76 1:1. 
School is starting up again soon and, for my own internal calendar, a time to update and refresh things that are going on in my life. Out with the old, in with the new. For some people that takes place in January. Given my 28 years in and around school systems, mine occurs at the end of August.

Sacajawea at Fort Clatsop. Ilford hp5+ shot on an Olympus Stylus Infinity. Light leak from bulk loading (or at the factory), not from the camera. 
I'm continuing my 2018 goals of printing more of my work. I have some sitting at Blue Moon Camera as I write this. And, I still need to shoot more medium format film with the C220. I'm finding that that's not really the ideal walk-around camera, but something to be used deliberately and purposefully. It's really ideal for landscapes and portrait work, something I need to do more of. And I will as soon as the hot weather and smokey skies go away for the year. Those are my film plans for the remaining third of 2018.
I don't know how, but this shot made Flickr's Explore section for that day. Ilford hp5+.

I much preferred this one. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Print Your Work

You've probably heard it before, but this year I made a commitment to it. The very first item from my 2018 Directions post was to print more of my film work. I'm pleased to report that I've been able to accomplish just that with both my landscape and paid portrait work. Blue Moon Camera and Machine in Portland, Oregon is one of the last optical color printing labs in the United States. I've been having them develop my color film (something I said I was going to do more of myself, by the way) and then print my favorites from each roll. What's cool is that their counter turns into a light table with the flip of a switch, so you can evaluate your negatives right then and there. Even though they're a couple hundred miles from me, I've been able to get in there several times this year to get it done.

Here are a few of my examples. These are direct scans from the prints and not from the negatives. The scans don't really do the prints justice, but it gives you an idea what I've been able to accomplish:

Bicyclist on the old Columbia River Highway at Rowena Crest. Fujifilm 160NS, shot on Mamiya C220. 

Spring flowers at Rowena Crest, in front of Dry Creek Bridge. Fujifilm 160NS on Mamiya C220.  
Abandoned convenience store in Kent, Oregon. Kodak Ektar 100 shot on Zero Image 618 pinhole in 6x9 format.

Jessica, Class of 2018.  Kodak Portra 160 in 35mm format, shot on Canon A1 with 50mm f/1.8 lens. 

Keomi, Class of 2018. Kodak Portra 400, shot on Mamiya C220 with 180mm f/3.5 lens. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Canon A1: An update

This is a quick post without any accompanying photographs. I had recently announced that I was retiring my Canon A1 35mm camera (see bottom of that post) because of some over-exposure issues that I wasn't able to pinpoint. The camera had just been CLA'ed and I just figured something was going bad with the electronics. Turns out that wasn't the case at all. I was going to adapt the 50mm f/1.8 lens that was on it for use on my new digital Fujifilm X-T20, when I discovered that the aperture was stuck wide open. No wonder the negatives looked grossly overexposed, 5+ stops worth!  Luckily, I have another lens exactly like it that works just fine. I'm going to run a test roll through it, but I don't anticipate any problems. This is a fantastic revelation for me in that I have loved shooting with that camera.

So, now that I'm selling off my other Canon EOS digital gear, I'll completely get rid of the EOS film cameras I've accumulated as well. Time to pare down.

Coming up: I've recently had a lot of color 120 film processed by Blue Moon Camera in Portland, including prints, and I will be sharing those very soon. Those were shot in both my Mamiya C220 and Zero Image 618 pinhole. One of my goals this year was to print more of my work, and I've made some strides toward accomplishing just that.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Columbia Inland

I love shooting color negative film, but don't always trust myself with developing it myself. Time and temps are supercritical, and my color scanning workflow can sometimes give me results I don't want. I only send my most important and most promising color film out for development.
Cliffs in the Wallula Gap of the Columbia River, SE Washington state.
I recently shot a roll of Kodak Ektar in my C220 medium format camera because 1) I needed to test out a new 180mm f/4.5 lens and 2) the clouds were looking really, really nice that day. This wasn't a roll that rose to the level of important/promising.  So, I broke out my bottles of c-41 developer. This was a batch that had been mixed together 6 months ago or so--the outside recommended limit--and had about 8 rolls of 35mm film through it already.
McNary Dam
For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. A few frames I wasn't able to quite get the colors I was looking for, but had some nice images from others.
Hat Rock. Development streaks duly noted, and another reason to send out your film.
I'm shooting more color film in the Zero Image pinhole camera these days, and I won't necessarily send all of that out. When I can't, I know I should be able to get at least acceptable results by doing it myself. Usually. Hopefully. And hey, there's always the b/w conversion trick when it doesn't work out the way I wanted it to.
Ektar converted to monochrome. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


It was good to get out one day after school last week. We were between rain storms and some nice clouds were moving in and out of the region. I already had some business to do in another nearby town that evening, so I brought along the C220 to try out my new 180mm f/4.5.  The only problem was, I neglected to bring the step-up ring so I could put a 52mm filter on the 49mm thread. Oh well. So, rather than throw in the towel and not shoot anything, I just reverted to the 80mm f/2.8 and utilized the red #25 filter that happened to be with me. I'll get to use that 180mm in a live setting one of these days, I promise.

Ilford fp4+ in Ilfotec DD-x 1:4.  

I haven't shot a lot of Ilford fp4+ in the past--probably never in this format--but I picked up a couple rolls on a recent trip to Blue Moon. This seemed as good of a time as ever to shoot it.

Where I live, agriculture comprises a large part of the economy and lifestyle. Farms, grain bins and other related structures dot the landscape, surrounded by wheat fields as well as some notable row crops.  At one point, our region supplied a lot of potatoes to McDonald's. There are even a few wineries in the area.

I can't resist a good straight road shot once in a while.

So when shooting conditions are good but I can't get very far away from home, these are as good of subjects as any to capture.

Surprisingly, there is a dearth of abandoned structures in our area. They're out there, they're just hard to find.  It seems as soon as a house, outbuilding, or grain bin is retired, it gets torn down to make room for something else. Technology in the agricultural sector here moves forward.

I developed these in Ilfotec DD-x for 10 minutes at 68℉. Negatives looked ok, but could have possibly used a little more agitation. Still, they scanned pretty nicely. After scanning so much 35mm film, I'm always amazed at how much more detail I get out of 120.  As stated before on this blog, this is going to be my main, go-to format this year.

On a side note, and very unrelated to all of this, I'm retiring the Canon A-1 that I had just put some money into CLA'ing. My last two rolls have been horribly overexposed, and it's just not worth troubleshooting anymore. I love that camera, but I can't shoot it if I don't trust it. I will instead rely on my EOS cameras (I have three) for my 35mm work. They're not as small and compact, especially considering the glass I have for them, but they're accurate and I will get good, consistent negatives from them. RIP Canon A-1.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2018 Directions: An update

Edit: I had written this clear back at the beginning of March but for some reason never followed through with publishing it. I have no idea how that happened. In any event, here it is,  6 weeks later. 

Fact: I have 70+ rolls of 120 format film in my freezer right now. About a third color negative (Portra, mostly) and the other two thirds various types of b/w negative.

Fact: I am back in the medium format business now with a working Mamiya C220 camera. In fact, as of this writing, I have a 180mm f/4.5 on the way to go along with the 80mm f/2.8 that I already have.

Fact: I shot very little 120 film last year, for a variety of reasons.

Kodak Ektar 100, from 2015.
Needless to say, 2017 was a lean year for my medium format photography, and I'm due to make up for that in 2018. Rather than thinking "I need more film," (like I tend to do) I just need to shoot what I've already got.   And a quick glance into my freezer shows me:
  • Kodak Tri-x
  • Kodak Portra (160 and 400)
  • Fuji 160 NS (purchased locally from someone who imported it from Japan)
  • Fuji Acros 100
Plus, some loose rolls of Rollei 25 and Ilfords of various types: hp5+, fp4+, PanF+, etc... An exception to my call for 'no more film' here might get ignored if I decide to get some Kodak Ektar. That one film type is conspicuously absent from my freezer right now.

Ilford PanF+ 50, from 2015.
So even though we're already two months into it, I'm declaring 2018 my year of medium format.  I should have opportunities aplenty. In addition to some anticipated senior portrait work, I plan on making a trip to Alvord Desert in SE Oregon again, as well as some other family trips this summer. I've vowed not to let the wildflower season in the Columbia River Gorge pass me by again this spring, and that will be here before we know it. I missed out on shooting locally out in the Wallula area last year.

Fuji Velvia 50, from 2016. As usual, a little blue in the shadows.
All that to say, with March 1 here and my own shooting season just around the corner, I'm more than excited to be back in the medium format game. And as mentioned in my last Directions post, I will print my best work, optically.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cemetery Series: Holdman

Note: This is an on-going series of articles documenting the old and abandoned cemeteries of the inland Pacific Northwest on film. You can see the entire series here

When my dad got sick two years ago, I started making more trips back and forth to see him and help out with his care. This was an hour away from where I live and I could easily get there by traveling most of it on an Interstate Freeway. Instead, I decided to use the backroads, something I hadn't done for several years.

Clouds were breaking up quite nicely.

Those back roads take me right through an area called Holdman, which includes a small cemetery built on a hillside, just above the main road but hidden by a bank of greasewood brush. Unless you know to look for it, you can drive right by without ever knowing it's there. I have stopped here with my camera maybe a couple of dozen times, so I'm certainly no stranger to this cemetery. I was going right by it on my way to visit Mom when I saw that the clouds were breaking up and the sun was starting to poke through. I hadn't planned on shooting anything, but this was as good an opportunity as any that I was going to get this day.

The only image in this post that doesn't utilize a #25 red filter.

Luckily, I had a camera with me, albeit not everything at my disposal. This was my Canon Rebel 2000 loaded with some Ilford PanF+ 50. I decided to shoot it at ISO 40, something I've had some luck with before. Unfortunately, my only lens was the kit zoom that came with it: A Canon EF 80-210 f/4.5-5.6.  Not my first choice, but I did have a red #25 filter that fit.  What's the best camera you can shoot? The one you have with you.  So, that's the setup I used.

Not the cemetery itself, but this is the view looking northeast, the only road in sight. 

That kit lens clearly doesn't hold a candle to any of the L glass I have available for an EOS film camera. It would have been nice also to have my 17-40mm available for some wider shots. In that case, I would have been able to get closer to the monuments and make them more prominent in the image, without having to decrease the importance of the sky. But maybe next time.

Having exposed these images a third of a stop over box speed, I developed these in Rodinal 1+25 at 68℉ (20℃) for 5 minutes. The negatives came out a bit thin, and the resulting scans contained more grain than I'm used to seeing in PanF+.  I'm not sure if that is due to compensating for some under development or the fact that a red #25 filter always seems to pronounce the grain more in my film images. The resulting contrast was a little more than I'd bargained for, but as I look through these images I think it helps enhance that sense of stark isolation.

The view looking west, sans monuments.

So, while I hadn't showed up here with the intention of this being a part of my Cemetery Series, I'm glad I got some images here.  I'm sure I will be back sooner rather than later.