Dec 23, 2017

Film for the Holidays

For me this year, my 35mm film of choice is Kodak Vision 3 500T tungsten-balanced 35mm film from the Film Photography Project. It's intended for motion picture use and usually sold in 400' rolls, but thanks to Michael and the gang at FPP it's available in 35mm cassette format to shoot in still cameras.
Film color balanced for tungsten light. Note the color of the late afternoon winter outdoor light in the background.
As the name implies, it's a 500 speed film, but I've shot it at 1000 to be able to use indoor light without a flash. I developed it myself in c-41 at the initial stage of 4:15 instead of 3:30, as per box instructions when pushing a stop.
Dad's high school scholar blanket, Class of 1954. 
As expected, a lot of grain showed up and the shadows were pretty noisy when I tried to scan. All in all, though, I'd call it a success. I'm in the middle of a second roll and would like to have a third done by the time I'm done with New Year's Day.  We shall see.
Plenty of noisy grain in those shadows. Not sure why I scanned this with less contrast than the others. 
I've previously shot the daylight-balanced, ISO 50 version of this film also with some success, but it's been a few years. Now that I'm getting more comfortable developing my own c-41, I just might get a 100' bulk roll of it (also available from FPP) to shoot it outdoors this coming year.
Our small town 'Living Nativity' scene lit up with tungsten lights. 
I'm also working on a holiday project that will involve the use of some indoor flash. No problem with that light source being a different color. I have plenty of gels and will use the proper one to balance all of that out.
Our hearth at Christmas time.I like that I don't have to use flash if there is enough indoor light available.
So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I'll have some year-end posts up before long, including my annual 'Directions' post. 

Dec 11, 2017

Salvaging a roll

I came to the conclusion that I had a faulty shutter on my Canon A1 this past fall. In doing so, I decided to discontinue the roll of Ilford PanF+ that was inside, winding it and setting it aside for the time being. I came across that roll while looking for an item in my camera bag the other night, and souped it in d-76 1:1 that I had already mixed up. Truth be told, I forgot that I had even shot it until I pulled the negatives out of the final rinse and held them to the light. Sure enough, several of the frames were intermittently dense, telling me that I made the right decision to quit using that camera and send it in for a CLA and possible repair. The good news is that the camera will be ready to go soon, possibly before the new year.

I only had shot about 18 total frames on that roll, and roughly a third of them were obviously unusable even before scanning. A few of them worked quite well, though. It had been awhile since I shot any PanF+, and I had forgotten how much I loved that tiny grain structure when developed in d-76.

These images are from two different locations: Astoria, on the upper left hand corner of Oregon, and McNary Dam on the Columbia River, which is only about 10 miles from my house and a place where I frequently take my camera.

From our trip to Astoria last summer, and wishing I had brought my 70-210mm with me.

A fish ladder at McNary Park.

PanF+ works a lot better out of the bright sun. 

I have no idea why I set these up like this.

Another view from Astoria. Pity we didn't have good clouds on this trip.

Nov 24, 2017

New Canon Rebel 2000

Canon Rebels aren't at the top of the list for must-have 35mm film cameras, but they do fit a niche for my needs. Since I also shoot Canon EOS digital, it only makes sense to have some cheaper film cameras that fit those lenses. I've previously documented some troubles with their reliability, but for now these are working for me. I just picked up a new Canon Rebel 2000, and used a roll of Ilford hp5+ to test it out.

Kit lens used on this image. An EF 80-200mm f/3.something. 
Interestingly, it came with a couple of kit lenses, one of which was an 80-200mm plasticy thing. It's light and surprisingly small, but if it doesn't do the job it needs to in terms of image quality, it will be gone. I plan to do a side by side comparison with that and my EF 70-200 f/4 L and my EF 135mm f/2 L.  It wouldn't hold up in the digi world, of course, but I wonder how that translates to 35mm film. We shall see.

Because this is kind of a plasticy camera body, I hesitate to put my heavier lenses on it and mount the hold thing on a tripod.  I don't have the ring mount, and I wonder what kind of stress that would put on the mount. 

And finally, I'm still trying to figure out hp5+. I seem to have to give it a boost in the scanning stage, so I wonder if an extra 30 seconds or so in the developing tank would make a difference. In any event, I'm happy with my recent acquisition and am looking forward to putting it to use this winter. 

Nov 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.

Oct 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.

Oct 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.

Aug 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.

Aug 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. 

Aug 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. 

Jul 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. 

Jul 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.