Branches II

Another image from the shoot I did yesterday. I am not sure anymore if the black background is okay. Maybe it should have been white or very light gray.

Branches

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Walnut

Since a few years Wednesday is my free day. It breaks the week and keeps me motivated to go to work every other weekday.

I have an extensive collection of dried twigs, seedpods and so on and it seemed fun making a few studio shots.

It was an easy setup with one flash head on the right and a reflector on the left and silver paper on the table to reflect some light up.

For a moment I thought about using my Bronica ETRSi. The 50mm wide-angle and a 25mm extension tube allow me to frame quite tight. Unfortunately I am not able to make good scans from medium format film. The scans with the HP Scanjet G4050 suck big-time and I can’t wait to get a decent scanner like the Epson V8xx.

My 35mm backup camera, the Olympus OM-10, loaded with Ilford HP5 Plus was my second choice. The Vivitar 85-205mm f3,8 has a “macro position” so that came in handy.
Then it occurred to me the OM-10 has no X-sync connector so I used the pilot light from my flash head and made 8 images.

After developing them with Kodak TMax the negatives were scanned at 5400 DPI resulting in 120 Mb files.

I am not very happy with the results. Obviously a less grainier film would have been a better choice but I don’t find the lighting okay either. The lens itself does not deliver either.

I’ll order some Ilford Delta for a future studio shoot and my very old Nikkormat FT with a Sigma 180mm f3,5 macro lens. Combining this lens with a few extension tubes and a Nikon bellows make a great rig for macro photography.

Walnut Olympus OM-10 with Vivitar 85-205 mm in "macro" Ilford HP5 Plus film
Walnut
Olympus OM-10 with Vivitar 85-205 mm in “macro”
Ilford HP5 Plus film

 

Pears

I don’t make still lifes that often. Yet I have a large collection of dried seedpods from all kinds of plants with the intention to shoot them in my studio.

While shopping a few days ago I bought these pears with the intention to make a simple image of them.

I used a piece of cardboard as a background and I used one 180 watt second flash with soft box positioned at the right and a reflector screen on the left.

Pears Olympus OM-1n and 50mm f1,8 Studioflash
Pears
Olympus OM-1n and 50mm f1,8
Studioflash

Reed leaves

Past Sunday at midday I went for a short walk in the nearby woods. The sun was shining and I needed some air.

Of course I had my Olympus OM-1n loaded with Ilford FP4 Plus with me and a couple of lenses.

I saw this reed leaves in a small pond, sticking out of the water. The surface of the pond was covered with leaves.

I don’t often make a vertical composition so I guess this is an exception.

Reed leaves Olympus OM-1n with 50mm f1,8
Reed leaves
Olympus OM-1n with 50mm f1,8

 

Printing my work

“Let’s paint the wall behind your desk in a darker color,” Sweetheart said.

“Mmmm,” I replied, not sure about her proposal. Said wall is covered with photographs and notes my kids have written to me.

“It would be great if you would hang your new work against that wall,” my love continued.
“Mmmm,” I said and my reply was rewarded with a gentle tap of her fist against my shoulder.
“Is that all you have to say?”

I have this thing. I don’t like change except when it I decide it myself. For some reason I kind of freeze when people tell me what to do or push me into altering something.

Sweetheart is of course right. After all she lives here a couple of evenings a week so she is entitled to have to say something about this place.

“Do you think it would be relevant if I write a post about my landscape work, the digital color stuff I did before I met you?”

“When I took away your inspiration?” she smiled.
I love Sweetheart. I really do. She is so pure, so honest. So incredibly hot.

“Yeah. So people can see how my vision has changed,” I continued, desperately changing the subject of the wall to something more mundane.

“I think so. Yes, this is a good idea.”
Sweetheart kissed me; I kissed her and hell, that’s the way we do things.

It was sunny and warm this Sunday with temperatures around 15°C (59°F). It is hard to believe we are almost December.
Unfortunately it was almost noon too so I drove my love to her place where her kids were waiting to brunch with their mom.

Damn it, Sweetheart is so close yet still so far.

Albeit I embrace film and self-developing I am not going as far as getting an enlarger, paper, a red light bulb and whatever paraphernalia is necessary to print.

After scanning my images enter my digital workflow.
Until now I had not thought about printing a black and white photograph.

“The Leaf” was an ideal example so I scanned the negative again, high bit depth and so on, well, the works you know.

I did some burning and dodging in Photoshop and while I was at it I played around with local curves and some masking.

Obviously one doesn’t have the same latitude one has with a digital RAW negative so much really depends on the quality of the shot and the development of the film.

Test printing Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open Digital image
Test printing
Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open
Digital image

I love the Canson RAG Photographique paper for its texture and the way it renders the color photographs I make.
It delivers grand for black and white too.

Preparing the print in Photoshop CC Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open Digital image
Preparing the print in Photoshop CC
Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open
Digital image

In Photoshop I entered following settings for my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II (Mac OSX Yosemite and latest printer drivers) :

16 Bit Photoshop color management and as printer profile the one I downloaded from the Canson site matching the paper I use. Relative colorimetric and no black point compensation.

I choose the Fine Art “Photo Rag” option and ticked print in grey scales.
I don’t know why but with curves I gave the image a stop extra overexposure in Photoshop before printing.
Experience with my gear I guess.

What I saw on my non-calibrated screen came out of the printer, deliciously rendered.

This first print I made in decades of an analogue photograph will of course be a present for my muse, for my love, for she who means everything in my life.

Here’s to you, Sweetheart.

The final print Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open Digital image
The final print
Olympus OM-D M10 with a Fujian 35mm f1,7 wide open
Digital image

Reflection in a puddle

I didn’t need anything more than this reflection in a puddle on gravel to finish my first roll of Ilford HP5 Plus I’ve shot in years.

Back in the seventies when I attended photo school Ilford was my film of choice and I mainly used the FP4 and HP5. I like to stick to old habits.

I simply love the texture and the almost organic look and feel of this 400 ISO HP Plus film. Probably I’ll push my next roll with one stop to get an even coarser look.

Reflection Olympus OM-10 with 28mm G. Zuiko f3,5 Ilford HP 5 Plus
Reflection
Olympus OM-10 with 28mm G. Zuiko f3,5
Ilford HP 5 Plus

Thoughts – November 22, 2014

I know my hometown very well. How often have I not walked up to the hill, the graveyard or the nearby woods?

Almost every Saturday I go shopping and do so on foot. I see how the streets change. An old house demolished or a shop that closes its doors, everything is alive, everything is constantly moving.

These days it takes longer though before a closed shop finds a new owner or before the newly build apartments are sold or rented. Financial crisis is lurking everywhere.

Long are gone the days I took my camera with me while roaming my neighborhood. I’ve seen it all and my third eye, my digital camera, is no help in finding the wonderment I’m missing and trying to find again.

Using another camera and film and limiting myself to black & white has changed the way I look at this small world of mine.

At last I find myself discovering my surroundings again and in a whole new way. I look in awe and notice details that eluded me before or never got my attention.

When I decide to capture it I do so consciously.
Light is measured and I try to imagine how a given aperture will change the depth of field. I look at how light falls on my subject and its delicate ballet with the shadows.
The viewfinder is carefully scrutinized so there is no dissonant in my composition. Yes, I try to use the whole negative. I do not want to crop or whatever.
I want to do it right from the first time.

That is what photography should be.

Capturing the world with your eye, dissecting and analyzing it, using your compositional skills and craftsmanship.

It feels so good when I arrive at that decisive moment when I know everything is in place.
I press the shutter button.
Savoring that short moment when mechanics take over. The mirror is brought up, the curtain opens and the aperture blades move to the opening you have set. Then light touches the silver halide on the film and your image has been conceived.

Afterwards, after 36 of those intense moments, ah the pleasure of finally being able to deliver your creations.

To rediscover what you have seen in your mind’s eye a day, a week or a month ago.

Yes, this is what film photography means to me.

Leaf Olympus OM-10 with 50mm f1,8 Ilford HP5 Plus
Leaf
Olympus OM-10 with 50mm f1,8
Ilford HP5 Plus