After quite a long absence on this blog I am faced with a dilemma.
I wrote about what I like to call my love/hate relation with photography a few times.
As a matter of fact I haven’t touched a camera since Sweetheart and I returned from out holiday in Denmark. I’m talking September last year.
I posted some images from that trip and that was it. My last entry on this blog dates from October 2016.
This is a blog about photography and there is a thin layer with a personal grow path, kind of diary.
A month or two ago I started kayaking. Not that often but I like to be on the water. I used to dive too, mostly in the murky water of Zeeland in The Netherlands.
The I picked up a Denver action camera. The quality was okay and I mounted on my kayak and shot some footage. Enjoyed editing it. Nothing special, just your basic amateur video images.
Liked it so much I bought a second-hand GoPro Hero 4 Silver. It offers much more control and the quality of the footage and images are quite high. Shortly after that I bought an electronic stabilizer or a gimbal. The difference between handheld shots and the gimbal breath-taking. Yesterday I got a second-hand ultra-compact Acom H1 Handy Recorder for better sound.
So where is all this taking me? I don’t have a clue. I have almost no experience with this medium. I’m guessing this will be a thrilling new road I’ll be traveling on.
My dilemma is this.
Should I continue this blog albeit is not about photography anymore or should I start a new blog? I have no idea.
Next Saturday Sweetheart and I are leaving for Denmark. It is a +1000 km drive meaning we’ll be on the road for more than 10 hours.
In Germany, at a certain point, we’ll have to take the ferry to take us to that part of Denmark that leads to Copenhagen and further to our destination, Helsingør.
The ferry seems to be reservation only meaning we’ll have to be there at a reserved hour. We also need to be at our hotel before 21:00. Don’t ask me why. Maybe they go to sleep early in Denmark.
On the road we could encounter traffic jams or a flat tire of whatever.
I love driving and traveling by car as it gives kind of total freedom.
I am not perfect and I have serious issues when plans change the last-minute as they push me out of my comfort zone.
Although I have traveled quite a lot and a few times by airplane, I hate flying. Yes I know, it still is the safest way of transportation but flying simply terrifies me.
A reason we don’t fly is also because I told Sweetheart we can easily drive back if she is urgently needed a home. If you have to drive a whole day this is really a stupid reason and more an excuse to not fly.
As I don’t like to fly I haven’t checked fares either and also I had the impression renting a car is very expensive.
Paying for a parking space at an airport also feels like something I’d rather not do.
This morning Sweetheart and I discussed our trip and then, well, it kind of happened after a hint she made. I knew Sweetheart was right.
Also I remembered that, quite some time ago, I promised Sweetheart I would be the one she would fly with for the first time in her life.
So I surfed to Ryanair, an Irish low-cost airline. About half an hour later I had ordered tickets, some extra’s, rented a car plus insurance. Hell, I was sweating like a pig. Changing plans last-minute, the idea of flying…
So next Saturday, early in the morning, Sweetheart will be picking me up and then we’ll be heading for the airport of Charleroi.
Take-off at 06:40 with arrival in Copenhagen little past 08:00.
Six days later we’ll have a ride back home.
It is Sweetheart’s son who will be driving us to and from the airport.
The total cost of the flight and the rental is about the same as I had projected for driving my own car. But we have 2 extra days we would have spent driving, less stress and no worries.
We’ll, to tell the truth, I am already terrified knowing I’m going to fly.
There is only one and not so important downside. I’ll have to cut down in photography equipment as I had planned to take a medium format camera for landscapes.
Guess I’ll be taking my Ricoh GR and the 21mm add-on lens with me for general use and two Olympus OM camera’s, some glass or two Nikon’s. I’m not sure yet.
On the other hand, we are on holiday and this means Q-time.
Yesterday I bought a batch of well stored but expired 120 roll film worth something like 145 Euro. Thirteen rolls of Ilford HP5+, 4 rolls of Ilford PANF, 8 rolls of Fuji Provia 400, 2 rolls of Fuji Superia 100 and one roll of Fuji Superia X-TRA 400.
Without any regrets and with a big smile I splashed out 250 Euro.
Yep, with the film I got a Bronica ETRS with a 75mm f2.8 and a 50mm f2.8. The camera comes with one 120 film back, a dark slide, a manual speed winder and a waist level finder.
I used to have a 75mm f2.8 but then something went wrong with the internal mechanics. So now I have this lens again. It is great for portraits.
The second lens I already have so maybe I’ll sell one of them.
The camera is visually in mint condition. I did not have time to fill a test roll but I noticed there is an issue with the 120 film back. The film advances but the frame numbers don’t move. I changed backs and that worked. Maybe it is something I can fix or maybe I’ll have to get another back. We’ll see.
On my other Bronica, an ETRSi, I have the prism AE-II finder so a waist level finder for a low POV is welcome.
I think this is a great deal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the Provia as I don’t shoot slide film but I’ll keep it stored and when I feel like it play a little with cross-processing.
I love shooting with Bronica. I like the 645 format and the lenses I own are very sharp. I am happy I was able to acquire a second body for almost nothing.
Meanwhile I am selling my Olympus OM-D M10 kit. A few lenses are sold alreade, the very sharp 45mm f1,8 and the very good Lumix 20mm f1,7.
I like the camera but after I got the Ricoh GR II I did not use the Olympus that much as I found the Oly suddenly a very slow camera. I have no complaints about the (image) quality but, well, it is just gathering dust.
Anyway I feel that I am moving more and more towards analogue photography. I like that.
In a few days I’ll be picking up a Jobo CPE-2 with lift. This will enable me also to develop color film.
Getting 35mm color developed is not a problem. It becomes more difficult for 120 roll film and almost impossible for sheet film.
By the way I am extremely happy with the online shop I’m buying my films, developer and so on from. Please note I am not affiliated with them in any way. I’m mentioning them simply because of their range of products and service. I discovered Retro Camera by accident and they sell only analogue film products.
I’m also selling gear because I’m not using it. I’ll be scaling down and keep the Sinar Norma, the Bronica ETRSi (maybe get a second body), my very complete Olympus OM-kit with several lenses and bodies and Nikon gear, both digital and analogue. And of course my Ricoh GR II.
Using the Bronica or the Sinar does not make me a better photographer but it sure as hell makes me see and photograph in a different way. It is about using your gear for what is was meant and to push it even further.
Soon I’ll also be doing long exposures with the Sinar. The only thing that keeps me using it in the field is the weight/transportation.
What is next?
Well I am thinking I should find a way of earning some money with my photography. Workshops or selling prints. Both are not obvious as I am not the only one trying to make it happen for myself.
Then there is the matter of printing. I’ll be using my Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II for color prints and some black and white but I would love to do the latter in a different way.
I would love to make platinum prints. Start with 4×5″ contact prints just to acquire experience. Then move to digital negatives in order to make larger prints.
The only problem I have is that I am running out of space. Since I got the Sinar I set up a small 2-light studio in my living room. Little A. who spends 2 weekends a month at my place finds it chaotic.
So a studio in the living room, a developing lab in the kitchen leaves no place for a UV-unit to process platinum prints.
A few days ago I used my Bronica for the first time in almost a year. There was still film in it and I remembered the last shots I made.
I had about 6 shots left when I went for a walk in the woods.
Yeah, I know this is going to sound extremely stupid.
I enjoyed being outside. Made some minimalist compositions, measuring the light with a spot-meter and thinking zone system.
After 6 shots I started to feel that something was not right. The frame counter indicated 6 and when I transported the film I noticed to my horror it was not advancing.
It took a few minutes before I realized my Bronica was not broken but that for some reason the multiple exposure lever was set on, well, multiple exposure.
I lost a few shots, that is also a part of shooting analog film.
I picked up a used Sinar Norma and a Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 MC and from another reseller a Toyo Rollfim Holder 69 / 45 for 120 roll film so I can make 8 images per roll.
For the moment I don’t have 4×5 film holders but that is no problem. I felt it was important to learn to use this camera, discover the movements it offers like rise, fall, tilt, swift etc…
Sheet film is expensive and a roll of 120 Ilford FP4+ or HP+ costs me about 5,5 Euro so cheap enough to experiment.
I’ll be doing some still life studio work in order to learn how to use the camera before going into the field. Obviously my recently acquired Pentax V Spotmeter comes in quite handy. In fact it is when I made a bid for this light meter I decided to check out prices for second-hand large format cameras.
These past few days I have been reading quite a lot about the Zone System and decided to use it in my analogue workflow. The idea is that later on I’ll be able to, when necessary, develop a sheet of film to correct the exposure, the famous N-x or N+x.
So a new world is opening and I am thrilled to be able to experiment and to enjoy being creative in a whole new way.
Even with 40+ years experience I have almost no experience with large format photography.
Here you can find a few interesting articles in no particular order on using the Zone System
I had quite and interesting time with the guy who sold me the Sinar. He teaches photography and has quite some experience with large format. He even sold me a motorized Jobo drum with temperature control so I can develop my 4×5″ sheets. Hell, he asked only like 20 Euro for the development kit.
I’m home for the next two weeks and hope to put the camera to good use. The first thing I am going to check is if the bellows is light tight.
I picked up an Olympus Trip 35 in almost mint condition. Since quite some time I desired this camera and finally decided to get one. I’m not sure if I’ll be using it that often but I’ll be shooting a few rolls just for the heck of it.
It was fun to meet the seller again. I have bought quite some stuff from him and we both share an intense passion for photography.
Some 10 million were sold between 1967 and 1984. During the 1970s it was the subject of an advertising campaign that featured popular British photographer David Bailey.
The Trip 35 was a point and shoot model with a 40mm f2.8 lens, solar-powered selenium light meter, and just two shutter speeds. In ‘A’ mode, the camera operated as a Program automatic, choosing either 1/40th sec or 1/200th sec. The camera could also sync with flash, and had a range of aperture settings, from f2.8 to f22. In flash sync mode the shutter was set at 1/40. Apart from a simple four-position zone focus system, and an ISO setting from 25–400, the camera had no other photographic controls. The camera had a Prontor-Compur sync connector and a hot shoe. Its lens was a coated Zuiko 40mm f/2.8, with four elements in three groups.
The camera had an ISO range of “only” 25–400, but this was acceptable, as films faster than 400 were uncommon and not of high image quality. 25 speed allowed the use of Kodachrome, while 400 speed allowed use of Tri-X and similar fast materials under low light.
Earlier models, from the first few years of production, had a maximum ISO speed of 200.
The four-element Tessar lens, still impressive today, gave high-quality images. If used with modern film emulsions, the results can be very good.
The use of a selenium photocell to select the shutter speeds and aperture let novices use the camera as a “point & shoot”, with good results obtained most of the time. And no battery was needed to power the camera, an important consideration when travelling where batteries might not be available.
The lack of more than two shutter speeds was not a problem. At 1/200 and f22 with 400-speed film, the camera could deliver correct exposure in full sunlight, while at 1/40 and f2.8, correct exposure could be obtained under bright fluorescent light, without a flash.
The aperture could also be adjusted to cope with sunny/dull conditions etc., so again this allowed for better results, but in low light conditions, with perhaps a smallish aperture (for long depth of field), the camera would probably set itself to the lower speed of 1/40th, so camera shake was a possibility if higher-speed film was not used.
Maybe it will be a camera that I’ll be having on me when I prefer shooting film but don’t want to carry to much material.
Untill now the Ricoh GR 2 is still my main camera and I am still amazed what one can do with it.
It is possible this will become a dear friend, a handy companion. We’ll see.
PS In the meantime, somewhere deep in my head my mind has been made up. I am going for a 4×5″ camera and made an offer on a Sinar Norma from the fifties and a F/210 mm Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f5,6 copal 1.
As for the back I won’t opt for 4×5″ directly but for a 6×7 rollfilm back. I’ll be somewhat over what I had in mind to spend but hell, if I die tomorrow I won’t spend it either.
Life is to short. Live it. Enjoy it.
Just this afternoon I picked up a mint analog Pentax Spotmeter V with strap, the original packaging and leather case. I paid 80 Euro (89 $)
It is a handheld Spotmeter with a circle of 1° and has a measuring range of 1 – 19 EV. ISO settings go from 6 to 6400 and aperture between f1 and f128.
I picked it up because I want to be able to measure more precisely when using my Bronica ETRs system and 35mm film camera’s but I’m sure I’ll also be using the Spotmeter with my Nikon DSLR. I’m thinking this will give me much more overall control when measuring exposure.
It’s a simple tool allowing a very complex metering work to be done. It offers approximately 1 degree cone field-of-measurement on the frame (marked as a small circle in the center of the meter when you look through it), meaning you can sample the precise exposure reading as reflected light (translated as neutral gray) from this small area. When you point and aim it, push the button then the analog dial will show you clearly simple number reading on the proper analog scale and after that you’ll dial in that number on the simple exposure computer planted on the side of the meter. That’s it.
This device is also very handy when one wants to use the Zone System.
I’ll be putting some money aside in order to get a second-hand 4×5” view-camera somewhere next year and maybe get acquainted with the Zone System. Obviously then a Spotmeter comes in very handy.
I could write a review but I found THIS one to be very good. The article shows quite some examples in how your photography can benefit from spotmetering.
After dropping Sweetheart off at her place I drove to Walsoorden, Zeeland, in the Netherlands.
I shot a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus with the new Holga 120WPC and used my Ricoh GR II with 2 ND-1024 filters to shoot some long exposures. Combining these two filters give me an exposure time of 4 minutes. The Ricoh goes to 5 minutes before you need a release cable.
I used my Olympus OMD M-10 with a 45-150mm for some landscapes.
The afternoon was great and the weather more than okay. I had my T-shirt in my camera bag when I arrived at a breakwater. I walked the some 80 meters to its end and said hi to a fisherman.
Set up my tripod and made a few long exposures of a small lighthouse.
There was a nosy seal and then the fisherman asked what I was photographing so I explained in simple terms what long exposures are.
“Be careful, that huge container ship will make some serious waves”, he told me pointing to something behind me.
Wow, I cannot remember having seen such a huge container ship. It lay high on the water, navigating very close to the riverside before making a turn to go around the breakwater.
I had finished shooting the small lighthouse and stored the ND-filters and the Olympus OMD M-10 in my bag without closing the top. I grabbed my tripod with the Ricoh GR II still mounted on it.
“Bye,” I said to the fisherman, “wish you good luck and hope you’ll catch something. “
He smiled and at the same time he said hi to some people who came towards him. Relatives or friends, so it seemed.
At the end of the breakwater, at the dike, I stopped and put my camera bag and tripod down in order to make a photo of the ship and the people standing at the end of the breakwater. They are so small that I put a red circle around them.
I crouched, the MSC Chloe and framed the Ricoh for another long exposure. The ship was now out of the image. I pressed the shutter and then, suddenly, I heard a roaring sound coming from my right.
I turned around and saw to my consternation a wave running towards me with sickening speed. The wall of water was at least 75 centimeters high.
I took my tripod and lifted the camera bag up seconds before the flood reached me. What an amazing power and I found it very difficult to keep my balance. My T-shirt was still on the ground and I saw it been swept away with raging madness.
I managed to jump higher on the dike, to safety. Hell, I could have lost my gear or been pulled in the water.
Then I looked at the breakwater. The fisher and two other men were running towards the water as 3 women had been pulled into the 3 kilometer broad Westerschelde. One lady had drifter rather far from the breaker.
It made no sense to go and help as I was to far and seconds later the women were in safety again. One of them seemed to have a nasty cut in her leg. It was hard so see from where I was standing but the red was quite obvious.
I’ll never again underestimate the waves a huge ship that comes close to the coast can cause.
Later that day, back home, I was happy with the long exposures I took with the Ricoh and I’ll be sharing with the next few posts.
I developed the film I shot with the Holga 120WPC and was disappointed. The day had been bright and sunny and I had made 6 exposures using different exposures ranging between 10” and 30”. The film came out of the development tank being crystal clear. Come to think of it, not even frame numbers of Ilford HP5 so I guess I must have done something wrong.
It may sound stupid but the image of this powerful wall of water rushing towards me, muddy and swirling, has been haunting me past night and even at moments today.
I am very happy the people on the breakwater also survived. Hell, pushed over, falling on your side, breaking something or hitting your head on the stones before being pulled in the water… it could have been much worse.
Olympus OMD M10 with Olympus 45-150mm
Being a (professional) photographer is more than having fancy gear or a vision. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are not really equipped for yet results are expected. Sometimes we experience the presence of Murphy.
Knowing you business, the ability to think outside the box in order to get that shot can be very challenging and/or an interesting experience.
Over the past years I have enjoyed the Digital Rev’s ‘Cheap Camera Challenge’ and picked up quite a few things.