“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.
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.
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.
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.
A few days ago I bought a second hand yet almost mint wide-angle lens for my Olympus OM-10. It is a G. Zuiko single coated 28mm 3,5 “silver nose”. The filter thread is silver instead of black.
It is early dark now since the hour has changed a few weeks ago. Yesterday though I was at home and had promised my eldest daughter to pick her up from work so she could drive home and add a little experience to her driving skills.
I arrived twenty minutes earlier and took a walk in the neighborhood. Nothing really special to see but I had only 4 frames left and wanted to try out the lens.
Then I noticed this gateway entrance and the coarse concrete walls and the gritty soil of the parking.
This was an ideal scene for a black and white image and even more for the grainy Ilford HP5 Plus film. I moved back and forward until I was happy with what I saw in the viewfinder.
One of the things I want to explore more is long exposure photography.
I think there are advantages doing this with film compared to digital capture. I guess there are some drawbacks too but for the moment I’m not aware of any.
When I shot long exposures with my Nikon D300 my images had high levels of background noise. I am talking about minutes.
This is due to the sensor heating up. The best way in dealing with this is using the Camera Long Exposure Noise Reduction. Then the camera will take a second exposure. It will do so with the shutter closed but it takes the same exposure time as the image you just took. Doing so the camera subtracts with it finds in this black exposure thus decreasing the noise.
Basically this means a 10’ long exposure would take in fact 20’. During the second exposure I can move my camera but not use it.
Surely this not a problem I’ll run into using an analogue camera.
The second advantage is in my opinion an important one.
Let’s say you are taking a long exposure at a rocky beach somewhere late afternoon. In order to obtain an exposure of 1 minute at ISO 100 you are using a 10 stop ND-filter. You are not that too happy as you wished for an even longer exposure.
Let’s say I am standing next to you, impatiently waiting to use your filter on my analogue camera loaded with a 100 ISO film.
While I’m waiting I check my iPhone and smile. Reciprocity Timer is a very useful app. Check it out.
With your 10 stop ND-filter and same ISO I get an exposure time of almost 7 minutes with no extra effort at all. And without wasting an extra 7 minutes for exposure noise reduction.
This is due to the reciprocity law or the inverse relationship between intensity and duration of light and the reaction of the light-sensitive material.
As for now I haven’t had the opportunity to do really long exposures with my analogue camera and the two examples in this post are a mere 10”.
Hope to do an extra post on this topic very soon.
Besides the look ‘n feel of analogue black & white there is the real pleasure of shooting. It is about slowing down and thinking about what you want to capture and how you are going to do it. Measuring the light with an external light meter and taking the image. No chimping. One has to wait until the film is processed.
About two weeks ago I went for a shoot taking with me only two analogue cameras and two rolls of Ilford HP4 Plus. I try to stick to the same film and developer so eventually I’ll that film and that process will have no secrets and I’ll be able to play more with the materials.
Yet I did feel like some kind of time traveller lugging around with a 70’s Olympus OM-1n. It has quickly become my favourite camera.
It was hard to imagine we were well into November as the sun was shining and the overall temperature was about 14°C.
The image of this bridge is one I particularly like. There is the overall tonality of course and the look and feel of real grain. Yet I am aware that I’ll still have to learn a lot about scanning techniques to get the most out of my negatives.
In my opinion this image is about solitude and symbolizes the way I was touched by the surroundings. I am not talking about aloneness in a negative way here but more how I felt related to the moment and the place.
Another piece of gear I own is a Bronica ETRSi and a few lenses. It is hard to believe I used this camera professionally as a wedding photographer about 20 years ago.
Boy is it heavy and, compared to nowadays digital camera’s, extremely slow in using.
I don’t want to start to think about the precious and intimate moments I did not capture during my reportages. There is much to say for auto-focus in high speed social events.
I haven’t used this camera for ages but now I have a working setup for scanning the 4,5 x 6 film I think I am going to use this beast more often. It will slow me down even more and that is a good thing. After all the whole purpose of switching back to analogue black & white is to get back in touch with photography.
The camera still had a film in it so I finished it with a few simple studio shots to check if everything was still in working order.
Then I developed the HP 5 Plus film and scanned a few images I took somewhere around 2007.
To my big surprise the scan quality is not that bad and the HP G4050 with Vuescan delivers rather crisp images.
So if a crappy scanner can give this results what will an Epson V7xx or V8xx do? I am pretty sure its results will blow my socks off.
I bought this Yashica Mat in a small shop in Antwerp specialized in second hand photo gear. The year was 2008.
The shop is long gone and I can’t remember having ever used this camera. Soon after acquiring this beauty my attention was needed for something completely different but that is a whole other story.
The first Yashica TLR with crank advance was the Yashica Mat, released in 1957. The earliest models are equipped with a 75-mm 3.5 Lumaxar taking lens and a 75-mm 3.2 Lumaxar viewing lens. It was succeeded by a 80-mm lenses with the same specifications. (source Camerapedia)
This it the model I own. It takes 120 film and gives 6×6 negatives.
The camera has been sitting in my cupboard for years, safely tucked away in the furthest corner and hidden by a few lenses I never use.
Yesterday I got it out though and it feels heavy and sturdy and looks simply beautiful.
Albeit I know I’m not going to use this camera a lot I decided to put a film in it. When I opened the back I noticed it contained a roll of film. Apparently I had used it but never had taken the film out.
Wow, forgotten frames I thought while sitting in my bathroom with the lights out winding the film on the spool so I could develop it.
I developed the film a little longer than I would do for an Ilford HP5 Plus anticipating on the age of the film and so.
Finally I guess 9′:30″ was a little too long and the negatives are somewhat denser than I prefer.
Scanning them was a whole other story.
The HP Scanjet G4050 is not the best scanner around and for some reason the HP software was giving horrible results on my iMac with OS X Yosemite. The results were somewhat better when scanned with HP Software on Windows 7 running as a virtual machine on my Mac.
It was only when I downloaded a demo version of Vuescan that things changed for the better. The software offers a ton of options and I finally purchased a license. It works well with my Minolta Scan Elite 5400 as well and offers options I don’t have with Silverfast SE8 like multiple passes.
I am not completely satisfies with the scans but I think this is the best I’ll get with the HP Scanjet. I’m putting some money aside so I can get the Epson V750 or V850.