This is my first post in almost 7 months. Am I back?
Only time will tell.
You see, I have a hate/love relation with photography.
It hasn’t always been like that though.
I studied photography back in the late 70s in art school. I liked what I did and it was a passion. It still is, when I am in the “love” period.
I do know what happened, what changed my relationship with this medium but I am not ready to share.
I feel I am evolving to a “love-period”. This afternoon, after work, I picked up a Polaris SPD100 light meter.
The drive was sheer horror.
Abundant traffic jams, rain and deviations. I spend more than 3 hours in my car.
I love the Polaris light meter by the way. It is easy to use and accurate. It also makes it possible to measure several flashes in a row to obtain a correct exposure. Handy for macro and micro photography where a small aperture begs for light.
Past weekend I updated the Silverfast software on my iMac. Checked if I have all chemicals in stock and even took a few images with my Olympus OM-1n equipped with a f3,5 50mm macro lens I acquired a couple of days ago.
I am not sure what I’ll be sharing on my photography blog though. Landscapes I guess, maybe a portrait or so, or an occasional still life.
One of the reasons I started taking images again is because Sweetheart and I moved a few levels up in the world of Shibari. I play with rope and I love to photograph my creations. These images are not only to document my progress but for Sweetheart too. She is the one tied up and thus she can’t really appreciate the ‘art’work being in it.
I ditched the Leicaflex SL. Boy did I love the sharpness and contrast of the lens. The owner asked 500+ € for the camera so I gave it back.
Maybe I’ll stick to studio shots with Sweetheart being tied up. It is possible I’ll do landscape. I’m not sure.
The only thing right now that I really know is that feel a tingle to take up photography again.
Finally I found some time to scan the 2 rolls of 120 film I shot past Monday at the beach of Westkapelle.
First of all I am extremely happy with the Epson V700 scanner. I like the software that comes with it but for separate and final scans I prefer Silverfast SE8.
At 2400 dpi I get a 20+ megapixel file and enough latitude to work with as I prefer to scan the negatives with the largest possible histogram. Don’t get me wrong though. A 20+ megapixel RAW-file has much more possibilities.
I do my post-processing mostly in Lightroom and use Photoshop for those last final touches.
I can in some way compare the differences in workflow.
Obviously analogue requires much more work.
When you come home you have to develop your film. There are many ways to do this like stand developing for example or longer/shorter development depending if you pushed or pulled your film. Yes, creativity starts when you have your film ready for development and your chemicals lined up.
Post-processing is another aspect. The last two films dried in my toilet yet during that process the room was not visited by the tooth fairy but by a mean dust fairy.
So from my trip to Westkapelle I have a digital and an analogue file and the latter required much more work.
I prefer the analogue version because of the work, the input, the time spend correcting. It is craftsmanship pure and simple.
In this example, the lighthouse, I spend 15′ with the digital file and over 1 hour working on its analogue counterpart. I prefer by far the latter for the gritty look and its imperfections.
Just the get things right I do not think time spend on something should by any means by relevant. It is the final result that counts. I like this analogue version very much. I don’t miss the colour at all.
I won’t be able to do much work this weekend. Little A. is staying with me going out making photographs is not her idea of spending quality time with her father. I don’t mind though. I like to make her as happy as possible.
After developing a black and white film I scan it with the Minolta Elitescan 5400. It is tedious work. I have to do it frame by frame.
I can process a strip of 6 negatives but for some strange reason Silverfast shows me the 6 thumbnails but more often than not the final scan results in 6 identical images, the first one scanned, even though the film holder travels into the scanner.
Sometimes only half of the frame is scanned or the autofocus hasn’t done its job.
I have a feeling this started happening after upgrading to OSX Yosemite but on the other hand I see signs the ScanElite is slowly dying.
So scanning a whole film takes up a few hours and then I am not scanning at the highest resolution or quality. I just want a folder with 36 files so I can import them into Lightroom so I can see what I have got and decide what gets scanned in 16-bit tiff or not.
This morning I scanned a 35mm black and white film with 36 negatives in little under 25 minutes at 1200 dpi. The Epson V700 takes 4 strips of 6 and the Epson software easy to use.
For the moment I’ll still use the EliteScan for high quality scans though as it is, after all, a dedicated film scanner and goes way up to real 5400 dpi.
Then I scanned a few color photographs and a few 6×6 black and white negatives. Finally did a colour film and I must admit the automatic colour correction does a good job.
What a day it has been!
Regularly checking a Belgian 2nd hand site paid off well today.
Early this morning the mailman delivered an Olympus Zuiko 65-200 f4 lens for my Olympus OM-1n. It seems to be a hard to find high-quality lens. I paid 80 Euro.
I think my Olympus OM-1n system is now quite complete.
Then I left for a suburb of Brussels to get the second item and one I have been dreaming about for a long time.
While I am writing this post my “new” Epson V700 is buzzing happily scanning a bunch of 35mm color negs. It comes with Epson Scan and Silverfast 6. The latter is not compatible with OSX 10.10 so I had to splash another 25 Euro for an upgrade to version 8.
Yet the Epson software that comes with the scanner seems pretty cool too.
I’ll use it mainly for scanning 120 film because I already have a dedicated 35mm scanner.
But scanning thumbnails of a 35mm film is peanuts with this engine and a real pain with the Minolta ScanElite 5400 whom is dying slowly. Lately I have experienced some issues with the autofocus making each scan a hit or miss.
I found it amazing to see how the Epson Scan software scanned a whole 35mm film without hardly any color correction needed.
Mind you, I am not going to review the scanner or the lens though, there is enough information about them one cane find on the web.
I’m just saying it got these two items and I am really happy I did.
I haven’t done much these past few days. Developed a film and used a gift voucher from Silverfast offering me 25% off on any purchase made before January 2nd.
I have been thinking about upgrading the 8 SE version to 8 SE Plus. It offers few extra whistles and bells and I was particularly interested in the multi-exposure option. My Minolta 5400 is supported and multi-exposure increases the dynamic range of your scan. It also reduces the noise.
Read about it on the Silverfaste site HERE.
If multi-exposure does something I haven’t noticed it.
I did several scans and compared them at 100% and 400% in Photoshop.
I had put the two images as layers and switched them on and off. I had the impression the multi-exposure scan wasn’t that sharp as the normal scan.
Anyway, the upgrade minus the 25% reduction came to 51 Euro so that is not the end of the world.
Maybe I am not using the ME option correctly. I’ll do some testing in the next couple of days.
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.
Yesterday, Wednesday morning, I did something I hadn’t done in years.
I developed a black and white film!
I searched the Internet for the development time of an Ilford Delta using Kodak’s TMax film developer. I had no idea if the film would be exposed correctly so I settled for 8 minutes at 21°C with a 1+4 mixture.
Then I prepared the 300ml of developer, a recipient with 1+1 vinegar and water and 300 ml 1+4 fixing liquid.
After rinsing the dust covered Paterson film developing tank I set everything ready in the bathroom and gave the tank, scissors and film I had retrieved from the camera a place so I could find everything in the dark.
Out went the light and I started moving the reel to get the film on it. To my big surprise it was easy and I hadn’t forgotten how to do it. After closing the tank I switched on the light and walked to the kitchen.
I set my iPhone’s timer to 8 minutes, filled the developing tank and turned it around every 1 minute, putting it down with a harsh tap to remove the air bubbles that could have settled on the film.
After 8 minutes I emptied the tank, filled it with the diluted vinegar and after moving the tank for 45″ I replaced the stop bath with the fixing solution.
Six minutes later I drained the tank once again but before starting the rinsing process I wanted to see if the film was well developed.
I felt immensely excited when I opened the tank.
Wow, at first glance the negatives seemed perfect and well developed and showed a correct density.
I rinsed the film for about 5 minutes and then added a few drops of Agepon wetting agent to prevent water drops staying on the film and create spots while drying.
It is almost noon and the film is drying in the bathroom.
I am still so excited and cannot wait to start scanning the negatives.
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The bigger part of the afternoon I spend watching The Social Network, a biopic about a Jewish nerd who hates nipples and founded Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and taking a nap.
I find the negatives a little too dense. Or I overdeveloped the film or it was slightly over-exposed, maybe by about 0,7 EV. The battery could have caused the latter. Originally the Olympus OM-1n took a 1,36 Volt mercury battery but they are banned due to environment issues and there is no replacement except the ones that are sold by Wein on eBay. In my Olympus is a 1,5 Volt battery so that could be the reason why the exposure was a little over the top.
I loaded my second film, an Ilford FP4, and set the light meter to 160 ISO instead of 125 ISO so we’ll see.
It seems there is an issue with the scanner software too. Scanning 6 negs is not a problem but when I eject them and load 6 new ones the preview totally screws up. I’ll try to figure this one out later on before opening a support ticket at Silverfast.com. Note. After rebooting my iMac the problem went away.
I also have the impression that activating the ICE option (dust & scratch removal) does not make the scanner happy albeit it is hardware supported. The final scan resembles nothing and reminds me on how the world looks after enjoying a few magic mushrooms.
Anyway, as the negs are fresh and I take care of them I haven’t a real issue with dust and other imperfections so the lack of ICE is not an issue.
The lack of EXIF-data is something that really troubles me. Obviously information on date, time and camera settings are not available so I have to take notes or say something in my iPhone each time I take an image.
Yes, this is going to trouble me as I keep all my images sorted on date. I do not care that much about the camera settings though, but date and time are very important to me. I guess I’ll have to skip the time notion and I hate the idea. I know my Princess is smiling now when she reads this…
The guy who sold me the Olympus also gave me a Vivitar 85-205mm f3,5 zoom lens to test. It is a heavy lens and it is mine for 25 Euro. A no-brainer if you ask me even if I’ll never use it wide-open as I guess it will be way to soft. But at f8 it is a very sharp lens.
So I developed a film.
The first results?
Really, they are incredible.
This is real black and white and not some Photoshop (plugin) substitute.
I love the discrete grain, the organic look and its large dynamic range. At the moment I am not looking for Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5 high-speed film drama. The 100 ISO suits me well as it slows down everything I want to do.
This is what I want to achieve.
Imagine visiting a new place, landscape or abandoned site, whatever, and walk around being limited to only 36 images. Hell, let us take the battery away from the camera too so you’ll have to work with a hand-held light meter.
You’ll have to change the way you look and if you find something you want to photograph you’ll have to suck it in before pressing the shutter button. You will have to consider light and other technical aspects because you have only 36 frames. You’ll have to slow down. You’ll have to look and observe.
No shooting like a madman and browsing through 500 shots in the evening. No chimping or, if you are an experienced digital photog, analysing the histogram.
When you press the shutter you must be 100% sure you have it right.
When you drive back home you’ll feel excited and you’ll enjoy the anticipation and pleasure while developing the film, waiting for it to dry before you can scan it and see what you have created.
This is photography in its purest form and a craft forgotten by most of us.
It is something I want to find again, to experience and see as pleasure and art and not as something tedious I had to do so many years ago in order to get my degree in photography.
I want to take my time and see and observer before I take an image. I want to be Zen and in balance with what I see when I press the shutter button.
Also I want to stick to one type of film.
Back in my schooldays my film was Ilford’s HP5. I did not need a light meter to nail the exposure. My eyes looked at a scene and my brain knew what the film needed.
I could develop this film with pee if needed and drunk, stoned or both I knew the exact time and mixtures for almost every mainstream developing product to get 100% perfect negatives.
Yeah, I know, I was a nerd back then.
But guess what, the nerds get the best chicks, albeit I had to wait some 35 years for mine to fall in my bed.
No, I am not going to throw away my digital Olympus and prime lenses. Don’t forget, I am a very lazy person. But my digital micro four thirds Olympus cannot deliver what a full frame can.
At f1,8 the depth of field is very shallow and the bokeh is simply delicious. I paid 40 euro for this kit. A Nikon D600 and a f1,8 lens would set me back at least 1500 euro but it would make taking photographs easy. It would be a no-brainer but one I cannot afford.
Buying a D600 is not a problem. Buying the glass that goes with it is though. And it becomes even more an issue with a Nikon D800 as 36 megapixels needs lenses that can deliver in resolving power. Yet we all fall on our knees when we see, for example, images made by Magnum accredited photographers.
René Burri, my all time favourite Henri Cartier-Bresson, hell even Ansell Adams. Or my even bigger favourite and inventor of the so-called porno chique Helmut Newton did it all with film.
You buy art?
You buy what you like and not because it was made with a 6,000 $ Leica.
Less is more. Art is what the heart of the viewer feels. That is not necessarily what the artist wanted to express.
Past Saturday my Princess and I watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” on my 27″ iMac. I had seen it before but wanted to share this intense and beautiful movie with my love.
The famous photographer in the film, Sean O’Connell and played by Sean Penn, is pictured as a purist who still uses film. And is a 35mm SLR camera not also a Full Frame?
Yes it is.
My father left me an extensive collection of slides documenting my early years so I bought a second-hand film scanner in 2005 or so. Occasionally I shot a few colour films too. When a few years ago, during a trip to the Opal Coast in France, my Nikon F100 died, it stopped using film altogether. I shortly owned a Polaroid SX-70 and a Holga 120 but the so-called Lomography thing never got me interested enough to dabble with.
I guess there is a time, a momentum, for everything. The movie woke something that had been lying dormant for so many years.
The next day, after dropping my Sweetheart at her place I opened my Ali Baba cave. It is a cupboard filled with my photo gear.
I had no lens for the 100% mechanic Nikkormat and I did not want to lug around with my heavy and still working Bronica ETRS and its 4 lenses. The Nikon F80 did not appeal either because it is fully electronic.
On the Internet I found an Olympus OM-1n with a Zuiko 50mm f1,8 for 40 Euro and the seller did not live far from my hometown.
Later on I got my Minolta Elite Scan 5400 out and connected it to my iMac. It did not work though and there are no drivers around as the scanner has been discontinued ages ago.
No problem. I visited Silverfast and downloaded a demo version of their scanner software Silverfast 8. It supports both the Minolta scanner and OSX Yosemite. It worked flawless so I purchased a 49 $ license.
I was almost set to go.
Monday, after work, I visited the guy and found the 30+ year-old camera to be as good as new. I could hardly believe my eyes. The camera takes one battery for the build-in light meter but it works just as fine without.
At the camera store I bought a battery for my Gossen Variosix F light and flash meter, a roll of Ilford Delta black & white film and the necessary chemicals to develop the film.
Over the past two days I shot 34 frames simply to test the camera. I even took the trouble to set up a studio flash with a flash-cord. The Olympus syncs at 1/60th and finding the correct diaphragm is a piece of cake with a flash meter.
Then it was over.
My analogue memory card was full.
I was ready to proceed to the next step.