I know it is an odd picture with the title of "Mother's Day" however I can explain...It seems that Mother's day, or more accurately, the day before Mother's Day, seems to be spent visiting the gravesite of family members and cleaning it up a bit. The timing is right as winter is behind us, so a great time to clean up the site a bit, plant some flowers and reclaim what nature damaged.
I went to a nearby graveyard to take some pictures. While there I came across a very old couple, early eighties I would imagine, with this wonderful car, The trunk was filled with bags of mulch they were laying on their parents graves. I was drawn to the amazing car they drove in on and quickly helped them move the big bags of mulch. Very nice people as English go.
I then took a seat and watched all these people tending to family gravesite. They would chat with each other a bit, then get back to work. Once done they would sit and contemplate a little while before climbing in their car to go home.
I found the entire event lovely. It was their time to remember their loved ones and take care of their final resting places.
I completely understand the desire to short cut the learning curve. I support any effort to do so. Here is the thing, it does not work. What I am talking about is film testing that seems to be all over YouTube. Many people do it very scientifically and I am impressed by the amount of work they put into it. But lets walk through a typical "test" and see where it usually goes wrong.
A post digital film adopter (I love them and consider myself one of them) wants to know what type of film he/she should buy. After reading some forums they decided to do a test. So far so good. They buy ten different film types and load it through one or more cameras. For scientific reasons, I obviously prefer the same camera.
They set up a standard scene and take a ton of pictures of it with the different film. They then develop the rolls in the same method and compare the different films. The problem is that film is more nuanced than that. You cannot replicate your typical shooting scenes in a fabricated set up. Sure you can test your development technique to see what kind of grain you could get but again this depends on the scene.
If you want to test different films, I suggest the following method. Buy five rolls of film of any make or model. Shoot the rolls normally. Chase the kids, go on vacation, hang out with your friends. Just shoot what you normally would shoot. Develop the rolls normally. Then go out and buy five rolls of another type of film. Now repeat.
After a couple of years you can look back at your 30 rolls of film and look back at which one you like more. Then stick with it. Every year go out and buy 3 rolls of a different make and test it out.
That is it. You need to get a few rolls under your belt to understand and be able to predict how the film will react. Testing in a lab type setup will not give you real world results. Shoot more, worry less. Frankly all film is made to work the same way, to capture an image. Grain will differ, contrast will differ and reaction in certain environments will differ. Stop worrying and shoot!
It was an Eggleston Saturday morning, sometimes those sneak up on you! I watched a couple of Eggleston documentaries and looked through a favorite book of mine. William Eggleston's Guide is an amazing book that keeps giving you more to look at. Have a look under my book review section. I share some of my favorite images from the book and tell you how they speak to me.
If you want more, I suggest these YouTube channels.
Documentary can be found HERE.
Art of Photography segment can be found HERE.
I had a New Years Resolution which was to stop buying gear and get mine repaired and maintained. Well that went out the window this week with the purchase of a Pentacon Six. I will write a short review once I have had enough time to play with it. I am one roll into it, a test roll shot and developed the same day that I received it.
Its previous owner is a professional head shot photographer and he took great care of it. It came in wonderful condition and the first roll was a dream to shoot. It is a heavy camera but the image quality is amazing.
The reason I decided to get this camera is that I wanted another medium format camera but wanted one with a good lens. I have a Yashica TLR which is a bit complicated to shoot. My Hasselblad is amazing but cumbersome and in need of repair. The Pentacon was purchased with portrait photography in mind.
Another of my Resolutions was to practice my skills at estimating exposure without a light meter. This camera does not have a light meter so it will help me fulfill that resolution at least!
I had been hearing about this little box long before they went to Kickstarter. It looked exciting but did not really see it as something that I needed. Let me explain why and why I changed my mind.
This system seems great however it only develops one roll at a time. Will the amount of shooting I do, I often times develop three rolls at a time. This is the advantage of only having two film stocks as you can develop them at the same time. This was a big limitation in my view.
Two things changed my mind. The first was the realization that occasionally I do like to develop one roll especially when traveling. The second is that film is having a re-birth and I want to be a part of it. Buying used cameras does not support a business. It helps the individual selling their old equipment.
Buying film, chemical, darkroom paper and the like does help the industry. This allows my money to hit a companies bottom line. And I need that to happen. I want them to keep making film.
So last night I went ahead and bought one of their packages on Kickstarter. I hope that their incredible 570K Pounds raised compared to their goal of 70K will help show companies that there is a business to be had.
The second thing I did was order some film from Ferrania for their new P30 Alpha film. It is not cheap and shipping was very high but again I am not doing this for the film. I am doing this to support an industry that is trying to make a comeback. While my few dollars keep film from disappearing? Hell no, but I will sleep soundly knowing I did my part.
So I ordered five rolls of P30 film and the 2 module system from the LAB-BOX. I encourage all of you to do the same. Even a small pledge will help as will the purchase of a single roll. Yes you can do it cheaper but you would not be rewarding the people who have decided to invest their time and energy into our hobby.
Kickstarter Lab-Box can be found HERE.
Ferrania Film Shop can be found HERE.
I was re-watching the Richard Avedon documentary on Saturday evening, when I caught something I missed the previous few times I have watched it. He made reference to a movie called "Funny Face" which he claimed was loosely written about him. This morning I went to Apple TV and rented "Funny Face" with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. During the initial credits I notice the Avedon is on the staff and provided the opening sequence pictures.
I then find that Dovima plays a part in the movie and they even named Fred's character "Dick". Amazing to see the parallels between the movie and what was going in in Harpers Bazaar. That got me to pull out my books on Avedon's photography where I encounter a picture of Gloria Vanderbilt. The image really hit home so I began doing a bit of internet searching to find out more about her.
I then find out about her son Anderson Cooper and then an entire story starts to come together. I had heard his mother was a famous socialite but nothing more. I find out that Gloria's career as a model started thanks to Avedon's shots of her when she was eighteen.
This man photographed everyone and there are countless bread crumbs to chase after. If you like to study the masters, there is a great deal we can all learn from Avedon. He took fashion photography to high art and every shot he took seems to jump of the page.
I have been playing with Ilford HP5+ for a few weeks. I have shot it at ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. I love how they have all come out. The feel is slightly different with each, as the grain becomes more noticeable as ISO increases. The overall grain structure and size is the same but as the micro contrast increases the gains become easier to spot.
After looking over all these shots it has become apparent that I have been approaching photography all wrong. Photography is not about following the rules, like development times, composition rules or even darkroom formula it is about breaking those rules in an artistic pursuit. It may not always work, but the fun is in the journey.
So if you are shooting film, and you have been sticking to the prescribed ISO recommendations, you have indeed been doing it wrong. Sure the film might just be set up perfectly to your liking, but how would you know? Film is about trial and error, learning the rules and then breaking them to see what happens.
For those of you who visit often, you will remember the above image from a previous post. I had taken one using my Olympus OM-D-E-M5 but also shot a few images using my Nikon F2. I finally finished the roll and developed it yesterday. A quick scan gave me a very contrasty image pushing HP5+ to 1600 ISO.
Every morning I wake up at 05:40 to start by day and my commute to the office. It takes me 1.5 hours each morning and the same to return. A long commute by any standards. Fortunately the commute takes me through some wonderful streets of London which gives me the opportunity to capture of few images. Every now and then I will take my Olympus Stylus camera with me to capture some of what I see.
Every travel photographer struggles with the iconic shot. When in Paris, you must come back with a shot of the Eiffel Tower, but how can you make an iconic photo unique? I struggle with this a great deal. I like to capture that postcard shot, but soon after taking it I do not find it nearly as compelling as an original interpretation.
We were approaching a long weekend after a difficult week at the shop. As we relaxed in a little office our conversation about the weeks events slowly died away to a tired silence. After a few minutes, someone asked what our plans were for the long weekend. Thirty minutes later we all had plane tickets for our families to travel to Sydney Australia for the weekend. Last minute purchases can lead to great deals and we found a terrific one that day.
What can be more iconic than a shot of the Sydney Opera House taken from across the harbor? It has become a symbol of not just the city, but the entire country. It's avant garde architectural style epitomizes the ability for a young country like Australia to shrug off the traditional and embrace the revolutionary.
What a lofty building indeed! And what a challenge to capture in a unique way... Sure the postcard shot of the building, at sunset or sunrise is an easy thing to capture, and I did. Shooting it from different angles, done. Shooting details to hint at the larger building, done. Shooting from a boat, bridge and plane...done. All looked tired and all looked like a post card.
Then on the last evening there, I went back to the Opera House and set up my tripod for what seemed like the hundredth time. As I took some night shots I wanted to try some long exposure with people walking around in the foreground. A tap of the tripod, and a blurry image resulted. Before deleting I saw something I liked in it.
I set the camera for a 10 second exposure, pressed the shutter, counted two seconds and gently zoomed into the the image. Three attempts and I captured my unique shot of the Sydney Opera House. Years later, I look back at the photos I took on that trip and this is the only one that stands out aside from some wonderful shots of my friends and family.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.