After the somewhat successful experiment of pushing a Kodak T-Max 400 to ASA 800, I decided to try another pushed to roughly ASA 1600 instead — both to see what the result would be, but also as another attempt at capturing the romantic night streets; I mean, who doesn’t dream of getting a shot such as Brassaï’s Watchmaker? Continue reading
It makes good sense what I’ve heard on several occasions: that one should stick with one sort of black & white film, say the Kodak T-Max 400, and become good at exposing it, developing it, and printing it. Still, following my little test of different colour films I thought it’d be fun to see what other black & white films were up to; at the very least to know that there are good alternatives when Kodak stops their production. Continue reading
I bought my Fisheye together with two three-packs of Lomography film: the Color Negative 400 and the X-Pro Chrome 100. But while the former have produced decent results, the latter has until now been quite a let-down.
The first two rolls of the X-Pro Chrome was shot on a Diana Mini, and while this is certainly a toy camera, it has actually resulted in some usable photos in the past. However, for the two X-Pro Chrome films the results have been very poor, as bad in fact that the negatives just sit here in my drawer without having been printed nor properly scanned (the colours got too weird for me to continue).
To test if it was really a poor film or simply a bad combination with the Diana Mini, I decided to load the last roll into an Olympus OM-1. Not excepting much I quickly finished it and went to the developer, who, as an additional experiment, I asked to make small prints instead of scans (same price). Since I’m always a bit embarrassed to hand over a Lomography film for its low quality, my surprise when picking them up was even better: the photos were way better than expected, especially the vivid colours. It doesn’t renders the sky that nicely, but for the Autumn colours of yellow and red it is definitely not too bad.
As mentioned I asked for prints instead of scans, and this might be the strategy from now on, at least when I feel like saving the 5€ extra it is to have both: obtaining a good result from scanning the prints myself are far easier than from scanning the negatives! It doesn’t allow me to change the exposure of course (Under the Bridge, for instance, could benefit from more shadow detail), but given how much trouble this particular kind of film caused it was no doubt worth it. Plus, it’s nice to actually have prints to hold in your hands or even go as far as putting them into frames.
Bottom-line? When the film comes back in stock I’ll be getting a lot more of it, even if it means making excuses and covering my face when I go to the developer.
It has been lost, it has been found, and now finally it has been scanned: my first film, shot on the Lomography Fisheye! The fisheye effect is cute, but unfortunately both the camera and the film leaves some to be desired, not least because many of the shots came out quite dark.
Alors, my very first film:
I like all the photos here, and think that the fisheye effect has worked pretty well for these scenarios: close-up faces and wide areas — but notice the silly built-in flash on Guinness Envy, covering only half of the frame..
On the second film I’m most in favour of Summer Time! for the same reasons as above, and Green Bike for it’s distorted lines (colour tweaked digitally):
Both films are the Lomography Color Negative 400. And while I wouldn’t say that it’s a particular good film given the others I’ve tried at this point, it’s probably not supposed to be and in fact it fits nicely with the silly camera.
Another black & white film from the summer vacations and walks around Paris! Often when I haven’t seen a black & white photo in a while, I get a bit surprised when one pops up again: there really can be something special about them! In fact, not many things inspire me more to pick up a camera than the old master photos by e.g. Ronis, Doisneau, or Cartier-Bresson. My photos come nowhere near the masters, but, as the cliché goes, it’s about having fun and experimenting with new things.
The two photos from Notre-Dame du Haut (see also here) were taken during a trip to the east of France with my girlfriends family. And while the chapel itself was impressive, it was actually a bit of a struggle to find a good view on it and I ended up with only four photos in total.
Next up are the sky-scraper photos Social Buildings, Light Strip, Modernism, and Neighbourhood, taken on a walk in the south-easy of Paris. In taken Social Buildings I kept an eye out for the three guys, thinking they might not realise that my camera wasn’t at all fancy and expensive — but got turned into a fool when one of them they turned around and send me a big smile. Photographically I think it shows that I took my time that day, walking around alone and not minding to spending ten minutes or more at each spot to try different angles.
Finally, I’ve also played more with negative space. For River Seine Flooded the dark clouds adds to the drama of the flooded river, but for White Sky — and in particular Rocket House and Bicycle on Balcony — the large empty sky helps bring focus to the rooftop; so far this is the best technique I’ve found for doing this, as including too much of the building tends to confuse the viewer about what to look at. For Arrow the story is again a bit different: sitting at a café and taking a break from reading, I was making a simple composition with the church rooftop, when all of a sudden the clouds formed an arrow pointing at the cross. Unfortunately it was difficult to control all my excitement and ended up taking it a tad too early; by the time I had advanced the film the arrow was gone again.
This may be my best black & white film to date, and several things came together in order to make it happen.
First of all, at the time of shooting I was starting to get back to life outside the office, and among other things just physically getting outside some more. Combined with a change of scenery this brought back some motivation and inspiration in me that I think for instance shows through the difference of the shots and the romantic hint in Park Boldplay and Back Alley.
Secondly, I like the composition in many of these. One technique I probably used — given by Jay Maisel in a video on KelbyTraining.com — is to quickly look around the entire border before shooting to make sure that the cropping does not introduce anything distracting by for instance cutting it in half. Bridge on Boulevard is a good example of this, where the chimneys in the upper left corner are intact as well as the shadow of the tree in the lower right corner. Another example is Wardrobe Problems.
And speaking of tricks, in trying to evaluate a composition — or even if the scene is worth shooting — I often find it useful to try to look at the view in the viewfinder as if it were a (printed) picture and not reality. It somehow seems to make me forget about details and instead be more critical of the overall shot. Focusing out a bit (not unlike when viewing the 90s autostereograms) works well sometimes.
Thirdly we have the exposure. Now this is a technical detail, but since I used the little manual exposure table for all of them, it means that it’s working fairly well and worth continuing!
Finally, I see improvements in my digital printing, i.e. scanning and post-processing in Photoshop. Take Quartier du Montparnasse for instance: to a further extend that previously I’ve managed to keep both shadow and highlight details in the scanning, and moreover, to give the man an interesting contrast and the wet ground a somewhat silvery look in Photoshop. Another example is the goalkeeper and the leaves in Park Boldplay. The scanning improvements come from just playing around with the software, but for the the tonalities I’ve learned a lot from the highly recommended The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum.
I try to keep my Flickr photostream and this blog somewhat synchronised such that most photos on the former are given a context here on the latter. However, I realised the other day that a bunch of recent black & white photos have leaked onto the photostream without a proper presentation.
The first is a roll shot on the Fisheye primarily back in Aarhus, at a point where I didn’t have the time to develop it:
The next is from around the same period and the first roll shot on my Olympus OM-1 nicknamed Kurt — notice how many of the shots are from my former university office; didn’t get much out at the time:
Moving on, the next two are from the period around handing in my thesis, and contain a mix from my hometown Esbjerg, my grandparents diamond wedding, and going to Paris:
So there it is, order has been restored!
When I handed over a colour film to Negatif+ a few weeks ago I decided to try their option of also having the negatives scanned; given that it takes me at least four hours to scan a (black & white) film at this point, I figured the 4€ extra might be a good deal if the quality matches up with their usual excellent service.
.. and it was! I’m positively surprised by both the Fujifilm Superia 200 film and the scanning. Besides lightening up the shadows a bit on a few of them I haven’t otherwise done any post-processing:
For comparison I also tried to scan some of them on my Epson V600 scanner; and given that it is a much cheaper consumer-level scanner than the one used by Negatif+ (apparently a Fujifilm Frontier SP3000) it actually did a pretty decent job, even on automatic, and both in terms of resolution and colour!
So a few pros and cons arose.
The scans from Negatif+ are slightly better resolution, have slightly less noise, and I like their warmer colour cast. Also, it’s pretty hard to beat 1€/hour.
On the other hand, to my surprise they are also slightly cropped for some reason (I somewhat suspect that the OM-1 exposes more than the typical 35mm frame) and come as a relatively small JPEG. The latter might not necessarily be a disadvantage of course, but on a few of them it wasn’t really possible to change the choice of burning out the highlights or closing up the shadows, and as a result I’m stuck with whatever Negatif+ decided; and part of the reason why scanning on my own takes longer is the time it takes to make this choice.
So there it is. The price for development is 6€ and for both 10€. For the next few films I’ll go with the scanning option again to have some very usable files and in order to spend my efforts on a selected few instead.
When we took the darkroom course our teacher Barbara would dismiss our every mistake with a “it’s good that we come across this now so you know what to do”. Taking it perhaps a bit too literally we’ve since continued to discover how safe one actually is when shooting digital. For instance, you don’t have to worry about dropping the raw film on the floor when trying to put it on a spool in complete darkness; nor about keeping your cool when running out of correctly tempered water in a situation where seconds make a difference; nor about closing the box of unexposed paper properly before turning on the light.
And this brings me to the title of this post: it was supposed to say First Shots from Olympus OM-1 and OM-2, and it was supposed to be even more exciting by including shots from a newly acquired lens. However, apparently there was a lesson that needed to be illustrated more vividly before sinking into my head: when loading a film make sure that the crank has a proper grip on it and is really rolling it out. This is very easy to test by the way, by simply noticing if the rewind wheel is turning with the crank.
I didn’t do this test I suppose, with the result that after opening the tank with the developed film from the OM-2 I was very surprised to find a film completely blank, without any marks of light ever hitting it. For a second the camera was the suspect, but only until I was ready to accept my responsibility. Lesson learned, and the OM-2 with the lens is already making it’s way through a new film.
On the other hand, the film from the OM-1 turned into splendid negatives, here scanned with my new Epson V600 scanner:
Having used the batteries that’s been in the camera for 20-25 years I had a certain scepticism towards the light meter, but as it turns out this was entirely without cause.
One thing to notice though: the water marks. This was the first time I didn’t use a wetting agent and it clearly shows — another lesson learned.