I couldn’t resist a good offer on eBay for another old Nikon FM and hence had to do a quick test film. The camera is great, the film so-so. Continue reading
Before Christmas I developed the latest black & white film, yet didn’t have time to scan it before going to my family for the holidays. Now it’s here, and the most interestingly thing is perhaps that for post-processing I’ve tried to go in a direction of what I heard described as having “European rich shadows“.
So what does it mean? Well, I’m still finding out, but believe I can see some of what is meant in the photos by Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, Ronis, and my most recent discovery, Peter Turnley: during scanning and post-processing I didn’t lift the shadows as much as usual while focused on still keeping a lot of detail in them. Of the photos below it worked out best for Under the Bridge and Japanese Chef, and to a smaller extend for Idou:
It is tricky no doubt, and I’m starting to understand why they said that being a good printer — the person, not the machine — is an art form in itself.
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!