Tag Archives: Olympus OM-1

Film #11


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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.

Nikon FM and Film #10


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Another analogue camera arrived in the mail about a month ago, but this time a Nikon FM instead of the usual Olympus OM-1! Granted, it is silly to get involved in too many systems as the lenses from one system often cannot be used on a camera from the other (and as a result you need to buy two separate sets) — but I kept reading about how much of a classic the FM is, … et voilà!

Here’s first the result of quickly running a film through the camera to see if everything worked alright before the return option expired:

I like Le Guardien for how it draws me into the frame, and the dynamics added by the central walking character. For Passing Sky it’s the silhouettes, although this was not entirely my intention. And as RooftopBalcony Overview, and Paris shows, I’m apparently not quite done with negative space and rooftops yet. For Gare du Nord it’s the dynamics of the various lines, the contrast they contribute, and the movement of the two characters at the bottom.

The camera is the black version and I thought at first that it could be used together with the 18-55mm lens from my digital Nikon D60. The lens mounted alright, but after a few shots something seemed wrong. I went back to check the fine print, and while I had already read that the lens would not cover the entire frame at the wide focal lengths, I had missed that you’re forced to always use the smallest aperture, meaning f/22 in my case! The Passing Sky photo above is a perfect example of the implications: the corners are black and rounded, and the shadows are heavily underexposed. The former is not critical, perhaps even a bit interesting, but the later made me look around for a new lens.

At first I thought about a 50mm f/1.8 standard lens. But discovering that the price-drop for Nikon lenses has nowhere-near followed that of the Olympus lenses, I gave up on also starting a set of Nikon primes and went with a 28-70mm zoom instead; at f/3.5-4.5 it is a lot darker that my Olympus primes, but at 70€ it seems to have been a bargain.

In the end I hence ended up spending around twice, but so far have been very happy with the outcome. The camera it slightly bigger than the OM-1 it was apparently made to compete with, but this is actually not a bad thing as it fits my hands better. It also feels slightly more robust, not least the film advancer and the shutter. On the other hand, the viewfinder in the OM-1 kicks arse (!!) and having the shutter dial around the lens mount so far also works better for me, even if I most of the time work only with the aperture.

Film #9


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Another film has been processed at the kitchen sink, this time a T-Max 400 shot at ASA 800 and accordingly pushed during development. With the 50mm f/1.4 this has given usable photos from low-light concert and night scenes.

To be honest, no photo in this set gets me really exited; there are a few cute ones but haven’t given more than 2 stars to any of them. Maybe this will have changed by the next time I look at them, but until then it doesn’t really matter because I remember having a great time shooting them: walking around the city at night is a sure way to get a glimpse of the romance seen in the famous photos from the 1920-30s!

Surprise from Lomography X-Pro Chrome Film


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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.

First (and Last?) Olympus OM-2 Film


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You might remember how by a rookie mistake I managed to waste an entire film a while back. Well, I loaded a new film into the camera and the results are finally here. And why did it take so long? Firstly, I started to prefer shooting on the OM-1. And secondly, a personal dry period when shooting meant that nothing on the film really caught my eye, and in turn a delay of a few months before scanning them.

Let’s start with a few shots from the film:

I like the two Scholastique (…) but it goes a bit downhill from there. My girlfriend pointed out a while back what difference my mood often has on my photos — when going through a generally content period the result so far has often been better — which, I suppose, is not too surprising, yet obvious in these shots: while finishing the Ph.D. there honestly wasn’t much energy for anything else, including creativity in the finer arts.

The Church photo is from my hometown Esbjerg, as is Where I Used to Swim of the swimming pool where I spent the greater part of the teenage years; it is less remote than it perhaps seem and was actually taken during a quick walk from my parents’ house. Notice that these two shots both contain significant light leaks, meaning the foam that is supposed to prevent light from creeping onto the film through the rear door has probably become too old. On Church I’ve applied my newly acquired Photoshop skills in an attempt to repair it, yet it took so long that I’m still building up momentum to start on the second one (I tried a few different approaches but in the end frequency separation as used in beauty retouching yielded the best result).

The use on Photoshop brings up an interesting question, namely how does analogue and digital photography mix? Since I can’t currently make prints due to the lack of a darkroom, scanning and working on the photos digitally is tremendously convenient if they are to have any kind of life. Plus, as the light leak repair attempt shows, digitally I can (sort of) do stuff that seems almost impossible to do in the darkroom. But that of course begs the question, why even bother with shooting analogue then? I suppose it’s just to try something new. And the prospect of eventually going to the darkroom to make proper prints.

Film #8


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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. RonisDoisneau, 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.

Film #7


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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.

A Bunch of Black & White Films


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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:

Finally, the last roll is also from Paris but this time on the latest OM-1 nicknamed Jane Graham:

So there it is, order has been restored!

Hiking In Sweden


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By a series of coincidences I again this year ended up spending part of the summer in Sweden. This time also in a tent, but with an old friend instead and with even less modern day luxury.

From our little trip to Norway and tenting in Sweden last year I’ve been wanting to try a more Bear Grylls kind of trip close to nature, and for some reason my old friend Tim has also had the idea that hiking might be the way forward.

We talked about the south-east of France, Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany, and even the highlands in Scotland. But in the end it was pretty hard to beat the Swedish Allemansrätten; not least because of its liberties and the country’s beautiful nature, but also because our nordic bigger brothers have laid out very promising routes with spots for drinking water and shelters: without a car and unable to find concrete route suggestions in the southern countries we started to wonder if we could find accommodation every night, and decided that it must be the intermediate stage.

So, we ended up settling on Öresundsleden in Skåne. It turned out to be a great choice, both because of the nature it took us through, but also because it seemed to fit our beginners level pretty well: we hiked for a week and managed to just cross the line where a bit of padding on our own shoulders seemed in order.

As the pictures show the route takes you through a lot actually: open landscape, dense forest, and what (by a Dane) could be called mountains. We also went through a lot of small fishing villages and as a result enjoyed splendid fish, often several times a day. Highly recommendable!

By the way, I only brought along an old analogue camera (an Olympus OM-1). For one, I’ve been more into that stuff recently. Secondly, it doesn’t run out of batteries so no worries if there are no outlets around. And thirdly, it’s cheaper to replace if broken or lost.

I shot a total of around 50 frames on two different films — a Fujifilm Superia and half a Kodak Portra — and besides some issues of not being able to focus too well (only took the 35-70mm) they came out pretty decent. Since I just used my little table for setting the exposure, with the errors this implies, both films also seem to be quite forgiving, and hence candidates for a good general purpose colour film.

And Allemansrätten? It worked great; brilliant concept! And only once did we add to the statistic of Danes breaking it; in our case a kind park ranger knocked on the tent at 8am to inform us that we were in a restricted area and had to leave.

First Kodak Portra 160


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By Kodak’s own statement their Portra 160 film is “the ideal choice for portrait, fashion and commercial photography — whether in the studio or on location — [in that it] delivers exceptionally smooth and natural skin tone reproduction”. However, a lot of people also seem to like it as a general purpose colour film so I decided to give it a try.

In my little test I’ve previously come across three films — the Fujifilm Superia, the AgfaPhoto Vista, and the Kodak Ektar — which the Portra is hence up against.

Now, the Portra is the most expensive film, but also the easiest to come by: Negatif+ has always had them in stock and I often see them when stopping by in other photo stores. The other films on the other hand were ordered from macodirect.de (which has a good selection but adds a somewhat high fee for a relatively slow shipping). Moreover, from various discussions online I’ve gotten the impression that it’s the highest quality film of the four, both in terms of grain, tonal rendition, and exposure latitude.

For my thoughts on the film, it definitely has an unique colour toning, in particular, it seems, for greens and reds (for instance in Light Strokes and Port de l’Arsenal). This is not a bad thing, and in fact I like that it is something different that the JPEGs from my digital camera.

It doesn’t produce saturated colours and I’m not getting the vulgar impressions as I did with the Vista nor the disappointments with the Ektar. Moreover, it renders skin and fur very naturally: The Twins (In Chair)Scholastique (with Irka), and The Twins (Lying Around).

It hence seems that it is down to either the Superia or the Portra, and luckily I have one of each coming up with an overlap in the scenes. Comparing only the scans of the films, although all done by Negatif+, does also introduce some uncertainty in that it is unknown how much colour manipulation is performed in their scanning process; for the next comparison I’ll hence also look at prints from each film.