Tag Archives: Photoshop

First (and Last?) Olympus OM-2 Film

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 #7

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.

New Battery for Olympus OM-2

A few months ago I borrowed two old analogue Olympus cameras from my father, an OM-1 and a slightly younger OM-2. My guess is that they haven’t been used since sometime in the 80s, yet surprisingly enough the old battery in the OM-1 has now allowed me to shoot a film with what seemed like a working light meter (developing the film next week will be the final test). Granted, it is not a complex camera — and love it for that — requiring a lot of power, but I had suspected that twenty years would drain any battery the size of a fingernail.

By the looks of it, the more complex OM-2 has been used a lot more than the OM-1, but at any rate the batteries in this camera were dead and I had feared that finding replacements would not be all that easy. Having not really had any luck with the local photo store when it comes to analogue cameras (they practically laugh at me) I gave the local watchmaker a try instead. He didn’t have the same SR44 type batteries as were in the camera and said that he had long ago switched to the equivalent LR44 type.

Fortunately I checked on the Internet before buying them as it turns out that the newer LR44 will work with the camera but may also give wrong light measurements meaning that it can’t be trusted to give correct exposures over time. The difference between the two types can be understood by the SR44 type retaining full power until it suddenly dies whereas the LR44 type gradually looses power and dies a slow death. In other words: the camera is tightly connected with the physical properties of the SR44 type batteries.

I love these things! Today so many things are based on abstracts that hide the nature of the physical objects that they are built from. On top up that we spent so much time in the virtual world that the physical objects sometimes seem just to be in the way (ever wished that ink and paper had an undo function?). However, this camera, working with the physical world, can be grasped!

I have the same feeling about film photography and darkroom development: instead of sitting with you head inside the virtual world of edition software such as Lightroom or Photoshop you actually have a physical medium where you understand how it works and can be held and processed in your hands.

Same feeling when I was driving the motorcycle last summer: in modern cars you feel detached from the road and a computer not only interprets what you mean when you step on the throttle but also what gear you should be driving in. On the motorcycle you decide everything and must work and feel with it to drive.

My final example is music. I changed my guitar strings the other day because I had worn them down, changing their physical properties so that they no longer vibrated the way they should. Contrast that to today’s electronic music which is made and played through a laptop. Sure they get worn down as well, but at such an abstract level that we can only describe it as “old”.

Abstractions are not all bad though as a memory reminded me of today. When I played games on our first computer back in the 90s, one game (I believe it was Warcraft II) was using the CPU speed of the computer as a clock, ie. one second was defined by a certain number of computations. This worked fine at that point, but when we got our next computer the game ran way too fast because the new and more powerful computer took less than one second to do this number of computations. The game was impossible to play since everything happened at several times the normal speed and I had to get an updated version where they had made an abstraction of time and no longer used the physical properties of the CPU direct.

Oh, and I did manage to find the right SR44 type batteries — at my local photo store.