The New CLiR Infrared Processing System and Photoshop panel!
I will be presenting at this years NECCC Photographic Conference from July 12 to the 14 at the University of Massachusetts. Please consider attending if you are in the area!
I have posted a short video on what the session will be covering that my dog and I made today (she says to watch it to the very end)!
Note: I have added a video to the bottom. It discusses everything and more that we are talking about in this post but it is quite long!
The top image was taken at the always inspiring Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse across the sound from Nags Head Island in NC. As one of my favorite locations for sunrises over the lighthouse it is also a most worthy location for daytime long exposures! These are usually very easy to create due to the small waves in the sound! This image was done on a Fuji GFX 50R medium format digital with a 32-64mm GF lens, 6 stops of ND (Breakthrough X4 magnetic) and a X4 2 stop soft graduated ND on the sky to balance the difference between the sky and water. The exposure was 20 seconds an hour after sunrise and in the rain.
But by what criteria did I choose the solid ND and the soft edge graduated ND? This is where a little technical knowledge will really help you in creation of amazing long exposures.
So for the Roanoke Marshes Light above, I chose a Breakthrough magnetic X4 (newest technology) 6 stop solid nd to darken the entire image allowing for the 20 second exposure with the camera set to the lowest native ISO value (100), an aperture of f/16 and a shutter speed of 20 seconds. the initial results of this exposure was pleasing water in the foreground but the sky was also too light with little to no detail. So I left the 6 stop magnetic filter on the lens and clipped on the 100mm square filter adapter onto the end of the magnetic adapter and installed a X4 soft edge 2 stop SOFT graduated ND filter. While watching thru the viewfinder I adjusted the graduated ND up and down making sure that the soft edge came down to the horizon or a little above darkening the sky to allow for more detail there yet allowing the soft white water in the foreground! It was as simple as that! The entire process after the first shot took about 30 seconds to setup on the camera lens then shoot!
So let’s talk about sunrise/sunset images when the sun is close to the horizon. We have all been out at sunrise, do you remember the very bright band of intense color that it right at the horizon as the sun approaches? This is why the reverse grad ND filter was created, to keep the bright colors from destroying the overall exposure! Here is an example image, amazingly at the same spot!
Do you see how bright the light is at the horizon? The ONLY WAY I was able to capture this image was to use the reverse grad ND placing the dark section right on the bright band of light. Because the overall exposure was only 3 seconds no other ND filters were required. Should I have desired a longer exposure to further soften the water’s surface I would have dropped in the 3 or 6 stop X4 magnetic filter into the adapter already on the camera!
Let’s take a short side trip here and discuss the actual filters. By now you all have seen that I am a strong user and promoter of the Breakthrough Photography X4 line of magnetic and graduated filters. There is a reason for that:
So my advice is this. Cameras come and go, it is your glass (lenses and filters) where your quality lays. Invest in the best you can. You will never go wrong with the Breakthrough system! (gee I wish they would pay me…)
Ok, back to images. After sunrise is done and before sunset is anywhere near we can still create AMAZING long exposures! There only 2 problems that we must overcome!
Here is an example of a scene with little difference between the sky and the foreground. The waves were HUGE this day so I used a X4 14 stop magnetic filter so smooth them down (490 seconds) and give the feel I desired. The fog in the sky took care of itself and I walked away with a balanced ethereal image that I just loved creating! Another example of this is shown in the image below. This again was a super foggy day so the need for detail in the fog was unnecessary so the oly ND needed was again the X4 15 stop magnetic filter!
Ok, let’s take a look at a problem image where the sky has detail that you can see but when you only use a solid nd the sky is totally blown out! What you simply need is a X4 Soft Grad filter to balance the sky and water to give you a bit of detail in the sky!
These last two images show a extreme case of no balance between the water and the sky and more nd was needed on the sky to correct the imbalance.
I am always curious as to what people like and dislike about my images and make a point of posting them online to see what people think and how they respond. Sometimes the result of this practice really surprises me. The funny thing is that most of my personal favorites in B&W are not well received by the public! Yet those that I consider not as good get better reviews…
It does not matter what camera I choose to create with, Medium Format FIlm (Mamiya 645 AFDii) or digital (Fuji GFX 50r medium format), the output results are difficult to tell apart. I love working in film, its process from end to end defines art to me. But I also love working in medium format digital as well. It is a much shortened and simpler process and only takes a fraction of the time when compared to film. I think most of you will be hard pressed to pick the film/digital images that I am going to place in this post! So the source of the images make little difference to me.
Have you ever considered what it is about B&W photography that you are attracted to? What about it grabs you? For me, it is simple, the removal of color strips the scene to it soul allowing you to really become one with it. It removes the confusion and gives a pure view of the scene!
Consider the image of the approaching storm above. The clarity of the image draws me into the scene, the sharpness captures my interest and holds it. The dark moody tones make me feel like I am still standing right there!
I am not saying color work is bad, rather that I personally enjoy working in monochrome and enjoying the finished images processed in B&W much more that color work. I suppose that is why working in film is so addicting to me, everything about the process from working behind the camera, film processing, scanning and printing I find very enjoyable. But with the introduction of the Fuji GFX 50R camera system I am equally thrilled! You can shoot in both color and B&W on the fuji system. The real difference is that you can set it up with film emulation profiles in camera and generate and output true B&W RAW images! I find that I like using the Acros/red profile in camera because it matches my film work with actual Acros film! This gives me another entire workflow that matches my B&W film work 1:1! The fog image above in a good example of the ethereal nature that you can achieve when working in B&W.
The image above if Charlee Marie highlights this relationship between working with medium format Acros film and the medium format Fuji GFX 50r camera system. The amazing tonality of the boat and sky capture my attention and will not let it go. The subtle tonality of the wheel house is flawless. Overall this is one of my favorite images produced by the 50R, capturing the heart and soul of the shrimp boat in a non cluttered fashion usually associated with them on the easy to use medium format digital 50R! This particular image is one of my favorites from the 50R that has not been well received by the public, yet I cannot let it go…
The Port Royal Shrimpers is an example of everything coming together for a powerful image; Good Light, Clouds, Boats and reflective water plus being there! Of all the images captured with the 50R this one has the highest number of likes and comments online. Yes it is a powerful moody image but I am not sure if I personally like it more than the image above!
OK, on last image of Daddys Girls was taken last week on Acros Film on my 645 AFDII using a deep red contrast filter so the sky is a little darker. To me this is a powerful image and different from the digital work above it due to the deep red filter. Yet all other aspects of the image match equally to the work generated on the 50R system.
To me, this illustrates how well the film and digital systems can work together. There are times when working in film is just not possible or practical during travel where the 50R would work much better and easier.
I am happy that each camera system can complement each other so closely! It will make my life much easier and allow me to concentrate on creating art rather than on how I capture it!
This post is going to be a bit different from my otherwise technical (Geeky) posts of the past. I am going to share my philosophy of creating MOOD in my art.
I spend a LOT of time studying the fine art photography of the past masters (Ansel and others) and current photographers. I visit galleries, web sites like 500px scouring for examples of the creative process that generates images that speak to me. This takes up a lot of my time but I feel that it is a worthwhile investment to further my understanding of what makes great art that reaches out and grabs my attention! I do NOT do this in order to copy others, (that is not my way) rather it is to understand what about an image makes it reach out and tweek my artistic desire! You would think that after 55 years of personal photography that this would not be necessary, but if you think about it you will realize that life is learning and we never stop that process. Sometimes it is re-learning forgotten lessons, other times it is about learning new lessons. We all change and our tastes also change as we age, so to me this is a natural progression in our path in artistic endeavor.
I personally tend to work mostly in B&W Film, but do not limit myself to it. I create as well in color both digitally and on film too, but my real passion is B&W. Here we are going to discuss only B&W and all of my examples are created on various 6×4.5 medium format camera systems because working with flim and the process of film motivates and enhances my creative process. I am going to leave out the technical details of the images because I want you to really study the images without considering the technical aspects of the creative process.
Let us consider the image above of Kathy Dean, a shrimp boat in Port Royal, SC. What about this image gives you pause, making you want to really study it? Sit back and consider the mood of the image and what you are drawn to as you study it. For me, it is the dark moody sky and reflections contrasted against the bright whites of the boats. My eyes continuously circle around these details and re-settle on the boats again and again. The dark sky and water create a moody ethereal frame that traps our attention on the boats themselves yet provides a scene free of the distractions of color.
If we were standing there today with camera and tripod wouldn’t we be thinking that we could have a much better image with fluffy clouds? Let me suggest that if indeed there were clouds the day I created this image that they too would have been a distraction from the mood of the image.
I will honestly tell you that as I stood before this scene that it was my primary thought that this could be an amazing moody image provided that I set it up as a longer exposure to smooth the water and darken the sky and reflections. In other words, I studied the scene, pondering what it was that drew me to it and how to use the camera (my tool) to create my vision!
Let’s take a look at another image, this one digital (yet another tool), and the camera on hand when visiting the inside of the Lindale denim mill in Georgia. This is one of those location that will NEVER fail to deliver scenes full of wabi/sabi goodness full of amazing mood providing you approach it with the right motivation and mental tools!
I spent 7 hours here over the course of 2 days. It was a power parade of mood that swamped my senses and at every single turn. I was continually stunned at what lay before me as I moved through the factory! What more motivation could a fine art photography artist desire? I slowed down, WAY DOWN and studied each and every hint of mood before me.
For this scene, (Blue dye tank) I studied the dark moody ceiling and walls behind the pillars, the deep tank with its grungy details, but I particularly paid attention to the play of light coming through the windows and highlighting the entire scene! I realized that in order to capture this scene with mood that I would need to control the sunlight and keep the dark areas from loosing detail. I setup the camera to control both and average the entire composition. This happened quite fast (remember 55 years of experience) and it only took ONE SINGLE EXPOSURE…
To me, this scene has amazing flow that draws me in thru the lighted windows, walking around the exterior of the room and moving down the ladder. My attention never leaves the room. It has a wonderful dark mood and speaks to me of days long gone.
My path in creating this image:
After this it was just a simple matter of setting the the composition, exposure and capturing the image!
This is one of those scenes that I visit time and time again. It is only a few hours from home down in Bluffton, SC (a location where my oldest son lives). There is only one single boat at this commercial dock and processing plant. There is a boat launch and pier close to the left, but for for this shot I wanted a more head on view. I got my son to take me out on his boat so that I could get this angle on a terribly stormy day. Dark and Stormy it was. Heavy rain and wind, but these were the components that were in my vision so I suffered through it to get this image. I took several shots of the scene (waves, no tripod and a moving boat) so I invested an entire roll of 16 images knowing that a lot of them would be blurry and out of focus. Good thing too, I only got this one single sharp image but it was so worth the effort!
Do you see what I am getting at? I KNEW what I wanted with this image, I knew what tool (camera) I wanted to use so I returned dozens of times here, re-evaluating again and again till I got what my vision demanded! I have been here a hundred times over the past 4 years and was NEVER satisfied with the scene!
So it took years of returning again and again until I got the scene that matched my vision! But to me it was well worth it! Will I stop returning? Heavens no, you NEVER know what nature will provide you with so keep returning!
This Super Pano was taken on my Dayi 6×12 medium format view camera. Lens is a Rodenstock 90mm f/6.8 Super Grangdagon N and while it is a bit slow it is VERY sharp and quite beautiful! This is a very different style of camera and will take 5 images per roll of 120 film.
This is an amazing combination of a ground glass focus and calibrated distance focus system.
Shrimp boats are one of several subjects that I will drive hundreds of miles away to photograph! I am very lucky to live so close to a lot of them locally! Because of the continuing loss of our shrimp fleets here I am both driven and inspired to document them every chance I have. You have to admit that they are very beautiful when done in B&W and what better way to document them if not film?
The wet mount scanning technique will be taught in a future post here along with a video on Youtube! But to do it you will need an Epson 700, 750, 800 or 850 scanner as those are the only ones that the wet mount kit will fit!
Well, we went last week (Ellen and I, Megan and the 2 grandkids Lilly and Jordan) for a beach day here in Pawleys Island South Carolina. Meg asked for some images of Lilly’s reaction to the ocean! I am really not one for hours on the beach but who can turn down a 17 month old babies reaction on B&W film?
I grabbed my Fuji GA645zi camera (auto focus, 4 position zoom, great meter and built in flash) with a roll of Ilford FP4+ film and we headed out! Not a long trip since we live in Pawleys so soon we were there.
Data: Fuji GA645zi using a yellow/green filter to bring out the skin tones and a bit of the sky and clouds with Ilford FP4+ film processed in Xtol stock and wet mount scanned today.
Lilly did not know what to think of it all but went into the water and quickly backed up. Meg sat down with her and helped ease her into the concept of big water. Pretty soon she was running around having great fun. Normally I do not do a lot of posts of people or family but hey, you know film? You got to honor the challenge!
Of course Jordan, my 9yo film photographer grandson is an old hand at this and just looked good at anything he did there!
I took only the one roll but saved one shot for the local beach landscape! Hey your there so you gotta do it right!
Earlier this month Ellen and I took our 9yo grandson Jordan on a week long trip to the San Francisco area. We did many things and visited some great sights! One of the most memorable was a 2 day visit to the Roaring Camp where the Big Trees and Pacific Railroad is! They offered several train trips around the mountains and through the giant Redwoods.
There also were two covered bridges in Felton, one in Roaring Camp itself and another a short distance away in the town. Here is the Roaring Camp bridge.
Our first trip was on the Dixiann a 160 year old narrow gauge steam train designed to move ore down the mountains from the mines. It was special in that it had geared drives to all of its wheels and while it could not move fast it could pull loads up and down the mountains and take as much as an 8% grade!.
The rail yard was full of amazing trains that were in various stages of repair or being torn down for parts. It was a photographers dream! There was so many different parts, trains and cars around the yard that I could have spent hours and many rolls of 120 film there. The film I did choose was Kodak Tmax 400. The reason for this was the fact that I was in the mountains covered in giant Redwoods and there was not too much light!
Once it was time to board the train Jordan and I went down beside the tracks trying to get some good angles on the steam engine with its puffing smoke and steam.
As it approached we were physically pushed aside by an foreign woman and her daughter who then stood directly in front of us taking phone pictures.
We were already setup with our film systems when they did this. It was the only black mark on the day for us and caused enough anger for me to yell at them for being so rude but they simply did not care. So this next image had to be majorly cropped to remove them from it. Some people are totally clueless and without a shred of common sense or decency.
If you take a look at the engine you will notice that there is really no dark smoke. This is due to the fact that it has been converted to burn used motor oil! There was a water town that it pulled up to and topped off its water level too.
The engine had a central drive shaft that powered the gear drives to all of the wheels. Next is another image of it getting ready to leave the top of the mountain on the ride back down to the station.
There was another interesting covered bridge in Felton as well. It was the tallest covered bridge that I have ever seen! The town built a nice park around it.
Let’s take a bit of time to talk about the photography a bit… On these two train trips, light was an issue as well as not being able to use a tripod. As this was a week long trip and not photography based I chose the Fuji GA645zi medium format camera because of its light weight, 55mm to 90mm 4 position f/4.5 zoom lens, fast autofocus, accurate built in meter, Aperture, Shutter and Manual modes, internal flash and lightweight as the only camera I would take and carry. It is also tough with a solid titanium body! In other places around California I was able to use a small carbon fiber travel tripod from Really RIght Stuff and then shutter speed became a non issue.
As I said earlier, ALL shots in this post were done on Tmax 400 due to it being difficult using a tripod as well as lower light levels in the Redwoods. Normally in a situation where I have enough light or am able to use a tripod I will always choose Ilford FP4+ 125 ISO film for its amazing sharpness, small grain and great contrasts. I also shot with an orange filter whenever I could but sometime even that had to come off in order to keep a decent shutter speed. Processing was done in Kodak Xtol stock in my FIlmomat automated table top film processor. Once dried I used a wet mount scan process. I find the Tmax films very easy to use and they give consistent results are easy to load on the reels due to their thick film base. I also brought along some Velvia 100 film and managed to shoot a few rolls of that at the covered bridges and ocean scenes.
TIme for the Beach train ride! This was a 3 hour trip from the mountains down to the boardwalk along the beach in Santa Cruz! Of course Jordan liked this trip also because the boardwalk held a huge amusement park! We had an hour to play there once we arrived but he was having so much fun that we decided to wait 4 extra hours for the last train back to Felton. The train this time was a diesel, Gene O”lague #2641 that took us and we actually rode on tracks thru Santa Cruz proper! I was pretty interesting and sad at the same time due to the VAST numbers of homeless people who had setup permanent camps along the tracks in the low mountains outside of town.
The train is shown here arriving to pick us up at the station. It was huge and I managed to capture this one image of it arriving before a mob of people again ran out in front of me, oh well…
The trip done out of the Redwoods was very interesting and we even went through a long tunnel as we came into Santa Cruz. The tracks are actually down the center of the streets and was very slow do the traffic! ALL of the people on the streets, in the cars and trucks waved continuously as we would pass.
After we arrived at the boardwalk the train powered down and sat there for an hour waiting for the first trip back to Felton. This gave me ample time to do some detail shots of the train which I found very interesting. This is my favorite of the roll!
Of course we were now at the boardwalk amusement park. We were there a few days earlier (the park) but could not spend much time there for Jordan. So as I said earlier we decided to add 4 extra hours here for him to ride and play. It was time well spent and he enjoyed the day.
All in all the train rides and park were a nice time on the trip for us all. It was both fun and very tiring but I managed to capture 14 rolls of B&W 120 film and 4 of color slides. I continue to evolve in my technique for travel photography with the inclusion of more capable travel medium format camera systems which makes me VERY happy. I hope to travel much more with Ellen in the future and once in a while I will take my larger Mamiya 645AFDii camera and lenses there is good reason to stick to the lighter Fuji GA645zi system with its single zoom lens!
Thanks for bearing with me thru this ultra long post. While it does come across as more of a family vacation (which it is) post it really does go into ways to make such a easier and funner experience!
Now, here is one image that I REALLY like! This is a 6×7 negative from my Fuji GF670, a folding rangefinder camera with a really bright rangefinder and a fixed 80mm Voigtlander lens shot on Rollei IR400 film and processed yesterday in Xtol stock and wet mount scanned today…
Sounds normal right? Well this was a VERY OLD roll of film, and has been sitting in my shop for over a year marked “Stand Develop” ( a special developing process where you use Rodinal 1:100 in the tank for an hour with no agitation that works on all B&W films of different ISO values) because I forgot what ISO I shot it at! I actually got tired of seeing it in my to do can in the fridge and yesterday threw it onto a 2 film reel with a roll of Ilford FP4+ film and set up my Filmomat for the FP4! The FP4+ turned out as expected, but the IR400 was a complete surprise.
There was only one good image from the IR400 but OMG was it ever good! Just looking at it gives me the hot sweats!! As I looked at the processed roll of IR400 I realize that I had changed ISO mid roll and that is why I marked it stand. The other images on the IR400 were not worthy of scanning but this single image still made it a big win for me!
Oh, for the curious, my FIlmomat is a computerized film developing machine that is the tabletop sized and will do 35mm, 120, 4×5 and 5×7 films. For the 120 it will do 2 rolls at a time. Here is a video that shows it in action…
Data: GF670 with 80mm lens and Rollei IR400 with no filter processed as FP4+ yesterday and wet mount scanned today.
Goodness, I had forgotten how difficult the film is to handle with its very thin film base!
Well… Yes, I have a NEW medium format camera system! Not new used, but NEW NEW!
It is the Dayi 6×12 and is custom made in China for each order. It is very affordable, the camera, lens cone (adjusted for you lens ahead of time) film back, focus screen and shade, viewfinder and a Arco swiss mounting foot! All in all this ran me around $1000 and took 2 months from payment to delivery. There are several companies selling them but I chose ecbuyonline2008 on Ebay, contacted them and then dealt directly with them for a nice discount. They provided a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ok, the camera itself is very well balanced and easy to use. As with most types of cameras of this design it uses a lens cone cut specifically for the focal length of the lens used. If you use a different length lens as a 2nd then you will need another cone designed for it as well.
The focus is controlled by a CALIBRATED helical mount that gives very fine control of the focus. Because it is calibrated, you can just dial in the distance and forget the ground glass. Me? Not so much. My eyes are not calibrated very good. Now, a cheap laser rangefinder would be just the thing. Fire it, dial in the distance and shoot! I use the ground glass as my focus operation. I have a custom made dark cloth that fits the glass frame and works very well. I have a nice 8x loupe that I use to make up for my old eyes!
There are calibration screws around the outside edge of the lens cone and you can see the small hole for one at the end of the video above. These allow you to set the infinity point and place the lens in the correct position. You can find a tutorial HERE for this process.
Lenses that will work on this camera can be found HERE.
The camera is a bit heavy and not suited to handheld work, but it can be done. It is a VERY well designed and built camera system and has ZERO light leaks.
When the camera first arrived, the film holder was scratching the surface of the film emulsion.
I took it apart and realized that a spring was adjusted too high on the film holder back and touching the film. It was a simple adjustment to fix this but I still sent an email about it and a few days later this video arrived showing how they said to fix the issue which is exactly what I had found!
This goes to prove that they are responsive to customer complaints, problems or suggestions! That is a big plus in my book!
The system is simply a joy to use. It is bright in the corners (of course that is lens dependent) and the focus is spot on! I have put about 10 rolls of film thru it so far including some Ektar 100 (which I have not processed yet but have the chemistry). Now that the scratching issue is fixed I see a great future for the camera in my kit.
The folks at the company in Hong Kong are easy to work with and very responsive over email. I highly recommend them. They have MANY other cameras for sale also including a larger 6×17 version of this one.
This is HOME, I came from Kodak Park in Rochester, NY! I worked and designed on both film and paper manufacturing lines so this is special for me! So this is short and sweet, just click on the 2 boxes below for the full story!
A WONDERFUL audio cast with the FULL story:
And this video:
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Infrared FILM photography has always been on the difficult side, but not because of lack for film because there are several films on the market. Rather it is due to the poor quality of the available 720nm filters on the market.
Recently Kolari Vision www.kolarivision.com has come out with a new series of infrared filters with their AR (anti reflection) that stop or greatly reduce hot spots in the center of your film or digital sensor. These hot spots are due to the various coatings, paint and other reflective coatings on the glass elements and coatings on inside of your lenses causing the light to bounce back and forth several times then hit the film dead center causing the hot spot.
The main filter on the market has been the Hoya R72 filter which works but gives a low contrast washed out image. Along come the new Kolari filter and now I am getting more contrast and even images with greatly reduced hot spots. AMAZING!
So lets take a look at the image above. This is the Tomotley Plantation about 20 min west of Beaufort, SC and was taken with the Rollei IR400 film rated at 720nm. Without a IR filter the ISO is 400 and the emulsion generates a very good likeness of Kodak TriX 400 film. If you add the 720nm filter the ISO drops down to 12 or 6 but you get the amazing whites on the grass and leaves. You even get the Wood Effect where the green items BLOOM out with an etherial soft white energy on the image!
Normally the Wood Effect is difficult to achieve at 720nm and is better seen at 800nm and and above. I have been very happy with this new filter from Kolari in combination with the Rollei IR400 film because I am constantly getting the effect plus deep contrasty images. It simply works as expected which is way more than I can say for others on the market!
I still shoot with digital (A7RII) and love the look and capability of it, but FILM is what I go to every time I go out shooting… It is Terrible and exciting at the same time! It is so bad that I am looking for another freezer to store my excess film stock!
This is (again) Stormy Seas in Georgetown, SC (perhaps the most photographed boat in the Low Country). I have hundreds of images of it but I am pulled to photograph her in B&W film each and every time I am in Georgetown. There is something about her lines and textures that inspire me to document her life, and I have for years. Yes I will visit ANY shrimp boat (or grist mill for that matter) and each and every time I visit I see something different and unique… Yep addicted!
The image was taken about 5 days ago on a 6×9 Fuji GW 690 II using medium format Fuji Acros 100 film and a red filter, developed in Perceptol 1:1 and Wet Mount scanned on a Epson 850 pro. The 6×9 format will give me 8 images per roll and I will usually scan 2 or 3 per roll, but I am very critical and selective because the wet scan process takes about 3/4 hour per scan!
The top image is near Stormy Seas in Georgetown, about 2 blocks away at another commercial dock and seafood house. I have shot this a hundred times on both digital and film, but never have I captured such a pleasing image as this. It is to me a more enriching image full of mood, contrasts and tells a story. I pleases me to no end the tell the story on an old FILM camera of an old boat and failing lifestyle just as the shrimp boat is in the background and the Egret in the foreground telling a different yet the same story!
There is also the consideration that is tied to the process of working in film. It is slower and much more deliberate, a truer work of love in that you control every single step of the process…
All in all, the top image took about a week to complete from end to end! I simply love the process, being immersed in it and becoming one in the creative process. Yes it is slow but when I am done it is a total representation of MY PERSONAL VISION!
Film is making a HUGE come back in the world of photography! So much so that you will be shocked when you visit Ebay and look at the prices of old film cameras and systems! All of the major film makers in the world are increasing their production of films and even Kodak is bringing back discontinued film products! New film companies like New55, Impossible Project, and FILM FERRANIA have opened up and are making emulsions!
Developing has never been easier, there are many mail order labs out there but you can process your own film in your kitchen with very little effort and investment! You will need:
Total you are looking at about $120 for everything accept the scanner! There are great videos on Youtube that will take you thru every step in the process!
The image above of the Tybee Island Lighthouse was taken last month on Kodak Tmax 100 rated at 50 ISO on the 6×9 format medium format Fuji System. It was hot and the area full of tourists, even up on the top of the lighthouse itself! Still the act of creating this image was both fun and fulfilling and I walked away with exactly what I envisioned as I stood there looking at the scene!
I especially love shooting with Medium Format cameras. They are easier to travel with and the negatives are large enough to give amazing prints. I do have 3 4×5 large format cameras also that are great fun to you but as you can imagine, they are difficult to travel with. Once in a great while I will shoot with a 35mm camera, usually smaller rangefinder that were sold in the 60’s and 70’s!
This is the Pelican Dock on Pawleys Island, SC. It is a 4″ x 5″ FILM image taken on Polaroid Type 55 film from one of my film workshops.
I did this with a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 format camera and the film was expired (16 years) Type 55 instant 4×5 film that also creates a fragile negative which was scanned Wet Mount on an Epson 850 . This single image costs about $35 to create and process!
But look closely at the image, notice the calm peace of the scene, the amazing clarity and sharpness that is a gift when working with large format film, but more importantly, the edge process markings created when working with this amazing film!
But of greater importance than how I created this image is the why…
We all see amazing scenes as we travel through life, but how many of us actually take the time to really experience and feel on an emotional level what we are actually experiencing as we create our art? I watch so many great photographers skitter from scene to scene like a bee to pollen that it leaves me feeling sad.
Let me ask you, “How can you create art that will appeal to your viewers on an emotional level if you yourself refuse to slow down long enough to feel the emotional impact yourself as you create it?
The key here is to stand before the scene and take it all I. Get a feel for what you desire to share with your viewers before you even pick up your camera! SLOW DOWN, take your time, investigate it from many angles and exposures. Yes this is a single image, in fact the only one I took due to the cost, but I spent a half hour studying the scene, moving around looking for the best impact and knowing that I would get the edge markings and using them to increase overall impact!
This is a hard lesson to learn and harder still to practice. This is one of the the lessons forced upon us who still shoot film as I do. After all, Film = $. We have to slow down and make every shot count so the next logical step is to connect on an emotional level with your subject and thus create art that is charged with mood that will draw your viewer in.
Just because I use FILM as an example here for you do not think that it does not apply to digital! Yes, once you pay back the investment of your digital equipment with image sales (you do sell your work don’t you?) the cost per image is basically paid only in terms of your time. But time also has a value and if by slowing down and imparting emotional impact in your image then you will be on the true path of photographic nirvana!
Take your time, explore your scene, feel it’s emotional impact, SLOW Down!
Do not copy the Bee, rather strive to be a master of photography…
I wish to share some images and thoughts from the Leica M Monochrom B&W ONLY camera system. I know that it is NOT FILM and a very expensive camera system, but it comes as close as you can get in a wonderfully usable B&W only system!
Most people will take a color image then convert it to B&W in post processing but it will never be the same as actually shooting in B&W with a digital or film system! Yes you can get close but you loose the amazing gradations and tonality that is part and parcel to world class B&W images.
The Pier on the top, is in the Outer Banks and is a 4 min exposure using a Leica Elmerit 28mm lens and the creek below is is in the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It is Dunloupe Creek and a 8 second exposure using the AMAZING 50mm Summilux lens. As you can see, the graduations and clarity are simply amazing. The water takes on a distinct Platinum tonality!
Why am I showing you these? Well at the end of the post I will give you a link for 2 videos where a Fuji X100T and a Leica M are compared for street photography and for a discussion on the Leica M B&W. The videos are quite entertaining and shows why sometimes a more expensive camera can be worth the money…
It can be very hard balancing the desire between camera systems and affordability, but sometimes, with SPECIAL cameras the money takes a back seat. I own 3 Leica camera systems, and 1 of them I could have done without (Leica M240), another is an amazing film system (Leica M7) and then there is the M Monochrom. The Monochrom is scary amazing with crazy good B&W output to even consider shooting color then converting. I have NEVER considered the money spent on it to be wasted! In fact, I am considering selling/trading the M 240 but will keep the Monochrom and M7 film body along with most of my Leica and Voigtlander glass.
For me shooting in B&W is a soul centering event. I take it very seriously and slow. When you consider how working in Monochrome strips away the confusion of color leaving the soul of the image then you can understand why I am looking for the very best way to capture the best possible image.
Aside from doing all of this in film (which I still work in all of the time) the M Monochrome (or its sisters) is the ONLY GAME IN TOWN! Hence, the cost of the system takes on new meaning since it is such a specialized digital system!
Sometimes I will put the film away and take out the Monochrom system. It is not quite the same as film in the overall process but it certainly is when the finished products are compared!
This is something to consider…
Here are the video links:
There is some serious food for thought in this last statement. In these days of rapid fire digital photography don’t you think that we can quickly loose sight of what it is that we are trying to create in our art? Shooting in film slows you down which aids in the creative process. This is not to say that we cannot do this with our digital systems because we can and I do, but rather most of us who practice this art tend to “hurry, capture and move on to the next thing!”It was almost as if it was an afterthought that I actually took my Sony A7rii with me up the trail to the overlook and took a few images which were actually quite nice in color, but after the sensory overload of the scene I could only think of one thing, B&W and FILM. Yes, I could convert the color image above to B&W in post processing and do quite a good job of it but NOTHING can compare to what I can create with film! So, it was a bit of a walk back down to the car where my wife and 7 year old grandson were resting because of the long drive to get here, but down I went with only one task, to trade the digital for a TINY B&W film camera, the Olympus XA. The XA is the worlds smallest 35mm rangefinder camera. It has an amazingly sharp lens with easy focus, but the key is the fact that it is pants pocket (not those bulky cargo pockets but regular ones), it is light and handy.
I took so much camera equipment on this trip that the only space I had for a film system required that it be tiny. Against all of my experience I threw in this tiny camera along with just 5 rolls of Kodak Tmax 100 film and off we flew. I am so glad that I did now but having said this it is only fair to share that this was a colossal mistake. I should have made room for a medium format (120 6×7) camera and taken out a lens or two for the Sony. I have learned my lesson and will never repeat this mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the XA captured an amazingly detailed and sharp image. I love how it turned out. The Kodak Tmax 100 film along with the Perceptol developer generated a image (yes small) with tiny grain and great sharpness. Am I happy with the result? You bet! Would I have been happier with a larger 120 negative, OMG YES!! Can I have a do over please? Yes, I know, not to much of there ever being a chance for that.
So lets sum this up a bit shall we?
Steven Icanberry’s Alpenhause Kamera Werke Polaroid 110b and 900 camera conversions for 4×5 and select instant filmsYou have to see these wonderful camera systems! They are as functional as beautiful! If you have one of these Polaroid cameras, or a large format lens in the range of 90mm to 150mm (we have a list of what works and what doesn’t). Steven can create a CUSTOM conversion just for you!
For your conversion he will:
I have 2 of his conversions and can tell you that they are amazing camera systems. He has a custom designed machined metal camera back that can hold any standard film holder that is the nicest on the market. You can call me if you would like to visit and see my conversions from Steven to get a “hands on”.
In the meantime here is a LINK to a post I did on Steven several months ago!
You can visit Stevens web site HERE!