The New CLiR Infrared Processing System and Photoshop panel!
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.
Screw on: they simply screw onto the end of your lens
Square: these use a square holder and in the case of the Breakthrough this holder will attach directly to the magnetic holder allowing use of and stacking of both systems at once. The square holder will hold 3 to 5 filters depending upon how you initially set it up. This is good for difficult lighting situations where you might need two different graduated filters at the same time. This style tends to suffer from light leaks around the edges of the square solid ND filters unless you carefully assure that they are installed exactly right and only in the holder slot closest to the lens.
Hard edge graduated: where the dark area of the graduated filter is a sharp line. This is for use on subjects which have a harsh division between the foreground and background . An example would be shooting on the ocean where the horizon is a sharp line between the horizon and the sky. This is where you would choose a hard edge graduated ND. These filters usually come in 1, 2 and 3 stop values where they start light and graduate to the dark.
Soft edge graduated: where the dark edge of the graduated filter starts very soft and light and darkens as it moves up the filter. This is for use in areas that you need to balance the foreground from the background but there is no clearly defined edge in the scene. This is what I used in the image above to darken the sky so there was detail there and still enable the water foreground to be bright and almost a platinum look and feel. These filters usually come in 1, 2 and 3 stop values where they start light and graduate to the dark.
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 LOVE working with long exposures…
There is so much peace in the long exposure process. At the scene, behind the camera and the results after processing simply takes my breath away. It does not matter what you decide to shoot with, Color, B&W, IR or Film because It simply does not matter, It all works. The processes of working with LE is that as we slow down the shutter of the camera we too are forced to slow down our mental process and be drawn into the scene! This works for boneyard shots at the beach, moving clouds over a building or simple rocks in the surf, It is an amazing journey in one single shot!
That is the thing about coastal Georgia. there are so many amazing photographic opportunities. Aside from the biggies, You all know how I love working in film and wabi/sabi, but creating long exposures is the one single photographic technique for me that always brings me peace…
This is your chance to learn the process, from artistic vision, choosing the correct filters and camera settings to post processing! Come along and learn all of these and more with Jamie and I. You will not be disappointed.
What exactly is needed in terms of equipment?
There are some equipment requirements for long exposures and as you find your self drawn into the process you will likely expand your catalog of gear, especially filters!
My solid set includes:
My square (75mm and 100mm) set includes:
There are many makers of ND filters, I have always gone with B+W and Lee but the Breakthrough are much higher quality with a much higher cost. Because I have recently added a Fuji Medium Format digital system I am building a set of the Breakthrough filters in both solid and graduated using both their new magnetic system and the 100mm square filters for the graduated.
To start, you do NOT need all of these and the basic set will allow you to get started but you will run into trouble as the sun approaches the horizon on sunrise/sunset.
Learning how to use all of these filters is not difficult but you will be miles ahead of everyone if you consider a workshop that covers all of it PLUS the art of post processing your long exposures after capture. The Georgia Coast is a great place to do just this. We will be out all day learning behind the camera as Jamie and I wander around with you helping along the way, sharing our secrets for in camera, as well as the art of post processing in evening classes at the hotel! This is a great workshop to learn the technique of long exposure but not limited to that! We will spend time at a lighthouse, a old broken down building, piers, beaches and of course AMAZING SHRIMP BOATS!
You can download a PDF info link here:
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!
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.
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!
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 recently picked up the Techart M to FE Sony mount adapter for my Leica and Voigtlander lenses. It has been my desire to use them on the Sony A7rii, A6300 and A6500 cameras.
The Techart auto focus adapter is amazing. I actually moves the lens in and out to get a sharp focus. It has several rules that you must follow to use it and as long as you do it will provide great service. It is quite fast!
Here is a link to a short video demonstration of the Techart M to FE adapter on my Sony A7rii:
B&W work with this lens as well as my other Voigtlander and Leica M mount lenses are just as sharp weather in color or monochrome!I also have and use a Metabones M to FE adapter which gives the same results but with manual focus only. Sometimes manual focus is necessary depending upon your subject but reguardless of focus type both adapters and all of my M lenses work wonderfully on the A7rii camera system! If you have a selection of M lenses then the cost of a M to FE adapter is well worth the money. But I am VERY impressed with the new autofocus adapter!
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?
Have any of you considered film photography?
There is something about working with film that is very calming which can center one’s soul allowing you to really connect with your art. For me it was like going home to Mama. The feeling of working with your hands as part of creating your art will make it more involved and enable you to to really influence the hidden nuances in your work. It will add a bit more complexity to your workflow but trust me it is worth the effort. The single largest change is forcing you to slow down in your creative process, it forces you to really consider every part of your workflow. It really is not any more difficult than digital photography, but it is a bit more involved.
Take a really close look at the details in this image, click on it and look at it in the full screen mode. Look at the GEARING on the edge of the wheel. The detail there will take your breath away!
I have way too many film cameras to list them all, some really small like the Olympus XA which is the worlds smallest 35mm rangefinder and a joy to use.
I also have an Olympus RC 35 camera that is another fixed lens rangefinder. It is simple and fun to use and can be found for very little money. I have mine rebuild and given a bright blue suite that suites it quite well!
My last 35mm camera system is a Leica M7 system. It has interchangeable lenses and is one of the best built camera systems that I have. Couple it with the world class Leica lenses and you have an unbeatable 35mm system.
Moving up to Medium Format 120 film systems I have three. I have the Voigtlander Bessa IIIw system that is 6×7 format and the Fuji GF670 camera (also sold under the name of Bessa III) with a longer 85mm lens (left & right). The 670 is my medium format travel camera of choice. Not only is it a functional camera with a built in meter but it is attractive and it always will draw a crowd when I get it out to use! Another nice point to the GF670 is that it folds down on itself to a thin easy to store camera in your bag!
And lastly the Mamaya RZ Pro II SLR ( Right) with interchangeable lenses and a world class metering system. This camera is large and heavy but easy to use and a very powerful camera system! I have a f/4 65mm and f/4 180mm lens for it. I also have both the waist level finder and a metering prism with spot and matrix! Like I said, heavy and big, but I use it for ultra long exposures on the coast with the Fuji Acros 100 film which has almost NO RECIPROCITY failure up to 140 seconds then only 1/2 stop after that! The film base is a little on the thin side but still my film of choice for long exposures.
Moving up to 4×5 Large Format cameras, I have three. first I have a Shen Hao cherry field camera. Functional as it is beautiful. I rarely take it out, rather I am using a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens and a Polaroid 110B camera converted to 4×5 with a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm lens. It is a beauty and very wide!
Yes, as you may have noticed, some of these cameras are quite large. This is due to the negative size. Let me give you some idea as to why digital cameras can never come close to the resolution of film.
Lets start with medium format:
Film has turned wildly popular again in the past several years and many of the big film manufacturers have started increasing their film production lines again. This is especially true in the medium format lines (120) and 4×5 large format films! Film can be found in single rolls or in bulk almost everywhere again. The big box companies like B&H, Adorama and many others carry almost every type and format that you could ever want!
Processing in B&W has never been easier at home with eco friendly chemistry with no darkroom needed. Only an initial outlay of around $150 will get you started. Cameras can be found anywhere for next to nothing! You will need:
You can scan your film into your computer with a good Epson scanner like the 700, 750, 800 or 850. You can also buy an adapter for your camera allowing you to scan by photograph!
While I work in both color and B&W, digital and film I find time after time I pick up a film system and load it up with a good B&W film. The process of developing your film can really help you connect to your work as well.
I like several films, here they are in order of favor:
As an example here is the top image from last week of the fishing fleet taken on 20 year out of date Polaroid Type 55 monochrome instant film. The camera is also a Polaroid 900 that my daughter sent me years ago from a garage sale that I had converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens. A MOST beautiful camera in a bright new blue suite that is just fun to use. It is both rangefinder and ground glass focusing that forces you to slow down and really consider each and every image you capture!
The Type 55 film, even outdated, works flawlessly and generates amazing images where the edge markings add to the artistic impact of your subject
So what do you think? Are you tempted to try this out? It is easy. For starters, you can look at the continuing education departments at a local college or hight school. Most offer B&W film photography with darkroom work. This will teach you enough to allow you to determine if you would like to further investigate this wonderful medium!
You can also contact me and request info on one of my film workshops held in Pawleys Island SC. I would love to have you and share this amazing link to our past!
Warning, LONG post…
Travel Photography… Say it, let it roll off your tongue, think about it! I bet that the first thing that comes to mind are images from National Geographic, fine, super saturated color photographs that could take you anywhere in the world by simply looking at them! You know the kind, they enabled you over the years to travel vicarisly around the world just with the magazine and its images!
But is that what travel photography really is?
What is the intent of travel photography to document a place or a trip? Is it designed to tell a story on an individual level or to the masses?
Well for me, it is a combination of the two. Most importantly, the images are to refresh the memories of the trip. But there is a real market out there for well done travel photography whether in print publications, web, advertising or fine art prints. It can be quite profitable if you work at it and can step back and look at your own images in terms of the above markets. Even the housing deceration market has room for this type of photography provided that you can simplify your work to show colors and contrasts over locations.
For this trip, and pretty much all the time when I am shooting digital, I exclusively use the Sony 42 mpix A7rii camera system and the new Sony A6300 for high speed work with Sony G lenses or Sony Zeiss lenses. They are very well suited to this type of photography and give you enough (42 mix) resolution to get amazing images yet still have room to crop!
The drive for this post was a recent two week trip out West with my wife and 7 year old grandson Jordan who I am teaching film photography and darkroom processing to (photographically, I had grand plans for him this trip). Given time I plan on turning him into a photographic GOD for something fun while making sure he is a Rocket Scientist!
We flew into Rapid City, SD and picked up a one way rental car and our first night in a long string of hotels.
Day 1. Rapid City layover and rest.
So as you can see there was a well thought out family plan for travel and location visits! But, I also had a plan, my photographic plan!
So lets talk first about my TRAVEL photographic equipment plan. I wanted to travel light (yea right). No backpack, rather a small rolling camera case that would fit into the over head of a small commuter plane so that I would not have to check it. I would not have room for a film camera… Dang!
So here is what I brought along:
This was a good plan (or so I thought) until our very first stop at Mt. Rushmore where Jordan informed me that the 24-240 was too long and heavy. Oh well, I took that and gave him the 24-70.
Ok, so at least the part of the photographic plan of me being able to NOT check my camera equipment worked! (I did put all of my insulin and supplies in the camera case just to prove my need to have the case with me but did not need it).
Yes, I know that one would not normally trade a light 24-70 Sony/Zeiss f/4 lens for a 24-240 f/3.5-5.6 Sony super zoom but I have to be honest, I was VERY impressed with the super zoom! It was not really that much heaver but it was longer. I NEVER put on the 24-70 after that.
I expected great things of Yellowstone and that showed in the number of days there as well as staying in the park. Yellowstone is HUGE, so much so that you have to allow for HOURS of driving time from location to location. The roads are all good, 2 lanes with adequate pull offs. BUT having said that there are rules of behavior in pulling off and rules for how you treat the wildlife. I cannot tell you how many people (especially foreign visitors) who would jump out of the car (still in the road) and run off into the fields right up to the wildlife. To say that this is bad behavior is an understatement. It for one, keeps others from being able to photograph the wildlife and two puts the peoples lives in grave danger that approach the wildlife! Yet this happened almost every time wildlife was near the road. The park rangers had simply given up on trying to educate people who would not listen. They spend most of their time dealing with the MANY dreadful traffic accidents that happened every day. The traffic jams were terrible whenever an animal was near. Sometimes this was due to the animal being on the road but most of the time it was because people parked right in the middle of the road who left their cars.
I am going to share a few of my favorite images from Yellowstone with you. It is a good cross section of what you can expect to see while visiting!
I would travel again to Yellowstone but in the spring or fall in order to see more of the wildlife there. I realize that in the heat of August even the animals would move to higher locations in order to reduce the heat. The only wildlife I really saw in abundance on this trip were Buffalo, Elk and Antelope.
So…. I had this vision stuck in my head of a parked line of freight train box cars parked in the high desert with a mesa behind them. I found myself looking to the sides of the car as we traveled endless miles through Wyoming and Utah. Finally my wife asked me what I was looking for and when I told her she made a point to help me look and stop me when we came upon them. I know that out West there are ultra long stretched of road. Most are 4 lanes with lots of traffic. If you see that special scene make sure that you safely stop so as not to irritate the 7 year old in the back seat, pull safely off to the side of the road as you watch for the perfect compositional setup and get out and shoot it! DO IT!
To say that Bryce National Park is anything less that amazing is an understatement. It was right up there with Arches and Yellowstone in amazing views, colors and the wow factor! This is the location that I would choose to visit again to try some different styles of photography. The colors of the Hodoos are simply amazing and full of wild colors and contrasts.
While in Arches, my 7 year old grandson decided that he had enough nature and vistas after driving Arches all day long. I took them (at my wife insistence) back to the hotel and went back out to Arches and drove it again in different light conditions and the 2nd time there were clouds in the sky. This made for much better images that I would not have gotten if I did not go back out again!
Final thoughts on what makes travel photography great!
Now as you have seen here, I presented this trip as a travel log. Attempting to document the many wonders of the high plains in the west. For images that have the possibility of selling you need to:
This type of travel photography is more difficult that personal travel images traditionally done by the millions of photographers who roam the country. These types of images are still travel photography but basically serve to show and remember your great trips! They will include more family member in the scenes, less care about the total compositional elements because those are simply not as important to the memory of the trip and locations! They are just as important, but will not generally generate income from sales and publication.
The story begins…
Several years ago my oldest daughter and her husband gave me a complete Polaroid 900 Camera system for fathers day. I like old cameras and this one sat in a glass display case in my studio for years. It was a beautiful camera but with film no longer being made it was living its life as a hanger queen only.
One day while exploring one of the 4×5 Facebook groups I came across a post from Alpenhause Kamera Werke and Steven Icanberry, He was advertising a conversion on the older Polaroid Land Cameras like my 900 to 4×5 film with a film back and a coupled rangefinder calibrated to the new 4×5 lens he would install! Steven is a disabled veteran who makes his living from converting these cameras!
This was simply too good to be true and after calling him and with his advice for options and lens selection I sent off my camera to him to be converted.
Now, a little bit of info on his designs and options. His 4×5 film back is of his own design and is small and lighter than any other on the market. He has them made by a local machine shop and I can attest to the quality of it! He removes the old lens and makes a new lens plate mounting your choice of lenses.
I choose a Fujicon 150mm lens. He couples the lens to the rangefinder system in the camera and calibrates it to be perfect. (This was the big draw for me as I was looking for a simple 4×5 carry around camera).
He also cleaned all of the rangefinder optics assuring sharp clear viewing.
I was offered a large selection of colors and new clothes for my camera, I choose bright blue and a silver top along with a built in shutter release cable. Look at the top image above and tell me that the camera doesn’t look stunning!
His camera conversions are simply stunning in their beauty and functionality! For those of you who like and desire to shoot film I strongly suggest picking up one of his cameras. You will not be disappointed at all and you will be helping a disabled US Veteran make a living. But more importantly you will have a camera system that is as beautiful as it is functional. I am going to close this with a few images of some of Stevens cameras and the first shot I took with mine.
He advertises starting pricing at around $500 for a converted camera in stock and also does custom conversions (like mine). I paid $900 for mine, but I chose a new custom lens and several other options!
Please consider having Steven Icanberry and Alpenhause Kamera Werke do a conversion or sell you a stock conversion! It is my wish to spread the camera goodness around and this is one good company!
Yes, you are correct, I shoot with the Sony A7rii 42 mega pixel full frame mirrorless camera! What you cry am I doing with the A6300 which is only 24 mega pixel and an APS-C sensor? Well friends, the answer to that is simple, well perhaps not… I envision the A6300 as a 720nm Infrared camera.
But it has several very interesting and powerful functions that have engaged my curiosity. Those are:
The 4 test images I took today were shot hand held at 1/250s and in RAW with Zone Focusing. I also had the LIVE VEIW DISPLAY: Setting Effect: ON. This enabled the camera to simulate the exposure effects during composition to give me an idea of what I am actually seeing.
The A6300 is a TINY camera system. It is so light (even with a L Bracket installed) that I had to be very careful when carrying it around. I worried over dropping it and not knowing!
The camera does NOT have a built in Stabilizing system, rather it relies on the fact that most Sony lenses have that built in. I has 3 custom WB memories for those of you who are considering the camera for Infrared and it also has 2 custom setup memories that I have found to be very helpful with my A7rii camera!
I found the camera very easy to use and control. I setup all of the custom functions and buttons to make my life easier when shooting it.
As I said, this camera was meant to be converted by http://www.kolarivision.com into a 720nm infrared system and it may actually meet that end, but I really like the ability of the APS system to give me 900mm from a 600mm lens!
Here is the color version (with polarizer) of the image above. The colors are nicely saturated and the overall image is sharp and offers enough detail and sharpness to draw the viewer into the image!
Here is another view of the salt marsh. I have to say that the camera with the 24-70 Zeiss lens is easy to hold and control. The camera control buttons are easy to reach and control without using them by accident.
Lastly, a B&W conversion of the same image.
I am really excited with the functionality of this little system. I am pleased with the results and will use it for a few months as a color system for my long lens. Ultimately it will be converted to IR but for now I will play with it.
There are several issues with its firmware (same as when the A7rii came out). Overheating during hight speed continuous shots is the big one but Sony assures me that a fix is in work as it was when the A7rii camera came out!
I will be experimenting with the system for a few months and see what it can offer me in terms of images and use. Later this week it is going to the beach for some ultra long exposures to see if it has any body light leaks!
What do your think?
Yep, early this morning I grabbed the bag with my wide angle 120mm camera system and headed out to Georgetown where I was going to spend a bit of time with the shrimp fleets and some film…. I chose the Voigtlander Bessa IIIw system. It has a 55mm lens on it which at 6x6mm equates to around 35mm and at 6x7mm to 30mm. This is pretty wide and allowed me to capture several very wide angle shots of various shrimp boats around the water front.
One of the other things that I do when shooting film is to keep a accurate written record of the exposure data for each and every frame. This assists in keeping my process the same once I get the proper exposure, contrast and desired grain for each of the film types I use.
I enjoy this camera system very much. It has a lot going for it specifically its 6x7mm negative size which makes for some pretty big scanned files when all is said and done. I also like the fact that it is a rangefinder which pretty much defines my youth and what I had learned to use when very young! It is not too heavy, has a leaf shutter which is totally silent and goes up the 1/500 second for exposures. This could be a little faster but I can work with it. A 120 roll of B&W film gives me 10 exposures at 6×7 which is the format I like the most.
I normally use stand film processing with Rodinal at 1:100 ratio with water, a water bath then the 1 hour processing and normal fixing and a wash, but for these rolls I am going to use Ilford Perceptol ultra fine grain developer in hope of a sharper image with greater contrast. So, we will see next week how this new combination works for my finished film!
Stand processing is not dependent upon chemistry temperature, ISO or even Film type! You put the film in its can, give it a 5 min water wash, then pour the developer in, gently agitating for 1 min then letting it sit for another 60 min!, Water Stop, since and done! But there are trade offs with Stand processing, namely Bromide Drag which is shown as the slightly darker vertical streaks in the image below. These come from the developer chemistry being exhausted.
So with the Perceptual chemistry (6 min develop time) I will not see Bromide Drag and it is supposed to give sharper smaller grain and higher contrast. So instead of a 1 hour develop time we are looking at 6 min now, sharper negatives with higher contrast! We will see….
I will hold of processing these images till the first weekend in May so that my 7 year old grand son come come with me to the studio and process his own 35mm film at the same time! Yes, I am teaching him how to photograph and process film! You gotta start them young so that they catch the film bug!
I was in Charleston, SC last weekend with the a7rii camera system to see how far I could push it! I find the Sony system to be refreshingly powerful and very capable of any style of photography I desire to shoot. The Image above of the boat house (Sunrise) was just another example of the power of this system. I was looking for some long exposure and the water of Charleston Harbor was very smooth to start, with only 6 to 12 inch waves. The sunrise was blocked by a tremendous super cell thunderstorm system so I just concentrated on the boathouse and smoothing out the water. I was using the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS lens at 150mm with a 6 stop B+W ND filter attached which was giving a 30 second exposure. I was sure that 30 seconds would give me a very smooth water (which it did). I also desired to capture detail in the stormy clouds but keep the white water. I metered the waters surface and placed it in Zone 7.5 (what! You do not know the zone system? Shame…. We will have to fix this!). This at ISO 50 and f/16 gave me a 30 second exposure and allowed the 14 stop dynamic range of the camera to capture both the withe of the water as well as cloud details!
Granted, the Sony has a LARGE menu system but the provide you so many programmable custom buttons AND several system setup memories that you can with the turn of a control knob chance the camera functions over to the specific style of shooting you desire! In my case, I have the M2 memory setup for long exposures, and by simply turning the command dial to M2 the camera is ready for long exposures!
Here is another example of the amazing capture ability of the Sony. This is the shrimper Miss Lulu on the dock in Georgetown, SC last Monday morning. The water of the bay was at slack tide, super high and mirror smooth. I decided that for this image I wanted B&W but still captured it in color since a color starting image gives the best B&W conversion. I was using the Sony/Zeiss FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens at ISO 100 at f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/320 second. I waited till a Pelican flew into the scene from behind the boat for the capture. The clouds were slight but still stunning but the boat and its reflection really made the image.
As I said, During my pre-visualitlation of this image I decides upon monochrom with a flying bird. I setup the boa further into the image space to allow for a bird to fly into the scene and balancing the overall image with the boat centered with the trees on the right. This is not a simple snap shot, a lot of thought went into its setup!
Shrimp Boats are one of my favorite subjects and each and every time I happen by them they always present something new and different!
Yes, it has been a busy year with the start of our workshop schedule! Add into that a knee operation, taxes and other such negative aspects to life we decided that it was time to take a break! So, for 2 perfect weeks we ventured out to the San Fransisco area to explore the rough West Coast!
I know that it has been a long time since I did a post here but the workshop and teaching schedule has been brutal. It seems as quick as one year ends that another begins and we are busy again! The good news is that the photo schools are moving along and this years workshops are moving forward. I have had NOT had any time to work in the darkroom this year yet but hope to fix that soon as well. Plus the knee repair is finished and I am starting to feel a little better after that!
So, we decided to take a break from it all and flee to the West Coast to get lost in the rough shore, wildlife and the continued search for old fishing boats! It was a wonderful trip and I am sorry to say that it is all over and done with but with great photographic results!
This trip was centered on the new Sony A7rii 42 mpex camera body. As you know I am a dedicated mirrorless shooter and in my quest for the perfect camera I have settled on this system. It has amazing functionality, SUPER wide dynamic range (14) and a review from DXO as the best and most advanced image sensor ever tested! I also added the Sony/Zeiss 24-70 f/4, the Sony 70-200 G f/4 and the Tamron 150-600 A lens with the Sony adapter which allows full lens control and auto focus. I also have adapter for all of my Leica and Contax glass as well but for this trip it is the 3 lenses listed above!
We based our home plate in San Jose and then traveled around for the 2 weeks. Spend most of our time in Santa Cruz because the hummingbirds were there in vast numbers building nests and laying eggs, but more on that later. We also went north to Point Reyes specifically to photograph the wrecked fishing boat Point Reyes. But while there spent time with the lighthouse and Elephant Seals!
We also went south to Monterey for whale watching and a trip along the 17 mile drive! The image above is from the Lone Cyprus along the drive. The drive costs $10 per car but is very much worth the cost. It is full of wildlife such as birds, deer and seals. The rugged coast has to be seen to be believed!
So then this image I am sharing above is the Point Reyes, a boat washed ashore a while ago. This boat was suggested to me by my friend Jennifer Hunter who lives in Santa Cruz and was one of my main location visit requirements. This is in a National Sea Shore North of San Fransisco and was about a 3 hour drive from San Jose.
The WEEK we arrived this boat was burned on its stern by a STUPIDLY UNCARING PHOTOGRAPHER who put his own agenda above the preservation of the scene. He was doing spark photography with flaming steel wool and destroyed the back. I hope that the Federal Government (National Park) throws the book at him for this. I feel very lucky to have walked away with this wonderful shot of this local landmark…
Also visited was the Point Reyes Lighthouse! What a wonderful subject and location. It is high on a cliff over looking the Pacific Ocean. It is full of color, depth and wonder!
So as you can see, I have LOTS of time to relax and shoot with the new Sony system. To say that it is an amazing system is an understatement of Biblical proportion! All of the lenses are flawless and gave great results!
But Wait! I have not shared my several trips to the Arboretum at the University of Santa Cruz! There were hundreds of Allen’s and Anna’s humming birds there deep into the fury of mating season! They were amazing subjects and since I did NOT bring along my hummingbird flash setup I was forced to shoot the “bird on a stick” portraits. Still, the results were stunning. ALL of these shots were taken on the Tamron 150-600mm A mount lens with the Sony A to E adapter. Yes, it did and would auto focus, but with the birds against the green vegetation it had a difficult time picking them out to focus on.
So I shifted to manual focus (yes I said manual…) with white focus peaking. To say that I was stunned at the ease of focusing with this at high speed still leaves me breathless with wonder!
The Sony manual focus with peaking is simply the BEST manual focus system that I have EVER used! It was fast and DEAD ON…
I will let the results speak for them selves…