A Light Weight 120 Autofocus Travel Camera with a Zoom Lens!
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
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:
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?
Look closely at the image below of the neither regions of the Folley Beach Pier. This was taken with a B&W only DEEP CONTRAST Infrared camera converted by KolariVision.com with their new AR coating. Look at the detail and depth captured here. Do you think that if the sand was actually in color that you would even notice the pier going off into the distance past the initial structure? This is what the power and purity of B&W gives to us!
I love working in B&W, so that I would only create them if the market would support such endeavor. There is something about a well crafted monochrome image, having the distraction of color removed leaves you with the soul of the image.
I find that it is so powerful for me that I look at EVERY scene I approach with B&W in mind. Yes, I can visualize in B&W. So can you! It only takes a little practice… OK, a LOT of practice really, but it is well worth the investment in time and energy!
I am so into fine art B&W that I even have a Leica Monochrom digital camera that is dedicated to it in that it only takes B&W images! Not to mention digital B&W infrared cameras!
The baby blue is a Olympus 35RC rangefinder that I had rebuilt, cleaned and given a nice new set of baby blue clothes! The second is a Polaroid 900 that my daughter found at a garage sale and sent to me. I kept it in a display case for a year or 2 then sent it off to WWW.Alpenhause.com where Steven Icanberry took it apart, cleaned, re-gasket, replaced the lens with a Fujicon 150mm lens and added a 4×5 film back. He also calibrated the internal rangefinder to the new 150mm lens and gave it an adult blue suite! It is a dream camera come true!
I shoot 35mm, 120mm and 4×5 film systems. Usually, I will expose about a dozen rolls a week in 120, Develop, Dry and Scan then treat them as I would a digital image except for the fact that I will never be starting with a color image!
I mainly shoot with my Sony A7rii camera and a selection of 4 lenses in my normal day to day work. I shoot in COLOR but always process both color and B&W in post processing. I can just hear you say “why not just shoot in B&W in camera?” Well the easy answer is while you can do so, you will get much better B&W images by shooting in color then post processing to get the best possible color image, THEN convert to B&W. I use The NIK filter Silver EFX Pro for my B&W conversions, and by feeding it a finished color image it will have enough data to generate a wonderful B&W image!
Here is an example of just what I mean:
First an image of Daddys Girls, a shrimp boat out of Bluffton, SC. The image is a great one, full of colors and textures with an interesting sky! I feel that in color this makes a wonderful image and think that there is a market out there for it. I spent the time with the image during post processing to bring out the colors, textures and contrasts to make the image pleasing.
Then, and ONLY THEN I ran the image through Nik’s Silver EFX Pro B&W converter. I Chose a deeply sepia tinted output with a slightly scratched texture and a minor border. This to me is a pure image with which you can witness and feel the soul of the scene!
Another example from the Sony that I took and post processed today is this image of the shrimper Stormy Seas, likely the MOST PHOTOGRAPHED shrimp boat in South Carolina, IN COLOR.
Again, I shot in COLOR in order to have as much data as possible for the B&W conversion. Again I found myself in a sepia mood and processed it as the examples above! As you can see, it has a totally different look, feel and emotional impact from its color version above!
B&W images can be really powerful in their emotional impact. There was a time when B&W was all you could have, then color became popular because of the fact that it was different! But guess what? B&W is again VERY POPULAR to the point of actually out selling color in fine art shows and to collectors! This should give you pause if you are concentrating in color only. You are missing have of the scene, the most important half!
I LOVE shooting IR and have a long history with it in both Film and Digital. I have had over 25 conversions from ALL of the big conversion companies around the country! But, once in a while I would get a camera that no mater how hard I tried, I will get a hot spot with it or the lenses I used. You learn how to deal with this by selective use of the aperture but once in a while you would just not be able to get around the problem and loose the shot….
Well about 3 weeks ago Ilija from Kolari (http://www.kolarivision.com ) sent me a note telling me about a new coating process for his conversion filters. I have a long history with Kolari, LDP and Lifepixel but I have never heard of this till now. Ilija offered to do a free conversion with this newl IR AR coating for me in return for evaluating it in the real shooting world! So I told him that I would send the X100s off as a test camera and that I needed it back fast in order to allow others to play with the camera also! Off it went on Tuesday. Imagine my surprise when I got it back in hand the following Wednesday!
Here is what Kolari says about this new AR IR coating:
So as you can see they are up and almost ready to start filling orders for these new filters.
I have to tell you that with my test conversion on the Fuji X100s to AR 850nm that ALL of my hot spot issues simply went away. This camera has always had a tendency for IR hot spots. I have converted, tried and sold so many IR systems in the past that I have lost count. I could not, would not sell this one as it is one of my most prized IR systems. To say that I am pleased with the results of the Kolari IR AR Coating is the understatement of the year!
Remember, if you decide to order from Kolari, give them my name for a $15 discount!
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!
Don’t you have the feeling sometimes of not reaching that creative high so that when you return home you are almost like an empty husk?
Well me too, and sometimes I really need to stretch my artistic legs. Going out with a Color Camera will just not get the job done and leaves me feeling empty. Working in Film is a lot better and scratches an itch that I just cannot reach otherwise… But when I am really feeling creatively down and mentally cramped I usually turn to my Leica M Monochrom system.
Working directly in B&W is a soul expanding exercise that will re-inflate my creative side quickly and effectively. I am the type of photographer who can actually think and see in B&W. Actually generating those images in the field with a capable B&W rangefinder system really is like going home to Momma. It leaves me with that ohhhh feeling, or is it OHHHHH… Yep, that is the feeling that I am talking about!
First, I LOVE shooting with a rangefinder camera system. ALL of my cameras are rangefinders except for one little Fuji XT1 that sits in my camera bag rarely used unless I take it out for lightning shots. I just love the feeling of using a rangefinder! I am not kidding about the feeling of going home to momma! They take me back to my early days of photography when a rangefinder was all that I had and used. They were and still are a nitch camera system. You generally will not find someone out shooting birds in flight images with one, but that is OK with me because after 50 years of shooting, I am soooo TIRED OF BIRDS (well except for hummingbirds but I can do those just fine with a rangefinder).
So what makes me smile about the M Monochrom? The ease of use, the CRISP release of the shutter, the incredible functionality of the camera and its wide dynamic range! I love the way it feels in my hands and responds to my control! I even love the sound of it. It is almost sensual in nature! Now, couple that with the amazing images that a pure B&W 18 mega pixel sensor with NO Brayer filter and no anti-aliasing filter can create you will be left breathless with the results.
So for this simple and short post about achieving emotional nirvana, I will keep it to just 2 images that make me feel good. Now that I am creatively re-inspired I can go out again with my color camera (rangefinder of course) and while looking at my scenes in B&W create color images again!
Thank you for stopping by for a visit to the blog…
In my recent printing of the 1840 Van Dyke Brown prints, I have experienced a lot of dark spots on my prints. I ordered several types of papers to try to see if it was a paper problem… I have been using Revere Platinum paper which is easy to coat (provided you use Tween 20 in the emulsion) and gives great tonality but seems to ALWAYS have dark spots all through the print!
Look closely at the image to the right. You will notice dark spots (look above the light) that go completely through the paper! This has been driving me nuts and nothing that I did to try and fix the issue ever helped.
I ordered several new papers plus tried several others that I had on hand:
Lets first talk about the Lana Aquarelle paper. This paper is simply amazing! It coats very well with both the brush and a glass rod as long as you add a little Tween at 25%
For a 8×12 print:
Once coated, I let it AIR DRY for 30 min then expose in a 12 bulb UV box in a vacuum frame for 2 to 4 min depending on the paper and negative. Usually the base exposure time is 3 min.
As I said the results from this paper is a nice warm print with great density in the black areas and the edges.
I coated four pieces of paper yesterday, two with a glass coating rod and two with a synthetic Sable brush. Both methods worked very well and gave nice even coatings. The image above was a applied with the Sable brush and the one below was coated with a glass rod.
Notice in the image above if the lone dinghy that there are NO spots at all. The paper was clean on the front and back and gave a nice density in the dark areas! This paper is very heavy and after coating it will want to curl a little but will flatten in about 5 min. Let it dry for the full 30 min in the air and do not use a hair drier.
For a 8×12 print:
Rising Stonehenge Paper is another good paper for the Van Dyke Brown process. It is a MUCH lighter weight paper than the Lana paper but it really does not cost any less! You can find it on Amazon which means free shipping. The shipping charges from B&S are going to kill me, with the average cost for paper being around $20 per order! This is what makes Amazon so great, but they just don’t carry all of the papers that I like to keep on hand…
So far, my work with Rising Stonehenge has been very good. It coats evenly and the emulsion soaks into the paper fibers nicely. The print is very dense and nice dark areas. The paper is quite thin and I discovered that the surface is easily damaged during coating. Since the surface requires much less VDB emulsion I will reduce it the next time I coat (I used 36 drops of VDB and 2 drops of Tween for this test coating) and the surface damage will likely go away due to the glass rod not going across the paper surface more than 4 times ( for 36 drops the coating rod required 8 trips across the paper surface) thus reducing working the papers surface too much and causing damage.
One small problem with the paper that I discovered was that the emulsion has a tendency to migrate from the coated areas to the uncoated areas giving a grey shadow around the image. If you look closely you can see actual small spots of it surrounding the coating. This is really no big deal but I am unsure as to why this is happening.
I will continue to use this paper because it generates VERY WARM BROWN in the print and I just love the look of it!
Now, it has been suggested that I soak or pre coat the paper with an acid bath of 10% citric acid for a 1 or 2 min, then wash the paper and allow it to dry before coating. I am told that this will vastly increase the papers Dmax! I am going to test this next time I print!
The image at the top of this post was also printed on Rising Stonehenge paper!
The Cot 320 paper is a very nice, smooth paper. I love the look and feel of it. BUT, for Van Dyke Brown it has a problem in that it will not readily absorb the VDB emulsion into the paper fibers. Even with Tween added to the emulsion, it is not enough. What happens is that in the first water bath after exposure the majority of the emulsion washes off in thick tendrils of brown goo. Unlike the Arches paper, enough is left on the paper to still make for a good (not great) image.
There is enough promise from this paper that I am going to experiment further with this paper by washing the paper with an acidic solution of citric acid and distilled water, brushing it on and letting it soak in for a few seconds then washing the paper again with distilled water. Once it dries and I will flatten it in a low temp heat press and coat the VDB on it. I think that this will break down the surface coatings enough for it to accept the emulsion better and increase the papers Dmax.
I will report on this more in the future.
OK that is all for this post. I am not going to report on the Arches and Revere papers as I have discussed them in the previous two posts.
After another 2 weeks working on the negative density, I have finally gotten to the point of good negatives, not great yet but I will get there. I have to master the use of UV blocking color in the negative for them to be perfect and that is a project for the future. To date though I have reached perfection using normal B&W negatives.
Here is the corrected negative that I used in the image of the Oak trees above. It is much dense and has been corrected for the mid tones as printed in the Van Dyke Brown Process! It has much greater contrast and required only a 3 min exposure in my UV unit.
One thing that you have to remember when making your UV exposures is to place the ink side of your negative down on the paper surface. If you reverse this the picture will be backwards, but more importantly, the UV light will burn the ink surface and ruin both the negative and the print.
Compare it to the negative on the right. This negative was used in the previous post here where the image printed much darker and with less mid tone data. Take a close look at the difference between the two negatives, the first has much brighter areas for increased black contrast and more detail in the trees. The difference is amazing and was easily achieved by the process discussed below…
Here is a small copy of the print generated by the 2nd negative from the previous post. Notice how much darker it is and that there is no detail in the mid tones of the image! It only took me a short while to create the Gradient Map from the process that I learned in Peter Mrhar’s book below.
Easy Digital Negatives is another remarkable book by Peter Mrhar that I use in the creation of my negatives. It enables you to easily create Gradient Maps to adjust the mid tone values of your negative tailored to the alternative process that you are printing with! I highly recommend this text over all of the others!
There are several good books on Digital Negatives out there but As I said the is the easiest that I have read and used plus the results of using a Gradient Map over a Custom Curve. I suggest that you purchase several texts and try them in your workflow to see what works best for you!
I had to sit in the Georgetown gallery today. On my way there I stopped at Stormy Seas, my favorite shrimp boat in the area. I had the Leica M Monochrom with me and the Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 mm lens on it as well as the FRANKEN-VIEWER which enables me to compose the image with ultra-wide lenses on the Monochrom. Did I mention that the Leica M Monochrome is a B&W ONLY camera system? The sky had this amazing gradient across it going from dark gray to bright silvery light on the horizon and the water that you could slide across… Oh My, the water was so perfectly smooth and mirror-like that I stood there stunned with camera in hand just hypnotized at the magic and taking it all in. But alas, I only had a minute to spare so I took 3 differently composed images at -1ev, f/11 and 1/1500s. This is the result: a simple, well balanced image, so full of tonality that it is dripping from the bottom all over my feet….
Enjoy while I clean my shoes…
In my continuing love affair with the Leica M Monochrome camera system I have learned more each day towards creating amazing etherial B&W art… Keep in mind that I have been shooting B&W film (35mm, 6×7 and 4×5) for several decades and know and understand the process very well. But using the Monochrome is such an easy progression that it seams as though the camera is leading me down this path on its own. Yes there is some small post processing to be done using Nik Filters Silver EFX and once in a while I will add some Viveza as well, but for the most part it is almost perfect out of the camera as long as you get the exposure correct in the shooting!
In the image below of the shrimper Stormy Seas, I used the Leica Tri-Elmar set in 16mm. There is no image distortion from such a wide angle and it is sharp with good depth of field. When using this lens on the Monochrome you are forced to use the frankenstein viewfinder that you purchase with the lens but that is a small price to pay for such a useful lens. I also have a Voigtlander Hellar 12mm lens in the camera bag and it works very well on the Monochrome and uses an external 12mm viewfinder, but it does distort the image slightly due it its wideness but you can correct for that in Photoshop. The thing about the Tri-Elmar is that it replaced 3 separate lenses that were stolen with one small lens!
Using a fast lens like the 50mm Summilux ASPH for the image below of the Roanoke River Lighthouse allows you to hand hold on dark or stormy days and still get crisp images that jump out at you! For this image I also had a yellow filter attached to bring out the structure of the clouds. This is one of the HUGE pluses of the Monochrome in that it reacts to the standard B&W filters the same way as film does!
But as always my main use for the camera is long exposures which is where my true love lives! Being able to take ocean shots and smooth out the waves is exciting beyond words and the Monochrome does a great job of it with its 4 min bulb limit. Look at the image below of the (another version) Roanoke Marshes Light House. I was there when the light was on and each time it circled it created another slightly offset star effect. It allows me to create images full of wonder and depth!
The implied stillness of the water with the graduated reflections create an image full of mood and depth. This is one of my favorite images of this Light House and the fact that during the 16 second exposure the light revolved around 3 times to generate 3 slightly offset star patterns just add more mood to it. This particular shot was done with a B+W 103 3 stop ND filter to allow the longer shutter speed at f/8 for sharpness with the 50mm Summilux ASPH lens!
Now let me share a detail shot of a fishing boat just up the island from the Light House. It is simple yet tells a complex story of the boat and job.
I love the textures of the image and the sharpness. The texture on the surface of the individual floats are great and perhaps would have been better served by a closer shot. It was taken with the Macro Elmar 90mm lens (a great lens to invest in) and was done on the tripod!
Continuing with the 90mm Macro Elmar I give you a closeup image taken just as I left the Outer Banks. This mushroom is only about 2 inches tall and I had to lay down under a log to get it. Yes a tripod was used but it was the Really Right Stuff table pod which is an amazing tool to have in your kit for just this sort of work Look at the textures on the bottom and stalk of the mushroom. This 90mm lens is the only 90 that I will ever buy for my Leica cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this last dedicated post on the Leica M Monochrome camera. I will have many more images to share from it in the future but I think that you are likely getting tired of dedicated posts!
Oh my, I do NOT know where it came from but I got the BUG again for more film photography! I have a cabinet here in the Gallery just full of old film cameras plus a Leica M7 film body that works with ALL OF MY M MOUNT LENSES! (see the last post HERE for more info on the lenses). I decided to purchase a new stock of several films:
I picked up some stainless 2 roll developing tanks with a bunch of Hewes (don’t skimp on your reels, buy the best!) Stainless Steel 35mm Reels. For developing I like Rodinal One Shot due to its ease of use and a life span of around 40 years. I simply mix it one tank at a time usually at a 1:50 ratio with water using a small syringe. It allows a very wide latitude of contrast and iso control. I have used several other developers but I keep coming back to Rodinal!
Now, I am playing with several cameras. As I said my main and BEST camera is my Leica M7. But here is a current list of those cameras I am using:
The Petri 7S has been in my hands since 1962 and still shoots great ( I did send it off to have the light seals replaced and a new leather covering ). The Petri has no batteries but rather a solar cell around the lens that drives a needle exposure meter that you simply place into its center notch for a good image!
All of the cameras in my list above have proven reliable but with the Petri you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young!
The Olympus 35 RC is an amazing small rangefinder with very nice controls. It is smaller then the Petri 7s and actually has better control functionality. It does require a battery to run its metering system though which is a step down from the Petri 7S in my opinion. The nice thing other than the size is the fact that EVERYTHING is displayed inside of the viewfinder. Unlike a refurbished Petri 7S which can be found for around $100 used on Ebay, the Olympus 35 RC camera refurbished is demanding around $250! This is a big difference in price and tells you a lot about its quality and demand! I was lucky to find one from a collectors inventory that he sent off to be totally refurbished and re-skinned for much less than $200.00! For you film shooters out there on a budget this is the camera that I recommend if you find yourself desiring a rangefinder.
The Olympus XA was a 35mm rangefinder camera built by Olympus of Japan. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T.
It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.
The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture prioritymetering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover.
This is the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made. It will fit in the palm of my hand and will make a great system to have with me everywhere I go!
The Leica M7 uses batteries and sports a center weighted spot meter measured either off the film or off the shutter. I find that it meters very reliable. It is the top of the heap when it comes to 35mm film cameras. There are a lot of high end rangefinder cameras on the market but the Leica is the top. I really excels in the area of long exposures with either a count down timer in the viewfinder for images metered and controlled in the aperture priority mode or a count up timer for exposures done in the bulb mode. In bulb, it will count up to 16 min then stops counting for battery conservation, but will continue exposing until you release the remote shutter release. It will use NO battery power after the 16 min count up timer turns off until you release the shutter then it requires a pulse of electricity to close the shutter. NO other rangefinder can say this unless you use a pure mechanical camera like a Leica M2 which has no metering system at all.
The Leica M7 is surprisingly heavy but easy to handle. I keep reading about other high end rangefinder bodies out there but when you do the comparison of features I always come back to the M7.
All of my cameras are fun to use and reliable. With the Leica M7 you get the world class glass but with the Petri 7S you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young! The Olympus 35 RC is an advanced rangefinder from the 1970 era and is slick and fun to shoot. You will see examples from these cameras towards the end of this post!
I usually develop my negatives on Sundays. I have a film drying cabinet that I use to dry the film without dust spots overnight. I then will scan the negatives on Monday or Tuesday using a Nikon 4000 ED film scanner at 4000 dpi into the DNG format for editing and cleaning later in the week. I usually shoot 2 or 3 rolls a week.
My favorite film is Rollei IR400. This is available at the big camera stores like Digitaltruth, Freestyle and B&H. What makes this film so special is the fact that is very much like Kodak Tri-X 400 as shot. It has a VERY THIN film base which really makes scanning easy. BUT the most amazing thing about this film is that it is sensitive to INFRARED! If you place a Hoya R72 IR filter on the camera lens the film will record 720nm IR images! There is an ISO hit due to the filter being so dark down to 12 ISO but it is worth it being able to shoot in both normal B&W and IR B&W!
Next I like the Kodak Tri-X 400 film. It gives great contrasts and has a very wide latitude in development. It is well known and tested and for ultra long exposures.
Then comes Eastman Double X Cinema film. This is a GREAT B&W film that gives a very smooth gradation and lovely warm tonality with slightly increased contrasts. This is motion picture film so unless you are going to buy a 400 foot reel you will need to purchase it from the store at Film Photography Project. They will sell it in either 24 exposure rolls or a 100 foot bulk loader roll. It develops nicely in Rodinal at 1:60 for ISO 200 but there are ratios for 100 up to 800 ISO! This film is very much worth experimenting with.
I need to say a few words about the folks at Film Photography Project. They offer an amazing wide selection of films and old cameras! This includes Polaroid cameras and film also! Their Podcast is amazing and I find that it is so good that I now have it running all day while I am working at my gallery in Pawleys Island. Good Stuff, check them out here: Film Photography Project.
Whatever film you decide to use you will be pleased with the results. Processing is easy to do with a VERY small investment. You will need:
That is it. It normally takes me about an hour to develop 2 rolls. I will let them dry for several hours then cut them into strips of 6 and put them into plastic storage sheets.
For scanning, as I said above, I use a Nikon 4000ED film scanner. As you can guess from the name it will scan at 4000 dpi and has a lot of adapters for different types of film scan feeders. It has slide auto feeders, single slide feeders, a 6 position film rail for troublesome film and an automatic roll feeder to scan entire rolls automatically. If you couple this with VIEWSCAN software you have an amazing scanning system that rivals those that pro labs use!
Ok, lets take a look at the results of 3 types of film in 2 cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and its associated images. I have been using film since I was 9 years old. At 13 I had my first darkroom at home. I worked in film in my own darkroom until I was 18 when that period of my life can to an end. 42 years later I re-engaged film photography again and cannot help but ask “Why did I wait so long?” I have been shooting digital since my career at Eastman Kodak when you could ONLY get B&W digital camera systems! I have spent fortunes on digital and have loved every moment of it. Film will NOT take any of that away, I still have digital and continue to use it. But I have to be honest and admit that working in film again fills me with a sense of peace that I have not experiences in a very long time….
Well, in a wild turn of events I have picked up some new camera equipment… This is a really no surprise as it is a sickness or rather addiction! But onward and upward!
I do have to tell you that I am REALLY excited over acquiring these new systems though. And unfortunately, one thing has let to another and thus a long journey has also been started into the realm of film again!
But first let me highlight the “What”!
As you can see in the top image, the newest body is the new Leica M240 24 full frame 24 mega pixel body. It also has a true “live view” which allows use of all sorts of other lenses like the Leica R series that you would NOT normally be able to focus. This means everything from long telephotos to true macro (subject of the next post!). After a few months of use I can tell you that this is the BEST digital system that I have ever used! Along with it I also picked up several lenses.
First, the main lens is the Leica M 50mm f/1.4 Summalux ASPH lens in silver. This is a HEAVY lens. If attacked by a bear I could use it to beat him half to death. The lens itself has turned into my main lens that I use 60% of the time. It has a built in leans hood and takes 46mm filters. The Bokah that this lens can generate is amazing beyond description. It is extremely smooth and easy to use and generates images that are truly amazing!
The next lens is the Leica M mount 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit ASPH. This is a TINY light lens that takes 39mm filters. These smaller filters sized considerably cut the cost of purchasing top of the line B+W filters. Since the M240 camera is a full frame sensor the 28mm really is 28mm! The lens is sharp beyond words and quick to focus. I am really please with this lens and use it for landscapes and lightning photography when mounted on my Fuji X-T1 camera.
The example image for this lens below is a texture overlay. The main image was an Infrared image taken by placing a R72 (720nm) infrared filter on the lens giving a white IR image of a palm leaf, then doing a texture overlay of colored flowers.
The next lens is the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 and its macro adapter with split image view. This is a very unique lens in that it collapses for storage. By itself it is a great 90mm lens and has proven useful for mid range subjects as well as for Infrared work with the addition of a R72 IR filter. When you add its macro adapter (extension tube coupled to a viewfinder modifier) it will then give you macro capabilities down to a 1:3 image ratio! Below is an example of a macro image shot with this lens last week at Moore Farms in Lake City .
Now, I already had my two Voigtlander M mount lenses that I was using with the Fuji systems, but they are M mount!
First is the Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens. This is an amazing lens that is very fast at f/1.8. The focus is smooth and long and it works very well with M mount extension tubes for true macro work (1:1 image ratio). I do have 3 of the 10mm extension tubes for it as well as a Canon 500D closeup lens. For my really small stuff this is my goto lens. It is a little long but has a very nice clam on lens hood. While it is NOT a Leica lens it is very close in terms of quality and ease and the f/1.8 aperture gives lovely bokah!
Here then is an example of a 1:1 life-size macro shot with it!
The last lens that I am going to talk about here is the Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical M Mount lens. Another heavy all metal lens with remarkable focus and DOF. Since it is so wide you can almost have a DOF from right in front of the lens out to infinity! Plus 12mm is really 12mm on the camera! Given that the camera is both full frame and has a live view you can see the power of using this lens and the ease of composition and focus!
In the example image below please notice the extreme range of the depth of field!
As you can see, all of the system components are extremely high quality and easy to use giving stunning results. I like to create Long Exposure and Infrared images as well so I thought that I would share some of them with you below.
Fuji X, what can you say except “Yes Please!”. I am a LONG time X shooter. I started out several years ago with the Fuji X100 and loved every moment of it. I likened shooting with it to going home to Mama… If you know what I mean then you understand. I did decide that I really desired to have a camera with interchangeable lenses and when the Fuji X Pro 1 came out I jumped on it and all of the FX lenses that have since arrived plus several CV lenses as well. The X Pro 1 has become may main goto camera system. I Then purchased the X-E1 due to its electronic shutter release, thus its ability to connect to my lightning trigger and water drop computer system! The X-E1 only lives for such things… When I get it out to play with lightning it is like coming home to a doggy after a long day! I then decided to get another X Pro 1 and have it converted to 720nm Infrared. This system (my 16th IR conversion) is the BEST IR camera that I have ever used and that is a big statement!
So, along comes the X100s, and I look it over and think on it for months. I though that gee, what a neat system to add to my bag. Finally I decided to get one but let me tell you that they are HARD TO FIND! I found on at a little online camera store in Oregon and had them ship it to me last month. I am very glad I made this decision! To say that the X100S is a world class camera is really short selling its capability! I find that I carry it EVERYWHERE I go now. I still use the X Pro 1 for most of my work but the X100s really gives stunning results and the new XTran 2 sensor is amazing. I love the split image manual focus system and wish the other Fuji cameras offered it as well.
The X100s works very well in macro mode and the sharpness, colors and texture are simply breathtaking! You could not ask more of a walk around camera than the Fuji delivers. Even without image stabilization the camera is flawless due to its ability to shoot cleanly at high ISOs!
I am going to share a few of the images generated so far with this incredible camera and you be the judge!
Yes, the new Fuji 55-200mm lens arrived for my fuji camera systems! I am currently shooting with a color X-E1, a color X Pro 1 and a IR converted (720nm) X Pro 1. I know how well the 55-200 works on the color bodies but what I really needed to know how did it work with the IR system! Would it give hot spots as so many of the Fuji lenses do? This post is the report of my findings. The final verdict is that it works very well and as long as you do not go higher than f/16 there are no hot spots to worry about at any zoom range! To me this is a really big deal.
So far only the 14mm and 35mm Fuji lenses are usable in infrared. So the addition of another lens really helps.
I am going to give you some examples of how this lens actually does at both the wide and long ends of the zoom range wide open and closed down so that you can get a feel of the usable Infrared range that you can use. Next week I will do a posting using the lens for color work only.
As you can see as you get to f/11 we start to develop a small hot spot, but nothing that cannot be fixed. Above f/11 the lens becomes unusable at the wide end.
The difference at the long end of the zoom is amazing and is usable over the entire range of the aperture! This is great news for us IR shooters.
There is starting to be a large number of IR photographers out there who are using converted Fuji X Pro 1 camera systems. There are currently 2 conversion companies out there who can do the conversion. I HIGHLY recommend the X Pro 1 as an Infrared platform and with the addition of the 55-200mm lens to our shooting arsenal we are way ahead of the game!
Images that are dark and moody tend to grab our attention. It is as though there is something hidden and dark that demands our attention. We stare at them and analyze the image for a deeper hidden meaning. This creates emotional impact that allows our viewers to share what we felt as we created the images!
Look for dark, stormy skies, moody clouds, dark trees or water. Work in Infrared and you will find that you have a much better chance to capture these kinds of images more often than when working in color. It is still possible to do so in color but you have to work harder at it!
As you can see in the image above, it is moody and draws the viewer into the scene, but it does not have that “dark and stormy” look and feel! As I stated before, it is much easier to capture these types of image when working in Infrared!
Work in both Faux Color and B&W. You never really know what you are going to get unless you take the time to post process both ways. You should even look seriously at the properly white balanced raw image right out of the camera! Sometime you can get a really stunning image there.
Here is the same image processed in B&W.
Try adding a lens vignette to your images to darken the corners. This will give more mood!
Here are some examples of RAW and B&W post processing!
As you can see both versions give stunning results. The most important thing for you to remember is that to get the best results from all of your images it is necessary to take the time to post process in all three modes. Do not short change yourself by cutting corners. Take the time to give each image your best try!
The Fuji X Pro 1 has turned out to be one of the best Infrared camera systems that I have ever used… period! The only good Fuji lenses for Infrared have proved to be the 35mm f/1.4, the 18mm f/2 and the new 14mm. The Viogtlander 75mm f/1.8 has also proved to be a STUNNING lens also! So, the camera has proven its infrared capability, now it is time to discuss in detail the recipe for post processing! It is all quite simple but there are a few requirements that you must understand in order to follow my workflow with understanding.
As you move your RAW (shoot only RAW for IR because of the ability to shift the white balance easily) onto your computer you should automatically tell yourself that you are going to process each selected image in Faux color and B&W. Sometimes you will notice that the un processed image looks great also (wonderful bronze tones) and decide to do a version like this as well!
Lets talk about the RAW conversion process a little bit. Photoshops ACR built in RAW converter will NOT apply the white balance correctly and your images will appear deep red. For this reason I use Capture One version 7 from Phase One. It is simply the BEST RAW converter that I have ever used. You can download a trial version and decide for yourself if what I am telling you is true!
My Initial Editing Steps:
Save your image again with a NEW file name that reflects the difference in your master image library tree!
Remember: Process ALL IMAGES as both Faux Color and B&W. You really do not know what you are going to get till you do so.
All of this really is VERY SIMPLE and once you have done it a few times it will become second nature to you. Soon you will be a post processing Infrared God or Goddess! Congratulations
No, let’s take a look at the image below. Notice the areas that I have circled as places where I desire to change the colors, contrasts and saturations (both plus and minus). Also consider that this is a 720nm converted camera and as such has a very limited color range (light pinks and warm tones and blues).
It is in this area and others like them (similar color values that are the same) that we are going to place control points on and change these values! If you notice that the areas around them also change a little you can place what we call anchor points which are simply control points with no adjustments to bring those areas back to where you wanted them!
You will find this ENTIRE process from the initial loading into photoshop to finish will just take 4 or 5 minutes or less as you become more practiced!
Sometimes Faux Color images simply do not work, then you still have the great B&W ones to work with!
This morning at 9:30 at Georgetown, SC. I decided to get out my cameras and shoot some Shrimp Boat images before I had to open a Co-Op gallery that I am a partial owner of. The Shrimp Boats are a subject that are very dear to me and I visit them every chance that I have.
They are for the most part all falling into decay. The market for local salt water shrimp is almost not enough to support the boats. With the import of fresh water farm shrimp the local fisherman are being forced out of business and the result is the condition of the boat and companies… A very sad state of affairs.
The image above illustrates the wabi-sabi concept: There is beauty in decay It sounds very counter to the way we think as artists, but with a little thought I think that you will be able to agree with the concept.
The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, as described in Brainpickings, “connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.”
For me and what I consider to be “Fine Art Photography”, the concept of Wabi-Sabi fits like a glove in regards to the shrimp fleets. I watch them over the span of time, capturing them again and again. The one thing that stands out above all is the fact that they like everything else will fall into decay… both physically and financially, but faster.
I am going to dedicate a photography project to this concept. I would think that it will take me several years to finish or perhaps unto my death which in a strange twist of logic fits into the project/concept quite well.
So I hope that you enjoy these images and that you intellectually chew on the concept of Wabi-Sabi and to how it will fit into your own artistic visions….
Normally, detailed closeups would be better suited for wabi/sabi studies, but look at these following 2 images and notice how the rust and corrosion feed into the concept. Do you see the detail in the flat areas of the boat and how it is rolling and pitted? These imperfections take on an artistic perfection on their own!