Deciding whether to keep shooting 35mm film

Should I continue shooting 35mm film? I ask myself this question regularly, but never make a decision. Last week I thought I had decided I was going to shoot only medium and large format film, leaving the every day stuff to digital. And I certainly wasn’t going to shoot 35mm color film, since why would I do that if I can’t use it to make darkroom prints?

Then yesterday I went to a pool party and brought the Canon EOS-1v loaded with Portra 400. The 1v is a rugged, fast, weatherproof, professional-level camera. I forget how nice it is to use. I shot a roll of random snapshots, self-processed the roll in the JOBO, and scanned it using the Pakon. It’s really all quite easy when it works.

Thing is, I like the results. I don’t shoot color film often, but now I’m wondering if I should.

I get lazy, so shooting digital entices me. Then I spend some time with film and am immediately reminded that I prefer it.

I just ordered a dozen rolls of Portra 400 in 35mm so I guess that answers the question for now.

 

Luminar, Skylum, DAM – Skylum

It’s time: Re-think your post-processing workflow:

Have you ever seen an Apple TV remote? It has three buttons on it. Compare that to the old-fashioned, TV remote with 60 or more buttons. That’s the kind of direction we want to take at Skylum. Simple should remain simple.

I really like Skylar’s Luminar for editing photos and have been eagerly awaiting their DAM solution, but referencing the Apple TV remote in a positive way like that gives me pause. The Apple TV remote sucks. I get their point about simplicity, but simplicity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Adobe is trying the simple route with Lightroom CC and it’s useless to me. On the other hand, Luminar is a pretty simple editor and I find that it works great for many things.

What I want is a solid, full-featured DAM and editor at a reasonable, subscription-less price. I’m cheering for you, Skylum.

Making Larger Darkroom Prints

I made a handfull of 11″ x 14″ darkroom prints last night. Bigger prints are cool, but I never know what to do with them.

Mostly, I print at 5×7. The smaller paper is relatively inexpensive so I don’t freak out every time I waste a sheet (and I waste a lot of sheets). Smaller prints are easy to handle, display, and store.

Still, big prints are fun. I’ve got about 100 sheets sitting in the freezer so I might as well use them up.

Egg on my face with the Mamiya 6

Self Portrait (2013). Mamiya 6, HP5+, D-76

A few years back I owned a Mamiya 6 medium format rangefinder. Eventually I drifted toward using the Hasselblads for medium format and sold the Mamiya. I’ve been missing it.

Carrying a Hasselblad around “just in case” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I love them, but they’re definitely not convenient. If I want convenience and medium format, the Mamiya 6 is about the best there is.

I’m thinking about trying one again. After all, with a self timer I can make silly things like the above photo :).

Self Portrait (2018)

Finally got a long release cable and bulb for the Crown Graphic. That explains my left hand in the photo. Now I can take large format selfies! (Crown Graphic. HP5+. HC-110)

Andrew (2018)

Andrew is almost straight on here and yet only his right eye is in focus. Super narrow DoF isn’t always a good idea.

I spend a lot of time thinking about cameras, formats, sharpness, color fringing, distortion, megapixels, and so on yet none of that matters when it’s a photo of my mom.

2018 07 05 mom

After four days in beautiful surroundings, I’ve taken maybe a dozen photos. I’m feeling like, “Ooh, a palm tree, how original.” Random selfies are more fun. WHO AM I?

I have got to get this contraption fully functional. It’ll do 35mm but not 120.

Focomat IIc. (Nikon F3. T-MAX P3200 @3200. HC-110)

Also gone: This rice cooker. Superseded by the Instant Pot. I think I may have started a project…Project Gone. 🙂

Rice Cooker. (Crown Graphic, Atomic-X, FF Monobath, f/22 for 3 seconds)

Simple Technology

My electric kettle stopped working recently, so I decided to make a large format photograph of it before throwing it away.

Electric Kettle. Crown Graphic, HP5+, FF Monobath

I’ve used this kettle for a couple of years, but we never got along well. I liked the very controlled pour it allows, but all those buttons just to make some water hot?

I had to pull my tea kettle out of storage, so I made a photo of that, too.

Tea Kettle. Crown Graphic, HP5+, FF Monobath

A tea kettle is beautifully simple. You put water in it and set it on a burner. It makes noise when it’s ready. That’s it. It can’t really malfunction or otherwise fail. It has my preferred number of features… one.

And speaking of simple, I processed these 4×5 negatives in the new FF Monobath. Pour it in, agitate every 30 seconds for 6 minutes, and pour it out. Wash and hang to dry. Very simple.

 

Portrait Lighting on the iPhone

Kelly portrait
Kelly. (iPhone X)

Portrait Lighting on the iPhone X can be a fun, dramatic effect, but I’ve yet to see it hold up on anything much larger than a phone screen. The above image of my niece Kelly is a pretty typical example. It looks impressive on the phone, but view it at any reasonable size and it kind of falls down. She loved it when I showed it to her on the phone, so maybe I’m just being too critical.

It’s possible I’m doing something wrong or using Portrait Lighting in situations where it doesn’t make sense, so I’ll keep trying.

Shelving 35mm film for a while

20171229 35mm film camera shelf

I’m taking a hiatus from shooting 35mm film, so I thought I’d share some notes about why.

My use of 35mm film has been driven more by my love of the cameras than by the results I’m getting.

I’m indoors most of the time and even though many film photographers seem to make wonderful photos with the slower speed of film, mine just end up badly-exposed or motion-blurred. I can pretend they’re “art” but if I’m honest they’re just crappy images.

I’ve been carrying the Fuji X-Pro2 or X–100T instead of the Leicas and the results are simply better. This doesn’t mean I won’t allow myself to put a roll through the Leica now and then, but I’m not going to be carrying one regularly.

Shooting, processing, and scanning 36 exposures on the off chance there’s a usable image or two in there has become less interesting. I enjoy the process, but the results have been meh. I tend to give film images the benefit of the doubt simply because they’re film images and that’s not the proper way to judge them.

With medium format, I still love the cameras and, more importantly, the results are better. I often like every image on a roll of 12 6×6 photos from the Hasselblad. This is probably because with medium format I’m deliberately trying to create an image rather than just snapping stuff at random and hoping for the best.

The larger negatives are easier to scan, easier to enlarge in the darkroom, easier to handle, and easier to view. I love that a contact sheet of 6×6 negatives works standalone as something that can be hung and appreciated as-is. I also like making contact prints from 4×5 negatives on 5×7 paper.

And of course the resolution is much greater, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So, this coming year I’ll shoot digital for every day snapshots and reserve medium and large format film for when I want to “make photographs”. I’d like to take lots of portraits using the larger formats. Maybe I’ll get ambitious and actually ask people to sit for me.

It’s an experiment.