This week we'll take a look at one of my favorite black and white films: Ilford FP4+. What makes this newest version of a very, very old film stock so appealing? Let's find out.
I somehow conned my dad into looking at viewer submission photos with me on Thanksgiving morning. I'd been bartending til 5am the night before so was running on like 3 hours of sleep. We drank some scotch.
So I joined CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo and now have access to a fully-stocked darkroom. I rolled on down there with my one roll of 35mm and 2 rolls of 120 and tried my hand at developing them on my own. How'd it work? Great (with one caveat)! First, the negative: My 35mm was shot. It was a mix between me removing them from the dryer prematurely and my old Minolta shortcircuiting and scratching up the negatives. Suffice to say, I need a new 35mm. Here are some of the shots. I think they sort of look cool in a ruined vintage sort of way.
The 120, on the other hand, looks pretty flawless. Any issues are exposure-based, not anything to do with the developer.
KC's aunt was visiting Niagara Falls last month, so we drove up and spent an afternoon there.
I also shot off a roll down in South Buffalo so I'd have it ready to develop. Kinda neat looking.
So yeah. Overall, a success. I'll be back for more. Maybe I'll even try my hand at developing my own 4x5 next time.
I feel I've been neglecting this blog. My three (occasional) readers must be deeply distressed by my recent inactivity, so I'm happy to inform you that I'll be updating more frequently. I recently wrapped up my summer wedding bonanza, so I'll update with some photos from the last couple ceremonies soon. Right now, however, we talk film - specifically, slide film.
I love slide film. I'm not even sure why, but on larger formats (6x7 and above) the look of the slides held up to a light is just magical. I know color negative rules the already-greatly-diminished film landscape, but there's an absolutely indescribable quality to a large slide negative (positive?) that no digital photo will ever capture, dynamic range be damned!
I finally got around to shipping my slides out to Praus in Rochester, and they did a great job like always. These were from the same trip to Tifft that I posted about more than a month ago. 6x7 is much more cost-effective than 4x5, and Velvia 50 is still available in the format, as opposed to 4x5, where one can only buy its much-maligned 100 speed brother. How do they look? Pretty good! (With a caveat.)
I pretty much nailed the exposure on these guys, and hit the focus on most, but I wasn't as precise as I'd like to be. That had, in fact, been a consistent problem with the RB67 - I found it difficult to focus precisely with the top-mounted screen. As luck would have it, I found a solution (albeit after these were taken.)
Turns out the RB67 has a little pop-up magnifier hidden away in its viewfinder. With that bad boy, I should be able to more perfectly compose the shots I'm looking for. I'm still a little bit suspicious of the 127mm lens's quality, but I'm willing to give it a few more rolls before I make a final decision.
Comparing these slides to the Ektar negatives I posted a month ago is almost embarrassing. The dynamic range might be smaller, but the images are undeniably better.
More posts to come. I swear! Stick around. I'll make it worth your while.
Not much to say. Shot another wedding today. This one was different in its free-flowing, laid-back vibe. Most weddings I've shot have been heavily regimented and planned to oblivion, but this one just sort of floated along. It was a Buddhist ceremony(!), so I suppose the lack of rigid structure was appropriate. Actually, I don't really know if that's true. Still, it was a lovely ceremony with kind people. The reception was at the park where my high school cross country team practiced, but I'd never been to the lake/pond where we ended up. It was pretty neat.
Weddings. I'm photographing them. I've got a bunch this summer, but here's a few shots from the first two of the season. First up was the Niezgoda/Detinger ceremony. This one was different from any I've done before since I've known the groom, Steve, for over a decade now. The day was fantastic, and culminated in me drinking for hours with old friends after the reception had slowed down.
Then, a week later, I photographed the wedding of Kaitlyn and Nick. It was about a million degrees in the mid-day, but we soldiered on and got some beautiful shots. I haven't nearly finished working my way through these, so here's some early samples.
Just got my roll of Portra 400 6x7 back from the camera store. Last weekend, my dad and I drove out to the Tifft Nature Reserve in Lackawanna. Tifft is a one-time garbage dump turned really-quite-lovely park in the middle of industrial South Buffalo. The light wasn't where I wanted when I took these, but I was anxious to shoot them all off and get to the Velvia 50 I brought, so here's what I got.
Man the Allentown Art Festival is the worst. Once a year, all the suburbanite Western New Yorkers drive their Toyota Highlanders into the big city to block my driveway and overpay for cheap tchotchkes. My buddy Dave and I went. He bought a coffee mug and we went to Aroma for drinks. I took some 35mm photos on Portra 160.
Then I shot the rest of the roll at City of Night at South Buffalo's old Silo City. That was, at least, fun.
The nonexistent rumors of my death being greatly exaggerated, I've returned to this dark corner of the internet to post my film failures. Turns out the Crown Graphic didn't have a light leak. The bright blotches popping up in my photos was a result of loading film holders and then not immediately packing them away in the darkness of a photo bag. So yeah... I learned my lesson, and they'll all look lovely from here on out. If I don't underexpose them. I shot off the rest of my Velvia and the results were disastrous. I've decided to finally bite the bullet and buy a spot meter, because Jesus Christ. Look at this garbage.
Whoops! My 40 year old light meter finally met its maker, so these were completely destroyed. 3 bucks a shot, down the drain.
These turned out a little bit better:
It's all relative though. I sort of hate them all. I'll get better. I promise!
Oh, and I bought this thing:
Mamiya RB67 6x7 medium format camera. I took this bad boy to Pittsburgh for a Premier League friendly and took some pictures. They aren't fine art, but they at least proved the camera works.
I cured my hangover with 4 beers and trudged out to the Buffalo Pride parade with my mother. I'm not gay or particularly proud of myself, but I enjoyed the parade.
Luckily, one of my mother's degenerate friends bought a case of Corona, and I was able to multiply my four beers into many more. I took my 70-200 2.8 along and took a bunch of photos.
And here they are, in all their glory.
Well, not all of them, obviously. I think I took something like 700, edited 100, and am posting like 8. So there's that.
So there you have it. The Gay Pride Parade in America's most underrated city. Maybe I'll post more later, but more likely I'll end up drunk with no interest in internet photography.
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to photograph the wedding of Jennifer and Pete Delmonte.
This ceremony was great, as the locations really showed off the beauty of this underrated city. The reception may have been in the suburbs, but the ceremony and portrait sessions were in the Elmwood area of Buffalo.
The weather cooperated with a beautiful, sunny June day. I did have some issues with my flash, but got things fixed and the ceremony went off without a hitch.
Knocked out my first wedding of the summer on Saturday. The rest should be interesting (brutal) since I'm starting a full-time job with a software company in a week. I ran into some relatively taxing difficulty with my gear, but managed to soldier through and create some pretty nice images. You can see a bigger selection on my Facebook page.
So my camera has a light leak. It's most likely the bellows (though I suppose it could be the film holders, but I suspect not) and I'm going to have to jam a flashlight in there and fix it. Getting my Velvia back, it was fun to see that white splotch in the corner of (almost) every image. The photos look pretty good though, outside some iffy exposure. Below, I've skillfully demonstrated the light leaks with Photoshop.
I cropped that noise on out, so they're (sort of) usable images now.
The second fun part of my film adventure was sending the wrong negatives in, so I accidentally got two unused negatives back. Cool beans.
Also, I fried this one. It's pretty disappointing, because that ice is long gone now (it was in the low 80s today) and that was a gorgeous sunset. That being said, the composition is pretty bad, and I don't miss the cold even a little bit. I'm not sure how I got this so wrong, but the proof is in the pudding. Oh well.
SAVING GRACE: this photo. The light and everything isn't perfect, but it has that look you can't get with digital. It's maybe a little underexposed - I could certainly brighten it up in Facebook - but I think I like the velvety look it has here. The zoomed-in detail is pretty stunning too.
For what it's worth, the original resolution was 14970 x 11829. That's just nuts. And yes, that's definitely an eyelash or something in the middle. I'll have to scan it again.
Delaware Camera finally got my negatives back to me, a week after I dropped them off. These were an odd bunch, and I'm frankly surprised so many turned out alright. I'm chalking this up to the crazy dynamic range of black and white negative film. There's a ton of room for error. Still, trying to shoot 100 rated film in low-light conditions is flirting with disaster, and most of them aren't exposed properly.
I sort of love the look of the T-Max. It's a strong, contrasty aesthetic that transforms the most mundane scenes into something vaguely profound. I'm going to order a box of 4x5 T-Max for portraits and landscapes soon.
Now if you aren't familiar with Easter in Buffalo, it's essentially an opportunity for all us Polish Americans to trot out our ethnic pride for a week. Buried deep in the city's desolate East Side is the indoor Broadway Market, an old cement building filled with pierogi, golabki and horseradish of all kinds. It's awesome.
I went with my mom (pictured sneakily in the foreground of the above photo) and struggled to handhold the Minolta with slow film in the low light. The pictures turned out better than I'd expected.
I ate a sausage sandwich and we bought kraut, meat, and a couple butter lambs. All in all, a successful day.
I burned off the rest of the roll at my folk's house and at the Ohio gas station I posted about last week.
I'd love to shoot some more T-Max on larger formats, and then develop it myself. The look is just beautiful, and it's a very forgiving film, so long as you take into account its glacial speed.
I took rolls of Ektar and Tmax 100 into my local camera store yesterday. Apparently it takes several days to process black and white (if you're lazy), but I got my Ektar back in a couple hours. I'd complained about the look of Ektar, but it occurs to me that maybe I was just using it wrong. I took my mom's old Minolta x370 to South Buffalo to shoot some urban decay. Unfortunately, halfway through my roll of Ektar, the camera started jamming and I lost a bunch of photos. Example below.
This is too bad, because that isn't a bad looking shot. Ektar is weird in that it definitely has a sort of blueish tint to it, but the other colors really pop. It almost looks like a comic book. I think that in less contrasty scenes, the look can be really pleasing.
I took 2 4x5 exposures on Velvia 100, and I won't know how those turned out til next week, but the 35mm doesn't look half bad.
People say Ektar acts more like slide film and therefor requires greater care with exposure. This seems true, but if you're going to guess, guess on the overexposed end of the spectrum. Any images I underexposed were unusable, but the slightly bright ones look pretty good.
When I get the black and white negatives back, I'll toss them up here. In the meantime, 180mm or 210mm large format lens? Thoughts?
So a friend of mine was in a position to hook me up with a trip to the top of Statler City. If you aren't from Buffalo, that's this place right der. I invited Old Father Wahlstrom, and we trekked up to the roof to photograph the Rust Belt Utopia I call home as the sun set.
The tall walls were a real issue, especially since the 5d Mark ii (unmodified with Magic Lantern) can't do long exposures in live view mode. I did the best I could with the circumstances.
The view was pretty incredible. It was a clear day, and Niagara Falls was clearly visible. Joe, the kindly man who took us up to the roof, told us that we should be able to see Toronto too, but I have no idea if that was true.
If nothing else, it showed me how fucking hideous the Buffalo Convention Center is. A fairly new build, that horrible cube of gray concrete stood out like a sore thumb in the field of beautiful art deco and neoclassical buildings.
It's on the bottom-left below. Look at that fucking thing.
So now I just need to figure out how to get on some more buildings. If you have any suggestions, I'll buy you a six pack of Southern Tier.
Fun fact: I've never shot slide. Not even a little bit. I've heard Velvia is really tough to work with, especially in high-contrast settings, so I was a little bit nervous as I packed up all my film gear and headed down to beautiful Lackawanna, New York.
Yes, I'm still shooting on the rickety Crown Graphic. Yes, I would like to upgrade. No, I don't have enough money to do that.
To be honest, it probably looks a lot like this image. I really just wanted to see how the Velvia rendered the scene. I feel fairly confident that I nailed the exposure, so I'm excited to see.
The second image was a variation on this:
This one's a little less representative, since it was shot hand-held in an effort to gauge the light. I was using my 5d to confirm my meter readings, and I just snapped a shot because it was pretty. I shot it at ISO800, at something like 1/100th of a second, so it represents the Velvia 100 at 1/4 of a second poorly, to say the least. It actually came out pretty overexposed before Photoshopping. What impact that will have on the Velvia is up in the air. The actual shot was tripod-mounted and composed more carefully. I'm curious to see how the exposure looks on that one. If all goes well I'll shoot a few more exposures this weekend. I may send them in right away to get an idea of how they look before I burn anymore film. Of course, they'll all be posted here.
Until next time.
So the polar vortex decided it liked upstate New York and has rolled back in for another week or two. In the event that winter never ends, that I die in this frozen hellhole, or that I lose interest and never post again, I felt I should offer an update on film photo land, for the 3 people who might be interested. In short, I've been holed up in my apartment, trying not to die of hypothermia, lens shopping.
In case you're interested, the Crown Graphic is currently listed on Ebay for a slightly exorbitant price: http://www.ebay.com/itm/231169783025?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
I'm willing to move on that price. You know what they say: Aim for the moon. If you fall short, you'll end up suffocating in the frozen void of outer space.
In other news, I'm considering purchasing any and all of the following: the 16-35 L lens for the 5dmii, a Bronica or Mamiya 6x7 medium format film camera, a wooden folding 4x5 field camera from Zone VI or Wista. Any suggestions? Any gear to sell? Let me know!
Today, I got the remaining 4 negatives I had forgotten to mail last week. If you read all my updates, I'm sure you're pretty sick of this beach.
I actually sort of love this. This is essentially a straight scan, with no digital post-production. I never cease to be amazed by Portra's dynamic range. It's hard to see here, but the shadows retain detail, even in a shot that's metered for the sun. It's pretty cool.
Unfortunately, not all my photos worked out.
So I don't hate this photo, but it's obviously shot. Outside the off-center framing, I apparently caught the Crown Graphic's rail on the top of the image, while screwing with the lens tilt. This one was exposed for the sky, while the sun was still higher in the sky, and the lake turned bright gold for a minute. Rail in the photo, off-center sun, and problem with focus, but still... it's sort of nice looking. I'll try this one again. I'd love to attempt it with a split ND filter.