Allentown Art Fest 35mm

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 35mm Project Mark iii / Toronto Snow Bonanza

Last weekend saw me trekking up the Godforsaken QEW (because in Canada, they name everything after another nation's monarch) to Toronto to pick the lady up post Taiwan visit.  We actually had a great time.  I brought the Minolta along, because the thought of losing the 5d to theft or drunken absentmindedness was too much to bear, and I actually got some nice shots.  For what it's worth, Portra is now my favorite film.  I'm actually not sure what Ektar brings to the table that Portra doesn't.  If you know, please educate me. So we braved a mini-blizzard to eat noodles on Queen street and drink coffee at a Starbucks.  Have you ever been to one of those?  It was really good.

Mad photos of snow and KC's back.  Enjoy.

Large Format Mini Update

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. Sunset on frozen Lake Erie.

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.

My Ghetto Large Format Setup

My initial jump into large format came after months of contemplating the idea.  Try as I might, I couldn't get myself to pull the trigger on a $500+ folding camera like a Wista or Shenhao, and wasn't about to buy a more affordable studio camera to lug around in my backpack. The camera I finally settled on was a badly used Graflex Crown Graphic from ebay.  The camera, with the lens and 3 film holders, cost $150, including the shipping.  Is it ideal for landscape photography?  Not really.  The movements are extremely limited, and it won't fold up with my Fujinon 90mm mounted.  Still, it was really really cheap, and it's hard to argue with that.  What DSLR can you get for 200 bucks?

The Crown Graphic, in all its cheesy glory.

The lens that came on the camera was really a piece of junk.  It's a Graflex Optar 135 (wide normal) that would, in great condition, probably be worth less than $100.  It had no coverage for movements to speak of, was scratched pretty badly, and stuck for several seconds on any exposure longer than a quarter second.


As soon as I was able, I picked up a Fujinon 90mm f8 on KEH for around $300.  This lens, which is roughly a 30mm or so on 35mm or digital, is a little bit more difficult to focus on the ground glass, but provides superior images.  Plus, it's pretty.

The Fujinon mounted on the Crown Graphic.

So far, I've shot exclusively Ektar 100 and Black and White.  I have a box of Kodak Portra 160 on the way from Amazon, so I'll have a broader range of experience with it soon.

When I get my negatives back, I run them through an Epson v700 flatbed scanner.  If I ever take any really dynamic shots, I'll certainly get them drum scanned professionally.

Just for fun, here's a negative on my ghetto light table (a Kindle Fire running a flashlight app.)

An Ektar 100 negative on the Kindle.

And here's the same image after scanning.

Image 1 (4)

So there you have it.  A fully functional large format kit for about $400.  That's what you'd pay for a Canon t3.  Grab a tripod and cable release and you're ready to roll.  My next move is to pick up an old Pentax Digital Spotmeter on KEH, then to upgrade to a wooden folding camera, and possibly buy a portrait lens.  (Whatever money I make with the digital camera gets dumped into the large format.)

If you shoot large format, what's your setup?  Where should I go from here?