Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Epson V600 Scanner

The Epson Perfection V600 has been my film scanner for going on 2 years now. When I was first searching I found several scanners that were a little bit cheaper and had good reviews, but I wanted one that did both 35mm and 120. While professional photographers would probably consider my $200 Epson a cheap toy, it has served its purpose well for me. I can scan 12 35mm frames or 3 120mm frames at once and do light color correction with the included software to get the flattest image out of my negative before I bring it into lightroom. I do have some issues with dust as you can see in my very "meta" scanned image of my scanner, but I think those are more operator error than anything. All in all I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good dedicated film scanner. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

April Ups and Downs

The month of April got off to a slow start for me and in the first two weeks I only had two days of paid work. We had just gotten back from our honeymoon and I had more than enough film to develop and errands to keep me busy, but a slow month is unnerving nonetheless. Things kicked into gear last week though, and in a departure from the norm I was able to line up 8 straight days of work without having to turn anything down. A typical day for film jobs is 12+ hours, so I started to get a little sleep deprived towards the end but to me there's no better feeling than being busy with a bunch of interesting jobs. I snapped a couple of pictures here and there, but I need to find a nice compact camera to keep in my work bag. I'm between a fuji instax mini 90, or a contax T2, unless someone has a better suggestion. Tomorrow I'm off to work an aerial shoot in Tampa!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

TBT - Holga 2008

This was the camera that started my whole fascination with analog photography. I went to Peru to study abroad in 2008 and brought a Nikon D200 with a bunch of lenses, and I did get some great shots with it. But one of my friends there had a holga and it caught my attention, so I borrowed it and bought my first roll of film. There was a place I could take a bus to that sold fuji 120 for a couple dollars that also developed and scanned it. I ended up having so much fun with it that the friend let me keep it as a gift and I took it everywhere. These are some really low res scans from a trip around the north of Peru that I did. I still have the original negatives somewhere, one day i'll scan them again. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Minolta Hi-Matic E

The handy little Hi-Matic is actually my only working rangefinder at the moment. I bought this camera to fill the void left in my heart when my Yashica Electro 35 GS broke (that's another story for another post). I was attracted to the fast 40mm f1.7 lens, and I picked it up for a steal of a price at $25 on etsy. It showed up not working, but with some tinkering I found that one of the wires running out from the battery terminal was disconnected. This was back when I still worked at a camera rental house in 2011 and I brought it in and had my boss help me solder the wire back into place. I then tracked down batteries with the correct voltage and got them to hold in place with a piece of folded over tinfoil. One of the main problems with buying old cameras is that many used mercury batteries which are no longer sold. I would advise doing some research before buying a camera from the 80's or earlier on the type of batteries used, there is a thread or article for just about everything out there. So eventually I got it to spring to life and brought it on a couple trips. It's a fully automatic camera and I missed the Yashica's aperture priority style, but the size and ease of use were nice benefits. When I had enough light, the pictures came out surprisingly well. Not super sharp, but contrasty and with a great vintage feel. However once I went in for a closer look, I started to find a dark circle in the top half of the frame on shots with a clear sky. I realized that the back of the lens has a tiny little blemish which is significant enough to cast a small, round shadow that is only noticeable against something flat like a sky or a wall. I'm able to dodge it in Lightroom so that it's barely noticeable, but it'll always be there. What a shame that such a fun little camera got tainted by a little tiny speck! Regardless, it was my go to travel camera for about two years. The photo of Coney Island below is one of my all time favorites and I had it blown up to 30"x40" and it hangs on the wall to this day. Not too shabby for $25.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Aerials over the Keys

How lucky do you have to be to fly around in a beautifully restored 1941 seaplane and call what you're doing "work"? Well I did more than just fly around, but that's exactly what happened on this day last week. I was working as a Cineflex technician on a commercial for a fashion brand that featured a seaplane. The day before the shoot I rigged everything up and made sure it was all working, and then the morning of we began our day at Opa Locka airport. The camera helicopter was to shoot the seaplane on the way down to the Keys, and then land for a refuel break at Marathon airport. I needed to be close by in case any problems came up with the camera, but there was no space for me in the helicopter, so thats how I ended up hitching a ride in the seaplane. The camera worked flawlessly so I was free to enjoy the ride and observe lots of cool marine life and scenery! It was definitely one that will be hard to top. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hasselblad 500 C/M

Where do you begin talking about a camera that's as famous as the 500 C/M? The camera that went to the moon, the camera used by the best photographers, the camera that spawned scores of imitators? I've heard the name and the legend for as long as i've had an interest in photography, but it wasn't until a month ago that I actually held one in my hands and learned how it works. I read a great article recently about the amazing variety of designs and functions in film cameras. There were thousands and thousands of cameras made in the last century and a half and they came in every color and shape and concept imaginable. That's half the fun of playing with old cameras, and a big reason why digital feels stale to me lately, everything looks and feels the same. So I learned that the shutter is in the lens, and the film gets loaded in the back and you can swap backs mid roll, and then held it and felt the "CLUNK" when you press the button... it was magical. It just felt right, there's nothing to criticize. I borrowed it from a friend and coworker who hadn't used it for 10 years and couldn't understand why I wanted to lug it around on my honeymoon. I dont think I came up with a good answer but I packed it up and skipped town before he could rethink the proposition. By now if you read this blog you've seen four or five posts of photos I took on the 'blad. Hopefully you found something reminiscent of "art" or a glimmer of inspiration in them. All I know is that i'll treasure those photos for life and not a day goes by where I don't browse ebay looking for that perfect deal. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Time Magazine Camera

My first review ever is of the funny little plastic camera commonly known as the Time Magazine camera. This is because it was given away for free with a subscription to Time, as well as Sports Illustrated. Apparently the same model was sold under about a hundred different logos which makes it strange that mine doesn't sport any ID. Maybe it had a sticker at one point and it fell off, but the famous "Kinetic Optical Color Lens" is the giveaway. The camera has one fixed shutter speed and four aperture settings, and the focus is fixed as well. I wasn't sure if there was a standard film ASA you are supposed to use with it, so I loaded it with trusty 400TX. I let it float around in my bag for 2 weeks and pulled it out once in a while to pop off a shot. The photos were just as strange as I would have imagined. The sharpest one of the whole roll was one taken indoors in morning light, while several of the ones in broad daylight were blurry. It also seems like half of the shutter gets stuck sometimes, which you can see in the shots that are about 2 stops difference from left to right. In the end i had a pretty fun time using it, and I dont regret spending that $5. Will I use it again? I'm not really sure. Maybe ill tape it up in a few plastic bags and take it into the ocean. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Honeymoon Film no.4 - Color

After a lot of hype and anticipation, I finally got back my color negatives and the results were...underwhelming. There were some nice pictures in the mix but I would be lying if I said I was completely happy with them. A few different things contributed to this: first of all, Ireland is generally overcast, drizzly and foggy which you can see in the pictures especially from Glenveagh national park. That kind of lighting and atmosphere lends itself to contrasty black and white film. Second, I was not at all pleased with the development done by the lab. My negatives were full of smudges and dirt and had several scratches. You can see little black and white specks all over them where I got sick of clone brushing or if it was too big to be removed easily. Lastly I used lomography 400 color film out of necessity, it was the only store open at that time before we left New York. I dont know much about the film but assume it's meant to give that famous lomo look. I would be interested to see how Portra would have performed in the same scenarios. Anyways, before I dissuade you, go ahead and take a look and judge for yourself. Every shot is not always going to be perfect and that's what makes it interesting and challenges me to improve my work. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Honeymoon Film no.3

After hours spent with my hands in a changing bag and pouring chemicals into the tank, I finally finished my 6 black and white rolls. I'm definitely going to need to invest in a bigger Patterson tank if I keep up this habit (I gave back the Hasselblad so now I dont have a medium format camera of my own, but the leftover rolls in the closet are calling to me...). I've been really happy with the results and have gotten some of my favorite images ever. The "keeper" rate has been about 40-50%, whereas with digital its probably less than 10% for me. I think that's pretty cool and am going to use this as an exercise to be more frugal when I shoot video in the future. My two color rolls are back from the lab so those have to be scanned next, and then my next mission is to find a place to do enlargements. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Honeymoon Film No. 2

Here are some photos from the second batch that I finished yesterday, these are from Dublin and Belfast. The black&white suited the rainy overcast city shots, but some would question its use in nature. I really like the way a few of them came out, I think it gives the trees an "eerie" feeling. I also shot two rolls of color, but they had to be sent out to a lab and should come back this friday. I want to take a stab at home developing color one of these days. I know its a little more difficult than black and white since the chemicals need to be hot and sustain a constant temperature, but how hard could it really be? Hopefully I can find time to do that and write about it in the near future. 

Me and Steffy were having a discussion about film grain vs. digital noise. She doubted that I could pick the two apart in a blind test, but I think I absolutely could. The grain of black and white film is what makes it special and why everyone loves it! What do you think? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Honeymoon Film no.1

We got back from our honeymoon last Thursday and hit the ground running. On our massive to do list were difficult things like "get health insurance", "buy a new car", "fix the broken air conditioner", among many others. Somewhere in the chaos I found time to develop a few rolls of my film and the results have been absolutely stunning; the images really vindicated all of the effort I put in. These were all shot on a 1991 Hasselblad 500 C/M with a Zeiss 80mm lens, on Kodak TMAX 400 film, from the first few days of our trip when we were in New York. 

The next 2 rolls have been developed but I haven't scanned them yet, i'm looking forward to doing that soon. I'm also working on a series of articles discussing my experiences with different cameras and gear that I think could be useful to my fellow photographers and travelers. I hope you enjoy!