Never Shoot at Box Speed

When using an artistic medium such as film, there are many considerations that are in play when deciding just which film to pick. Color and B&W aside; box speed is a primary determinant factor in what, how, and where you’re going to be able to shoot. If it’s golden hour almost dusk, most shooters most likely will stick to a 400-and-above speed film, just the same as someone may choose a 100 speed film to shoot in that harsh mid-day sun.

For those unaware of pushing and pulling film, this simply refers to shooting your film over or under the box speed. i.e. 400 speed pushed to 800 would be +1. The +() only really comes in handy when you need to make a personal note of, or let your developing lab know what you’d like the film to be developed at. BW and Slide films are often more finicky about being pushed or pulled in the sense that they need to be developed as they were shot. Color film is quite different, you can have a roll of Portra 800 and shoot it at 100 or even 200 and still get beautiful results. This is what’s known as latitude; essentially how much a film can handle before having issues. Therefore, by intentionally over or underexposing your film you can achieve some pretty cool results.

All of the fancy terms aside, shooting your film over or under can mean a few things: color shifts, highlights, shadows, and grain alterations. Take that Portra 800 for example, it’s a rather well saturated stock with a medium amount of grain. When shot at 400 or 200 it can appear almost dreamy, kind of heavy air if that makes sense. This is a trick often used by portrait and wedding photographers. The biggest key is that while you may shoot your film over or under the box, you do nothing different when developing. This can be nice for home developers because that means you won’t have to wait for multiple rolls to get the most life out of your chems.

As most things in photography are easier to show, this happens to be one of them. So, in order of top left to bottom right we have: Portra 800 shot at 640, Portra 800 shot and developed at 3200, Pro400h shot at 200, and Portra 800 shot at 400.

 

Hopefully this helps give those out there the push they needed to experiment! As always, have fun and keep shooting!

Large Format Update

With my recent acquisition of an Epson v600 I’m finally able to scan at levels comparable to that of my lab. Whereas previously I had been using my D750, the v600 easily achieves proper tones for color, and perfect balancing for black and white. There is unfortunately one downfall in the Epson and that is the size of the scanner itself, it’s a narrow band in the center of the device. So that means no full 4×5 scans for now…or so they thought. I found an easy way around this; scan the 4×5 in two halves while maintaining the same settings for each scan and then stitching the two parts together in photoshop. Albeit a lengthy solution, it’s still quicker than the time I’d spend shooting and processing with my Nikon.

Scanner aside, I’ve improved my shooting and developing workflows to be as efficient and yield the highest quality possible. I’ll include my dev notes in a later post as I feel there are many out there that may appreciate a brief version of dev notes.

In terms of what I’ve been shooting, most of the subject matter happens to be landscapes or abandoned barns/active churches. In other words, not many portraits are being made on the big boi. That is something I hope to change, especially after developing a batch of Portra 400 for a friend and seeing one of his portraits. Large format has the ability to add a beautiful universe of depth to an already incredible subject matter. So much to the point that it’s as if the negative itself has now become art. So, I’d say look out in the coming weeks for some portraits shot on large format…hopefully more interesting than just standard portraits. Maybe some people doing flips, or just anything unique that presents itself!

 

Instead of more words, I’m just going to show you some of my recent large works. Enjoy!

bogseahawlrg-2

various-2

 

 

 

First Time Shooting and Developing 4×5

The other day I had a chance to finally shoot my Omega View 45c that’s been sitting for about a week. I hadn’t been able to get a hold of film holders at the time of purchase, but I did have everything thing else. My coworker gave me three film holders and has since given me one more, but along with those holders he gave me some HP5 for testing purposes. HP5 is like an old friend that you haven’t seen in years, but you also saw ten minutes ago; it’s just so familiar and second-nature to be around.

For the shot set-up, I ran a single soft box and a black backdrop to keep a clean aesthetic that complimented the BW nature of HP5. The first shot I attempted was a two second exposure of our fig leaf plant which subsequently failed due to proper planning. The leaf itself was well exposed, however the remainder of the frame was blown out. I’ll include that lost shot below. The second and best shot I took out of my three was of Leigh. I found out the hard way how f/5.6 on large format is equivalent to f/1.2 on full frame/35mm. In other words, an extremely small portion of the shot was in complete focus.

For the development process I decided to try a rather unorthodox method, and maybe not completely archival method for that matter. By using a Patterson 3-reel tank with a Mod 54 insert, I loaded up my film in the dark bag and prepared everything else. The only chemicals I used were Cinestill’s monobath which yields some pretty neat results albeit quite contrasty and grain intensive. I unfortunately forgot to insert the black plastic spindle that sits into the center of the mod 54, preventing any unwanted light leaks between chemicals and water washes, etc. This error caused a very slight light leak in the upper right corner of the shot of Leigh, just a part of the learning process.

The development steps I use are pretty straight forward:

Step 1: increase temp to 80 by flowing warm water over

Step 2: fill tank with water at temp to warm the tank

Step 3: pour the Cinestill monobath into the Patterson tank, beginning the timer once poured

Step 4: agitate tank evenly for 2:40, pour back into Cinestill container for future use

Step 5: by following these agitations steps, fill with new water in between each set

5 agitations

10 agitations

20 agitations

5 agitations

Step 6: remove film, dry, and enjoy!

 

Hope you all enjoyed this short article, I’ll continue documenting the large format process as I improve both in composition and development skills. As always, keep shooting film!

 

The Endless Dilemma—HP5 or 400TX?!?

For those of us who prefer shooting B&W for street photography, I’m sure you’re well aware of the various options available. While there are many ways you can choose a stock, I prefer to base my selections depending on the aesthetic I’m hunting for. I often want high-contrast and high detail for some of the work that I do; I find it adds that extra touch that’s hard to describe, but it’s just there. When I’m not looking for a contrasty film, I want a nice sharp and gentle shadow look—typically found in Ilford Delta 100 or Kodak T-Max 100.

When it comes down to it and you want a nice versatile BW film that can be pushed out the wazoo and give you every inch of detail, HP5 and 400TX are strong contenders. I often have a hard time determining whether I enjoy one or the other, therefore I continue to shoot with both. Unlike color film and how prices can be scattered, making the decision on one versus another a bit easier, these two are unfortunately within 50 cents of each other. So, take your frugal decision making-self out of the choice…what now? How can you possibly decide? Maybe you could play the brand-loyalty card; every shooter has their preference of Kodak and Ilford, but can that really be the deciding factor? Maybe you like buying film in bulk, that’s a quick method of choosing as HP5 is ~$20 less than 400TX is. But that just doesn’t seem fair to put the two against each other for brand loyalty, or price-points; what really makes the case is what you like most.

Here’s how this will work, I’m going to put up two shots side-by-side without any hint towards which brand it is. At the very end of the article you can discover which you liked most!

 

You have made it! To the bottom of the page that is, and the answers you’ve been patiently awaiting. I’ll list out the film stock in order from left to right, and are as follows: 400tx, hp5, 400tx, 400tx, hp5, hp5, and finally 400tx. Let it be noted that the photo of the man in the hat was shot on a roll where I pushed it to 1600. I’m currently waiting to get back my roll I pushed all the way to 3200 so we’ll see how that goes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this short little comparison of the two and maybe it helped you arrive at a conclusion on which stock you prefer more. All the same, keep it analog, and have fun shooting!

A Small Victory – The Rollei 35 Rangefinder

Long have I awaited the day that I find a Rollei 35 in both a wonderful condition and a low price. Well, let me tell you that that day has come and will continue to give me joy. The compact and cute nature of this camera are nothing short of a marvel. Coming from shooting on a full-bodied Minolta let alone my 750, the size difference is incredible! A telescopic lens allows the Rollei to be pocketed at a moment’s notice, transforming your tiny Zeiss-lens powerhouse into a weekend getaway. I find myself constantly smiling while shooting with this simply due to its form factor. How could you not fall in love with a camera this small!?!?

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While this rangefinder is not as easy to focus in perfectly, it’s definitely worth taking the time to perfect your art. For those unfamiliar with the configuration of the camera, the viewfinder is nothing more than a reference for framing. There’s no mirror redirecting an image towards a viewfinder, so instead, you have to be hyper-familiar with either feet or meters, and more so being able to judge the distance to your subject. Along with the lens, all of the physical controls are spectacular to look at and to use. Beginning with the front dials, you have your iso and aperture to the left of the lens, and your shutter speed and light setting to the right of the lens. What is this light settingI speak of? It’s pretty awesome actually, especially for a body designed in the early 70s. There are four options: Negative, Color Negative, Natural Light, and Artificial Light. As far as the difference in the four go, I’m still experimenting with each decently. I plan on shooting a roll and focusing on each setting per roll, then comparing the rolls to see if there really is a difference or if it’s merely a white-balance effect that it has.

The aperture and iso dials are my favorite dials on the entire body. The aperture locks in as you increase the dial towards f/22, only unlocking when you press a small locking pin at the base of the dial. The iso dial took me a hot second to actuallymove; I found that it’s best to have a bit of nails for this step because you actually have to lift the dial up slightly to then rotate it for the arrow to point at your desired iso. Apart from the directionality of such dials, there’s a wonderfully satisfactory clickas you reach each F stop. Want to go all the way to 22? Sounds like a plan! Click click click clicktimes twenty, and you’re finally there! It’s definitely one of those “smaller moments” in life type of thing where you just have to appreciate Rollei for implementing a wonderfully super analog sound.

rol-7

Speaking of sound, I find the coolest thing about this camera, which also makes it a great choice for discreet street photography, is the silent shutter. It’s no more of a click than a Seagull medium format, it’s maybe no louder than the engagement of a Pilot G2 pen. Apart from the silent shutter, the mechanical nature of the film loading is also quite interesting. Due to the compact nature of the body, you slide the entire base and back plate off with the flip of a switch. This reveals a channel for your roll of film to sit it nice and cozy, but that’s not even the best part. The best part is the pressure plate for the film itself. Instead of the pressure plate being on the back plate, it’s a hinge-door that flips away from the body to reveal the inner workings of the lens, and guide marks to place your film. In terms of loading film, I find it to be incredibly fast because you can reverse feed it. Well, sort of. Depending on how you typically load film this may not apply, but with my other 35 and my medium format, I typically feed the film leader in one direction, and rotate along the same direction. With the Rollei, I feed the film opposite, making it stand a bit tall at first, then once you begin winding it becomes taught and flush. Whether that’s the standard way for some of you, I’ve found it to be my preferential method of loading film into this tiny thing. Also, worth mentioning is the location of the hot shoe and winding mechanism. Both of which are on the bottom of the camera, as well as the frame indicator for what you’re at.

It’s these little features of design choice on Rollei’s behalf that make me so happy to look at and shoot with it. As always, keep shooting, and keep it analog!

Below are images from the first roll of 400 TX I shot with on the little Rollei. Enjoy!

Portrait Project – Update 1

It has been nearly a month since I have been able to add some portraits to the portfolio here.

These are somewhat special, as I am beginning to dive into specific styles. some of which are that of Platon. His portraits of Rem Koolhas (artist) and Bill Clinton (former US President) are the two featured emulations I am including. Aside from these, we messed around with hand placement and lighting. Hope you enjoy as much as I do

!