You know, one of the most satisfying things for me these days is to spend a day at an interesting location and take six or twelve pictures with a 4x5 large format camera.
It's hard work. It means to carry a heavy-ish bag over your shoulder and a tripod with a big camera attached to its end. It means to thoroughly set up the camera, check the angles, open the shutter, stick your head under a black cloth on a sunny day withtemperatures in the 90s. To focus on the focusing screen, you use a loupe that's hanging around your neck. It means to use a hand-held light meter, fish a film cassette out of your bag, load the camera, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, hope that you didn't get any of the steps out of sequence, pull out the dark slide and finally take the shot.
It's error-prone too. It means that there are at least 10 different steps in the process of making one exposure where you can mess up. Accidental double exposure? Been there, have even done a triple exposure once. Forget to set the right aperture after metering? Yep, I have my share of overexposed large format negatives.
If it's that hard work and that error-prone, then why am I doing it? The answer is simple: in the end it's one of the most fun and rewarding experiences that I've had in a long time. Nothing beats creating something with your own hands and finally holding the result of that work in your hands. Or post it online for the world to see. Much more rewarding than any digital shot has ever been.
Over time you get better. Most errors you only do once, as it hurts to lose one out of just a few pictures you'll take that day.
Last weekend I brought my trusty Grafmatic film holder system, a revolver-type 6-shooter that allows you to keep 6 shots in one magazine. Very convenient, but also heavier than normal double cassettes. Which turned into yet another source of error. I accidentally brushed the Grafmatic at the wrong angle with my arm, while the dark slide was still pulled. This resulted in a nice big splash of light pouring onto the exposed negative for a brief time. Long enough to ruin the shot. So I thought.
I ended up actually being quite happy with it. Is it because it's one of my babies? Or is there something about a perfect 4x5 picture seemingly ruined by light leaking onto it?
Let me know what you think.
Es gibt Workshops und es gibt Workshops. Im Fall der aktuellen Absolut-Analog-Veranstaltung in unseren neuen Räumen in Tübingen, war es ganz klar einer der spezielleren. Und das im positiven Sinne. Mit Begeisterung und Spaß haben sich die Teilnehmer den unwirtlichen Lichtbedingungen gestellt, vor die wir sie geschubst haben und was dabei raus kam, seht ihr hier.
Am Anfang zum Aufwärmen und dran gewöhnen haben wir erst mal mit einem Push über 2 Blendenstufen angefangen. Standardprozedur, nix wildes. Nur wer meinte, der Push wäre nur zum "heller machen" da oder zum verkürzen der Belichtungszeiten in dunklen Situationen, der durfte sich dann über die ungewohnte Kontrastausbeute freuen. Bei prallem Sonnenlicht. Steffens Klappfalter war da dann sogar etwas überfordert, weil er keine tausendstel Sekunde konnte. Ergebnis: herrlichste Kontraste im prallsten Licht.
An dieser Stelle kurz die Anekdote mit der Hummel. Aerodynamiker haben dereinst behauptet, die Hummel könne aus physikalischer Sicht nichtfliegen. Verhältnis Körpergröße und Gewicht zu Flügelfläche oder so. Die Hummel hat nun mal leider von Aerodynamik so ziemlich überhaupt keine Ahnung und darum schlägt sie einfach mit den Flügeln und … fliegt.
Phase zwei - wir nennen sie jetzt einfach mal die Hummel-Phase - ist die mit dem Pull über drei Stufen. Also die Behandlung eines ISO-400-Films als hätte er ISO 50. Ausgeschrieben ist das die 8-fache Menge an Licht, die er eigentlich bekommen soll. In manch einem Online-Forum liest man, dass das nicht geht. Auch die Ausbeute an Entwicklungsrezepten, die man für diesen doch eher ungewöhnlichen Fall online so findet, ist so gering, dass man fast meinen möchte, es ginge tatsächlich nicht.
Aber wir waren einfach mal ganz Hummel, haben uns nicht verunsichern lassen, und die Ergebnisse sprechen tatsächlich deutlich für sich. In diesem Fall war das ein T-Max 400 in D-76, 1:1, 7min20sek bei 20°C.
Es geht halt doch, und zur Belohnung für den Ungehorsam bekamen die Fotografen dann herrlichste Grauverläufe mit extrem viel Detail und einem Kontrastumfang, der seinesgleichen sucht. Gut gemacht!
Und auch wir selbst lernen jedes mal noch etwas dazu. In diesem Fall hatte ich (Chris) mir eine sehr kontrastreiche Situation (Innenraum mit Fenster und sonnenbeleuchteter Umgebung außen) geschnappt und eine Belichtungsreihe mit sieben Belichtungen mit je einer Blendenstufe Unterschied gemacht. Was am Ende hinten raus kam, hat selbst mich verblüfft.
Bild 1: 1/1000s, Bild 2: 1/15s
Die Ausarbeitung der Bilder wurde am Ende zwar noch minimal angepasst, aber alleine die Tatsache, dass der Film bei diesem 3-Stufen-Pull locker - und ohne irgendwo Zeichnung zu verlieren - diese sieben Blendenstufen breite Belichtungsspanne einfach so ohne zu murren wegsteckt, hat sogar mich weggehauen. Zieht man noch den gesamten Kontrastumfang der Szene in Betracht, dann wird hier eine Breite an Tonwerten erfasst, die fast unmöglich erscheint. Ich werde ab jetzt garantiert noch öfter Pullen. HDR? Wer braucht das? :)
Am Abend haben wir dann Phase 3 unseres gerissenen Plans gestartet und unter den Teilnehmern den Pushwettbewerb losgetreten. Zur blauen Stunde und zur tiefen Nacht. Wieviele Blendenstufen verträgt so ein TriX oder T-Max 400 wohl?
TriX 400 @ 1600 (Moni)
TriX 400 @ 1600 (Moni)
Gut, 1600 laufen also. Wie sieht es mit 3200 aus?
TriX 400 @ 3200 (Steffen)
TriX 400 @ 3200 (Steffen)
ISO 3200 wird also schon etwas knackiger, aber hat dadurch natürlich auch eine entsprechende Wirkung, der man sich schlecht entziehen kann.
Wollen wir noch eins drauf legen? ISO 6400 - Herrrrrrrrschaften! Der Push über 4 Stufen - ohne Netz und doppelten Boden! Jetzt nur für Sie in dieser Manege! Trommelwirbel… *drrrrrrrr*
T-Max 400 @ 6400 (Alex)
Och, wer sagt's denn. War doch gar nicht so schlimm. Sogar Graustufen haben wir noch einige. Die Hummel fliegt, und das ganz schön hoch.
An diesem Punkt könnten wir uns nun eigentlich bequem zurück lehnen und den Workshop zum vollen Erfolg deklarieren. Push und Pull in vielen Extremfällen erfolgreich abgeschlossen, kein einziges Bild des gesamten Workshops kam auch nur annähernd schlecht aus der Suppe und es gab für alle Teilnehmer reichlich Erfolgserlebnisse.
Eiiiiigentlich wäre es also hiermit vorbei… wäre da nicht Jürgen gewesen, der - ganz Hummel - meinte, die 4 Stufen Push seien ja wohl Pillepalle und sich auf die ISO 12800 stürzte. Zwölftausendachthundert. Wohl gemerkt mit einem Film, der eigentlich für ISO 400 gemacht ist.
T-Max 400 @ 12800 (Jürgen)
Und zu solch einem Ergebnis muss man nun wirklich nicht mehr viele Worte verlieren. Vielleicht auch, weil man etwas sprachlos ist. 5 Blendenstufen, ISO 12800. Ausgeschrieben: ein zweiunddreißigstel des Lichts, das dieser Film eigentlich braucht.
Die Teilnehmer haben ihre kreativen Werkzeugkästchen wieder mit neuen Tools versorgt und wissen nun - nein, sie haben mit eigenen Händen und Augen BEGRIFFEN - dass es außerhalb der gängigen Lehrmeinung noch so einiges gibt, was den Rahmen herrlich (und fast schon subversiv) sprengt und dabei noch richtig glücklich macht.
Leute, wir sind mächtig stolz auf euch!
Chris Marquardt und Monika Andrae veranstalten in der Reihe Absolut Analog Fotoworkshops in Deutschland und in Kanada, die sich der analogen Fotografie mit Film widmen und richten sich an alle, vom Anfänger bis zum fortgeschrittenen Analogfotografen.
Weitere Termine 2012:
14.-15.7.2012: Herrlich Hybrid, Analoges in der digitalen Welt
24.-26.8.2012: Large Format analog, Toronto, Kanada (Sprache: Englisch)
3.-4.11.2012: Einsteigerworkshop, Panschen in Tübingen
Black and white film has undergone a lot of changes over the years. One of the bigger changes was making it less blind to certain colors.
Yes, less blind. If you look around you, different colored objects will appear to you at different brightnesses, and you might be able to imagine how the scene looks in black and white, simply by translating the brightnesses into grey levels.
And that's how many black and white films work these days. They try to create a black and white picture that reflects the perceived brightness levels that you see with your eyes.
But originally, black and white film would translate colors very differently.
Look at the visual spectrum. It starts right beyond infrared, goes through red, orange, yellow, green, blue to violet and then disappears into ultraviolet. Infrared and ultraviolet are black to our eyes, simply because we don't have the right receptors to see these colors.
Now imagine a black and white film that can see an even narrower range, film that can only see part of the colors. And that's exactly what black and white film did in the old days. It was blind on the red side of the spectrum, so whenever it saw red light, it would register that as black. We call that an orthochromatic film. Only some time after the 1950s did black and white film become more sensitive to other colors. A film that sees the entire visible spectrum is called a panchromatic film.
Here's a snap I took of the same scene, but this time with a digital camera:
Compare the two and you will notice that the black and white film is very sensitive on the blue side, but it almost doesn't have any sensitivity on the red side of the spectrum. Blue renders almost identical to yellow, and green is somewhere in the middle grey area. In the early days of black and white photography photographers had to learn how to see in black and white to get to the picture they envisioned, and still today a lot of films have their characteristic look that's at least partially based on how the different wavelengths are rendered on a scale from black to white.
Back in the day, art went so far that during early black and white film productions, the actors had to wear bright and colorful make-up so that a normal looking black and white image could be achieved. Imagine an actor with green lipstick to avoid the lips from going all black on the film. These early film sets must have looked very colorful.
Group shot, Berlin LIMITED workshop 2011. Photo: Sean Galbraith
Large format photography has the potential to seriously mess with ones mind. The photographer's mind and that of the audience.
For a photographer it is still the most affordable way to get spectacular resolution. The camera movements allow for compositional freedom beyond anything that ispossible in smaller formats. Due to their simpler and much more symmetrical design, the image quality of the lenses is generally superb. And last but not least, the different workflow and the more thorough approach to each individual photograph generally make for more thought-out pictures.
The audience reaction to large format pictures is often a different one than to 35mm photography. Due to the higher resolution, the pictures will typically have more detail, which oddly enough tends to be true even when downsized to web resolutions. The large size of the medium (4x5" and higher) results in a very different look and depth of field. And the typical lack of falling lines tends to give even very busy pictures an amount of structure and a tidy appearance that is hard to achieve with smaller formats.
My typical reaction to the higher resolutions used to be: "meh". My impression was that at the sizes typically used on the web, it wouldn't make any difference if the picture was shot with a DSLR or if it was taken with a large format camera.
After having immersed myself in large format photography for a while now, I had to change my previous "meh" into a "HOWLY COW" though. The amount of perceived detail even at smaller resolutions tends to be spectacular.
I should have known about the detail thing from the video side of things though. A very similar effect happens when you downsize HD video footage (1920 x 1080) to SD resolution (544 × 480). The amount of perceived detail is just a lot higher than with native SD footage.
Here's my audio engineer's look at it: sound recordings are often made at a much higher bit-depth (24 bits) and higher resolution (96 kHz) than the resulting CD will ever have (16 bits / 44.1 kHz). Why? Higher perceived resolution, even at the final down-sampled stage.
My next step is to print one of these pictures at 25x50" to see the ACTUAL detail. Zooming in to tiny portions of an image to see them at a 100% pixel resolution on your screen just isn't the same.
By the way, here's a little detail from the above shot:
Group Shot (detail), Berlin LIMITED workshop 2011. Photo: Sean Galbraith
What's the largest print you've ever made?
Man muss analoge Bilder auf die Schatten belichten, die Lichter finden sich dann schon von alleine. Solches hört man immer wieder, und es ist schon ein Stück weit berechtig, speziell wenn man sich im Bereich der "guten" und "normalen" Belichtung befindet.
Die wirklich spannenden Bilder finden sich allerdings oft in den Extremen.
Was, wenn man sich an die Enden heran pirscht, an die Bereiche ganz im dunkeln oder im hellen? Bereiche, die sich an anderen Stellen auch gerne mal "Zone 2" oder "Zone 9" schimpfen. Bereiche, die man als guter Fotograf gefälligst mit einem Reflektor oder einem Blitz aufzuhellen hat?
Dort begibt sich so mancher Fotograf dann in derart unbekanntere Gefilde, dass er sich nicht mehr so ganz auf die Dinge verlassen mag, die er viele Jahre lang gelernt und praktiziert hat.
Ist Schattenzeichnung wirklich so wichtig? Darf man nicht doch diese Ungewissheit ins Bild legen, die dem Betrachter Spielraum zur Erforschung gibt?
Von 15.-17. Juli 2011 halten wir in Braunschweig einen Doppelworkshop gemeinsam mit Spürsinn zu den Themen Fotografie am Ende des Lichts und Entwicklung am Ende des Lichts, in dem wir uns ganz analog und mit viel Spielfreude in die Extreme begeben.
Die dunkle Ecke im Keller, in der sich die Monster verstecken, mag beängstigen...
...spannend ist sie allemal.
Being confined to the studio with the Plaubel Peco for several months was a good thing as it allowed me to experiment and try out large format photography within a safe environment. But taking the Chamonix out for a first spin felt really really good too!
I took my friends Sean and Michelle for a spin in the Black Forest during their Germany vacation, and Sean brought his foldable Shen-Hao large format camera, which is virtually the same as the Chamonix.
Two guys with large format cameras in the black forest. Imagine the amount of geeking .. and eye-rolling from non-geeks ;)
Photographing large format is a very different way of working, and there are several things that blew my mind when I used the camera in the field and when I returned home and had a look at the pictures. One of the mind benders is the amount of freedom you have with the camera movements, also known as tilt, swing and shift. Perspectively correct pictures automatically become the norm, not the exception. You set the camera up straight, then shift to your heart's content. If the lens has a large enough image circle, that shift can be quite extensive.
And then there's the massive amount of data in these pictures. I scan my negatives on a regular Epson V600 flat bed scanner. Still, my digital files end up at about 100 megapixels and that's far from what would be possible if I cranked up the settings. My little MacBook Air 11" sure takes a bit of time to render the full size Lightroom previews.
If you're not used to this resolution, zooming in has the potential to cause a bit of mental damage to the viewer. And drooling.
By the way, this detail is a crop from a down-sampled 50 megapixel version of the image.
But having all that said, large format is only partially about resolution. I love pictures to tell stories and that doesn't depend on resolution at all. Large format photography gives you the tools to take your time, enjoy the process, set up the pictures while thinking about their details, composing well and then taking a well-metered shot. Usually.
I have just dipped my toe into the large format waters though. There is so much more to learn, and I'm looking forward to diving more into its creative potential.
I've been playing with large format photography for a while. Last year I bought a used German-built Plaubel monorail large format studio camera, I'm in the process of building the Marquardt International Pinhole large format camera, which is by the way moving forward and if you are on the list, you should soon get an update.
I had been missing one important piece in the puzzle: a 4x5 camera with all the required movements that I could use in the field without needing yak and two sherpas to carry it for me.
A few weeks ago I discovered the Chinese manufacturer by the not so Chinese name Chamonix. They are a small company with 8 employees and they build various foldable large format cameras, 4x5" being their smallest one.
It's the model 045N-2, it comes in at about 3 pounds without a lens and this morning one of them arrived here at my studio.
I'm going to spend some time with it to get used to the camera and to experiment. The initial impression is that it's really well built and that it is very functional for a camera of that size.
Als ich vor vielen Jahren die Schwarzweißfilme noch bei Foto Kreidler zum Entwickeln gab, da war mir schemenhaft klar, dass man Filmen beim Fotografieren weniger Licht als eigentlich notwendig geben darf, und das dann in der Entwicklung durch das sogenannte "Pushen" wieder ausgleichen kann. Das klang dann meistens so: "Guten Tag, hier sind zwei Ilford HP5, die habe ich auf ISO 1600 belichtet, können Sie mir die bitte pushen?"
Wie das Pushen genau funktioniert, und welche Auswirkungen es hat, wusste ich nicht. Nur, dass mir die Bildergebnisse immer ganz gut gefallen haben. Meine Bitte, die Filme dann noch auf hartes, kontrastreiches Papier auszubelichten, wurde meistens mit einem ungläubigen Kopfschütteln quittiert, gemacht hat er es dann - wenn auch widerwillig - trotzdem.
Heute weiß ich, dass der Push nicht zwingend das Korn vergrößert. Ich weiß, dass das Kopfschütteln des ausgebildeten Fotografen der Verschiebung der Kontraste galt, die nicht so ganz in sein Weltbild passten. Ich weiß, dass der Push nicht nur die ISO erhöht, sondern eher an der Ausbildung der Kontrastkurve rüttelt. Und das wirkt sich vor allem auf den Bildausdruck, auf die Kontrastverteilung und die Auffächerung der Grauwerte aus.
Das wirklich schöne daran: diese Bildergebnisse passen perfekt in die Bildsprache der heutigen Zeit.
Und ich weiß jetzt auch, dass es unglaublich Spaß bereitet, sich an die Grenzen des machbaren zu tasten und zum Beispiel den 400er-Film zur Abwechslung mal mit ISO 12800 zu belichten und mit der entsprechenden Entwicklung Ergebnisse zu erzielen, die einen locker vom Hocker hauen.
Die Freude an diesen Extremen möchten wir natürlich nicht für uns behalten, darum haben wir gemeinsam mit Spürsinn zwei Workshops kombiniert, die sich genau diesen Themen widmen.
Workshop 1: Fotografie am Ende des Lichts mit Michael Weyl und Tilla Pe
Workshop 2: Extremes Entwickeln für Fortgeschrittene mit Chris Marquardt und Monika Andrae
In dieser Tandemveranstaltung geht es darum, in extremen Lichtsituationen gut zu belichten und das belichtete Material dann auch entsprechend zu entwickeln. Pushen bis der Arzt kommt. Vielleicht auch etwas Pullen, denn auch das hat seine Berechtigung.
Das Tandem findet statt von 15.-17. Juli 2011, und bis Mitte Juni gibt's das Paket zum Frühbucherpreis: mehr Informationen hier
So I return from that film dev workshop that we held in Braunschweig, home of Rollei and Voigtländer, and I had completely forgotten about that one incident.
Until just now.
Rewind. Imagine a group of photographers experimenting with different developers, fighting about water of the right temperature, stepping on each others' toes (in a nice way of course) and then imagine me standing in the middle of this, thinking"why don't I develop that roll of Efke 50 in T-Max developer?", then elbowing my way to the basin and mixing the developer.
According to the Massive Dev Chart development should have been 6 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. Turns out amidst all the chaos I ended up with 26 degrees (don't ask), and I didn't notice until it was already in the development tank. Oh well, no harm done, higher temperature can be somewhat evened out by shorter dev time. Didn't have a formula though, and I'm a sucker for strong contrasts, so I went with what my gut told me: "shorten it, but not too much. Maybe down to 5 minutes", which is what I ended up doing.
After the full cycle of developing and fixing the film, I got a bit of a shock when I opened the tank. The film looked like it wasn't fixed. Brownish in nature and the bits that should be transparent didn't look very transparent. Luckily film is pretty much light proof after only a short time of fixing it, so you can always fix some more if you need to. 10 minutes of fixing later the film still didn't look right. It looked pretty much half fixed. Bummer. I asked my favorite film photography expert Michael of Spürsinn on what to do and he finally resorted to bathing the film in undiluted fixer for a minute, just to see if that would do something.
But it didn't.
We rinsed the film, pulled it out of the spiral and lo and behold, it was transparent, just with a pretty strong tint that looked opaque from certain angles. Super weird.
I forgot about the experiment until a few minutes ago, when I began scanning some of the pictures.
Turns out the Efke 50 / T-Max developer combination produces great contrast that still leaves enough room to work on in the (digital or analog) darkroom.
Here's a negative scan straight from the scanner, uncorrected:
And here it is with just a slight black point adjustment and a tiny raise in exposure level:
I love it when the photos are 80% where I want them straight from the camera and they still give me enough headroom to play with. I'll file this film/dev combination under B as in BINGO!
What's your favorite combination?
Sometimes things move forward faster than expected. As it's just now happening with the Marquardt International Pinhole.
We had a meeting today and one of the outcomes was that we are going to build a run of ten cameras to see how people accept it. This will be a very special camera, not only because it creates beautiful pictures, but because each and every one of them will be a hand-made unique one-of-a-kind item.
I will not go into more detail right now because I simply can't - I know the general direction and I like it, but as you, I will have to wait for the final cameras to know what they will exactly look like.
As soon as they are finished, I will post pictures.
If you are interested in one of the first ten cameras, please send a mail to email@example.com
Offical website: www.internationalpinhole.com
Introducing the Marquardt Mini Pinhole (MMP) f/10 9mm. Who needs large format f/200 pinhole cameras that take sharp-ish pictures at crazy long 2-minute exposure times?! (hint: I do). Making pinhole cameras from matchboxes is not new (I took my inspiration from this video on YouTube) but I wanted to build one of those at least once. Perfect project for a Sunday early afternoon. Building this takesabout half an hour.
Due to lack of black tape, I used a light-proof metal-based tape that is normally used to tape pictures into picture frames. Not ideal, as it's reflective, but it should still do the trick. Might end up with some light spills inside the cam though.
I used a matchbox and two rolls of film, an APX to shoot on and a cheap Lucky SHD to dump in order to get the empty film roll. Note to self: next time don't dump all the empty film rolls, so you won't have to sacrifice a film for this.
There's something strangely satisfying in pulling out a perfectly good roll of film during daytime. 1.99 € down the drain. The things you do on a Sunday afternoon...
I cut a hole into the matchbox drawer. This will hold the film in place and provide for an unexposed frame around the picture.
Empty roll of lucky to the right (the exposed film will go into this) and full roll of Agfa APX to the left.
This is how the film will go behind the drawer inside the matchbox.
And this is how it'll look after it is put together.
But first, the matchbox needs a hole for the "lens".
Here's the pinhole. I used the same metal-based tape for this as it sticks nicely. The hole turned out a bit too large, so I can expect nice and short shutter speeds, but probably quite a bit of lack of sharpness. Focal length of the camera is the distance between hole and film plane, in this case 9mm.
Attached the film to the empty spool...
...and put the spool back into the cartridge. That's one of the reasons I used a Lucky SHD film: the film cartridges are easy to pull apart and put back together without tools. The film will be transported by turning the spool on the receiving side and winging it by gut feel. Some of the pics might overlap, some might have bigger space in between them. Oh well.
Using more of the light-tight tape to seal the camera from the rays of the evil day glow ball in the sky.
Sealed all around (hopefully). Erm.. let's call the design functional. But then, did I mention it's a disposable cam? It will be destroyed at the end of the process anyway.
The camera needs a shutter now. I cut this out of the adhesive light-proof tape so only the sides stick.
A black strip of paper acts as the shutter. Just pull it up to expose and push it back down to finish exposure. It'll be difficult to time though, my little pinhole calculator tells me that the exposure time at this focal length and aperture is less than a second, so forget about precision. I have decided that I'll be happy if only two or three pictures on the film will come out alright ;)
This is what it looks like with the shutter open. Say CHEESE!
» Insert frantic picture taking activity here «
Removing the film in a changing bag and putting it into a development tank basically means destroying the camera. Bye bye little MMP.
And now (cue drum roll) presenting the first and only pictures that have ever been taken and will ever be taken with the Marquardt Mini Pinhole:
The other week I got hold of several rolls of Kodak Ektachrome E200.
Expired Kodak Ektachrome. Very very expired.
But I thought I'd have some fun with it. So I shot a roll in the Pentacon Six and went on to develop it.
Wait, Chris. You don't do color development. And Ektachrome is not even a color negative film, it's a color slide film that requires an even different process. What are you up to?
No, I haven't gone crazy, this is my curious side trying to learn more about film. (my motto has actually quite nicely been portrayed by They Might Be Giants in this little song)
And what better could I do than get everything wrong that I possily could...
Let me get a few assumptions out, based on what I have learned about film so far:
So far the assumptions.
Wait, one more thing: most black-and-white films have one silver layer. Color films have three layers with filter layers in between. I'm not sure my developer will be able to penetrate all of them, so the outcome is likely to be on the weird side.
On to the development. If you've followed my film developing, you'll know that I'm a fan of stand development. It's pretty safe in most cases, you don't really have to time anything and it has never really let me down, even in experimental situations like when I pushed Efke R100 by three stops.
So it was Rodinal 1:100, 20 degrees Celsius, 60 minutes stand development, 20 seconds of slight agitation at the beginning, 5 seconds of slight agitation at the 30-minute-mark.
When I finally pulled the negatives out of the fixer, they were almost black. So black that I thought the fixer was exhausted and made a new batch. I still watered the film, and when I finally pulled it out, I was surprised to actually see something on the negatives. Not much, but hopefully enough to be scanned.
A first preview round on the scanner revealed my greatest fears: almost no information available. Look at the histogram, it's very very thin.
I'd hate for such a histogram to happen to any of my regular pictures, but in this case I was pretty happy that it was this wide and not thinner. I know my scanner can make something out of that. Nothing great, but something workable. It's going to be far from ideal, but hey, this is what extreme experiments are for: to test the waters of what is possible.
So I'm happy to say that yes, it is possible to get something on eight year old slide film. It is possible to develop said slide film into a black-and-white negative using a black-and-white developer like Rodinal. It is possible to scan the developed film. And it is possible to play with the thin dynamic range in order to get something that works.
Actually the scanner did such a good job, that the resulting histogram didn't look too painful anymore:
What surprised me most is the grain though. I know Ektachrome 200 uses the modern T-crystals, that can also be found in the T-Max black-and-white films, so I was very curious about how the grain would look like, especially on an 8 year old film developed in the wrong chemistry.
Here it is at 100%
Not too shabby if you ask me.
And what have I learned from this? Color film is a not that different from black-and-white film, from now on I won't be paranoid about expired film anymore, and this is proof to methat film is a lot more forgiving than most people think.
I also had a ton of fun while doing this experiment and feeding my curiosity!
A day spent with photography is a great day!
We spent the first day of this year in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, the huge Volkswagen museum right next to the VW factory.
They are very photography friendly there, especially if you're there almost by yourself. January first is not traditionally a day where the Germans go to car museums. So instead of the thousands of visitors that have usually entered the premises by noon, in some of the exhibit houses we were amongthe first ten. And the employees even helped us get the best pictures by adjusting the lights and getting out of the way.
We made two major decisions upfront: analog only and medium format. The third decision was dictated by availability of film and the fact that most of the photography would take place indoors:
We had no choice but underexpose and push the films. By quite a bit in some cases.
At this point, instead of saying anything to those who keep going on about how much you're going to lose out of an ISO 100 film when pushed by three f-stops using Rodinal, I'd just like to show you some pictures (click goes big):
The other film I had with me was the good old Ilford HP5+, which I used to shoot a lot with back in the 80s but kind of lost track of. I'm glad I gave it a shot the other day, and I'm glad I did a one stop push, the tonal distribution that came out is just wonderfully creamy, and the push development managed to give it a nicely steep-ish gradation curve.
Some of my learnings of the last two days:
a) I'm turning into more and more of a fan of push stand developments using Rodinal. With the right film the results can be wonderful.
b) In order to push Efke 100 by three stops, you'll have to make sure to get the exposure spot on, as you won't have much to play with later on.
c) Spending a weekend with photography, playing and trying out new things and learning lots in the process is FUN FUN FUN!
For those of you who want to give this a go themselves, here is some information on the films and the development:
The first three pictures were shot on Efke 100, underexposed by 3 stops, stand-developed in Rodinal 1:50 (for Sean: that was 12 milliliters for a 120 film) at 20 degrees Celsius for 70 minutes, 30 seconds mild agitation at the beginning, 10 seconds mild agitation 35 minutes into the development. Stand development means that after the first agitation you do not even think of touching the development tank. Hands completely off until it's time to agitate again.
The last three pictures were shot on Ilford HP5+, underexposed by one stop and developed in Rodinal 1:25 (24 milliliters) at 20 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes, 30 seconds initial agitation, then a few light swirls each minute.
All pictures were taken with the Pentacon six and an almost uncoated Biometar 2.8/80mm lens. Exposure metering was done using an iPhone 4 with the free Pocket Light Meter app.
Monika wrote a German blog entry here with more pictures from the same day, that she shot with her Pentax 6x7, which we call "the beast".
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
Well, when I wrote super wide in the title of this post, I didn't mean it in a regular DSLR 8mm lens sort of way.
This baby covers a field of view of some 400 degrees.
"What? I thought there were only 360?"
Yes, there are, but if you aren't careful (or if you are so inclined), this thing gets you on the same picture twice.
I'm talking about the Lomo Spinner 360. Monika gave me one for Christmas, and I haven't had that much photography fun in ages.
We took it for a spin (erm. sorry, couldn't resist) on Boxing day in the Herrenhäuser Gärten, a park in Hannover.
Here is how it works: you hold it at its handle, you pull the string and as you let go, the entire camera turns 360 degrees, and sometimes more. It doesn't have a shutter, and it constantly exposes a slit of light onto the film. At its normal rotational speed, this ends up with an exposure time of somewhere between 1/125s and 1/250s.
Unless it's -8 degrees Celsius, then it turns slower. Which in turn (sorry again) results in a longer exposure time. And as the light was already fading and I only had an ISO 100 film in the camera (they recommend 400 for daylight), it turned out to be just perfect :)
This is a camera to have fun with. It's a camera that doesn't take photography too seriously. It's a camera that explores what's possible in a really playful way.
The Spinner shows the world in a way that we usually don't experience, and it does it in full sprocket hole glory. Yes, you might have noticed that it uses the full width of a 35mm film, including the sprocket holes that are normally only there for the film to be transported.
What this means is that you won't be able to simply drop off your film and get prints made. For now I have used the Spinner only with black and white film that I developed myself. You should be able to tell your local drug store to only develop the film and return it uncut though.
And then it's time to scan. Most flatbed scanners will not allow you to scan everything including the sprocket holes because the film masks they use hide them. You could try simply placing the film directly on the glass, or you could get the DigitaLIZA, which is a contraption that allows you to scan almost the entire negative minus a tiny bit at the outer edges where it holds the film.
Which ever way you get the pictures into the computer, from there you can print them, post them online, blog them, and simply enjoy a new way to look at the world around you.
Update: Just found an article that covers a bit of the history of spinning 360 degree cameras.
Update: Looks like the Lomo Spinner 360 is actually the rebirth of an older camera called the Spinshot 35S that was developed by Rick Corrales in 1991 and had a build run of only 1000 pieces. As opposed to the Lomo Spinner 360, the Spinshot 35S has a viewfinder and a bubble level on the bottom of its handle. It also featured an longer-than-lifetime warranty with the words "Full Spinshot warranty buyer protection for life ... plus reincarnations"
» more information here
Update: I just found some more excellent information about the history of the Spinner 360 and about its inventor Rick Corrales, as posted in a flickr comment by Gimel Vav
Update: There is a now a short 10-minute video documentary over at Chicago Tonight
Today I received a Tweet from @funkerpucki. It was in German and said something along the lines of check this out together with a link. I get quite a few of those. I'm usually hesitant clicking them, especially if they are shortened and I don't know where they go.
I'm more than glad I clicked the link this time.
This is about Vivian Maier, a street photographer who was discovered in 2007, two years before she died. I can't believe I haven't heard about her until now.
From the few pictures I have seen, this is a sensational discovery. Her sense of space, geometry, timing, situation and her storytelling areso captivating, it's hard not to fall in love with her photography.
I love her photography and I want to see more of it. I also want to know more about how her work was discovered. This is a wonderful story.
If you follow me, you know that I'm careful about what causes I publicly support, but this is clearly one that should get the funding to continue working.
I just did.
» Blog about Vivian Maier (with lots of pictures)
» Chicago Magazine about Vivian Maier
» The flickr discussion post that started the whole story
» More Vivian Maier pictures
Switch. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
Mercury II. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
Down. Lucky SHD 100, Rodinal 1+100, 3 degrees Celsius, 12.5 hours
I've been taking pictures since I was a little kid. I've been working professionally for five years. And only now is my camera disappearing.
What I mean is that while working, I can see in my mind's eye quite accurately what frames are possible with the given conditions. I can envision composition, perspective, contrast, depth of field, and metering pretty well. I'm pretty sure it's by virtue of hours and hours and hours of practice with 35mm.
Now I don't think about the camera. I just dial in and shoot. Look at the scene, see the images in my head, and grab them. I might snag a glance at histogram every now and then to confirm myself, but no more of the LCD chimping that slowed me down for so long. (except when I shoot film)
Am I crazy?