My Blog and Soapbox

To help order and sort some of the things in my mind, it often helps me to write them down. And this is the place I do just that. Not always related to photography. Not always in English. Manchmal auch auf Deutsch.
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Don't fly and scan

20111001 scan919 Edit

It happened again. This time not on purpose, but by accident. After returning from Toronto the other day, I decided to develop some of the pictures I took on the trip. Looking through my stacks of stuff, I ran across an older batch of undeveloped negatives, that should have been developed long time ago, but wasn't. Probably too busy back then.


The problem was that I didn't know what type of film the negatives where. To find out, I took the film cassettes into the dark bag and felt the notches. Each sheet of large format negative film has a characteristic pattern of notches on one side that help you to face the film the right way and identify it in the dark.

The problem was that when I tried to detect the type of film, I was too tired, having not slept in over 30 hours, and I got it wrong.

This is why six sheets of Velvia color slide film ended up in black and white development chemistry. But as we know from my experiment a while ago, it should work in theory.

And it did work. I ended up with black and white negatives and there was even something on them. So I scanned one and you can see the result above.

Any photo accidents you'd like to share? Leave a comment!
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Minus is a Plus

NewImageThe other day I found out about minus, a new service that has set out to make sharing files really easy. It's free, it comes with apps for multiple platforms and it has a few of the standard social networks built in to share stuff on.
minus comes with a desktop application (Windows, Mac, Ubuntu), mobile apps for Android and iPhone (WP7 announced), Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox and a Chrome Web App. It looks like there is more to come.

The Mac desktop application links itself into the menu bar. It lets you drag and drop files onto it and you can define a hotkey for saving screenshots.

Being used to two gigabytes on other services, it surprised me to get 10 gigabytes of free space and no traffic limits. We'll have to see how it will hold up over time, but this sure looks interesting.

minus doesn't try to mimic Dropbox, as it won't sync. It's a plain upload-and-share type system with a social twist. minus creates an Atom feed per user, so you can subscribe to someone's shares in the feed reader of your choice.

I will give it a fair chance, maybe for pictures and for some collaboration, as I haven't really found that one place for file sharing just yet. And the pictures integration looks quite nice too, a folder is like an album that can have its own shortlink, I like the look how pictures are presented, especially using the lights out mode that dims the white background to dark grey.

Oh, and here's another nice thing they do. If you sign up using this link, we will both get an extra gigabyte.
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Red is the New Black

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.

Colors
Colors by Chris Marquardt

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:

IMG 0572 20101016

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.


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