Saturday, May 31, 2014
I work in brain science. I love it when I find overlaps between my chosen career and my chosen hobby. This one is great.
Here's the experiment that you should perform: Make the image above as large as possible on whatever device you're reading from (an iPad worked well for me). Stare at the red dot on the model's nose for 30 seconds. Now, look at a blank light surface (like a white wall) and blink several times. You'll see the negative image above turn into a positive image. Amazing.
(Click Here) to read the original post on THEME.
So, what's going on here? It's called a negative afterimage. Basically, what happens is that by staring at the negative image long enough, you are saturating some of the photoreceptors (cone receptors, to be exact, those that detect color), but not others. The receptors specifically tuned to the colors in the negative image become saturated, and when that happens, they become less sensitive. Receptors for colors not in the image are not affected. So, when you look at a blank surface, the saturated receptors give you a sense of very low levels of the color you saw in the negative, while colors that are absent appear relatively stronger, giving you the sense of an image with colors opposite to what you looked at.
(Click Here) for a more thorough explanation.
Pretty cool, huh?
Friday, May 30, 2014
Backlit Leaves, Minerva Lake, by Reed A. George
Nikon F, Nikkor 28mm f3.5 Pre-AI Lens
Kodak Tmax 400 Film
My aunt and uncle are moving out of the house they've lived in since I was a kid. In Minerva Park in Columbus, Ohio, it's a place I spent a lot of time as a kid, going to the pool in the summer with my cousins. This may be the last time I ever have the occasion to walk around Minerva Lake. This picture will remind me of the place forever.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Morning in Jackson Square, by Reed A. George
Leica M6 Titan, Summicron 35mm f2 v.3 Lens
Ilford Delta 3200 Film
As I sit writing this morning in my local Starbucks, this image reminds me of the wonderful coffee and chicory I had just enjoyed at Cafe Du Monde a few minutes before I shot it. I like Starbucks; I loved my Cafe Du Monde coffee that morning.
Morning is very quiet in the French Quarter; most of its denizens are at least semi-nocturnal. I always enjoy seeing new places early in the morning, to get a different perspective.
The sunlight was just coming up over the bank of the Mississippi River, which would be on the right in the photo above. I like how the edge of the light follows the intersection of the two sets of stairs, going off at different angles. While the steps in the lower section are fully light, those in the middle have light only on their edges. The pigeon at right is similarly edge-lit, which gives it a bit of a focal point in my opinion.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Hole in the Fence, by Reed A. George
Leica M6 Titan, 50mm f1.4 Summilux
Ilford Delta 3200 Film
I'm not sure why I like this scene, but something told me to capture it. Shot in the French Quarter, New Orleans.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Performing Poet, New Orleans, by Reed A. George
Leica M6 Titan, Summilux 50mm f1.4 Titanium Lens
Ilford Delta 3200 Film
I really love creative people. This poet was set up in the French Quarter, and would write about anything you asked. He was asking for donations if you liked what he wrote. I very much respect him for using his creativity and skill to make a living here.
I asked him to write about my daughter, Christine. I only told him a few things - her age, her interests, that we are very close. He asked me to give him 15 or 20 minutes. When I returned, here's what he had written:
"ChristineThe paintball warriorwith art in her blood,jumping into the flood ofemotions, running towardadulthood.A family well in tune,a room, a canvas,Christine sees with anartist's eye, drinking inthe colors and textures,becoming the young woman shewas meant to be.A Renaissance woman in trainingdetermined to put her markon the world,one ball of paint at at time"
Perfect. Couldn't be more correct.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Wartime Leica IIIC
I'm going out today, Memorial Day, with a good friend. We're going into DC, where we'll photograph events on the National Mall. I'm going to shoot only wartime Leica gear, or at least gear that would have been in use at the time. That is, my kit will include a 3.5cm Elmar lens from 1937. The remaining pieces, two Leica IIICs and a 5.0cm Elmar, were all made during the years of WWII.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do with this kit. I hope to have some images to share from the day soon.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Image Source: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/filmcamera/slr/nikomat_ft3/
This morning, I loaded up my first roll of film in the Nikkormat FT3 I won in the Film Photography Project (FPP) Walking Workshop last weekend. When I went to set the film speed, I realized that the indicator didn't want to move. I couldn't remember how to unlock it, but was at least smart enough to not force it.
What to do? Needless to say, it didn't come with a manual. Simple. There's an incredible resource of scanned manuals for cameras and accessories online at butkus.org
(Click Here) to go to butkus.org if you need a manual for (nearly) any old camera.
I found the complete Nikkormat FT3 manual there, just as I expected.
Whenever I find a manual and download it, I donate (~$3-5) to the site. It's easy, with a Paypal button right there. There's also a mailing address, if you want to send a check.
By the way, while the FT3 is simply described as "AI version of the Nikkormat FT2 (1975)" on the Nikon website, I've come to realize that it's truly the best Nikkormat (Nikomat) model for me, as it happily accepts AI lenses, and like the new digital Nikon Df, has the option of flipping the AI lever out of the way so that you can mount and use non-AI lenses. When you do this, you have to use stop-down metering, but hey, that's a small compromise. So, the FT3 is a wonderful camera to always have in your bag as a backup when shooting Nikon film SLRs, no matter which model is your primary or which manual focus lenses you're carrying.
Now to see if I can make any interesting images with it!
Saturday, May 24, 2014
I have been enjoying shooting my older Nikon SLRs a little more often lately. These shots were all made with my Nikon F (plain prism) and Nikkor pre-AI 135mm f3.5 lens.
Taken just after a morning rain, I found the color of the dogwood blossoms and the water drops quite interesting. Moving in close and shooting wide open, I was able to get quite a shallow depth of field.
The light was changing quickly as the clouds cleared, as you can see in the second image, where the sunlight's a lot more direct than in the others.
I really love shooting these old film cameras.
Friday, May 23, 2014
"Humber Light" - Bronica ETRs - Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 @ ƒ/11 1/8s
Image Source: http://blia-yof.blogspot.com/
I found this image and related post on Mike B's "A Year on Film" blog. In this post, Mike writes about the incredible latitude of film, in this case Rollei IR400 IR film. While this shot above was exposed, I would say, perfectly, Mike shares an image that was overexposed by seven full stops, and still rescued. Yes, you can tell it was overexposed, but there's quite a lot of image information there.
(Click Here) to read Mike B's post.
I like a lot of things about this post. First, I'm intrigued by Mike's blog in that he is part of a "52 Rolls of Film" project, which equates to one roll per week for an entire year. I could do that. So far in 2014, I'm averaging about twice that rate. Second, Mike writes about how his digital cameras are taking the backseat to film cameras. He writes that he no longer buys film cameras, but his collection continues to grow through gifts from others. Having just returned from a trip to Ohio where I won a new Nikkormat FT3 at the Film Photography Project (FPP) Walking Workshop, and received a wonderful Konica FC-1 film SLR from my uncle, I can appreciate that. Finally, I like that Mike is using the Bronica ETRS. I have a full ETRS kit (including the 35mm panoramic back) that has not been out in ages. I must fix that.
Be sure to check out the FPP website if you're into film by (Clicking Here).
Thursday, May 22, 2014
I attended the FPP Walking Workshop in Findlay, Ohio today. Twelve hours of photographic fun, discussion, and practice. We got to sit in on recording a session of the FPP podcast, had two separate amazing equipment raffles, had two walking tours, opportunity to develop our own films, an instant photography extravaganza (with everything from small Instax images to 8x10 Impossible Project film!), and much more... All for the amazing price of ZERO DOLLARS!
(Click Here) to check out FPP. Listen to their podcast. Importantly, buy your film from them; they match or beat the big stores' prices.
Here's part of what I won in the first raffle, a Nikkormat FT3 body and 50mm f2 AI lens. The FT3 is unique in the Nikkormat line, in that it supports the use of AI lenses; earlier models are for pre-AI lenses.
This lens is somewhat interesting. Only marketed for a couple of years, it is unique in the Nikon line in that it has six aperture blades. Most (all?) other Nikkors have an odd number of blades. This six-bladed model produces a characteristic star pattern when used to shoot bright points of light. I'll demonstrate this when I get a chance.
For now, I'd like to say thanks to all the FPPers who made the event a lot of fun!
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_F
I've had a crazy busy week, between too many simultaneous efforts at work, and my wife being out of town. I don't know how you single parents do it. Hats off to you.
Anyway, my daughter and I are headed out to Columbus, Ohio, tomorrow (5/17/2014, remember my delay in posting). She'll visit with family on Saturday, while I drive up to Findlay to take part in the FPP Walking Workshop. I'm really looking forward to it.
Here's what I've packed in camera gear: Nikon F (plain prism and waist level finder), Nikon F2, Nikkor 28mm f3.5, 50mm f1.4, and 135mm f3.5 pre-AI lenses, Agfa Record III 6x9 medium format folding camera, Leica CL and Rokkor 40mm f2 lens. Mini flash (Nikon SB30), light meter. Seems like an awful lot for one day of workshop, but what the heck. It's a film camera workshop, after all.
I'll be in Findlay by 10AM on Saturday, and will spend the night, heading back to Columbus very early Sunday morning to spend some time with my Mom, my 94 year old grandfather, and lots of other family. Sunday night, we'll be back on the plane headed to Dulles.
I hope to have plenty of nice film images to share in a week or two! I'm carrying my prepaid mailer for The Darkroom, so I can send my film off for processing directly from Ohio, avoiding one trip through airport security.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
I frequently see posts on various forums, discussing and sometimes arguing the relative merits of different types of cameras. Some people become very defensive about their favorites. It's interesting. It's even more interesting when the discussion stays civil, and some good points are brought out.
Even then, these discussions tend to become very long-winded, so I don't read a lot of them. For example, I'm reading a nice one, started by member tom.w.bn on Rangefinder Forum.
(Click Here) to read the discussion.
Now, my analysis of this particular discussion is that it has remained largely civil, at least in the first two of five pages I've read; I probably won't read the rest. I think the main points that interest me have been made in the first two pages. Here are the most important parts from my perspective:
- When thinking about what type(s) of camera are best for you, it's important to ask where you get the majority of enjoyment from photography. Is it in the act of taking pictures, the satisfaction of seeing a wonderful shot achieved and in print? A combination? Perhaps the more rare satisfaction of seeing a perfectly-achieved image made in more challenging circumstances? This should be a controlling factor in deciding what camera style may be best for you.
- One response by YYV_146 makes a very interesting point in comparing using a rangefinder camera versus a mirrorless camera with electronic viewfinder (EVF). The point is that looking through an optical rangefinder gives you a very accurate view of the world you're photographing, while looking through an EVF, which is an electronic representation directly from the camera sensor, gives you an accurate view of what the final image will look like. Two very different things.
For me, the act of taking photographs brings much more enjoyment than reviewing them, and especially more than post-processing them. I do love to see a perfect image, and I do value a great image from myself more if I know that it was particularly challenging to achieve. That said, I don't want it to be so challenging that I never get a good shot.
In different situations, different things matter to me. If I'm trying to document something, or have a high chance of getting a shot someone else will care about, I hedge my bets. For example, in shooting a musical act that I don't see often (e.g. rare opportunity) in low light, I'll reach for my Nikon D700. If it's a band I do see often, and I want to have more fun shooting, I'll perhaps grab my Leica M4-2 film rangefinder and load up some high speed film. This is part of the reason that I have not consolidated or focused on only one camera system.
So, which part of the photographic process brings you the most enjoyment? How does that affect which camera(s) you choose? I'm interested to hear.
Monday, May 19, 2014
I had the pleasure of attending just a couple of hours of the Loudoun Bluegrass Festival last Saturday. The main event that I made it to was Dwayne Brooke's "Gypsy Jazz Jam." Dwayne is a friend of mine, a creative force, and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter for The Woodshedders.
(Click Here) to get to know The Woodshedders.
Well, it was a slightly rainy, overcast day, perfect for portraiture. Looking around outside the barns of the Loudoun Fairgrounds where the festival was held, I saw this incredible tree with a carpet of fallen blossoms at its base. As soon as Dwayne was done with the jam, I asked if he'd let me shoot a few photos of him there. Here's an example:
Dwayne Brooke, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 v. 3 Lens
iso 400, f2.4, 1/250 sec.
Normally, I would shoot a longer lens for a portrait. In this case, I wanted a lot of environment in the shot, specifically the tree and fallen blossoms. So, I chose the Summilux 35mm. I attempted to reflect some light into Dwayne's area with some reflective panels designed for keeping your car cool (windshield shades). There just wasn't much to reflect, and I didn't have an assistant to hold them. I would have used a little bit of flash for that purpose, but don't you know my Nikon SB-30 flash battery died during the jam session?
(Click Here) to see the full set of several shots I made.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with these. As usual, there are things I'd do to improve them next time. That's why photography continues to be fun and challenging for me.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Oh 'Dem Crawfish!, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 320, f1.9, 1/80 sec.
Edited in Snapseed
Crawfish, shrimp, and oysters. What says Louisiana more than that?
A simple grab shot through a restaurant window, yet another example of why the LX7 is such a great travel camera.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Live Oak, Audubon Park, New Orleans, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 Lens
iso 200, f16, 1/60 sec.
Edited in Snapseed
On one day of my trip to New Orleans, I took the streetcar line to Audubon Park. Actually, due to construction on the streetcar system, I had to make part of the trip on a bus. In any case, the park is lovely. The light coming through the branches of the amazing, enormous live oak trees there was amazing, even mid-day on a clear, bright day.
Friday, May 16, 2014
From time to time, I see a forum post that really makes me want to see some place new, a place I've never been. This time, it's thanks to Martin Tai's post on photo.net, about Luoyang, China. He shows us several pictures of a mountainside and caves (Longmen Grottos), literally covered with an estimated 100,000 sculptures of Buddha.
(Click Here) to read Martin's post on photo.net.
Here's where Luoyang is located (thanks to Google Maps):
Image Source: http://photo.net/leica-rangefinders-forum/00cYk0
I wonder how one gets to the grottos? I've never been to China, at least beyond a short business trip to Hong Kong many years ago. I'm always amazed at the size of the country, and the diversity of regions and people there. I work with many Chinese scientists, from many different regions within the country. I enjoy talking with them about the specifics of their local areas. Languages, religions, food, all vary widely depending on where in China they live.
Maybe a China tour is in my future, once I get to the phase of life where I have time for such things.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Sure, I took my kid out to the beach in driving rain and made a few unique pictures with her.
Rainstorm at the Beach, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 (in waterproof bag)
iso 80, f2.8, 1/320 sec.
But, if you're a parent who likes kid pictures that break the normal cutesy rules, you've got to see what Japanese photographer Nagano Toyokazu has created with his four year old daughter, Kanna.
(Click Here) to see Nagano's images on Lost at E Minor.
Looking back on my own images of my daughter (now 13 years old), I see an awful lot of normal images. Of course, they're dear to me, because of the subject. But, I see now that I could have been more creative. Well, there's always tomorrow! Or today?
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Another shot from the French Quarter in New Orleans.
The Darkside, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 320, f2.3, 1/125 sec.
Edited in Snapseed
This is an ornamental wrought iron work above a doorway in the French Quarter. It was creepy. I had to capture it.
The LX7 continues to amaze me, even though I've owned it for quite some time. The flexibility of the fast Leica zoom lens (f1.4 at 24mm equivalent, f1.9 at 50mm), multi-aspect ratio framing, zone focusing ability, and so many other features is tough to beat. This is the ultimate compact travel camera, in my opinion. Ready for fully automatic snapshots, or for manual control and interpretive image creation, the LX7 is one of the best cameras I own.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I don't know why, but I seem to be intrigued with people doing work at high elevations - window washing and things like that.
(Click Here) to see some shots I made of window washers high up on a glass building with my Agfa Solinette II (part of last year's Skeletons From The Closet series).
Here's a shot of guys doing tree maintenance in New Orleans, Louisiana last week.
Palm Tree Maintenance, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 Lens
iso 200, f11, 1/180 sec.
Edited in Snapseed
Monday, May 12, 2014
My airplane seems to have a "maintenance" issue, which is apparently interchangeable with a "mechanical" issue in airline terms. They seem distinct to me, but what do I know?
While I sit here waiting to hear whether I'll be home tonight or not, I decided to edit and post an image from Japan.
Japanese Garden, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 200, f8, 1/60 sec.
Edited in Snapseed
The garden in our hotel in Hakone, a historic resort about an hour from Tokyo, has a stunning garden. I have been traveling and shooting a lot. This reminds me that I have a lot of material to edit from our Japan trip. More to come!
Sunday, May 11, 2014
One of the best parts of my trip to New Orleans, a city I haven't visited in nearly thirty years, was spending some time with my friend Ben Walters. Ben moved to New Orleans some time ago, and is putting his heart and soul into his music.
Ben is playing in many different settings. One embodiment is The Levee Toppers, an old time string band that you just may catch busking down on Royal St. in the French Quarter any night of the week.
(Click Here) to find the Levee Toppers first intro CD. Buy a copy. They'll appreciate it.
Ben and I went for a walk on the levee near his home. I saw these twisted willow trees and knew I'd found the right place to photograph Ben in his new setting:
Ben Walters on the Levee, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 200, f5.6, 1/200 sec., fill flash activated
Edited in Snapseed
Once again, the LX7 did a very nice job for me. I like the 16:9 aspect ratio for this particular shot.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Due to the generosity of a friend, I'm relaxing in the French Quarter in New Orleans this weekend. What a great setting. You never know who's going to walk or ride by the open shutters.
Open Shutters, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 200, f3.5, 1/500 sec., edited in Snapseed
I made a series of images of people and other things coming by the open shutters throughout the morning. Friends of the owner drop by and say hello from time to time. No agenda, no stress. I can use this once in a while!
Friday, May 9, 2014
I read an interesting post on the Writer's Circle blog, about odd rituals that famous writers have used to keep the creative juices flowing.
My Daughter and I, a Few Years Back, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-D 35-70mm f2.8 Lens
iso 800, f13, 1/60 sec.
Apparently, Joan Didion sleeps with her nearly-finished books, Truman Capote avoided many things based on superstition. My favorite, even though I don't follow it, is Hemingway's creed of "Done by noon, drunk by three." It seems he lived by it.
(Click Here) to read the full post on Writer's Circle.
I'm about to head off on a solo adventure for three days in New Orleans. No real agenda, other than meeting up with a musician friend who's migrated there. I'm hoping that the change of scenery andsome time to hang out at a leisurely pace will push me in a new creative direction. Actually, I have had lots of ideas and even some progress in images related to them lately. A little extra energy never hurts, though.
Now to decide on what camera gear to take...
Thursday, May 8, 2014
I've been on a bit of a tea kick lately. There's so much variety in tea - green, black, fermented (Puerh), and from so many interesting locations. And, I'll admit, I like the more subtle caffeine boost, as compared to coffee (which I still love, too).
I also believe that social networking is not the only thing killing real socialization, at least not directly. Where I live (Northern Virginia), now that book, camera, and music stores are a thing of the past, there is a dearth of places for people to meet in person, especially any not associated with drinking alcohol. Well, I found such a place. It's called Ching Ching Cha, and it's located in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC.
(Click Here) to go to Ching Ching Cha's website.
My wife is from Japan, where public places to meet and have a hot beverage with friends are not rare at all. So, I didn't have a hard time convincing her to go have tea with me. I brought along one of my favorite cameras from the "Skeletons From The Closet" series of last year, the Minolta Autocord medium format TLR. Here are a few images I made there.
Ching Ching Cha Tea House, by Reed A. George
Minolta Automat, Kodak Porta 400 Film
For all but the second image, I used my Rolleinar 1 closeup lenses, which mount to the front of the Autocord lenses perfectly, as the Minolta shares the bayonet filter mount with Rollei Bay 1 cameras. The Rolleinars significantly reduce depth of field, which I must admit was a challenge for me. I didn't exactly nail the focus on the shots of my wife. But, it's pretty close. The big medium format negative is pretty forgiving.
I'm glad to know about Ching Ching Cha, and will certainly be a repeat customer.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
April 27, 2014 was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.
(Click Here) to read about it and view all of the images. So far, there are over 1,000 images from pinhole photographers in 53 countries posted. No cost, no contests, no awards as far as I can tell, this event has one goal - to get people excited about pinhole photography. All images on the site are 1) shot with a lensless camera, and 2) shot on April 27.
So, of course I had to load up my own pinhole camera, a wooden box that is constructed to fit a 4x5 film holder, and participate. You can only submit one image to the page. Here's the one I selected (out of four total I took that day).
Network, by Reed A. George
Pinhole Camera, Arista EDU 400 Film (4x5)
2 seconds exposure
My pinhole camera has an equivalent f-stop of about f256-f512. Since I bought it used, I don't know the exact size, and have never taken the time to measure it directly.
I was out on a hike with my wife and saw this old dead tree. I put the camera at the base of the tree, looking straight up, and in two seconds exposure, I had all the light I needed. I did add some tone to the image in Lightroom before calling it done, but made no other adjustments.
Sometimes it's really fun to go back to the basics. In this case, that means pre-digital, pre-auto focus, pre-manual focus, pre-electronics, pre-mechanics, pre-lens optics.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The International Center for Photography (I.C.P.) in NYC, started by
Robert Cornell Capa, is moving.
Museum Queue (not I.C.P.), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
iso 400, f2.8, 1/8 sec.
The I.C.P. is one of those places I love to visit when I'm in NYC. Admittedly, I have not been there in a couple of years, but it strongly holds my interest. Started by Cornell Capa, brother of photographer Robert Capa*, the I.C.P. is a home for photographers, and hosts multiple simultaneous exhibits, typically focused on some aspect of photojournalism and reportage. I saw the fabled "Mexican Suitcase" exhibit there.
(Click Here) to read about the Mexican Suitcase and the work by Chim, Capa, and Taro that comprises it. A real look into the lives of these three masters, see it if you get the chance.
The I.C.P. also has a great store filled with all kinds of fun photographic paraphernalia and books.
Well, the I.C.P. is moving. A post in the New York Times' blog Lens describes what this means to Mark Lubell, Executive Director, and where he sees the I.C.P. going in the future.
(Click Here) to read the full article on Lens.
There are a couple of obvious conclusions that I can draw from the article. First, the I.C.P. plans to continue operations. Second, in the longer term, it plans to consolidate all activities, including the exhibition center and education program into a single location. Third, they plan to stay in Manhattan.
Beyond that, it's a little hard for me to really get where they're going conceptually. The interview focuses a lot on recent technological aspects of photojournalism, the use of smart phone cameras and immediate upload to communicate what's going on the world. I can almost detect the hint of virtual displays, with less focus on the physical output and display of prints. On the other hand, Mr. Lubell says that photography should be somewhat independent of technology, and that the Center should be a place for discourse on photography itself. I suppose these ideas can go together.
I was interested to find that Mr. Lubell thinks that Robert Capa would have been an enthusiastic user of Instagram. I'm sure the speed to market of photographic information would have impressed him.
*Thanks to James McKearney for correcting my mistaken assertion that Robert Capa started ICP.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Yesterday, I shared my overall negative results with CineStill film. For comparison purposes, I want to show some results from a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 that I shot at the same house concert.
All of these were shot with my Leica M4-2 (Dreaming in Monochrom(e) camera). That's the only difference from the CineStill shots, which came from my M6. Same exposure levels, same light, same lenses.
Now, as you can see here, the lighting really was a challenge. Some of these shots show the deep shadows under subjects' eyes, for example. What isn't present is any of the general underexposure, the liquid tracks in the film emulsion, the high levels of dust, or the unexplained spots of light in the frame.
On another note, this was one of the first house concerts I've attended. It seems to be fairly common here in the DC area, which is very cool. I've got to perfect my technique for these photographically-challenging yet very fun events.
I'm thinking just a light touch of fill flash would have gone a long way in my monochrome pictures. I don't know how the mixed tungsten and flash would work with color film, but I suppose I could add a filter to the flash to match it to tungsten lighting. Hmm. Once I have an acceptable color film, I'll have more ideas to play with. If I can find such a film. If not, I'll perfect it digitally.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
I wrote some time back about a new film stock (CineStill) that I wanted to try for my low light concert photography.
(Click Here) to read more about the film. Originally made for motion pictures, it's advertised as iso 800 nominal, pushable to 3200, and suitable for standard C-41 processing. I did not find this to be the case in my situation.
Now, let me start by saying that my opinion here is of how this film does not fit my specific shooting style and needs. That includes many variables: actual lighting characteristics of the subject I was shooting, camera, lens, exposure, film, processing, and I'm sure many others. Let me also say, however, that most of those variables (besides the film) are well-controlled. For example, I have shot the exact same camera and lens many times in low light situations like this. My processing (now consistently done through The Darkroom, at a rate of about 50-100 rolls per year) is bulletproof; I've never had bad results in any roll other than the two rolls of CineStill used in this test.
I shot CineStill at a house concert (my friends The Green Boys) in Washington, DC. Tough lighting, to be sure. Tungsten bulbs (which should have been exactly the right test case for CineStill, since it's tungsten balanced), all coming straight down from recessed lighting in the ceiling, which made for horrid shadows, and overall pretty low light levels. So, it was admittedly a tough test.
CineStill is apparently about iso 500 natively, but is marketed as having wide exposure latitude, with the ability to go to 1600 without pushing, even higher with pushing. In this case, I shot it at iso 1600, and deciding to give it the best chance of sufficient exposure, did have The Darkroom push the processing by one stop. For reference, I also shot a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 at 1600 with much better results. I'll share some of those images in a subsequent post.
Here's the best of what I got (initial color balance was way off; Lightroom helped with that):
And here's some of the worst:
In this second shot, you can see a lot of what I didn't like. First, total loss of details in the shadows. I've brought them up in Lightroom, but at great cost of noise/grain. Look at the shadows under Sean's eyes on right. Terrible. My conclusion is that shooting this film at 1600, even if you do push process, is not such a great idea.
Now notice the bright blue spot in the center - I found this, and to much worse extent, in several pictures. Inexplicable in terms of actual lights in the room.
Finally, and this is the worst part, the line of spots that go from Ryan's cheek (on left) horizontally across the image. These are places where the film emulsion is permanently marked with flow marks. I say permanent, because the folks at The Darkroom were nice enough to try cleaning them up for me, largely to no avail. In some of the shots, these liquid marks are just terrible. Again, they were processed in standard C-41 chemistry, pushed one stop as I requested.
In general, I found that the negatives had these liquid marks, and were absolute magnets for dust and particles. Sort of like the emulsion remained sticky or something. I could not get clean scans. Again, I've never had a problem near this extent with any other film stock.
Here are some more of my disappointing results with CineStill:
Liquid tracks. Notice the strange blue spots on the drummer's leg above.
And these were the most useful images selected from two 36 exposure rolls. Really.
So, at $10 per roll, I certainly won't be doing any more experiments with this film.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: I bought my CineStill from Freestyle (Click Here). They were more than fair in dealing with my situation, which I appreciate very much. Buy from them with confidence.
I do know that others have gotten some gorgeous results with this film. While I'd like to know how, or how I messed up, I'm not willing to risk the cost of dollars and lost time and photo opportunity to do it.
Oh well, not all experiments yield positive results. My next set of experiments in hopes of finding a nice low light color film look will be with Fuji Natura 1600 that I picked up in Japan.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Larry Keel and Sam Bush, Keel Photo by Reed A. George
I guess my new black and white concert style must be working at some level. I was contacted by Larry Keel's agent, inquiring about the picture on the left above. They wanted to see color versions, but eventually chose to use the monochrome one.
I'm really happy that Larry liked the image enough that it's of some use to him! I'm more than happy to contribute a little to someone who gives so much to us fans.