Friday, December 9, 2016

Back to Color, Digital, Lumix? Well, Maybe a Little

I've been offline, mostly, working with black and white film in the darkroom. And, enjoying it immensely.
But, I decided to give Micro 4/3 a go again, after never being able to quite fall in love with the DMC-GX7 body. The image quality is fine, quite fine, in fact, but the camera feels weird in my hand, and I don't like the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on that particular camera. So, I decided to jump on a Black Friday deal and get the similar but somewhat less full-featured DMC-G7. Much better, for me. I gave up in-body image stabilization (which the GX7 has), but gained a camera that feels right in my hand, with what I feel is a better EVF.
Here's a shot I made with the new G7 today, using the Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 zoom lens, at 800 iso:
Mockingbird in Winter
I'm still really having a blast in the darkroom, but this was SO easy, and shooting color again is also fun...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Large Format Photography and Darkroom Printing - What an Education

Falls, Buzzard Hill, Appalachian Trail, Virginia, by Reed A. George
Horseman 45FA 4x5 Camera, Wollensak Raptar 135mm f4.7 Lens
EDU 100 film, f/22, 4 sec. exposure
I've gone back to basics for this phase in my photography. As I mentioned, a dear friend has given me his father's darkroom, which helped to set me on this path.
I'm making a lot of mistakes, learning about limitations, and really enjoying the occasional success.
This is a scan of a print I made in the darkroom, with my own two hands. It represents so much more thought, effort, and investment in the process than a similar image I'm sure I could have made with a digital SLR. In fact, I could've made hundreds of similar images with the DSLR in a fraction of the time. And that's just the point; that's not how this image was made.
I understand that viewers won't necessarily care, but I do.
So much left to learn about this craft...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Checking in - after a long break

My latest post, about shooting black and white film, specifically 4x5, is a reasonable hint at what I've been doing in my photographic life recently.
Spurred on by an incredible gift of a fully functional black and white darkroom, and the further gift of a place to set it up, I've been keeping my head down and practicing my large format black and white photography skills. I've come a long way quickly, but this style of photography does not lend itself perfectly to blogging. It's film, paper, and wet chemistry all the way.
For now, let me share a tool that's really helping me along, the SP-445 4x5 film developing tank by Stearman Press. (Click Here) to check it out. Once loaded, this is a daylight tank, and allows you to process up to four sheets of 4x5 film in 475 ml of chemical volume. It does a wonderful job.
I'm also still shooting digital and smaller format film, of course. But, the joy of printing great big negatives has had me focused on 4x5, and to a lesser extent, medium format. Lots to share, but it's going to take discipline for me to sit and scan images. I'll probably end up scanning silver prints to share my final products.
I feel that this is an important new phase in my creative development. I can honestly say that while it's much less forgiving, I really prefer darkroom work to post-processing on my computer. It's hard work getting a good print, but I think that makes it more rewarding, personally.
Of course, I'm not prescribing this for anyone else. I'm not sure that I'll always feel this way about going back to the basics, working with big black and white negatives and wet chemistry, but that is not what matters. What matters to me is that I'm learning new aspects of the craft.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting Out and About With the 4x5 Speed Graphic

I have a beautiful early Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 camera. Because it's not so convenient to use, I haven't spent much time with it. I decided to change that over the three day 4th of July weekend. I made a total of ten exposures (on Arista EDU film), and found that five of them are worth sharing. That's a pretty good hit rate compared to smaller formats, where I shoot a lot more images per scene.
Here are my five favorites from the weekend:
I usually set the camera on a tripod, using the ground glass back to frame and focus. I did that for the last three images above. For the first two, I used the rangefinder and shot handheld. Getting the focus right is a challenge, and I missed on some other shots. But, when you get it right, it's pretty nice.
In the picture of the house (Thornton House at Manassas National Battlefield), I used the front rise movement of the camera to allow me to keep the camera level to avoid distortion, yet still capture the roof and chimney. Pretty cool.
In the shot of the lotus flowers, I threw all concern for distortion to the wind, shooting with the camera nearly on the ground, pointing up at a steep angle.
I'm very happy that the Speed Graphic is not my only camera, or even my main one. But, it's instructive and fun to use.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Hike on the Unfinished Railroad

A few weeks back, I took a hike at the Manassas National Battlefied, site of two ferocious battles in the US Civil War. The Unfinished Railroad is a trench dug for rails, but never finished. It was a center of the second battle of Manassas.
I shot these images with my Rolleiflex SL2000F. Man, I love this weird old camera.
You could smell the summer honeysuckle all along the trail.
This monument is at the end of the trail. It reads: "In Memory of the Patriots Who Fell at Groveton, August 28th, 29th, & 30th, 1862.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Distinguished Couple

From an Asian festival in Washington, DC. Photos made with my Rolleiflex SL2000F and Sonnar 135mm f2.8 lens. That Sonnar is one of the very best telephoto lenses I've ever used.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Asia Festival, DC - Rolleiflex SL2000F

Here are a couple of images I made at a festival over the memorial day weekend. I was shooting my Rolleiflex SL2000F, with the wonderful Sonnar 135mm f2.8 lens. I think it's the best lens I have for this outfit.
Don't know what a Rolleiflex SL2000F is? (Click Here).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Welcome to the United States of America" - Ellis Island

I attended the recent LHSA (International Leica Society) meeting in NYC. One of the activities was a boat ride out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, entry point for 12 million immigrants to the US.
Quick - can you tell which two shots are film (Leica M4-2) and which one is digital (Leica M9)? Don't cheat and look at the file names.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Triptych - Youth and Humor

Youth and Humor
Nikon Df, Nikkor 85mm f1.8 AF-S Lens
I accompanied my friend, Charles Arnhold, to one of his regular haunts this weekend. Charlie is doing a project on the place, Cafe Amouri, in Vienna, Virginia. (Click Here) to check out the cafe's website. Great coffee.
These are Charlie's friends, Anna and Jayna, having a little fun on the sidelines.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mixing Digital and Film - Melissa Wright's Tribute to Patsy Cline

Some of my good friends, Melissa Wright, Danny Zezeski, Rudy B., Dwayne Brooke, and Evan (a new acquaintance) put on an amazing tribute to Patsy Cline a couple of weeks back. I shot my Nikon Df (digital) and FM (film). I had my AIS 50mm f1.2 lens on the FM, and loaded it up with Ilford Delta 3200 film. I also processed the digital images with settings to emulate the Delta 3200 look.
Here's a film shot:
That's what an f1.2 lens is for...
And here's an example of a digital example:
(Click Here) to see the whole set.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Northern Water Snake Triptych

From my morning paddle in the kayak on Saturday...
Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon sipedon, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6 Lens

Saturday, May 7, 2016

World Pinhole Day 2016

Tree Triptych, by Reed A. George
Reality So Subtle 6x17 Panoramic Pinhole Camera
Kodak TMax 100 Black and White Negative Film
April 24, 2016 was World Pinhole Day (WPD). Here's the shot I submitted.
I inadvertently made it a triptych (series of three images) by improperly loading my film behind the two posts (vertical black stripes) instead of in front of them. I like it, though.
See all of the WPD submissions by (clicking here).

Friday, May 6, 2016

Can I Eat Him, Mom? Can I?

Rollei 35, 40mm f3.5 Tessar Lens
Kodak TMax 400 Film
I have a thing for Rollei cameras. My latest is the tiny little Rollei 35, a guess-focus camera with a jewel of a Tessar lens (collapsible). It has a meter, but no provisions for focusing. Seems I guessed the distance pretty well in this shot.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Wrapping Up - LHSA International Leica Society Spring Shoot in NYC

It's been a while since I last posted, but I think I feel a wave of refreshed enthusiasm coming on. Springtime is here, and there's plenty to get out and photograph.
Speaking of Spring, we just wrapped up the Spring Shoot of the LHSA, the Internatioanl Leica Society, in New York City. (Click Here) to check out LHSA.
While I mostly shot black and white film on this trip, the image above, from Central Park, was shot on my Leica M9, with the Elmar C 90mm f4 lens. This is a great little telephoto for travel, so tiny.
Anyway, the image won second place in the LHSA contest for the Spring Shoot. The prize is a free 16"x20" print from Digital Silver. (Click Here) to check these guys out. They may silver prints from digitial files, as well as offering film processing services. My plan is to get the image above printed for my prize. It will make a nice memory of this event.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Georgetown (less cynical)

Georgetown Street Scene, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 AF-D at 70mm
iso 400, f5.6, 1/500 sec.
Shot through open passenger window while stopped in traffic.


"Sightseeing"at the Lincoln Memorial, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 AF-D at 40mm
iso 400, f5.6, 1/800 sec.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snowy President's Day in Virginia

Valentine Flowers in Snow
Nikon Df, Carl Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus Lens
iso 800, f5.6, 1/250 sec.
I have the great fortune of trying out two of the Zeiss Milvus lenses, the 85mm and 50mm f1.4, on loan. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Korean War Memorial - Rolleiflex SL2000F

I'm still thoroughly enjoying the somewhat uncommon Rolleiflex SL2000F that I bought a while back. (Click Here) to read about it.
Here's a shot I made with the SL2000F and Rollei 135mm f2.8 lens.
Korean War Memorial, by Reed A. George
What a blast this camera is to use.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Someone I Met - and a New Camera. The Fujica Half 1.9 Half-Frame

I've been playing around with the 35mm half-frame format recently. (Click Here) and (Click Here) to see posts on my first half-frame camera, the Canon Demi EE17.
I recently bought a second half-frame camera, a Fujica Half 1.9. I picked it up on ebay for $22, including shipping, and it looks and works like new. It even came with the original soft leather case, strap and lens cap. Very cool.
Here's the important part - a picture I made with it on a recent trip down to Greenville, South Carolina. My friend, Craig, and I took a run over to Asheville, North Carolina for the day. We met this fine lady in an art studio there.
I scanned the film, then edited it in Analog Efex 2 (Nik Software/Google) and Lightroom. Analog Efex has a wealth of film and camera emulations, and frames.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Very Different Rolleiflex - SL2000F - My Latest Passion

So several weeks back, I went to meet my good friends Charlie and Alain for a photo outing. Charlie and I were discussing settings for his new Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 when Alain walked up with this beauty.
Rolleiflex SL2000F and Planar 50mm f1.8 Lens
Now, I admit that I'm pretty passionate about cameras. Passionate, but generally careful. When I realized that this was a 35mm Rolleiflex, with both eye-level and waist-level finders built in, interchangeable lenses (Rollei QBM mount), and interchangeable film backs, well, that was it. I had to have it. I'd never seen anything like it. No looking it up online, no research at all, had to have it. I bought it right then, in the parking lot. Alain was nice enough to part with it for the price he paid. Here it is with the matching Sonnar 135mm f2.8 lens.
Driving away after our day out shooting, I thought "What have I done?" A dead lens mount (the QBM is no longer made anywhere), electronic (not quiet) advance only (no manual override), maybe I should have been a little more cautious. But, just look at it. So, I smiled and drove on home.
Then, just as soon as I got home, I started looking for information on this beauty online. Oh, no! Everywhere I looked were warning signs - electronic failure, no spare parts, DO NOT BUY THIS CAMERA! Well, it gave me pause, but again, just look at it. I decided to take my chances and just plain use it.
This camera is a total blast to use. Something between a Rolleiflex TLR and a 35mm SLR system camera, it's just plain wonderful.
And then, I found out even more that I liked - a Rollei-made auto-aperture adapter to mount M42 lenses! This immediately expanded my lenses from the Planar 50 and Sonnar 135 to my wider set of Pentax M42 lenses, including a 28mm f2.8 no-namer, 35mm f3.5 Super Takumar, 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar(!), 200mm f4 Takumar, and even a Yashica 300mm f5.6 telephoto. Lots to play with.
So what about all of this concern for reliability? Well, I could either try to find someone to service the SL2000F if needed, or think about spares. I determined that a spare body was the best approach. So, I picked up a Rollei SL35 (earliest model SLR) for $35 on ebay. Yes, it needed a little exercise, but now it works fine. Here it is with the Pentax 35mm mounted via adapter.
Rollei SL35 and Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f3.5
Of course, I also started a followed search on ebay for a second SL2000F body. Pretty slim pickings, as these cameras are pretty rare. But, within a couple of weeks, I found a fully-functional SL2000F listed in Germany, with another M42 adapter, Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 M42 lens, two film backs, the very difficult to find electronic wired remote shutter release, and, even rarer, the dedicated Metz flash and Rollei flash adapter, built specifically for the SL2000F. And at a great price. I emailed the German seller with a few questions, and went for it. The second camera is now here and appears to be fully functional.
So, now I'm really deep into these cameras, but loving every minute of it. And, to calibrate it a little, still have less invested than the cost of a single high quality DSLR body.
So, how does it work? Like a dream. Here are a few images from the first SL2000F body, shot on a recent road trip down to Asheville, NC.
The lenses are plenty sharp. Everything seems to work very well. No electronic problems, even though I had a few scares at first. Based on reports online of AA batteries being too high voltage for the camera (they fit), I took others' advice and ordered some rechargables and they work perfectly. I chose Panasonic Eneloop batteries, and highly recommend them.
More importantly, this camera just fits me perfectly. It truly feels at home in my hands. I love being able to use the waist-level finder when I want, more often the eye-level finder, without changing any parts. I love that it's 35mm. I love the lenses, both Rollei and M42. I love a lot about this camera.
So, I'm glad that I didn't make time to be more rational about this purchase. If I had, I would not have bought it, based on all the warning signs online. I'm glad I bought it, and feel quite fine now with a spare body, just in case.