Film and Developing 0 comments on Blue Bleach Bypass

Blue Bleach Bypass

Ever pushing the boundaries of odd techniques in kitchen development – I decided in the middle of a hectic and busy developing session recently to try something a bit odd. Cross processed, bleach bypass slide film.

An experiment in blue

Quite what led me to this, I am not sure. It seemed a good idea at the time. Cross Processing film is always quite fund, and something I do a lot at home, as I rarely shoot enough E6 to make it worth investing in sort lived expensive chemicals, and I have used the bleach bypass process a few times, both for creative effect and for films which I think are quite old and may have lost sensitivity as this leaves the silver image in place.

The negatives were very very dark, needing quite a lot of scanning trickery. I tried a few ideas finally settling on auto exposure scanning as slide film to create a basic tiff file in negative.  I then loaded these into photoshop and inverted them. Finally I set the levels for each colour channel individually to stretch the histogram by setting the sliders to each end of the “hump”. I tweaked this a little as needed to get a pleasing, if odd, effect.

The result is these captivating almost cyanotype like images.

Gallery

Film and Developing, Photosets and Projects 0 comments on Alien Landscapes

Alien Landscapes

Kodak Ektachrome Professional Infrared EIR Film has become a bit of a holy grail for experimental photographers, and I have seen it command prices of over £100 on ebay. I was lucky enough to get hold of a roll in a mixed bundle of old films (along with 2 HIE Black and White infra-red rolls for about £14 – I guess the guy didn’t know what he had!).

About the film

EIR is a ‘false colour’ technical film, coated on an Estar base with a sensitivity from 380-900nm – this covers the full visible spectrum and some of the near-UV and all of the near-IR range. Near Infra-red wavelengths are rendered as a deep visible red, and due to the ‘Woods Effect’ (reflection of n-IR wavelengths from foliage) this means that foliage comes out in this colour creating strange and bizarre visual effects. Continue Reading “Alien Landscapes”

Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on White Balance (It’s largely a matter of taste)

White Balance (It’s largely a matter of taste)

White balance refers to how your eyes identify colour in an image. What I aim to show in this tutorial is that sometimes, there is no ‘correct’ white balance, it is a matter of taste and creative vision.

I am going to try and avoid too much depth about the science of colour in this article, but I do need to explain some of the basics.

The basics

When viewing a real life scene the human visual system is very good at filtering out slight casts caused by the colouring of the light. So when we see a white wall illuminated by flourescent lights (which have a slight green tint) or tungsten incandescent light-bulbs (which are slightly orange) our brain tells us that is it white so we see it as white. Of course this is not a total effect, and is largely psychological – you see a candle-lit room and because out brain does interpret this as slightly warm because that is what our experience tells us the light looks like. Continue Reading “White Balance (It’s largely a matter of taste)”

Photosets and Projects 0 comments on Through Moving Windows

Through Moving Windows

I spend a lot of time travelling on busses and trains. Looking out of the windows provides a unique view of the surroundings which is detached and dispassionate, a different reality. You see places that you may walk through on different days, or that you may never be able to access.

About the project

This mini-project came out of this. I often carry old point and shoot cameras round with me when massing about and testing film, so I started shooting out of the windows of buses and trains when I traveled.

The weather is most often grey round here, and even when not it seems to take on that feeling out of the window of a bus. The relatively slow shutter speed of these cameras creates a feeling of movement. Where are you going today..? Continue Reading “Through Moving Windows”

Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Focal Length, Depth of Field, and Field of View

Focal Length, Depth of Field, and Field of View

Focal Length, Field of View and Depth of Field… These all sound very exciting. Or maybe not. Perhaps they just sound slightly frightening. They are the sort of thing that you can delve into in quite some complexity, or try to avoid as much as possible, but you need to know a little about them if you are to use your cameras to their fullest capacity.

What this page will do is give you some tools to think about questions like ‘how far to I have to stand back to fit everyone in?’ and how close can I focus with this particular camera?’

Focal Length

The focal length of a lens is the point from a certain point in the optical system to one of the principle foci (for practical purposes the image plane). In a thin lens (where the thickness is negligible compared to the focal length) this is from the centre of the lens. In a multi-element camera lens it is from the rear nodal point (which can be outside the physical structure of the lens, woooo, spooky).

Confused? You bet, and that is a gross oversimplification.

You can have a look at Wikipedia and read up on all of this if you like. But you don’t really need to know it all. Continue Reading “Focal Length, Depth of Field, and Field of View”

News and Events, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on How to fuel your GAS – A buying guide for second hand cameras

How to fuel your GAS – A buying guide for second hand cameras

I have come to accept that I have GAS and I cannot control it. GAS? Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I had to put this in because it is the oldest puerile joke among photographers, but now it is out of the way I will get on with the post.

Despite my full awareness that I had miscalculated the length of the month and spent rather more money than I should have I decided to indulge my addiction a little this weekend, with some charity shopping and a car boot sale. I picked up the following exciting stuff from the charity shops:

  • Olympus µ [Mju] Zoom 105 (£4) – A zoom version of the classic Mju range from 1995
  • Kodak S100 EF (£1.99) a white plastic chunky retro point and shoot, guessing from the 80s.
  • Yashica T4 (£3), a basic compact from around 1990, with a rather nice lens; a Multicoated 4 elements in 3 groups Carl Zeiss Tessar 35mm, f/3.5.

And at the boot sale:

Yes, you read that right, a working Olympus Trip for £4. I nearly passed over this. The stall was an old man with a van and a table with maybe 20 or so items of retro – typewriters, metal vases, stereo equipment and so on. Looking at this I thought that he came over as a dealer, and would have an idea of the price of these – a good quality Trip can go from around £20-40. I had a brief look and confirmed that it seemed to be working ok, but not enough that I looked like a serious collector before asking the price. I have been after adding a Trip 35 to my collection for a while and would pay standard price for one if I knew I could test it well and get a return if it didn’t work. Trip 35s have some specific issues – they are totally controlled by the selenium meter being an automatic program exposure camera. If the meter is gone (which happens with Selenium meters if they are not stored well) then the camera will not work to its full ability (and how it works is the charm of this camera). But I wouldn’t pay more than a fiver, or tenner at absolute most for one that I couldn’t test well.

And, though I didn’t realise this at the time, a Yashica T4 for £3… These can go for a hundred to a right unsuspecting hipster… Continue Reading “How to fuel your GAS – A buying guide for second hand cameras”

Commentry and Hyperbole, Film and Developing, Photosets and Projects, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Nuclear Implosion

Nuclear Implosion

There has been a bit of a buzz recently about this new film produced by Adox. This promises ‘Imploding Colours, Bursting Reds and Toxic Grain’. I have read that it was in fact a dud batch with one of the layers incorrectly coats. It is suggested that shooting at different EI settings produces different results; rating it at 100 provided muted colours leaning to blues, and at 400 it will lean more towards reds. Some people have suggested that (unlike redscale film, where this differential effect is due to the amount of light reaching the different layers) that this is due to effects of scanning- the scanner is not getting what it expects and compensates wildly.

Developing and Scanning

Scanning my first roll (shot at EI 100), it is certainly clear that this is a film that is open to a bit of experimentation at the scanning stage. This is something I have written about before, and something that the Lomo-Hipster crowd need to think about from time to time. There is a lot of prattle about ‘unpredictability’ and how great it it is; I don’t really buy into all that. Of course it is fun and rewarding to try something new that you don’t know how it will come out – whether this be sticking an old film that seems to have been stored in someone’s jock-strap into a toy camera and seeing what happens, or shutter dragging with Ilford Delta 3200 (ok, this one was due to being so pissed I really didn’t know what I was doing) – but if I try something new I like to be able to recreate it again if it works! And this is perfectly possible. What they refer to as ‘unpredictability’ is really (unless you have a clear idea what you want and know how to ask for it) a product of handing your film over to be printed and scanned as interpreted by a machine, or at best a lab technician who has to make a ‘best guess’ based on what they think you want. Continue Reading “Nuclear Implosion”

Random Thoughts 0 comments on A Few Questions…

A Few Questions…

I am a bit bored, and my ‘blog needs feeding. So, just for the bants (as they say) here are a few photo related questions…

What got you into Photography?

I had always liked taking snapshots as a child, though at that point I had never really considered much about what they could be other than a record of things I had seen or done.  In relation to what I do with my Saturated Imagery project, my interest grew through my interest in ethnography and particularly what visual cues from the environment are able to tell us (or not) about the people and societies who live there.

What’s your camera of choice?

This is a difficult question, as I use so many.  I use a Canon EOS 60D for a lot of my work as it is a great camera with pretty much all the bells and whistles of the EOS pro models but at considerably less cost and weight. I use Praktica TL series bodies quite a lot, particularly for monochrome and IR work – they are robust, and the angled shutter release allows me to confidently bring the shutter speed down to 1/15s without blurring the image.  I also use a huge number of basic point and click toy cameras, or advanced compacts for specific effects, the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim being an example of this.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

Image of light streaks formed by a bus moving at speed
Streaking Bus in Headingley – Polaroid 900Z. Night Mode Flash, Agfaphoto Vista+ 200.

As I said before, much of my interest comes from an interest in ethnography. So the way that people interact with their environment is a big inspiration, concepts such as Henri Lefebrve’s  representation of space/spaces of representation and David Harvey’s ideas of consumption and reproduction of spaces. I like ideas of time-space compression, and different ideas of beauty in space. This stems from a big interest in realism – for example an image such as the one here shows a bus at speed with the light trails from a long exposure. Susan Sontag argued that images are a slice of time and space, but we live in four dimensions and a snapshot might not display reality. This image clearly does not depict a bus in real terms – one cannot directly image a light trail as a discrete temporal point, and one does not see light trails in this manner, but the image carries far more of a sense of a bus rushing past on a dark night than a static short exposure shot. Continue Reading “A Few Questions…”

Photosets and Projects, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Streaks of Light

Streaks of Light

I have just got back a film that I used in my Polaroid 900Z – this is a fairly advanced compact camera from the end of the 1990s. In common with many later compacts it has a ‘night mode’ – this is a slow sync flash that fires the flash but also exposes for the ambient lighting – out in the street at night this can give some long shutter speeds. I have used this technique a lot, but have only recently started using it in night time streets.

Light Streaks

The image I was most looking forward to is ‘Streaking Bus in Headingley’ the first in this gallery. I fired the flash on this as the bus drove past, waiting until it was past me so as not to startle the drive. This has created an interesting image as the more defined area of the bus is at the rear of the streaks, with them moving out in front of it. This is the opposite to what we would normally look to do, which is why DSLRs often have a rear curtain flash that fires the flash as the shutter is closing, and allowing the trails to come towards the viewer. In this image, I feel it creates a nice effect. Continue Reading “Streaks of Light”

Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Abstract Impressionism – Part one: Motion

Abstract Impressionism – Part one: Motion

Inspired by a recent article on Digital Photography School I would also like to present some ideas for shooting beautiful impressionist images. Often in photography we strive to create realistic images, which are super-sharp and capturing what the eye actually sees. Of course, what the eye sees can vary – in her article Anne McKinnel talks of ‘the impression a scene leaves in your mind when you glance at it quickly and then look away before giving your eyes a chance to focus’, but of course the eye plays other tricks than this. Think of a fast moving train, and the streaking lines – I have read that a shutter speed of 1/60s most closely captures what the eye sees (though this is very different from the ‘shutter speed’ of the eye). But think of other tricks the eye can play – squinting so that images become blurred, the loss of perception at the peripheral vision and so on, or how things look when you are drunk. Learning to use some of these tricks can create beautiful abstract images that play with the mind.

Moving Subjects

Long Exposure Image of light streaks
A600 – Canon EOS 1000D and Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 at 18mm; 2s, f/8, ISO 400.

The classic long exposure technique is to place your camera steady on a tripod, or some other convenient surface and shoot a long exposure image. This is often used for traffic trails as in this image of the A660 as it leaves Leeds. This was taken during the rush hour traffic with an exposure of 2 seconds. I balanced the camera on the barrier rail. As you can see, the traffic has been rendered all but invisible with just its lights evident as light trails, and the people walking along the street are ghostlike and transparent, but the steady surface leaves the rest of the scene sharp. Continue Reading “Abstract Impressionism – Part one: Motion”

Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Image Rescue…

Image Rescue…

One of the benefits of shooting black and white film, is its latitude, the range of contrast it can reproduce. I am not going to go into great detail about this here, as for the purposes of this tutorial it is not necessary, read up on the zone system for a bit more information if you like. It is just enough to know that film can manage about 7 stops of contrast, and that in between these it has a wide gradation of levels. Even a cheap Chinese film  like Lucky SHD 100, which I used for this image.

Black and White in Bradford

Image of .tiff scan for tutorial
Initial .tiff scan

I shot this image in Bradford, by the side of the old Cinema near the Alhambra Theatre. It was taken using my Praktica TL-5B and Vivitar 28mm f/2.5. The film was Lucky 100 SHD, which is much maligned, but if used carefully can be very nice, if a little grainy. I normally use a yellow filter with this film, but I had forgotten it on this occurrence. It was developed in Rollei D74 for 6 minutes.

I metered from the walls – These would be about zone IV in the scene, a little darker than the midpoint. Of course a shot like this is impossible to control using a graduated filter due to the shape of the sky-line. In these a tend to meter for the dark areas as this is easier to solve.

I didn’t spend too long on the shot, as I was being hassled by builders, who were generally making obnoxious comments about my being a pervert with a camera. Some people are so idiotic… Continue Reading “Image Rescue…”

Commentry and Hyperbole 0 comments on The Reluctant Lomographer

The Reluctant Lomographer

Lomography is still on its mission to take over the world. I spend a lot of time thinking about my relationship with the global phenomenon, because a lot of what I do could very well come under this style. But it is something I have a problem with.

What’s the Problem?

Many people comment on the high prices for cheap cameras, the fact you need to join into this consuming clique and so on. This doesn’t really worry me. If I want a Lomography Camera, and I think it is worth it I will buy one. I bought my Diana F+ full price in Carnaby Street. I bought my Fisheye 2 for less than the website price in Leeds, from a Chinese shop called Dragon Photos. I will tell you about my Supersampler later. But it’s up to you. If you think it is worth it, buy it. If not, don’t.

Image of a nesting duck
Mother Duck – Lomograhy Diana F+ and Lomography CN 400

The thing that bothers me most about the whole Lomography business is the actual attitude to photography. All the things that make up the Lomographic vision – vernacular photography, happy accidents, soft focus, cross processing and so on have their place in photography as an art form, as a media. Vernacular photography – defined as photography where the subject is that of day to day life and the technical aspects are negligible acts as a fascinating insight into people’s lived realities. Abstracts are, when executed well equally as aesthetically valid as considered representations (though my girlfriend would disagree). Soft focus is a well used technical style, be it a filter, a plastic lens, or Vaseline smeared on a piece of cling-film. Continue Reading “The Reluctant Lomographer”