Film and Developing, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Sepia Sprockets

Sepia Sprockets

Following on from my post on stand development in Rodinal a few days ago, this seems as good an opportunity as any to write about another film for which I used this process, along with some digital trickery to create some exciting hybrid images.

The editing process

Working in a hybrid digital and analogue workflow to full effect often makes use of a number of little editing tricks. you can do some of this in the scanner and some in Photoshop depending on what you are trying to do.

Scanning

Scanning 35mm film with the sprockets can present a few issues. Lomography create the DigitaLIZA device which claims to be able to hold film flat to scan the full area, but with a bit of tweaking the 120 mask on the Epson works fine. Just line the film up with the hinged edge and trap the ends under the mask. If necessary a tiny bit of tape on the end can help. The film may bow up a bit, but with photos through a plastic lens is that really going to make much difference?

I scanned these images as is. That is to say while I made certain choices for settings I just scanned them as a raw file, aiming to do all the adjustments in photoshop later. I used a medium unsharp mask setting, and selected Digital Ice dust removal (have a look in my glossary if you are not sure what these terms mean). I also selected colour negative as the main setting – this setting has some effect on the way that Epson Scan colour corrects if this is performed at the scanning stage, but for now it just provides me with a inverted (positive) image with no changes. Because I am not correcting in the software I can leave a fair border around the portion of the scan I want.

Screenshot of scanning software
Scanning Window

Into Photoshop

Now it’s time to open the scanned image in Photoshop. Continue Reading “Sepia Sprockets”

Film and Developing, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Old E4 film in Rodinal

Old E4 film in Rodinal

Sometimes I wonder about my sanity.

A long time ago, I bought a random collection of old film from that den of iniquity that is Ebay. I think I was pulled in by the fact that it had a couple of 126 Cartridges, which are stupidly expensive to get hold of now, along with some very exciting looking old films. Most of which, when I received them turned out to be far past the level of esoteric, and straying into the realms of (probably) useless.  Some of these do not even seem to be clear what the process is, though at least some indicate that they are the old E4 process.

Stand Developing

The E4 process was a precursor to the current E6 process used for Slide Film, but it used some pretty hardcore dangerous chemicals.   The dyes are similar to both the E6 and C41 process, but needing specific steps and a lower temperature.  I have heard of people having some success “cross processing” E4 in C41 chemistry at room temperature, but I thought for this film I would use a process that can normally bring out an image in anything – Stand developing in rodinal.

Stand developing uses a very dilute solution; in this case 1 part Rodinal to 100 parts of water. Agitation takes place only at the start of the process, which is then left undisturbed for an hour. Effectively this develops the film as far as the exposure will allow in a given area as the developer exhausts itself – once an area is developed no new developer is introduced to that area. This means that any film of any speed and any exposure (provided the exposure is enough to have actually exposed the film) will simply work. Highlights are retained and shadows are boosted. Continue Reading “Old E4 film in Rodinal”

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)”

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”

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…”

Film and Developing, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Infra-Red – Part one.

Infra-Red – Part one.

I have been waiting all year for these…

Last year, I bought a couple of rolls of Rollei IR400 from AG Photographic, having read a bit about the crazy effects of infra-red photography.

Shooting Infra-red

Sadly this does not let you see through people’s clothes as some rumours suggest. What these films are sensitive to is Near Infra Red light, with wavelengths between 700-900nm. They will function as a normal film, most have a fairly standard panchromatic sensitivity, but the fun comes when you use a filter to take some of these normal wavelengths out.

When shot with a very dark red filter,anything below red is filtered out, so the bulk of the exposure comes from these red wavelengths. Using a red filter with normal black and white film deepens increases the contrast, darkening blue skies and green foliage, and lightning tones where there is a red constituent.

Infrared monochrome image of the River Calder at Sowerby Bridge
River Calder at Sowerby Bridge – Praktica TL-5B and Rollei Retro 400S

The Rollei Retro 400S used in this image has an extended red sensitivity, so the red filter has accentuated this in this image. Note how this has darkened the sky and the water, whereas the tan of the stone built mills remains light.

When you use a special infra-red filter even the visible red is blocked, resulting in the exposure coming largely from these NIR wavelengths. This means that subjects which reflect more of these wavelengths expose more and appear lighter on the image. Famously foliage becomes white, the so called ‘Woods effect’. Continue Reading “Infra-Red – Part one.”

Equipment Reviews, Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim Fisheye Mod

Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim Fisheye Mod

Fisheye photography is fun. There is no denying this. It might not be big, or clever (as the professionals put it), but it is a laugh. The world looks at you through a funky bubble. Peoples noses get bigger. You can nearly see behind your ears…

This is about the simplest mod you can ever do What’s more it is cheap, assuming you have a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim, or something similar, it will cost less than a tenner, probably a lot less.

You will need:

Unmodified UWS Camera image for tutorial
Unmodified UWS

1) A Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim. These are hard to find, and go for silly prices nowadays, unless like me you find two at 75p each in a charity shop. Yes I am gloating. If you don’t find one, I would imagine some of the clones would do. These still go for silly prices, like all toy cameras nowadays, but they are easier to find. Basically, if it has a reasonably wide lens, measuring less than about 9mm in diameter (note that is the diameter, NOT the focal length) you will be ok.

2) A magnetic iPhone fisheye lens. You can get these for pennies on ebay, of you are happy to wait a few weeks for them to be shipped from China. UK sellers they go for about a fiver. Continue Reading “Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim Fisheye Mod”

Tutorials and Techniques 0 comments on Image Tutorial – ‘Heading North, Heading Home’

Image Tutorial – ‘Heading North, Heading Home’

Today I would like to share a tutorial about how I made one of my recent images – ‘Heading North, Heading Home’. My idea for this image was something a little crunchy – not fully crisp and bright, but blending the dirt of a northern city, with the light trails of the moving train. Something slightly film-esque (yes, I know I should shoot to film if I want it to be like film, but this is what I had to hand when I took the original shots) with a dark feel to it.

The Image

I took this image from the window of the London Kings Cross to Leeds train, at about 10pm, in May – there was still a big glow from the city lights in the sky, a bit of cloud, bathing everything in a nice warm orange glow.I took this using a Canon EOS 1000D and Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 poked out of the window of a moving train.

I will, at this point add a brief note. Sticking your head out of moving trains can be dangerous, as my girlfriend reminded me at length afterwards, though I reminded her that while I might risk my life for my art, I wouldn’t risk my camera. But, being serious, this is not something to mess about with. There is a reasonable amount of clearance between two trains, and the between the train and most track-furniture, but you need to be sensible. Do not actually start doing this when the train is moving. Peek carefully along the side of the train, don’t go sticking your head right out. Listen carefully to make sure a train is not coming past, from both directions. When you are ready, hold the camera in place with as little of you out of the window as possible – don’t keep your head stuck out looking through the view finder, use live view. You do this at your own risk… Continue Reading “Image Tutorial – ‘Heading North, Heading Home’”