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”

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”

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”

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”

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”