Category Archives: Photography

Just showing Off

New York, New York

New York City, a place filled with photographic possibilities. And a city I didn’t think I’d be getting back to anytime soon after my last visit back in 2013. Sure it took five years, but I managed to get back, on my honeymoon no less! And my awesome wife Heather even let me bring some toys along. And by toys I mean cameras. I went loaded for bear, the trusty Nikon FA three AI-S lenses (35, 50, and 105) and lots of photographic film.

Greatly Inscribed

Dames & Dragons

Now usually when I go shooting buildings in a city I tend to capture the full view of the building, getting as wide as I possibly can. This time around I couldn’t do that for a couple of reasons. The first being that the streets in New York, especially in Manhattan, are packed with tall skyscrapers that just don’t allow for the full capture of their grandeur. That is unless you have an ultra-wide angle lens. The widest lens I had with me was my 35mm lens, which while good for some of the shorter buildings just wouldn’t cut it elsewhere. And for some of the stuff I was shooting I needed my 14-24mm lens and either the F5 and F90, neither of which makes for an excellent travel camera when you’re on your honeymoon.

Ornate

A U Properly Shapped

So I decided to take a different approach than what I usually do and got in closer. Because in New York, in the older buildings the details are just as important as the big picture. Having the 105mm and a roll of Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400, I went in for the shot while Heather and I made our way north on 5th Avenue towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And what a place to shoot buildings, from Sak’s Fifth Avenue to the Art Deco flagship store for Tiffany & Co. Guilded Age skyscrapers to cathedrals of worship. This was a part of New York I had not spent much time in the past.

St. Patrick Details

Remains of Things Past

Of course standing out like a sore thumb is Trump Tower, and I prided myself at not getting any sort of photo of the glass monstrocity. As the 80’s were a horrible decade for fashion, they were pretty terrible for architecture also. Give me gilded age or art deco, the classics. Heck, I even find beauty in the brutalist nature of the 1960s.

The Tiffany & Co. Clock

Rose Window

Nikon FA – AI-S Nikkor 105mm 1:2.5 – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

It’s a TMAX Party – Part II

The April TMax party happened to fall right into the perfect schedule with the Spring 2017 Toronto Film Shooters Meetup falling right into the shoot week! After careful consideration and having moved many of my cameras over the condo where I’ll be living before the month is up (actually next week once Heather and I get back from the honeymoon). I settled on my trusty Hasselblad 500c; it has been seeing a little less use this year after getting a lot of love with the 52:500c project.

TFSM - Spring '17
Downtown Camera where the meet started and the best spot in downtown Toronto to pickup anything film releated!

TFSM - Spring '17
A slightly sad wall, needs something more than just grey and white paint.

All through downtown Toronto, we went, taking in the various sites and sounds of the city’s core with a solid group of photographers from the little group I gathered together. This meet was the brainchild of James McFarlane. A long-time friend and the man who is going to be the photographer at the wedding in a couple of days!

TFSM - Spring '17
The man himself!

TFSM - Spring '17
St. Lawrence Hall from the park. Back in 2016 I tried to get a night shot from this angle, but failed.

Despite being a day of mixed lighting conditions with the bright cloud cover, it was great to get out with a 400-speed film so that no matter what happened I could shoot handheld which is important on a photo walk. Tracing along Queen Street and into St. James Park there were plenty of things to shoot, and because I wasn’t leading the walk, I could settle back and enjoy just shooting. And for a TFS meetup, it’s an oddity.

TFSM - Spring '17
One of the side doors of the St. James Cathedral. I would have gone inside but I wasn’t equipped for indoor shooting on the day

TFSM - Spring '17
But there’s still lots of shoot on the outside of St. James

As always big thank you to Emulsive for organizing this little party (and I look forward to the next film party, maybe a Tri-X Shindig?) and to Downtown Camera for being a big supporter of the TFS group!

Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C

An Extra Special Gift

This was certainly a first for me. I’ve been doing the photography thing for many years, and while my favourite subjects are things that really can’t move around, I do find myself enjoying the few portrait and wedding gigs that I come across. But when it came to shooting maternity it was all new territory. And it can be a pretty creepy one also. You look at places like Pinterest, and you can get carried away by semi-nude women showing off their pregnant bodies. Now before you lay on the hate, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong. I just don’t like that style of shooting, and when my subjects are my soon-to-be brother & sister-in-law. That’s just not the direction I want to take.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + Konica Hexanon 1:2.8 f=35mm

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + Konica Hexanon 1:2.8 f=35mm

The idea is Heather’s who came up with the idea to do a shoot with them once we found out they were expecting, and it became all the more special when the one baby was two. Yep, instant niece and nephew added in, and just before my wedding. It did take Holly a bit of time to warm up to the idea of having maternity photos done. And I can understand that she also does photography, and it’s difficult for a photographer to stand in front of the camera rather than behind.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + KMZ Helios 44-2 2/58

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Thankfully we had just the right weather to be outside, well it was a little cold for Evan and Holly, I at least could keep my coat on. And for the backdrop, we took advantage of being in Hamilton the city of waterfalls and worked at Tiffany and Sherman Falls. What makes this whole thing extra special is that Evan and Holly had been waiting a long time to start a family, so it was an amazing idea from Heather to document it right from the beginning.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

The great part was that once I got rolling with the photos it went really well, both Evan and Holly were great subjects, and the process moved along well. I found myself looking only once at a few saved images on Pinterest and then settled into my usual groove when shooting portraits. The only thing different was making sure to show off the baby bump! And no, I’m not getting into newborn photography, but I think I’d be okay doing another maternity shoot of the same style.

In the Flavour of Maple

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner is the start of the maple season here in Ontario, where the sugar bushes come alive with the sound of sap dripping into buckets and the sweet smoke pouring out of the many sugar shacks across the province.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

For Heather and I that thankfully does not mean long hours working out in the bush, but rather a drive out to Mountsburg Conservation Area for their Maple Town event. You get all the sweet rewards but without any of the hard work attached to it. Despite the cold weather, which worked a bit in our favour, we headed out all bundled up. While the weather was cold, the sun was out and high in the sky.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

The Maple industry is closely tied to the history and growth of this part of Canada. The sap once reduced down could be turned into a sweet syrup or reduced down further to sugar that could be eaten as a treat or a replacement for the refined white and brown sugar that isn’t grown in the area. So when supply ships could not get through, the early settlers learned of maple sugar from the first nations that had been gathering the sweet stuff for many years.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Of course for Heather and I, we just had to join the queue and had pancakes the size of dinner plates served up to us with the syrup made right there in Maple Town which we then enjoyed in the brisk winter air. The event is great fun for the family and is open through all of March and into April when the season ends. You can find out more at: www.conservationhalton.ca/maple-town.

Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

It’s a TMAX Party – Part I

The fine folks behind the film photography promotion website Emulsive have done it again! In the footsteps of last year’s FP4Party, they have started to run a couple of different monthly participation events for film photographers around the globe through the use of Twitter. Sadly I didn’t participate much in the FP4Party mostly because of time conflicts; I decided to make a point to join in on this year’s film parties. Being free of most projects it freed my hand to keep up this time around. This year’s first party is a celebration of Kodak TMax. Tmax a modern film emulsion that was released in the late 20th-Century and use a tabular grain rather than a traditional grain like Tri-X or Plus-X.

While I figured the easiest way to jump into the TMaxParty was to dig into my box of 4×5 TMax 100. While TMax isn’t always my first choice, I’m more of a classic grain shooter. But hey sometimes it’s good to jump a little bit outside of your comfort zone. So into Hamilton, I went, and while I had planned to shoot all eight loaded sheets that day but the cold weather told me otherwise.

HMCS Haida
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Craft Beers
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Whitehern
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Well in Canada, March can be a bit of a hit and miss, and while the weather kept me from shooting outside, my shutters tend to get laggy in sub-zero weather I again had to dive outside of my comfort zone. Usually, when I’m shooting large format I stick to deep depth-of-field, we’re talking f/32 and up on my aperture. Sure it makes for longer shutter times, but it gives the images incredible sharpness. Well, the temperatures stuck below zero so open up the lens I did.

Retention
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

Take Flight
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

The Lights Above
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

While I’m pretty happy with my results for this month, I hope next month’s TMax Party I’ll have some more outdoor shots. Of course, the big question is what format will I shoot, and in what camera! Current runners are my Contax IIIa, Rolleiflex 2.8F, or Hasselblad 500c. So we’ll see next month!

Expired Film Day – 2017

Two Stops Over and Straight On ‘Til Morning.

Expired Film Day 2017

Ah yes, the mantra of Expired Film Day. EFD is the brainchild of fellow film photographer Daniel J. Schneider. The day is a celebration of shooting and enjoying the wacky results you get from shooting expired film. I tend to shy away from colour films mostly because of having to send them away for processing. So this year I had a pile of the mid-1990s expired TMax 100 floating around to shoot. Most Kodak B&W films are fairly stable, and you could shoot them at box speed if you wanted and get good results. I know because I’ve been using the film to try out cameras for the Classic Camera Revival Review blogs.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

To make matters a little more interesting, we recently got hit with a big winter storm which turned our near Spring area into a winter wonderland, and a cold snap forced me to make some different choices when it came to going out and shooting. Ditching the idea of taking out any camera or meter with a battery because I figured it would be at least an hour to walk and shoot in the awful weather I settled on an old war standby. The Contax IIIa and mounting a 1942 era Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm lens, as for a meter it was the Gossen Pilot.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

There was a plus to all this, the overcast sky and bright sun behind the clouds made the light bright but even making metering fairly consistent no matter what I was shooting. As for the subject, I decided to take to my old stomping grounds, the campus of my former High School. This was where I started with serious photography, often taking time between classes to figure out my newest camera. I was pretty frozen by the time I made it back, but the camera had survived. The older lens gave everything a bit of a hazy look about it which only added to the strangeness of EFD. Maybe next year I’ll plan it out better to have a batch of colour negative waiting for developing and then shoot some expired slide film and Xpro it!

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

Contax IIIa – Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1:3,5 f=5cm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-64 (TMX)
SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:30 @ 20C
Meter: Gossen Pilot
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2017)

A Cold Day on James Street

For the past several years I’ve been working on a series of photo projects that usually resulted in me going out to shoot on a regular basis but for project reasons. But this year, despite still going out and shooting film for camera reviews I’ve started just taking cameras out for the pure reason of going out to shoot for my enjoyment.

LUiNA Station

A Fountain

And while I had brought a camera to review with me, and my 4×5 along for this month’s TMAX Party I did get out and do some shooting for just me. Having shot the Hasselblad once a week every week last year I’ve been letting it sit for a bit on my shelves while I played with other cameras through the first couple months. But I thought it would survive a rather cold Saturday morning in Hamilton while Heather was at a baby shower for my future sister-in-law.

Pig in the Window

Rusted Out

So while Heather was up on the mountain, I took a wander along James Street. While there is always much to see in downtown Hamilton I, usually stick to the same box and area. So this time I wandered a bit further afield along James Street towards the waterfront. While there were many familiar sites once I got past the Christ Cathedral, they were no longer too familiar, and I finally got to see the beautiful LUiNA Station. A former train station turned event venue.

Little India

Opposing Doors

The weather it turned out was a little colder than I expected and by the time I got back to my car I was pretty uncomfortable, and so was my 4×5 that had been sitting inside the car so the other four sheets of film would have to wait for warmer weather. But I was happy with the results I got from the Hasselblad.


Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100
Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C
Meter: Gossen Lunasix F
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2017)

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup – Winter ’17

I never thought that this little idea of mine would catch on. I never believe that my little social ideas would go over. And yet they usually do in some form or another. For example, the Toronto Film Shooters Meetup, now starting on its the fourth year. TFSM, a quarterly gathering of photographers in the Southern Ontario region who loves to shoot traditional film based cameras is an idea I floated back in 2013. I was still an active member of the Analog Photography User Group (APUG), and in the Toronto Sub-Forum, someone was complaining that there was not enough photo walks in the Greater Toronto Region specifically for film photographers.

TFSM - Winter '17
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – SPUR HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C

TFSM - Winter '17
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – SPUR HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C

So I, a young, mid-twenty some-odd kid, piped up. I’ll organize a quarterly photo walk one for each season. So on a bright summer day in 2013, I launched the Toronto Film Shooters Meetup or TFSM. It’s had varied success over the four years; there was even an event where I was the only one in attendance. The winter ones are usually the least attended walks mostly because the weather can be rather terrible, or just plain cold. But the walk a couple of weeks back it was a bit gray, but the weather was okay.

TFSM - Winter '17
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – SPUR HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C

TFSM - Winter '17
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – SPUR HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C

The six brave souls who attended took in an icy view along Toronto’s lakeshore, which during the summer is fairly active, but not so much in the winter. And yet there was still lots to photograph along the way. Earlier in the day, I had taken my Contax IIIa through the downtown core to give the beauty of a camera a bit of a workout. A stop at Downtown Camera to stock up one some film, and even got my hands on a box of RPX400 in 4×5.

TFSM - Winter '17
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Bergger BRF400+ @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Winter '17
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Bergger BRF400+ @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:00 @ 20C

I’m surprised as for how well all my photos came out. Usually, I don’t post much in the way of volume from these meets. But making a choice to bring only two cameras and only actively shooting one at any given time probably helped. And I was using several new-to-me items this time around. The Nikon F2 was loaded up with Bergger BRF 400+ and an AI-S 35mm lens, while the Contax IIIa had an old favourite FP4+ but this time around I developed with SPUR HRX, a new developer that I got introduced to by Mike.

TFSM - Winter '17
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Bergger BRF400+ @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Winter '17
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 – Bergger BRF400+ @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:00 @ 20C

If you’re in the Toronto area or even beyond, we have regular attendees from Peterborough, feel free to join us on Facebook to hear about all the madness that is the Toronto Film Shooters group!

Inspiring Interpretation and Imitation

Recently in one of the many film photography groups, I’m a member of on Facebook a group admin, Reg Pritchard, put forward a challenge to interpret and imitate a famous photographer. Thankfully the photographer was not one that I knew, Robert Doisneau. Robert roamed the streets of Paris with his Leica during the 1930s, and if credited as being a pioneer, like many contemporaries, in the field of humanist photography and photojournalism. Thankfully Reg posted several examples of Robert’s work from which we could draw inspiration.


Paris Boulevard Brune Whole Family on AJS Motorcycle – Robert Doisneau, 1953

Doisneau’s photograph of a large family on a single motorbike caught my attention because that one person was looking right at the camera, there was a little touch of interaction between the subject and the photographer. It certainly is an aspect of street photography that I tend to look for, a silent confirmation that I was taking their photo. I jumped and started looking through my rather extensive collection of photographs I have online. Settling on these six.

Toronto - Dec 30th, 2015
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-200 – Kodak DK-50 (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Toronto - July 2015
Nikon FG – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-250 – PMK Pyro (1+1+100) 15:00 @ 20C

Toronto - July 2015
Nikon FG – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Eastman Double-X 5222 @ ASA-250 – PMK Pyro (1+1+100) 15:00 @ 20C

The Streets of Brussels
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Plus-X 125 @ ASA-125 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 7:30 @ 20C

Toronto - July 1st
Leica IIIc – Leitz Summitar f=5cm 1:2 – Kodak Plus-X 125 @ ASA-125 – HC-110 (Dil. B) 5:00 @ 20C

While it’s important to develop your own eye and style, sometimes it’s good to look at the styles of other photographers and see if you draw your inspiration from them and even sometimes duplicate them.

SPUR of the Moment

There are plenty of developers out there that I have yet to try, some because they just aren’t made anymore and others because I just cannot get them in Canada. Plus I can be a creature of habit and stick to what I know and can get the results I want. So when a fellow photographer and CCR co-host Mike Bitaxi, started talking about this new developer he was working with my interest oddly enough grabbed especially after seeing the results.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

The developer in question is SPUR HRX. SPUR, or Speed Photography, Ultra Resolution, is a company out of Germany that I had never heard of before. HRX, despite the name, is the latest developer in the HRX line, the predecessor being HRX-3, and is designed to deliver fine grain and sharpness. To me, that sounds a lot like Pyro based developers like my favorite Pyrocat-HD.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

There is one catch to this developer, it comes in two parts, but you don’t mix it like you would Pyrocat HD because unlike Pyro developers there is just a single dilution ratio for developing. That’s right; you have to do a lot more math with it. But let’s break it down using a natural dilution. For Ilford FP4+ at ASA/ISO-100, you use a 1:20 dilution, so when using 500mL of developer you need 24mL of developer and 476mL of water. Taking that 24mL of developer and divide in half so 12mL of Part A and 12mL of Part B. It’s when you start getting into prime numbers like 1:17 that you’re going to run into trouble. But a plastic syringe with .5mL markings will make your life easier.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

What you get from the developer is a classic black and white image, good blacks and whites and beautiful wide mid-tones. While the pictures are sharp, the grain is nicely reduced making the film easily scannable. Now I used a film that already has a pleasing grain structure and is relatively fine-grained by its nature. Does the developer behave like Pyro? I’m not sure of that yet; I have several boxes of 4×5 film to pit head-to-head using HRX and Pyrocat-HD for a later post. But for now, I’m enjoying HRX. If you want to give the developer a try, you can pick it up from either Argentix.ca (not at the moment) or Freestyle Photographic!

All Photos Taken in Toronto, Ontario Canada
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Spur HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C