What happens when a group of like minded photographers get together? A whole lot of photos get taken, often of other photographers taking photos of you. For week 16 I was in lovely downtown Findlay for the FPP (Film Photography Project) Walking Workshop. Even though the weather was pretty bad, we were kept warm by super positive thoughts and some fantastic people. I even got to meet a fellow 52-roller Susan! We spend the day out shooting downtown Findlay, a Polaroid Party at the University and a large format workshop to round out the awesome event.
This past weekend at the Film Photography Project’s Walking Workshop in lovely downtown Findlay, Ohio, at the Polaroid Party at the University they had a couple stations setup for portrait work. I had used by trusty Auto 250 (Polaroid Model 250 Automatic Land Camera) at Milton’s Help Portrait event a couple years back now which was a hit but I never thought to hook it up to a studio light. The camera is equipped with a PC socket which allows you to hook up an electronic flash mounted on a bracket, or radio trigger.
The two big lights were taken by Mat’s massive Sinar P2 8×10 camera, so I opted for a brick wall backdrop and a single diffused beauty dish from above as my setup. Keep it simple, right? For film stock I brought along all old Polaroid Stock (2009 expired, so the freshest you can find it these days), two packs of Type 664, a wonderful B&W ISO-100 film, and Type 690 a colour film. The results…amazing, especially the B&W work.
It was great to have so many willing, and some not so willing models to step into my ‘studio’ I think I’m going to work on building a similar dish for my strobist kit and doing some more Polaroid Portrait work in pop up studios. Could be a lot of fun!
Pack film is one of the best (in my opinion) instant formats out there, plus even though Polaroid doesn’t produce the stock any more Fuji produces a great B&W film, FP-3000b and Colour FP-100c that are readily available through the Film Photography Project, along with the cameras to shoot the film!
Long Live Film!
Well it was bound to happen.
I finally jumped in.
I got a Large Format camera, loaded, shot, and developed.
And it worked.
Back at the end of February I took a trip down to Rochester, NY with my friend Chrissie to visit our friend Andrew and Jenny and her Husband Aaron to check out the Rochester Subway and the Genesee Brew House. Of course there was a visit to Photo Source, this small camera shop in downtown Rochester run by Dick Raas. I have been hunting a 4×5 camera for a while and really wasn’t picky minus the fact it needed to be portable. Walking in, I bee-lined for the Large Format shelf and found this beauty.
A 1940s era Speed Graphic, but there was something a little odd about this camera. The Speed Graphic was the famous press camera of the mid-twentieth century. Dick proceeded to tell me about this one, it had been stripped down of all the things that made it a press camera, gone was the focal plane shutter, range finder, optical view finder. It had been basically turned into a field camera, came with a lens (Kodak Ektar 203mm f/7.7), film holders, basically everything I needed. And at the right price. I quickly ordered a 90mm lens off KEH.
And then it sat, it was pretty intimidating, I had never used a camera like this before, film came in sheets, loaded into holders, everything was upside down and backwards, closing the shutter.
So I watched a couple videos on YouTube…
Okay, I felt pretty ready about this. One good thing was the film holders had old film in them so I practiced daily loading and unloading the film, putting them into the Unicolor Drum I got from Burlington Camera. So this past Saturday I finally loaded up four sheets of film (Ilford HP5), loaded a tripod, Spotmeter, blanket, both lenses and headed out.
Before I even metered the scene I composed it in my head, then metered twice. Marked the spot, then went and got the camera, lined up the tripod, mounted the camera, opened it all up, blanket over the head and focused, recomposed, focused again. Then set the exposure, checked again on the glass, mentally flipping everything. Then closed the shutter and loaded the film holder, double checked the shutter, pulled the darkslide, and pressed the release. Replaced the darkslide.
Okay, that wasn’t too hard, despite being nervous as hell when I pressed the cable release. The second exposure went much better. There two shots down, and two more to go, but those I wanted to save for downtown Hamilton. The next step of course was processing, again back to the web, reading, youtube videos. I arranged to use the last surviving darkroom at Sheridan College, being able to work outside of a change bag first off helps me out a lot. Two sheets loaded, and started it rolling on the base. Some chemistry sloshed out which did cause some troubles to one of the sheets, but this was my first time, can’t expect perfection. But out of the four sheets shot, getting three images that I like, is pretty good I think.
Couple things I learned…especially when using my 90mm lens, I need to bring the lens forward a touch more as in the two images (I cropped them out in post) you can see the camera body (oops). And to make sure no one is too close when exposing as they may bump into the camera and you get camera shake. I’d also like to thank Mat, Sean, and Owen for all their help in getting me started.
And finally, my favourite shot from the first four…
I was bitten by the toy camera bug a while back after getting a Holga, which has served me well, but recently on the Film Photography Podcast they were pushing this odd “new” camera that Michael Raso had discovered on “The Bay” named The Debonair, it looked like a cross between a Diana and a Holga. He had managed to stumble upon a lot of 2000 of these cameras sitting in a warehouse in Rochester, New York. I didn’t need another toy camera, but after seeing some of the shots out of the camera I needed to get one, and at twenty bucks, it wasn’t that expensive.
The camera itself is fairly light weight, but still feels solid in my hands, good control placement also. The camera is all plastic, built in the 1980s in Hong Kong, features a “Super” 60mm f/8 lens with two shutter speeds, one for sun, one for cloudy/flash. Focus is handled by the zone system, and it has a hotshoe, but doesn’t need batteries to operate a flash, which is a plus! It takes your regular 120 roll film and shoots in a portrait orented 6×4.5 format giving you 16 shots on a roll of film.
Optically I was surprised at the all plastic camera, the images when focused right came out really sharp with plesant vingetting around the edges, and with a flash makes for a great party camera. The one issue I have with the camera is loading it. You slide the entire back/bottom off the camera to load the film, and putting this back on is a bit of a pain, but in the end worth it for the wonderful images you get out of the camera. I do highly recomend this camera as a nice way to get into toy camera photography, very unassuming and no-nonsense, and more importantly it’s fun. And in the end isn’t that what photography should be…fun? At least I think so.
All images shot with the FPP Plastic Filmtastic Debonair on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 developed in Kodak HC-110 Dilution B for 5:00 at 20C.
Sometimes a change of location is good, and as you all know I have a love for the northern section of Ontario. So over the course of the summer Tim, Chris, Tom, Mat, Dan, and I started formulating an idea for a retreat up into northern ontario for a weekend film retreat, eventually settling on the last weekend in September. We all being fans of or connected to Film Photography Project. The numbers changed over the course of the summer, settling on Tim, Dan, Chris, Tom, Myself, and Tim’s Friend Eric. Six guys, a lot of beer, and even more cameras everything from a 8×10 beast, to 35mm (no 110, sorry).
But it didn’t stop us much, we still managed to explore Sturgeon Bay, French River, and of course the lovely Naiscoot Lodge we were staying.
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5, SMC Pentax A 645 80-160mm 1:4.5
Kodak Tri-X Pan, Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak Portra 160
Polaroid Automatic 250 Land Camera – Polaroid Chocolate
110 is back, the Film Photography Project predicted that 2012 would be the year of 110 film, and they were right. The format gained popularity through the 1970s when Kodak introduced the format based on the subminature 16mm format but in their own cartridge. My very first camera was a 110 camera that I used a grand totally of twice before it broke. So when all this hype about 110 was brewing through the FPP, I sort of shyed away from it. There are better formats in my mind.
But still the question remained who would make the film? Sure FPP had found a stash of Fuji 110 film and was selling it through their own store. Kodak was out of the question, their machines had been lost to the ages (noted on a 2010 episode of the FPP). Impossible Project? They are focused on instant photography. But then insteps the only company that really made sense…Lomography. Their first product (which sadly I did not get to try yet) was a Black and White film stock, then just recently a Colour stock, so once I had secured a 110 camera from my friend James, a Minolta AutoPak 450E, we headed to the Lomography store (in full 1812 British Army uniforms, but that really doesn’t factor into this tale) and grabbed a couple cartridges. At least Burlington Camera still processes the film. As for scanning, I sort of rigged up an old 35mm carrier from an old scanner and just set it on my V500, the results, good. Some grain which is to be expected from such a small format, excellent colours, I just need to work on my focus…
The camera caught the attention of many people who was at the Cruise night as well, in the world of bigger and bigger cameras and sensors, sometimes going small can be a good thing, plus the chance to strike up random conversations about film with strangers.
Also my good friend and fellow Film Photographer (and founder of the FPP) wrote a great piece on 110 as well: Michael Raso: 110 Film Here and Now.
Minolta AutoPak 450E – Lomography CN200 Tiger
When you use Leica, Nikon, Carl Zeiss optics the idea of plastic lenses and “toy” cameras will often scare a photographer, you really don’t know what you’re going to be getting out of your image. It certainly won’t be the sharpest image on the block, vignetting is going to be there, soft focus, light leaks, all very possible. Add Expired film into the mix and things just start getting dicy.
Something that many photographers won’t even touch, and I used to be like that…until I picked up, on a whim, a Holga from The Film Photography Project. And instantly was dragged into the wonderful world of toy camera photography. I just had to tell myself “the images won’t be perfectly exposed, they’ll be out of focus, and probably look weird” and sure enough they did.
But I was okay with this. I recently took my holga out to a small group retreat back in march but never got around to scanning the film I shot, until recently and found that I really liked these images.
Holga 120N – Kodak Tmax 100 (TMX), Kodak Ektachrome Lumiere Pro (LPP)
I love driving, especally long distance driving, but never before had I undertaken a twelve hour marathon drive to bring me from my home town of Milton Ontario to Johnson City Tennessee. I had my route mapped out, gas stations and rest areas noted. GPS loaded and ready, an iPhone filled with episodes of the FPP, and a cd wallet filled with all my State of Trance CDs from Armin VanBurren. (my Zune had deceded to kick the bucket a few days prior) and of course most important, my trusty F3 loaded with the only film I knew that would take a 12 hour drive with all different types of lighting…Kodak Portra 400.
Of course I didn’t get to start taking photos until the sun started peeking out from over the horizon, and by that point I had already been on the road for just over three hours. I saw the sunrise along I-79 just south of Erie, PA the New York leg of the trip behind me.
By golden hour, I was in the moutains, fog obsuring my view a few times as the morning mists lifted.
It was going to be a great day…a long day, but a great one. I cranked up the music, rolled down the windows, donned my sunglasses and set the cruise control to 70. My first major stop was in Morgantown West Virginia, just south of the state line. After killing some time wandering around a Dick’s Sporting Goods (I was looking at inflatable boats for a later adventure) and a Best Buy because it was there and I needed more walking time. I headed to a post office to mail off a package to Dan Domme (returning his EOS A2) and Michael Raso (A Polaroid Spectra for the FPP). While hunting down the post office, I happened across the ghost town of Scotts Run, complete this an abandoned mine. I would have taken a closer look but there was a hobo cooking his breakfast on an open fire just outside.
I moved deeper into the moutains as the interstates moved faster and had a much more winding path, this was a fun way to drive, unlike my trips through Ohio which are straight, and flat.
Cloud cover grew as I hit US-19, I was hoping that it wasn’t going to start raining, I had been doing so well weatherwise.
Thick fog rolled in as did rain clouds as I hit the first of two moutain tunnels.
Rain hit through Virginia, making photography difficult with the wiper blades obsuring the photos. So I set the camera aside until I hit Bristol, this neat little town and birthplace of courtry music sitting astride the VA/TN border. Taking advantage of the break in the rain I exhausted the roll in the downtown.
Of course I was down to my last few shots and the skies once again opened up complete with thunder and lighting, and as crazy as I am, I was not going to be outside in the tempast and beat a hasty retreat to my car and hit the road for the last leg of the trip to Johnson City.
Nikon F3 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Kodak Portra 400
A couple weeks back I recieved a package from Michael Raso of the Film Photography Project, in addition to the flash bracket I had ordered for my Polaroid Auto 250 there were a couple rolls of film, 2 120 format Kodak Ektachrome E100G and E100GX, some E100G in 35mm and a roll of ProPhoto XL. The E100G series I was well aware of and now sadly Kodak has ended it’s entire line of E-6 films, but the ProPhoto XL was one I had not seen before.
With good reason, some searches on the Internet revealed that the film was aimed at International markets and was simply a rebrand of their Gold line of films. I don’t say this like it’s a bad thing, I’ve used the Kodak Gold and Royal Gold line of films in the past with great results. The one thing that I really like about the Gold line of film is the warm cast that it has which really helps bring a punch to the images. So I wasn’t too concerned about the image that would come out of this ProPhoto XL.
Although the day itself was pretty grey and dull. Rainy, miserable, I figured I’d give it a shot, as one person commented, a grey day is perfect for testing films.
Like most Kodak films upon scanning there is a clear majenta shift in the shadows, that’s an easy fix in Photoshop, give the colour balance slider a bit more green on the shadows area to correct that. Images are fairly sharp, grain is acceptable for the speed. Just don’t let the name fool you, although it may say “ProPhoto” this is not one of Kodak’s Professional line of films, also don’t let that scare you, this is a great everyday film that can be used to test or just shots out on the town.
I’m not often one who will get a new camera and throw it into a project that has been going very well, and hoping that I’ll get something decent. I usually test out the cameras first. But when I was given a Lomo Smena 8m from Michael Raso of The Film Photography Project it must be a good camera. And well the manual was all in Russian so I just launched right into using it. The results were…interesting. I carried it with me over the course of Sunday errands so there’s really no rhyme or reason to the images, they’re shot straight from the hip with little or no looking at focus or settings.
The Smena is as basic as basic can be, it’s plastic (although sporting a glass lens), there’s no focus aid, you just sort of guess, shutter speeds are indicated by pictograms (the actually numerical speeds are listed on the side of the lens barrel), and the aperture settings are on the front of the lens and you seem to pick them by the film speed you have loaded although the scale is none that I had ever seen before. Oh and there’s no light meter or automatic settings.
You shoot from the hip, and pray it turns out.
ЛОМО ϹМЕНА 8M – T-43 4/40 ЛОМО – Kentmere 100