A Revelation

For a very long time, I’ve been somewhat dissatisfied with my digital black and white photos. They never had the tonality I could expect from a negative scan or a print. I asked someone on flickr, who had a tonality in his digital B&W images that I wished to achieve. He pointed me towards Capture One and DxO’s Silver Efex Plus 2 (in fact the whole DxO package). I’m not sure if Capture One and I agree with each other, more experimenting is needed. The DxO package though, is bloody brilliant. All of a sudden, I’m starting to get tonality I’m happier with.

Nikon Z6, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S

It’s not just that though. I actually enjoy using the DxO plugin/software. And not just for B&W. There are plenty of ways of playing with colour too!

Nikon Z6, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S

That said, I think Exposure X5 still has a place in my workflow. It’s fine for initial RAW processing and quick edits.

Nikon Z6, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S

All of these shots were from this morning’s dog walk.

Anyway, today’s photo editing music is provided by Fatboy. What a find on spotify!

A lockdown plan, for the expulsion of boredom.

Now I’ve started scanning film, I’m having trouble stopping. The other day I found out a file of old negatives in my darkroom, shot mostly with my old Mamyia C330 on 120 Tri-X. I’d forgotten they existed, so it was a nice surprise. I’m now in the process of scanning and editing them. This should keep me busy for the most of lockdown, at any rate!

Here are a few so far, all of which were shot in 2008:

Old man at the bottom of the steps.

I like this old tree, it has plenty of character. It’s at the bottom of the steps, up to Mnt. Joy. 2008.

Mamiya C330, 80mm lense,
Kodak Tri-X 400,
Xtol 1+1, 8 minutes with 4 minute pre-soak,
Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64,
Edited in Exposure X5.
Steps… lots of bloody steps.

These are the side steps up to Mnt. Joy. 2008.

Mamiya C330, 80mm lense,
Kodak Tri-X 400,
Xtol 1+1, 8 minutes with 4 minute pre-soak,
Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64,
Edited in Exposure X5.
Parkhurst Trees 1

Mamiya C330, 80mm lense,
Kodak Tri-X 400,
Xtol 1+1, 8 minutes with 4 minute pre-soak,
Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64,
Edited (barely) in Exposure X5.

Also, today’s film scanning music is provided by The Black Keys 🙂

Time and a plethora of scans later…

So, last time I said that I didn’t know how to scan film properly. Well, I’m not saying that I now know how to do it properly, but after 2 days of going through old negatives I’m getting a feel for it. Vuescan is now a friend.

Zeiss Ikon Nettar, Ilford Delta 400 @ 400, Ilford DD-X, 1+4, 8 minutes @ 20C, Canoscan 8800f, Vuescan x64, Exposure X5

I’m surprised by how many scans I like, for negatives I’d forgotten all about. I suppose they got developed, given the once over and then I went on to other shiny things.

Taken with my Diana F+, Ilford Hp5+ @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 at 20C for 9 mins. Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5.

It has however, given me a new taste for film photography again. I love the results I get from my Zeiss Ikon Nettar. A lovely little camera. It doesn’t lend itself to quick photography, but that’s not necessarily bad thing. Also, the Diana F+ is a bit of fun. In some ways, medium format is where it’s at for me, being the middle ground between small negatives and really bloody heavy cameras!

Nikon f100, Probably Tokina 19-35 Lense, Ilford Delta 400 @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X, 1+4, 12 mins @ 20C, Canoscan 8800f, Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5

I’d love to do some more street photography, with film. For me, it’s a matter of confidence. I can take photos of people walking away from me, no probs, but if they’re heading in my direction, I chicken out!

Taken with my Diana F+, Ilford Hp5+ @ 400, Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 at 20C for 9 mins. Canoscan 8800f and Vuescan x64, Edited in Exposure X5.

I also can’t forget my old friend, the lensbaby. It adds a new approach to street photography, isolating a subject. I also lament the fact that my Petzval 55 MK II is a Z mount lense. It’s great on my Z6, but I’d love to be able to use it on my f100. That would be fun!

Anyway, I’ll be shooting more film and scanning it now. Once my darkroom is up and running again (I’ve not really been in the mood to sort it out) lith printing will resume too. I’ll finish with one last scan:

Nikon f100, Lensbaby Composer, Sweet 50 Optic, Ilford Delta 100 @ 100 Ilfotec DD-X 1+4, 20C, 12 min, Canoscan 8800f & Vuescan x64, Exposure X5.

Things I have learned

These past few days, I have learned some things.

You can’t always win…

After shooting a roll of film, it doesn’t mean that that’s the end of it. I shot a roll. I developed it. And after developing it, I found there were major light leaks at some point. Could barely make out the frames and there were no details on the negative. Bugger. Had to shoot another roll to check it wasn’t the camera. It wasn’t. Either I’d cocked up, or there was a problem with the film.

I don’t know how to scan film…

I really don’t. Today I’ve spent some time scanning films with Vuescan. Sometimes I’ll get a good scan, sometimes I won’t. The silverfast demo gave me some better scans, but again, very hit and miss. This is something I’m going to have to teach myself. It doesn’t help that my scanner is getting a bit long in the tooth.

My darkroom isn’t clean enough…

When scanning my film, you notice all the blemishes. Lith printing is my preferred printing process, and it’s very forgiving of crap negatives. Scanning negatives however, is less forgiving. There’s dirt on the scanner, for sure, but there’s also dirt on the negatives. After drying the last film, I noticed there was a lot of dirt. Hairs even. Time to sort out the darkroom I think!

I have a soft spot…

I do love the Pentax ME Super. It was my second camera and when my old one died, I got a refurbished one from a popular auction site. Bought a 28mm lense for it, so I could go walkabout with it (not that I can now, with another lockdown in sight). I’m not sure if it was a good investment, as I seem to get very contrasty negatives from the SMC lenses.

Taken with a Pentax ME Super, with 28mm f/2.8 Pentax SMC-A lenses. Scanned with Canoscan 8800f, vuescan x64. Edited with Exposure X5.

The past, or the future?

I’ve started scanning my back catalogue of negatives too, as what often happens is I’ll choose a shot or two for lith printing, then abandon the other shots. Worth a punt anyway!

Taken with a Nikon f100, Lensbaby Composer and Sweet 35 Optic. Ilford Delta 400 @ 400, Ilford DD-X 1+4 @ 23C for 6 minutes. Canoscan 8800f, Vuescan x64. Edited with Exposure X5.

Close and clicking

So it’s been another while since I’ve posted here. Lockdown contributed to this, as I became quite bored with photography. This eventually passed and I’ve been snapping away again.

I’ve also got the film itch again, so once I’ve developed some film, I’ll be putting the resultant shots up here.

For now, here are a few macro shots I’m quite happy with.

Projects

Well it’s been a long while since I’ve written on this blog and we now find ourselves in interesting times. Passing time during this lockdown has been interesting as a photographer. While I still have the daily exercise of dog walking, I find myself getting bored of photographing the same plants on the same walks. Probably need to try some different walks!

Still, there are photos to be made and I will find them. Here are a few, taken recently.

The next thing to say is that my darkroom is out of order. Lots of the blackout material had gone mouldy. Irritating job, at the worst of times, but I stripped it back and hundreds of woodlice fell on my units. Not so good. The wood behind the blackout material had gone a bit soggy too, so that needs treating. I’ll get around to it eventually, but for now, no lith printing.

Anyway, I decided to take on a few photographic projects to pass the time. One thing I’ve been interested in for a while is cyanotypes (which is where the term blueprint comes from). I decided to get some Part A and Part B, as well as the book “Blueprint to cyanotypes: Exploring a historical alternative photographic process”. The video that inspired me to do this, and which made me want to try wet cyanotypes is this one on youtube and I think it’s an interesting starting place to see how the process works.

I also ordered some pre-coated paper from silverprint, but have yet to use it, as I found the wet processes so intriguing. It’s a bit “trying to run before you can walk”! I would highly recommend trying cyanotypes, with the pre-coated or wet method. It’s fun and quite cool to see the colour change, both when exposing it in the sun and in the wash. Then as you look at it over several days, it dries down to an even richer blue.

These are my three cyanotypes, so far:

So. That’s one project. The other is the Lomomod no 1, make your own camera kit from lomography. Now I’ll be honest. I thought this would be a quick project. Snap a few things together and you’ve got a camera. Nope!

I’ve so far made the back of the camera. It took about an hour and a half. It was very much a Zen like process and as they describe in the accompanying booklets, it’s based on joints rather than using glue or whatever. Very interesting. Assembling the back taught me several things. One, double check the images, because I put one of the main parts on upside down. Two, believe it when they suggest using a little sandpaper when joints don’t just click in. I broke a piece, which thankfully had a spare… which I also broke. But it’s OK, the spare had a spare too!

So yeah, lots to keep me occupied! Hope all who read this can find ways of keeping their creative juices flowing during this strange time. I’ll finish on a photo of our lad, just because 🙂 Taken with a Lensbaby Composer Pro II and Edge 35 Optic.

Embracing the Bokeh

So as I said in my previous post, I was going to start playing with my lensbaby and adapters on the Z6. Well I have been. At present, my sweet 35 optic eludes me, so I’ve been using my sweet 50. The sweet 50 is a bit broken, in that the f/stops won’t click into place so it’s more of a continuous scale and is a bit loose. That said, it still works! So here are a couple of images, from the past few days. All taken with the Z6, FTZ adapter and Lensbaby Composer.

Z6…

….or how I learned to stop worrying and love mirrorless, full-frame cameras.

A Kniphofia, found on a dog walk. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 S

So, I’ve been using my Nikon Z6 for a couple of months now and it’s a fun camera to use. It’s also quiet, and has an even quieter silent mode if you need it. You can even use your DX lenses with it, you just need the FTZ adapter and need to be happy with your full-frame sensor acting as a crop sensor.

What I believe to be a buddleja, surrounded by succulents. Petzval 55mm MKII

That said, even the 24-70mm f/4 S kit lense is nice, with crisp focus and not bad bokeh. As I’ve been posting of late, I’ve been using the Petzval 55 MKII lense quite a lot, at the expense of the kit lense. But no more. I’m using them both now and enjoying them equally.

Lots of little black berries. Petzval 55mm MKII

As for the performance of the camera itself, the extra megapixels are nice and the camera itself is easy to use. I do occasionally change a setting without realizing it, or changing it and then not knowing how to change it back! This is however solved by a trip to the hefty manual.

A Euphorbia. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 S

As always, I will keep experimenting with this camera and I’ll start using the FTZ adapter with my currently abandoned lensbaby optics!