Covid Times

So, Covid has definitely affected my photography. We’ve been in lockdown and I can only really have a photo mooch when we walk the dog. Now, this has been interesting as it’s really forced me to focus on what I’m actually walking passed. Thankfully there are plenty of walls with plants growing up and around them where we live. I used to pay more attention to the little things photographically and this has definitely come round again.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S, 18mm & 11mm Extension Tubes, Exposure X6, Silver Efex Pro 2

That said, I’m very much looking forward to getting to the beach again. I bought a Bronica SQ-A during covid and really want to put it through it’s paces soon. I bought it as more of a walk about camera, despite how heavy it is! Looking forward to getting back into film photography again too. More photos to follow soon, I hope.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S, Exposure X6, Silver Efex Pro 2

A Bit of a Square

So, a lot of the time now, I’m using a square crop with my digital images. I think that may stem from scanning all the old shots taken with my C330.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

I do find the square crop very pleasing and I think it offers plenty of opportunities for composition.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

Before the current lockdown, I was starting to experiment with street photography and I found some of those shots worked in square format too.

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2

And let’s not forget colour images working in square format too.

Nikon Z6, 18mm Extension Tube, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Color Efex Pro 2
Nikon Z6, Lensbaby Composer Pro II, Sweet 35 Optic,
Exposure X5, Color Efex Pro 4

Just a bit of fun

Well I’ve been having more fun with the Nik Collection from DxO. Just messing about with photos and seeing what I can get. That’s it really 🙂

Nikon Z6, Nikkor 24-70mm f/4 S
B&W with Silver Efex Pro 2
Nikon Z6, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Silver Efex Pro 2, Perspective Efex
Nikon Z6, Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S,
Exposure X5, Color Efex Pro 4

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.

Getting a bit Petzval

So I spent out on a new lense, the Petzval 55mm f/1.7 MK II from lomogrpahy. I have to say, it’s a beautiful lense, which gives interesting, swirling bokeh effects and is a nice prime lense too. The way it renders colours is interesting, giving a distinct look. You can turn the bokeh effect down, but why you’d do this I don’t know!

Here are a few shots I’ve captured with it over the past few days.

Swirly Quince
Purple Berries
Sleepy Spaniel
MODS

Captures of the Week (so far) : (28/08/19)

Not much to say in this blog post. I went through a spell of not being in the mood to make pictures, which meant that now I’m photographing again, I had to catch up with my – nearly finished – 365 project. This involved going round the flat, trying to make interesting macro photos with my ring-flash! Here follows a selection of the good ones, along with a couple of others.

Noze, up close
Curve
Little Hole
Spout
More Holes
Thingambob. Taken with a Lensbaby Composer and Edge 35 Optic
A spider eating it’s dinner. Tamron 90mm + Raynox 250.

Going Large

So I have a confession. I’ve had a perfectly usable large format camera sitting around for the past six months and I’ve only taken 8 photos with it. Of them, six were a complete failure.

My second large format negative. Digitized by photographing it on a light box and inverting the photo.

It’s a Toyo View Deluxe, with a 150mm lense and I have 3 double dark slides. It works. So why am I not using it? This is the question I ask myself. One reason is the weight of it. In some ways I wish I’d saved up and bought a field camera, like an Intrepid, so it would be easier to carry. But I got it for significantly cheaper price on a popular auction site, so there’s that.

My first two shots I developed in the dark, using a timer and blind hope. Considering it was my first attempt, they didn’t turn out too bad, though I’d damaged the negatives. Now that I’ve got a Mod 54, to do tank developing, I don’t have that excuse!

My double dark slides (film holders).

To rectify this, I’m going to start using it and documenting this on my blog, in the hope that it will give me the kick up the arse I need. Each week I’ll take and develop at least six images and then upload them. I’m hoping I can stick to this, at least for a few weeks, all things being equal.