Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Latest Show - Recent Black and White Work

My latest exhibit, "Recent Black & White Work" opens Thursday, October 16 at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor.  The reception goes from 6-8 pm.  Thereafter, the show is open to the public M-F from 9-5 pm.  The Argus Museum is located at 525 West William Street. Parking is available on the side streets, and there are usually a couple of spots open in the lot for visitors.

This exhibit features only photographs I have taken in 2013-14,  and there are four main groupings - Chicago, Fayette State Park, Lake Huron Shoreline, and assorted images from larger projects that are in progress.  Chicago features 6 images taken in less than 12 hours while I was there on a business trip, All were taken with my Nikon 1 camera, which is capable of some most excellent results at low ISO settings.   The second set, Fayette State Park, were taken with an Olympus EPL1 and a C-mount lens, which gives the same out of focus effect as a Petzval lens.  The images are somewhat dreamy at the edges, but sharp in the focus spot.  I chose them over the other film-based images due to the effect from that lens, which gives them a period look.   The Lake Huron Shoreline images were all taken with a Nikon D90 and a 35mm 1.8 lens.  The last set features images from a variety of film cameras, and were shot at various locations in Michigan and New York State.

The 33 prints are all sized at 6x9," matted to 11x14."  I am satisfied with my choice of images, and it was hard winnowing things down.  The venue is adequate for smaller print sizes, and of course, it also keeps my cost down.  Each print is priced at $40-$45.

Spotting prints.  Silver-gelatin prints almost always need to be retouched after mounting (or before).    Small specks on the negative show up as white spots on the prints.  It used to be that one would use "Spot tone" and a fine brush to fix the spots, but "Spotting Pens" with different densities of black pigment are now used, and the ones I am using here were purchased about 8 years ago. The worst is having a pinhole in the emulsion, which shows up as a black dot on the print.  There, it's better to scan the negative and fix those defects in a graphics program and then have the digital file printed as a c-print.  I use for all of my c-prints.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Portra 100T - Another fine film....gone and rediscovered.

In this year's acquisitions of  various films, I ended up with some Kodak Portra 100T.  First of all, I did not even know that Kodal produced a Tungsten light-balanced C-41 film.  I am familiar with all of the typical Tungsten emulsions that are E-6, and there WERE a lot of them from Kodak and Fuji. It made sense to have slide films made for tungsten lighting, and whether they were used for documenting art objects (as many art departments did), indoor shooting, or night scenes, tungsten balanced films were necessary for proper color balance under typical non-florescent lighting.  Used outdoors, one merely needed to have an 85B compensating filter to get more accurate color under daylight conditions.  Obviously, the Digital Onslaught rendered the use use of tungsten films obsolete for professional use, since we can choose any white balance we want.    Despite this, I enjoy shooting tungsten slide film and then having it cross-processed for a unique look.
Imagine my surprise in finding two rolls of Kodak Portra 100T!  It sure makes sense to have a fine-grained tungsten emulsion in C-41, given the dearth of E-6 labs.  However, this film expired in 2002. I suppose Kodak thought it would be used a lot for portraiture, since C-41 films filled that the time.  

I loaded a roll into my Konica Autoreflex TC and shot it it a variety of conditions, sometimes using it outdoors with an 85B filter, and sometimes not.  I shot it at night, I shot it indoors under mixed lighting, too.  I like the film, and despite it being 12 years out of date, the results at box speed were very good.  

It's fun and a bit sad finding out about films that one didn't know existed, and to find that they are still giving great results long after their "end date." In 2002, the digital tidal wave was beginning, and the pros were adopting DSLRs as soon as they came out.  I know that the tungsten E-6 films held out a bit longer because of their specialized uses, but the Portra 100T was discontinued by Kodak in 2006.  Ektar 100 became the ISO 100 C-41 champ, and since C-41 negs can be scanned and color balanced on the computer, the Portra 100T became irrelevant.  It's still a lot of fun to use, though.

Here are some selected shots from my first roll of the Portra 100T:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternative Processes - Cyanotype

I'm pretty much a straightforward photographer. I have dabbled in cyanotypes, large format, pinhole, print toning, and so forth.  I remain a 35mm and medium format shooter, and use films and lenses that give me the "look" that I am searching for.  I greatly respect those that decide to use alternative processes such as wet-plate, platinum/palladium, bromoil, van dyke, photogravure, and cyanotype to become their medium.  I can't tell you much about the other processes from personal experience except cyanotype, which I have played with a bit.  Cyanotype is actually the simplest "Alt process" it uses iron ions and not silver to produce the image.  It's also a very old process, invented by the English astronomer John Herschel in 1846.   Blueprint paper is a form of cyanotype, and it is very easy to use -- and sold as the "Sunprint" kits in museums and art stores.   Today, one can make digital negatives and use them to produce stunning cyanotype compositions.  

 I start with this as a background to the exhibit that ends this weekend at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor.  A show by photographers from Wayne State University titled A Matter of Light and Memory features many cyanotypes and toned cyanotypes.  I especially liked the varied presentation of the cyanotypes on cloth.  The cyanotype process allows one to get creative with the substrate, the presentation, and the implementation of the process.  Cyanotypes are a great medium to use where traditional darkrooms no longer exist, as the set-up is pretty easy.  The chemicals are also relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.

Here are a few views of the exhibit, taken with my cellphone, and not a real camera...

You can learn more about cyanotypes here:

The Argus Museum is located at 525 West William Street, Ann Arbor.  The show ends 09/26/2014!
I wish I had remembered to put this up earlier.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's All About The Lens.

While I have long been a mostly Nikon shooter, I realize that there are other lenses out there that are really amazing, and that they don't mount on a Nikon.  Since I am shooting film here, I am not going out to buy a Sony Alpha or some other mirrorless digital camera to mount different lenses on.  No way.  This boy is shooting film as much as possible (and yes, I do own two Nikon DSLRs).  For instance, Konica has always had a reputation for manufacturing some excellent glass.  I was given a Konica Autoreflex TC by my mother-in-law last year.  The camera body wasn't working, but the 40mm 1.8 lens was perfect, so I bought a Konica Autoreflex T body on ebay for about $15.  Then, I saw the 57mm f/1.4 at Huron Camera -- an amazing lens I have read about elsewhere. I bought it, and it is one of those lenses that quickly becomes a favorite.  Wide-open it has a bokeh that will make some of those bokeholics pee their pants.   My Autoreflex T's meter is a bit off, so I usually use sunny-16 or a hand-held meter for my exposures.  What I have REALLY come to love is shooting the expired Panatomic-X (that I bought back in March at the estate sale) with this lens.  I am getting some images that I have really been liking.  Shooting late in the day with soft light at wide-open aperture or close to it is giving me some results that I am quite pleased with.

There are many other lenses out there that justify owning a body that they fit just to shoot with them.  It's all in the glass... the body is just there to keep the film in.    What's your favorite lens?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bag of Surprises

Last weekend I stopped by the Ann Arbor Recycle Reuse thrift store to see what I might find in the way of cameras, etc.  I found a few photographic books that I decided to pickup, and I was looking through a jumble of things in one corner towards the back, when I spied one of those Kodak Film cooler bags.  It was ratty-looing with mildew on it, but I looked inside, anyway.  Much to my surprise there were two decent Polaroid pack film cameras and a bunch of accessories.  The cashier was somebody new, and I offered $5, as the bag was unpriced.  He looked inside, and thought that "some of the small parts were probably worth more than the cameras" and came back with $7.50.  Sold.  I was going to offer $10, but Adrienne (who obviously is a shrewder person than I) thought that was too high to start with.  So, I saved at least $2.50.

Once I got the bag home, I immediately started looking through it.  It has sat around in someone's basement for a long time, I think.  However, the two cameras, a Polaroid 450 and a 340 were in pretty good shape.  There was a cardboard box of exactly the right size inserted into the bag for rigidity, and tucked between the box and the bag were a bunch of papers, including  a few old b&w Polaroids, some more recent-looking b&w prints, instructions for the Polaroid cameras and accessories, as well as the manual and papers for a Canon Canonet-28. A Polaroid self-timer, close-up kit, UV filter, M3 bulbs, 2 flashbulb holders, a screwdriver, and a Kalimar telephoto lens for the Polaroid completed the kit.  Oh, and there were 4 of the small tubes that hold the coater strips for the old b&w prints.

All of the items work, and I think I will keep at least the Polaroid 340.  It has a real rangefinder (as does the 450) and takes a single battery.  The close-up kit and self-timer are also keepers.  The 450 has a nicer Zeiss Rangefinder, but I'll need to check out the battery situation before I decide to keep it.  Polaroid made a plethora of models of the folding land cameras, and some are obviously better than others. The 340 lacks a tripod mount, but that is not a deal-breaker.
I was very interested in the photographs.  The Polaroids look they are from the mid to late 1980s, and the photos of the bartender and the waitress look like they are newer, perhaps 1990 or so. I wonder where they were taken?
 It's fun finding bags like this.  I cleaned everything up before I photographed it.  I have seen the Kodak cooler before, but this is a first time owning one. In the first photo, you can see a young man in one of those Papasan chairs and the Kodak bag is behind his shoulder.
The last two photos are at a different location, and are printed from 35 mm negatives. Perhaps from the Canonet 28?

A nice little find, and worth every penny!