10% Complete

Two posts in one day. I must be on a roll!

As I slowly continue to pursue my 100 Strangers project I look back at Strangers 1 and 2. My style was completely different back then. I’ve considered converting them to monochrome to better fit my current style, but I’m still on the fence. I think it would be cool to see how my style has transitioned over time. But at the same time the other 8 strangers are presented in monochrome and the first two are sort of a sight for sore eyes. Meh, I’ll leave that decision for another day. Now meet Strangers 3-10.

Stranger No. 3

Stranger No. 4

Stranger No. 5

Stranger No. 6

Stranger No. 7

Stranger No. 8

Stranger No. 9

Stranger No. 10

Nearly a Year Since My Last Post

To anyone that still reads this thing: I am alive and well! It’s been a busy couple years since starting PT school. In and out of the classroom, completing clinical rotations – life has been busy! Fortunately, I am done with the didactic portion of my graduate career and now I’m just free labor. I’ll be working full time as a Student Physical Therapist at an outpatient clinic for the next 12 weeks. Essentially, that means more free time on the weekends as the only studying I have left is for the NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam). But enough about that…

I’ve spent a lot of time since my last post trying to rediscover, or perhaps discover for the very first time, myself as a “photographer.” In fact, I’ve asked myself countless times, “Am I a photographer? A creative artist?” I don’t think I’m either. I appreciate cameras, old and new, analog and digital, and I like to take pictures with them. I’ve studied the technical aspects of photography, light, composition, etc., spent countless hours on forums like POTN, RFF, and APUG trying to learn about equipment and accessories, all while thinking I would be a better “picture taker” (not photographer) for it. And it has helped, don’t get me wrong. Forums are filled with neat tricks and tips and they’re great for troubleshooting. But I also think they’re a trap. People, myself included, fall victim to G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome), pixel peeping, and dissecting every part of photography that it no longer becomes fun. But I have good news, I’ve realized the cure to G.A.S.! SHOOTING! My camera(s), not guns (though I’ve done that and that’s fun, too).

I’ve spent a good part of the last year collecting vintage analog cameras including rangefinders, SLRs, and TLRs (I had an extreme strain of G.A.S.). I’ve shot with some of the best equipment including Leica, Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, and Mamiya. And most recently have I been shooting Fujifilm (digital, X100s). I’ve been shooting with it since about April 2013 and only in the last 2 or so weeks have I really felt comfortable using it. People say the camera has quirks, and I would agree. But the joy of ownership is overcoming the quirks and still finding a way to produce great photographs. I have a Canon 5D mk2 and a variety of L lenses – certainly professional quality equipment. But that’s exactly what I consider that gear for – professional use. I find my Canon DSLR equipment…boring. It does what it does extremely well, but I don’t have a relationship with it. I own it and I use it. It’s like driving a Toyota Camry for 20 years. It’ll keep going and going – consistently I might add. But the Fuji is like driving a sports car. You know it’s bound to give you problems, but it has a personality the Camry could never aspire to.

The best way to sum it up is I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun taking pictures. And I think there are a couple reasons for that.

I think much of it has to do with me trying to turn photography into a business so as to justify my purchases (let’s face it, this isn’t a cheap hobby). So I figured if I made some extra money to supplement my purchases, they’d be okay. But then I realized that shooting projects for other people sucked all the fun out of it. Now, I’m not totally cured of G.A.S., but I have better control of it. As a gearhead, I’ll always be interested in the latest and greatest (as well as the oldies but goodies).

Secondly, the fixed prime lens has made life so much more simple. Now I walk out the door with just the camera on a strap and a couple spare batteries. Maybe an external flash. But that’s opposed to back in the day when I’d struggle with leaving the house trying to figure out which lenses to bring. I’d typically end up bringing a total of 3, plus a flash. Which means a carrying a backpack to hold all the gear and stopping every 5 minutes to switch lenses – both reasons to slow me down. I was focusing too much on what lens would get me the best picture that I didn’t realize all the pictures I was missing while trying to change lenses.

Enough jibber-jabber, let’s catch up on a few of my favorites from the past few months.

The following monochrome photos were shot and developed with: Rolleiflex 2.8E / Tri-X 400 / D76

 

The following 3 photos are from a camping trip I took with a college friend (GFP, hope you’re reading this lol). The Milkway was breathtaking to say the least.

 

My Analog Journey Continued

It’s been about a month, give or take, since I’ve committed to pursuing analog photography. I’ve always been impatient, but shooting digital nearly all my life has really reinforced that. 6×6 medium format yields 12 frames, which isn’t a whole lot, and yet I’m okay with that. I took my Rollei 35 out today with a roll of Ilford Delta 400. Most 35mm rolls allow either 24 or 36 frames. All that ones I’ve shot recently have 36. It’s great that you get more bang for your buck, but 36 frames is more than it sounds. The latter half of the roll often feels very forced because I’m eager to develop the first half. I guess patience is just something I’ll need to develop (no pun intended).

The cool thing about developing your own film is the overwhelming amount of options and variables. You’ve got your film type, film speed, developer, temperature, time, agitation frequency, etc. Thus far I’ve been shooting T-Max 400 and Tri-X 400. I bought a couple rolls of Ilford Delta 100 and 400 as well as T-max 100 for experimenting. My untrained eyes prefer T-Max 400 over Tri-X 400, but that seems to contradict the majority opinion of internet forums. I’ve been experimenting with Kodak T-Max and HC-110 developers thus far. Again, my untrained eyes prefer T-Max over HC-110. I just made my first batch of the classic D-76, so I’m anxious to see how it develops. Seems to be a favorite.

Anyway, less talk and more photos.

124G TMY400_0003 (2)
Yashica 124G
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

124G TMY400_0003
Yashica 124G
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

124G TMY400_0006
Yashica 124G
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

124G TMY400_0008Yashica 124G
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

124G TMY400_0015
Yashica 124G
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

Rolleicord Vb TMAX400_0006
Rolleicord Vb
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

m645 TMAX400_0003
Mamiya M645
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

m645 TMAX400_0010
Mamiya M645
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

m645 TMAX400_0007
Mamiya M645
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

m645 TMAX400_0008
Mamiya M645
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

Rolleiflex 2.8E TMAX400_0004
Rolleiflex 2.8E
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

Rolleiflex 3.5E TMAX400_0003
Rolleiflex 3.5E Rolleinar 1
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

Rolleiflex 3.5E TMAX400_0007
Rolleiflex 3.5E Rolleinar 1
Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak T-Max Developer 1+7 @ 24C for 8.25 mins
Agitate first 30 seconds and 2x every minute after

From digital to 35mm, back to digital, then to 35mm (again), to medium format

It’s no secret that I started shooting digital. Given the popularity of DSLRs and the instant feedback they offer, it’s hard to deny their advantageous learning curve. That said, I tried to get into the basics of photography some time ago with 35mm. From 35mm SLRs to point & shoots to range finder. But I found that I just couldn’t mesh well, so I went back to shooting digital. I recently decided to give film another shot (no pun intended) and picked up a Canonet QL17 GIII, which is a shutter priority (with manual override) rangefinder. I instantly enjoyed shooting with it infinitely more than with my Yashica Electro 35 GSN. The GSN is big and clumsy while the QL17 is sleek and easier to handle, IMO. The QL17 focuses with a single lever which has a short throw, allowing quicker focusing (at least in my experience). But there’s still something about 35mm that I just can’t seem to mesh with.

Enter medium format. I’m not really sure what convinced me to go MF, but I did. It was all very confusing to begin with as there are multiple aspect ratios possible with MF. I picked up a much sought after Yashica Mat 124G. As I understand it, there’s nothing particularly spectacular about this camera, it’s often called a poor man’s Rollei because it’s basically a replica. Some say that the 124G is over-hyped because it is Yashica’s latest model (and therefore, thought to have fewer complications). The recent spike in demand for these retro cameras has driven the cost up quite a bit. Most people recommend going for the older 124 non-G (G stands for gold contacts) as it’s basically the same camera that supposedly has better (metal vs. plastic) internals.

So enough about the camera itself and more about shooting with it. I enjoy street photography 1000x more using a TLR. People seem less intimidated and more intrigued by the TLR. I’m not sure if it’s the waist level finder, the 6×6 aspect ratio, or a combination of the two that makes shooting with a TLR such a joy. The 6×6 aspect ratio is such an interesting one, especially coming from 35mm. Personally, I find that the rule of thirds is less important with a square frame. The mirrored image in the WLF forces me to compose my shots more carefully, as well. Not to mention I only get 12 shots with 120 film on a TLR, I value each shot infinitely more than I do with digital. I find that with digital I compose, shoot, and move on – all within a matter of seconds. I do have the advantage of taking a few frames and choosing my favorite later on. But with the increased value of each frame and the WLF, I can easily spend 30 seconds to a minute on a single frame. I also find shooting from waist level is less intrusive, giving a much different perspective.

While it’s true that I am more selective with my shots when shooting film as I only have a limited number of frames, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. I don’t fire away with the shutter like I do with digital. I can easily take hundreds of frames with a digital camera, keep 10% of the frames, and consider the day/shoot to be a success. But 4 rolls of 120 on a TLR is only 48 frames and I consider that to be on the extreme end. With film, I get a higher keeper ratio.

While I have no intention of giving up digital any time in the near future because I do think both digital and film have their places, I am finally finding a special place for film in my heart. Say what you’d like, but I find the whole process of shooting film more intimate, more romantic. And that’s before I’ve started to develop my own film (which I will hopefully begin this weekend as I’ve just received all the supplies for that today!).

This isn’t a digital vs. film post about which is better. Like I said, I don’t plan to jump ship and switch to film entirely. Most importantly for me is that I’ve fallen in love with photography once again. For a while I lost that passion that drove me so much so long ago. I made the mistake of deciding that I need to make photography into a business to justify my purchases. Film reminds me that I shoot for me. Not that I shoot professionally often, but I finally feel like I’m really shooting for me and on my own terms, again.

And it feels great.

Review: Serk adapter rings for Lee Foundation Kit

After being on 2filter’s waiting list for a Lee 82mm WA adapter ring for weeks with nothing to show for it, I decided to gamble $12.75 for a Serk version found on eBay. I know at least one other member has purchased one (77mm version), but he has not commented much on it despite being asked questions.

Shipping took 3 weeks, but I finally received it. The metal it a little more “tinny” as compared to my genuine Lee 77mm WA adapter ring. But it screws on and off just fine. The FK clips on and off the Serk ring just as it does the Lee ring

My primary concern was whether or not this would vignette on my 16-35L. I spoke with the seller prior to purchasing. His response was this:

this one is the same with the the Lee wide angle adapter ring,but there also may have dark corner,if you want better you had better take off the UV filter only ues the holder and filters ,will be better

It’s freezing outside, so I just ran out my backyard and snapped a couple handheld shots with the Serk adapter ring, Lee FK, and Lee 0.9 hard GND.

IMG_2443

IMG_2446

Unfortunately, it was so cold that I forgot to take a couple pictures without the Serk ring, Lee FK, and Lee GND attached.

Conclusion: I fully think this is worth the $12.75 and 3 weeks wait. Sure beats $60 and an infinite wait. I’ve been using my Lee system with my 24-70L, but I’ve been DYING to use the 16-35L. Now I finally can.

Lee Big Stopper

With finals over and my second clinical quickly arriving, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and give my new Lee equipment a test run. It was about noon and the skies weren’t anything special, but I was just excited to be out shooting.

For as long as I’ve been shooting I have never used B (bulb) mode. I’ve known what it’s for and how to use it, but I’ve never had a use for it. ‘Til now. And now I’m realizing more than ever the importance of a good shutter release remote. I’ll likely be purchasing the Vello Shutterboss next week, though I haven’t decided if I want to go wired or wireless. I’ll likely go wireless as it has the option of being wired.

So I set my tripod up and mounted my 5D2 (now equipped with an RRS L-plate, another piece of equipment I’ve taken for granted), found the exposure with the 4×4 Polarizer, determined which GND to use (went with the 2-stop soft), and took a test shot. Once I had that all figured out, I whipped out my iPhone to use an exposure calculator to determine the correct shutter speed to compensate for the Big Stopper. Turns out it was right around 65 seconds.

IMG_2366

Lee Big Stopper, 4×4 Polarizer, 2-stop soft GND