Black and White

Christmas Party

NECA’s Christmas Party was last weekend. I continued my new tradition of bringing the Crown Graphics but also has the M8 in my bag. After 15 or so “Polaroids” (really Fuji’s Instant Film) were shot I switched to film - TMAX 400 to be exact. I had my Metz 45 CL-4 digital mounted on the Crown but tried to avoid the direct flash by bouncing it off the ceiling. Here are a select few examples, first the Crown (“quick and dirty” scans at low res):





Now some Leica Digitals:






November Portraits, Part 2

Another session, this time more family, less kids (at least young ones), but well beahved 2 dogs (and a few cats that were not really into photography). I also took 4x5 in black and white and color. Here is an example of a B&W, it is Trix 320 developed in HC-110B.


"Crowned" Thanksgiving

I dragged my Crown Graphic to yet another party - this time at a Thanksgiving Dinner, graciously supplied by our friends, who not only cooked a magnificent meal but also shared seom great wines. Somehow these large negatives are always having fun and the instant "Polaroids" I take with it (well, they are "Fujis") seem to be well received, a nicy "pary gag". It is for fun - the 4x5's are not fine art, but great make for great party snapshots (than can REALLY be enlarged), these are cartainly not portraits for any corportae wall. I considered bouncing teh flash but the wooden ceiling made for less than ideal reflector. The drect flash makes for what I dubbed the Weegee effect. Weegee (Arthur Felig, 1899-1968) was a fascinating character and news photographer, whose images are representative of photography that used so called "Press Cameras", which were mainly in use unti the 1960s', surplated by 35mm film.





November Portraits, part 1

Kelly and her family were gracious and let me take portraits - and let me practice my patients taking pictures of toddlers and small children, which were very gorgeous but not always too happy to be in front of a camera! Here a few examples, shot with a Nikon D700 nd a 35-70 or 105 f2.5 lens.




Halloween 2009!

Alan and Jess hosted another great Halloween party (topping last years). I thought I'd don my Crown Graphic 4x5 camera as a disguise ("the evil press") and took 12 sheets of TMAX 400 (half of them in a Graflex back that apparently had a light leak!) as well as my last box of 4x5 Fuji Instant Film ("Polaroid"). The Polaroids staid at the party and with the guests but I developed the B&W's last night and did "quick and dirty scans" this morning. All but one image turned out OK. Having has a glass or two of the excellent wine provided, I unfortunately exposed the film at ISO 100 (with a Metz Flash), so I had to pull it down two stops. Contrast was enhanced digitally, a few cops, some sharpening, otherwise not much alteration. The pictures are not lways flattering, but persoanally I like the 1950 press/"Weegee" style.... let me know if you want prints!












Fall Foliage

OK, I do not THE shot this fall. The shot of the white new england church amidst misty meadows and bright red foliage. I went south to teh Belgrade Lake area on a clear early morning but by the time I got down there, the sunrise (6:30'ish) was hidden by clouds. Fiddling with the camera at below freezing temperaturs is also not so easy. I shot film (Mamiya RZ 67 and Mamiya 7) as well as Nikon.

It finally cleared up so I can share some photos with you. The light actually turned out to be beautiful for an hour or two.

Railroad bridge Fairfield, ME

same, converted to Black and White

Messalonskee Lake, Oakland, ME

Messalonskee Lake, Oakland, ME

Messalonskee Lake, Oakland, ME

Cemetary, Rome, ME

Augusta Road, Belgrad, ME

Near Belgrade, ME


Large Format - Gotta love it!

I recently have been doing more developing in the darkroom. I am still a newbie at it, but it is more satisfying than downloading files. Even more recently, I dusted of my Crown Graphic. This type of camera, and its cousin, the more famous Speed Graphic, are pieces art. Speed graphic is a misnomer - nothing here is fast. The camera takes pictures on sheet film, and focusing is slow, although one can use scale focusing, a rangefinder or the ground glass in the back. The Crown graphic has a shutter in the lens, the Speed also adds a focal plane shutter. These cameras, not Leicas or the like, were the standard issue of press photographers until the 1960’s. They are currently undergoing little revival, e.g. in 2004 David Burnett shot the Kerry campaign with a Speed. My camera uses a 152 mm “normal” lens (the equivalent of a ~ 45mm focal length on a 35mm camera). The lens is interchangeable, but everything (focusing scale, rangefinder) is calibrated to it so I won’t bother.

I am just starting out. My first attempt at WeeGee like pictures at a party failed - somewhat. I miscalculated the flash and the focus was off on half the shots (I since then have adjusted the rangefinder). However, when it works, results are priceless:


TMAX 400, f/16 1/100 with Metz CL-4 flash, handheld, developed in X-Tol

The film this camera uses is 4x5 inches, which is ~ 10.2 by 12.7 cm, or 12,900 square mm - 15 times larger than a standard 35mm film. This means not only incredible detail (see below, whole picture and dtail), but also that the most I can develop at one time are 6 sheets, costing each half the price of a roll of 35mm film. Certainly, I won’t come back from an event with 400 shots!



A Wedding - as a guest

My dear friends Dirk and Ling had their church wedding in Germany. Professional wedding photographers often lament the presence of “Uncle Bob”, snapping away pictures with his own camera right in front of the pro. Having been the photographer at the most recent wedding, this time I took the opportunity to relax and bring a film camera along (Mamiya 7) for some more “contemplative” shots, and tried to not get in the way (not sure if I succeeded at that.....) Unfortunately, there were some problems with development with the black and white (TMAX 400) as well as a light leak on the most crucial roll of film (shot on Ektar 100, a film I truly like). Alas, I am still such a bloody film amateur. I pushed the TMAX to 1600 (two stops), it is amazing how little grain there is, despite using TMAX developer, which produced more grain than some other developers. Anyway, here are some samples.


This was shot in color, but I combined two scanned images and could not get the whites to match, so I “saved” it by converting to black and white.


This was also a color image, from the roll with the light leak. I was trying to change a roll quickly (the Mamiya only gives you 10 shots) and must not have wrapped the roll tightly. I tried to salvage this image, which was the only half usable one.



The church with white walls, and quite a lot of natural light, posed some problems for dynamic range, which the TMAX mastered quite well. I do not know how a DSLR would have done (I am yet to see the pro photographers pictures, which he shot with a high end Canon).

July Desktop Image

Here is this month’s image. As the theme this month and last was “rain”, I think it fits the mood. Early morning fog.... Happy

Click on the image...

Digital Leica

July is almost gone, so I am overdue for the monthly image. After I took the Leica M4 on vacation, I have grown fond of the rangefinder system. The new “stallion” in my stable is the Leica M8 - the only commercially available digital rangefinder (together with it’s upgrade, the Leica M8.2). Much has been written about this camera -- yes, the concept is 3 years old, and its low light performance is less than stellar, but it truly delivers some of the sharpest digital images I have ever seen. Usually, digital images look fuzzy when blow up, the reason is that the camera have an “anti aliasing” filter -- which has been left out with the M8. Images are sharper, with the expense of some other artifacts which are hardly ever visible in real life. This also make the camera infra red sensitive, an effect that can be used creatively (but makes for some ugly magenta casts under certain conditions). In any case, I am smitten. Here are some examples.

Regular color (neutral tone)

Panchromatic black and white conversion

Infrared with a Hoya R72 filter

Notice the sharpness of the flower and the typical rendering of the out of focus area ( called “Bokeh” ).

website0709 Another infrared picture