Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm Published!

Well sort of... more about that later. Right now I just want to whine about the lack of film facilities. O.K. there is a large outlet place that develops and it's close to me, but I have given them 3 rolls of film and they ALL were horribly processed. That leaves me with an hour and a half drive one way for processing. I wait until I have a few rolls before I go. It's the wait that bugs me. I want to see results... NOW. Is this the impatience of the digital age? In a few weeks I'll have a roll of portra VC 400, a roll of neopan 400 (both of those were left in a hot car & may have been ruined) and the roll of velvia 50 slide film I'm working on now dropped off. On a side note - I loaded the Velvia 50 to capture the vibrant fall colours, it has been either raining or cloudy every day since I put it in the camera.

A rep from a company called Schmap that makes digital travel guides wanted to use one of my pictures to represent the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, and now they have! One of many tulip pictures. They gave me a credit AND a link to my Flickr page! I'm famous now! Eat that all you little people...

I really need to learn how to develop film...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Make Lemonade

After paying for film to be developed and scanned, I hate to see shots wasted because my focus was off, or I missed the exposure. I consider these flubbed pictures to be challenges. The attached picture was a bit of a mess. Focus and exposure were questionable. After sweating away an hour in two different programmes I was able to come up with this. This picture was taken at high noon on black and white film. I've seen better, you've seen better... but for a roll of film with more than a few lemons on it, I thought I made some half-way decent lemonade.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My book has arrived!

Tuesday I got my photo book by courier. I cannot believe how big the thing is. It doesn’t fit on any bookshelf in the house… but it is beautiful. Worth both the money and the wait. I will be buying from them again (as soon as I can fit eighty pages with decent photographs, that is). Actually this has been a bumper week for photographs. I also got a CD of the last roll of black and white film I shot (six weeks ago - I don’t get to town much). The Ilford HP5 Plus - 400 is kind of chunky - the last roll I shot I had underexposed two stops - shot it at 1600 - and had the lab “push” it two stops when developing. I expected that to be really grainy (which it is) but I was expecting it to be quite a bit smoother when shot at box speed. I have much to learn.

The problem I'm having is finding film. I was lucky enough to score two rolls of Fuji Velvia 50 - 35mm when I dropped off this roll of black and white. What I'm looking for is Neopan 1600 - from what I have read, Neopan is remarkably smooth black and white film considering how fast it is. For those who keep track of such things - the flower is the only shot where I am not using my medium yellow filter. I think I might start underexposing a half stop for my next roll of this film... feel free to comment, I'm really new at this and can use all the advice I can get... Especially you Therrr... if you are still scanning :)

I have to get back to fiddling with my pictures and I want to see what the Philistines in DMU are making of my latest offering... I submitted the picture of the cables you see here. It was taken on TV tower road. They are anchor cables for the giant antenna ... but the last time I checked DMU, the picture was doing rather poorly. It's ART I tell ya, Art!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Delete Me: Uncensored - my home away from home

When I first started to take pictures for the sake of the visuals, for the joy of it as opposed to snapshots to freeze the moment, I began looking online for a community of similar minded individuals. As it turns out there are many such places. I found the one that suited me by happy accident. I had read elsewhere about the genesis of the disparaging term “chimping” (looking at the screen on the back of one’s camera and often making approving grunts) and I did an image search of the word. This brought up a number of images, the most interesting of which was in a woman’s Flickr photo stream. After fiddling around for a bit I joined Flickr and stumbled across a picture of a cat, not an uncommon sight on a photography website, what made this picture so interesting was the tone of the comments. The comments were not only varied and not entirely positive, some were downright rude. The rude comments all came from the same source. A voting pool called Deleteme Uncensored (DMU). I was hooked.

From what I can gather there was once (and still is) a group called DeleteMe. Folks who wished to give extremely harsh critiques formed a splinter group and that was the first group I joined on Flickr. If you are going through my photo stream and you see vile, seemingly uncalled for, rude and/or obscene comments… please bear in mind I ASKED for this treatment. There are far too many extremely supportive groups that will tell you just how awesome you are and how much they like your work. I can learn NOTHING from such sugar coated critique. DMU pulls no punches. If you are lucky you might just get a fair critique from one of the many pro photographers who hang around. If not, one of the slack jawed yokels who don’t take photos or contribute to anything but the highly charged discussions that take place in the threads might throw in their two cents. Either way, you might just learn something about your work that you may be too close to it to see yourself. There is one caveat however - if you truly love a picture (or the subject) you might not want to submit it to these wolves.

DMU is an international gathering of photographers, professional and amateur, film and digital, wise and foolish, young and old, of many differing faiths, backgrounds, beliefs all thrown together in the one spot where you can say almost ANYTHING. That is really a wonderful thing. There are rules however. The original DMU did go a bit too far, was warned by Flickr to smarten up and, somehow (I really don’t want to get into the finger pointing) killed itself - dozens of splinter groups formed - three main groups came out the other side of the maelstrom. DMU, the other DMU (that I am not a member of) and the Icebox. The Icebox was formed by a thoughtful DMU member who wanted to provide a place for us to chill from the nasty words, invectives and blame that was being thrown around.

DMU is really not for the faint of heart - I bring it up because it means so much to me and also many of my friends seem genuinely upset that people should say such HORRIBLE things about my photographs. That is a two way street. I not only make rude comments, I truly enjoy making rude pictures as well. Let me post one of my favourites here.

Most of the horrible things I create are image specific. They only make sense if you see the picture they are mocking. I do try to include some advice with most of my comments - but if it just looks like poo...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The book has been ordered...

I finally was able to order the Photobook of my vacation pictures. It took some time as apparently one is nobody without a paypal account. After dealing with on-line and telephone support I was able to pay over the phone. Dealing with the people at Photobook was quite easy. I have only to hold my breath for two weeks or so and I will have my book in my hot little hands.

I found the experience of arranging and editing the book to be enjoyable. If this turns out well I may use the service again and again - though not the giant sized book. I have a feeling 17½" by 12" is going to be hard to shelve and possibly (can it be) too large for the kind of viewing I would like. I would like people ooooh-ing and awwwww-ing, not noticing how some of the images don't hold up well under close scrutiny.

The cover is the de rigueur iconic Peggy's Cove lighthouse. It was pouring rain when we arrived. Horrible weather really, but it slowed down enough for me to take this picture and not get rain on my lens. By this time I had already had to change my drenched clothes by the side of the road - after finding a footpath by the side of the road that looked like it might lead to a photo opportunity of the town from afar (it did). Somehow Peggy's Cove is a touch less charming in a downpour than what I had come to expect.

There were moments during my vacation where I thought that lugging around a backpack filled with four cameras, seven lenses, a flash (and never far away, the tripod and reflector) was a bit much. In retrospect, I'm glad I had it all with me. The picture of the boat here was taken with Ektar print film, the lighthouse - Ektachrome slide film. Neither picture would have looked the same taken with the digital camera, and having a second 35mm film camera meant I had more options.

Since my return I have burned through a roll of black & white film (not pushed this time) on a photowalk with friends in Ottawa - at some point I'll be sure to get that stuff developed. I always used to wonder how photographers could stumble across undeveloped film years later... I think I understand now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Home from the holidays

Our two week roadtrip netted over 100 pictures on the film cameras and over 1200 digital pictures. I have been quite busy processing. My aim is to winnow the pile down to a manageable number and have a hardcover book published. There are many companies that perform this service. I am using "Photobook", I'll let you know how it turns out. The interface is quite easy to use & I am looking foreward to the results... but I still have much to do before I order the book.

Nova Scotia was a delight. So many charming places... and so many possibilities for photographic themes. It would have been very easy to do classic cars - complete & in progress on front lawns, churches - all flavours... there are so many wonderful looking old churches, and one theme that I shot without knowing: odd looking trees.

Both my father's borrowed Canon FT and my Canon FTb took many excellent pictures. I am quite happy with the many of the results. There is also a disconcerting darkness on a few of the photographs. Maybe it's the developing, maybe it's the shutter... time will tell. Of the three rolls of film used, the best colour seemed to come from the Kodak Ektar 100. A goodly number of the slides (Ektachrome e100vs) came out VERY overexposed... i wonder if i didn't have the lens screwed on properly.

The use of film was a positive thing. It made me look at my digital shots longer before activating the shutter. The surprise was how good the film shots turned out. some truly capture the unreal colours that often my digital will wash out (because i always use auto-wb instead of a grey card).

The film achieved a "look" that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Digital had some surprises for me as well. I was delighted to see this last image when we got back from the Nova Scotia. It was shot at nine o'clock at iso 3200! Were it not for the oddball sky, I might think it an oriental painting... or pine as designed by Roger Dean.

I will try to remember to put up an example or two of the film "look" I spoke of. There is still much to do with the holiday pictures to go into the book. It is not ALL trees, there are a few lighthouses as well.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Assignment Finished

Well thank goodness for a second opinion. I had finished (so I thought) editing the photographs for Julie. All but the ones shot on my old Canon with the FP5 400 black and white film, I hope to see those tomorrow. My wife needed to test the optical drive in her laptop & instead of going to get her a DVD, I asked her to run a quick slide-show of the images. Good thing, as I noticed that two of the images showed the sloppy hand of a novice editor. Now that that has been corrected (live and learn) I can hand over the CD with a smile. I can't wait to see how the black and white shots turn out. Seeing as some of the black & white images may need work - this posts title may be misleading.

The seagull image was taken at Riverside Park May 29th. It was off the cuff so I didn't take notes but it was shot handheld with the f1.8 50mm lens, Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. This is a scan from the print made at time of developing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Editing Work...

I had forgotten how long and involved the editing process is when you are processing a LOT of shots. The shoot at Julie's went fairly well (I'm never satisfied - but I settle down a bit after the client lets me know what they think). I am actually quite happy with the images of the finished casts... They turned out quite well. The one I posted here is a tad different, I forgotten to set my flash - wonderfully dark. Perhaps it doesn't convey what the other casts do... but I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. The actual cast is a much happier shade of red.

Many hours into the fray now... I have to quit for the evening as I am beginning to make little mistakes. For all of the tedium, however, there is the reward of having actually made something. Worked, as Julie did with her plaster, with the pixels to create a thing of beauty. There is a small sense of accomplishment. That does have a lovely feel to it. It will feel a lot better after I am actually finished the job, even more so when Julie selects and uses the images. Tomorrow is another day, with some editing to do...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tomorrow is the big shoot

In just a few hours I get to photograph Julie Keon hard at work in her studio again. Julie does body casts. Often these are belly casts for pregnant women but not always. I saw a wonderful front & back cast of a woman with scoliosis, and others that were not pregnancy related. Here is her website:

I am delighted to be able to photograph Julie at work actually casting. Up until now I have only been able to photograph her working on pieces that have already been cast. I have 36 black and white exposures available on my 35mm and a fully charged battery on my digital camera. My medium format TLR is acting up - so I will leave that at home. To warm up I believe that I will be taking more pictures of existing casts, casts I think Julie will be showing at an exhibit soon.

Soon I will be snapping away (wish me luck), and for the first time ever I will be shooting a real live model. I hope she too is pleased with my work (Julie seemed pretty happy with the shots I had taken earlier). One cannot get too much ego stroking nowadays.

The First Slides

I bought a roll of Fuji Velvia 50 to try in my Canon FTb. I was hoping for outlandish colour... actually I was hoping that the battery adaptor I bought to make my light meter work properly was indeed functional. I think the metering is working fine, I just need to learn how to use that information better, As it turns out the colour is none too freakish as I had hoped. It is heartening to learn that my film camera is in working order.

Sadly, I only had the one roll of Velvia. Most of the other colour film I have promises vivid colour. We shall see. My next roll will be the Ilford HP5 PLUS 400 that I will be using to photograph the casting session at Julie's. I have high hopes for the look of that film as well. Most of the internet reviews are positive.

On a less exciting note - the 120 film I had developed at the same time came back with the last six photos missing... as though the shutter had not opened. I'll run one more roll of Portra VC 160 through the TLR to see if the bugs have worked themselves out - I tested the shutter and that seems to work... now.
On the whole - I would happily buy another roll of Velvia if I can find it again, these trilliums were shot in poor light 1/8 sec, @ f8, tripod, mirror up, remote trigger. (the totem was 1/1000 sec. @ f4 - handheld)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The First Post

...and so it begins. A blog. I think of this as a way to keep anyone who cares to peek inside abreast of whatever is going on with me... and a place to dump photos. Speaking of photos - never trust a man who's "developed" a photography habit to stock the fridge...

I soon leave with my wife on a lengthy road trip - hence the film. I hope to have a number of colourful pictures to show off on my return. Hopefully I won't be kicking myself for not bringing something. I have two 35mm film cameras and a Twin Lens Reflex as well as the Nikon DSLR. That should cover the bases. To those who know a thing about film... I don't plan on taking the two rolls of Ilford black and white film with me. I have a special purpose for each.

This weekend I hope to shoot at a friends place, she (Julie Keon) makes plaster casts predominantly of pregnant women. If all goes to plan I should get several more photos of completed casts and a casting session. I'll be shooting digital and black & white film against the clock so to speak. I imagine the plaster is unforgiving and that time will be an issue. The shoot is the better part of a week away and I'm nervous already.

The second roll of B&W is for a tattoo session. Ivan, my friend & the owner of The Wizzard's Den tattoo studio in Petawawa, will be getting a tattoo on his neck. I am honoured to be allowed to photograph the event. if only I can get my hands on some Velvia before I go on vacation.