Old news is still good news!

Evidently (and I didn’t know this, so maybe I’m just the last one to find out), Italian photographic manufacturer Ferrania will be making film again!  And not only film, but color reversal film.


This is the kind of thing that does my heart a world of good.  To know that someone that made film 20 years ago is coming back to give it another go.  I haven’t ever shot slide film myself, but given the opportunity, would definitely start, what what better way than with a new version of Scotch Chrome 100!

This is a big win.

Katy Graves EP release party, 02/28/14

Finally, a post about pictures.  I don’t know how everyone usually does copyright notices, I just kind of stuck mine on with Microsoft Paint, quick and dirty.  I doubt I actually need it, but then again, who knows.  All rights reserved, so there.  Anyway, it was nice to pull out the old Spotmatic and have some fun.

One of the (quite legitimate) cracks against digital that I hear a lot is how people shoot it, namely taking lots of pictures in quick succession, then looking at the screen on the back of the camera to make sure they got something usable (and in the process probably missing the best shots due to distraction).  I saw a couple people there that night who are at least semi-pro photographers, with Canon 5Ds (I guess that’s the current go-to camera for digital photographers/videographers?) and they shot all night.  I wonder how many pictures they ended up taking, considering that from all those that were posted on Katy’s facebook page, there were no more than 16 from any one photographer.  My main job was doing sound, not taking pictures, so I’m sure I missed a lot of good shots myself while I was pulling my hair out over the board, but I used 2 1/2 rolls of film and came up with 44 interesting (or at least usable) images (not all included here), a much better percentage of keepers.  Usually, when you’ve taken a really good shot, you know immediately, and then you spend the rest of the time thinking about that one picture, how it will turn out.  I had maybe two of those this time, no more.

I used my Pentax Spotmatic camera that I bought at a garage sale for $5.00, it came with a 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens, and that was my main camera for years.  I used two rolls of Fuji Superia 800 and one roll of Kodak, either Max or Ultramax 400, expired since 2002 (the last 6 pictures, it’s kind of evident).  I shot without a filter – you can read all about it in this post, if interested – some of the shots I didn’t bother to color-correct because they look good the way they are.  During the 2nd set they turned off all the lights except on stage, made it kind of hard to get usable shots, especially with 400 film instead of 800; some of those later pictures are taken at 1/15 handheld.  I think they turned out alright, though I wish I’d had a roll of Tri-X with me, it would have solved numerous problems.

Speaking of the Spotmatic, there were a few times I really wished I had a wide-angle lens, but I didn’t, until I got my film developed down at the real camera store in Colorado Springs.  They also happen to sell used cameras, lenses, and accessories so I came back with a 28mm f/3.5 lens.  Probably not the kind that will help me indoors, but hey, it was affordable.

Shooting daylight film inside (without a filter)

One of the cool things about taking an astronomy course right now is learning a bit more about color temperature, but that’s an aside.  With photography, what’s immediately important is that outside light will look different than inside light to film.  In fact, the only film made today is daylight-balanced (except for some Kodak motion picture film).  So, either you go buy a 400-foot reel of 35mm motion picture film from Kodak, or you (would usually) slap a cooling filter on your camera, but that will by definition lose you some light, by reducing certain colors.

I had a brilliant idea.  Actually, I don’t think I’m the first to think of it.  But why use a filter and have to compensate by 1/2 a stop or so, when you could just do it in Photoshop?  Well, I decided to give that a try.  I was already halfway through a roll of Fuji Superia 800, so I just decided to take that camera with its 55mm f/1.8 lens and shoot it indoors.  If the shots looked too orange, I’d just correct them in post (a very digital idea).  Well, it seemed to work out alright…



The thing is, I’m not 100% happy with the way they turned out, and it could just be the fact that I just don’t know my way around Photoshop that well.  Do they look better than they did?  Yeah, I think so.  But if I had to do it over, I might have gone for a different camera, put a 1.4 lens on it, and just keep it on one setting if possible, get as much exposure on the film as possible.  I’m sure someone out there has more experience with this than me.  Care to weigh in?

Support your Indie camera stores!

Why?  Because they provide the best service, and exist mainly through your willingness to go to them.  I’ve been doing that for a while, but when I agreed to shoot a show for a friend of mine, I planned on taking them to the *ahem* local drugstore chain (that wants to buy up every good corner location in America, it seems), because my friend needed the pics ASAP and Drugstore Chain could do it quick.  Well, it turned out not to work that way.

I drop them off, I figure 3 rolls in 2 hours wouldn’t be pushing things, get some other stuff done and come back for the film to find out they didn’t scan my negatives, so I was charged $6.00 per roll just for development.  Wow.  So the conversation with the lady in the photo department (the same one I know from years back) went something like this:

“I wanted these scanned, but there’s no cd.”
“I asked you if you wanted them printed, you said no.”
“I don’t want prints, but I did want my negatives scanned.”
“Well, ‘print’ means ‘scanned.'”

So, clearly a miscommunication, but it’s one that cost me time, and I had the option of waiting 30min for the negatives to be scanned (which would have made me late for my class that day), or picking them up when I got back, which would have been about 5hrs later.  Not good options, considering I only went to them in the first place because I wanted them done fast so I could send them off to my friend.  Perhaps my own fault with a lack of communication, but I decided the bigger mistake was not taking my film down to the real camera store in the first place.  It’s cheaper, and their scanner is higher-resolution.  Win-win.

My local indie camera store isn’t local, it’s about an hour from my house, but it’s close to my classes.  They’re getting so much business right now that if you drop film off on them unannounced, you might have to wait until the end of the day to get your film back.  Still, I’d rather go there than anywhere else; they know me by name, and they know the definition of the word Scan.  And hey, they sell lenses pretty cheap too, I picked up a wide-angle for my Pentax.  There’s really no need for me to ever go anywhere else.

One more story: A year ago I was going to my cousin’s wedding so I called around Shreveport for a camera store that did film processing.  No luck!  I did have a good conversation with an owner of one of the camera stores, and evidently the drugstore chains back in the early 2000s were undercutting the competition by so much ($1.50 for film processing and scanning?  Wow!) that they drove most of the camera stores in Shreveport out of business and the only ones that survived now only deal with digital photography.  Of course, once they killed the competition, the drugstores drove the prices back up (mine charges $9.50 for processing and scanning).  I wonder how many people they drove to digital by doing this?