Slide film: bracket your shots

It’s Velvia week here at the Resurrected Camera.  I just couldn’t resist the pull of color reversal anymore.  As far as being affordable, I suppose that depends on how much the results justify the means.  For someone just starting out, no, I wouldn’t recommend it; even I had trouble and I’ve been shooting film for years.  With slide film, you either nail your exposure or you miss the shot; there’s very little latitude.

Bracket your shots.

Here’s something I’m pretty happy with (and that the light meter didn’t lie to me about):00010024
35mm f/8 1/60 Fuji Velvia 50

Now this is the same shot overexposed and underexposed by one stop (f/5.6 and f/11):

00010023 00010025

Yeah I hang around areas where one can see Pike’s Peak quite easily.  The thing is of course that, considering how many times I’ve photographed it, makes it hard to keep it fresh for me, but hopefully not for you.  Here’s a view from UCCS campus:

00010031 00010030 00010029
50mm f13.5,9.5,6.8 1/250 Fuji Velvia 50 (the one the meter said was correct is far left)

I never had anything to worry about with color negative film; it just pulls in all the light it needs, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case with slides.  This is one that just didn’t take; it’s a shame because it looked just fantastic on the day.  According to the guy at the camera store, I should look into getting a graduated ND filter (I think he mentioned Cokin?) to be able get good exposure for the entire slide, when going for these contrasty shots.  I think I’d agree with him, but it’s going to cost…

And speaking of the cost.  I used a different lab this time.  They sent it up their main location in Boulder, where they have their E-6 machine (plus a very nice Noritsu scanner edit: I’m no longer a fan of that scanner…I must have just been dazed by the beauty of color reversal film).  It was $20 for one roll (processed, scanned, mounted, and a set of 4×6 proofs…it was a package deal), and I had to wait 5 days to get everything back.  This new place does seem to be a bit more professional in some things and I would definitely use them for any time I’m not shooting 35mm color negative.  The film is about twice as expensive as well.  I got around that by buying a (refrigerated) roll of Velvia 50 that expired a year ago.  It’s still good, thankfully, and the price was much better.  The other option in slide film is what’s being called AGFA Precisa CT, which, being made in Japan, I’d assume is rebranded Fuji of some sort.  And who knows how much Ferrania will cost when it comes out?  I guess we’ll see.  As I said in the beginning, it’s all about the results.  (which I’m still working on getting…)

Accurate shutter speeds

I just shot my first roll of slide film.  More on that later, but here’s a little refresher on color reversal film: you either expose it properly or you don’t; it has very little latitude.  I used my Canon AE-1 because it has the most accurate shutter speeds (that’s the cheap way out: why pay $100 to have someone readjust your camera’s shutter when you can just keep accepting free cameras from people and hope for the best?) and I’ve come across a good number of lenses.  So if you’re going to use slide film, it’ll be easier if you don’t have to remember things like having to expose half a stop under what your light meter says because your fast shutter speeds are half a stop slow (or more).

When getting used cameras, as all mine have been and what the majority of people buying a film camera will get as well, one thing to take in mind is that it probably needs a tuneup to be in perfect working order.  I’ve never really cared, myself.  When I took the photography course last semester, I brought in the camera I intended on using to the local camera store so they could test its shutter speeds and light meter.  And then I had to bring in more cameras, because that one didn’t pass (fast speeds a full stop slow, slow speeds half a stop slow).  I ended up bringing in six different manual cameras and none of them were good enough, even the Minolta X-700 with an electronically-controlled shutter.

Again, it’s not like such things ever bothered me; with color negative film you can overexpose it so many stops before ruining your shot.  With Tri-X, it also didn’t matter, but it was suggested that with some assignments relating to shutter speed and exposure, I’d want something as accurate as possible.  I used my Minolta SRT MCII because it was the most dead-on, with only the fastest speed being half a stop slow (1/750 of a second instead of 1/1000?  I can live with that) and it served me well.

Now of course, the local camera store did repairs as well as selling used equipment.  I’ve considered having them do repairs to one of my cameras, if I could choose one system to use from now on.  The repairs cost almost as much as just buying a camera off them that’s already been gone through.  That’s why I don’t ever plan on spending more than about $25 for a camera (and that’s pushing it).  Any more, and it just wouldn’t be cost-effective to fix – I might as well buy one from the camera store that will have completely accurate speeds (plus a warranty).

The Rainbow of Death

If you’ll forgive the Vuescan watermarks.  I haven’t gotten around to buying the actual software yet.

Here’s why:
Phantom pic 1

Can you see it?  The lines are just below the tip of the nose cone.

Here’s a more visible version:
Phantom pic 2

And it’s still visible in black and white, too:
Scan-140424-0001

I’ll have to do more research to determine how to fix this, or if it’s even worth it (the scanner is 15 years old, after all).  I suppose, if nothing else, I could scan the image, flip the negative around, and scan it again!  Sounds like too much work.  What it means though, is that I’ve been taking my stuff back to the pros, and not worrying about it.

A little preview of things to come

Back in January, a wonderful friend of mine named Beverly gave me a Polaroid Land Camera that had been in her family since the late ’60s.  Never being one to pass up a free camera, I hunted around online (mostly Amazon) and came up with a new battery and some film (which is still made by Fuji).  Part of what I decided to do with it was make some portraits of myself (to chronicle my beard before I chop it), generally utilizing other people to do it.  The results have been…interesting.

Here’s the one I took myself:
Irvin-Polaroid4

This is just a straight scan of the print using a 200dpi flatbed scanner I had lying around.  Sometime this summer I’ll get everything digitized using something a bit nicer.  The negatives are opaque until the non-emulsion side is washed with bleach.  It’s definitely necessary for color if you need to retrieve your negatives, and there steps for that process on Youtube. It also means I might be able to make optical prints from the negatives, if I ever want to.

What’s great is that the negatives (as always) carry so much more detail than the print, and while some of the prints haven’t turned out very good, looking at the negatives, I think most of them should be usable.  More to come.

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, bad move

In case you haven’t heard yet, here:

http://petapixel.com/2014/04/21/band-responds-worst-way-possible-stealing-photographers-work/

It’s hard to believe it’s not a soulless corporation doing this, but a band with at least a little bit of indie cred (the last time I checked, at least).  I’d say it’s all gone now.  Anyway, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus just doesn’t seem to learn.  In response to their conduct, I decided to comment on the band’s facebook page and would have left it at that, but they deleted my comment (along with plenty of others), and banned me from posting, so here it is again:

“So glad to know you think art has no value. All art has worth! It makes me happy when fans agree enough to pay for my music. What’s the point in listening to a band that thinks their own work (and that of other people) has no worth? Goodbye forever.”
RJA2a

I’m really disappointed that the band would act so badly in the first place, but to be constantly deleting unfavorable posts I think brings it to a new level of immaturity.  They’re just digging themselves a deeper hole, as far as I’m concerned.  Oh, and if they ever ask me to shoot one of their concerts, I’ll say “No.”

Curses…

Man, I thought I stumbled on the deal of the year yesterday; I found a Konica Koni-Omega 6×7 press camera at the local thrift store for $25.00.  The leaf shutter in the lens didn’t fire right, so I talked them down to $15.00, figuring I could just buy a lens and be in the medium format club for less than my last tank fill.  Nope, didn’t turn out that way.  The more I looked at the camera, the more I found wrong with it, which is disappointing, because holding it you’d think it could withstand a blow from a sledgehammer – it’s incredibly robust and sturdy!  Unfortunately, it seems to have taken a hit that has put it completely out of commission: the lens mount is tilting slightly downward (which wouldn’t bother me), and because of that, the mechanism that cocks the shutter isn’t catching on the film advance.  I took it to the local camera store, which does a lot of camera repair, but it seems to be useless.  So disappointed.

It’s funny, but the guy in Production who put out the camera didn’t know a thing about it, and in fact hadn’t tested it out at all; I did that myself in the store.  That wasn’t the way we did things when I worked at Goodwill, I made sure everything that I put out worked well, but this guy couldn’t get it working and still put it on the floor.  I guess in some ways it’s a good thing, because I know that even if there’s something that he can’t figure out, I might still get a crack at it.  I suppose it would have sucked worse if the guy had had a completely functional camera that he couldn’t figure out and decided not to sell it…then again, that might happen all the time, but at least I wouldn’t know about it…

I guess it’s going back; at least I have the option of returning it, but it’s still so disheartening.  One of these days I’m sure I’ll find a fully functioning Hasselblad or Mamiya 7 at a thrift store for the same price, but until then I’m still in 35mm Land.  Hardly a bad thing, I suppose…