Little Canyons

My friend’s album release party.  I seem to be doing more and more of these, and as long as I have access to the school darkroom, it’ll probably be in black & white.

Just as soon as I send my ESII off for repair, I find out that my ES is screwing up on me.  It’s nothing too drastic, just having problems with the mirror sticking, but I haven’t had the opportunity to take it apart and clean it out yet. Thankfully, the exposure is good, but the mirror problem was so annoying that I never got around to shooting the main event.  I don’t know which is worse, being able to shoot a whole event but losing half your shots to wildly varying exposures, or losing half your shots because your mirror is stuck up and you can’t focus, get frustrated, and decide you’d rather enjoy the rest of the show as part of the audience.

As well as that, there are spots on a few of the images.  I was continuing the experiment of pushing Tri-X 2 stops in a D-76 1:1 stand development, which could be part of it, though for some reason, it only affected the first two exposures and the last three.  Strange…

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Prepared piano

Fall 2013.  I was working with my composition teacher that day on improvisation and since her piano was already far out of tune, we decided to make it sound even more interesting by altering the sound of the strings with clamps and whatever else we had on hand.

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I pulled out the camera on my phone so I could remember later where I had put the clamps in case I ever wanted to get that sound again, then remembered that I was in a photography class, had my camera with me, and should really be using it more often.  This also became the inspiration for one of my later projects in the class, where I created a series of images of the inside and outside of the piano.

Alternative Processes – A paper negative

What have I been doing apart from trying to get my cyanotype problem figured out?  That does take a while, but the rest of the class has moved on to pinhole cameras and I’m right there with them.  The instructor was kind enough to make up the first batch herself out of small paint cans, so everyone started out just using the same camera and 4×5 paper for negatives (Ilford RC Satin paper, if anyone cares).  It took about a minute to expose this:

Pinholepaperneg2a

I’ve only done four paper negatives so far and just right outside the darkroom, it seems more convenient to do it close to the chemicals so I can see if what I’m doing works.  We all made pinhole cameras in class too, so I have options.  I made mine out of a body cap to fit my Spotmatic cameras, so that’s been most of my output.

Alternative Processes – Cyanotypes

Cyanotype prints can be made from just about anything, I’m told.  It’s one of those old-time processes that melds very well with today’s digital technology, and all that are needed is two chemicals mixed together coated on something and exposed to the sun, washed in regular water, maybe with a bit of hydrogen peroxide.  Besides contact-printing anything you can think of like with a lumen, it’s very possible to take any digital image, turn it black & white and then print it on a transparency as a negative.  Mine were already black & white Tri-X scans, all I did was to invert them and have my local UPS store print them on transparencies for me, 9in on the long side.

The process works on cloth as well as paper, which is where I got the original idea for my project, as two of my friends just had a baby and I decided to decorate a onesie for their child to wear (image used on left).

Cyanotype1  Cyanotype2

I’ve had a few hiccups on the onesie: I’m on my third try, and my problem right now seems to be prewashing in detergent before coating: the wonderful deep blue color turns a sickly yellow after a regular machine wash, and I don’t know how many washes it can take, it’s possible it could just fade away.  These pictures were originally taken back in November when my friends stopped by to play a show in a local bar.  The original post can be found here.

Scoring Session: The Lady and the Phantom

The Lady and the Phantom is a short film made by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Communications dept and scored by my friend and classmate, composer Joshua Aldrich.  A live orchestra was contracted to perform the music, and I am told that this is the first full-scale scoring session of its kind in the Colorado Springs area, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me and I’m proud to have been a part of it.  All the players are local musicians and some are current UCCS students.  The orchestra was conducted by UCCS Prof. Sean Hennessy in a room that I’ve had several classes in myself over the last few semesters.

As a fan of film music it was pretty awesome to be able to take pictures in the room while the orchestra was being recorded, and I definitely had the Scoring Sessions site in the back of my head when I was taking pictures.  It’s different from shooting a rock concert, as I can’t just take pictures whenever the hell I feel like: I was very conscious to make noise only when they were rehearsing a cue or other times when not actually recording, though I did get a few shots in right before they started the count.

If the exposure on these seems to vary wildly from one image to the other, it’s because my camera screwed up big-time, and it’s a miracle any of these images turned out at all.  I’d never used the ESII inside before, now I know not to do it again, there must be something seriously wrong with the meter.  I’m preparing to send the ESII to this guy because I’ve read lots of good reviews of his work and his prices seem to be pretty reasonable.

Though not strictly necessary with the light I had, I pushed these rolls of Tri-X 2 stops which allowed me to comfortably use my 135mm lens somewhere around f/4-5.6 and my other lenses at f/8 or so.  I experimented with a stand development this time, using D-76 1:1 for 13.5 minutes.  I don’t know if that hurt me or preserved what shadow detail was left, but it sure didn’t minimize the grain like I’d read, though I suppose getting correct exposures would help!

The F335 has really made this process speedy for me.  The recording session was 9AM-12, I had the film processed, dried, and in my bag by 2:00, and once I got back up the pass, I had everything scanned into my computer by 4:00.  If the exposures weren’t off so much I could have had them posted that day on Facebook, but as it was I wanted to get the most I possibly could out of improperly exposed negatives, which meant using Photoshop back down at school the next day.  Still, all in all, it took just a day to get everything corrected as much as possible and posted online, when before the Pakon it would have taken a week or more.

edit: To come full circle, I’ll plug the soundtrack as well.

The Snow in Black & White

I’ve been busy scanning things.  Well, actually the scanning part is easy, it’s the getting things just perfect afterwards that really chews up time.  Unless someone is in a big hurry, I’ve found so far that with black & white and the F335 it’s best to just take the raw files and do all the corrections myself in Photoshop instead of relying on PSI to do it.  Unless they’re really low contrast images PSI will overcompensate, and while it’s feasible to just turn down the contrast right there, I’d rather get my black & white images just right.  And it takes lots of work.

This is Arista Edu.100/Fomapan 100 which I developed myself in the school darkroom (first roll in a year!) using D-76 1:1 developed for (I think) 9min.  I had already bought my Pakon F335 so I waited until it arrived and this was the first roll through the scanner.  edit: I forgot to add, most of these shots are in my local neighborhood, just took them as I walked along one day.  #4 was taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot.

I shot this roll in the Olympus Trip 35, more from the same roll as this.  I have to say, that little camera is quite handy to have, especially in winter.  It’s simple to use, even with gloves on, and it fits quite nicely in a coat pocket.  This is only my first roll through it, but I could already tell it wouldn’t be the last.  It’s got a sharp lens and I don’t think the Fomapan does it justice, I have a feeling this would be a great camera for landscapes with Ektar 100.  With a 40mm f/2.8 lens I would have thought that it would be exclusively an outdoors camera but reading this post has changed my mind a bit.  I suppose that with the right film, you could get away with just about anything.  Cinestill 800T, anyone?

I don’t know what to think about Fomapan.  Its grain isn’t too bad and it has a classic grain structure, but nothing really stands out to me about it, it’s hard to form an opinion one way or another.  With Kentmere 100, even though its grain is huge for an 100-speed film, I at least think that it has a fantastic character and look to it, and would prefer using it to Fomapan 100 for most things, except maybe landscapes like we have here.  I suppose the price being right, it was a good film to try out, and I do have another roll which I plan on putting through something I’m a bit more familiar with like a Spotmatic, but I don’t think it will become a standby for me.  It is however, quite cheap to buy.  One thing I remember reading (after the fact, unfortunately) is that it really should be pulled somewhere under 100, and also the developing times are too aggressive and if overdeveloped the highlights can bunch up quick.  The chart hanging on our wall said 8-10 minutes in D-76 1:1, I really should have gone for 8 (or less) instead of 9, especially with all the snow and overcast skies, but I suppose I’ll know for next time.