Self-centered

One of the aspects my peers criticized in my photo project was that there were hardly any pictures with me in them.  I’ve kept that in mind ever more frequently this year and either taken more selfies or had someone else hold the camera for me.  Hopefully I was successful in my attempt to add a bit of my own personal je ne sais quoi to these.

Film, in order: Fuji Superia 400, Kodak Ultramax 400, Ilford XP2 Super, Kodak BW400CN (exp.2008).

Summer 2021 on Ilford XP2 Super

After not being able to use the UCCS darkroom last year during the pandemic, I decided to patronize my local camera store a bit more, which has included buying/processing color negative film almost exclusively.  One thing I didn’t want was to be stuck with even more rolls of black & white that will either take a lot of money to be developed or will sit in my freezer until I can get back to developing at the university.  I still wanted to try to continue my current photo project for just a little bit longer and for that I decided to go chromogenic black & white.  Here are a few of the shots I took over the Summer:

I shot just a roll or two of BW400CN before Kodak discontinued it and man do I wish that Kodak would bring it back but I’m happy and thankful that Ilford is still here for us.  I would not say that XP2 is a worthy replacement for Tri-X but for what I needed I think it works well.  One thing that I noticed was that it behaved very much like a color negative film in that I think its true speed is not 400 but 200, so I tried to overexpose when I could.  The shadows can fall off really quickly and yet it is so flat when scanned.  That’s mostly good because I have never been thrilled with how black & white is scanned by the lab; it’s usually way too contrasty and if the exposure isn’t exactly perfect you’re losing quite a lot of information.  I prefer to scan myself at low contrast and dial it in on the computer, something that XP2 does nicely even when lab scanned.

I will eventually go back to Tri-X when I can develop it myself but for what it is and what I need right now I’m pretty happy to continue shooting Ilford XP2 Super.

Schoolroom shenanigans

It took almost 7 years when I started going back to college, but I did finally graduate.  I have a lot of memories, and also a lot of degrees…because I ended up getting a double minor (in visual arts emphasis on photography, and film studies).  But through it all I had my camera, especially since the first class I took was Intro to Photography, all the way back in Fall of 2013.  So here is a rather large gallery of memories, with many classmates I’ve known over my time at UCCS; I forget the names of some of them!

I don’t expect anyone else to get anything out of this, it’s more a self-indulgent nostalgia trip for me than anything.  Some of these were never published, some have been posted to Facebook only.  Thanks for the memories…

Customized American car decorations

People from Europe tell me that they love seeing all the different license plates and other modifications that Americans do to their vehicles.  This post is for all of you!  Not necessarily license plates only, but these are cars that have been decorated a bit more substantially.  Sure, one could get a lift kit or special off-road tires fitted, but I’m looking at a more personalized approach: decals.  Simultaneously more varied and also a cheaper option.

I thought I had a lot more shots in my negatives but I’m not sure now.  Either way I can post a sequel post someday but it’s all about having a camera at the right time and finding the right vehicle.

After surviving 2020 we all deserve a drink…

…so here are most of the pics on my blog of people drinking/celebrating, or are otherwise alcohol-related.  No particular order, just whenever I happened to remember another shot I added it to the bottom.  It turned out to be quite a few posts over the last 7 years and I’m sure I still missed some!

Here’s hoping that 2021 is the year we can get back to drinking together.

(Another reason to celebrate…this is post #400 for me, and first since my 7th Anniversary!)

What’s in the future for Ferrania?

I’ve always tried to be upbeat and positive regarding Ferrania in the past, and certainly this year must certainly have been hard on them. I suppose some will read the announcement and accuse them of abandoning their original promises (well, the phrase “Our Kickstarter campaign must evolve into something new…” probably sets off some alarm bells) and honestly I don’t know what Ferrania is ultimately saying myself.  They throw out a hint at color film (note: they never use the word reversal) down the road but wisely have not committed to anything; in the past laying out projected timelines hasn’t worked well for them.

I just hope that they actually are working on color reversal film and that it will be happening soon.  I like the P30 but it’s no substitute; I’ve hoarded my 5 Alpha rolls for years now but it’s my plan to shoot up the rest of it this year and buy some of the fresh regular production rolls.  Here’s a compilation of what I was shooting back in January and February:

It’s good stuff, but very slow for what I do so I don’t anticipate using it much.  On the other hand, if they had made just another ASA400 film I’d complain about that too (I have in the past).  Actually I’d love to see P30 slit as super 8 or at least 16mm: considering how fine-grained it is it would look lovely in small-gauge.  I hope Ferrania thinks about some of the underrepresented markets out there, like Double 8, Double Super 8, especially in 100ft rolls there.  Hopefully P30 will work with reversal chemicals but it can of course be scanned too, and even just selling long-length cans of super 8 film (not loaded in cartridges) would be great for those who load their own cartridges, like those shooting single-8 cameras.

But I am still eagerly awaiting some Ferrania Chrome 100 and it does get frustrating sometimes when all I hear about from Ferrania is updates on P30.  That said, I hope readers can tell which side of the fence I fall on here.  I want only the best for Ferrania and hope they are tremendously successful.

Why I love Takumar lenses

1. An image quality that is unsurpassed for the price point
2. A build quality that is second-to-none

Pentax made 4 series of lenses going back to the late-’50s.  There were:
Auto-Takumar
Super-Takumar
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar (S-M-C)
SMC Takumar (mostly cosmetic differences)
I try to get the S-M-C and later lenses for the better coating; evidently at the time Pentax had developed the best lens coating available and nearly every other lens maker was paying Pentax for the technology.  I’m not planning to write a detailed history of the brand here, so I’ll stop with what I’ve said.  A lot of my early information came from this site, very helpful.

Since it’s been 5.5 years since my last post professing my love of Pentax I thought I’d go back through the archives and compile some of my favorite pictures; they’re generally in order of when I shot them and it should be readily apparent how much Tri-X I’ve been shooting (a lot) compared to everything else (not much).

These lenses have a special character which I really like, they’re plenty sharp too, and extremely sturdy (also: damn heavy).  Hold one in your hands and turn the focus ring: if this doesn’t make you want to try a Spotmatic out at least once then I don’t think we can be friends.  I will however understand if it doesn’t become your main camera outfit after shooting one because there are other SLR systems that are much more advanced.  That’s ultimately what made me move on.  We had a good run together and I’m sorry to say goodbye to these wonderful lenses.  If only Pentax had made a body worthy of their greatness!

The Spotmatics are a great line of cameras but do have some inherent weaknesses which were never overcome.  Build quality is standard 1960s which is to say solid and sturdy, no complaints there.  I learned to live with stop-down metering, and screw-mount lenses.  Actually if both bodies are hanging around my neck I’m much more comfortable unscrewing a Takumar than a Nikkor, so far!  Though considering the modular (and advanced) features of the older Nikon F, Pentax did make some pretty strange choices in camera design at the time, for all that they did right.  The most complained-about features (screw mount and stop-down metering) were corrected by the mid-’70s but quality started dropping fast soon after, about the time they went to the M-series lenses.  I used to wonder why Pentax got such a bad wrap but can start to understand with some of the later stuff where they obviously had to introduce cost-cutting measures to keep going.  They still made some quality gear (including their first and only pro-level camera starting in 1980) but eventually were acquired by the closely-associated budget line, Ricoh.  Pentax was always playing catch-up to other brands and trying to recapture their former glory by then.

But it was just about 10 years ago that I first bought a Spotmatic  (an SPII) with my first Takumar, at a garage sale for $5.00.  It looked pretty much like my mom’s Minolta XG-A (chrome and black) and I didn’t know that the lens was made by the same company as the body; I almost didn’t buy the camera because I thought I was getting a cheap off-brand lens, but at $5.00 it was still a deal so I took it.  I asked the owner if there were other lenses that I couldn’t see but she said no.  Later I studied the lens and body closer and did find that they both had Asahi marked on them so I knew at least I wasn’t getting an off-brand lens thankfully.  Shooting a few rolls in 2010 convinced me that this lens was something special so even with acquiring a few more advanced cameras soon after I kept coming back to the Spotmatic, kept buying Takumar lenses.  I’m sure I’ll still pull out the system from time to time, I’m certainly not planning on getting rid of it.