One for the peepers

I think I saw more red-colored aspen trees this year than previously and I believe it’s something to do with the amount of rain if I’m not mistaken.  Before this I shot two rolls of slide film in my new F2A, which I will get around to developing eventually.  So this color is a little bit past its top level but still pretty good.  I shot maybe 40 rolls of black & white in 2020 (plus 4×5 sheets as well) and maybe 5 rolls of color, all around September/October.

(that last one is currently my desktop background)

This is my first roll of Ektar 100 in nearly 4 years; for some reason I’ve just never really clicked with this film but I’m still willing to give it a chance every once in a while.  I hope that I’ll get it eventually but as far as Kodak color film goes I think I’m going to like Ektachrome 100 more and even Gold 200 has done better for me in the past.  I suppose that Ektar will really shine in medium format and as I am in the process of moving that direction I will be giving Ektar 100 even more chances…

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.

Fine examples of Super 8 filmmaking, Vol. I

An old friend asked me recently for a few examples of newly-shot/processed 8mm films.  So here is my list of films I’ve watched online in the last year or so, just off the top of my head, plus a few that I return to regularly.  Some of the best examples of high resolution scanning (often 4K) and at least decent color grading:
Attack of the Legumes
Betty Feeds the Animals, dir. James P. Gannon
Facsimil, dir. Marc Marti (available for viewing every year on May 13)
Florida 2019, via Nicholas Coyle
Freelove Fenner: “The Girls from Hampton,” dir. Peter Woodford
Isolamento, dir. Carmelo Zucco
Meredith and Cameron Wedding Video, dir. David Cunningham
Perpetuum Immobile, dir. Marc Marti
Sheer Agony: “I Have a Dream,” dir. Peter Woodford
So Refined

Some perennial favorites:
Ignacio Benedeti
Nick Collingwood
Adrian Cousins
Pro8mm
Jose Luis Villar

(Longer) Films that must be paid for:
Brand upon the Brain! dir. Guy Maddin
Cowards Bend the Knee, dir. Guy Maddin
Format Perspective, dir. Philip Evans
How the Sky Will Melt, dir. Matthew Wade
It’s about You, dir. Ian Markus, Kurt Markus
Stories We Tell, dir. Sarah Polley

Shooting 4×5 large format film

This was my last “class,” if you could call it that, shooting 4×5 film in a large format camera.  Actually an independent study that I took for only one credit hour, shared with three other students from Adv.Photo.  The photo department bought three large format camera setups and we had some large photo paper donated to us so there wasn’t as much to supply from the students’ end, thankfully.  Due to scheduling conflicts and weather, we didn’t really get that much done (well, I did but whatever).  Anyway we reconvened in January but that didn’t last long either!  These are a few of the snapshots I took with the Olympus Infinity Stylus that I kept around my neck all of Fall 2019, I kept it in my bag with the 4×5.

I’m using a Standard 4×5 which is aluminum and 3D-printed plastic, with a Schneider 210mm f/5.6 lens, on a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod.  It’s an extremely light setup and I carry everything around in a gym bag taking pictures wherever I feel like, though they’re mostly portraits.  I don’t know exactly why our photo instructor chose Standard monorail cameras over Intrepid field cameras but for what I’m doing a field camera probably would be more practical.  Actually I’d probably be fine with a Speed Graphic for that matter, Bob Jackson tried to sell me one once; I keep thinking about looking him up and buying it.

I used this as an opportunity to try out as many different film stocks as I could, though one thing I stayed away from was slow films.  With a 4x5in negative there’s really no need to worry about grain, so it’s all been ASA400 film: Bergger Panchro 400, Kodak T-Max 400, Ilford HP5+, Rollei RPX400.  Perhaps I’ll shoot some Tri-X 320, but I have read that it’s very finicky stuff and there are so many calculations that need to be taken into account with bellows extension, reciprocity failure, things like that, so I’m not too keen yet.  Plus Kodak does not really price their large format film competitively at all, it’s nearly double what Ilford charges.  Kodak I love you, but just like your price on 100′ bulk rolls of Tri-X, I don’t see why this film should be so much more than Ilford’s.  I only bought 10 sheets of T-Max 400 and I bought it because I wanted a little lifeline, it being the only film out of the bunch with which I was familiar, and I got some of the best results with this film, probably because of that.

Bergger seemed to be nearly the best deal I’d seen for a 50 sheet box, and I’ve seen a lot of good scans of Panchro on 35mm and 120.  They make some of the best photo paper, too.  On 4×5 though, Panchro 400 is a mixed bag, and I agree with what I’ve read online in that it seems to be closer to a 200 speed film, which is disappointing because as much as possible I’ve been trying to pull the film one stop already.  I need to shoot more but I think I’ll have to shoot this at close to 100 if I want to do that.  I knew that Ilford HP5+ would be closest to my beloved Tri-X and it didn’t disappoint me at all.  I could shoot it just the same way and got great results.  It’s also the film I’ll return to first, once I run out of what I have.  The only scanner at UCCS that can handle 4×5 film is the Epson Expression 10000XL which is in the Visual Resource Center and I have to make an appointment to use it.

Snow in Garden of the Gods

It’s been a hot week in Colorado, I hiked through the Garden just yesterday at about 80F; that reminded me of the last time I hiked through the Garden in February back when the weather was much colder.

I was scheduled for a tour that day but it got cancelled last minute due to weather.  As I was already on my way down to Colorado Springs, I took the opportunity to do something that I almost never do, take a hike through Garden of the Gods.  I usually see the park only from the road going around the outside.  Also while I was down there I took the opportunity to pick up a certain camera I’d had on layaway at Cameraworks.

As Colorado Springs has around 300 days of sunshine per year I like being able to see the park when it has something different to offer, like fog or snow.

These were taken on Ferrania P30 alpha shot at ASA50 developed in Sprint Standard for 7min at 70F (M) and I experimented with a single agitation every 15 seconds, though I don’t know what that accomplished.  I also shot a few still lifes (like cameras) and I am blown away with how little grain there is in this film, and how sharp it can be when used with my lovely Takumar lenses.  I suppose I could have used the Macro lens for these as well but shooting at ASA50 I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t need to keep the aperture open past f/4.

I also made sure to run a focus test with my Pakon scanner using this film as the template.  My theory is that it’s slightly thicker than other films and the scanner needs to be refocused or else the film won’t be sharp; that and I think the grain being so fine it’s hard to focus on it anyway.

A limited exposure test of the new Kodak Ektachrome

I didn’t dedicate too many exposures to bracketing as I’ve learned to trust the AE-1’s meter implicitly and usually have it set on shutter priority mode at somewhere around 1/125sec.

Can you tell which is which?  Because actually I’m not sure I remember!  But I think that the first shot was what my camera thought was the correct exposure, but due to the heavy fog I was afraid that it was going to underexpose so I gave it an extra stop.  And for some reason there’s a bit of a yellow color shift.  But besides that, it’s not terrible, not by a long shot.  Compare to the test I once did with Fuji Provia 100f.

Here’s this shot one more time, which I included in the other post, just auto-exposure on the AE-1, but thematically it fits in with the other pictures.  I am surprised just how muted the greens are here, but that may just be a characteristic of Kodak’s color palate combined with the lack of bright sunlight, and the fact that this is the Kodak answer to Provia, not Velvia.  Maybe someday soon we’ll see E100VS come back.

And here are a few new shots which demonstrate more of the muted colors in the shade.

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Two rolls of Ektachrome E100 (7294)

It looks like Kodak colors!  Over the summer I shot my first two rolls of the new Ektachrome in my Canon AE-1.  I have another roll that I haven’t shot yet.  I was planning on using my SPII for that but it seems to have developed a few shutter problems so maybe in my new Olympus Stylus Infinity.  It being October with the leaves changing color I should have got on that, however I missed my window, just so much else going on.  But here’s what I’ve shot between July and September, though I have to admit that after shooting Tri-X nearly exclusively since sometime last year, I’m a bit out of practice shooting color, but here goes:

I had these developed/scanned by Mike’s Camera, SOP is that I drop the rolls off at the Colorado Springs store so their courier can take to the Boulder store where the E6 processor is.  I asked high-res scans (only 3000×2000 now) on their Noritsu but to send the rolls back uncut so that they could be scanned on the Colorado Springs store’s Fuji Frontier scanner (I’m thinking if I do this enough I should be able to write up a comparison between Noritsu, Fuji, and Pakon scanners…haven’t gotten around to it yet).  Unfortunately, the Boulder store has no concept of how to follow directions and I received cut and mounted slides and the scans were a measly 1818×1228.  And they showed me the tickets, the directions were very saliently written so there’s absolutely no excuse for that to happen.  Thankfully the Colorado Springs store gave me rescans, though I don’t think it was on their Fuji Frontier; they must have some sort of Minolta or Nikon prosumer scanner for mounted slides but I don’t know which model; at least they’re a bit more high-res than what the Boulder store is offering, it’s about 2400dpi.  This gives me the opportunity to compare the Noritsu to what I’m calling right now the Mystery Scanner.


(there was some slight dodging the sunlight areas in this picture)

In nearly every instance I’d choose the Noritsu’s colors over the 2400dpi Mystery Scanner’s.  Nearly

It’s obvious that there’s more detail in the shadows on some of these (different cropping/framing too).  I’m not sure that the Mystery Scanner actually has a better D-Max than a Noritsu, but it does matter who they have operating the machineMike’s Camera in Boulder, you fucked up and I’m not happy.  Think I’ll ever go back?  Maybe someday.  This is the first time I’ve looked at the two scans side-by-side and the Mystery Scanner seems to have some sort of haze/fog as well as a slight color cast I didn’t pick up before.

As far as the film goes, I’m happy with the new Ektachrome.  Is it Provia or Velvia?  No, but when I heard that Fuji was discontinuing their 5-roll packs (which made the film $10-11 per roll), I bought 10 rolls of Velvia 100, stuck it in the freezer, and knew that when I’d shot all that I wouldn’t be buying any more.  I’ve said it before, I love Fuji’s colors.  But at least I know that a couple years from now, I’ll be able to still shoot Ektachrome and it’s actually a good price!  In 135 size that is.  As I write this, Ektachrome is being sold for $13 while Velvia 100 is $18 and Provia 100f is $16.  Ouch.  Considering Ektachrome is priced lower than either and it just came out, that’s great (and hopefully if my predictions are right regarding Fuji, we’ll see the price drop someday).  Now, $40 for a roll of the stuff in super 8, that’s pretty high.

Ferrania P30 in the Trip 35

Shot at ASA50, developed in Sprint at 70F for ~7min (M).  I can’t even remember how far back I shot this roll, maybe late 2017?  It sat in my freezer because I wanted to be able to give it a little more attention with hand-developing.  I still have 2 rolls left over from the Ferrania alpha run a few years ago now (maybe I should have ordered more when they were available but I missed that window).

With more film I’d want to try some of the D-96 Monobath as I have a feeling the film wouldn’t be as contrasty.  That said, there’s an incredible amount of detail there if the film is exposed properly.  There are several images in here where I burned in the sky quite heavily to get more cloud definition: not that I’m a master at dodging/burning but I have to say that they look relatively believable.

I shot this roll with the Olympus Trip 35, with the incredibly sharp 40mm f/2.8 lens.  Go ahead and find some grain in these shots.  In fact this was the last roll I shot in the Trip 35, the shutter seems to have seized up and I’m bummed about that.  The 1/40 second shutter speed caused some blurry shots on the ASA50 film, I suppose that was to be expected.  So does the Pakon have problems focusing for this film?  I think it does indeed have a thicker base and the grain is so small.  But I calibrated my Pakon when I took it out of storage (as I write this I just put it back in storage while I move) and I think there’s decent sharpness there, my own focusing errors notwithstanding.

In fact for a film that dates back to the late ’50s I couldn’t believe how little grain there is!  According to Ferrania they’re all caught up on repairs and making P30 again so I think I’ll buy another 5 rolls of this film when they start selling it.  It certainly isn’t going to replace Tri-X in being my everyday use film, but at ASA80 I wasn’t expecting it to, especially with the feeling-out that has been going on with developing.  Until then, I have 2 rolls left and I want to shoot those in the Spotmatic with the 50mm f/4 SMC Macro-Takumar.  If I ever needed to blow up a 35mm image to 20×24 or larger that’s the combination I’d use.

Blackburn Reunion 2018, Pt.I

Every couple of years my college buddies get together around Labor Day Weekend to hang out.  This year we stayed at the house of one of our uncles, on Canandaigua Lake in Upstate New York.  I miss this area quite a lot, we spent some time here when I was a boy and it was great to make it back to such a beautiful spot.  There was some hanging around as you can see, board games, lots of meals, generally stuff that we did together when we all lived in Columbus.  Flying into Rochester, NY and staying around the Finger Lakes I of course left all my Fujifilm stocks at home.

The roll of Cinestill 800T was downright ancient, I think I’d had it in my fridge for almost four years and it looks rather grainy.  It’s also the first roll I’d shot in a while and I did shoot it outside now and again, with my orange filter.  That worked better than the first time I tried.  Strangely, I had to work with the indoor shots much more to find an acceptable color temperature (not my strong suit).  I was anticipating some late nights in near-darkness and the T-Max 3200 definitely came through for me there, this is the second roll of the stuff that I’ve shot.  One of my goals was to take a good portrait of each of my friends, though there was some resistance to that.  I got a pretty good shot of most everybody (and they even turned the camera on me once or twice too).  I also tried a cigar for the first time ever and puked my guts out about half an hour later (then it became a true college party); ironic that one of my buddies had mentioned earlier that he never took whisky and cigars together for just that reason, and I had to learn the hard way too…power of suggestion?

The T-Max 3200 was bought last year (in an order from Cinestill).  I think I’m acquiring a bit of a taste for this film: the grain is certainly pronounced (in fact compare it to the last time I pushed Tri-X to 1600), but I love the moodiness that it gives the pictures.  In fact next time we get together I might just keep it all black & white because I’m a bigger fan of that roll of 3200 than anything else I shot.  Then I could roll out the f/1.4 Yellow 50; this time I knew I wanted to shoot some Cinestill 800T so I brought out the 1.8/55 SMC Takumar.

So is the 3200 really any better than pushing Tri-X to 3200?  I honestly don’t know, I’ve only pushed Tri-X to 1600.  I have heard that the results can be a bit unpredictable to go beyond 1600, but then perhaps I should put that to the test myself.  Or maybe look at T-Max 3200 shot at 1600, to compare the grain.  It does look very grainy, more than I would have thought.  Where does the T-grain have its limitations?  The outside night shots here were T-Max 400 shot at 3200; it might not be the most scientific comparison, but I don’t see much difference.

Why I love Double-X

Because for some reason Tri-X just isn’t enough for me.  When I want something a bit different I go for the 5222, Eastman Double-X.  Reasons to use Double-X?  Though grainier, it’s sharper, and it gives a different look, lovely tonality.  And cost, if you’re willing to invest in a 400ft roll of the stuff!

Tri-X is an everyday film, Double-X is for special occasions, and I used it for a few specific projects including my 2-semester-long (and just wrapping up) document of making Overwhelming Majority.

This current iteration was developed by Kodak in the late 1950s and then left alone, so it will give you a classic, mid-century look, especially if you use older lenses/cameras. And that is something I recommend!  It requires fairly precise exposure and development can be tricky since it’s designed to be used with Kodak D-96, and anything else will boost the contrast quite a bit.  Using older, low-contrast lenses will tame that somewhat.  I tend to shoot it inside if the light is good enough, or outside on overcast days.  I’ve seen some pretty good results from pushing, etc, though I’ve never had much luck myself.

Here are some great resources if you’re going to shoot Double-X:
Project Double-X (sadly defunct due to the death of its owner)
Through the Viewfinder’s 400ft Roll Project

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