Testing out the Mamiya Macro Sekor 60mm f/2.8

Was this made by Tomioka?  I seem to remember reading that somewhere.  I have the 50mm f/4 S-M-C Macro-Takumar which has a 1:2 resolving power (and also the MCM Chinon Macro 55mm f/1.7), this one has a 1:1, so it is a true macro lens.  It’s also a preset lens, which is a bit annoying. I had these rolls developed and scanned at $15 a roll by Mike’s Camera, and can’t say I’m happy with the amount of evident dust on their scanner.  I’ll certainly rescan on my Pakon once it’s out of storage.

I shot two rolls with this last summer, some Fujicolor 200 and Gold 200, both exposed at ASA100 and that meant keeping the aperture pretty wide occasionally.  Wherever possible I was shooting in direct sunlight, but I didn’t use a flash or anything else like that.  When I got the lens it seems that every flower around me was a yellow flower, so there’s maybe not as much color variation as I could want, but I enjoyed seeing the bees going about their work.

So I don’t know too much about macro photography, but basically I would preset the focus (usually to maximum, move the lens until the bug was in focus, stop the lens down, and take the picture ASAP.  The bees were tricky, they were always going from one flower to another so I’d only have them for a few seconds sometime.  I’ve heard that it’s better to have a 100mm lens (or longer) and a flash, to keep the depth of field as wide as possible under the circumstances.  These shots were the ones that were most in focus, but since some were not in direct sunlight I had to open up the aperture here and there.  I suppose that using something like Portra 400 would have been better, or perhaps a tripod.

The question I’ve been asking myself for a while is, did I really need another macro lens?  Probably not, though this one is a true macro and faster than the Takumar.  But the last time I used that lens I was taking pictures of my super 8 cameras and I just set the camera on a tripod so the extra stop wasn’t needed.  It was an extremely good price and I could make at least four times what I paid by selling it online, so a good investment.  But am I going to start taking pictures of bugs all the time because I own this lens now?  No, in fact I haven’t even used it in a year.

As an aside, all color scans over the last few posts brought to you by Mike’s Camera Colorado Springs with their Frontier scanner.  It’ll give you good scans, but you do have to deal with workers who either don’t know or don’t care.

Blue Frame in Garden of the Gods

For all the idiots that needed to be told where the view was, the City of Colorado Springs installed a big blue frame in Garden of the Gods, and thank God it didn’t last long.  This happened December 2017, here are a few news stories from back then:

https://gazette.com/garden-of-the-gods-framed-sparking-controversy/article_be1a55a7-11d7-596f-b009-a3a43b3ed1af.html

https://www.fox21news.com/news/local/people-respond-to-garden-of-the-gods-picture-frame-with-online-petition-mock-sign/882508118

https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/all-you-need-to-frame-our-city-is-a-camera/Content?oid=9377689

This happened at High Point where I take people for pictures if there is time and space.  I remember for weeks before there being some construction going on, they had cones and the area roped off.  This particular rock and parking lot are popular for wedding ceremonies, though I saw a few that were forced to go other places because of the construction.  Then the hideous monstrosity appeared one day much to my and everyone else’s horror.  Tourists of course, don’t care about such things because they don’t have to live with it, but to the people of Colorado Springs it was a slap in the face and collectively they had one reaction:

I’m happy to say that it was only there for a week or two and I just had to deal with it a few times.  I always made sure to step as close to the frame as I could when taking pictures so the damn thing wasn’t in it.

Bulldog

The legend of Bulldog is that right before it was purchased by our company some 20+ years ago, it was involved in a head-on collision with a Mack truck.  The Mack truck was totaled, the only thing they could salvage was the hood ornament, so we took it…and the Jeep came through without a scratch.

Probably not quite a true story, but still an entertaining one.  Bulldog is the flagship jeep, and usually driven by Denim who besides driving tours is the resident mechanic.  It’s considered an honor to drive the Dog, and this Summer I’ve gotten the honor quite a lot.  Most of these pictures are from 2016, with some from 2017.  I haven’t even developed anything from this year, which means there are probably a lot more Bulldog pics waiting to be shared…

Our company has I think 20 jeeps at last count, 6 of which are early-’80s Jeep CJ-8 Scramblers, of course the most fun to drive: no nonsense, no frills.  That is to say, no automatic transmission, no cloth interiors, no doors or windows, no working gauges, just metal with vinyl seats, easy to hose off when it gets dirty.  Bulldog also features a high-torque first gear/reverse and isn’t used in regular driving, just for pulling other vehicles out of ditches.  As well, it doesn’t have power steering, which makes it akin to wrestling a bulldog, especially when driving up those all-dirt mountain roads…

Cowboys and Jeeps

(If you’re looking at the header group pic, from L to R that’s Buffalo Phil, Twister, Dutch, Scorpion Cowboy, P-Dog, Denim, Rowdy II, Sidewinder, and Dusty)

One thing that my instructor in Intermediate and Advanced Photo taught me was to make projects out of what you happen to be doing.  Since Summer 2016 I have been dressing up like a cowboy and driving jeep tours around Colorado Springs.  Here are some of the shots I’ve gotten when have a free hand (none while moving, I promise).

 

Besides being an ongoing photo project, I’ve also started making a documentary about life as a tour guide, the growing Colorado Springs tourism industry, and how Colorado and the western states differentiate themselves from the rest of America.  We’re living in the age where cowboys traded in their horses for jeeps.

There have been sprinklings of pics in the past here and there, but not one post dedicated to them.  Some of these pictures date to last summer, and a lot of different rolls of film here, too.  In order: Fujicolor 200, Cinestill 50, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Kentmere 100/AGFAPhoto APX, Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Tri-X.  I plan to do a lot more shooting and interviewing this summer if I can, but this was conceived as more of a long-term project and probably won’t be finished until I finally graduate, and who knows when that will be…

The power of the latent image

I was helping my mom rearrange some things in her house and came across a roll of film that had been in a basket just lying around the house.  I thought it might have been a roll that I shot when I first moved to Colorado, maybe a good 7-8 years old now, as I still have one roll unaccounted for.  It turned out to be something much more precious:

This was our home in Ohio which we had to sell back in 2002 which means that these pics are at least 15 years old, and judging by the way my brother looks, are probably closer to 20.  While mostly different angles of the front of our house, I also managed to capture our dog Pinto that my mom brought out to Colorado, and who sadly didn’t survive long after that.  Also in the background is a straw barn that we spent many an afternoon playing in back in the day.  These were taken by me, with my Kodak Cameo Focus Free point & shoot camera, picked up at a thrift store at some point and probably still in my top drawer in the chest at my dad’s.

I bumped up the contrast a bit but that was all, and am pretty impressed with how good the images held up, even if they do now look a bit vintage.  Knowing from experience how reluctant people are to drop off old film at a camera store these days, I recently had a single-use camera processed for a friend of mine and they were at least this usable.  If people you know have film lying around undeveloped, please encourage them to make a trip to their local camera store, or barring that, offer to do it for them: it’s a nice favor and can bring back some great memories.

On the festival circuit: Greetings from Durango

March 1-5, the Durango Independent Film Festival.

It seems that each festival I go to is a better experience than the last, but I don’t know that Durango can be topped.  They treated the filmmakers so nicely there, and it being 6 hours away from me, I decided to stay for the entire thing, which was definitely worth it.  I stayed in the General Palmer Hotel (living in Colorado Springs for so long, I could stay nowhere else) which looked largely untouched by time.  There were lots of activities I to do around town (like a trip on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), plus a special filmmakers only-lounge in the basement of the local Irish pub…assuming you didn’t watch films, and I did try to catch as many programs as I could.  The best part though, was that the entire festival took place in the space of two blocks in downtown Durango, making everything nice and easy to get to.  I forged some great relationships with people and will definitely be going back in the future.

How much contrast is too much?

I went to 11-mile Reservoir for a class back in June, and while we were primarily recording nature sounds, the camera had its place in my explorations as well.  Looking at the pictures later with the other members of my group, one made the comment that they were too high contrast, something I didn’t even think about or notice myself.  I think he’s right, but it took me this long to actually correct them.  The thing is, the lower contrast didn’t necessarily improve things…

So what’s the deal, then?  I was alright with what I had before, but there was definitely more detail in the pictures that I wasn’t getting.  Maybe I’m too content, and I need to be more critical, train my eye better.  It’s interesting what the change in contrast does to the colors.  This is the first roll of color negative (and the only one I’ve shot all year) that I’ve put through the Pakon since getting it back in February, and really, just how different the look can be from so small a tweak makes me think of some of the complaints Ken Rockwell has against anything that isn’t Fuji Velvia: I don’t really have a baseline for how any particular image is supposed to look.

How much time are you all putting into your color images?  I’m kind of used to just taking what the photo lab has been given me (unless I’m wandering into dangerous color temperature territory, ahem, Cinestill).  Maybe it’s force of habit, maybe it’s that I don’t find my color work as critical/important as black and white, maybe it’s because there are too many variables I have to deal with now, and I can’t be bothered.  It’s not really a complaint, but more of an observation.  Color changes things.

Why I love Fuji Superia

This is my favorite product coming out of Japan, over even Nintendo or Studio Ghibli.  It may just be a cheap consumer film to a lot of people, but the colors it gives me are just fantastic.  That affordability really is an asset to me, especially when I was just starting to shoot film.  I had no job, no money, and I really took my time with my shots.  It was a great way to learn, but I’m glad I was paying $2-3 a roll instead of $10.  One of the bargain marts down in Colorado Springs used to get expired Superia in from time to time so that really helped me out, and it’s readily available at Wal-Mart as well, in 4-packs that might have gone up in price a bit, but still don’t break the bank.

Using this film almost exclusively for my first 3 years as a photographer, in a lot of ways I grew up with it.  I certainly cut my teeth on it, I learned more about film using Superia than I did in my photography class with Tri-X.  I’ve used it indoors, outdoors, in all different kinds of weather, overexposed, underexposed.  The results I’ve got just make me so pleased.  In saying why I love Superia so much it could almost be why I love the Takumar lens so much as well.  I counted: there are exactly 3 shots down below that are taken on a non-Pentax camera and lens.  I’ve read on other sites about alchemy as pertaining to film, and I can say without a doubt that I believe every word, because I found it here with the combination of Pentax’s SMC lenses and this film.  It’s how I create gold.

A few months back I came across this post from Cinestill regarding a comparison test between 800T, Fuji Pro400H, Portra 800, and Fuji Superia 800.  I was a bit surprised to see Superia on that list, it didn’t strike me as a film that pros would fall back on (maybe they used it after Fuji discontinued Pro800Z).  Looking at the results, it’s obvious that Cinestill 800T comes in first, but what came in second?  That’s right, according to their test, Superia 800 comes out looking better than either Pro400H or Portra 800.  i was so proud to see my beloved Superia perform so well compared to films that cost 2-3 times as much.

Superia 400 (as well as Reala) was originally available in 120 size as well, a fact I only found out after Fujifilm discontinued it, sadly.  I’ll bet it looked wonderful in medium format, but there doesn’t seem to be many examples posted on the net.  Other products in the Superia line that have recently been axed are a 1600 speed film and Reala 100.  Back in the day there was also a line called Fujicolor Press that was really just Superia that had been cold-stored since its manufacture, and they say it gave some really vivid colors.  It’s really sad to see the line dwindling, and sometimes I wonder just how long Fuji’s going to keep making film at all.  The only new film Fuji’s come out with lately has been Natura 1600 which I have yet to try.  Hopefully Fuji’s stabilized enough that they’ll start adding new films now, not taking away the classics.

I’ve used all four variants of Fuji’s consumer film line, Fujicolor 200, and Superia 200, 400, and 800.  Below are examples of all of them in no particular order.  They’re all great, so enjoy this collection of my favorite shots taken with this wonderful line of films:

Well done, Fujfilm.  Long may this film be made.