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.

A lost view

R1-01734-0017a

It’s an older one, from the end of Summer 2011, when I was a wee baby photographer.  This is Royal Gorge, some tourist trap near Cañon City, CO. (I looked up the alt number for ñ, pretty impressive, right?  I mean if it were Canon City, I would have had to bring a Nikon camera…)

There was a pretty impressive bridge spanning the top of the gorge, but I didn’t find any interesting angles to photograph it. Sadly, the bridge and almost everything else in and around the area was lost in the fires two summers ago, though perhaps it’s just as well in a way because I seem to remember the bridge being a popular spot for suicides.  I don’t really know what the state of Royal Gorge is these days, if they’ve rebuilt or not.

I was pretty patient in those days (and much poorer), my output was certainly not what it is now!  I sat on that roll of film until the following Spring before finally developing it (only shot one other roll during that time, too).  I wish I could say that I chose my shots carefully and that each one is a masterpiece, but really I just got lucky occasionally, and learned a few things.

Leaf

I’ve always been more of an album listener myself, and when posting it mostly seems to be a roll or two at a time.  However, I’ve decided to post more, so I’m going to start digging into my back catalog.  Time to release singles as well.

Leaf

It’s from a Pentax A-3000 thrift-store special with a 50mm lens that only stops down halfway.