Posted on July 29, 2012
I thought my latest Holga phase was going to wear-off this week, they normally only last a few days, but I’m into week 3 now…
I’m getting a very pleasing look, or pleasing to me anyway, with Fuji Acros 100 black and white film. I’ve used the built-in flash for most of these as we haven’t seen the sun on the Isle of Man for quite some time now.
I’m scanning all my own stuff now on the Epson V700, which I think is the best thing I’ve purchased in a long time. I still have my negatives developed at the fantastic Peak Imaging in Sheffield.
Posted on July 28, 2012
I shot these images while experimenting with different exposure techniques, exposing for the shadows, highlights and rating the film at lower box speeds (over exposing the film, but developing as normal). Results are varied, to see the least…
All images made on a Mamiya 645 Pro TL, 55mm lens and Fuji Pro 400H film. All images are straight scans on an Epson V700.
I’d appreciate any feedback from other Pro 400H users. I have 100 rolls of the 400H waiting for me in Canada to shoot a project in September, so I need to get it right.
Posted on July 19, 2012
I took the images above almost 25 years ago, when I was 18. I borrowed a 4×5 inch camera off a man who I worked with at the time, I forget his name, but he was in his 60′s then, so he’s probably no longer with us. He loaded 10 double dark slides for me and gave me a quick crash-course in large format photography and off I went for the weekend. I remember sending the films off to be developed and it costing me a small fortune. The 20 transparencies came back in a yellow Kodak box, and that’s where they stayed. Cibachrome prints were horrendously expensive, so there was no way I was going to be able to afford to shoot 4×5 and so I went out and bought a 35mm instead.
I had no idea about the finer points of photography at the time, I certainly didn’t understand how a large format camera worked, but it felt good. Even 25 years ago I got a lot of strange looks when I put the cloth over my head to stare at the upside-down, back to front image in the camera.
That yellow box has sat, unopened, for nearly a quarter of a century, moving with me from house to house. I found it by accident a few days ago. When I looked at the images it was like I’d only taken them last week, they were so familiar.
It’s got me thinking about large format again though! I think I could make some really nice portraits on 4×5…
Posted on July 17, 2012
I made the shot above by exposing 3 6x6cm frames over one section of Fuji NP400 120 film. This is a process that is very easy with a £20 Chinese Holga, impossible with a £5000 Canon digital. I scanned the image at a relatively low 800 dpi, but this is fine for web use. I did a few small adjustments in Aperture 3 – increased the contrast slightly, darkened the blacks and added a green tint. These are all things that I’d do if I was actually printing it in a darkroom (for anyone born after about 1987, search ‘darkroom’ on Google for more information…)
Posted on July 16, 2012
Holga cameras were introduced in China in 1982 to make photography ‘available to the masses’. There are now various forms of the camera – 120, 35mm, panoramic, twin lens…every single one an absolute piece of shit, but as I’m always preaching “It’s not the camera that makes a good photo…”
I have the Holga 120 GCFN, it has a glass lens, rather than the ‘classic’ plastic version. It has two f stops, f8 and f11(?) and one shutter speed, 1/80th second, there is also a B setting. The GCFN also has a rather funky multi coloured flash. And that’s it, all wrapped-up in the flimsiest plastic body that would make a Fisher-Price toy camera look like a hand-made Leica.
Having said all that, I was a bit disappointed with my Holga when I got my first batch of films back, the quality was TOO good! Where was all that famous distortion and blurring? I must admit, I felt a bit cheated!
Look at these shots, all taken on Kodak Portra 400, especially the portraits and then claim you can’t afford to shoot medium format. A holga GCFN cost less than £25, brand new. The glass lens has a definite ‘sweet-spot’ where the focus is very sharp.
I don’t shoot with the Holga very often, but when I do, I love the results.
I’ve done nothing to these shots, they are all ‘raw’ out of the scanner. All files are about 1.2mb. Scanned in an Epson V700.
Posted on July 13, 2012
I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with scanning lately – I hate scanning and I love going to the pub to drink beer. I just don’t have the time or patience to scan negatives. I was using an Epson V500, but I wasn’t happy with the results, not even when using it with Vuescan software. I even bought ‘The Vuescan Bible’, apparently all you need to know about this super-dooper scanning program. I may as well have bought a copy of the Old Testament written in Swahili, for all the sense it made.
After a few weeks I gave-up scanning and gifted the V500 to my good friend, and fellow photographer, Andi ‘Bodi’ Howland. I also vowed never to attempt negative scanning ever again. I started sending all my films to a pro lab to be developed and scanned straight to disc, but that’s an expensive business – £16 per film. I’m not sure if the lab I’ve been using has sacked the old scan-man, but if they have, they need to get him back, because the quality has gone right down the shit-pan. Anyway, I decided I could do a better job…
At the end of September, this year, I’ll have completed a photo-essay in Canada and will be returning to the UK with 130+ rolls of 120 colour film, and they aren’t going to process themselves for free. So, I’ve bought another scanner…I know what you’re thinking – “This guy’s an idiot!”, but there is method in my madness. I’ve just gone for a better scanner, the Epson V700. The two scans here are infinitely better than the ones I originally got back from my pro lab and they only took a few seconds to scan. But for me, the main advantage is the cost – the V700 was only £400, that’s the cost of a process and scan on 30 rolls of film.
So, I can kiss goodbye to to October and most of November. I’ll be in my basement saving myself a small fortune.
(both images made with a Mamiya 7II and 80mm lens. Film was Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X 400 b/w)
Posted on July 2, 2012
Once you’ve taken a shot on film, that’s it, you get what you get. You could tamper with things in Photo Shop, but what’s the point? You may as well have just shot the image on digital. I love getting films back and discovering photos that I’d forgotten I’d taken, for various reasons, usually alcohol related. These images are often at the end of the contact sheet, shots I take to use-up a roll of film.
All these shots, of close friends, were made on Fuji Pro 400H film. I’m having a bit of a love/hate relationship with this emulsion at the moment – some shots look great, but other seem to be a bit over contrasty. This is an issue I need to sort-out, because I have 100 rolls of the stuff sat in a dark place in Yellowknife, Canada, waiting for me to start a 3 week photo-essay in September…
Does anyone have an exposure tips on this film? Maybe I should try over-exposing it a bit? Or perhaps it’s the way the negs are being scanned? I’ve got an Epson V700 arriving tomorrow, I’ll try re-scanning…I’ve got 65 days to sort it out!
All images made on the Mamiya 645 Pro tl and 80mm(top 3) and 55mm(last shot)