Oregon Coast Seascape: Rolleicord vs Olympus

I really enjoy the Ocean. On our recent trip to Oregon we spent a few days in and around the Cannon Beach area of the Oregon coast. While the weather was great for walking around it wasn't so great for photography due to the cloudless skies and super-bright/harsh light. I made the best of it and tried to capture as many shots as I could with my Rolleicord on B&W film as well as my Olympus E-M10. Here's a couple of images I made while at an overlook at Ecola State Park:

Stone Sentinels-Rolleicord

Stone Sentinels-Olympus E-M10

Peaceful Seascape

Image Details

I made these images while at an overlook at Ecola State Park, which is just North of the town of Cannon Beach. As you can see from the images, the sky was cloudless and the Sun was very bright. It was about 11:30AM when I made these and the light was very harsh and there was nearly zero contrast. The view, however, was nice so I took a few shots with both my Olympus E-M10 and the Rolleicord.

When I got the film developed I preferred the B&W images from the Rolleicord over the color/digital image from the Olympus. I think because of the square format and the fact that the B&W film did a better job of minimizing the harshness of the light. The film version also gave a more traditional or vintage feel to the scene, which I thought was appropriate.

Which version do you like? Let me know in the comments.

Zen And The Art Of Film Photography: Along The Nehalem

I took my vintage 1959 Rolleicord Va with me on our trip out to Oregon in hopes that I might be able to get some decent shots on Black & White film. I took 5 rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 120 with me and managed to complete 3 of the rolls. A few days ago I got around to developing some of that film (two rolls) that I shot.

THE ZEN OF FILM

Unlike digital photography film photography is a much more deliberate, some might say "zenlike", process and takes extra time to get to the point where you can share your images with others. That's one of the things I enjoy about film, the deliberateness of it. Here's a brief summary of the steps I go through to get a single image ready to share here on the blog, flickr, Google+, 500px, etc.:

  1. developing of the film
  2. waiting for the negatives to dry
  3. cutting the negatives into manageable sizes
  4. "flattening" the film to get the inherent curl out of it
  5. preparing the film for scanning (removing as much dust as possible, etc)
  6. actually scanning the film (each medium-format sized negative takes 2-4 minutes)
  7. converting the RAW scan to a usable image
  8. adjusting the image in post-processing
  9. adding appropriate metadata, keywords, title and description
  10. upload/share the image

Whew, finally done !

As you can see it does take a bit more effort to get an image from exposed film to final shareable image. Many people say it's too much effort now that we have digital cameras. I say the exact opposite: "the extra effort is worth it because of digital!" Why do I say that? Because the analog (film) photography process makes us better photographers by forcing us to slow down, take our time and invest something in each image we make. I have found the whole process to be extremely rewarding. Shooting film has made me a better photographer, no doubt.

Anyway, here's the first of what I hope will be at least a few "keeper" images on film from our trip to Oregon. I call it "Along The Nehalem":

Along The Nehalem

Image Details

I made the image near the place were staying in Wheeler, Oregon. Wheeler sits along the Nehalem River just before the river empties into the Pacific just a couple miles away. As a result the river get pretty much the full effect of the tides, rising and falling every day. We got to Wheeler in late afternoon and I got out the Rolleicord when I noticed these interesting old piers and dock along the river. I helped that there was a Gull sitting on top of one of the piers and that there was a small boat tied up along the dock. I figured it would make a good scene, especially with all the detail in the piers.

The Rolleicord doesn't have  meter in it so I used a light meter app on my phone to get the approximate exposure. After that I spent a little time moving around, trying to get the best composition I could considering that I was standing on a small dock and that the Rolleicord has only one focal length (about 49mm). After I felt good about it I fired off the shutter and captured what I hoped was a decent image. To find out if I did though, I would have to wait until I developed the film (no "chimping" with analog cameras!). A few days ago I developed the film using the following process:

  1. Load the film onto a plastic reel and place the reel in a light-proof development tank inside a table-sized "changing bag"
  2. Perform a 1-minute pre-soak of the film
  3. Develop the film using a 1:47 dillution of Kodak HC-110 developer in 72 degree water for a time of 5.25 minutes.
  4. After development I stopped the development process and "fixed" the film to prevent the image from fading from the developed negative.
  5. I rinsed the film in cold water for a minute to remove all the residual development chemicals and then hug up the negatives to dry overnight in the guest bathroom.

I'm happy with this image! I got the exposure pretty close and I'm happy with the composition. I hope you enjoy it as well!

I'll post more images from our trip (both digital and film) as I get time so stay tuned.

Cheers!

If You Want Something Done Right

Here's an image from our trip to Chicago last July. I "rediscovered" this earlier this week when I spent some time revisiting old images:

I was inspired to revisit the images from Chicago when my friend Travis Rhodes posted a great B&W image of the famous "Bean" he made while recently in the Windy City. Here's the link to the image (check it out, it's pretty damn good!)

This prompted me to take a look at my Chicago images to see if I could tease something better out of what I had photographed. Unfortunately my few images of the Bean were OK but not good enough to turn into a great image via a B&W conversion. But, in going through the images from that day I came across the image above. The original version was in color and not very interesting. When I did a quick conversion to B&W in Lightroom the image became much better, allowing the repeating pattern of the bikes to come out. This once again proves that, as photographers, we are "obligated" to see the world a little differently in order to interpret it in unique ways. That's what I find challenging about photography and I am constantly struggling to see the world a little differently but I think I'm getting better at it.

So, my tip of the day is to take a different look at some images that maybe you discounted in the past. You might just find something new!

Film Friday: Building Space

Happy New Year and welcome to Film Friday!, the first one of 2015. Here's an image I made on the 500px Worldwide Photowalk back in September. I call it "Building Space" because of the futuristic feel this unusual building took on when I pointed my camera up towards the sky: Building Space

This image was made with my Olympus XA 35mm point and shoot film camera. The film was Kentmere 100, which is a very inexpensive B&W film. The XA is a pretty good little camera that I got from my Father. It was the camera he used back in the 80's when we did a lot of backpacking and outdoor trips with the Boy Scouts.

This image came out OK but the sky was so bright that I think it "blew out" the film. Either that or my development and/or scan was off a bit. There is a lot of what appears to be grain in the image but other frames from the same roll didn't seem to to have it. Either way I had to do a fair amount of adjusting in Lightroom and I think I got it pretty close in the end. It's not gallery quality by any means but for sharing on the interwebs it's fine.

One thing this image showed me is that I need to get back down there and re-image the building under better conditions. I think it holds a lot of possibilities.

Film Friday: Illinois Organized Labor Memorial

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! After a 3 week break due to life getting in the way, my Film Friday series of posts is starting up again. This week's image is one I made while in Illinois this past July. We visited the State Capitol and around the grounds were a number of memorials and monuments. This image is of the Organized Labor Memorial: The Illinois Organized Labor Memorial at The State Capitol in Springfield

I had my Rolleicord Va loaded with a roll of Ilford Delta 100 black and white film. The monument was set on a slight hill so to photograph it at any decent angle meant that a lot of sky would be present. I tried to limit the sky as much as I could and eventually settled on what you see here. It still has a lot of sky but I was able to get a fairly decent view of the Capitol building as well. The exposure on this was tricky with the bright sky and the dark monument that was partially in shadow. I think I got it pretty good given everything.

Film Friday: Chrome Laden Custom Motorcycle

Happy Friday! This will be the first post in a series (hopefully every Friday) I am calling “Film Friday”. The objective is to share recent images made the “good ‘ol fashioned way”, with film. I’m a huge fan of film (or analog) photography. There’s just something about film that is so zen like and peaceful. The whole process of capturing images on film is very deliberate and I know that the deliberateness of it has improved ALL of my photography, both digital and film. Most of my film images are in black & white because I just love the look of it on film. Anyway, I want to dedicate Friday’s on the blog to sharing some of the film images that I make. You will definitely see film images on other days/posts but Friday’s will be dedicated to film. Sometimes I’ll post multiple images on the same day but most of the time it will be a single image. To start this off, here’s an image I made at the Caffeine and Octane car show here in Atlanta of a nice custom motorcycle: A Nice Chrome Laden Custom Motorcycle

 

The thing that caught my eye about it was the judicious use of chrome, which is absolutely a perfect material to photograph with black & white film. That particular day I had my 1959 Rolleicord with me, loaded with a roll of Ilford Delta 100 which is a great B&W film. When I saw this custom motorcycle I started to walk around it to see what might be the best view to photograph it from. The owner came up to me and immediately noticed the Rolleicord and got a nice big smile on his face. He obviously recognized the camera and we had a nice conversation about photography and his motorcycle. When I got ready to make the photograph the owner did his best to shoo away a few people who were staring at his beautiful creation. It was obvious to me that he wanted me to get the best possible shot of his pride and joy. I love it when I get help from strangers :-)

A Challenge (And A Prize!)-Where's Mark

OK, here's a pretty easy challenge for all of you. The challenge is to find "me" in the image, or at least my reflection. Just click on the image to have a larger version open up in a new tab. With all that chrome it should be pretty easy. If you think you know where my reflection is send me an email at mark@marksinderson.com with the subject "Where's Mark?" and let me know where in the image my reflection is (I'm actually in three different places but any one will work). I'll enter all the correct answers I receive by midnight December 15th (only 1 email per person please) into a drawing for a $5.00 Amazon email Gift Card. I know that isn't much but hey, it's better than nothing, right? :-) Don't worry, there isn't a catch. I won't spam you or send you annoying links. All I ask is if you have a couple extra minutes, please check out my photo gallery site. I've got a number of my favorite images up there and I plan on adding more as time goes on.  If you see something you like you can order a very reasonably priced print for yourself or as a gift. I'd also very much appreciate any feedback you may have as I am constantly trying to improve this blog and the photo site.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Three Geese, Log, Lake

I don't know about you but I have a lot of images in my Lightroom catalog that are in some state of post-processing but haven't been quite finished. So I've been revisiting those images that I haven't completely finished processing. Here's an image I made with my Rolleicord last Fall of three Geese on a log in the lake at Stone Mountain Park, just outside of Atlanta: Three Geese On A Log

Information and Inspiration

This image was made on November 2nd, 2013. I met up with a couple of buddies at Stone Mountain to shoot some of the Fall color. I brought my Rolleicord loaded with Acros 100 B&W film in addition to my T3i DSLR and Powershot S100. I figured there would be some nice opportunities to get some shots of reflections and whatnot in the lake.

As we walked around a small section of the lake we came upon these three Canada Geese. They were lined up on a small tree that had fallen into the lake and there were some nice reflections of them on the water. The Sun was also coming up over the tree line to the left and lighting up the trees on the far shore. My "black & white brain" clicked and I decided to capture this on the Rolleicord instead of the DSLR. Remembering the rule of 1/3rds and the tip that three is a good number of subjects in the frame I positioned myself as best as possible to get the Geese in the lower third of the image (both from top to bottom and from left to right). Having the log as a reference point helped me align things in the frame.

When I got the film developed, scanned and imported into Lightroom I had to do a little cropping to remove a stray plant that was in the lower right of the frame. I also had to straighten the image a bit as well as clone out a number of "dust bunnies" that had attached themselves to the negative.

Four Wheeled Friday: Powered By Chevrolet

Here's a quick image from my Rolleicord that I made at the August Caffeine and Octane Car Show. There's nothing like a street rod powered by Chevrolet: Powered by Chevrolet

There are a lot of custom street rod type cars that show up at the car show. Many of them are built out with good old "American Iron" engines with Chevrolet being a popular choice. Most of those engines are covered in bright and shiny chrome which is perfect for black and white film photography. This particular car was dark colored so the contrast between that and the chrome engine was pretty dramatic. I aimed my Rolleicord, which was loaded with a roll of Ilford Delta 100 speed film and made this quick image.

 

Black And White Pittsburgh: Warhol Bridge, Skyline, Goose

Time to start another ongoing series of images. I've done a few posts in my "Chicago In Black and White" where I feature images captured with my film cameras loaded with black & white film. I'm starting another series, this time focusing on my hometown of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a town full of interesting subjects to put a camera to. With three rivers, more bridges than just about any city on the planet (except for perhaps Venice, Italy), varied topography and lots of great architecture., Pittsburgh is a bit of a photographer's dream. Growing up I wasn't into photography so I will try and make up for lost time/opportunities whenever I get back there.

A few weeks ago Pam and I went back to "the 'burgh" for a visit. I took my Rolleicord as well as my DSLR with the hopes of getting out to make some photos. I managed to get out for a few hours with a friend on a rainy, cloudy morning. We started our photo walk near PNC park, which is on the North shore of the Allegheny River. I set up the Rolleicord on the tripod near the Andy Warhol Bridge and framed this shot:

A view of Pittsburgh and the Warhol Bridge from across the Allegheny River

 Inspiration and Information

We started around 8AM in mostly overcast but calm weather. The Allegheny River was pretty calm and there were some nice reflections of the buildings on the water. I wanted to capture as much of that as possible, along with the Warhol Bridge. I had the Rolleicord loaded with a roll of Neopan Acros 100, which is becoming a favorite film of mine, and as I set the camera on the tripod I noticed a lone Canada Goose swimming down the river. I thought that would be a nice element in the image so I composed the image in the viewfinder, double checked the exposure and waited until the Goose got a little more than halfway through the frame before firing the shutter.

When I got the negative scanned and opened it up in Lightroom I had to clean up a fair amount of "dust bunnies" from the image as well as reduce the highlights a bit to get some detail back in the sky. That's the nice thing about film, there's a lot of room for adjustment.

Stay tuned for a few more images of Pittsburgh on film. This will definitely be a longer term project as we don't get up there as much as I'd like but when we do I plan on making as many black & white film images as I can.

 

 

Pittsburgh Building Reflections

Last week we took a few days off to visit my old hometown, Pittsburgh.  I grew up there and it's always nice to get back. Pittsburgh is a very photogenic city with lots of bridges, buildings and industrial areas to catch the photographer's attention. While there I met up with a fellow photographer, Danny Levin (he has some great images so check them out!), who is in my Arcanum Cohort (overview and explanation coming soon) and lives in the area. We met around 8AM and spent the next few hours walking, talking, and photographing things that caught our eye. The morning weather was a mix of clouds, light rain and sun. As we walked along Liberty Avenue near Market Square we came upon a building that was giving off some interesting reflections. Both of us thought there was some intriguing photographic options available to us: Interesting Reflections On A Building In Pittsburgh

Inspiration and Information

While the building was interesting, the shooting conditions were not great. There was a fairly heavy drizzle coming down from the clouds above. This made photography in general a little challenging, but especially when you decide to point your camera straight up in order to get the shot! Luckily there was a building entrance close by that we could duck into to avoid most of the drizzle and discuss our "strategy". After a minute we both stepped out into the rain and wandered around a bit looking for whatever perspective suited us. I settled on a tight corner of the building that gave some very angular reflections. I decided I would point my lens straight up along the corner to get the image. I went back and forth between a portrait or landscape orientation and decided to go with landscape as it included some more of the adjoining panels. I ducked back into the entrance to get me camera/tripod setup as close as possible to what I would need when I stepped back into the rain. I took off the lens cap and covered the lens with a microfiber lens cloth.

I stepped back out into the somewhat lighter drizzle, set up my tripod as close to the building as possible and quickly removed the lens cloth to have a look through the viewfinder. I liked what I saw so I fired of a series of 3 bracketed shots (0, -2, +2) not knowing how I was going to process the image.

When I got back home a few days later I loaded up the images in Lightroom to see how they came out. I immediately decided that I would just process one image. I played around with the crop to help get the angles lined up and decided that processing it as B&W would ultimately look better than color and give more impact to the image. I opened up Silver Efex Pro and adjusted the sliders until I got a look that appealed to me (roughly approximating Acros 100, which is becoming my go-to B&W film). I cleaned up a few of the more offensive water/dirt splotches that were on the windows of the building but left the vast majority of them as is.

EXIF Information

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