Some of my favourite black and white film results from the XA2.
All captured on home developed, then scanned 35mm b/w film. All in the Olympus XA2 camera that cost 50p (USD 70 cents) from a car boot sale.
Caught during a heritage day in Wisbech. I have no idea what Star Wars has to do with local heritage. Lucky though, I had my 50p camera in my pocket. You never know what you might bump into. I quite like the lady in the background.
Shooting in home developed b/w film for the past three years, I’ve grown incredibly attached to the grey tones. There is something addictive about black and white photography. It grabs you. Suddenly, colour photography looks rude and vulgar. What would I do, if I could no longer shoot in monochrome film? I’d have to shoot in digital, and convert all of my images to b/w. I don’t have to worry bout that yet though. Still plenty of 120 and 35mm monochrome negative in production. Long may it continue.
Taken a few months ago, with the wheat still green. Emneth church tower in the background. It was on a film in a spare film back for a while. I had no idea of where I had used it. I prefer LC29 to develop any ISO 400 films at the moment. The field made a pretty cool back drop to Anita’s new electro bass guitar.
I think that the 50p Camera handled the above photo quite well. Taken on a recent visit to London, in Leicester Square of a group of street dancers. Yeah, it has a tilt, but I think that the tilt works quite well on this sort of scene – I like the other dancers and legs sticking caught on the edge of the photo.
I’m quite liking the Ilford LC29 developer, although at 1:19, I’m not sure if it is that a great value. I might perhaps use LC29 on my faster films, and use a Rodinal solution on slower films. Does that make any sense?
This could read “I’m a multinational Corporation, Feed me”. At least for the sake of this post, inspired by Ian. When I first started this blog, I was using a cheap used DSLR fitted with an old manual focus prime lens as my number one camera. I guess that is why I felt entitled to use the name “tight fisted photographer”. I had no idea how tight fisted I was to become, after I started to use car boot sale film cameras, peaking with the 50p Camera Project. The message of this blog has always been very simple: you do not have to spend lots of money in order to enjoy photography. You do not have to spend a lot of money in order to make interesting, aesthetic images. I felt that this message was important, because the markets, and the magazines that they control, deceive many enthusiasts into believing otherwise.
Now I feel that I need to refine my message slightly. I do very much concede that some schools of photography are more cutting edge technology driven than others. For example, I can fully understand the hefty budgets of a digital wild-life photographer, or a macro enthusiast. Even some forms of landscape – such as Ian’s example of an incredibly sharp and detailed panoramic. A sports photography enthusiast is going to want a digital sensor that is fast and smooth, with a lightning speed electronic shutter, burst modes, and a fast zoom lens with shake reduction to boot.
However, in my opinion, this madness extends into schools of amateur photography do not benefit in terms of value, from market driven gear acquisition. We are not professionals. We are amateurs and photography enthusiasts. We do not need that upgrade. If you want to create imagery like HCB, then you can do that equally well on an ancient 35mm film camera – a full frame sensor will not help you iota.
I really should take more portraits. I took this one of our whippet puppy, when he was around 13 weeks old on Ilford FP4+ using the S18 extension tube.
I fancy a post away from the usual medium format film stuff. I was recently asked for advice on successful monochrome by someone even more novice than myself. Now, if I’m using a roll of Ilford, then of course, there is no choice between b/w or colour. However, I often see beginners in digital photography run into trouble when trying to emulate b/w.
It is my opinion (and I’m a hybrid film photographer) that digital photography is technically capable of producing some great b/w images. However, it’s reputation has been tarnished by bad results and presentations by people. The technology is fine, it is the photographers that create nasty images. Just as great images are produced by people, not the gear, so crap is made by people, not the gear.
Therefore in this post I’m giving a few hints to novice digital photographers that admire the grey tones, and want to improve their production of monochrome.
Summary: 1. Shoot as a b/w photographer, with the intent of making b/w images – even though your camera is capturing colour information. 2. Convert from RAW or full colour to b/w using a software channel mixer. 3. Present your b/w images as a monochrome collection. Do not mix with full colour alternatives.
A good b/w photographer shoots with b/w intent. They don’t simply convert to b/w because they think that image looks better than the full colour version. Use intent.
Right I’m off to finish a roll of Shanghai GP3.
I did warn you that puppy dog photos were on the way. I took this yesterday in Wisbech Park, of Anita and her daughter with Loki, our new whippet puppy. We are getting some nice light now, for the slower films, even if sometimes a bit sharp. I had to run ahead of the three of them, and quickly capture a few semi-candid snaps with the Bronica SQ-A and PS 150mm f/4 lens.
I had already finished off a roll of FP4+ (still undeveloped), with an S-18 extension tube. All that I had in my pocket was a roll of Shanghai GP3 film. Now, I’ve published a few images from Shanghai here before – but let me reiterate what it is about.
Shanghai GP3 is rated at ISO 100 (some say that it is closer to ISO 80). It is a b/w negative film made in 120 medium format. It is made in China. It is sold on Ebay, and if you buy ten at a time, you can usually get it here in the UK for around £2.00 – £2.30 a 120 roll. I bought my last ten for £21, but prices do vary on the Ebay markets. I’ve just ordered another ten for £20.45 including postage from China. Yup, that works out at just 5p over two quid per roll. Find cheaper, because I can’t. For example, I just took a look at a well known UK film distributor’s website. If I ordered ten Ilford FP4+ 120 films, from them with postage, they would work out at £4.47 per roll. Over double the Chinese price.
A quirk with Shanghai GP3 – there is no sticky tape at the fully exposed end of the paper! You might want to carry a roll of sticky tape. The other quirk – you think that Foma is curly? Nahhhh! This stuff is curly. Hang a lead weight on the end during drying – it’ll still probably curl when you cut it.
Otherwise? I’m just a pleb, but I think that it is bloody beautiful – the ridiculously cheap price just makes it better. I wish that the Chinese made something closer to ISO 400 for poorer light and street action.
Another image that I’ve also published here earlier:
I’m the crustiest old atheist imaginable. I know that it annoys Anita sometimes, but I lack faith not only in the existence of any gods, goddesses, or godlings, but pretty much in any supernature or hocus pocus. Mr Rational, the skeptic, that demands testable evidence. Not that I think that is boring – the World, it’s Life, and the Universe, as scientific investigation is revealing them, is far more magical than any creation myth. Still, you get the picture.
Yet, I have to confess to some pretty innate animistic tendencies. Lots of us have them – we become fond of an inanimate object. It might be our car, our home, our musical instrument – we invest it with personal feelings. We might even refer to this object as “her” (or him maybe). When we handle them, we do so with a care and reverence. When we change the oil, we might wonder if the car is happier. We sad atheistic animists.
I confess. I see old cameras this way, especially when they have been long abandoned, and have ended up at the car boot sale, in a box with old cutlery and scary looking broken dolls (now, they have a Manitou). You wonder how it feels for them to be cleaned, and carefully loaded with a new film. To have it’s shutter open onto the 21st Century, a second chance to live. Sixty year old cameras are not supposed to rise from the grave, are they?
I even imagine their life, if they could talk. I developed a found film from one, and found photos of steam railway that dated to around 1961. The camera was last used in 1961. A different world. Did they expose rolls of Kodak to happy family scenes from Butlins during the 1960s?
A few weeks ago, Anita, pleased with the results of the Kershaw Penguin, encouraged me to use another of my old folders that needed testing for light leak. This time, it was a lovely condition Agfa Isolette I folding camera from around 1954. I actually have two of these, and have previously used the other one – but it started to leak light. Bellows age. I still had a roll of Foma Fomapan Creative 200, from a batch that produced some poor quality images with dark blotches. Perfect for a light test.
So the above and below images were born last week, of that Isolette and Fomapan 200. The camera said hello to the 21st Century. No light leaks. The film did have some blemishes, but I’m pleased enough with the results.
As a post script, the Isolette had a post code and house number on it’s rear. I took a look on Google Street View at a row of semi detached houses in the North of England. I thought about that camera and it’s history. If only it had a memory.