35mm, Rants and discussions

On taking snapshots

Focus

I may have been a photography enthusiast for around ten years, but I have been a snap shooter for more than forty years.  I keep thinking about the snapshot recently.  Les brought it to my mind, with his comments, but it’s been floating around longer.  What is a snapshot.  Should we embrace it?  Kodak promoted it for decades, the brain child of George Eastman.  A Kodak Moment. 

Many serious photographers would perhaps regard someone calling one of their images a snapshot, as a slight insult.  Snap-shot suggests a point & shoot capture.  Something quickly captured with no regard to setting up a scene, lighting, or using professional photographic technology.

Yet, let’s think about this.  Some forms of “serious” photography are often snapshot.  I am of course referring to Candid and Street Photography.  Were HCB’s wonderful photographs, not sometimes, very well spotted and composed … snap shots?  Is it the subject or the intention behind an image then, that can either make it a snap shot or a “serious” image?  Is the above a snapshot?  It was a candid, a quick opportunity.  Sure I was using a very manual, medium format film SLR camera – but not so technically cumbersome that I couldn’t grab that photo before the guy saw me.  I snapped a shot of him quickly.  Maybe it’s more about intent?  I didn’t know this guy. He never even saw me creeping up to him with my Bronica.

I grew up way back in the Age of Film.  As a child, I loved dipping into the shoe boxes of old family photos.  I started contributing to them at the age of eleven, via my Kodak Instamatic camera.  Snapshots.  I kept it up for years and years with p&s classes of cameras – into the Age of Digital.  I collated a serious of photograph albums, that I regarded as my life-diary, from childhood, to fatherhood.  The Internet and social media interrupted that.  I became more serious about photography.

Family Snapshot. 1999.

I’ve been thinking about this more, while using my 35mm film compact cameras, including an autofocus from the 80s.

I’m aware that much of my photography though, is still snapshot.  Should I cull it?  Should I instead only e-publish or print only my very best, carefully composed masterpieces (as if I had any!)?  At the moment I think not.  I’m starting to appreciate the snapshot.  Even the domestic family snapshot.  I remember that old shoebox.  I keep an eye out for old photos and slides at car boot sales.  I notice many young people on Flickr and Tumblr, using film, to make their own snapshots, sometimes in an almost creative or unique way, different from those that we made in Our Day.  Film snapshot photography in the Digital Age.

Let’s embrace the snapshot.  It shows real life.

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Monochrome, Post process and software, Rants and discussions

Black and White – simple III (and final)

More comparisons between my black & white images originally captured on b/w negative film, and those captured on a digital sensor.

Film

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in R09.

Digital

Sony DSLR A200. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. UFRAW b&w conversion.

Film

Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus film. Developed in ID11.

Digital

Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. PP software Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Film

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens and S-18 extension tube. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Developed in FirstCall R09.

Digital

Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. PP software Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Discussion

Again, I feel that the images tell their own story.  I have enjoyed creating digital monochrome images in the past.  My favourite method that I developed, was to shoot in RAW, then convert to b/w using the Channel Mixer tool in the UFRaw program. – generating grayscale .jpeg files.  Some of the above images were earlier, when I still used Adobe (I since moved to Open Source software).  However, digitally scanned, home developed b/w negative film photography still gives me the ascetic finish that I prefer.  The pop factor – a combination of dynamic range, tones, grains, and to be honest, quite often, the better lens available for the technology at an affordable price.

Personally my short term plans are to restrict my digital photography to colour.  I do not get along with C-41 processing, and I can’t afford to spend on photo lab processing.  Therefore, I’ll use my digital cameras for colour.  I’ll continue otherwise to use film-hybrid technology to produce the finished monochrome images that I’m pleased with.  I enjoy simple b/w film processing and scanning.  I regard my b/w film images more as my true photographic ‘work’, whatever that is.

I hope that anyone else curious about hybrid photography, or comparing b/w images from both film and digital sensors come across these three posts.

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Monochrome, Post process and software, Rants and discussions

Black and White – simple II

Film

Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus 35mm film. Developed in ID11.

Digital

Sony DSLR A200. Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source pp: UFRaw b/w conversion in channels, fine pp in Gimp 2.8.

Film

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. S-18 extension tube. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Home developed in ID11.

Digital

Sony DSLR A200. Sony 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source pp: UFRaw b/w conversion in channels. Fine pp in Gimp 2.8.

Discussion

I’m comparing the results of my black & white / monochrome photography, captured initially on; a) true b/w negative film, and b) an APS-C digital sensor.  In either case, the final images are actually digital representations of captured light.  The film exposures have been chemically processed (home developing)  but then digitally scanned to produce the above images.

Both have had some post process adjustments in software, with final editing conducted in the open source Gimp program.  Therefore this is NOT a film V digital discussion.  I’m weighing the merits between digital  b/w images caught on b/w film, and b/w images caught on a digital sensor.  I want to judge for myself according to results, not by technology.  Although I enjoy the workflow of film hybrid technology, I want to know if it has any advantages.  I’ve selected the above images from my Darker Shades of Grey album on Flickr – a collection of my own favourite monochrome images, taken by digital and film, over the past few years.

Results

As I look at the above images, I feel as though I’ve answered the question before even starting a discussion.  The film images have a clear advantage in the range of tones.  They handle under exposure better – with more detail in shadows, while at the same time, they handle over exposure better without blown out highlights.  In other words, b/w film appears to have a superior dynamic range.  It forgives poor exposure rather well compared with digital.  It explains to me, how I get away with relatively simple light metering – or no metering, and manual exposure.

The disadvantage of b/w film is cost (including process chemicals), although this is probably offset by the much lower cost of equipment.  Another disadvantage is dust.  I dry developed films in my bathroom.  Although I do try to minimise dust – in a small busy house, it’s impossible.  To an extent, hybrid film images can be cleaned post digital process using software clone and heal tools.  However, it can be tedious and imperfect.  I also carefully puffer blow films clean before scanning.

Of course, do I always need to remove dust?  There is presently a school in film photography of embracing dust, hair, and even scratches, for ascetic reasons – a stamp of authenticity, and a nostalgia for pre-digital perfection.  Post process software, used on digital images usually includes filters to add simulated dust, and scratches to images, even those that started out life on a clean digital sensor!  Therefore, I have the option on some images of purposely leaving dust and hair, for ascetic purposes.  It is an option.

In conclusion, I don’t feel that I need to worry yet about abandoning my film-hybrid technologies.  I can produce final images that are perhaps richer in tones , and have something else – a different exposure value, to that of entry level DSLRs.  They look different.  It is still worthwhile in 2014, to pursue this technology.

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Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, Rants and discussions

Stop and think

Dogging in Wisbech. Olympus XA-2 camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm negative film.

I came across another photography blog the other day, that made me take stock a little.  I think that I’ve become a little too side tracked by all of these old film cameras that I keep acquiring.  I’m on a technology (albeit old technology) learning curve, but I think I’d like to get back to improving my photography now.  That means actually planning out some photography and ideas.  I need to stop ‘testing’ newly acquired film cameras for a little while.  Over the past few months, I’ve acquired a number of working film cameras, each one had to be tidied up, tested, used, and I guess, experienced.  These cameras include  a Pentax ME Super SLR, a Kodak Retinette IIA, two Olympus Trip 35’s, two Olympus XA-2’s, and now a Lubitel 166B TLR!  I’ve been so busy learning how they work, and testing them, that I’ve not had much time to try out new ideas.

To be fair, it’s not just the distractions of the cheap cameras, I’ve been busy working for a living.

I bought a notebook.  I want to use it to actually plan out some photography, and to start logging what I have done.  I need to get some time to start that.  I know that I certainly want to try some portraits using the Lubitel TLR and 120 film.  But I need to stop the snapshots, and create something more worthwhile.

Talking of snapshots, the two photos here are both from the 50p Olympus XA-2, using Poundland film of course!

Terrington St John. Olympus XA-2 camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 35mm negative film.

 

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Rants and discussions

The Tight Fisted Photographer – the Blog in Review

Nita modelling a Zenit 122 – built like a Soviet Tank (the camera, not Nita!). Sony A200 DSLR. Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM lens.

I started this Blog in August, with the following statement:

  • helping photographers keep their money in their pockets, whilst taking imaginative, beautiful images.
  • dispelling the myth that good photography requires spending oozing amounts of money on the all singing dancing high technology black plastic computerised ‘professional’ Canikon D-SLR
  • fighting the myths perpetuated by big business, that you need their expensive crap in order to take good photographs, or to edit images
  • Promote open source software, including genuinely free image editing aps.
  • give art back to the people
  • liberate corporation controlled sheeple, silence the brand fanboy/girl

So how is it measuring up, and how is this blog evolving?

I like to think that I make my point well enough.  If you can afford a professional full frame sensor or a medium format DSLR, then that’s great.  But you don’t have to spend oozing amounts of hard earned money in order to enjoy photography or make interesting attractive images.  Great photography can be created using cheap gear.  To be an amateur photographer is to enjoy photography, to do it for the shear love of it.  There is nothing inferior about being an amateur.

I do tend to knock the Canikon brigade a bit unfairly.  There is nothing wrong with either Canon or Nikon products.  It’s just that some of their users have been brainwashed into thinking that they have to have either a Canon or a Nikon in order to take great pictures.  Battles frequently break out between their fans over which is the best brand  Sad brainwashed consumers.  Displaying their brand camera bags and straps as they go to battle with each other.

I can’t even find a bracket for my style of photography other than maybe amateur or pop culture. I’m not trying to capture images for financial benefit.  Not at all.  I think that my photography … or my philosophy maybe, is drifting slightly towards the Lomography camp.  Not that I’m about to buy a Lomo, or a new toy camera, or even a roll of overpriced Lomo film.  No, I mean that for me, an increasingly important part of my photography revolves around not just the captured image, but how you do it. Whether it is an instantaneous capture from the hip, or a planned thought out idea and shoot.

It’s not just about creating realistic high definition crisp images.  It’s about how you do photography.  Do you have fun?  Is it enjoyable?  Is your photography growing?  Is it challenging?  Is it rewarding?  Are your captures a) interesting.  b) attractive.  and c) did you work to make them.

EDIT: I’ve just read Leanne Cole’s statement: A passion for photography is the main drive in my life. An image starts with a plan, then execution and onto editing and creating what I planned in the beginning. It is the whole process that is important. I like that.

My Year

This year, I bought a second Digital SLR.  However, a few months later, I also returned to 35mm film photography after an 11 year break!  I started to use vintage 35mm cameras.  I played with Ilford B&W films, then discovered cheap discount colour film.

I’ve also completely rejected LBA (lens buying addiction), and have settled with fixed prime lens – rarely changing a lens on my DSLRs or SLRs.  Its just not my style.

I continue to promote Open Source Software, as a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop and the ilk.

I bought a negative scanner.

With Nita as my model and artistic director, I continued to use themed photo shoots.

That’s my 2012 in Photography.

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