Friday, October 16, 2020

Beginner Film Photography :: The Second Roll - Fujicolor Pro 400H

      So here it is.  My second roll. Technically, this is almost like my first roll because the last one was started over 10 years ago, so that film was beyond expired.  This was a roll of Fujicolor Pro 400H.  I was excited to shoot the different film stocks I'd acquired just to see what the color rendition would look like.  I was pretty happy with these.  

     Overall, I am happy with these.  I wanted to learn a lot from shooting this roll on my Canon AE-1, and boy, did I learn a lot.  From watching a bunch of videos, and reading up on shooting film, I repeatedly heard that film does a great job of controlling the highlights even when you overexpose.  There were definitely times where I knew I was overexposing the shot, and I'm actually pleased with how the images came out.  I didn't do any heavy editing on any of these - just a little dodging of the shadows a bit.  I didn't mess with the color at all (except for one black and white converstion), because I wanted the photo to really represent how the Fujicolor Pro 400H looks.

     My biggest issue?  Definitely the manual focusing on the camera. It is evident here on the first frame.  No words are needed here. 😂

     I found it easier to shoot a larger scene because I could just focus to infinity and the photo would be sharp.  This is a great example of that. 

     I really wanted this photo to be amazing, but clearly I missed the focus on it.  UGH. So close. The composition is okay though.

     I love the pastel color of this film when overexposed.

     Over the course of the roll, my manual focusing skills did improve.  I was honestly shocked my dog is in focus here.  One of the things that I found helped a lot was to have some straight lines in the frame, such as the stairs here.  It made it a lot easier to see which parts of the image would be sharp as you turn the focusing ring. 

     The grain really shows when you convert to black and white. My dog hates me.

     Here's another thing I learned.  Just because your lens can shoot as wide as f1.4, doesn't mean you should.  I noticed a lot more softness, where I wanted it to be sharper.  Next time, I may not go any wider than f2.8 and see how that makes a difference in my photos.

     Shooting at f4 might've made this one look a lot better.

     Had the guy with the pink surfboard been alone on the beach, I might've really loved this photo.

     I really love the dynamic range of film.  I took this same photo with my digital x100v, and I actually prefer the look of this film photo over the digital.  

     There was some strange vignetting to the left of this photo, but I cropped it out.  Not sure what it was, and it may have just been my camera strap in the way since the frame immediate before and after this one were fine.

     Focusing to infinity makes the landscapes so easy. 😊

     I wanted to compose this one differently, but unlike with digital, you've got to ask yourself, is it really worth shooting another frame? This did teach me to slow down a bit and not just fire away without thinking what I want the composition to be.  Bonus points if you can spot the plane. 

     This is my favorite photo from the whole roll of my mom eating lunch.  I liked the composition and the focus was where I wanted it to be. I also really love the colors in this photo.  Sorry, I don't think she wants to be on the internet. Okay, that's a lie. She doesn't know what the internet is. 😂

     During this excursion, I discovered that I don't like the way Fujicolor Pro 400H looks at sunset.  I know some people dig this color, but I don't really like it. 

     No, I wasn't trying to get the pumpkin in focus. 😑


     This one isn't bad.  Focus is a tad off, but it's passable.

     By the time it was my last outing with the AE-1, I finally felt like I had a grasp on the manual focusing on the FD mount lenses.  I had just acquired an FD 28mm f2.8 lens.  Again, it might be that the widest I could shoot was 2.8, and that's why more of my shots are in focus.  Definitely something to think about when I go out with the FD 50mm f1.4.  

     Another case where I wanted to take more compositions of the scene, but had very few exposures left. 

     Another thing I learned was how to gauge the turn around time for The Dark Room Lab.  If I mail out the roll on a Saturday, I may receive the scans by the following Friday.  That's not a bad turn around time.  I think I'll see about picking another lab to try and compare the service. I've already loaded up the AE-1 with a roll of Kodak Portra 400, and will hopefully be shooting more people with it.  I also have a little surprise coming in the mail, but I'll save that for another post.  Let's just say I hope I don't electrocute myself. 😂😬  Thanks for reading! 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Beers and Cameras Photo Meet-Up :: Hermosa Beach

      A long time ago - we're talking pre-Covid - I was going to make a blog post about planning for a photo walk.  I have been to so many, and definitely have learned a few things from my bad decision-making.  Since the pandemic, hardly anyone is going on group photo walks, but one of the groups I follow on Instagram (@beerandcameras_la) were doing a reservation only meet-up in Hermosa Beach, and I took this opportunity to go out and shoot somewhere I'd never been before (yes, I've never been to Hermosa Beach) and also finally write this post!  In an effort to plan for this blog post, I came up with four tips to help make the photo walk the best it can be.  Here they are with my commentary on how well I followed my own advice. 😀

1)  Pick three things to focus on for your photo walk.  It doesn't really have to be three.  The whole idea is just to have a plan on what you'd like to capture.  Is it people? Candid shots? Macros of stuff? Plants? I always feel like if I have some idea of what I'd like to come away with, I could always rely on the focus items to fall back on if I drew a blank.  I really wanted to focus on people shots for this meet-up.

2)  Limit the number of lenses you bring.  I love this tip, and I try to do this every time I go out and shoot.  In the past, I've brought just about everything I own, and the end result is not only confusion on what I should use, but also some back pain from carrying around so much gear all day.  I recommend anywhere from 2-3 lenses.  For this meet-up, I had my Fuji X100V which has a 35mm fixed lens, and I also brought my Canon EOS 1N with a 40mm pancake lens.  I really wanted to travel light, and I'm glad I did.  I didn't take very many shots on the 1N since it was film and I was trying to be more selective on what I wanted to shoot with it.  Final count - Fuji X100V: 140 shots, Canon EOS 1N: 3 shots 😂

3)  Research the area on Google or Instagram prior to the photo walk.  I normally do this every time when I go out and take photos somewhere I haven't been before.  Sadly, I did no research for this because I didn't have the time to.  I do find that doing this research helps though.  Sometimes I'll look at the street view on Google maps to see what's around the area.  This helps to narrow down my lens choices if I know what to expect, so I don't end up bringing a lens I have no use for.  They say immitation is the best form of flattery.  Well, that's what I use Instagram for.  There are tons of amazing photographers on Instagram, and chances are, they've been to the spot you're going to.  It's a great way to get ideas, or to just see how someone else shot a scene, and perhaps you can even come up with a different take on it.  I love looking at other people's photos and til this day, it's still what I find most inspiring and motivates me to go out and shoot.

4) Use a comfortable camera bag and wear comfortable shoes.  Back in the days of meet-ups on Flickr, I notoriously wore the most uncomfortable shoes to photo walks.  I've also bought just about every popular camera backpack there is to buy on the market, and by now I should know what's comfortable.  These two things - your choice of bag and shoes - can make or break your photo walk.  If you're uncomfortable or in pain, you are less likely to want to take photos.  For this meet-up, I crammed everything into my Peak Design 5L sling bag.  It's lightweight, and barely fit everything.  They don't make this bag anymore, but they do make a 6L sling that's a little bigger.  My shoes of choice were flip flops because it's the beach, and you have to anticipate sand.

     Not knowing the area very well, I ended up parking in a 2 hour zone, and while we waited for others to arrive, I had a little over an hour to take photos.  I didn't know anyone at this meet-up, which is a very strange feeling to have after having gone to so many other photo meet-ups in the past.  It was nice not to be in charge of planning anything though, and just kind of do my own thing.  Here are some of the photos from my X100V.  One day, I'll develop that film on the 1N and be reminded of this! 😄

     This photo made me realize that I hold the camera really weird.

     Outdoor seating is the new indoor seating.

     There were a good amount of people out. Hermosa Beach has people enforcing the mask rule.  For the most part, I think people were just happy to see blue skies after all the smoke from the fires recently.

     These two were going at it for a while!  It drew a small crowd.

     Still fighting over something.

     SO true.

     Saw this old car, while waiting in traffic.  I should've pulled over to get a better photo.

     Thanks for reading and making it til the end! 😉

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Beginner Film Photography - The First Batch

      Let's hope the first roll is always the worst.  It can only get better from here on out, right?  In my defense, about half the roll were photos from about 10 years ago.  It was nostalgic to see these photos!  Such a different time.  The film had expired since then, and I accidentally opened the back door of the camera when I first took it back out to shoot on, which resulted in some weird color - or maybe the color is the result of it being expired film? I have no idea! I didn't adjust the color on any of these, just so you can see them for what they are.  I did lighten and crop a couple of them because the tilted horizon line was driving me crazy.  Also, I apologize in advance for what your eyes are about to be exposed to. 😄

     For this round I used The Darkroom Lab to develop and scan.  I might try some other labs just to see what different services are like.  Here's what arrived in the mail a couple days after I received my scans via a download link. 

     Alright, here are the photos!  Keep in mind, I'm showing you the GOOD ones LOL.  Let's not even talk about the others. 😏

San Simeon Pier (I think?) from 2009

From Monterey Bay Aquarium (2009)

     This is probably the best photo from the whole roll, and I'm sure that mostly has to do with the view and not so much the quality of the photo LOL.

     This is from a photography meet up at Joshua Tree - most likely 2009 as well.  

     You can tell this is more recent because of Covid - see the hand sanitizer? 😆

     A few shots from Old Town Tustin.  You really see the weird color here.

     When I edited this one in Photoshop and made it black and white, it actually looked okay - but here it is in its original crappy form. 😆 Dog is still cute though, right? 

     I just got this in yesterday, and I'm excited to start a fresh roll and do better this time around.  We'll see hahaha!