Monday, November 23, 2020

Beginner Film Photography :: The Third Roll

      While watching YouTube videos late one night, I somehow stumbled upon the website of a small camera shop that was selling this Yashica Flex twin lens reflex (TLR) camera.  I've always wanted to own a TLR camera, even if it was only for a nice piece of vintage camera decoration.  However, for about $100, this camera was listed as actually in working condition.  I was curious, and that combined with staying up late is a recipe for buying a camera you know nothing about.  I knew I bought it from a trusted shop, but with film, you never really know until you film test it.  After picking up a roll of Ilford HP5 black and white 120 film, I was ready to test it out.  

     The camera is in great condition considering how old it is.  I think it's from the 50s?!  I knew nothing about it.  Research had to be done in order to figure out where the shutter button was.  😂

     One of the coolest things about this camera is the waist level viewfinder.  I love looking at it.  It almost looks like a 3D effect when looking at it.  However, one of the toughest things about shooting this is the horizontal flip of the viewfinder.  Basically if you move to the left, you're going to see what's actually to the right in front of you.  It was very confusing, and made me a little dizzy. 😒

     Without any editing, here is my third developed roll of film from this camera.  You're supposed to get 12 exposures from this roll of 120 film, but for whatever reason, I only got back 9 photos from The Darkroom Lab.  I have to assume that I messed up on 3 of those photos and they just didn't expose properly.  Trust me, there's a high likelihood that's what happened. 😂

     Yeah, this is blurry.  It was really windy that day, but that's probably not why this is blurry. User error. 😛

     I think this is my best photo from this roll.  I know I didn't really give any of the photos that much thought since I really just wanted to burn through the roll to see if the camera worked.  Honestly, there was a part of me that was shocked something this old still works.  I definitely want to try another roll where I actually shoot photos I want to take. For now,  I hope you enjoyed these... because they cost me about $3 for each photo. 😛

     Here are my thoughts on shooting film so far: 

PROS:  forces you to be patient (because you have no choice), you learn to be more selective about what you shoot (this post does not apply though), it's fun to learn how to use different types of film cameras, I like the cranking sound from winding the film, the excitement of getting your scans back from the lab, the nostalgic and unique look of film

CONS:  the lack of instant gratification, the cost (this is a big one), the learning curve can be big and it takes time to learn how different film stocks expose/look, not being able to switch between black and white and color (unless you have a camera that has this capability), manual focusing on some film cameras - this is probably what I hate the most! 😂

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! 😉