Keeping it black and white, or trying to

Well it’s been a while since my last post due to work/travel so here is a bit of an update. We’re now more than halfway through 2016, my year of shooting only black and white film or at least that was my resolution. Have I stayed true to that commitment? Not quite, but when there’s a chance to shoot some Kodak Aerochrome (I actually have some more tucked away!), I couldn’t say no. That aside, I have just finished a roll of Ilford SFX 200 and Kodak 400TX. With a good stock of Tmax 400 and Tri-X 400 in the fridge, I’m happy that I can say 2016 will be ‘mostly’ shot in black an white. It has certainly allowed me concentrate questions like what makes an good image, should I go for contrast or tone and what do I actually want in an image? It’s relatively easy for me to head into the city (Adelaide) and look for some street photos, old buildings, silhouettes and shadows etc. However, my real passion is minimal landscapes and the adventure that goes with them. I’d love to spend every other weekend exploring the Flinders Ranges but that’s probably not going to happen. I’m still making good use of my Nikon F5 and also managed to use one of the Ilford Single Use cameras (HP5+ film through a fixed plastic lens). Not bad if you need something cheap and in a hurry but I’d rather something optically better (like a Nikon 35Ti). The small little camera did fit in my pocket which I will say was refreshing!

Something New

Here’s something a little different. Whilst I’m not ready to wade headlong into the world of video, this is at least a start.

The World You Can’t See

You’ll notice a couple of extra Aerochrome images in the gallery. The last 120 roll I have is now finished. Above is a comparison of the Three Sisters in Katoomba. It was a real pleasure to shoot this film from Kodak. Re-making it is asking a lot, though I would be happy with a digital camera mapped to produce the same result. Now it’s time for Tmax and Tri-X and nothing else…

Looking Back and Forward

Reflecting on what has been a busy year all round, 2015, photographically speaking, was a good one. It started with a trip out to Lake Eyre, a place of harsh yet fascinating beauty. There is something deeply alluring about the endless horizon of salt and sky. Although, it is a mere entre to the billions of stars that reveal themselves after dark. I’ll be back.
I then bit the bullet and sold most of my 645 setup to purchase the Nikon 58mm f1.4G with the crazy idea that I should try my hand at street photography (and I don’t mean pictures of those less fortunate that many pass off as street photography. I mean the relentless pursuit of decisive moments in between the light and the shadows). Turns out this was probably the best move I could have made. Wandering around the streets of Adelaide has taught me more about making good images than any landscape trip (since Nepal). It’s a theme I’ll continue in 2016 along with my desire to shoot only black and white film (above water).
The other highlight of 2015 was the chance to use one of the last rolls of Kodak Aerochrome (false colour infrared film). I really wish I have come across this emulsion earlier as I fell in love with the results immediately. So much so that I bought another roll just before it ran out (in the camera as I write this).
So what does a monochromatic 2016 look like? Challenging and hopefully just as rewarding. The Nikonos shall definitely see some more use along with some much needed business growth. Whilst the fun part of photography is exploring and capturing moments, printing and selling goes a long way!

2016 – A Year in Monochrome

A year shooting only black and white film (excludes digital and underwater). Sounds simple but for those that know me and my love of colour it won’t be easy. However. it’s just what I need to challenge my ability to create powerful images. You only need to look at the most iconic images in history to see that they were made on Kodak black and white film and probably with a Leica M3 or Nikon F3. I can’t wait so stay tuned! I have my first roll of Tri-X 400 ready to go.

Metadata

With another 35mm roll through the Nikon F5 and back from the lab it’s been a productive weekend sorting images and uploading metadata thanks to Meta35. Now that I’ve used the software a few times, it couldn’t be easier and is well worth it! In terms of work flow it’s as simple as; shoot, develop, scan, embed, edit and make a contact sheet. If you have a compatible camera and shoot film even on an irregular basis, this product is a must.

6×9 vs 35mm

The past few months has seen me shooting a lot of 6×9. I was even lucky enough to borrow a GSW690II to see if I liked it enough to run two 6×9 cameras. Well, after a number of road trips I can say I’ve learnt a couple of things. Firstly, any more than two cameras is a recipe for missing the shot. Even if they are similar/identical formats, juggling at the critical time isn’t fun. Which leads to the second point, real estate isn’t everything when it comes to the pursuit of powerful images. The technical image quality of the Fuji 6×9’s is outstanding for landscapes, no arguments there. Sure they are quite portable and hand held work is ‘easy’ but most of the time a tripod is firmly attached. On the other hand, the freedom the Nikon F5 or F4 give me translates into valuable time to be creative and the ability to get the camera (and you) somewhere unique. The precision and automation of the F5 is also much welcomed after doing it ‘manually’ for a while (invaluable experience though!). As I look back at my images the ones that always stand out for me are those from Nepal. All were shot on an F4 with manual focus primes and no distractions. So, what have I learnt? Keep the kit small and simple and focus on the image. Chances are my 6×9 will take a rest for a while as the F5 and 58mm f1.4G take centre stage.

Kodak Aerochrome

I became aware of Kodak Aerochrome a couple of years ago when reading up on aerial imaging and spy satellites. However it was only recently that I stumbled across the last few rolls of 120 (re-rolled from the aerial format) being offered for sale. After much debate I bit the bullet and bought a roll for about 100USD. Now this is a lot of money for 8 6×9 shots but seeing as Kodak have been discontinuing the good stuff for a while now (Kodachrome and E100VS) I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity. Am I glad I did! The 8 shots weren’t iconic or ground breaking but they gave a whole new perspective on places I have shot before (Flinders Ranges). I also made sure that some of the images were aerial ones as a bit of a tribute. I really wish I had bought more of this stuff before it was discontinued. It’s certainly a real treat to look at on the light table and be mesmerised by the red/pink/purple hues that are given off by vegetation. I’m actually tempted to get another roll it’s that good. I may also pen something more substantial down as a review/article on this incredibly unique film. Stay tuned.

Thoughts on Ektar 100 and Street Photography

About a year ago I shot my first roll of Kodak Ektar 100 (120) and the results were nothing spectacular. Fast forward to this week and I just got the results from a 35mm roll of Ektar 100 I ran through my Nikon F5 (kindly given to me to help review Meta35). This time I was pleasantly surprised. The colours were vibrant and had that Ektar tone to them. Grain was excellent as was the ability to retain some detail in the highlights that slide film would typically washout. Overall, for half the price of Velvia, it’s a good alternative and when the light is harsh and a little too contrasty for grads to control then it’s a much better choice. So much so that I bought another 120 roll. Anyway, my main use for it lately has been to shoot a bit of street photography. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and that can take years to master. It’s also not that easy, I’ve spent hours now walking around Adelaide camera in hand. It’s not like sunset or sunrise where you have a shot framed and all you’re waiting for is the right light. It’s much more fluid where you have to really work for your images, often visualising them before they happen. You need to immerse yourself in the city because walking around and around for a picture to jump out at you will just result in sore feet. It’s challenging, tiring, dynamic and right now I dig it!

Before and After

Google street view can be a great tool for scoping images and places. I thought I’d check an old building that I took a photo of some time ago to see if it was still there. As the results suggest it’s a little further run down and missing that striking red door that caught my eye initially. So what do I take from this, photograph what’s in front of you while its still standing!