Jazzing It Up

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor C 35/2 O.C, Ilford HP5 Plus via dr5 reversal process

Back in August we attended a jazz concert by some friends of ours, this gig happened to be at a local church courtyard.  Part way through the concert an elderly lady was assisted to sit in the chair in front of me, and I thought her woven hat and silk shirt made for a nice foreground subject.

The trumpet player in the background isn’t quite as well defined as I would have liked, but I still think the lady, the musician and the tree round out the composition nicely.

I shot this with my old Nikomat FTN SLR and (then newly purchased) manual Nikkor 35mm lens.  I love shooting with a “normal” 50mm lens, but I find in tighter quarters a 35mm focal length is more flexible with its slightly greater angle of view and depth of field.

A few things of note (and very retro ones at that):

Nikkor C 35/2 O.C

Stacked Cameras

Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Well, I have updated the design of my blog to include a genuine banner.  The above shot is part of it, but those of you following the feed should check the home page out.

Thanks to my DSW for some Photoshop help to tweak the lighting, color, and shadows.  She wanted to be sure the glory of our jalapeño pepper green kitchen wall came through in force.

You may recognize some of the cameras from a number of my previous posts. The complete rundown front to back is:

  1. Rollei B 35 – I carry this almost everywhere these days
  2. Canon IV-S – sadly the shutter is still full of leaks
  3. Petri 7S – also sadly, its film advance is stuck again
  4. Kine Exakta – I haven’t even tried this yet, its shutter controls are a bit daunting
  5. Nikomat FTN – my workhorse SLR for shooting B&W
  6. Nikon FA – The most advanced manual Nikon ever made
  7. Nikon F100 – My main film camera until recently
  8. Nikon F6 – My new king of the hill

How did I order them?  Not by age, nor purely by size.

They are arguably ordered by technical features as you start with the viewfinder Rollei and proceed to add a rangefinder, average metering, single-lens reflex, center-weighted metering, matrix metering, autofocus, and finally color matrix metering.

I might have ordered a few of them differently, but in the end I think this made for the best looking shot.

Jedi Cross Processed

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 P, Kodak E100G cross processed

The second roll of cross processed film I just scanned was taken at about the same time as the first, back in June.  However, instead of classic cars at Fuddruckers it mostly contained Jedi at Legoland.

Well to be honest storm troopers, droids, and even wookies are well represented too.  They had just setup a bunch of new displays of Star Wars themed Lego scenes in their Miniland and I couldn’t resist taking some pictures with selective focus to keep the miniature feel.

As far as the photos go, this roll of Kodak E100G cross processed seems to me to have slightly more natural colors than the previous roll of E100GX.  I see a trend here which is the films which are more saturated when processes normally (ex. E100VS) are also more saturated and have a greater color shift when cross processed.

Note that I am using the auto white level feature in my scanning software Vuescan which to some extent counters the cross processing effect.  I think for most shots (especially with people) the raw or neutral color setting produces too wild a result, so I prefer reigning in the cross processing effect a bit.

Bel Air Cross Processed

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor 35mm f/2 OC, Kodak E100GX cross processed

Believe it or not almost four months later I am still working on scanning my box of shame.  I have been making progress on it, but also have been shooting plenty of new film.  I think (or hope…) my “backlog” is gradually dimishing.

I just scanned two rolls of cross-processed slide film which I shot back in June on my Nikomat FTN.  These were only the 2nd and 3rd times I had tried cross processing, the first being a roll I shot on Kodak E100VS back in March.

The above shot was taken at the Lake Forest, CA Fuddruckers regular Tuesday night classic car rally.  For this roll I cross processed Kodak E100GX which is normally less saturated than the VS.  I think this holds true for cross processing as well, as my earlier roll seemed to have deeper greens and reds.

But I like the metallic sheen in this shot, I think it worked for this Bel Air.

More next time on the second roll…

Back To The Future

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5, Nikon Y44 light yellow filter, Ilford HP5 Plus

My Uncle was asking a while back if I had heard about the Fujifilm FinePix X100.  It is perhaps the spearhead of a recent resurgence of “retro” styled digital cameras.  Of course, Leica has never strayed from their design aesthetic as well as traditional function with their digital cameras.  But the X100 does not require you to take out a second mortgage on your home to afford it so we may see more mid-range photo enthusiast pick it up, or the Olympus PEN EP-3 or rumored retro Canon PowerShot.

Is there a resurgence in classic camera interest behind these releases?  Are the camera manufacturers trying to appeal to those of us still clinging on to our film cameras?

I have to admit all of the above mentioned cameras have some appeal to me, despite some of their claims seeming false.  (The X100 is referred to as a “rangefinder” even though the focus-assist is digital, as is its manual focus control which has no mechanical linkage to the lens.)

My Uncle also pointed out an interesting opinion article by Froma Harrop where she speaks of this trend away from the high-tech and towards the high-hip and high-touch.  It really hit home with me, as I personally feel the exact sentiment she makes reference to about needing to escape high-tech.

I work with a computer all day, use a smart phone for all sorts of tasks, and am constantly swapping out my digital gear year-after year.  When I want to have fun with photography I get a big kick out of using a 40 year old camera which still works pretty much as good as the day it was made to take shots like the above.

But don’t worry, I am not crazy enough to try sticking my beloved manual Nikkors onto my phone using this abomination just to get better looking Hipstamatic shots.  (Thanks for that lead, Sharon.)  I may live in both high-tech and old-school worlds, but I don’t plan on mixing them up quite like that!

The Lita Vietor View

Nikomat FTN, Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5, Nikon Y44 light yellow filter, Ilford HP5 Plus

I am still scanning away, and it is slow going.  Even with simple family shots I cannot resist some cleanup via the Photoshop clone tool to remove some scratches, hot spots, etc. on my film.  For slide film I can use the infrared channel cleanup in Vuescan, but for negative film that isn’t possible so I have to go the manual route.

Infrared cleanup (for scanners and software that support it) is a lifesaver with slide film.  It is kind of like an automatic version of a clone/intelligent heal tool.  By using the infrared channel during the scanning process Vuescan (and other scanning applications that support it) can automatically identify where the emulsion has been scratched, where there is lint/dust, and other disturbances with or on your positive image and then fill in that spot based on surrounding image data.

This can easily save five, ten, fifteen minutes or more per image if you are “detail oriented” like me and like clean images.  I think I spent ten minutes cleaning up the B&W image above (negative, so infrared not possible…).  This is back from the winter by the way, and there is a slight possibility my Dad was actually the photographer as we were passing the Nikomat back and forth.  It was the first roll I put through that camera which has been my favorite classic shooter of late.

Which makes me wonder even more about dr5‘s chrome positive B&W developing process.  They offer their own custom chemistry for your B&W negatives to turn them into B&W positive processed film. This is not unlike good old Agfa Scala, may it rest in peace.  But I am curious to see if their B&W positives can leverage infrared cleanup during the scanning process. That could be a tremendous time saver for B&W shooting!

I think the next roll I will shoot (after my scan fest is finally over) will be a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus destined to pilot my use of the dr5 chrome process.  They say it is their highest volume film type, so it should go well.