An apology and an invitation

Dear Readers,
I must communicate, with greatest regret, that we'll shut down the blog for 3-4 weeks, for various reasons. The main reason is the current lack of time. But we'll return by the end of August. Some of the reasons (for shutting down) will pay off in the future contributions on the blog. 
At the same time, we openly invite you to email us your portfolio proposals. We're always happy getting these emails, and we'll try to reply you as soon as possible. Meanwhile, have a good time, make many good photos, restore some old cameras and nurture your love for analog photography!

silver regards

Cottage Tip: Revitalize an old Polaroid!

Probably you recall when I was ranting about the »new age« instant photography? Well, this time I thought it would be nice to offer an alternative to this new age stuff. I know, this is nothing new, many people did it many times, but nevertheless, there are still many of you out there not (yet)  having an instant camera, like me, until quite recently. Given the available instant film choices today, getting a Polaroid Land camera is probably the best option, since pack film is regularly available, and at a moderate price-Fuji FP instant film. A nice feature of this film is also the possibility to reclaim the remaining negative, but this will be the topic for another post. The Land cameras are great eye catchers with their bellows, and some of them produce photos of respectable quality (but they cost more). Most of them not, like mine, having a simple plastic lens, but they still have (or maybe for this very reason) their own charm, and you can get them for very little.
Polaroid Land cameras-they are so sexy, aren't they. Jean Pierre, thanks for the photo.
The main issue is where to get the battery for this 4-decades-old camera? The majority of Pola Land cameras use the 3V 532 alkaline battery, which is quite difficult to find nowadays and is also quite expensive-like as much as you spent on the camera itself! In case you don't own a rare or collectible camera, don't feel too sorry to make a bit of surgery on your Pola Land wiring. Just cut off the old battery contacts and solder a plastic insert for two 1.5V AAA batteries instead. Just make sure to have these batteries connected in series (with 3V output) and having them soldered to the right polarity! That's it! It's a 10 minute job, more or less. 

A new battery holder with two AAA batteries. Note the cut original contacts.
The new battery holder fits just perfectly inside the battery compartment.
You will also need to get rid of the remaing plastic tabs-retainers (for the original battery). It is an easy job: just move them in rear-forward motion for some time, and the tabs will just fall off. Now, the new plastic battery insert will fit nicely in the battery compartment of your old Polaroid! It is worth to take a look at the Land List where types of batteries are listed for single cameras. If you own a camera which uses a 531 battery type (4.5V), then you'll have quite a bit of trouble. Probably is just easier to get a 3V camera instead.
If you're unaware of the camera conditions, it is a good measure to check (from time to time) the voltage of the batteries. These old cameras can draw some current even if the are not  in use. And when you just want to use them, the batteries are too low. So, don't waste the instant film because of empty batteries, just have a pair of fresh batteries for backup-they are cheap!


Portfolio of the Week: Alessandro Bocchi

Dear Readers,
This week we feature an Italian photographer, Alessandro Bocchi from central Italy (Padua). Alessandro sent me both a very comprehensive portfolio of photos and biography. He works primarily in medium format, 6x6 and 6x7, with his Mamiyas and uses a variety of films, among them also instant (Fuji) films, mastering very well the reclaiming of the peel-apart negatives from these films. He's another guy who describes himself as an amateur or apprentice, but his work shows much more than that.Nonetheless, he has been also featured in Italian Vogue. Although he only recently dived in the wonderful darkroom world, his photographic technique is far from this. Moreover, Alessandro is yet another photographer who made a happy return to the analog world. Alessandro's work can be found on Flickr. Enjoy his work!

Silver regards

Dragoncello (MN) - Christine in the Creepy House - Mamiya RB67 Professional SD with SEKOR K/L 127 1:3.5 L at 5.6 and 1/30. Polaroid Land Pack 100 Back loaded with Fuji Instant Color Film FP-100C.
Castello Tesino (TN) - Christine - Mamiya RB67 Professional SD and Ilford FP4 100.

Castello Tesino (TN) - Vegetation under the woods - Mamiya C330 Professional with SEKOR 80 1:2.8 Blue Dot and Kodak Portra VC 400.

Burano (VE) Italy - Christine with a Night Dress - Mamiya RB67 Professional SD with SEKOR 90 C 1:3.8 at 5.6 and about 15 seconds. Polaroid Land Pack 100 Back loaded with Fuji Instant Color Film FP-100C.

Gorino (FE) Italy - Hope and Christine - Mamiya C330 Professional with SEKOR 80 1:2.8 Blue Dot and Fuji PRO 400H

Vigonza (PD) Italy - Model Valentina - Mamiya RB67 Professional SD with SEKOR K/L 180 1:4.5 L at f 8 and 1/125. Polaroid Land Pack 100 back loaded with Fuji Instant Color Film FP-100C.

Stra (VE) Italy - Model Laura -Mamiya RB67 Professional SD and Mamiya HP701 Polaroid Land Pack Film Holder, SEKOR K/L 127 1:3.5 L @ f 8 - 1/125 s; Bleached negative of a Fuji Instant Color Film FP-100C

Padua (PD) Italy - Christine and our bunny Weizen-Mamiya RB67 Professional S and Mamiya Press Polaroid Land Pack Film Holder, SEKOR C 90 1:3.8; Polaroid 125i Silk Instant Color Film

Montegrotto Terme (PD) Italy - Dania jumping in the water from 6 meter- Mamiya C330 Professional and SEKOR 80 1:2.8 Blue Dot; Kodak T-MAX 400
Padua (PD) Italy - Net Center Tower at Night-Mamiya RB67 Professional SD and SEKOR 50 C 1:4.5 (at 3 minutes - f 8.0); FUJICHROME T64

All photos copyright: Alessandro Bocchi

Alessandro's Bio

My name is Alessandro Bocchi and I am from Italy. I was born in 1970 in Mirandola near Modena in the center of Italy. Now I live in Padua, near Venice with my wife, 6 rabbits, 2 Guinea pigs, 2 cats and 1 dog. I work as a computer technician all days and for this reason I started to hate the latest technological equipments.

I started taking pictures during one summer at the sea in the south of Italy. I was a 14 years boy and I was with other friends in the swimming pool of the camping. There was a very beautiful girl of my same age and I started taking pictures of her (you can see the pictures I am talking about on my flickr page). I immediately discovered the pleasure of taking pictures. Portrait of person. The camera I used was my fathers camera, a wonderful Rollei 35 TE. I still have that camera and I still use it once in a while because its still really compact.

After my fathers camera I had the Fujica STX2, the Nikon F 301 and many many others like the Nikon FM2, F3, F100 and also the F4s. When I moved to the digital with a Nikon D300 I sold everything for a very cheap price. But very soon I felt that the digital photography was missing something.
One day in a little old shop I came across a Mamiya RB67. It was love at first sight. I could never take that camera out of my head. I finally got that camera and then a series of lenses from the 50 mm to the 180 mm and other accessories. I discovered again the pleasure of taking pictures. Taking pictures with a camera that doesn't have any batteries. A camera that is completely mechanical and that will not take any kind of decision by herself. The only little problem of this camera is that its a huge camera to take with you around the city. For this reason I came across to a Mamiya C330. This is my definitive camera. I really love this camera. I can have interchangeable lenses, there is no mirror that slaps and makes vibration and noise, and finally it works with the square format that is the one I like most.

Taking pictures with this two cameras gives me lot of satisfaction and lot of attentions too. Everyone is looking at me when I walk with one of this cameras hanging from my neck. Everyone wants to see, to know and to look trough the finder. But the most eye popping thing is the instant film back. I love to take pictures of people on instant film and than give than the picture. They are always very happy and usually they let me take more pictures. I also keep the instant film negative that i bleach and than put in the scanner to get back the picture that I gave to the subject. I really love that reclaimed negatives. It's really amazing to see how many details you can take out from that thing that usually I throw away.

Recently I found myself to use more and more black and white film. I like very much the Ilford HP5 and I began to use the Kodak TRI-X just from few months. I just finished a dark room course and I loved the developing and the printing so much. I am just a beginner and I describe myself an apprentice photographer.
The more I go on, the more I discover that I don't know anything and there is much much more to learn. I still make a lot of mistakes and I waste film most of the time, but when you took a nice picture and you develop it and then print it, and it will magically appear on the paper in the dark room, it is an amazing satisfaction.

Here you can see some of my pictures that I like  most.
As you can see one of my preferred subjects are portraits. I always ask my wife, my daughter and also my friends to pose for me. My wife has been a model since she was 6 months old, starting with advertising baby nappies. Now she is no longer a model, by the other side, she became a much better photographer than me. I use every occasion to take portrait pictures. Recently, there was a rabbit fair and i shot a portrait to everyone holding his own bunny.

Alessandro Bocchi


Monday Column: Your Bathroom Can Be Also Your Darkroom

This is not a column dedicated for seasoned analogue photographers. I will describe my own experience, how I developed my first roll of film. This column is for those photographers who think that analogue photography is something very difficult and complicated and that you need a special equipped room for it. In fact it is not.
In the last column I described that I was attracted into the analogue photography by finding my grandfathers camera. It uses 120 format films. I bought some. I think it was Fuji Across. I enjoyed photographing with that camera. And then, when film was exposed I was before dilemma. Where the hack I could develop this film? In local quick labs they don’t develop B&W films any more. So I informed myself how I could develop B&W films, what do I need for doing that and then I made a decision that I will do it myself. In the bathroom!  I bought a developing thank and borrowed chemicals needed for developing film (thanks to Vlado). You only need two of them, developer and fixer.
The only thing the bathroom must not have is a window. Primary requirement for developing film is that you have a place with total lack of light. It’s needed when you open your camera and transferring film into the developing tank. So I prepared a place for all the action (transferring film from the camera in the developing thank) in the bathroom on washing machine. I prepared chemicals, for developing agent you need some accuracy on dosage and temperature, take a big breath and turn off the light. The most challenging thing in developing a film is when you are putting film into the reel of developing tank. Into complete darkness! You could do it into changing bag, but you don’t see a thing also. You can rely only on your preparation, memory, touch and skill. Practice is also helpful. I complicated for myself with couple of 120 format film taped one after another. My first try to wound the film into the reel was complete disaster. You could not turn on the light and see what went wrong and then correct it. So, after two or three tryouts I succeed and then put the reel into the developing tank. The lid was on and then I could open the light. At last! Afterwards was easy. You simply put developer first, then you wash out then you fix, and then wash again, open the developing tank and dry the film... Ok. Now I’m on slippery territory. If you want (and you want it) to have film developed OK, it’s not so easy after all. You need right dosage of chemicals at right temperature at right time. You need to agitate properly... and so on. But I succeeded.
Now what could I do with developed film? I went to local quick lab to scan it. The result was disappointing. That’s another story.


Bad News: Fuji is phasing out Velvia!

Fujifilm is going to discontinue Velvia 100F in all formats, and Velvia 50 sheet films; this is the sad news arrived yesterday. The reasons are known-decreased sales, see the link. The good news (so to say) is that it won't happen until the end of this year, so we still have time to stock up. I just hope they'll keep both Provia films in production. For Velvia 50, I think, we don't need to worry too much about (for roll films)-it's just too popular, given also the fact that Kodak Ektachrome is gone...To me, this is not the worst news, since I was already hit when they discontinued Astia. To me, Astia was the most gorgeous slide film ever made. Ever! Even for landscape! Fortunately, I did stock it up in my freezer, and it should last for some years. Maybe the future production of color film will be based on pre-orders and once the quota will be fullfilled, the production run will be made, who knows. Certainly this is not nice, in our view, but it will change dramatically our approach in buying and consuming "silver goods". Nonetheless, vinyl LPs are also produced in a similar way today, yet they thrive.


Random Quote

"36 satisfactory exposures on a roll means a photographer is not trying anything new." Freeman Patterson

Resurrecting Polywarmtone

Production of photo emulsions is a tricky business; you may have the formula, but the hardware used (mixers, heaters, glasware etc.) also plays a major role in the final outcome. So it is a huge endeavour to reproduce (more or less) exactly the same product-emulsion from the known formula only. The former Hungarian Forte Polywarmtone paper is thus no exception. Polywarmtone paper used to be a big favorite among many photographers worldwide; not only due to its pleasant warm image tone (hence, its name!), but also because it was a wonderful material to tone and even for lith printing.Sadly, as many other photo manufacturers, Forte company closed its doors as well. Its rapid decline began in the early 2000's, the company faced bankruptcy and the production line was dismantled. (I could rant about this for hours, but I'll spare this for another occasion). Anyway, the hardware for making  photo emulsions for the new facility owners proved to have little or no value. Fortunately, this sad story comes to a happy end. The German company Adox decided to acquire the hardware used for »cooking« the Polywarmtone emulsion, to repair it, and to move the whole production line to their facility in Bad Saarow (near Berlin). This effort took some time and costs, due to unexpected problems, but at last, the »resurrectors« of Polywarmtone finally made it happen! The most interesting part, to me, is that they made the whole production line about 4 times more compact (in terms of space required) as it used to be.
The "compacted" Polywarmtone emulsion production line. Image retrieved from www.polywarmton.com
Thus, the production line was quite easily moved from Hungary to Germany by truck. Adox started in 2010 to take preproduction orders for the first batch of paper and they are still open. Now, they are at the last stages before the real production. A pilot batch has been made. Although it didn't come as it should be, they know why it didn't! So, keep our fingers crossed, for the first batch of Polywarmtone to be made soon! Their ongoing activity can be found on this link, where a related blog can be found as well. Hopefully, we'll see soon the Polywarmtone paper reborn, much like the Phoenix is reborn from its own ashes!

p.s. this is by no means an advertising post, I just wanted to express my sympathy to Adox' endeavors!



Random Quote

" The soul can not think without a picture." Aristotle


Portfolio of the Week: Rolland A. Flinta

Dear Readers,
This week we feature another photographer from Germany, Rolland A. Flinta. Rolland is a Hungarian-born photographer and director currently based in Bonn, Germany. He has been keen about photography since the adolescence and it was about three years ago that he made a serious decision to dive deeper into it. His re-entrance into analog photography is relatively late, but nevertheless, he shows good mastering of the medium. He mostly shoots in medium format. Below the portfolio, there is Rolland's bio, describing his own points of view and photo-lifestyle.  All I can say is: it's never too late to (re)enter in the magic analog world, and Rolland's work is an exquisite example! Enjoy his work! Rolland's work can be accessed through Flickr and his website.
Silver regards

 All photos copyright: Rolland A. Flinta

Rolland's Bio

The plan for my future is to enhance more and more in photography. What pushes me on most is: perfection. There is so much to explore and I have the strongest feeling in me that I haven't reached the end of that discovery process for a long time yet. This is what keeps me occupied in the near future. 
I was definitely inspired by Richard Avedon exceptionally, by Sally Mann and Herb Ritts. But there are several famous photographers who inspire me again and again. 
Taking pictures for me means thinking thousands of thoughts running through my mind, it means escaping the real world and diving into another. With my work, I generally try to bring out the best in my models. Very frequently, pictures turn out to be inspired spontaneously because shooting one picture means having the following one on my mind. Especially daylight is an important factor for me due to the fact that I love shooting without flashlights. Playing with light and shadow fascinates me. 
In summer 2011 I discovered my enthusiasm for analogue photographing. I learn from shooting to shooting and the analogue photos amaze me more and more. The complexity and the effort of analogue pictures is much higher on the one hand, on the other hand it is worthwhile since you have to take care of every cinch, you have to take time, and in the end you are excited by the mood and the patina of each picture. 
All this makes the photo as much as the model, who has to sit still for so long, adorable. It is a fantastic and an amazing world.
Well, I did have requests for several exhibitions but due to the lack of time I unfortunately had to decline all these offers because the locations were too far away. Up to now I was very happy to be published in various papers, magazines and on the internet. 
With reference to my work, I am dreaming of publishing a photo book with my pictures.

Rolland A. Flinta


Monday column: How did I Get Into the Analog Photography

None the less that I’m old enough to start with photography in analogue times, I waited the time that digital cameras was good enough and cheap enough, so I could afford one. Before that I didn’t know how to begin. Black and white photography, with your own developing and printing seemed to me too complicated, colour photography without intimacy and too expensive.  At that time (in the nineties) actually I was photographing with my parents “focus free P&S”. But only sunsets, home cats and dogs. So this time I don’t count as my photographic experience.  So I waited the time when I had enough money to buy my own photographic camera. It was a P&S, and digital. But it was mine own photographic camera. And with it, I could get some photographic experience. But my photographic years (for me) began to counting only when I get a DSLR. Only then, for me none the less, I start the learning of the photographic way.
Agfa Isola 1, a frame from the first roll of film
Then deep into the photography, I started to look at my grandfather’s legacy in different way. I’d remembered that we have an old camera in the cabinet.  I remembered that as a child, from time to time I was taking it from the cabinet and played with it. But wait. It seemed to be in working order. Could possibly be still working? Only film was odd format. The camera was very old, and I wondered could I possibly still get the film for the camera? At that time I have already heard about medium format photographic equipment. But for my surprise when I was taking measures for the opening in camera where the film plane it should be, it was 56 mm in both directions. It was hard to believe it. The camera was too simple to be a medium format! At that time I did not know, that 120 format film was a standard in past times, because of low resolution of film around WW2. Yes Leica format was in use, but at that time (before the war) the only advantage of 35 mm film was portability (and number of frames of course). So when I learned all about 120 format film, I bought some, put it into the camera and start to do some true analogue photography. The camera was Agfa Isola 1. And of course I had to learn how to develop the film after exposure. But this is another story.


The LomoWall rises in London

In honor to the upcoming Olympic Games in London, over 15,000 participants-lomographers (from 32 countries) contributed 30,000 photos, rigorously made only with Lomo cameras. Those photos have been made into a mosaic, a 65-meter long wall. The LomoWall will be on display from 13 July 2012 to 6 January 2013 at the Museum of London.
The LomoWall. Image by twitter user @votredemoiselle.
The LomoWall is a very good example of a joint effort of the analog community. I think it also proves one of the main aims of the analog community-connecting people (sorry Nokia). The link to the original article is here.


Film Matter: The Schizophrenic Ektar

Kodak Ektar might be the most sophisticated color neg film we have ever seen, in my (and also others) view. It was also the latest film emulsion being introduced (in 2008). No surprise then if it incorporates very advanced features, borrowed mostly from the movie film industry (2-electron sensitization from Kodak Vision films, for example). In the 1990's we could only dream about such a (ISO 100) film. While I find Ektar amazing, I never really made up my mind about it. Why? Because in some respects it just »looks too good« to me. Yes, I do really like saturated, contrasty films, but...Ektar's look sometimes almost reminds me of a (high-end) digital photo-it's too "polished" in my eyes. For some people (or circumstances) that might be a good thing, while for some not. Yes, all I have been dealing up to now were scanned negatives (or Frontier-made prints, for that matter). Yes, scanning Ektar is a breeze. I just think I need to make a decent optical print from an Ektar negative to get a fair assessment-hopefully soon...That's the story when your Ektar rolls undergo the standard C-41 processing. But what happens when you push- or cross-process your Ektar rolls? Let's find it out! Here we have 3 remarkable examples of cross- and push-processed Ektar from Hannah, Will and Leo.
Hannah's Ektar processed in E6. Image retrieved from her photostream on Flickr..
 Hannah crossprocessed her Ektar at home in E6 chemistry. The colors are a bit more muted, yet still rich, there's a bit of bluish cast there, but nothing exaggerated. Probably, a light warming filter will compensate the color cast (if you wish so). But most importantly, the film gets an entirely new look. To me, it looks much like the old trichromie photos. It's like we have a brand new slide film to choose from-who did ever say Kodak discontinued all slide films ? -:)

Will's  2-stop push-processed Ektar in C-41. Image retrieved from his photostream on Flickr.
Leo's 3-stop push-processed Ektar in C-41. Image retrieved from his photostream on Flickr
Will and Leo, on the other hand, push-processed Ektar in C-41 for 2 and 3 stops (ISO 400 and 800), respectively. Yes, these negatives inevitably pick up in contrast (corrected after scanning), but their color rendition changes very much as well. In fact, it's like you're dealing with a completely different (uknown?) color-neg film! Another good thing is, graininess remains reasonable. Will's photos remind me of earlier Kodachrome versions, while those of Leo render a more pastel-like color palette. I shall thank all 3 contributors to gave me the opportunity to show a side-by-side comparison of different processing versions of Ektar. It's just amazing how a "vintage" look you can get from the most modern film! Ektar is definitely a film with split-personality and it's worth to try all the processing variants shown (and perhaps some more)!
Silver regards

Cottage Tip: Keeping Humidity under Control- Part 2

Keeping your photo bags and cases free from moisture is only part of the story, especially if you keep them in an enclosed environment, a closet or drawer, without circulating air, where moisture can accumulate (especially in the cold spots of the house). Over the years, I have accumulated quite some gear, so I needed to buy a small closet where to keep my toys. Now, you can buy an air dehumidifier and replenish the adsorber (calcium chloride) as time goes by. The trouble is, these dehumidifiers are quite bulky, taking much of your precious closet space, as it was in my case. It's still better to have this place for storage of more lenses, isn't it? I came up with a cheap solution: a dehumidifier made from a soft drink bottle.
This is all you need: a stocking, a bottle and calcium chloride.
Put the adsorber inside the stocking of the assembled "device".
Just get a wide-neck bottle and put inside a short nylon stocking. Fix everything with one or two elastic bands. This stocking will serve to contain the adsorber (calcium chloride),  suspended above bottle's bottom, while the wide bottleneck ensures more moisture adsorbing capacity. Fill the stocking with calcium chloride (it is much cheaper to buy it bulk). With time, the liquid (saturated calcium chloride solution) will accumulate on the bottom. Dispose the liquid down the drain (it is safe) and replenish the stocking with fresh calcium chloride as needed. That's it! 
The dehumidifier in its place, along with a thermo/hygrometer.
The same thing can be made from a jar, of course (provided you have enough room). Oh, and a good measure is also to have a small, cheap thermometer/hygrometer located in this place (you can get one for a few bucks). You will be amazed how much humidity changes, depending on the weather. Our goal is to keep relative humidity under 60 %, which is thought to be (mostly) safe in terms of fungal growth. However, r.h. under 35 % is also bad, since lens and camera mechanisms are more likely to get too dry (less lubrication). Fortunately, the latter condition is less likely to occur, in most places.


Portfolio of the Week: Margus Sootla

Dear Readers,

This week we feature an Estonian photographer, Margus Sootla. Margus is a photographer-world traveler who works primarily with medium format. He began with digital, but soon converted himself to film photography. Regarding films, he works with a great variety of them. He defines himself as an amateur, but based on his portfolio, I can only say this is an understatement. Personally, I am particularly impressed by his work done with IR films. However, I was equally impressed by his biography, as I was by his photographic work. Therefore, I made no excerpts of his bio. His full, uncut biography is posted just below the portfolio-just scroll down please. Margus' work can be accessed via Flickr and this link. Enjoy his photos (along with very descriptive captions)!
Silver regards

Nightlife under Khaju bridge, Esfahan, Iran. This is where the local muslim young come to meet their future partners. (Kiev 60, 80mm f2.8 / Maco TP64c)
Persepolis guardian - the symbol of Iran. (Kiev 60, 80mm f2.8 / Maco IR820c IR)
An abandoned ship in Magellan Strait, Argentina. (Pentax 67, 35mm f4.5 fisheye / Fomapan 200 Creative)
Motorcycling Dream, Estonia. (Pentax 67, 75mm f4.5 / Kodak Aerochrome colour IR)
Portrait of Raúl, the friendliest person we've ever met, Argentinian Patagonia. (Pentax 67, 200mm f4 / ADOX CHM400)
Calm before the thunderstorm in my backyard, Estonia. (Linhof Technika 69, 90mm / Maco IR820c IR)
Shades of Time, Estonia. (Pentax 67, 75mm f4.5 / Rollei Infrared shot in -28C )

The Ride, UK. (Arax 60, 30mm f3.5 fisheye / Kodak T-MAX 100 )
Sublime. (Pentax 67, 35mm f4.5 fisheye / Rollei Retro 400)
Hamer tribe is having fun with my small Sigma PS camera, Ethiopia. (Pentax 67, 35mm f4.5 fisheye / Kodak T-MAX 400)
All photos copyright: Margus Sootla

Margus' Biography

I am a hobbyist, a wandering nomad who's passion is travelling. Be it physical or mental. The latter form is where the film cameras (and also analog-audio) comes into play for me.
I shot digital in my baby steps stage till I saw wall sized enlarged b&w photos taken with a 8x10" large format camera by one Estonian photographer who's name unfortunately I can't rember. I was stunned by how much character the photos had down to the grain level without having seen any Photoshop - it was fully analog bred stuff. My other hobby has been motorcycling, being unable to afford carrying a bulky LF camera (although I do have a 5x7" LF camera I shoot with time-to-time), there are too few 35mm film shots I've seen that inspired me, so the only way to go was medium format - to have that raw sensor size yet to be able to pack it with me on my motorcycle and travel the distance.
I started with Kiev 60 - a relatively unreliable soviet 6x6 medium format camera that had many mechanical problems. But through pain it taught me many valuable lessons about photography and the artistic side of it - it's often the defect that becomes an effect in analog photography. The main thing is that this camera has superbly artistic Zeiss Jena lenses that I still can't find equals for in 6x7 format I currently shoot with - the 180mm f2.8 Jena is the best portrait lens ever made in my book. With constant mechanical hassles and hoping I can keep my lenses I upgraded the body to Arax 60, which is an improved version of the Kiev 60 body, but although slightly better, it also gave me problems till I switched to Pentax 67 format which I have been shooting with many years till today. As of now, Pentax 67 is a proven battle tank, it's has endured over 200 000 kilometers of different journeys on a motorcycle - rain, dust, sand, heat, cold and vibrations and I'm amazed it still keeps going, even works at down to -30C degrees. I use 400mm f4, 200mm f4, 105mm f2.4 and 35mm f4.5 fisheye for the P67 system. Time-to-time I also shoot with my friend's Linhof Technica 6x9 with superb Schneider lenses.
In choice of a film I've been a complete multitasker. I do not have any favourite film I can name since I find the analog photography word so fascinating in all levels. I think I've tried almost every film currently sold, even the very little known film brands which I love to test. It's not just about b&w, infrared, colour slide or negative world, but also the alternative enlargement processes to get it on the paper - I've given up scanning the enlarged work since unlike film scanning no digital representation can bring forth the feel of seeing a photo done by an actual enlarger or a contact print onto a photographic paper. From its depth, texture to varying surface reflection, you just can't smell it from the computer monitor :). I became a big fan of the Lith-process that worked especially well with my infrared negatives. Pity I sold my decent darkroom to finance my long dream: to circumnavigate our planet on a motorcycle. This recent undertaking made me homeless, I sold everything I've had except my vinyl collection, turntable, tube amplifier, speakers and my analog camera gear. It has made me more horny about analog photography (and audio) than ever before since I couldn't really practice it to full being more than 3 years on the road.  I did shoot over 150 rolls of film that still wait for digitalizing or enlarging. This will have to wait since I'm currently in a process of building myself up from zero again and I'm glad I've kept all my analog gear, hopefully some day I can acquire some proper analog darkroom again too!
As said before, I'm by no means a proffessional photographer, thus like me also my work has no home in the real world nor on the internet. Flickr never had any serious attention, but some stuff is found there. For more straightforward viewing of my recent doings in English language, you can explore the following link:
Margus Sootla


Random Quote

"Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop." Usman B. Asif


Monday Column: Why a Vampire Can Not Be an Analog Photographer

As an analogue photographer you have all experienced how is to be hours and hours in the darkroom. I don’t know about you, but I had, after several hours in the darkroom in the middle of the night at local elementary school, a strange feeling of presence. I knew that I was alone in the school, but... Hopefully I’m not paranoiac, but as part of consumer of modern popular culture, we are all bombarded with stories about supernatural creatures. And one of those creatures fit perfectly in the dark lonely corridors of the empty local school in the middle of the night.

Could be a vampire? A lonely sorrow creature craving for the blood. And a lonely sorrow analogue photograph in the darkroom seems to be a perfect target. Not! As commonly known, vampires have some deficiencies. Among allergy for garlic and UV light is also allergy to silver. Be thankful to that, that analogue photography is all about silver those days. In the modern films, the vampire killers uses bullets filled with silver nitrate for killing vampires. So, if you are afraid of the vampires, just keep some of used developer. After you develop a film or photographic paper, it has a lot of washed away silver from not exposed parts of film in it. So in the case of need, just pour it over the creature. Guarantee success.  So you don’t need the garlic wreath on the door of the darkroom. You could be sure that no vampire will come and bother you, when you are printing your precious photos.

But hey! Maybe they are not so bad after all. And after all you could find a brother soul in analogue photography? Oh, there is a problem. Photography is all about light and vampires are allergic to the sunlight. But they could be nightlight photographers and they could produce masterpieces like the Edward Steichen’s Pond – Moonlight?

                                       Edvard Steichen: Pond - Moonlight                                                                                  
    Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/ThePondMoonlight.jpg

And others could develop and print the photographs for them, as they did for the Henry Cartier Bresson (and many others photographers too). But why they would bother? At present days, for night time photographers, you have are more appropriately suited tools. A blasfemy for analogue photographers, but nevertheless, vampires goes digital. We already stated that when we are talking about soul in photography, it is analogue. Vampires have no soul. So that’s the ultimate reason, why a vampire could not (wont) be an analogue photographer. They don’t even bother about, they have ISO 204,000.