Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts


Monday Column: What is an Analogue Photography?

Simply, it is not a digital one. Right? But at its core a ccd or a cmos is an analogue device, transforming photons into electrical charge and only afterwards its converted in digital file. But we all agree that this kind of photography is so called “digital photography” and not analogue (or analog in American English) photography. But large amount of analogue photographs after all is converted into digital files by scanning negatives. At least for on line presentation.  It’s a little bit complicated.

But leave philosophical matter about analogue vs. digital for another column in the future. Analogue photography it’s whole universe of diversity at itself. But what it is real analogue photography? Some would say that real analogue photography is when it is taken on some light sensitized material and that aperture and time this material is exposed to light is manually controlled. Other would say give me some film and any camera it would take it. Then it will take film to develop and printing to the local Quick lab. This is also an analogue photography. But what would you say about alternative processes? There it’s not already prepared film in advance, but you must prepare your own light sensitive material, you must do developing and also printing (if it’s needed) at your own. Are those processes more analogue than previous one? What do you think about? What’s your way to be analogue?

p.s.: About last column and which camera I took to the hike. I chose Altix. More about this matter in the next column.


Film Matter: Clearing Out Old Film Stock and the Right Soup

Dear Readers,
You probably expected another part of the sequel Building a small exposure meter, right? Unfortunately, I had a major headache with the purchased digital panel voltmeter as the display for the meter. It looks like a shitty electronic component, with a weird output, so I need first to find out where the problem is, or another voltmeter....But at least, the circuit (with some minor modifications) performs well, with an even lower error as I calculated. So expect to see the final part of the build next week (or a week after). 

The "breadboard" version of the exposure meter works well, but I am still in search of a usable panel meter.
And these are my very last outdated films from the "old good days".
While shuffling my photo stuff, I came across a bunch of films I put out of the freezer a few months ago with the intention to shoot these films at last...trouble is, all 4 films are more or less of the »specialty« type-very high or very low sensitivity, and one is for tungsten light as well. But all of them were venerable emulsions back in the day. So I'll need to pay some respect to them when shooting. The EPT 160T (slide film) will be most likely used when I find some nice happening, like a concert, same for the Tmax P3200. As for the APX25 and the »holy« TechnicalPan, I am not really sure when, but they'll be used probably for some landscape stuff. Ok, this is my business what I should do with these films, but when it comes to develop these BW films, we all have the same problem - in which soup we shall develop the old outdated stuff. For the TechPan and the APX25, I'll probably just use Rodinal or its »clone«, the R09 developer (quite similar, but closer to the original pre-WWII formula), except that for the TechPan I shall use a highly diluted solution. Rodinal is quite a flexible chemical, since you can mix it with a buffer (the plain formula is highly alkaline, but it's not buffered), most often with borax, giving a more gentle development. If you haven't tried Rodinal (or R09) yet, give it a go, especially for low- or medium-sensitivity films. Here you can also find the link to the legendary Unblinkingeye article (written by Ed Buffaloe) on Rodinal and its flexibility.
As for the P3200 (very prone to fog), I am not quite sure how to »soup« it, but most likely I will mix up the post-WWII developer formula, reportedly invented by the Czechoslovak ing.Koblic (a great photographic inventor BTW). After the war, there wasn't any fresh film stock available in Europe (and we had other greater problems then), but only old, mostly highly outdated film stock. So ing.Koblic came out with the formula to preserve film's sharpness and keeping down film fog (to be expected otherwise with old film).  Here is the formula: 

Metol - 4 g
Sodium sulfite (anh.) - 16 g
Disodium phosphate (.12H2O) - 4 g
Borax (sodium tetraborate) - 8 g
water to make - 1000 ml (pH around 8.5)

Here disodium phosphate acts as an antifog agent, in contrast to other developers where potasium bromide is usually used. As for the developing time, one should find him/herself the most appropriate time, but reportedly up to 15 min should do the job, and the developing time shouldn't be so critical (in case of a too long devlopment). Here is also a link to APUG where this developer has been discussed a bit, but not too much unfortunately.
My bottom line above all this is: I am always fascinated how many developer formulas have been invented over the decades, some simple and some (many) very complex. In the end, we often come back to the simplest ones, since they work so well (and Rodinal is just one example). It never stops to fascinate me how can such a (relatively) simple black-and-white chemistry produce such outstanding results, over and over again.


Monday Column: The Right Tool for a Hill Walking Hike

This Friday my brother, I and our uncle will go hiking in the beautiful Slovenian Julian Alps. More accurate: We want to get to the highest mountain in Slovenia. This is Mt.  Triglav, 2,864 metres (9,396 ft) high. It’s a two day hike, first day up, sleeping in the Kredarica hut and the next day down. It’s a 2200 meters (7,218.2 ft) rise and then descent.
First mountain hut "Triglav temple" at opening 1871

Now, I’m a photographer. So I want to take a photographic camera with me on the hike. But it’s will not be an photographic excursion, As a contributor to this blog, would be inappropriate to take with me a digital camera (I admit I will be using a small P&S for snapshots... I’m guilty). So my dilemma is which camera to take with me to the hike? Why dilemma? Take your best camera you own or camera that you could give you the best performance, or the camera you prefer the most and enjoy shooting with? Hm... Probably the best camera, none the less of its simplicity, is my Russian large format camera FKD 18x24 cm or 7x9.5 in, with its wooden tripod. It would require a Sherpa to take it to the mountain top, but they are scarce in those mountains (satire alert!). Probably the second best quality would give me (loan from my friend) Kowa 66. This is a medium format 6x6 cm camera. Here is no need for help from Himalayas but it is large and heavy and bulky. Remember the rise? Much lighter and also with enough quality would be my Canon EOS 100 and some lenses. Lightweight would be with 24 2.8 and 50 1.8 lenses. But is also too much bulk, and I already explained in the last column what’s for me analogue shooting. I have only a small backpack and must take with me all necessary for two day trip and this season in mountains has already fell first snow... 

  Secovlje Saltpans shot with Agfa Isola 1
The most lightweight option would be my Agfa Isola 1 and Altix-n. First is a medium format P&S from late fifties and early sixties. It weight’s only 300 g. Problem is that the number of exposures is limited to only 12. And it has only one shutter speed (1/30 s) and only two aperture values: cloudy f11 and sunny f16, and quality of the lens is in the lomographic territory (I like it). The other option is a 35 mm fully manual “guess the distance rangefinder” with nice 50 mm f2.9 lens. But it lacks the mf look and it’s heavier.  

 Secovlje Saltpans shot with Altix-n

I must decide by myself but I want to hear your opinion. What do you think about my options and what would you bring to that kind of hiking from your arsenal?


Monday Column: Analogue Photography as Escape from Digital World - Part II

Last Monday column I wrote about analogue photography as escape from digital world.  In this column I will tell about things in analogue photography that differentiate analogue photography from modern digital world and which I love.

You are already familiar with all sorts of digital and electronic helps and shortcuts found in modern digital and not so modern analogue cameras. A few classical photographic electronic helps found already in cameras made in 70-ties and before. We are all familiar with metering in our cameras, P, A, T (S), and M modes. Aperture and shutter speed is controlled electronically from mid-seventies Canon AE1 camera or maybe even before that. Now days you have face recognition, smile shutter, all kinds of scene modes that help consumers, amateurs (not that I underestimate amateur photography and “casual” photographers) and people who know nothing about photography except phrase “smile” or “cheese” and then they press shutter button in one move, all way down... There are all sorts of these so called scene modes; from helpful like portrait, landscape and action, to downright bizarre ones like candlelight, sunset, food, party, or even pet scene modes. And then are so-called effects, for people who are not familiar with post production, like B&W and sepia, or effects that simulate some legacy film emulsions, or even pin-hole effect, and so on... Better I don’t write about live view and video in modern cameras. Sure I missed plenty of them.
Electronics, firmware and hardware are developing in very high pace. So every year we have new “useful” features. Some are turning out useful and most of them really are not. Some of this year’s “new photographic” features are: Wi Fi incorporated in camera, so you can control camera by your phone, and wirelessly transfer images, camera equipped with phone android operating system, so you could benefit with all sorts of application, useful or not, for your camera. And also you can share freshly taken photos on your favourite social network... But feature that stroke me most is that on one of new camera that was presented from giant in consumer electronics at Photokina last week. It is called Auto Portrait framing function. When it’s enabled the camera use face detection to locate your subject, crops the image based on a rule-of-thirds, and resample the picture back up to the same resolution as is the original shot. Effectively camera decides about framing instead of you!!! Where this is going I think don’t need to tell.

So whatever these are useful, helpful and needed photographic tools, I prefer a purist way of taking photographs. With all manual and mechanical way of controlling my camera. So when I’m taking pictures and they didn’t turn out in the way I wanted to, it’s only my fault. I prefer working with my light meter, manually turning knob to specific shutter value, turning the aperture ring on selected f stop, zone focusing and manually rewind the film... And then, when I press the shutter button, it’s a pure mechanical joy!


Monday Column: Analogue Photography as Escape from Digital World

What’s the reason to practice an analogue photography? It is because it’s better than digital? Or maybe it’s not better quality but better looking? Maybe it’s the reason the thrill of unknown, the so called chocolate box effect; that you never know what you will get until you develop the film? Or maybe it’s all about the feeling of operating the beautifully crafted mechanical photographic box?

We live in a frenzy world. The photographic technologies are developing too fast for my taste. They are excelling and superior at first sight. But like fast food tasteless and fatting (your mind). Photographically I’m a digital child. So I often catch myself just shooting (with my digital camera) at my photographic subject/object without thinking about it. And when I’m not satisfied with the results I just shoot more. But when I’m shooting with a vintage camera loaded with film I just switch the mind. I’m suddenly aware of my subject/object, I think about it, how to capture it without ruing my film. I’d had a success ratio about 25-30 frames of 36. How many do you think I had at same time shooting digital? Ok. I’m improving and I’m trying harder with my digital camera. So I’m improving my digital success ratio. But without analogue photography I would remain without experience that only shooting film gives you. Its calmness, some kind of therapy how to heal of digital frenzy that surrounds us every moment of our lives. And that’s just one reason why a photographer should practice an analogue photography.

I think that every photographer it has his own reason. Or reasons?  What’s mine? I’m not really sure. Analogue photography exists officially from 1839 when Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre presented to French Academy of Sciences the first photographic process in the world. So the analogue photography has at least 170 (or more) years of history. How many photographic processes, techniques, cameras and films were developed and worth to try out in that time? I’m interested in many of processes, techniques, cameras and films and in some not so much. In contrast digital photography exists only a decade or so (at least when majority of photographic professionals migrated to digital). Maybe in the future our grandchildren will find technology of today relaxing and interesting? Who knows?


Bad News:Lucky Film ceases Color Film Production

The Chinese Lucky Film Company was, and probably still is, the third largest film manufacturer. They became known outside China mostly because of their BW films, but they also (used to) have their line of color negative films. Now, with the decreased demand on film, they decided to shut down the color film production. The article can be found on the CCTV News site. With the uncertainty of Kodak's film line, there's only Fuji remaining in the color film market race for sure, for now. Probably we don't need to worry about BW films, they will be the last to go! But with color emulsions, it is a completely different story. There are many layers to be coated at the same time with great precision, and all the components must be more strictly "cooked"  and coated, otherwise unwanted color shifts may quickly occur etc....A film company thus needs much much of machiney and effort to produce a "workable" color emulsion compared to BW, but the sell price is just a bit higher.  Yes, the profit margins are thinner, but existent.

I dare to predict  a few things:
1. despite reduced production, demand for color film will stay quite stable
2. because of (1), the production (in numbers) of color film will stay more or less the same as it is now, but
3. the "purchase model" (at least) for color film will change: pre-production orders (and down-payments) will be made, thus ensuring the production/purchase quota to the manufacturer/photographer