For Christmas this year I was given a roll of Kentmere 400 film. I had never heard of it before, but I was told it was the same as HP5+. So I took it, bought a Bessa R from Moler’s Camera in Wichita Kansas and loaded it up. I set it to the box speed, and went out shooting.
There’s a lot of steps one could take after they develop. They can use a “one stop shop” software like Vuescan or Silverfast. They can use more techie options like negfix or Photoshop balancing and custom scripts. I’ve tried a lot of these things, and most of them left me frustrated or dumbfounded at how long it took to get the best product possible. My current workflow takes me from scanning to final product in less than a minute a frame. So here’s what I do: Continue reading
For the past year I’ve been obsessed with getting the best color out of my images. I’ve slowly been altering the way I process the film to see if the results get better or worse. First it was the temperature bath, and things got better. Then it was the developer, changing from Tetanal to Digibase, and things got a little bit better. Then I tried to hone my VueScan skills, and that’s where I went insane. I don’t think I’m the only one to think this, but VueScan is the most difficult program to get accurate color from scans. Sure, it might be a great scanning program, but when it comes to color, it’s awful.
No matter what I did I could never get the color to match what I got back when I had it done professionally. Finally, one Saturday I got frustrated to the point that I spent a few hours searching opinions online, and found ColorPerfect. Life will never be the same. Continue reading
One day I was looking around the internets for some new film. I looked around on B&H and wasn’t happy with the offering, so I went to Freestyle. That’s when I found Arista Premium 400. If you’re wondering what Arista Premium 400 is, let me save you some time: it’s tri-x.
At first, I was looking at things based on price. I’m cheap, so I wanted something inexpensive. I mean, you can’t argue with the prospect of 25 rolls for $2 a piece? That’s when I found Arista Premium 400. I googled it, to make sure it wasn’t crap before I bought it, and to my surprise, I figured out what alot of people had already known. Arista Premium 400 is re-branded Tri-X. Yeah. That’s awesome.
A little while after figuring that out, I bought the roll and have been enjoying it ever since. I think I’m nearly at the end of my roll, but I might have one or two more rolls left, probably just enough to get me through the first half of winter. But so far, I’m loving it. The Tri-X has a great contrast, and develops incredibly well in HC110. Even more, you can push it to 1600 with ease, and the grain isn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I read a lot of complaints about the purple film base not washing out, but really, what does it matter? It scans beautifully.
So far I’ve only tried HC110, but I’ve been really enjoying the results. There’s a lot less midtones than the HP5+, which is exactly what I disliked about the HP5+. There’s strong contrast, but the details in the shadows and highlights still show through for the most part. I normally develop with dillution B, but have tried stand development with success. In short, however you choose to develop this stuff, it’s going to work. Maybe I’ll try cafenol next if I feel like I really need to try it’s limits.
I have struggled with explaining this lately. They see me with a camera, and ask “is that film?”, and when I tell them “yes” they immediately jump to “why?!”.
It’s hard to explain, because in today’s world of iPads, Androids and Google Glasses we all think that moving forward with the next best thing is always better. I admittedly buy into that thought process. I have a nice computer, a nice smartphone, a nice tablet and a nice DSLR. So then what’s up with the film?
A blog that I subscribe to, http://www.stevehuffphoto.com, had a submission today that I think sums it up Arthur Kroisel:
“What I realized by the time with shooting film with those pieces of art was pretty much the opposite of what my thoughts about photography were before. Whenever I shot digital I wanted to have the best, cleanest, sharpest files you can get. My craving for better lenses and equipment had become more and more the more I got into photography. The thing is with film: You don’t get that. At least I don’t. I don’t get clean files. At all. When I shoot my Delta 400 at 800 ISO and compare it to 800ISO on my 5DmII, well, I quite simply can’t. Furthermore I develop the films myself (I only shoot black and white film, which is really simple/cheap to develop) and then scan them…
What I came across during my process of becoming a better photographer was that it’s less important how perfect a shot is, but much more how much emotion it triggers inside of you. That is why I love film. It just has its own emotion and mood in all it’s imperfections. Photography is all about freezing the moment and the emotion at a particular time. If a photographer manages to do that, to make others feel the emotions, he/she has done her job right.”
He nailed it. Photography isn’t about getting the perfect looking file, or about getting the sharpness absolutely accurate with no noise. Even with film, it isn’t about the dynamic range capabilities or the grain. It’s so much more than that, and arguably a lot more difficult. It’s “about freezing the moment and the emotion at a particular time”. And this goes hand in hand with another saying I like to tell people: “the best camera is the one you have”.
If you don’t have a nice Leica or 5DmkIII, it doesn’t matter, just take out the one you have and take a photo. For me, that’s film, since it’s cheap and it’s a joy to work with. For you, it might be your camera phone, or a digital point and shoot your Mom used to use. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re capturing the moment, you’re doing things right.
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of seeing through someone else’s eyes. I remember trying to explain this to my brother when I was young, that I wanted to be able to see what others see, but he thought I was just being stupid. If you’ve ever seen the movie Being John Malkovich then you know what I’m talking about.
When I first saw this camera, I thought, “this thing is ridiculous”. I don’t mean that in the good way, but instead the “holy crap, people actually bought this” kind of a way. In fact, it seems like Nishika had such high hopes for this camera, they even commissioned Vincent Price to do the promotional/instructional video (no joke). In reality though, it’s a piece of junk. It’s fully plastic body is enormous and is built with less precision than a Hot Wheels toy. The body itself looks like a Minolta copy, complete with a fake LCD screen at the top with readouts on recommended “Ideal 3-D Distances” from your subject. It looks like it was made to be a copy of something fancier, like a “Nimtendo”. But it wasn’t, it was crafted to trick as many suckers as possible into buying a piece of plastic crap. And they apparently did buy it, and are still buying it. Even though it’s an awful camera, after a little bit of digital trickery it does it’s job well.