Friday, 19 May 2017

First dirty photos from my Yashica Mat 124

After the develop machine broke down at my local photo shop I had to wait some more days for the first results. The first strips of negatives are now in my hands (three more to come from the lab) and I put them on a Epson Perfection V750 for a first dirty scan and some retouching.

After fiddling around with the interface of the Epson software I got some nice results to show here on my blog. I did not spent too much time with post processing and other stuff. I will dive deeper into this later.

My favorite photo is the woman that is going up the stairs. Due to the less sensitive Ektar film I had a longer exposure time and the subject has some fine motion blur at the fast moving feet. The overall details and colors of the image are awesome. I love the square format on this scene.
The first image was a long exposure. I metered the light inside the new Elbphilharmonie building in Hamburg and put the camera down behind a window inside the ticket shop. You see the main floor with the lights and someone moving through the image. I love how the film renders this scene. On glossy things on the bottom are flyers and brochures reflecting the light from above.
The last image is a good example how much headroom a good color film has. I've metered the scene for more for the incoming light at the subject. After scanning the negative I was astound to see clouds and some well exposed buildings in the background. The Ektar 100 was able to retain the information in the sky in this harsh contrast situation!

That quick and dirty scan of my first negatives are promising and I have not used a film holder (because it's gone...just ordered a new one today), so the quality will raise with the next scans.

What I've learned from shooting with my Yashica

  1. I need a lens hood to avoid flare
  2. think more about the composition and don't waste film
  3. film has it's own visual fingerprint (I wrote about that here) and exposure latitude
  4. waiting for results is like waiting for your birthday in your childhood
  5. shooting film is like having a nice vacation, a break from the nervous and fast digital age

I am waiting now for the next three rolls of film (400TX, Ektar 100 and Portra 160) and will spend some time with the scanner to get the best results. What are your experience with scanning film at home? Any suggestions how to get the best results?



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Is Instagram dead for real photographers?

Eric Kim just deleted his Instagram account (here) and you experience that the amount of SPAM, advertising and selfie addiction has reached a new peak in the last months. There are also individuals who collect followers like other people flowers at the central park at spring (by having just 10 crappy photos with hundreds of likes online).

I use Instagram to follow hand selected photographers to see their work and get some inspiration. I give a fuck about hundreds of likes but I am happy when certain people I know comment or like my images. It is more like an always changing exhibition that is carefully curated by me.

Back in the days where Instawhatever never had existed!
Sometimes I also think about deleting my account. There are so many companies, corporate bloggers and other social media experts who ruin the whole thing. They use bots to like your stuff and tell you that your photos are awesome because they want to be followed back. It's the same thing with Facebook and I deleted my account some years ago and felt happy with the decision. Facebook is the most useless social media platform I know. I would never ever return to such a time consuming and meaningless thing.

I think it's important to print your photos and show them in the real world to real people. Maybe you print your own magazine (like I do) or do an exhibition (in a Café or even under a bridge without permission). Instagram is for the lazy ones and you can't look behind the machinery that drives the whole thing. And if you collecting followers to get that "K" behind the count, you are wasting your lifetime with stupid things.



Monday, 15 May 2017

Go film, because it's cool?

Back in the days I was a little film shooter. But nowadays I love the convenience of digital photography without waiting for lab results etc. But why going just into one direction? I don't think that film is outdated. It is a completely different medium with it's own characteristics and pros and cons and if you start with medium format you can achieve superb results without paying ten to thirty grand for a digital medium format system. Just buy a TLR or a Pentax 67 and start medium!

 I recently bought a Yashica Mat 124 6x6 camera to start with medium format. I've tried out some films and I am still waiting for the results back from the lab. I always wanted to own a TLR because I love the way you shot with it. It is a full manual way of shooting. Everything needs to be set by you. The square format is a different way of looking at a scene and you need to be careful to hold the camera right to get everything straight the way you want it. It slows you a bit down and makes you think different. A digital camera comes with thousands of settings and some heavy IQ behind the scenes (what is great). A manual camera is reduced to the image taking process with nothing in between, except the the shutter. That helps me to get over my laziness of shooting with AUTO-ISO and aperture priority.

Ricoh 500GX with AGFA 200 Color film (don't know with one it was)
And the best thing about film photography is the value you get with your camera. My Yashica is more than fourty years old and it still works like a charm and your can repair it if you are skilled a bit in mechanics. But the best thing is the film-medium. Imagine you could upgrade your sensor on your digital camera. Can you? No way! But film has moved on. Look at the near grain-less Portra 160 or Ektar 100 today and how they handle over-exposure up to four levels. And film is more forgivable. You can go out with the "Sunny 16" rule and get great results back from the lab. And don't forget that each film has it's own fingerprint with a certain look and feel when you look at the results.

And my favorite is?

I can't really compare the two mediums. At the end the result is more important and it doesn't make any difference if you take a photo with your iPhone, a TLR or a digital full format camera. But each medium has it's own distinctive smell and look. The process of taking the image could also be important for the results. May you need to be stealth and want some high quality or you want to squeeze every bit of detail out of the scene. Film is not dying. It is still an option in the photographic world to work with. Nothing more.

What I love about film

After a longer break from film I can say this about working with it again:

  • more accuracy - I am limited in frames and it costs me money for every roll of film
  • exposure - I care more about the light and the right settings on the camera
  • playtime - the surprise factor of waiting for the results and that physical touch when you play with the many sorts of film
  • awareness - there are no EXIF data stored inside the camera so you have to take notes etc.
  • fun - because you can buy tons of used gear out there to do crazy thing without buying a equivalent to a sports car

But people say it's a fad!

Don't believe what other people say about hipsters and all the retro stuff and make your own experiences. Don't let others spoil the whole thing before it has started. Grab a camera and put a roll of film in it. Go out and take photos the way your want to take them. There are so many different ways to capture light. Try them out and widen your horizon!



Thursday, 11 May 2017

Use your talent to say "thank you"

You love photography? Then share it with other people for free. Not every job should get paid. Just imagine you are sitting in a nice cafe and enjoy a good cup full of liquid gold. Maybe you can do the owner of the cafe a favor in taking a portrait of the staff or creating shots of the interior and load it up to your Instagram account (or share it directly with the owner). Just ask them and give something back for free.

Owner of "Gang und Gäbe" Café in Munich
This is great for many reasons:

  • You give something back for free without expecting something in return. 
  • You learn more about people and their life. 
  • Maybe one day you want to share your art via magazines or exhibitions and those people will help you with that.

Had a nice chat about his coffee project after showing him the photo.
So don't be afraid and think about what you can give, instead of what you can take. This will lead to new connections and adventures. Trust me!



Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Are you looking for perfection?

Than let me tell you a little story about Kraftwerk (the German band). I saw a documentary about electronic music back in the days. They talked about how mechanic and lifeless music from a sequencer sounded until bands like Kraftwerk used systems to add some random delay to the perfection to make the whole thing sound more life like. Can you tell me why we degrade the information of an image by raising the contrast, convert it to black and white or adding grain to it?

Maybe we are doing it because life is not what we would file under perfection. But the circle of life is perfectly imperfect. An example: there are thousands of beautiful sunflowers where you can find the golden ratio and the Fibonacci numbers in every detail of every flower, but they don't look the same. Even in a field full of sunflowers you won't find two flowers who exactly like each other. Not one. (Or think of the ice crystals to make it more spooky).

So what are you looking for in photography? Perfection? You will never reach perfection. This what we are all made of. We are all curious children who want to play and discover. Perfection would be the death of everything, a grinding halt, because there is nothing to reach for if everything is perfect. You get utterly bored in a world where nothing new will happen. It would also be the death of arts.

Celebrate you imperfectness today and enjoy a world that surprises you every second (even in a bad way), because there is so much discover. Ask yourself if you really need too much gadgets and try to spoil your own habits by doing your things slightly different. If the outcome of your works looks different from what you have expected than ask yourself what you can learn from it. Many discoveries where made by accident. Go with the flow and let joy and curiosity lead you trough an perfect imperfect universe.



Thursday, 4 May 2017

Do I really need a Fuji GFX medium format camera?

A good question. Let us put the price beside and pretend you have enough money to buy every Fuji camera out there. Would you buy the GFX? It has a resolution of 50 megapixels and you can do different shots with a different depth of field and less noise etc. I know that there are some reasons to gain more resolution when it comes to product photography or fashion photography. But keep in mind that you can archive medium format like results for many occasions by using today's panorama algorithms.

35mm f8.0 / 50 megapixels by combining two images free hand - works even with street shots
Just think out of the box. Aim your camera at a subject and think about the possibilities in post production. The next image was taken in London at the Barbican Centre (a nice socialist looking urban landscape) and I had my 35mm attached to my XPRO2. A wide angle lens was not at hand and I wanted more resolution so I can crop the images and print it on a larger scale.

Barbican Centre London

I took four shots free-hand and did some minor adjustments later in Lightroom. Keep in mind that the shot preserves the focal length of the lens. With a wide angle lens the buildings would look more far away from each other, but with the 35mm they look like I wanted them to. I use this simple method a lot and since Lightroom introduced their super duper easy way of creating panoramas with two clicks, it is easy as 1-2-3. And don't forget that Lighroom creates a DNG file out of your images that can be edited like the single raw files (also preserving your camera profiles etc.).

and another street shot with my 35mm made of two images

Just think of the many possibilities you have with the combination of your camera and a nice little algorithm that can combine two or more images in seconds. I will now repeat the question the whole article is based on. Do you need a medium format camera only for the sensor size and resolution?

But there are limits to this method: you can't combine images where things are moving in more than one of the images. The images above are have at least one image with moving subjects.

So there is a need for a real medium format camera, but maybe you don't do this kind of shots often and enjoy the power of more resolution by keeping the focal length without paying over 10.000 dollars for a GFX that is also a bit bulkier than your APS-C camera. For me this method is extending my possibilities  and easy to use. I use it often and think about it every time I compose a shot. Maybe your photographic workflow can also benefit from this way of combining images. Just think about it.