Crowd Sourced 35mm Film Ideas, February 2013

With rough­ly ten frames left on a roll, I opened up the selec­tion of sub­ject mat­ter to social media. There were some amaz­ing requests and I was able to accom­mo­date most of the responses. 

Here are the best of what I pho­tographed — thanks to all who contributed!

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Photo Exploration | Wallpaper: Pinhole and Marcos

This week has tak­en a lit­tle longer to pub­lish, but it has tak­en more time to put togeth­er a mixed Wall­pa­per and Explo­ration post.

I have recent­ly become mild­ly obsessed with pin­hole pho­tog­ra­phy, per­haps want­i­ng to have a bridge from the low-fi repro­duc­tion with the tech­ni­cal know-how to cre­ate viable pin­hole works. That said, I don’t always suc­ceed in my own efforts. It is impor­tant to remem­ber when shoot­ing film what film you actu­al­ly have in the cam­era. Oth­er­wise you end up shoot­ing Supe­ria X‑Tra 400 speed film at 1600, think­ing you can just devel­op it your­self at 1600. But then you open the cam­era back and whoops — it’s col­or, and get­ting a lab to push C‑41 is a bit of a pain. So what you get instead is just 2 full stops of under­ex­posed images on film stock that real­ly does­n’t tol­er­ate under­ex­po­sure in the best of cir­cum­stances. Throw in the pin­hole lens and we’ve got a mess.

All that said, with the right expec­ta­tions, a black and white con­ver­sion, patience in pro­cess­ing and a lit­tle luck, you can still get a work­able image. Or at least, the kind of a work­able image that can be part of a final product.

So that’s how we got the base layer.

Regard­ing the trees, there was a real­ly fog­gy morn­ing last week. I woke up, grabbed a dig­i­tal cam­era (5dmk2 with 24–70mm) and ran out­side to get some of the trees before the fog start­ed to burn away. That’s a key thing I’ve learned about fog — if it looks good, pho­to­graph then and there. Don’t wait — the sun will rise and the vapors will lift remark­ably quick­ly. It’s the morn­ing ver­sion of the sil­ver hour at twi­light — gone before you notice.

I did­n’t have much of a plan for the pho­tos, but I des­per­ate­ly want­ed to doc­u­ment the images. Once I opened up the files I thought, “hey — not bad — maybe…wait.…maybe they could be.…yes!”

I gen­er­al­ly am not keen on lay­er­ing, and even less com­bin­ing dig­i­tal and film, but for this image I could not resist.

Pin­hole, Trees and Marcos

So, to get this image I loaded the pin­hole in Pho­to­shop and took the trees as a sec­ond lay­er. By using the Col­or Dodge blend, I could keep enough detail of both lay­ers. Oth­er rea­son­able results were found using the Lin­ear Dodge and Over­lay modes, but the Col­or Dodge was best from what I could get. I left a large amount of the resid­ual muck from scan­ning intact. My scan­ner was pret­ty dirty and I did­n’t notice until after I had scanned a few images, but I liked the look and left it there.

All told, I don’t know what this image is say­ing. I like the light, the fig­ure with the hat, the trees and all of it put togeth­er. Some­times some­thing that works for me just works for me and that’s that. Pre­scrib­ing a mean­ing to it isn’t nec­es­sary. That said, if you have an inter­pre­ta­tion please share it with me!

Photo Exploration: The Guitar. January 2013

Per­form­ers on stage are, by the nature of per­form­ing, pret­ty emo­tive peo­ple. Usu­al­ly cog­nizant of every look and motion, they are con­stant­ly build­ing up a pres­ence with their eyes and hands and lips and hair and clothes and so on and so on. That makes for engag­ing and excit­ing pho­tog­ra­phy — think of the time­less imagery of Jimi Hen­drix, Jim­my Page or James Brown (acci­den­tal allit­er­a­tion, what?). Even in the midst of organ­ic and spon­ta­neous activ­i­ty, there is a con­stant per­sona pre­sent­ed to the audience.

How­ev­er, with the right envi­ron­ment and patience, occa­sion­al­ly a pho­to­graph can be tak­en that catch­es a moment of qui­et dis­trac­tion. Such as the pho­to­graph below.


Tak­en at the French Broad Brew­ery, this pho­to was one of a series and you can see the rest of the show here. But this one image stood out to me for a num­ber of rea­sons — I get a sense of soli­tude, maybe of inter­nal rehearsal, and ulti­mate­ly a sense of calm. I’ll be hon­est — I real­ly like this image. I like the col­or, the com­po­si­tion, the sub­ject. I like that it feels a lit­tle bit behind-the-stage-cur­tain. I real­ly like that it does not look like a con­cert pho­to­graph I would nor­mal­ly take.

How to get such a pho­to, and how to repro­duce? The tech­ni­cal spec’s are 1600ISO, 1/60 @ f/2. Canon 5Dmk2, 50mm f/1.4 lens. Stage light­ing (of which I had no con­trol). So we know it’s going to be a mod­er­ate­ly grainy set­up, and we know the DOF is pret­ty going to be pret­ty shal­low. And since the light­ing is com­ing from the stage lights, we can assume that it’s going to be a mish­mash of some red, yel­low and green­ish tones.

And all of which plays well with this “cur­tain for a back­drop” type of stage. If it was­n’t a top-notch craft brew­ery, you could expect PBR cans or per­haps cracked tum­blers of Old Crow for refresh­ments. For­tu­nate­ly, the beer was deli­cious (ESB for me) and the glass­es solid. 

Any­way — the main thing you have to remem­ber with these sort of envi­ron­ments is to be alert. Dis­trac­tions between songs can lead to missed oppor­tun­ties. When the singer moves away from the mic, don’t go back to the beer. Fol­low her with your cam­era and watch what’s going on. Is she get­ting some­thing out of her gui­tar case? Is she talk­ing to some­one off-stage? Is she, as in this case, chang­ing instru­ments entire­ly? All of these open up the win­dow for a pho­to that’s a bit more involved, a bit more per­son­al than the pro­tect­ed and pro­ject­ed per­son­al­i­ty of the artist.

Thanks must also go out to Chelsea Labate of Ten Cent Poet­ry for gra­cious­ly allow­ing pho­tog­ra­phy at her events.

Wallpaper: Toy Truck in Film

Did you know that when you are tak­ing a pho­to up close with a c300 (or any oth­er TLR I would imag­ine) you have to cor­rect for par­al­lax? Oh? You did? Well, yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re all so smart. So now I know. But when I shot this roll of film from the oth­er day I did­n’t have this knowl­edge. I thought I was mak­ing the appro­pri­ate com­pen­sa­tions (and I was, only it was just for expo­sure not for fram­ing) — and I shot a few frames with­out correcting.

But some­times that’s OK. And they did­n’t turn out all that bad — just kin­da, I dun­no, sur­re­al? Like dreams that we half remem­ber. Yeah, we’ll go with that. In fact, here is how I will present this pho­to in the future:

“An explo­ration of mem­o­ry, per­tain­ing to an adult’s sub­con­scious ren­der­ings
of the van­tage points inher­ent in the vision of a child”

Truck, Film.

Behold, your week­ly wall­pa­per offer­ing! Click to down­load the set of files.