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Archive - June 2014  (Click here for current)

2014 June 27

If you're not careful, digital will make you a worse photographer because it trains you to take more and crummier pictures, even knowing that some of them won't come out.  With film you have to learn to wait a bit more.  After a while you cultivate a sense of when someone is going to have a photogenic moment,  My use of digital cameras lately has atrophied that skill.  I'm determined to reverse that trend.

Some people on photo forums are all like "you can't possibly photograph people unless you have 99-point autofocus" or whatever the latest thing is.  Not true.  If you can photograph a baby with manual focus at f/1.7, you can photograph just about anything or anyone.  f/1.7 is the widest aperture on the Minolta 50mm lens I often use.  The depth of field is wafer-thin.

By the way, in that last update I was talking about the great color of Fuji Velvia, and I had just sort of randomly picked a Velvia scan.   Well here's one that better exemplifies the color saturation....

Nope, I didn't have to tweak this after scanning.  This is what the slide looks like.  If a scene has the right wavelengths, Velvia 50 and 100 will saturate out like nobody's business. This was Velvia 100, believe it or not.  Velvia 100F does not do this, as far as I've seen.

This one will be in the art gallery Skies & Sunsets page, when I get the chance.

2014 June 24

Some fun new stories are up in the Canon 6D gallery.   Pictures, too, of course. 

DSLR's are fun and useful, but as far as I'm concerned, slide film is still the best photographic thing in existence.  Even in 2014.   Instead of its being a backup for digital, it should be the other way around. 

It's easy to forget after you've been looking at a bunch of digital pictures, but I'm reminded yet again of why slide film is so great.

The colors. 

Yes, it's more than simply the knowledge that the image was not made by a computer (which counts for a lot).    It's the colors.

Time to get some RVP50 and RVP100.  

2014 June 19

EOS 6D with EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
ISO 200 @ f/14

This photo and others will be in the how to photograph lightning article when I get the chance to update it. 

I use RAW once in a while, as I did for this photo, but mostly I just like to shoot JPG.

Even more than that, I like to shoot film.  If anything, all this digital stuff only makes me want to shoot film even more. 

When I was a kid, my favorite camera was a Kodak Trimlite Instamatic 18.  I would gladly still bring one of these to an event and get some supplementary pictures with that.  (That's possible in 2014 because of this stuff... stock up for your old 110 camera.)  

By the way, I have some lightning photos on film, which I'll post one day if time permits. 

2014 June 16

I hope all you dads had a great Fathers Day.  This was my first.  We had a little cookout, as so many families do.

Ah, the logistics of handling food and utensils when there's nowhere to set anything.   This actually turned into a project before we could eat... but it's all good.  After the construction of one makeshift wooden bench on which to set everything, we did alright. 

I may put an article on N-nitrosamines into the food section.  For now, suffice it to say that this evening's hot dogs were nitrite-free.

Note to self:  that "deeply recessed" stuff you read about the 55mm Micro Nikkor is not going to help.  This lens has extremely bad lens flare, so bad that it washes out the pictures even when you're not pointing the camera anywhere near the sun.   I think I may have just found the real source of glare when doing macro capture of slides.  I've used a lot of cheap lenses, but the (not cheap) Micro Nikkor has worse flare than anything else I've tried recently.

Another note:  After all this time, I realized something.  Digital can easily make you a worse photographer.  It can get a person accustomed to taking pictures when it's clear they probably won't turn out well.  

We'll look more at how "digital can make you a worse photographer" in the upcoming "Film vs. Megapixels" article.   Whenever I get around to it.

I hope you had a great weekend.

2014 June 14

A reader asked if Velvia should be exposed like color negative film, rating it at one stop less than the box speed.  Velvia, like all slide film, must be either correctly exposed (i.e., exactly at box speed), or underexposed by no more than 1/2 a stop to increase saturation.  1/3 is better.  On a Yashica MAT, you'd turn the aperture dial one-third of the way to the next narrower aperture.  It seems on the Yashica that you can also turn the shutter speed dial when the shutter is cocked;  on some of the Soviet cameras you can't do that or you'll break something.

 (By the way, don't ever try to actuate the self-timer on a Yashica MAT when it's in M Sync mode;  you'll break the shutter mechanism.  Keep it on X Sync.)

Another reader asked me if Velvia 50 had been discontinued in medium format (120) size.   That's understandable, given the other things that have happened with film in the digital age.

Actually, though, the "Velvia has been discontinued" meme has been going around since at least 2003.  In the past couple of years it seems that it's been making the rounds every month or so.   The heuristics are almost always the same:  "A dealer told me they won't be getting Velvia anymore". 

This sounds vaguely familiar.  Ah, yes... it's a variation of what I've heard from the new guy at the local photo counter because he enjoys getting a rise out of film photographers.  So if your dealer tells you it's been "discontinued", don't jump to conclusions.

Actually, yesterday I spoke to a representative from Fujifilm USA, and Velvia 50 is still available in 120. 

That's good, because it's still the best thing out there in photography.

Old Exxon Sign With Rust
Fujichrome Velvia
Yashica MAT
This was probably 1/125th @ between f/11 and f/16,
or else 1/250th @ between f/8 and f/11.
Scanned 6/13/2014

And by the way, Fujifilm USA responded quickly to my inquiry about Velvia.

No discontinuance, but any day is a good day to acquire more slide film.  It wouldn't hurt to pick up some Velvia 50 in 120 (here) or 35mm (through this link), and if you use those links to buy your stuff, you can help support my website.  Much appreciated!

2014 June 12

On the 11th there was a local tornado warning.  Severe thunderstorms were moving through the area.

It was kind of dark out, so what did I do?  Went out on the front porch and tried to photograph lightning.  (The storm was not that close.)  My mistake was that the battery was so far run down that the camera shut off.  And my good lightning camera (a cheap commie half-frame from about 1970) went bad when it fell in a mud puddle the size of Lake Michigan.  (Silt got in everything and it insta-rusted.  Then there was other stuff wrong, because I tried to dry it in the oven.) 

So, no lightning photos from the 11th.  But I did get this one last summer on the Canon T3.

A pretty good lightning photo, considering it was a video grab.

Soundtrack?  Song #4 from this.  (A good example of a redlined analog recording, by the way.   Which is weird, because the rest of the tracks are OK.)

Oh, and here's an article on photographing lightning.  I'll have to dig out some old lightning photos on film, but this'll do for now.

2014 June 11

Earlier I mentioned the not-so-great 35-70 AF kit lens.  This beginner lens is known for wiry bokeh, poor contrast, and not-so-great detail.   Not that I care, really, because in practice most people will not even notice.   (Although truly awful bokeh can get on anyone's nerves.) 

Here's a test shot with this lens on the N4004S, just because.  

The thing is, the bokeh is not nasty in every circumstance.   It's not bad here at all.   And the images are not that soft.  In fact they're pretty sharp.  I should put up a full-size version of this;  maybe later.  (I also have tons of baby pics to post.  Digital backlog is just as long as the film one.)
One thing I do notice.  The upper edges and corners will blur detail.  And in my copy, it looks like it's not uniform.   Refer back to that picture from the June 4 update.   I think this copy might have astigmatism.   Oh well, it's better than a Coke bottle taped to the front of the camera.   And I'm not worried about it.   I'd rather take pictures, enjoy the sun and listen to track 8 of this.

Since I have the 35-70 kit lens currently on the 4004, I don't mind using it for people pictures.   Just keep the background clear of anything that could lead to harsh bokeh.

Takin' a Snooze
35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AF
widest aperture, probably 70mm @ f/4.5
Nikon 4004S
mid-April 2014

All the same, if you want the top 35-70 AF lens, by all means get the great 35-70 f/2.8 AF or AF-D (use that link and it helps me out).   It's more than suitable for important work.   It will also do 1:1 macro, which is invaluable, although macro zoom lenses that I know of only offer macro at the short end of the focal length (so you get distortion).  

The 35-70mm 3.3-4.5 is a cheap lens that shouldn't even cost the fifty bucks that it sometimes sells for;  but the 35-70 f/2.8 AF is a pro quality lens. 

2014 June 9

"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

- Morpheus

Your digital devices are now a subset of my film photograph.

I hope you all had a great weekend.

2014 June 4

I just got a batch of film back from Keith French.  He developed it (C-41) and scanned it on a Noritsu.  Although I like to do macro capture for favorite landscapes (etc), there is really something to be said for just getting a CD in the mail, already made, with scans of all your photos.  Enough resolution for jumbo posters?  Nah, but they'll do for 8x10's or 8x12's.  Then, if there's something really good, you can always macro it or get it drum scanned later.

Here's one from a roll taken with a Nikon 4004s and the 35-70 kit lens.  Does this lens have corner blurring?  Light falloff?  Harsh bokeh?  Who cares;  it was good enough for this shot.

It was one of those moments when you get to a place, spend all that time setting up your stuff, and realize the weather is just not going to cooperate.   There's about a twenty minute period when you stand around thinking the clouds will let up, but they don't.  Better luck next time, buddy.

Looking back, I at first assumed my wife took this picture, but she reminds me that I actually did.  I used the camera's self-timer, which sounds about right for me.   It was the Nikon 4004s;  this day, she was using a Nikon Coolpix pocket cam.

I had brought along a cheap department-store tripod as an extra this day.  That part I remember.  I'm glad I brought it for messing around and making photos like this one.  That afternoon did not turn out to be a prime landscape session, thanks to the weather.  

The picture was from a while ago, but that's the thing with film.   You don't rattle off 300 photos in a day the way you can with digital.  The beginning of this particular roll had autumn pictures from 2012, while the end of the roll had baby pictures from 2014.   I love film!!

By the way, I have a new gallery page started for the Canon SX120.  I should also make a section for the N4004s with crummy 35-70 AF kit lens, just because. 

Father's Day is coming up... there's still time to pick up a gift for Dad.   You can help support my website by using that link to purchase stuff.

2014 June 2

There are a couple of new articles on the way.  

For today's news entry, I continue a tradition that I started on here a while ago (sunset pics). 

Yesterday evening, I grabbed another small victory from the jaws of Sunset Blockage.  This one required 300mm zoom equivalent. 

Earlier on Sunday, I planned to do some film photography with some expired Polaroid 600.  The baby was sitting in his umbrella stroller, it was a completely gorgeous day, and I was all set with the camera. 

Instead, it turned into an object lesson in why you shouldn't put too much stock in expired Polaroid film.  Glad I didn't actually pay money for this batch.

(No worries, people, I have Provia 400X and Superia film on standby for days like these.)

The Polaroid 600 was expired in '08, improperly stored (couple years of hot garage, then frozen).  This kind of treatment might make 35mm color neg film look really cool & artistic;  but it pretty much wipes out Polaroid. 

I'll soon (hopefully) have an article with more about this.  

In the meantime, if you have a Polaroid 600 camera, I'd highly suggest just going for it and buying this stuff.   Or, get this camera and some Instax film for it.  Either way, you will save yourself the potential waste of sixty bucks on a heap of what you see pictured above.   Instant film is alive and well in 2014, just not if you're shooting expired Polaroid 600 from 2008, '09, or whenever.

As always, thanks for visiting my website.  If you purchase your stuff through these links, it helps me keep this site on-line.  Thanks again!!

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