Saturday, July 15, 2017

Getting Pushy


Digital is much more convenient and instantaneous than traditional film in a multitude of ways and one such convenience is the ability to adjust your light sensitivity on the fly, I'm referring to ISO. With film you purchase film stock based on your needs and hope that it will work for the lighting conditions during your session.



I have shot several rolls of Black and White film and pushed them by two or three stops above their rated value, but wasn't happy with the results, too grainy and contrasty, which was caused by the developer and developing process ( See above to photos).


Recently I purchased Adox Rodinal and went back to Stainless Steel tanks and reels to utilize and older process known as Stand Development. The usual development method I to continuously invert the tank slowly the first minute and then 10 seconds every minute until the recommended time is achieved.


With Stand Development, I pre-wash the film, then once the developer is poured in continuously invert or 30 seconds and let is stand for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of stops the film was pushed and the ratio of develop to distilled water, invert four times and then let stand until the recommended time is reached. The rest of the process remains the same.


As you can see, there's a huge difference in the quality of the image. Both Color Negative (C-41) film and Slide film(E-6) can be Pushed, but the process involves only extending the development time based on the number of stops. Please see my previous post where I pushed CineStill 800 to ISO 3200 Funding Film



Thank you for reading,


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Funding Film Part I: CineStill 120mm 800T Film

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A year and a half ago I participated in another IndieGoGo Campaign initiated by CineStill Film.  Note the operative word is “another”, I have backed a combined total of five KickStarter and IndieGogo fundraising campaigns to date.


I became a fan of CineStill back in March of 2013 when they released their remjet-free Kodak 35mm Movie Film, which was a 500 ISO Tungsten balanced film. This time CineStill wanted to expand their product line to include both medium format and large format film stock and so I pledged $150 (they offered Film Rewards based on contribution) back in July of 2016 during their second round of funding (Their initial round was started in February of 2016 and the campaign was funded by March of 2016).  In return, CineStill would send me 6 rolls of their new 120mm 800 ISO Tungsten-balanced film, a film case, a t-shirt, and assorted stickers by August of 2016.

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Production delays pushed the release date farther into the future with very little communication from CineStill and most "backers" were getting frustrated based on the number of posts on the CineStill Group on FaceBook. Finally in February of 2017 I received e-mail from CineStill informing me that they had shipped my Rewards and a letter. In the letter, CineStill thanked me for my support and noted that the film is an "alpha" release and asked that I share with them any issues with the film.


Rolls 1 and 2 (on 6 x 4.5 equates to 15 images per roll):

I wanted to shoot this film at box speed, which is ISO 800 and not at ISO 500 as recommended by other film photographers who were familiar with the 35mm version of the 800T film stock. I'm paying for ISO 800 so why shoot it at anything less. I setup a night shoot with a friend and warned her ahead of time that I was shooting test film ("alpha" release per CineStill) and that we may or may not get any images. I loaded two Mamiya film backs and brought along my Sekor C 45mm f/2.8 lens, Sekor C 80mm f/1.9 lens, a tripod and a spotmeter. 


I had no issues loading or shooting the film, but upon unloading the film, I noticed that the exposed film felt a bit loose on the take-up spool so I placed them in my dark bag to ensure they didn't get exposed to anymore light. The following day I loaded one roll into my Patterson tank and the other in a Kalt Stainless Steel (SS) 120mm tank with a Hewes 120 SS reel. Loading the exposed films on the reels went smoothly and I noticed the film stock film felt a bit stiffer than other films. 
After developing the rolls at home and scanning the negatives I noticed there were static electricity streaks on one roll (see above image). I messaged CineStill and they confirmed that this was a known issue and provided "alpha' testers with a webpage documenting all reported issues and possible solutions.

Roll 3 (6 x 6 produces 12 images per roll):


Having read on the web that 800T film works best when shot at ISO 500, I loaded an alpha roll into my Rolleiflex f/3.5 TLR. Again there were no issues loading and unloading the film.  Development and scanning went smoothly, but I noticed that the edges of the film were lighter than the middle portion.  I sent the images to CineStill and they responded that they hadn't seen this issue before.


Rolls 4 and 5.25:

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

A musician friend was playing at local spot and I let him know I'd swing by to shoot some film.  I brought the Mamiya 645 Pro, 45mm and 80mm lenses, and two rolls of "alpha" film into their own film backs.  This time I pushed the film to ISO 3200 since other photographers were able to get good results. 

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

The settings were f/2.8 at 1/15 for the f2.8 lens and 1/30 for the f/1.9 lens.  I was able to shoot the first roll without any issues, but when I mounted the second film back the film wound to the end of the roll after 4 shutter presses.  

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

I successfully developed and scanned the fully exposed roll #4 and the other "faulty" roll #5 I rewound to the beginning in my dark bag then loaded it into the same film back. I mounted the film back on the Mamiya, left the lens cap on and exposed one picture (I noted that I shot four images before the film wound until the end) and as I advanced the film for the next exposure it wound to the end.  I tagged the film back as "bad", rewound the film again and placed it in my other film back.  I have yet to shoot, or advance the film.  I'm hoping procrastination will make it work.

I'm not sure if I will purchase any more CineStill film as I prefer Black and White film stock when shooting medium format and large format. More images from the "alpha" rolls can be found on my flickr stream by clicking the image below.

CineStill 800T 120mm

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

and now for a Commercial Break

I've been working with AMA SEABEAUTY for about a year by providing them with pictures of their products and with their storefront at 506 State Street, in Santa Barbara. They are California's premiere Seaweed farmers and have formulated natural products for the body . You can find out more information about them at and their products at:

As part of their Marketing strategy, they wanted some "clean" images.  I suggested we shoot everything using high-key lighting against white backgrounds so the images could be combined with text for advertising materials
Andrea Ama

For lighting I used three of my Paul C. Buff studio strobes, 2 - Einsteins and an Alien B1600. For my key light I chose the Alien Bee, with a Beauty Dish and Diffusion Sock. I prefer the AB1600 because it lighter than the Einsteins and easier to position during a shoot. One Einstein was used for the rim light with a strip box and the internal diffusion screen and grid in place, and the other Einstein was for the background with barndoors and bare bulb.

After adjusting the output from each strobe, the settings were:

  • Key: f/10
  • Rim: f/13
  • Background f/16

I set my camera to f/8, or f/9 depending on the skin color of each model.

Ama Jazz

In addition to the lights and modifiers, I also used a tri-flector to provide me with clamshell lighting. The picture below does not show the final position for the key light, it was set just high enough above the reflector that I can photograph the model using a 105mm field of view.

Now it's time to get back to work. As always, please feel free to comment, or ask questions.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Spring Has Sprung: Part III - Poppies


Finally the Poppies decided to bloom in the California Central Valley along the Arvin foothills, albeit not nearly in the volume as in previous years during this time of year.  Not to be deterred, I drove up and down Hwy 223 until I found a patch of Poppies on a hillside.  A majority of the land where the Poppies bloom is owned by a private group called the Tejon Ranch, consisting of 270,000-acres, and is the largest single piece of private property in the state.


As I was prepping my gear, a gentleman pulled up in an unmarked pick-up truck and rolled down his window to remind me that climbing over the fence would be trespassing on private land. I brought my Mamiya 645 Pro, tripod, 80mm Macro lens, 45mm lens, 210mm lens and two rolls of Ektar 100 and two rolls of TMAX 400.  I also brought a Red filter to darken the sky and foliage while brightening the Poppies to use with TMAX 400.

Monochrome Poppies II

I carefully walked around the patches of wildflowers ensuring I didn't step on any and was very cautious when using my tripod.  After shooting for an hour I packed up and was about to leave when a family pulled up.  Out of the car came 2 year-old girl, her Mom and grandmother.  We exchanged pleasantries and I took some pictures of them using their smartphone. I reminded them to be sure to leave the area as they found it so others may enjoy the wildflowers and to be careful where they walked as there are rattlesnakes in the area.  

Monochrome Poppies

The following day I processed both rolls of film and was pleased with the Kodak Ektar. I usually shoot Portraiture, such as Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H,  but Ektar is ideal for rich and saturated colors and it definitely shows in the pictures.

Poppies II

In the past month I've photographed three species of flowers, but none quite met my expectations for a Fine Art photograph.  I did learn a lot and now have more experience going forward.

If you liked any of the pictures in my three-part flower series, please head on over to my store and surprise me with a purchase 😉


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Has Sprung: Part II - Rose Lily

Rose Lily Monochrome

I took a motorcycle ride out to the local foothills to see if the poppies were in bloom, but due to the amount of rain and cooler than normal temperatures they haven't started blooming. On the way home I stopped by the local market to see what flowers they had on sale. The sales clerk showed me their just-delivered Rose Lilies, which I have never seen before.  Luckily they were short enough to fit in my saddlebag and made the 3 minute ride home undamaged.

While I was setting up my studio, I decided to do a quick test to see how the image would look against a dark backdrop.  Yes, this was photo was taken with an iPhone 6, LED flashlight and edited using Google's SnapSeed app.

Rose Lily

Based on the results, shooting the flower against a black backdrop with studio lights (Einstein 640 and Alien Bee 1600) and assorted light modifiers seemed like a good option.  To validate my exposure settings I used a Sekonic L-358 Light meter and a Polaroid back for my Mamiya 645 Pro loaded with Fujifilm's FP-100C Instant Film.

Note how much instant film is wasted when using 6x4.5 camera.  

FujiFP100C Rose Lily

I loaded one film back with Arista EDU Ultra 100 and the other with re-rolled Fujifim Provia 100F slide film. As an aside, I was out shooting a month earlier and after shooting my 4th exposure of the Provia the film crank advanced to the end of the roll. When I got home I re-rolled the film and loaded it into the film back with a Post-It noting to shoot 4 images with the lens covered, which should put me on the 5th frame. 

After exposing both rolls of 120mm film I moved the Flowers to our Master Bedroom and setup my Speed Graphic.  After a few test shots of FP-100C to verify exposure, I shot 4 sheets of Provia 100F. Unlike Negative film and exposing for the shadows, with Slide Film, you really have to maintain a narrow exposure range similar to digital.

Double X - Rose Lily

The following day I processed the 120mm slide film using a Unicolor E-6 Press Kit and when I unraveled the 120mm strip to dry, this is what I saw. Apparently when I re-rolled the film I must've done it backwards because the film was double exposed.

After reheating the E-6 chemicals back to 105F I developed the Provia sheet film using the SP-445 tank, but I noticed a slight magenta color cast when hanging them up to dry.  Color shifts are caused by possible contamination of the Color Developer.  So I'll dump this batch of chemicals and make a fresh batch before I shoot slide film, again. 

Note: Stearman Press recently revised their SP-445 film holders by cutting out some of the plastic minimizing developing issues.

Dissatisfied with the 4x5 film results,  I ended up using the digital images I shot of the Rose Lilies for  my store; however. not being one to give up I'm still planning to photograph more flowers.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spring has Sprung: Part I - Tulips

Sepia Tulip 2

With the amount of rain drenching California this winter, I decided it was time to try my hand and eye at photographing flowers. Although I have shot flowers in the past, digitally, I wanted to see if I could create a Fine Art image by taking it through the entire analog process resulting with an 11 x 14 enlargement.


To have a usable negative for enlarging to 11 x 14 or larger, I decided to shoot using both Medium Format and Large Format films, which meant using Ilford Delta 400 (I was out of TMAX 100) for my Mamiya 645 and Arista Ultra EDU 100 for my Speed Graphic. I also wanted to use Natural light to give a more natural look to the images.

Sepia Tulip

My garage faces the southwest and by Noon I get a lot of reflected light bouncing around the garage interior when the door is open.  Using my Zone VI Pentax Spotmeter,  I determined the tonal range for my image by taking at three readings: 1) highlights, 2) mid-tones, and 3) shadows while ensuring that I maintain detail in the shadows where needed. As you can see below, I was shooting at f/5.6 and 1/8 shutter.

Tulip BTS

Tangent: For those readers that are new to film, it’s recommended to set your exposure to open up the shadows because once you develop your film, areas of true black will end up clear on the negative (assuming your film didn’t get fogged) and when printed, they will be just black.  Exposing for the shadows is only a guideline and shouldn’t hinder you from creating your image.

Digital Contact Sheet

In addition to photographing the Tulips, I wanted something a little different so instead of using a solid black backdrop I decided to use a mottled grey muslin to provide some depth to the images.  After reviewing the images, I should’ve shielded the grey background from the sun by changing the angle of the backdrop and removed some of the hard wrinkles. 

Tulip 4x5

For the 4x5 images I switched to the black backdrop and used a reflector to bounce light onto the tulip. I also used a yellow filter to brighten portions of the tulip, but after developing and scanning both formats Ive decided to choose one of the Medium Format images to enlarge.

Sepia Tulip 4x5

haven't had the time to enlarge any of the images, but plan to do so before the end of April.  A few things I learned after the shoot were:
  • Fix your background, spend the time to remove the wrinkles
  • Buy wire for the flowers to make them pliable for posing
  • Buy a Macro lens for closer focusing
To Be Continued...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why #IShootFilm


There are plenty of articles and blog posts debating the pros and cons of shooting film over digital, but for me it boils down to two reasons: 1) I want to create something that doesn't require more of my time spent on a computer and 2) I miss working in a darkroom.  If you've never developed negatives and created a print with your hands then you are missing the excitement of watching your images come to life. I find that when I shoot film, I tend to take my time with composition, proper exposure and choice of colored filters for my black and white film.

Virtual Contact Sheet

I've been developing my own Black and White film since 2010. The process is fairly quick and straightforward as long as I have a quality negative, properly stored chemicals and the correct developing temperature. After developing and drying the negatives, I scan them onto my computer for editing and the uploading to the web.

Last year I was looking for some new film, I stumbled upon the Film Photography Project's Podcast and empathized with their excitement about shooting film and developing it at home. Their excitement rekindled my desire to build my own darkroom. So while on vacation in Las Vegas I searched eBay for an enlarger and bought a well-maintained Beseler 67CP, but after reading reviews on the seller I got worried so I bought another Beseler 67 for the same price from a different, highly-rated, seller.  Well they both showed up at the same time, so now I have two enlargers.  I purchased the rest of the darkroom supplies from B&H Photo.  The only thing left to do was convert the guest bathroom into a make-shift darkroom.

After putting weather stripping on the doors and a black towel under the door I was able to stop a majority of the light from creeping in, but in the shower stall there's a small rectangular window that I decided to turn into an exhaust fan.  I bought a window fan and built a cabinet that would fit the window and block out stray light.
Now that the room was ready, it was time to get enlarging and printing.  Below are examples of a contact sheet and print.  I still have a long way to go, but it sure beats sitting in front of a computer and using someone else's actions and filters.  

Lorraine Contact Sheet

Ilford Multigrade VC fiber paper. I like this paper more than RC paper

One new thing I did learn is split-filtering. Back in school we usually chose one grade of contrast filter and made multiple test exposures, but with split filtering you use one filter to ensure you maintain detail in the highlights and another to maintain details in the shadows.

Split Filtering using ILFORD Filters

Once the prints have been developed and washed I place them on expandable windows screens in the shower.

Tip: before drying negatives or prints, run a hot shower until it gets steamy and then dry the prints. The moisture will give the dust particles something to adhere.

If you have the opportunity to shoot film, try developing your own, it is really rewarding and then you can post your film pictures with hashtags that say #ishootfilm #filmisnotdead #analogrenaissance #shootfilmnotmegapixels
TMAX-400 120mm Scan Strip -

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