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...