Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sam, I Am


I find it amusing to look back and reread my past blog posts and count the frequency of entries when I returned to Photography, back in 2009. The fascination, albeit almost obsession, with rediscovering a craft was exciting and combined with collaboration made for a fun and challenging experience that I felt needed documenting. Now, coming up on 10 years, the posts have significantly tapered off as "life gets in the way" and collaborating became a chore.

AAA_1602I recall many conversations with other photographers who enjoyed the challenges of shooting Landscapes, Street, Architecture or Macro, but I couldn't quite grasp their excitement with photographing those genres. After experimenting with those other genres and realizing how much more in control you are of your sessions, it made more and more sense.


Now when I look through my Photostream, I see a shift in Subject Matter and what has become more important to me.  Sometimes it's about Creativity, sometimes it's about Family, sometimes it's about Learning, and on few occasions it's about Collaboration, which finally brings me back to the Title of this Post.


My first Collaboration with Sam was back in June of 2013 for an Artist-themed shoot.  We've remained friends since our initial collaboration, but didn't have the opportunity to work together again until 2016.  We have collaborated four times and our sessions are more about friendship than themes and the photographs are incidental.




Sunday, September 9, 2018

Mamiya 7ii - 9 Months Later

If you read my post on "Dealing with G.A.S." I wrote about acquiring my Mamiya 7ii in early December of 2017. Since that time I've put close to 30 rolls of film through the camera and use it as my everyday camera, especially when traveling or for "street" photography.  It's definitely a conspicuous camera, but it's quick manual focusing and silent shutter makes up for it.

All Mamiya 7 N lenses have built-in electronic shutters, which means that if I choose to shoot with off-camera flash I can expose the film at 1/500th of a second.  Most film cameras will only allow you to use off-camera flash at 1/60th of a second.  That's important when you want to shoot at a wider aperture (for blurring the background) in bright daylight and minimize the sun's brightness, but I haven't tested that functionality as of this post.  The three Mamiya 7 N lenses I own are the:

Mamiya 7 N 50mm f/4.5: Equivalent to a 24mm lens on a 35mm camera. Good for Landscapes & Architecture. Photo from B&H Photo

Mamiya 7 N 80mm f/4.0: Equivalent to a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera. Good for Street Photography and Environmental Portraiture

Mamiya 7 N 150mm f/4.5: Equivalent to a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera. Good for Portraiture

Things I've Learned About Using the Mamiya 7ii Rangefinder
  • Taking A Picture: The Mamiya 7ii is a Rangefinder camera, which means that when you look through the viewfinder you are seeing an approximation of what your lens is seeing, that also applies to focusing with the Mamiya 7ii. With SLR cameras, when you look through the viewfinder the light coming in through the lens is reflected onto a mirror, up to a prism and then redirected to your eye. So why is this important?  The number one reason is that you can take a picture with the Mamiya 7ii and not realize you left the lens cap on. Yes, I have done this once and only on one exposure.
  • Metering: The Mamiya 7ii has two automated Modes: A Mode for Aperture Priority and AEL Model for Auto-Exposure Lock.  I tend to use AEL Mode when doing street photography and when using my handheld light meter is readily available. Metering is calculated by a small rectangular patch in the center of the viewfinder.  Placing the patch on the important area (subject) will display the suggested Shutter speed for your set Aperture. When shooting Landscapes, or where I'm not in a rush to take a picture, I will put the Mamiya 7ii in Manual mode.
  • Using Lens Filters:  Depending on the type of film I'm shooting, I'll use an assortment of Lens Filters to alter the light that enters the lens and hits the film.  Each filter's light-blocking strength (Exposure Value measured in 1/3rd Stops) should be considered when calculating your exposure, especially when shooting in one of the two Mamiya 7ii's Auto Modes.  Again, why is this important?  When you meter your subject, the metering is done by the camera and not through the lens. The camera has no idea if you are using a filter, or have the lens cap on.  I photographed a landscape on black and white film with a Red Filter on the lens.  The image came out very dark because I forgot to compensate for the Red Filter (+2E/V). I've only made that mistake once on two back-to-back exposures.  If you're interested in the "easy" workaround, Comment Below and I'll post the workaround.    
This camera produces tack sharp images, is lightweight and fun to shoot.  It is definitely not for Beginners.  Enough of the tech stuff, below are more images taken with the Mamiya 7ii.  Enjoy!!!

Kern River Canyon II


Fremont Street

Pinball Hall of Fame

Awesome Cameras Visit: April 12, 2018


Jared and Sophia V

Vegas at Night II

Vegas at Night VIII

Red Rock Scooter Tour Scenic Stop

Bellagio Garden: Year of the Dog



Docks and Rock



Friday, September 7, 2018

Funding Film Part II: Chroma Camera

Earlier this year I participated in a Kickstarter Project for a new 4x5 Technical Camera, called The Chroma Camera. The creator, Steve Lloyd is based out of the U.K. and wanted to create a new, lightweight field camera that would work with existing film holders and lenses.  Previous 4x5 field cameras were usually made of either wood, or metal, but this one would be made of Acrylic. You can view images of the camera on the Chroma Camera FLICKR Group page.

First of all, as Kickstarter Projects go, this one was pretty close to hitting its "Delivery" date (within a couple months) while I have "backed" two others that are 1 year (Lab-Box) behind and 4 years (Film Ferrania) behind and I have basically given up hope of receiving the "promised" product, or as they call it "Rewards."  As with all Kickstarter backed Projects, it's the backing that is the key and actually receiving a "Reward" is coincidental.

Three weeks ago I received an e-mail showing that my Chroma Camera was shipped on August 18 from the U.K. and would arrive on August 25.  Realizing that none of my lenses for my Speed Graphic would fit the Lens Board (Copal 0), I bid on a "Super-W-Komura 90mm f/6.3 lens" and won, but the lens wouldn't arrive until a few days after I received the Chroma.  The lens is about as long and wide as a can of soda.

As part of the Reward, the Chroma also comes with a "pinhole" lens board, which meant that I could still go out and shoot it until my new lens arrived.

I have never shot a pinhole camera, but thankfully there are websites that help you calculate exposure times based on the pinhole diameter. This pinhole lens board is close to an aperture of f/224, according to Steve. Before shooting film and hoping I nailed my exposure and composition, I used a pack of Fujifilm FP-100C Instant film, which is Fuji's version of Polaroids. Below is an Instant Film image.

You'll notice a "light leak" on the left edge of the image.  I thought it might have been the way I exposed the film, but after several exposures, the "light leak" was still there. I went ahead and shot some Black and White Film anyway. Again, the light leaks are present.

The one thing I did notice was the Exposure times were not the 2.5 seconds as the chart indicated, but rather 1 minute and 45 seconds. As I was folding up the camera to put it away, one of the front standards wouldn't collapse, so I loosened all the tension knobs and tried to carefully fold it down and then I heard a crack.  Ugh... I went home and ordered a tube of acrylic glue from Amazon. I also contacted Steve and sent him the pictures with the "light leaks" and he suggested that I use my dark cloth to cover the back while he works on a solution to mitigate the light leak.

The following day, after the glue dried and several folding tests, I set out to take more pictures with the camera, but only used Instant Film. Here is what what the camera looked like sporting its new dark cloth shroud.

I basically covered it from the front to the back.  The results were much better.  A couple things to bear in mind, shooting Instant Film with a pinhole does not yield tack sharp images.

With the success of the dark cloth shroud configuration, I went home and waited for my new lens to arrive.  Two days later, the lens arrived so set out to give it a try.  Due to the large amount of glass and no lens hood you will get sun flares unless you try shielding the lens.  This is my attempt to shield the lens from the sun, but forgetting the wideness is of the lens' "field of view" (90mm). This lens is really sharp and required my moving the front standard back past the gearing would allow.

Hands Off - lol

Kern River Canyon

Yesterday, Sept. 6, I received an email from Chroma Camera creator, Steve, informing his project backers that there is definitely a light leak, especially when the camera is used in bright sunlight.  Apparently the U.K. isn't nearly as sunny and bright as Southern California. He went on to write that he will be sending out a Light Seal Kit with instructions on how to apply the seals.  

Overall, I'm happy with my investment, but unlike my Speed Graphic, care must be used when using this camera. If you're interested to see more images produced from this camera, you can visit my Chroma Flickr Album.

Cheers and thank you for reading, Alan

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Heat Is On*

(*This post was supposed to be published back at the end of August 2017) 

This past summer we recorded 67 days over 100 degrees in Bakersfield. When the weather is that hot your options are to shoot early in the morning, late at night, in a studio, or travel outside of Bakersfield, I chose the latter. 

Teresa and I headed back to our other house in her hometown of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania to finish up some personal family matters from earlier in the year, but this time we would have the opportunity to visit some sites that we've been putting off.  For the trip I packed my , Nikon D700, Nikon F5 and 6 rolls of film: 2 rolls of Kodak Double-X B&W , 2 rolls of Kodak UltraMax 400 and 2 rolls of Fuji Superia 400.


First on the list was the city of Centralia, PA. Although there have been several recorded Coal Mine fires throughout the world, this one was only 100 miles away and some video gamers suggested that it was the inspiration for the Silent Hill video game locale (I doubt it).

When we finally arrived at the city limits our expectations exceeded the reality of Centralia. Almost all of the homes were bulldozed and removed except for a few steadfast homeowners that refused to move out. As we wandered around for 90 minutes we finally found Graffiti Hwy, which was the original road in and out of Centralia.

If you decide to take a trip, be sure to look for this berm with the signs pointing to the left.  Up and over the berm you will see the original Hwy.

 Overall the trip was anticlimactic, but at least I can cross that off my Bucket List.

On the way home we stopped at a Country Restaurant that had a huge gift shop that was larger than the actual restaurant.

Bacon Dressing?


An unexpected destination was the Sunflower fields in Centre Hall, PA.  I asked Teresa's cousin if she would like some photos of her family and she mentioned that the sunflowers were blooming. The weather was in the low 80's, but with the humidity it felt warm, not hot, just warm.

Our next trip was to visit Belleville, PA and attempt to photograph the Amish and Mennonite community.  I write "attempt" because vanity, via pictures,  of Amish is not allowed and so I made sure that any photos I took would not capture clear pictures of their faces.  I brought along my Nikon F5, loaded with Kodak Double-XX film.  I decided that Black and White would emote a rustic and authentic mood. 





On the way home we stopped off at a relatives house (a.k.a. Horner's Corner) to check out their corn and also pick up some canned peppers.  



I have to admit that owning some property and growing food sounds enticing, but being a "City Boy" I'm sure I'd get lazy and run to the store, far too often.

Spring Creek Road

The last trip was relatively close to our home, about 2.5 miles away, at Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte for the Annual Arts and Crafts Fair.  As you can see, the weather was overcast and cool.

High St. and Water St.

The Fair was just like any other Arts and Crafts event, not a single booth stood out except for one gentleman who had a booth with pictures he took from safaris in Africa.  He quickly identified my Nikon film camera and we got to talking about the wonders and frustrations of shooting film.

Black-eyed Susans

Spring Creek

Court House

Downtown Bellefonte

I'm looking forward to heading back to our "other" home soon, I miss our family and friends, and the peace and quiet of a small town.