Paul, Dan and Miran

At the beginning of this year I have given away a few lenses and cameras. Among others Paul and Dan received a camera. MIran on the other hand got a 135mm lens and all three of them sent me a self portrait taken with their “new” cameras/lens.

Paul

Paul

 

Paul is a UK based professional photographer who has a strong focus on family photography. Check out his site, it really is lovely. He has got a Fed 3 with a 50mm lens. The camera was not fully functional, still he has got some nice results, so we can see his mighty beard.

Dan

Dan

 

Dan is a teacher from Canada who is now starting again with film photography using the Practika MTL-3 camera I sent him. His self portrait is remarkable in my opinion because he managed to frame and focus so close perfectly. His flickr profile can be found here.

Miran

Miran

Miran is a really nice guy from Slovenia who is also a long time follower of the blog and he received a 135mm f/2.8 Pentacon lens. He has chosen another approach of taking a self portrait using a tripod and the self timer and pre-focusing the lens.  To see Miran’s blog, follow this link.

Anyway, it was really nice to get in touch with them and actually with all of you who wrote me. These portraits just made the whole thing a little bit more personal. It is also interesting to see that each of you used a different approach to make these photos and they are quite different in style and mood as well. But the most important for me is that it you gave a good use of the old gear.

 

Jakominiplatz

The Jakominiplatz is one of the most important public transport centers of Graz. Tram lines meet here as well as it is the starting point of many local and medium distance bus lines. It is indeed a very busy, sometimes seemingly chaotic, ever changing colorful place. So many interesting and not to mention very different people are mixed here in this relatively small parcel of space that the Jakominiplatz is truly is a photographic goldmine. The combination of the crowd with the wide variety of heavy vehicles and infrastructure makes it an ideal location for street photography, portraiture or even abstract architectural shoots.

I am one of the daily passengers. Sometimes I pass by more than once a day and of course I always have some kind (mostly different) camera with me. It was inevitable that eventually I will end up with a nice collection of images taken here using a wide range of equipment under different light conditions and in many distinct styles.

I have captured the greenish mist of  winter nights painted by the army of mercury street lamps on heavily expired film as well as using a digital pinhole camera, I have played with the strong shadows cast by the pylons and with the perspectives of the tracks in strong back-light. I have taken sneaky street photos with a digital compact and I toke some nice medium format portraits here. I find it fascinating that every time I pass by here something is different and there is always a new perspective to explore. In addition it is really fun to see how much impact the particular camera/lens has on the end result even under otherwise similar circumstances.

I think that at the end of the day I found myself in an experiment which I have not planned through or intended to do at the beginning at all. An experiment to prove that the photographer’s choice of the tool does matter even though this is not the only factor. Furthermore to show how much inspiration can be found in ordinary places which we visit every single day and therefore tend to ignore. I hope that my pictures will encourage some of you to explore your own Jakominiplatz.

Camera giveaway

 

Thank you Everybody!

All these things have found a new home in a remarkably short time. I am really pleased that how many different yet equally film photography enthusiastic people were interested in this little action of mine. This means that we have a living community and this blog has some impact as this post attracted attention from all around the world.

I think it was very good idea to gift these cameras and get in touch with you.  It was a nice experience and I may do something similar in the future.


 

Another new year and another fresh start. As a part of this philosophy I decided (after some encouragement from my wife) that I shrink my camera collection to a manageable size and so I sort out many things that I not use.

Everything you see in this post is free to take, you only need to pay the cost of the shipping (note that I live in Austria). Most of these items have some problems, but who knows maybe some of you can get them fixed or find a better use of them than me.

How to contact with me

If you were interested in any of the listed items, just send me an e-mail through the contact form or on facebook. Don’t forget to tell me where you live so I can calculate the post cost,

Praktica MTL3 + 50 f/1.8 + case

The camera works, shutter speeds are distinguishable and the meter also works. I have never put a roll of film through this camera though. The lens is nice, clean and smooth.

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Canonet QL17

Cosmetically in excellent condition with a nice clean lens behind a protective filter. But mechanically stuck (cannot advance, cannot release).

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Fed3 + 50mm f/2.8 lens + leather case

Works, but shutter speeds are very inaccurate. The lens is clean, but lubricants dried out. I think this camera can be brought back to life and in any case looks great on a bookshelf.

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Fed5 + 50mm f/2.8 lens + leather case

The camera works, shutter speeds are distinguishable. I have used this camera and wrote a post about it which can be found here. The lens on the picture belongs to the Fed3. This Fed5 has it’s own black lens, I just need to find it.

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Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 lens

The lens is in a very good condition, however the aperture cannot be stopped down more than f/4. It is a typical problem of these lenses and can be fixed. Besides I only used this wide open.

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DSC02753There will be more gear as I browse through my hidden stashes, so stay tuned.

 

Balcony door portraits

Light quality is extremely important to a photographer, just like snow for an Inuit. We have  countless names for the different types of light while any average people would only call them “strong” or “weak”. The amount of light we get is very easy to measure and describe. But the quality is a far more subtle, much harder to formalize concept and therefore much more interesting to me. Modern cameras can handle low light extremely well thus photography is now possible under such difficult circumstances no one could foreseen just until a few years before. But high sensitivity sensors with great quantum efficiency and extremely sophisticated noise reduction processing cannot create great photographs just by extending the lower bound of minimum illumination necessary to capture an image. Although these new tools certainly aid the photographing process, the quality of light (among other factors) is and always will be key to a good image.

I am currently experimenting with mainly available light, trying to find situations which works for me so I can get the results I like in a somewhat predictable manner. One of my favorite spots lately is the door of our balcony. In my opinion this location  has nearly ideal light conditions for portraits during the most of the day. The balcony is relatively deep and only the front is open (sides are solid walls), then comes the big door followed by a deep room with white walls and furniture.

This setup has a similar effect to a  soft-box. Light comes through in a beautiful evenly distributed, soft way, which then decays rapidly as it penetrates into the room. A subject placed close to the door can be lit very well with a strongly directional but soft light while the background is lost in darkness.

I have taken several portraits at this place using different formats (APS-C, 35mm, 6x6cm), films and digital sensors, and a small, but representative selection can be seen in this post. I think it is interesting to see next to each other similar shoots using similar focal length but with vastly different capturing technology.

 

The conclusion is that, no matter what your medium is, good light (and composition) could always give respectable results but technology does not save the day if the light quality is poor for the subject. But it is again another subjective property, what is poor light for a photographer for a given purpose, could be magnificent for another. Nevertheless I think it is crucial to study light as a photographer, amateurs and professionals alike.

Many thanks for the proof reading to Ramon.

 

My film collection

Just about a week ago I was called by the reception at work that a package arrived with my name on it. I was genuinely surprised, because I have never received anything unexpectedly at work. Who on earth would have sent me a package and especially to this address? It must had been a conspiracy.

My curiosity reached an even higher level once I picked up the package and I realized that the sender is an old photographer I only know remotely through a friend. I made some small animations in flash for him as a favor and I’ve almost completely forgot about it. It seems that he has a much better memory and he sent me this little package to cheer me up.

Well, he managed to make me very happy, because the small box was full with gorgeous films of many types. There were even some legendaries like the Kodak Ektar 25 and some, which I have never even heard of before, such as the Lucky SHD. Now I have film for tungsten light and a bulk package of medium format Ektachrome. It is truly an amazing gift, even though some of the films had expired way before I was born (which unfortunately was already pretty long time ago).

Of course I have already had an interesting collection of films. But, with this addition, my stock has reached the critical mass to share it with you. After this post I finally free some place in the freezer and it will become hard to show the full collection as a whole.

Camerajunky film stash

Temporal storage of my film collection

Camerajunky film stash revealed

Film collection revealed

The films

Kodak Fujifilm Agfa Ilford Other
Kodak Technical Pan Fuji Acros Agfacolor Portrait Xps Ilford FP-4 Plus Forte Supercolor Fr
KodacolorII Fuji Superia Xtra Agfachrome 50S Ilford HP-5 DM Paradise
Kodak Ektar Fuji Pro 160 NS Agfachrome 50L Ilford Pan F Plus Centuria 200
Kodak New Portra Fuji Pro 160 Tungsten Agfachrome 100RS Lucky SHD 100
Kodak Portra 160 NC Fuji Provia Agfachrome 50RS
Kodak Elite Color Fujifilm Pro 160C Agfa Vista
Kodak Gold 200 Fuji Velvia
Kodak Farbwelt 200
Kodak Echtachrome
Camerajunky film stash part 2

I also have some photographic papers (Forte, Foma) for black and white prints

Camerajunky film stash part 1

Just another angle

 

What film really means to me

Also I have started to think about my very intense reaction to this gift and decided to try to summarize my thoughts and feelings about what film means to me.

Film powers old cameras

First and foremost film allows me to use the plethora of cool film cameras, which would otherwise be usable only as fancy paperweights at best. This way I can experience what other people could feel when they used these now vintage cameras through history.

Even better, if I put state-of-the-art film into any old camera, I can achieve state-of-the-art results if the lens is good enough. I think it is fascinating that someone can reach levels of quality today with the very same gear his grandfather used, which was considered impossible at the time the camera was made. This is something a digital camera of current times will never be able to provide. If this would not be enough, film opens up the world of medium and even large format photography on a very affordable price point compared to their digital counterparts.

Leica M2

Leica M2

Film is a symbol with deep meanings

But film is a lot more than the ticket to film cameras. It is a very deep symbol in our culture. It symbolizes nothing less than eternity. It captures moments but unlike the digital sensor it encapsulates them. Film itself becomes the frozen moment of memory and emotion. This is of course a process, which cannot be reverted. Once something is captured it will be preserved unchanged as long as the film physically exists. This very nature of film gives us the impression of truthfulness, the feeling that anything recorded on film must be real. Of course, we all know that any image in a medium can be faked, but it is very hard to alter the film for ordinary people after it was developed.

Film is commitment

Once the film is loaded into the camera, there is no way to return and the photographer has made his/her commitment to a particular type of film with all its properties. Although there are plenty of parameters that can be changed later (thinking of push, pull, cross-processing and other tricks), the characteristics of the used film will be inevitably present in the result and the possibilities to change this in post-processing are rather narrow.
Today there are many excellent software out there to manipulate photographs. The possibilities of manipulations are nearly endless and even film/developer simulation is possible on a very high level (though it can be debated how truthful such simulations are in reality). I embrace and endorse these tools, but, honestly, the countless amount of options often makes me insecure in my decision. I tend to hesitate and eventually I run into contradictions with myself. I want to retain the maximum amount of detail, while also wishing to bestow a strong character on the image. As a result, many of my images are good, however, they fall short of featuring such strong character and I am frustrated because of the possible other ways I could have chosen. One has to be able to keep the power of the tools provided under control, otherwise that power is useless.
It seems that I am not fully ready yet for the marvels of the digital post processing revolution. I just prefer to work the character given by the film I choose and then try to get the most out of it in post processing. Yes, it comes with commitment, but it gives me results (I like) and frees me from the burden of too many possibilities. All in all I am much more satisfied with my film images.

Chimneys and cranes (2014), Leica M2, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, Ilford FP-! Plus, Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Chimneys and cranes (2014), Leica M2, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, Ilford FP-! Plus, Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Film is responsibility

A piece of fresh unexposed film is like a newborn baby. It has an inherited genetic character, but it is completely blank, has no criminal record and can become virtually anything. It is the responsibility of the parents (sorry photographer), to provide the best start and guidance to achieve the most. Shoots can be repeated, but every frame is an effort and an investment, especially if someone (like me) uses a tedious hybrid workflow. Of course it is not a good idea to over complicate or worry too much about the process of taking a photograph, just like an overprotective mother can be also harmful. But it is important to be aware of the responsibility over the film we are about to use.

Film is heritage

Needless to say that film has an enormous historical heritage. The different materials, processes and characters resemble historical periods, great moments, fantastic artworks and intellectual advancement. Film has such a deep roots in our culture that it is impossible to not to feel its importance and legacy.

Blue ceiling (2014), Not as famous as the red version though.

Blue ceiling (2014), Not as famous as the red version, but at least I own the rights.

Film is fun

Despite all the serious thoughts here, film also provides a lot of fun. It is such a gamble to use a crappy camera with some expired film and hope for cool light leaks. There are plenty of applications for simulating this, but I think part of the fun is that the control is not completely in or hands.

Jump, Pajtás, Lomo Lady Grey 400 (expeired), Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Jump (2014) , Pajtás, Lomo Lady Grey 400 (expeired), Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Film is alive

Unlike digital files film has an organic grain structure. It can be emulated by software, but computers can only work with pseudo-random generators. There will always be a pattern in digitally added noise. Film has a life-cycle. It ages and it can go bad when stored inappropriately. On the other hand even if it is expired and stored recklessly there is still a chance that something interesting will come out of it. A box of expired film (like the one I have received) is like a box of old exotic old wine. You could find something truly amazing or the completely opposite, but you cannot say until you taste it yourself. This is also part of the magic.

Film is magic

If I needed to find a single word to describe what is the most significant property of film, I would say it is simply magical. There is something mystical about the chemical process, which forms a photograph. I always found this quite fascinating even though I am aware that everything about it is well described and no dark arts are involved. But when I combine this feeling with the uncertainty of the result (especially when I use expired film) and with the waiting necessary to finally get the developed film back from the lab, the experience is truly magical.

These aspects are just a few among the thoughts circulating in my head about film. These are all interconnected, and after all that is why I feel special when I can hold a package of film in my hand. I am sure that others would come up with a completely different list, but I am pretty certain that almost everybody who is old enough to have had some connection with film photography retains some emotional connection to it.

Film is magic

Old negatives (from my first roll which was developed few hours after this moment), Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 L/D, Fed 5, Flash, Silver print

Just one more fun thing to think of

I have played around with Blender and made this highly sophisticated scene of a plain and 2 boxes. I painted a texture for it based on some old Forte and rendered the scene. It is pretty obvious that this is not a photograph because of the sharp edges and the way to perfect texture, But the point is that it is possible to make it photo-realistic with some additional effort. An image generated solely by a computer to tribute the film which may be one day substituted entirely by the computer, or at least the possibility will be given. At the end it is all about personal and professional preferences.

Fotrepan_final

Computer generated illustration of old Forte film by Camerajunky