How to enjoy Film photography

This is my opinion base on my experience as a hobbyist.

Film photography is a great medium to learn and make photographs. It makes you “mindful” of what you take. The cost per shot is evident, you only have 36 shots. I see a cat licking his bum and I raise my camera to compose then think “is this shot gonna be worth my 10php?” usually the answer would be no. That would raise my keepers from 1 per roll to at least 6 per roll. Which is good by my standards (very low standards!). Shooting is a bliss. I have no expectation on myself. I just have to walk and observe. Observe the light, the shadows, patterns, frames, human faces, gestures, emotions and all the other factors. You’re in the “flow” you are mindful, all your worries are gone. You see how the world is beautiful even in the dirty streets of Manila you’ll be amazed of the depth of beauty.

CLE at 1600-1

TIBI CORDI TUO IMMACULATO CONCREDIMUS NOS AC CONSECRAMUS”.

 Translated to. “To thy Immaculate Heart, entrust us and consecrate us”

Minolta CLE + M-Rokkor 40mm f2+ Kodak Tri-x @1600

Film cameras are cheap compared to the latest cameras today. This is a double edge sword for me. It’s great to try and shoot with a different camera but I usually fall to victim to HEDONIC ADAPTATION. I know deep down that I’ll only be using a single camera and I was content with it. I have been using my Nikon F3 for a year and never wanted more. But when I saw a bargain (Olympus XA2, Canonet QL17, Nikon L35AF and a Olympus trip 35 for a 100usd), I pulled the trigger on it. I have been reading extensively on film cameras to know that all of them are great cameras. They arrived the next day and all of them are in great condition. I quickly loaded the Oly XA2 shot a roll (still haven’t develop this) and sold it for a profit. I did the same with the other 3, I shot with them for awhile, get bored, complaint about this or that, and then sold it. I did make a little bit of money and I did enjoy shooting and tinkering with a new camera but this started an unhealthy habit. I would always check sites for various reviews be update for new reviews on sleeper cameras ( selling cheap now and prices would usually go up after the review), with the perfect excuse of I’m investing on them and could sell them easily. Various cameras would go thru my hands from Om-1, Om2n, to a Rollei 35 SE but would always return to the Minolta CLE, for me it’s a lighter Nikon F3 ( Black, aperture priority and dependable). I know that this is all I need and more but what the heck am I looking, reading a review and fantasizing about a Leica M? Which I can’t afford. GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome) again, I thought I have dealt with it before. But making a little money gives you a leeway, an excuse to start GASing all over again. So why am I bitching about it, if I enjoy shooting different cameras and make a little money in the end. What’s wrong with that? Because it’s making me unhappy. I check ebay and other sites on a regular basis ( Every chance a get, might be every 5mins or every 30mins). I have this fear of missing out (FOMO), That I might miss out on a great deal/camera. I black canon 7 for 100 bucks? a black Contax G1 with a 45mm? I NEED THOSE! I was in constant state of fear and desire that I was checking the internet more often than shooting.

  1. Sell every camera I don’t use. ( They’re posted for sale right now)
  2. Never visit or read a review about a camera. Don’t add fuel to fire.
  3. Never visit the sales pages, ebay or where ever I get them.
  4. Make myself accountable. (Thus here I am bitching to you guys)

I am still wanting and lusting for that Leica M, Contax G1, G2 or T2 but when I catch myself wanting. I just tell myself that 1. You cannot afford them 2. You got all that you need to create a great photo and to enjoy taking pictures.

Thank you for hearing me rant.

CLE at 1600-3

Minolta CLE + M-Rokkor 40mm f2+ Kodak Tri-x @1600.

Canon 7

I recently stumbled upon a Canon 7 with a 50mm f1.8 in a good conditioned. Obviously I went home with it. I have already read a lot of best rangefinders to know that the Canon 7 is a decent camera.Canon 7-1 Some people compare this to a Leica M3 being all mechanical and robust. They aren’t wrong this feels great in the hands although it’s a bit hefty. This is my first fully mechanical camera and is a liberation knowing that I don’t need a battery to take a picture and everything will work without one even the meter. I quickly loaded it with a Tri-X and went out to shoot around the neighborhood.

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I have always been depended on a lightmeter for my exposures but decided to use sunny 16 for this roll. I really love the feel of the Canon 7 on my hands it’s one of those camera that would call to you to use them. The viewfinder is a pleasant surprise it’s bigger than I expected and bright making focusing a breeze. BAby

Saw this baby by the side walk and thought to test the 50mm 1.8. Which is a performer. I know people go wild for the “Dream lens” which was made for the Canon 7 but the weight, performance and compactness of the f1.8 is great as a daily carry.

 

urchin

motor

My small rant with this setup was that the focus scale on the lens was in feet. My brain is just more attuned to guesstimate a 1meter – 10meters than in feets. pulong

Playing

The Canon 7 is a great performer and a joy to use. For me that’s all you need in a camera and the only problem is the weight when you’re lugging it around the whole day and the sharp edge poking you when used with a camera strap. Sadly I have to let this Canon 7 go as I made a decision to focus on improving my photography this year and use only the CLE, all to my extra funds will be going to film and developing expenses. Maybe next year a Canon 7 might stumble on my hands again.

I think I’m gonna regret selling this…

Developing black and white

This is easier than expected, you just need a decent developing tank. I have tried developing my own black and white film last year which failed and it lead me to give it up entirely and have my local lab do all the work. The main problem with it was the the developing tank was the classic reel, I guess I just sucked in mounting the film properly which cause the film to stick together resulting in undeveloped film. This time round I got a AP developing tank (Generic patterson tank) which work like wonder.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxSogFBOKeVOZGRfeFR0bzBKaEE

The Darkroom Cookbook is a must read. I haven’t read it cover to cover but it does help a lot to understand the process. My main take away was you need at least 250ml of developer for 1 roll of 135 film. Fixing time is twice the time you need to make the film clear.

  1. Put film on the developing tank on lightless room.
  2. Pour the developer. Agitate the full first minute then every last 10 sec afterwards. I used a stock Ilford ID-11 on a trix @ 400. My computed developing time was 7:30minutes
  3. Stop Bath: 30sec agitation with fresh water atleast repeat this for 3 times
  4. Fixing: Same with the developing but for 7mins (this was my computed time using my old fixer)
  5. Washing (Planning to buy a photoflo as I have visible watermarks on the film)

Let it dry. Then scanned with a Dlsr.

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Walking around the block I saw this kid devouring rice with fried fish. Heart-wrenching.

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In contrast. Almost the same age but on a totally different path. Heartwarming. Make you wonder where would they both be 10 years from now or 20. Life isn’t fair. We’re dealt with good hand and sometimes bad hand it’s up to us how we play it. I am ever thankful I have been a dealt a good hand as I haven’t starved.

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Zone focused at around 5m, composed (what’s in and around the frame), wait for someone to look at me (I was hoping for the one in helmet), press the shutter then walk away. It’s always dynamic in the street and you can’t 100% predict the outcome which makes it more rewarding when you get a good photo. Cle-1-2

I was taking a sneaky photo of the boy when the father saw what I was doing, got his daughter and told me to give him a print of the picture. Aye aye captain. Sadly I haven’t seen him again. I hope they’re okay.

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Boy cooling down in the fountain. He wanted me to take a picture of him so I obliged. Afterward he wanted to see the photo. I showed the back of my camera with nothing but the film description and I told him that it was a film camera. He looked at me with confusion. How do I explain to him the concept of film celluloid? Heck he won’t get it as I can’t explain it in simpler terms. So I just smiled, gave him 10 pesos and  waved goodbye.

Thank you for reading!

Scanning film at home: Portra 160

I have always been having my films developed and scanned at a local lab. The service they provide have always been impeccable but it takes awhile before I get my films and scans usually about 2weeks. Cost wise it’s also a bit expensive and more so if you like pushing your film. My cost for a Kodak tri-x @ 1600 with scans is around 16usd! These pushed me to develop and scan my own films. I’ll talk about the developing part on the next post. Scanning first as I have scanned this roll of portra before I started developing my black and white.

http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2016/02/scanning-film-digital-camera/

Ever since I read the article above from Japancamerahunter I have been toying with the idea of scanning my own negatives at home but never really have the impulse to push thru with it, until now. I just followed the template and work flow of Adrien Saint-Pierre (author of the article)

Equipment:

  1. Nikon D7000 (my old dslr before starting film photography)
  2. Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/3.5 ai (20usd)
  3. Generic extension tube (12usd)
  4. Tripod (hand me down from my brother)
  5. Film holder? cut out from an archival sleeves.
  6. Asahi light panel 15watts (10usd) A decent light source is a must. I have tried using Ipad for it but the pixels shows.

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The light panel with the archival sleeves tightly bound by gaffer tape to the negative will lay flat (cheapo way) but is prone to dust. I did all the same with the article.

Minotla cle with 40mm M-rokkor, Developed at the local lab. Scanned with a DSLR.

You can already tell I am having problem with colors. First they aren’t consistent even with me using the same setting and post on them and second they don’t have the Portra 160 feel. If you have a solution for me don’t be shy to comment I would appreciate it deeply. CLE(PORTRA)-9

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Pros of scanning wtih a Dslr

  1. You control the output ( can sometimes be a con like the color problem of mine)
  2. Faster scanning than from the labs
  3. Cheaper long term
  4. High resolution? Most of the image are around 20mbp

Cons

  1. More work on your side
  2. Dusts if you don’t have the proper environment like me. Had to spot heal most of the photos alot.

It’s cheap if you already have a DSLR and a tripod you won’t lose anything by trying to scan at home using a Dslr. If you end up hating it at least you got a macro lens to play with! win-win.

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New Toy: Minolta CLE

I have been playing with the Minolta CLE for almost a month now. I love how it looks with the “Minolta” and “CLE” taped over, giving a generic compact camera look. The learning curve is a little rocky for me being a slow learner. Coming from a Nikon F3 there’s a lot in common with the CLE. Not mechanical, used mostly as aperture priority and my only gripe is the exposure lock. Most of the learning curve is from being a Slr shooter to a rangefinder. I had difficulty focusing at first and the smaller “viewfinder” due to not using the whole field of the “viewfinder” if that even makes sense.

After the first roll I became more comfortable with a rangefinder and the weight makes me carry it everywhere. Feed it  another roll where I thought I nailed a few decent shoots, so I send it to be developed and was excited for it to finish.

Then shit hits the fan. The negatives return almost paper white I know something went wrong. Checked the scans and most of it is underexposed. I don’t know if it was a developing mistakes as I pushed both the Tri-x to 1600. Cold sweat run down my face fearing the worst, the CLE’s meter was busted. I checked the meter of the CLE against the F3 and my android app but all 3 shows the same meter reading. I was really bummed with the results. Decided to run a Fuji C200 on it to really test it out hoping it was a processing mistake.

Thankfully the negatives was correctly exposed, the meter is not busted.C200-4

The F3 is sleeping on the shelf now that the CLE is my daily companion. It’s perfect for me as it’s light, stealthy and a great 40mm lens. Still learning a lot on how to shoot a rangefinder (zone focus, hyperfocal.. etc.etc.)

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Well that’s it for now.

Keeping shooting!

Loving this site (and learning a lot from it)

http://www.yanidel.net/

Minimalism: Agfa Vista 400

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Welcome back to the busy jungle of Manila. It’s a chaotic place. People are so busy surviving that cleanliness is the last thing in there minds. They spit, urinate and even defecate in the streets (Bums). Electric and telephone lines abound and is uncontrolled. Every street is filled with chaos and it reflects on my photo, It’s so busy that the subject gets drowned in the noise. I need to improve my composition so I challenge myself with a theme of minimalism for this roll of Agfa Vista. Enjoy!

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Chaos. Beating the red light.

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Bangkok in Film: Ilford HP5 @1600

I found this roll a while back not knowing what’s in it, what camera did I shoot with it and importantly what iso I used. Took me a few week to decide that having it developed a little longer would be the safest.

So welcome back to Bangkok! And welcome to Chao Mae Tuptim shrine A.K.A the Penis Shrine.

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The caretaker told us that they just removed half of the penises in the shrine as they were getting a bit crowded. People having fertility issue would leave behind a phallic candle or idol to make their wish come true. It is said that if you touched the phallus it would bring good luck and fertility. I did touched some of the phallus (no homo) hoping it would bring us luck. You can find elephant figures, creepy doll dresses ( I don’t know what they are for) and crammed to every crook and cranny are penises!

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See what I mean by creepy. This just gives me the heebeegeebees!

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This is my favorite shot I got from the shrine. I haven’t read yet “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson” But this reminds me of that book. I like how the penis is just proudly standing there.

What I love most in Thailand is the ambience of calm and unrushedness of the people. Look at him just chilling by the fountain even removing the shoes to be comfortable. Also Bangkok feels more spacious than Manila which is very very crowded.

Up next is the Banyan Tree sky bar. Being on a tight budget and just wanting to sightsee we just ordered drinks thankfully there’s free nuts. And what a great view it offered. I’m really regretting only bringing my 50mm to this trip.

Do me a favor and be smarter than me when you visit this place. See those railings? A great place to mount a gorrila pod and bring a wide angle lens or maybe a fish eye. Time it just right for sunset shots then order a few more drinks til it’s dark and the night light are on and get a great night shot of Bangkok. And not a plain boring shot like I did:HP5-1

I think this is the phallus’s making. When the waiter brought our drinks he accidentally spilled one of the glass on our table. Lucky none of us got wet with it. As compensation they gave us another round for free and waived our bill. I hope that doesn’t come out of our waiters salary. Thank you Penis shrine I know that was because of you.

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This would be the face of someone spending the last night in Bangkok eating like crazy Due to the saved money from Banyan Tree we had enough for a buffet. Thus the evil palm rubbing.

Thank you for all the memories and the good time Bangkok! Maybe Chang Mai next time.

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Nothing brings you back to Manila more than someone in a diaper playing ball on a busy road. HP5-3-4

Just hold on. We can slowly work together for a better future. By starting with ourselves. Let’s be the best possible version of ourself. And as always love and take the most meaningful photos to you.

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Thank you for reading!

Learning: Roll#9 Tri-x @1600

When I started using film I had this idea/dream that every photos I would take would be the “SHIT”. Oh how right was I when the first roll got developed and printed. 35 shots of crap (under, overexposed and out of focused shots) and 1 decent photo. I blamed everything less but me. Maybe the camera is broken it’s old, maybe the meter is fried, maybe my film stock wasn’t handled well being developed yeah that’s it bad developing. But deep down I know it was my fault. So I did what any normal person would do before running a film thru a new camera: Read the manual. Ha! so it’s center weighted metering, that’s good to know.

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Next thing I did was browse through the works of Josef Koudelka and learn from him. Ofcourse I admired Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Robert Frank and most of the greats but it’s with Josef Koudelka’s work I resonated with.

https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/josef-koudelka/

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Great work takes time. Koudelka took around 5000 photos of the Prague 1968 invasion but used only a fraction of it. Only later when “Invasion 68:Prague” that other photos would be used, it featured 250 awe inducing photos most of them published for the first time. That’s 250 out 5000 photos! He had a tight body of work spanning all the years he was taking picture but the quality of it was absurd. So be patient and enjoy the learning process.

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After shifting to film my compulsive behavior to shot 10 or more photo of the same thing completely disappeared and was replaced by extreme skimping. 1shot per 1 subject that’s all I gave myself. Only after looking at Koudelka’s contact sheet did I realized that if you feel there’s a “Shot”, you can work the scene out. Compose, recompose and shoot. Don’t skimp. Which made me think of this quote:

” In the end you only regret the the things you didn’t do”

Let’s rephrase this

” In the end you only regret the photos you didn’t take”

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My favorite photo. Took me a bit of experimentation but I got it. When life seem dark always look to the light. I always look to you my light. I am grateful having you. Thank you and thanks for reading!

Nostalgia: Roll#8 Lucky

It’s amazing how photos can bring you back to a moment in your life. This is one of the reason why I am into photography. I visual anchor to the past charged with emotions and memories. Ahhh, Nostalgia.

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Co-habitation towel. This one is meh at best but this is special to me. It reminds me of a happy, simplier and relatively stress free time. I can even remember the sound of the jack hammer pounding outside and making sleep impossible. So I decided to take some photo of the room as we we’re moving out soon.  Looking back now I can tell you how glad I am wasting film and money on them. Reminiscing is priceless.

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“Meditation by Marcus Aurelius” And “Letters from a Stoic by Seneca” two of my favorite books. Basically saying to me to stop my bitching and whining. Stop being a victim and to actively help myself because I’m the only one who can change my situation. The external forces you can’t control but you can control everything within you. You control your own narrative.Lucky-6

So let’s take more meaningful pictures. It doesn’t have to be world changing or a technical marvel. All it needs to do is please you. You’re the one with the emotional attachment to it. Take this white rose for an example. I should have lessen the clutter to make it a bit more bearable but this one signifies my girlfriends passing of her licensure exam. I’ll always remember buying it cause it’s all I can afford, a single measly piece. Well it’s the thought that counts.

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The face of success.

I’m proud of you for passing the board exam. I’m sure you know that. CongratuFU*KINGlations!