Pray to the muse

I have been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and it was a revelation. All art is a pain to create (to start) when a blank canvass or a black page is only staring at you and you can’t seem to start anything. I have been like this for awhile now. The camera is always in my hand but I can’t seem to start taking photos of anything and the day goes by with out a single shutter fired.

Two things seems to stick with me after reading the book:

  1. Fight the Resistance- This just means to push thru the start. If you want to write start writing anything. For me I start my day taking a picture immediately when I hit the street. Good or bad subject I just start by taking that 1 picture! It always seems to put me in that flow state which lets me see more and capture more.CLE_Tri-X_00
  2. Praying to the Muse- I don’t always remember to do this but I try to. It’s pavlov’s me to think okay time to shoot. And somehow, the muse seems to always present something wonderful to me.                                                                                           “Muses, I praise thee.
    Grant me the vision to craft words of power that sear into the mind’s eye.
    Let my ears hear words that are true and pure.
    Let my inspiration be a mighty steed that carries me forward.
    I pledge to you that I shall fight Resistance and strive to bring glory to the tales you would have me tell.
    Let the work begin.” 
  3. Boy-2

If you want to fight thru the resistance in any creative process do read: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Thank you for Reading!

 

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On fear and discomfort

I am struggling to improve my “photographic eye”.

I want to compose better and take more relevant photos but looking back, most of what I shot was shit. I decided on several things so I can improve it. First was to double down on my camera. No more GASing and wasting money and my most precious resource (TIME) on reviews and online auction and other sites. The extra time would be devoted to learning, reading and really studying the photos of the masters. The money was devoted to film and chemicals.

After spending weeks to months and several rolls of film I still feel that i’m still in the same place as I was before. Most of my shot looked “Lifeless” to me. Printing-21

Read all this about composition and rules. Ah the never ending rules: rule of thirds, rule of odds, the golden spiral, frames with the frames, much much more. Yes, this rule help with making a stable, balanced and even powerful photo. But if we all use them doesn’t that mean that most of all our shot would be same? Most likely not but in my case. Most of my shot looked the same cause I have really tried to change it. Until I challenge myself again. I took up with my friend (albeit it’s one sided) Robert Capa.

If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. ”- Robert Capa
This is hard for me. Shooting in your face here in the Philippines got me shouted at and collar grab at before. But as fate would have it this would be the same day I was reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (Great Book!), It was his interview with Brene Brown, She said ” Give vulnerability a shot. Give discomfort its due. Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.”
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I really like this one. For me it’s one of my few shots that’s got a soul. Corny as that sounds. So give discomfort a shot. Even if you won’t get a great photo you’ll still feel great knowing you can do something that scares you.

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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3 Tips on How to stop GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

Well I have recently been “G.A.Sing” hard. I have been browsing the net looking for reviews, photos taken with the camera (Om4 Ti) and just plain day dreaming of the shots I’ll take with it, for the better part of a week!

We humans are unhappy because we’re insatiable. An ultra-marathoner of the “Hedonic treadmill”. We get what we desire let’s say (in my case) the Olympus Om2n with a 24mm 2.8 and less than a week you adapt to them and the dissatisfaction returns. Maybe this time it’s a Om 50mm f1.2 lens that would do the trick or the Om4 ti. Let’s not stop there maybe the harder to find Om3 would get my itch scratched.

Enough is enough. When lusting for a piece of equipment is taking more time than the actual creation, it becomes unhealthy for me. I can read a review plenty of times and still read it some more (http://www.35mmc.com/12/09/2016/olympus-om4ti/ and http://camerajunky.net/2012/06/19/olympus-om-4-ti-black/).

My go to cure for G.A.S:

  1. Negative visualization– Imagine how you’ll feel if you lost your go to camera now. Vividly imagine that your camera got stolen on that shady street you were walking by. This is very effective for me, reminds me how much I wanted my camera before I had it and how much  I’ll miss it if I lose it. Then I find myself stroking the old beater camera with care and looking at it with love.
  2. 1 Month rule- I use this one with almost every possible buy. The rule is simple if I want to buy something that’s gonna cost more than 1,000 php or around 20 usd I write it on my notebook with the starting date (ex. Om4ti- Feb26, 2017). So if after 30days I still want to buy the Om4ti I’ll pull the trigger on it (which is good cause usually in 30 days time someone already bought it first!).
  3. Reread the reviews of your camera- Luckily for me Nikon F3 has a ton of great review in the web. This somehow makes me feel that the camera i’m already using is more than enough. If I want to create a better photo It’s me who’s got to improve and not the equipment.

These 3 steps helped me solve my G.A.S for a while i’m sure it’ll pop out sooner or later. I always say to myself that great photos have been taken with less (older cameras), so it’s not the equipment that make a photo but the one behind the camera.

If you’re still G.A.Sing after doing this 3 steps. I suggest you go here: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/03/04/10-tips-on-how-to-cure-yourself-of-gas-gear-acquisition-syndrome/

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Nikon F3 50mm 1.4/ Kodak Portra 400

As always thank you for reading and I hope this helps!