New film stock to try out … Agfa APX 400

I was recently sent a lovely little package from a twitter friend Sandeep @Givemeabiscuit that contained a bunch of different films stocks.

He kindly sent me the films due to losing a bet that we made last year in regards to Liverpool FC ( who I support) finishing higher than Manchester UTD (who he supports) .

We both agreed to send each other a pile of film which ever one of us lost the bet, I won but to be honest I forgot all about it but Sandeep being the gentleman that he is reminded me and suffice to say he sent me a excellent pile of films some of which I have never shot before.

The 1st film that caught my eye was some Agfa APX 400 which is a film that I have not tried so I decided as the weather last weekend was total pants and my rugby match was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch I though I would get wet anyway so loaded up a camera that I have had a while but never shot the Minolta Dynax 500si (more about this at the end of the blog) and went out up the mountain in the mist and rain to see how the film/camera performed.I tried to test the film/camera with a variety of settings and subjects from wide open closeups to stopped down wide shots all in aperture priority at iso 400 and developed the roll in Ilfotec HC 1+31 dilution for 8 minutes.

The camera performed really well I did switch to manual focus for some of the shots as it did struggle in the light a little but other than that it was great. The film itself was also a revelation with lovely contrast and excellent sharpness which really showed in some of the images where I stopped down to f8 and more.

The grain is pretty uniform and tight which helped in the large areas of mist in the pictures.

Overall I am very impressed with this film and will certainly look into buying some more in the future.As I said earlier in the post … more about the Minolta Dynax 500si …

I have been thinking about how to give back to the film community in some way.

I have given a few cameras/film away in the past but I was thinking about how to get others to join in the absolute joy that is “film photography” so as a start I am going to give this camera and AF35-70mm lens away along with some film to a newbie film shooter.

I will do a follow up blog post in the next few days with details about how I am going to do this as I am not really sure how to target newbie photographers.

Hopefully my fellow film togs can spread the word somehow and I can get the ball rolling soon.

Anyway thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

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A day at the Seaside with some expired Kodak Ultra 400 …..

I am always looking on Ebay for any film bargains even though I have way more film than I actually need already and came across a few rolls of Kodak Ultra 400 that had expired back in 2005.

The seller said it had been cold stored and as I didn’t have any of this stock I took a punt.I loaded up my Nikon FE2 & 35mm f2.5 and we popped down to the beach at Porthcawl, the weather started quite bright but by the time I was half way through the roll the clouds darkened which gave me two different looks to the images.

Once I started scanning the roll I was taken aback with how the images looked, pretty normal colours while shooting in the partial sunshine but when it clouded over the images had quite a pronounced colour shift which for me were the better looking frames if I am honest. Overall I was very happy with how many keepers that I managed to get from this roll.

I even like the pronounced grain in the funkier one’s too.

I am going to print out a couple at quite a decent size as I think the grain/colour will pop more when viewed larger.

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

London, New York, Pontycymmer … Artist at work .. Kevin Sinnott

Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of spending time with world renowned artist Kevin Sinnott who lucky for me lives here in Pontycymmer where he also has his studio and his most excellent gallery “Studio 18”.

My first thoughts about this series of images was to shoot it completely on film which after my initial test shoots was not going to show how I pictured the project in my mind where I had some sort of control over the colours of the paintings.

So I used a mix of film & Digital hopefully to give a good overview of a working artist.

Before we start here is a very brief snippet about Kevin that I procured from the web….

Kevin Sinnott

Born in Sarn, South Wales in 1947, Kevin Sinnott is a contemporary Welsh artist with a truly international reputation. He trained at Cardiff College of Art & Design, Gloucestershire College of Art & Design and at the Royal College of Art, London. Kevin remained in London throughout the 1970s and 80s, building a very successful career, and exhibiting at leading London galleries, major galleries in the USA and mainland Europe.
Kevin’s work is collected worldwide and he is represented in many important public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His large canvas, ‘Running Away with the Hairdresser’ has proved to be one of the National Museum and Galleries of Wales’s most popular acquisitions.
Kevin returned to live in Wales in 1995 and has quickly established himself at the forefront of the renaissance in Welsh painting. While his work is primarily concerned with human relationships, the influence of the south Wales landscape is strongly felt in his paintings. He was elected to the Royal Cambrian Academy in 2007.

 

I will include some links at the end of the post to various articles featuring Kevin that may be of interest.Hopefully this will be the start of an ongoing project where I hope to spend time with artists in their studio or place of work where I can document the process of their discipline whether they are a painters, photographers, illustrators, musicians, sculptors etc

This 1st post may be an exception as Kevin gave me unlimited access to him and his studio for which I am so grateful.

 

I was very lucky with my timing as Kevin was in the middle of a painting on the day we arranged for me to pop over to do the studio shoot.

I was privileged to watch him work and then re work the painting “SuperMam” which will feature in most of the following images, please excuse the slight colour variations as obviously they are a mix of Film & Digital.

The paintings need to be seen in life to appreciate them  🙂

The images were shot on a mixture of Kodak Portra 400, Fuji Pro 400H for the colour and ilford HP5+ and Kodak T-Max for the B&W.

Cameras used were Nikon F100, Mamiya 645, Mamiya C330 and Leica M2.

Digital were Nikon D600, Fuji XT-1 and Fuji X-Pro1

Martin Tinney Gallery
http://www.artwales.com/artists-detail-mtg-en.php?artistID=49
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Wales online link
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/kevin-sinnotts-new-paintings-go-4891977
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Studio 18 link
http://studio18.wales/
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Youtube video link

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National Museum link
https://museum.wales/art/online/?action=show_item&item=1671
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Flowers Gallery
https://www.flowersgallery.com/artists/view/kevin-sinnott

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

Summer Velvia 50 colours ….

Last week I did my good deed of the month by giving away a camera to a twitter photographer friend who was happy to pay the postage but also gave me a lovely surprise by also sending me a little Lomo camera along with a selection of films one of which was some Fuji Velvia RVP50 which I have not had a great deal of experience with. I have shot plenty of Fuji Velvia RVP100 in both 35mm and 120 with lovely results but the RVP50  was quite a new experience.

I loaded up the Nikon F100 as I find the metering to be the most accurate and rated the film at 25 iso as it had expired back in 2006 and processed it using the Tetenal E6 kit. When opening the developing drum the colours were popping even before holding up to the light and once I got the scans into Lightroom I began to understand why photographers rave about this iconic film stock. The day that I shot the film was bright and sunny which obviously aided the look of the images with the Reds and greens almost aglow.

Obviously I will have to add a few rolls of this to my film fridge very soon and I will look forward to loading it up the next time we get any sun here in the South Wales Valleys.

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

All my #SummerFilmParty “August” images together …..

As I said in a previous post I have been taking part in a Twitter competition called #SummerFilmParty … only using certain film types then posting the results and if chosen the participating photographers get to vote for the winner.

Last month I managed to get 2 images shortlisted (didn’t win) which was well pleasing given the calibre of the other entries.

I shot 2 films .. ilford Pan F in my Nikon F4s and some expired Fuji Sensia 400 in my Nikon F100.

Here are the entries plus a couple that didnt make my cut  ….. in no particular order

This was the last #SummerFilmParty but other parties have been planned so watch this space.

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

 

Carl Zeiss Flektogon 35mm f2.4 on my Nikon FM2n …..

I was very lucky a few months back to be gifted a bunch of old camera stuff from a friend, most of which sadly was pretty far gone but mounted to an old Praktica that had died was this beauty … Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.4

Funny thing was I was reading a random blog post only days before extolling the virtues of this particular lens.

I have a couple of M42 mount cameras so mounted it on my working Praktica MTL 5B and shot a roll of expired Kodak Colorplus just to test the performance.

See link here .. carl-zeiss-jena-flektogon-35mm-f2-4

I was very pleased with how the lens performed so I decided to get an M42 adapter for Nikon F mount so that I could use it with some of my older Nikon Slr’s.

I made sure that I got one with the glass element that let the camera focus to infinity and mounted it on my FM2n loaded with some ilford XP2 and went out to test it.

I found that if I switched the lens to manual diaphragm mode then the FM2n metered correctly for me.

Here are some sample images mostly shot wide open at 2.4 through 5.6 with the bench landscape at f11.

The viewfinder dimmed quite a bit the more that I stopped down making it quite hard to focus but if you switch back to auto diaphragm mode to focus if you are using f8+ then back to manual to meter then all is good. All in all I am very pleased with this little lens and it has the added benefit of being able to close focus down to 19cm.

Considering I got this for nothing is a bonus but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this as a purchase as you will not be disappointed

Thanks for looking ….

Click on an image to view larger

All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

 

All my #SummerFilmParty entries in one place ….

I have been taking part in a Twitter competition #SummerFilmParty where the photographers have to use certain types of film during shoot week then over the following 2 weeks develop and then post the results.

Today was the last posting day so I decided to also post all my entries her together.

I used 2 cameras … Nikon F90 with a 50mm f1.4 & Sigma 105mm f2.8 with some Kodak Ektar.

and Yashica Mat 124G with Fuji Reala 100 both rolls developed and scanned at home.

Here they are in no particular order … Obviously the Square images are from the Yashica Mat  🙂 As usual it was fun to be a part of …. here is the link to Emulsive where you can see the info about this and future competitions .. Summer Film Party also here is the Twitter link @summerfilmparty 

Thanks for looking ….

Click on an image to view larger

All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

Do you need to calibrate your monitor ….. ?

I suppose the answer to this question depends on what you are doing.

I mean if you are a photographer who just posts the odd image on the web then maybe the answer is no as most of the time people will view your image on a smartphone or on a monitor that is also un-calibrated so you have no control over how the colours in your image may look to them.

If on the other hand you want print out your images or post them on a blog or website and have some control on how the colours will be seen (assuming the end viewer also has a calibrated monitor to) then calibrating your system is a must.

I have been calibrating my system for years using  one of the original Datacolor Spyder express 2 which has served me well all this time but I recently managed to get hold of the new Spyder 5 to compare between the old and the new thanks to @digitalglueuk and datacolor.com

Firstly I was pleased with the size difference, the new Spyder 5 was a much neater compact unit that split open to reveal the sensor and the cover was then used as a counter weight over the top of the monitor.

Also after installing the software I was especially pleased to find that I was able to calibrate multiple monitors where as with my Spyder 2 I was limited to just the single monitor ( I use a 2 monitor set up ).

The sensor also monitors the ambient room light to optimally tune the screen to your environment.

Quite a few people ask me if calibrating your monitor is hard to do?

Well I have taken a few screen shots just to show you how easy it is as it is a step by step process that anyone can do .

The software guides you every step of the way…All you have to do is follow along and change a few monitor settings and you are done in a matter of minutes…You then save the new profile and the final screens will show you the before and after views …The best thing is if you have multiple computers when you calibrate each one you know that when you are editing/viewing the same picture on each computer you will get the same look and then when you save the image with the embedded profile and send it to the printer or out to a lab you know that the image will be reproduced pretty damn close to how it appeared on your screen (obviously it depends on the output device matching the colour gamut of the profile you used).

Since getting the new Spyder 5 I have printed loads of images and had a few done in a lab and the results have been perfect that’s not to say that my old Spyder 2 did not do the same but the ease of use and the newer software with the Spyder 5 made the whole process so much easier.

I cannot recommend this product highly enough, It is so easy to use with such huge benefits to a photographer that  I personally think everyone should get one.

I have only ever used the Datacolor calibrators so I can’t speak of any others out there on the market but I imagine that they may be just as good/easy to use too but they would have to go a long way to beat this little gem.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

My 1st impressions of my Plustek 8100 Scanner …..

Quick disclaimer … this is not a full in depth techy review its just my personal impression after a few weeks playing about with this scanner.

I have never been totally happy with any of my own scans, not that there has been anything wrong with them really but they never seem as good as when I get stuff done in the lab.

I usually use an Epson v500 flatbed scanner and the bundled epson software.

I try to scan as flat as I can capturing as much of the Highlight/Shadow detail as possible by adjusting the individual RGB channels then do all the heavy lifting in Adobe Lightroom.

This workflow seems to yield the best results for me.

I was debating wether to upgrade my flatbed to an Epson v800 (I may have to as I am now looking to scan 4×5) but came across a review of the Plustek 8100 and saw that it was only £150 here in the uk so decided to jump in and give it a go.

Here is the link to where I bought it …

Its a nice compact unit and feels pretty solid but the film holders are just as flimsy as my epson ones.

This is a totally manual scanner in the sense that you can only scan one frame at a time, no batch scanning and no motorised loading you just have to push the holder to the next frame but it stops in position with a nice positive click so you know that the frame is aligned correctly.

The film holder is not the easiest thing to use if you have curly film as it is a pain to position and then close the top flap without actually handling the film surface so gloves are a must.

Also as a side note …. this is a 35mm only scanner

It comes complete with a nice little bag that holds the scanner/film-slide holders and leadsThe supplied software is Silverfast SE Plus 8 which I must admit has a damn steep learning curve compared to the Epson Scan software.So now to the results ….

Well before that just a quick word on the Silverfast software …

There are so many options that unless you enjoy scanning this is not for you.

My 1st scans were pretty awful, I clicked and tweaked away at every option and got nowhere fast.

I then tried to scan flat like I was used to and that was poor also so I then decided to check out the web for some instruction and to be fair the silverfast website really helped big time.

The best thing that this scanner/software does is multi exposure scanning … yes it takes quite a while but the results are worth it also the Negafix option gives you a great starting point with the colours as it features a ton of film profiles that you choose when you begin scanning.

All in all I bought this scanner to hopefully get better scans which It really does but I am not going to scan all my images with it as the workflow is pretty time consuming rather I am scanning my rolls with the epson 1st then re scanning the frames that I may want to process further or especially if I want to print an image as the amount of detail that it captures is way more than the v500 for sure.

This is the cheapest version that Plustek sell.

The next one in the range is about £80 more and features infrared scanning for the dust removal this model has dust removal but without the infrared pass so obviously its not as accurate but I never used it much on my v500 so didn’t want to spend the extra £80.

I have used the SRD which is what Silverfast calls the dust removal and it works fine but if its something that you require I would recommend buying the 8200i SE which incorporates the infrared scanning.This was a really old negative that had slipped out of a folder some how and was pretty badly marked and scanned on my v500.This is the Opticfilm 8100 scan using the SRD attempting to find the dust.This is the scan after the dust removal which is pretty good considering it does not have the infrared channel to help.Using the Negafix part of the software you get much closer to the correct color straight from the scanner and before Lightroom ….. this is Kodak Ektar. Epson V500 scan of some Tmax 400 … the 2nd image is a 100% crop This is the Opticfilm 8100 version which captures much more detail and it can then be processed further in Lightroom.

Click on the crops to see ….

 

Here are some more samples to compare 

The V500 versions have been through Lightroom for full editing while the Opticfilm 8100 versions have only had dust removed in Photoshop CC then re-saved as jpegs … no colour editing or sharpening etc….

V500 … Kodak Ektar

Opticfilm 8100 … Kodak Ektar

V500 … Kodak Ektar

Opticfilm 8100 … Kodak Ektar

V500 … ilford FP4@200

Opticfilm 8100 … ilford FP4@200

V500 … Fuji Superia 400

Opticfilm 8100 … Fuji Superia 400

v500 … Fuji Superia 400

Opticfilm 8100 … Fuji Superia 400

Just to finish off I am very happy that I bought this little scanner it doesn’t break the bank as far as scanners go and gives great results if you are willing to give each scan a bit of time.

Its not an everyday scanner unlike the V500 and I would find it quite hard going if this was my one and only scanner especially as I tend to shoot at least 1 roll of film a week so in conclusion I would have to say that if you shoot 35mm and want your scans to get to at least lab standard (not drum scanning) then this is a must buy especially at the £150 price point.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂

E6 Processing …. Well how hard can it be?

As you may know if you follow any of my posts here I develop and scan all my own C41 and B&W film but until now I have either cross-processed my slide film or sent it out to a lab.

The problem with E6 is its not cheap to get processed and scanned and it seems to take at least twice as long to come back so I decided to do it myself.

So I purchased the Tetenal Colortec E6 kit and proceeded to scour the internet for hints and tips on the best way to go about the processing.

When I develop my C41 I use the 30 deg method as I find it easier to maintain that temperature rather than the 38 deg method and also (may be due to the temp fluctuations) seem to get far more uniform results.

It is a 8 step process including the pre soak/wash and except for the final Stabilizer bath the temperatures were all at 38 deg which started to get me a bit worried.

After watching some youtube videos I purchased 2 medium size plastic storage tubs in which I could put all of my bottles including my filtered water as there are 3 washes in between all of the chemical baths ( we have very hard water here so tap water washing is not an option).

I usually do my normal processing in a bowl as all of my bottles fit and the temp is not so high but by having 2 tubs and the bowl I managed to keep the temp pretty stable with plenty of kettle boils to top up.

All in all it was quite stressful for my 1st attempt, worrying about the temp and the constant 15 second agitation along with swapping thermometers about (I have 3 but could have done with more) but the thrill of seeing the film emerge from the drum was brilliant.

It was such a buzz seeing full colour images as opposed to negatives that the stress it caused was worth the effort.

This was a roll of expired Fuji Sensia 100 35mm and I have since processed my 1st roll of 120mm Kodak Ektachrome E200 which was not such a success as this roll due to me trying to push it to 400 iso but a few of the frames were so under exposed I could not get anything out of them … that is another blog maybe.

 

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at  usingfilm.wordpress.com if you want a peek 🙂