I’m honoured, but slightly embarrassed because most of my photography these days is digital. Still, a photo is a photo, right? I hope you won’t be disappointed by the paucity of film photographs if you came to this website by following the link from Jim’s list.
I understand Marcus’ humble acknowledgement here but it is crappy that anyone should defend what they choose to shoot photos with. A photographer should be able to use whatever tool she/he would prefer to use for any given project or at any given moment and they should never have to apologize for it.
His point is more so that he made a list of film photography blogs and isn’t sharing much about film photography lately. But, you can still read between the lines when he says “a photo is a photo, right?”. Right!!
Here’s a photo I took on a $3 roll of consumer film I picked up at my local grocery store, shot through a Pentax body that I paid $5 for at a garage sale, mounting a $25 lens from ebay. So never mind not having the top-of-the-line equipment, use what you have and stop making excuses.
“Use what you have and stop making excuses.” – Joseph Irvin
It’s time for my annual list of film photography blogs! A great joy of film photography is the community of people who enjoy everything about it: the gear, the films, getting out and shooting, and looking at the resulting photographs. Lots of us share our adventures on our blogs.
I am so very happy this list exists. So many great, active blogs by photographers focused on so many different things. I’ve subscribed to nearly every single one that has an RSS feed.
After reading his post I realized he is attracted to Obsidian for the same reasons that I was to give it a try. It stores your notes in a format that keeps the data local, readable, and accessible to any text editor. I really like Simplenote but it only stores notes in Simplenotes cloud service and not as local files (although, it did before Automattic acquired the service many years ago).
As the capabilities of cloud services get more and more robust I find myself drifting back to the early days of my computing where I wanted complete control of all of my data. Even though I can have all of my data accessible from any device, anywhere in the world, doesn’t mean that I want to rely on those services to provide me that data. And, I certainly don’t want the data to be locked into any single app.
Web 2.0 addressed this issue by pushing for accessible APIs that allowed data to be imported or exported in a variety of standard formats. Which is great! However, I find that it is the storage that should be standardized and not the method by which you can move data around. And text notes are just one example. I’ll give another example in a moment.
I need to spend more time digesting Verborgh’s post (which I somehow missed when he published it late last year). However, the principles that are mentioned within it really land with me. One that stands out:
As apps become decoupled from data, they start acting as interchangeable views rather than the single gateway to that data.
This is exactly what I want for so much of my personal data. Any note taking app should be able to read notes written in any app – making the app’s interface simply a view into my note data. Like email. I can choose any email app for any email address. And switch whenever I want.
I’m currently working at building the very same capabilities for my photo library. In the past, I’ve written about why Photos for Mac isn’t a good long term storage solution for our photo libraries. As I write this I’m creating a set of tools and a workflow for my photo storage that allows me to store my photos in a readable format and structure while retaining the ability to use an app like Photos for Mac as a view into that library.
I still have more work to do, and I plan on writing a post sometime in September on what I’ve made so far, but it is a challenge to be sure. My overall goal is to have a photo library that does not require an app, but that an app enhances the experience of browsing my library. And, that all metadata related to a photo (EXIF, tags, faces, etc.) are stored within the file itself and not only within a photo management tool’s database. This will not be easy but I’m determined.
Notes and photos are not the only data that I wish I had in a standardized readable format. My links from Unmark are important to me. Unmark can already import from a variety of services and formats, and it can export into a JSON file. But I’ve recently started working on an export process for Unmark that will spit out a standardized HTML file so that people can export their links to be ingested in any browser or app they desire. This is, of course, the Web 2.0 approach.
I’m glad I read Zijlstra’s post. It has reinvigorated me to continue my effort to decentralize as much of my personal data as possible.
I have the second-best computer you sell, and facial recognition is going on weeks to make a dent in my photo library.
How can I gracefully quit ‘photoanalysisd’ when I want to unmount an external drive? Getting sick of “Force Ejecting” (though I do love how that sounds like a Star Wars reference)
Is there any way to ask Photos to start its processes again after mounting an external drive?
Why would Photos just stop “thinking”? How do I “jiggle the handle”? Notice CPU usage. The app is open and in the background – should be using 100% of CPU to work. (See Figure 1)
I created a Smart Album to find unnamed Faces. Maybe you can add this directly to Photos as a feature? It makes it much easier to find photos that have faces but Photos doesn’t know their name. (See Figure 2)
I’d like an option to delete a photo from the hard drive when I delete from the Library. Is this possible and I’m simply missing it? As of right now, I have to “Find referenced file in Finder” and delete both in Finder and in Library.
Can I move a Photo Library from an external drive to the local drive and all of the references will stay in tact?
The Places feature works on individual people or if I search for a location but the map feature under Places in the sidebar shows no photos at all.
Can you add progress indicators throughout the app? Importing shows progress, but it’d be nice if facial and object recognition or other tasks gave some indication of “doneness”. As it stands, it appears as though Photos is broken. But I know it isn’t. It’s just “thinking”.
Exporting original photos should retain all metadata (unless specified to remove in preferences).
Bonus: Adding descriptions or keywords, etc. should be stored directly on the file itself. It can be stored in the Photos database too. But storing on the file itself makes Photos for Mac “future proof” a bit.
Importing tens of thousands of photos into Photos for Mac, on a maxed out 16-inch MacBook Pro, cripples the machine. It is nearly unusable. Closing the app doesn’t help because it has background processes when the app is closed.
Experiment fearlessly with your edits. Create different edit treatments on the same image. It’s great for when you want a B&W version and a color version, for example, or when you want a variety of different crops for publishing to different social media sites.
I have several export workflows in Lightroom Classic for use on my web site, on Instagram, etc. Mostly the differences are the size of the images (e.g. uploading a huge image to Instagram does no good, but uploading one to Flickr is great). However, I’d love to have multiple crops of the same image readily available for print and social.
I doubt Lightroom Classic will continue to get as much attention as Lightroom itself. This is why I’m thinking of building my own photo management app for the Mac but I’m terrified of the rabbit hole I’d be jumping in.
Above is my first ever contact print. A contact print is when you lay a negative (film, paper, tin, glass) onto photo-sensitive paper and shine light onto it to expose the paper. You then develop that paper into a positive print (or what you’d think of as a normal photo).
This is a milestone in my film journey. I’ve been trying to build enlargers with household materials over the last few quarantined weeks without any real success. In fact, I might just give up on it altogether until I get my hands on a real enlarger (which I think I have one in my sights).
Here is how the story of the above photo began.
We are in quarantine. Are you? I bet you are. Well, we’ve been in quarantine now for over 2 months or so. And that has led me to do all sorts of at-home photography projects such as my bedroom camera obscura.
Last night I got the idea to finally try my hand at making a contact print from a paper negative. I didn’t want to use the negatives I had created with the camera obscura so I thought of creating many smaller sized negatives using some old cameras I have laying around.
So step 1 was to create some cardboard templates for the focal areas for the cameras I was going to use. In my case, I chose three cameras. A Baby Kodak Brownie, a Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash Edition, and a Canon 650 35mm film camera. I chose the Brownies because they’d give me a relatively large negative (about 48mm x 23mm) and I don’t have any film that can fit into them. I chose the Canon 650 because it is a fully manual film camera that wasn’t currently loaded with any film and I can control the shutter speed.
Now for the hard part. Rather than wait until dark (I don’t have a darkroom yet unless I create one), I decided to cut the photo paper in my changing bag. This means that I had to cut the paper blind by feeling the templates. Doing anything blind is harder than it seems it would be.
My cuts weren’t very straight, but by putting the cameras into the dark bag I was able to load the cameras with their single-shot paper negatives.
I then ventured outside our apartment to quickly take advantage of the fading light.
First, I took a photo with the Baby Brownie which ended up coming out under exposed. The photo paper is rated at about ISO 12 from what I’ve read so I thought the relatively slower shutter speeds of the Brownies would be to my advantage – but I guess I needed them to be just a bit slower. My guess is that they come in at around 1/50 or 1/60 and I really need 1/15 for this. Here is the negative and photo I took with the Baby Brownie.
Black and white photography continues to amaze me at how much information is stored in even under or over exposed negatives. This tree was in full sunlight when I took the photo and yet it came out with a very moody feel.
Next, I shot the Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash Edition – a fun looking camera that I got from a friend.
This one of the apartment building came out far better exposed – but still under exposed. Again, though, you can see a lot of information is retained in these negatives despite how hacked together they are. And also despite the fact that this is photo paper and not film.
Last is the paper negative, digital positive, and contact print I created using a photo I shot with the Canon 650. I was able to meter the subject using an iPhone app, control the shutter speed (unlike the Brownies) and so the result is far better. That is why I chose this negative to create a contact print from – even though the size of the negative is smaller at just 35mm.
For the photo nerds out there, this shot was taken at f/5.6, 1/15s, and the paper is ISO 12. I developed all of the paper using Kodak D76 in my bathtub all for roughly 2 minutes or so.
I made the contact print by laying the negative on top of a fresh piece of photo paper and using my iPhone’s flashlight for about 10seconds to expose the positive. I then developed the positive in the same solution for about 2 minutes. I think I can do much better next time by making a contact print at a much larger size – say, 5×7″.
I’m definitely going to be doing more of this. Perhaps directly from negatives. But almost certainly using larger paper negatives rather than these small ones.
Seeing photos become “real” right in front of your eyes is a real treat.
Sometimes the area where you live would not be motivating to photograph because you see these things everyday. However, when I started photography I began to see the world (and my home area) in a different way. I started to look for compositions everywhere and I now have a bunch of spots that I’d like to revisit. I am always surprised that these spots almost never look the same.
Being in quarantine has certainly limited me in the area I can cover in my photography. But I’ve made more photographs that I’m proud of in the last few months than I had in the previous year combined. They will all slowly trickle out onto this blog in the coming months.
I am finding myself shooting the same location, like this tree, or the same subjects, like birds, over and over and over. But guess what? I’m getting better and more confident at it. In the last several weeks I haven’t missed a single exposure or messed up a frame entirely. I’m pushing the shutter with confidence and that has only happened due to repetition.
On Sunday morning I decided to quickly set up a photo shoot for my current houseplants. Here are just a few that I liked. The others didn’t come out the way I wanted due to a few limitations. So I’m hoping to do another photo shoot in the near future.
The language is typical of many photo sharing sites (including PhotoShelter), so in that sense it’s unremarkable. The company needs the ability to redisplay images, and wants to be able to have, for example, an image appear in the app, within an Instagram Story, and on the website without having to regain consent each time it comes up with a new feature.
The post I pulled this quote from does a good job framing the issue with Instagram’s TOS and the Mashable case.
I don’t know why it is ever surprising to anyone that if you upload content of any type to a free platform that you likely relinquish some or all of your rights to it. If you don’t like that, get a web site.
I’d been wanting to make my own camera for several months. Something simple like a shoe box pinhole camera. But then quarantine happened and I stumbled across Brendan Barry’s YouTube video about turning a room in your house into a camera obscura – and making a paper negative and positive print.
I thought with the quarantine and all that I had the time to figure this out on my own. So I decided to turn our bedroom into a camera obscura and, hopefully, make a paper negative from it. It turned out to be the most educational photographic experience I’ve had to date.
By blowing the scale of the camera up to a room-size, you learn how each individual piece of a camera plays its role. Reading or watching a YouTube video about how a camera works is not the same as making one yourself. Everything is exaggerated. The size of the lens, aperture, distance to the film, etc. This way, you can actually see how each of these things impacts the overall result.
Due to quarantine delaying some deliveries, and the lack of resources we have by not allowing much material to enter our home, it took me about a week from start-to-finish to get a paper negative that I thought of as “good enough” to move on from the project and give my wife our bedroom back. I could definitely see doing this project again, or at a smaller scale using a box.
Here are the steps I took and a few things I learned along the way. This is, by no means, a how-to blog post. For that I urge you to watch Barry’s video linked above.
I started by using a cardboard box to block the window in our bedroom. I was surprised at how difficult this turned out to be. Light is extremely good at finding its way into and around objects. This was in and of itself a lesson. If I were to do this again I’d start with a larger piece of cardboard that wouldn’t rest inside of the window frame but would, instead, rest upon it – covering the entire window. Ideally I’d also have black gaffer’s tape, some sort of foam seal that I could use in odd areas, and other materials. But, I was working within my constraints.
I cut out a rather large aperture in the cardboard to begin with, like in Barry’s video, and for the life of me I was never able to find a focal length that worked with this set up. By large I mean a few inches in diameter. It might have been due to the fact that Barry was using a large magnifying glass as his lens and I wasn’t in the beginning. The moment I created a much smaller aperture, around 3/16″ or so – was when the world came into focus. It was still a little fuzzy, but it was in focus enough to be passable for a few digital captures.
After playing with several different set ups and attempting many different apertures – I decided to grab a simple 2x lens filter from a 35mm camera and place it in front (on the subject’s side) of the aperture. Boom. It made an immediate and marked improvement in the focus. I believe it was at this point that it really dawned on me, I was actually building a camera. On a camera the order of elements is glass lens, aperture, some amount of distance, film or digital censor. I don’t know why it took my brain this long to lock into that concept but once I did things really began to speed up.
I employed several different types of “canvases” to project the image onto. I started with a light diffuser – which worked great to show the scale of the projected image. I could make the image as big as I wanted to. But then I eventually built a simple “stage” using a tripod and a white scanner bed cover. This too reinforced the notion that the surface upon which you project the light impacts the overall look of the image greatly. With the diffuser it was, well, diffused. But on the canvas it was much sharper.
With this set up; a 2x lens filter, 3/16″ aperture in cardboard, 8×10 white surface about 10″ from aperture – I was able to produce a sharp enough image for my liking. Now I all I needed was a way to capture the image without using digital (though, this was fun too as I created several exposures using my iPhone).
I have a bunch of film laying around and I almost considered throwing a few rolls of medium format 120 into my changing back and “building” a film surface to use. Perhaps by taping a few sheets together I could make a large enough negative. But I figured that’d be a huge waste of film. Even of the expired film I have. So instead I decided to follow Barry’s direction in his YouTube video and buy some Ilford Photo Paper (I used 5×7″, he used 8×10″) to create a paper negative. I thought it’d be fun to develop a paper negative since I had never done anything like that. So I picked up some paper, a few developing trays, and researched how to use the chemicals I already have (in my case, Kodak D76) to develop the photo paper immediately after exposing it using my bedroom camera obscura.
And that is exactly what I did. After 4 exposures on 2 separate days, here are the results.
I could go on and on about why the first two look the way they do and why the second two look the way they do. But rather than bore you, this is the short of it; on the first day I was using my iPhone’s flashlight option inside of a red transparent folder. It didn’t work. It exposed the entire paper so the whole exposure looks washed out. The second set I did completely blind. Which makes the composure not-so-great but the contrast much better.
Ironically, the exposure I did first – 4 seconds – was the very best shot I took. I just ruined it with the iPhone flashlight. Here is what a digital positive of that looks like.
The second-best exposure is this 3 second (it was much brighter day) exposure. It is blurry because I was hand-holding this in the dark. I should have been more patient. You can even see my finger marks from where I was holding the paper.
This was a really, really fun project. I learned an awful lot. Thanks to Brendan Barry for helping me via Instagram Direct Messages to make tweaks to my set up.
From the same roll as my 2020 avatar are these select exposures of 35mm film hacked into a medium format Ansco Rediflex.
What you’re looking at isn’t normal. The Ansco Rediflex is a medium format camera which, when invented in the 1930s, was to be loaded with 620 film stock. 620 film stock is no longer made but is very similar to 120 film stock save for the spool in which it is loaded onto and the length of the film sheet.
This particular Rediflex can be loaded with 120 film stock, albeit it needs to be literally jammed into it. (See the tree image in this post.) It is just a bit too small to accommodate the larger spools so to load it I’ve needed to sand down the spool widths and cut off the excess. Which creates some interesting affects.
But I stumbled across someone loading 35mm film into a medium format camera – vertically – which creates the exposures you see above. There are two characteristics about these photos that I ended up liking. First, the film is loaded vertically so it results is a much larger image than you’d normally get with 35mm film. In fact, the resulting exposure is more than double the surface area as a normal 35×24 mm shot. Second, the film doesn’t quite reach across the focal plane of the camera horizontally. This ends up exposing the full width of the “height” of the film – even over the “sprockets”. I think it looks super cool.
It took a few rolls before I got this to work properly. And there are a few scratches and light leaks that I need to tend to before I try this again. But I’ll be doing this again in the future for fun photo projects and perhaps some portraits.
Quarantine has me trying all sorts of experiments. One of which is retro fitting 35mm film into an old Ansco Rediflex medium format camera. It produces some interesting results (I’ll post a few in the coming days).
But I’ve wanted my 2020 avatar to be on taken on film. Thanks to my wife Eliza for taking this photo with this crazy set up. Turned out pretty neat.
Like all of my photos, there is a story behind this one. My boss gave me a camera as a gift. And I shot some really old expired film through it. This was one of my favorites from the roll. More on the podcast in the future.
This episode is packed with nostalgia for me – even though it was only 3 months ago. It was my first day shooting film. I was using expired film so that I didn’t mind making mistakes. And I made a ton of them on this day.
I also developed this film myself. It was my very first roll of color film that I had developed on my own at home. In fact, up until this writing I have never sent any film out to be processed. I’ve done it all myself. At least so far. Once I start shooting more expensive films (which I’ve just received this week as of his writing) I may change my tune.
I’m satisfied with the photos. Knowing what I know today, I realize the film was definitely bad. The fact that it exposed at all is a miracle really. If these photos were taken with new film they would have been poppin. The silo image was metered properly, but I could have done a bit better on that one with the exposure. But I had a lot to learn at this point.
So many of the topics I covered in the episode show how new I was to this whole film photography journey. I still am. I’m looking forward to upcoming episodes to relive the moments I learned over the last 3 months of shooting only film. And I’m looking forward to looking back at these episodes in the years to come.
Here are a few photos taken with the point-and-shoot Kodak Snappy EL also using expired film from this same day.
The Snappy EL that I have is junk and is going in the garbage. I had to force it to forward the film by squeezing the case and that made it skip frames and be wholly unreliable.
This is a frame from my very first roll of new black and white film. It was taken on Ilford HP5+ 120 film stock. This is very forgiving film from my newbie perspective.
Eliza and I enjoyed a sunny weekend in the Finger Lakes isolating ourselves to some degree from the outside world. It was so sunny, in fact, that the Ansco Speedex didn’t really have a quick enough shutter speed to keep up. I’m limited to 1/100 being the quickest speed on the camera.
I look forward to shooting more Ilford and hopefully in the 6×7 and 6×9 ratios as well.