Revival

The web is full of excellent pages written by film geeks and people with far too much disposable income.

I had hoped that getting into film would help me stop obsessing over cameras and just get out and shoot. But now I’m pouring over retro camera blogs and second hand dealers, because it turns out, old film cameras are even more beautiful than digital cameras.

Yashica Ts, LEICA Cs Contax Gs, Olympi (plural?) and Konicas are all calling my name. The annoying thing is that most blogs speak of finding cameras like the oly mju ii for under £10. Then you check the date and find that today; a decade later, the same camera will cost you around £100.

This is the price inflation of the film revival – amazing that old analogue cameras are appreciating in a way digital probably never will.

Another factor is that charity shops have got smarter. Many now have expert led websites or eBay shops where cameras are properly valued. Gone are the days of finding a bargain because the shop assistants don’t really know the value of the device. Presumably the internet has also informed pricing. In the long run this is good news for the charities, just not for hard up collectors.

2nd Film

I’ve now processed my second film. Again it was Ilford fp4. The camera this time was a Trip 35. It worked well for street photography although I found the zone focussing a challenge. I got 38 images on a 36 spool which seems good value too.

Here are a few favourites from the resulting images. They are not the sharpest – that’s probably my fault.

No filter

I have an ongoing ‘discussion’ with a family member who is not a fan of processing digital images. She prefers ‘pure’ images straight out of the camera. I get what she means but I also point out (the discussion takes the same direction every time) that the image on a phone or cheaper camera is almost always a jpeg. Which means that the raw image has already been processed. The difference is whether the camera makes the processing decisions or the person does.

There can be snobbery and inverse snobbery about processing images. Those who prefer minimal manipulation may be surprised to know that, even in the age of film, processing decisions were made. I remember seeing this when, I think it was, Magnum released contact sheets and annotated prints with instructions about visual effects.

However there can be snobbery too relating to how technical processing is perceived to be. For example, in an earlier blog I suggested the inclusion of filters in Instagram was essentially dumbing down. But in the immediately preceding post I lauded the provision of film effect Lightroom presets. Surely there is little difference between Instagram filters and Lightroom presets borrowed from others.

The return of Flickr?

In what seems to be good news for Flickr users, Smugmug are reported to have bought the venerable photo sharing platform.

A brief trawl through the internet reveals mixed fortunes in the story of this web institution. In recent years Flickr has been abandoned by some enthusiasts in favour of platforms like 500px or simply outshone by the rise of Instagram. But it’s still here and hopefully Flickr is about to see some new life.

I have used Flickr for a while but there have been seasons where I’ve focussed elsewhere. On a recent return to the iOS app, I found that finally the communities chat from groups is now easily viewed. The communities discussion is for me a top feature and previously was not viewable in the app. Another addition to the app is the ability to post an image in multiple groups simultaneously. I have no idea why this was not possible before.

Those user friendly changes were made while owned by Verizon and hopefully things will keep getting better. But what features would you want in a redeveloped Flickr?

Personally I’d prefer them not to continue to compete with Instagram. But that’s a huge challenge. How do you make a successful photo-sharing service without competing with other market leaders? I like Instagram but for me competing with them is a race to the bottom. A race to appeal by encouraging phone photography, filters, adverts and product placement.

The things I like about Flickr are also the most infuriating and least widely appealing. For example, I want to know about exif details; camera and settings etc. Flickr encourages such sharing. Instagram is not interested. They do not make such data public and may well remove them from the image.

This all probably makes Flickr more geeky and a little more elitist. Instagram, in contrast, has always been more encouraging, less critical and more vibrant. Yet, it is to Flickr not instagram I would turn for advice about photography. And it’s also usually Flickr I use to investigate a future holiday destination. Because on Flickr you’ll generally see fewer products and selfies and more actual landscapes.

I don’t envy Smugmug this challenge of making Flickr viable, appealing yet distinct and niche. But I do look forward to what they come up with.

Lightroom Presets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I was trying to grab a few shots between giving friends a lift home, working and dinner. Such is the life of a middle aged hobbyist. I look back on my wasted youth with envy. Why didn’t I buy a Leica in my 20s when I could have afforded one (maybe). Why didn’t I take street up phototgraphy when I actually still visited some of the world’s vibrant cities. Not that I’d change anything in the present, I’m glad with where I’ve ended up.

Anyway, I was messing around with Lightroom Presets. I used one that Eric Kim gave away years ago – it mimics fuji velvia 400. Now, I’d normally never crank up the contrast or reduce some of the saturation like this, but I was delighted with the results. This is pretty much the image in my head when I took the photo; the raw file looked nothing like it.

Hats off to Eric Kim for the preset and for giving it away for free.  I suppose this shows one of the challenges and opportunies with digital. The raw sensor data gives pretty flat images, so you can shape it in thousands of ways. But you are limited by your imagination and willingness to spend time experimenting. With analogue much more was decided at the start by your film choice.

 

 

 

First film

I processed my first film today – Ilford fp4. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to look quite so contrasty. The processing actually went ok, despite slight chemical burning to the hands and a lots of mess.

Sadly, there seems to have been an issue with the camera (I know, blaming my tools). A number of frames/negatives were blank. They had the manufacturers tags and numbering on the film borders suggesting they were developed but were unexposed. On closer inspection the camera shutter is sticking.

It’s a cheap point and shoot from the 80s or 90s and it has fixed focus. The resulting images feature lots of out of focus subjects and many completely bleached white by the flash at close range. But all in all this was a good start.

For those interested:

  • I used Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer.
  • The dev time was 4.25 as suggested by Ilford. They provide excellent fact sheets and videos eg here.
  • I used the ‘massive dev’ phone app which has customisable recipes and a good timer.
  • The camera was the Miranda ME-Z I mentioned recently.
  • I bought my tank etc from Ffordes who also have a great range of cameras.

Sicily

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

We’ve recently been to Sicily. It was a family trip and I’ve learned that it’s not really possible to be a useful dad and focus on taking photos. So I simply used my phone and snatched the odd image before … Continue reading