Back To 1987 Canon EOS 650 Film Body (Grain is mood, it gives an image character, it creates a visual “feel” to the image. )

Jake just chillin' Canon 650 film body, 70-200mm lens. 1/200 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm Kodak Tri-Max 100 B&W

Jake just chillin’
Canon 650 film body, 70-200mm lens. 1/200 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm Kodak Tri-Max 100 B&W

It’s not about whether digital is better than film, but rather it is about the fun of shooting with film. The fun and the challenge, sure I think anyone who ever picked up an SLR and shot film, and then switched over to digital will agree “digital” is easier and more forgiving. So if you are struggling starting off with a DSLR you have no idea what it was like shooting film. Now don’t get me wrong I am not one of those bitter film guys who tells the tales from back in the day about how hard film was. How you had to “walk ten miles uphill both ways in the blinding snow to process your film.” Of course I am kidding and yes film was a challenge and I think that is what I miss a little bit about my personal photography. Now please know when I was shooting film I was strictly an armature and I was not that great of a photographer at all.

So I have found that revisiting film cameras is fun and challenging and nostalgic of course. It is kind of like getting into and old car and taking a ride down a back road. And just like old cars are not a 100% old, after all some will have a few newer things to make life a little easier, like modern tires for a smoother ride, same is true with the film cameras. We can scan our film and tweak with Photoshop or other software. But we soon come back to our digital world, take a deep breath and relax. However there could be something to be gained by stepping back into the days of darkrooms and film canisters.

So in this image of my Pug “Jake” I was using a Canon EOS 650 (film) body (1987). I have two of these bodies and I’ll usually put ISO 100 in one and ISO 400 or 800 in the other. I’ll switch between a 50mm f/1.4 and my 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. On this day I was using Kodak T-Max 100 B&W 36 exposure. This image has very minimal processing. It is a hi-res scan and in Lightroom I pushed the white balance temp 9+ to give a slightly warm (yellowish) tint. I love it, and one of the things that film photographers loved about their film was “grain.” Grain could be found a few different ways. There was ISO grain and there was grain found in the many different papers used for printing. Now if we wanted we could talk about “film grain” to the year’s end and still not cover all there is to talk about. But grain is what I miss. It is so funny that we (as digital photographers) are always searching for the holy grail of shooting high ISO and trying to eliminate “noise.” We want the cleanest possible images, when back in the day it was acceptable to have some noise or grain. Grain is mood, it gives an image character, it creates a visual “feel” to the image. It really is funny how if you look in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop there are controls to add grain. Sure I have added grain to my composite images many times. Why? You may ask. To give a feel, to create mood and character. So now I ask myself why am I not doing this more with regular images. Huh… good question. I wanted to revisit film for fun and a challenge and it looks like I learned something more about what could be lacking in my digital. I like most love the clean images that digital produces, but that clean could be taking something away. Kind of like cooking on a gas grill vs a charcoal or wood fired grill. They both cook the food, but the taste of the wood adds flavor while the gas just cooks… and is cleaner.

Till next time.

Romancing With Film (…I never intended to put film in the cameras.) Film fun part 1

Kendall shot with a Canon 650D film body and a EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM IS II lens. Fuji ISO 200 color film. Cropped and minor color edit in Lightroom.

Kendall shot with a Canon 650D film body and a EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM IS II lens. Fuji ISO 200 color film. Cropped and minor color edit in Lightroom.

Remember the film days? We have been digital for many years now. I stopped shooting film back in 1999, hard to believe it has been that long. So August I had purchased a few old Pentax cameras off eBay to be used as props in a photo shoot and I never intended to put film in the cameras. However when the second camera arrived it had a roll of unused film inside and that got me wondering. I started to think about the film days and how much of a struggle it was for me. Of course as time passed I was leaning more and more about all aspects of photography and then along came digital. So things became a little easier and a lot more creative. Because as time passed I found Photoshop and I found a creative medium that was for me.

So I though “hey it will be fun to run a few rolls through these old cameras.” I picked up some black and white film and went out and enjoyed me little romance with a Pentax Spotmatic and an ME. Then it bit me a little and for $26 I bought a Canon 650D film camera. Nothing special about the 650D other than the nostalgia that they (whoever they are) claim the very first photo uploaded to the internet was shot with a Canon 650D. Best part about the 650D is all my current Canon EF lenses fit and focus on this body.

So back last September while shooting with the amazing Kendall Strampel we had a little fun and in the middle of a planned shoot we took a little side trip and played for a few minutes with the film cameras. I handed a Pentax to Kendall to use as a prop and I put my awesome 70-200mm f/2.8L on the 650D and fired off a few frames of Fuji ISO 200 color film. I later finished the roll while shooting Melina Martin in the studio back in March.

Now today we do have the option to scan the negatives into out computer and then edit in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Ok so I thought it would end there, but it didn’t. (To be continued)

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Split tone edit in Lightroom.

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Split tone edit in Lightroom.

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Canon 650D, Fuji film no editing.

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A lite cross process edit using Photoshop.

Canon 650D, Fuji film with basic color edit in Photoshop.

 

A Romantic Tale (young, free, adventurous and traveling the world with a female companion… taking photographs all along the way.

Istanbul circa 1974

Istanbul circa 1974

Now that it is complete I would like to share with you a project that I had worked on for another photographer. Harvey Davidowitz had asked me back in February of 2014 if I would like to edit some black & white images he was having problems with. At first I thought they were digital. When I received the files I realized that this was going to be a photo restoration project. While the images I received were in digital form they were actually scans of black and white prints from years gone by. Some images had problems with scratches, bends in the paper and more, and because the end result was that they were going to print in a book they all needed to be somewhat close in they’re toning.

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While I have done photo restorations in the past I never really had to worry about toning a whole set of images to be the same. This was not out of the realm of my Photoshop skills, but it was daunting nonetheless.

The book: Harvey has quite an interesting story to tell with his images.

The year is 1973-74 and Harvey takes two huge overseas trips, the second of which is the chance of a lifetime trip. Receiving an offer to work for the assistant dean of Chapman University’s World Campus Afloat, it was an around world educational cruise. Having a boss who would not let him take a leave of absence Harvey just quit his job as a pharmacist and became a passenger. And being a photographer he brought a darkroom with him. He packed a darkroom in a suitcase and away he went.

Now I have heard most of his story told to me in person and it really is a romantic tale, to be young, free, adventurous and traveling the world with a female companion… and taking photographs all along the way. Truly is a dream for anyone. Now cut to decades later Harvey decides he would like to produce a book of these images and he asked me for technical help.

So today much to my surprise I reached in the mailbox and pulled out a package… hummm I did not order anything? It was like Christmas morning when I opened the package and seen a fresh copy of the book with a personal message hand written inside the front cover. Very touching and so nice to see Harvey’s project complete.

See Harvey’s color images at https://harveyd.smugmug.com/

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