Tag Archives: black and white

On Scanning Film Negatives at Home

It’s a fun thing, developing and scanning one’s own black and white work at home. 

With very few exceptions, I’ve been left with that familiar, shoulder shrugging feeling when reviewing the scans I get back from a lab. After the anticipation of receiving the developed film’s scans, seeing them for the first time was a let down.

In fairness, the labs – and I tried several – did a fine job with the development part of things. That is to say, at least as good a job as I did at the time of exposure if not better.  Scanning just seems like sort of an afterthought. A down-the-middle accommodation to the fat part of the bell curve. 

I don’t like bell curves.

So I did some math and determined that for the price of 7 rolls of film sent out for developing and scanning at a moderate resolution I could just buy a refurbished Epson v600 scanner. No brainer. 

The scans are now ‘better,’ or closer to what I saw when I made the photo. Some are downright good, if I do say so myself. 

The tones are there for the most part. The images look pretty good, for the most part. Nothing like prints on paper, but for web sharing, they do nicely. The next stumbling block I’ve run into is that of resolution. 

I look at the negatives with a loupe and see so much more detail in them than what winds up being captured by the Epson, and that doesn’t sit very well. 

 

The venerable v600 is an inexpensive tool and it does a great job at what it is designed to do. There are better/more expensive/higher quality solutions out there, but one has to pay to play. Or pay someone with a drum scanner to guess at how I want my scans to look.

Anyway, I found myself wanting a bit better quality in my scans. Some well-spent time surfing various sites made me aware of a couple of promising options, and now I’m in the process of setting up a copy stand setup that should (if the internet is to be believed) result in more details being pulled from the negs. More details on that next week when the hardware shows up. 

I can’t wait to dive in.

 

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Returning to Film Photography (and to blogging)

For the last couple of years I’ve shot the images you see on the main site – http://www.redcentphotography.com –  with digital cameras. For some applications such as long exposures and a few other specialty applications, I still shoot quite a bit with the Fuji X Pro 1 and XE-1 that have been my bread and butter since 2012. When I do paid work, the digital cameras are still the correct tool.

For the rest, though, I’m choosing to shoot more film. 

The cameras are wonderful to hold, to operate, to own. Using them helps remind me that there was a time before. Before everything became a question of ‘Right now.’ Fast. Faster. Immediacy.

It has its place, but not when I’m shooting and enjoying some time to myself.

The way I learned to shoot was to grab the camera, pick up a small box with a roll of film contained in an even smaller plastic container. It smelled funny when you removed the lid. You’d diddle around with the film until it loaded correctly…which could take a few tries.


Advance the film via that lever under your right thumb. Look through the viewfinder at your scene, cast around that scene using an analog meter (or no meter), adjust shutter speed dial, aperture dial or both. Don’t think too much. Press the shutter release. That was it.

 Back then, there was no way to indulge the compulsion to check the work. No immediate sharing to social media and/or immediate gratification. There was no digital, no LCD. There was no social media. No likes. No comments. Not much of anything until much later.

There is a great deal of freedom in that. There is a great deal of freedom in not knowing what precisely is on a roll of film that may have been in the camera for a week or more until you remove it from the developing reel.

The throughput has gone down, but my process and enjoyment have improved. I would like to think that the image making is improving, as well.

Developing my own black and white film at home is a meditative process that has been practiced by photographers around the world for decades. I find it soothing to complete the development of a roll of film, hang it, check it out under a loupe, scan it and see on a larger screen whether it represents what I saw.

More later.

 

Being pleased with my own work

Is a foreign concept.

With that in mind, imagine my surprise at the smile that crept over my face upon seeing the results of this roll of film as the scanner finished its work.

This roll is Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO1600, exposed at ISO800. In this bright light on a sun-drenched California afternoon, there wasn’t much opportunity to control depth of field as aperture was made small and shutter speeds at 1/500 or 1/1000. Even so, I’m extremely happy with the tonality and range of this film.

 

 

Most Excellent People Watching (oh and Coffee, too!) at Philz Coffee, 24th and Folsom

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend the Mojito iced coffee for those warm days we’re all familiar with out here in the Mission.  

Philz is a crossroads for people shooting street photography in these parts.  I saw a Leica M9, a Fuji X100s and an X Pro 1 in the 30 minutes or so that we were here.

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Community table (where there is no community)

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Momentarily forgotten cell phone

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The tall pour

 

Architecture, San Francisco

Couple of images I made today and yesterday in the Financial District.  The first, ‘Gap,’ is a 15 second long exposure shot in daylight with a 10-stop ND filter looking straight up as the fog began creeping across the sky.

The second, entitled ‘Illusory Support,’ has the potential to be a bit of a mind bender.  Most of what you’re looking at is a reflection of the buildings behind the camera.   What caught my eye as I walked by is that these columns inside the window appear to support the building reflected ‘above’ them.

Both shot with Fujifilm X100, post in LR5 and Silver Efex Pro.

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Gap

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Illusory Support

San Francisco and Oakland at night – Street Photography with Fujifilm XE-1

Well, that was quick.  Gone are the long afternoons and endless twilight.  Summer has fled and so it seems has the sun. Sure, it’s warm during the day lately, but…I get up, it’s dark. I get home from work, it’s dark.  Bleh.  Besides the time change, I’ve somehow contracted the misguided notion that it is constantly a day further into the week than it actually is.  Ah well.  Street photography.  Night time.  Good.

Lucky me, the XE-1 is a champ in low light. I’ve gotten my street photography fix the last few days by venturing outside after night has settled over the Bay Area and have been really pleased with the results.  I’ve been shooting mostly at ISO3200 and 1.4.  Several of the following shots are straight out of camera black and white .jpgs with minimal processing (crop for composition, minor contrast/level adjustments).

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It isn’t going to water itself.

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Don’t look up.  Chucky is watching.

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Downtown Oakland

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Aftermath of an inappropriate comment

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Fermé.

this way
This way to Bix.

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Mary Stallings at Bix – she’s fabulous and has got great jazz chops

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Phone zombies

PDX with Canon Canonet QL17 GIII

I love Portland.  Especially when it’s not raining cats and dogs, or just plain grey.  

We lucked out with the weather again – this is the 3rd or 4th trip up where we’ve had spectacular weather.  We stayed with wonderful friends at their beautiful home in Southeast Portland, Jen and I walked the Pearl District and held hands and made googly eyes at each other, we ate great food (if someone asks you to dinner at Olympic Provisions, the answer is YES) and I even got to go on a commercial photo shoot with my cousin Brian Lincoln, who is a working professional photographer.  

Speaking of Brian, he taught me a lot just by letting me hang out with him in his studio for a few hours.  We talked light, we talked photography, we talked enjoyment and we even talked a bit of gear.  So appreciative to get to spend some quality time with him.  Not just family, but a great friend.

And now?  Film photography with this little beauty:

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Canon Canonet with ND4 filter and bitchen square hood

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Porch Light

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Porch Light 2 of 2

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Under the 405

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Tanner Springs Park, Fremont Bridge in background

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Brian

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Dolls at Cargo

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Horse-Dog-Wolf at Cargo

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Reading at Barista

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Jen pointedly ignores the camera at Keen

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Lizard Lounge doodads

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Space Invader, Irving Street

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Window light reading, Powell’s