Tag Archives: film

Presentiaon by Olivier Du Tre about Black & White, and my case

I am helping organizing speakers for a small camera club in Calgary. I invited multiple award wining photographer, Olivier Du Tre as a speaker for the club meeting in May. Oli is landscape/fine art photographer, residing in Cochrane, Alberta. He shoots only black and white, and furthermore, he totally switched to film recently. He mentions “zone” while others are referring Nike Silver Efex. He will cover many aspects of B&W photography in the presentation. Please check his website. Also the info about his presentation is here.

So about my story how I started B&W and why I like B&W. When I became interested in photography about 20 years ago, I was suggested to try color slide film because it was considered to be more advanced compared to negative print film. One day, I took BEAUTIFUL sun rise shot on my trip. I thought it was glorious shot and showed to everybody at work. But one person said the photo was not remarkable. His reasoning was “Color dominates the image too much. Besides color, nothing to see”. And he recommended B&W film. I was pissed off, but anyway, I tried B&W. My first roll…I quite like images. But 2nd and 3rd rolls…I didn’t get good images. Usually, I got quite interesting or so disappointing images. Not so much between. Then eventually, I realized good composition made difference in photography. Color comes next to composition.

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Then I started printing by myself. I read many books about printing in darkroom. I could obtain prints by following text book. But I could not tell if they were good prints or not. I found a kind of the mentor and I showed my prints. I kept visiting him. I gradually learned “tone” or tonality was really important in prints and each master photographer had signature tone in his/her prints. Photography is picture by light. I realized light comes always first, even before composition.

This is an image from Vermilion Lake in Banff in snowy day. I knew I could not expect gorgeous scenery including well-photographed Mt. Randal since the sky was still so grey. But I tried and I found this composition. All elements were line up vertically. When I grabbed my camera, the sun was a little off from the center so I waited about 20 min for the sun moving to the center.

Actually, now I found I could apply more burning and dodging to this image to enhance the story I saw at the scene. No wonder many B&W photographer stay in a darkroom for months.

Anyway, please check out, Oli’s amazing B&W photography in his website. You will see what I was talking about.

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What’s wrong with snap shot – Crashed cessna near Takakkaw in 2001

This time, the article won’t be serious. I found this photo when I was archiving slide film. This photo was taken in 2001 when I was living in Kaploops, British Columbia and travelled to Canadian Rockies. I do remember so many things happened during my trip in 2001, but I totally forgot about the crashed Cessna near Takakkaw falls. I searched on Google and I found the airplane was 180 floatplane crashed around August 19th, 2001.

This photo is just a snap shot. But I got back some other memories with this photo like I left eyeglasses at the camping site after I took picure and I had to go back from hiking for 3 km to get them back, or I injured my knee in Lake O’hara, or a pole of the tent broke at Mt. Edith Cavell and I had to give up camping. I barely made parking lot before sunset. We phographers often have discussions like wether photography is art or how original photography should be. But I sometimes think camera is great visual recording tool, and the snap shots please people years later. That’s aslo powerful.

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Autumn landscape in Lake O’Hara – Large format slide film

Another photo from film, but this time is 4×5 color slide. This image was taken at my last autumn trip. When I visisted lake O’Hara, peak of larch trees was a little passed. But I still got some good… actually, some great shots. I will post them in future posts. For this post, I respect the media so I kept the digital processing minimum and only global adjustments were applied. It is nature of slide film. I heard large format sizes of Fuji Velvia had been discountinued in Europe. I hope the supply of the such a legendary film will last longer in Canada.

 Lake McArthur area in Autumn  by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
Lake McArthur area in Autumn by Hiroaki Kobayashi

More large format stuff here:

 

Snap with film – Grainy portraits

When going shooting, I still bring a film camera, even to serious sessions. These  images on film are for myself,…just for satisfying my artistic ego. When I have chances to “snap”, I tend to pull my film camera from a camera bag. So these photos may not be published forever; just sit in my photo album. A camera I take with me varies depends on my feeling. It can be Nikon F3 and expecting “thin line” sharp image, or old Minolta and expecting beautiful bokhe. Sometimes I expect very sharp images from medium format camera, Mamiya  645pro; some other days, I try pinhole with rangefinder camera to get ethereal feels. This time, I wanted to try very grainy images from  Ilford HP5 B&W film (Iso 400) pushed to 3200.

Although last time I tried the grainy photo from the same method was about 10 years ago. I am pretty satisfied the result this time. I used the telephoto lens made in early 1960’s. I like this lens for portraits because its contrast is not harshly high compared to modern lenses. I can get mild and gentle portraits but well balanced images. This character of the lens looks more distinguishable with film than digital. I often feel film is honest…..! So I have to be a little more serious while I snap.

My shadow by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
My shadow by Hiroaki Kobayashi

Black and white portraits frm Arts hotel - 1 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
Black and white portraits frm Arts hotel – 1 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

Black and white portraits frm Arts hotel - 2 by Hiroaki  Kobayashi (Hiro-K)) on 500px.com
Black and white portraits frm Arts hotel – 2 by Hiroaki Kobayashi

Evening with Large Format Cameras (2)

As I mentioned in my last blog, I would like to showcase Janice’s and my photo from the large format photo outing in May.  Although, for the location, we considered Big Hill Spring Park and Glenbow Ranche Provincial Park, we chose the Cochrane Ranche Historic site, which may be a least attractive location for photographing. The Glenbow Ranche park is usually windy and it may be hard to use large format cameras with bellows even though we could expect more attractive landscapes due to some iconic spots and open sky. The Big Hill Spring Park has many small waterfalls along with a trail. It must be great and maybe easier location for nature photography.  On the other hand,  Cochrane Ranche Historic site is located in the town of Cochrane.  If I wanted to include sky, houses came into a frame. The park does not have iconic spots or “keywords” like waterfalls.

I think Sam chose the difficult location since it is a truly good practice to create images in any situations and stimulate eyes. Furthermore, the cameras we used were 4×5 large format cameras, which requires expensive film and many adjustments before pressing a shutter-release. You can imagine how challenging it is. We have to really slow down and observe situation. I think this type of the practice is a good way to develop own styles, rather than just a being a technically good photographer.

I think of two abilities which photographer should pay attention at a scene (besides finding good subjects). The first one is reading lights. The second one would be knowing perspective of the lenses, which is related to composition. One good thing about large format cameras is we cannot use zoom lenses. Through my experience, prime lenses help us to understand how perspective works in composition. Also we have to compose and adjust bellows with an up-side-down image projected to a screen. This really force me to slow down and compose more carefully.

So first image is Janice’s image, which her very first experience of 4×5.

By the way only brightness has been adjusted and sharpening was applied to all the images since scanned images are usually degraded from originals. Some people may think the sky is overexposed, actually, she requested pushing 1 stop therefore the overall image is lit perfectly. Moreover, it is her own tone and her style. When analyzing photos by master-photographer’s from film age, I am sometimes impressed by their ability to CONTROL exposure. They selectively allow whiteout or blackout. You know they did not have histogram or screen at that time.

 

This is my image. I think I found a good subject and the light was so dramatic. But this image needs more proper cropping.

The last one is mine as well. I wanted to try something with the tree trunks, which seemed to have a lot of potentials. However, the sun quickly disappeared, and I lost the beautiful light. So I resorted to a gimmick which is the shallow depth of field in this case. Special effects are good if a final image is visualized in photographer’s mind. But I think this is just a rescue attempt to use up film for the day. I am afraid this is just interesting photo.

 

 

Evening with Large Format Cameras (1) – Work without compensation

I went out shooting with oopoomoo (Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett) and Janice Meyers Foreman in May. We chose Cohcrane Ranche Historic site as a location. The rule of the photography outing was using only film cameras, especially large format or medium format cameras. Sam, Janice and I brought 4 by 5 large format cameras and Darwin shot with his Lenny, Linhof Technorama, which is medium format panorama camera. I think 6 frames can be shot with this camera. Actually Janice was large-format-camera virgin before this outing. Digital is convenient; we can take as many frames we want, and we can check results instantly. But I still use my 4 by 5 camera occasionally for some reasons, especially I like the “rituals” I have to follow by the time I release a shutter. Let me show you how Janice handled the rituals for her first time.

Shooting with 4×5 camera starts from assembling a camera. A steady tripod is essential. Janice’s tripod is like machine-gun stand.

Composing and focusing are usually done under dark-cloth. Photographers have to compose with the image projected on ground glass (upside down) and focus with a loupe.  You can easily imagine how difficult to compose an upside down image. One reason I still use a large format camera is I can utilize various bellows (or tilt and shift) techniques. I am sure some readers know about Canon TS lenses or Nikon PC lenses. Large format cameras are perfect tool to get the same effect since the primitive large format cameras allow more free movements of not only lens side but also film side. Please take a look my previuos post Panorama by 4×5 camera. Having said that, I guess tilt –shift lens for DSLR would be more practical in the digital age. I would recommend Darwin’s eBook “Tilt-Shift Lens” if you would like to know about the bellows techniques.

Now she is setting aperture and shutter speed after measuring exposure by a “lightmeter”. obviously, Ansel Adams did not know TTL or aperture priority. Then close the shutter.

Sheet film is kept in a film holder which is tightly shielded to prevent the film from exposing to light. She is inserting the film holder to film board of the camera. One advantage of the large format camera is you can choose any types of film at each shot. Janice tried Polaroid as a test shot.

Now remove a lid from the film holder. Now ready to expose the film.

Now she is releasing shutter. I use the lid of the film holder to make shade on the lens while exposing film. It works as lens hood.

Reinserting the lid to the film holder. The test shot is done.

While she was waiting for the Polaroid to be developed, she was snapping with her 5D Mk II. Hey, it was supposed to be film evening!

She was happy with result of the test shot. Now she is trying slide film. I did not capturing perfect moment but she was covering the lens with the lid and blocking direct sun light to the lens.

After 1 hour of struggle, her first 4×5 shot was done. 1 hour seems long but even I spend usually 15-20 min for one shot. So it is not so bad for the first time. It requires a lot of practices for sure. However, I actually like the primitive manner of the large format cameras. I don’t have to read a half-inch thick manual and memorize all functions. I do not have to worry about a compensation for auto functions.

Well, the sun quickly disappeared and I could take a couple of shots for that evening. I will post Janice’s and my results in the next blog post. Lastly, here is group shot at the end of the evening.

Film is not dead (3) – Borrowing someone’s eyes

It’s been long time since the last blog. This is the last episode from “Film is not dead” and this time is not quite about film, more toward to a topic about style making . When we had the film development session, Samantha Chrysanthou did not have film to develop so she tried one of my film. I have just picked up the film randomly so I did not know when and where the film was taken.

One morning, while I was JUST photographing the sunrise at lake Louise, Alberta, I saw one guy carrying large tripod and Hasselblad was looking for an open spot. Yes, it was FILM Hassel, one of the most prestigious cameras.  The location was quite busy with photographers. The best time of the morning passed and I started packing my gear. He approached to my spot and IMPATIENTLY waiting for me leaving. Then as soon as I moved my tripod, he set his tripod on the completely same spot and raised it to the same height. I shacked my head. The hundreds of similar images of the location can be found in Google images and more importantly the best moment was long gone. I spoke to myself his Hassey would cry.

So after the film was developed by Sam, I found that the images on the roll were ones I took in Jasper, Alberta last autumn. The trip was hard since I was out of luck of the weather. I visited Pyramid lake in the morning, aiming to shoot the gorgeous sunrise and orange color on the Pyramid mountain but weather quickly turned to gray. I know Photographer’s saying “No bad light”, but also it is true overcastted sky with no cloud pattern is not encouraging. Anyway, I had to change my strategy. Then I was thinking of Sam’s images. Her subtle, soft, calm images with a kind of melancholic feel, rather than gougeous and powerful typical landscapes. That motivated me to try something in the difficult situation. The result is, I think, pretty good. The funny part of this anecdote is Sam herself developed the film accidently.

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Do you see the huge difference in the creative approach between the photographer at the lake Louise and myself. I believe the process of developing creative eyes and learning music is not so different. At first, being interested in someone’s works, then we try the same things but usually did not work. Start pursuing the artist’s works more seriously,…sometimes thoroughly analyze their works. Try at the field again and see the some sort of the achievement . After this long process, the artist’s style blends into own style, becomes own flesh. In my case of Jasper, I used Sam’s influence more consciously. It is not stealing. I call this approach “Borrowing someone’s eyes”. Accepting influences is also important, I think. Mick Jaggar stated that ‘You can’t always get what you want” was inspired by “Hey Jude”. I guess that is cool.

Please visit oopoomoo.com to find Sam’s appealing photos.