Tag Archives: film

Film vs. Digital

Just recently Kodak announced that their film segment will be divided into other 2 other segments. When I watch movies, geek myself like to stay to the end of the end-rolls, and I check the movie used Kodak or Fuji film. But I have found movies which do not show either Kodak or Fuji’s company logo in the end-rolls. I guess “Avator” speeds up the invention of the  digital processing and distribution in movie entertainment business.  Although James Cameron may say digital is more environment friendly, film is like Na’vi now to me, under attack by  digital.

In the spring of the last year, I found unused Fuji Provia 100F in my fridge. I bought this film in the end of 2008 when I started digital, in order to check how the newly purchased Zeiss lenses behaved with film. So I tried comparison the film and digital from same lenses. I used a tripod for all images and the same exposures between film and digital. Only the difference is camera body. The film was scanned by Nikon Coolscan 5000 and  the digital images (row files) are adjusted by only “Auto Tone” function of Adobe Lightroom 3.6. Fuji Provia is designed to achieve neutral color balance compared to Velvia.

Left is film, and right is the digital. Obviously white balance is different between the 2 images. To me film has more tonality, on the other hand, digital has more contrast and a punch in the image. I would not be surprised if someone picks the digital image over film in this case.

Looking at sky, exposure of the 2 images are pretty close. But film has more contrast this time. Hmmm? Anyway film shows desireble mood, dont; you think?

It is obviously impossible that film will expel digital, like Na’vi ousted humans from Pandora, but I am hoping film won’t be eradicated entirely. Next time I can show you the same attempt I tried for pin-hole photography.

Enjoy accidents

I have developed some roles of films just recently. As processing by myself, I make a mistake and ruin a whole role of film once a while. This time, the film was accidentally exposed and signs of perforations appeared in the frames. These images are not totally usable but I usually keep these garbage because I can often find some unexpected but interesting results. They may be used in future. Ideally, an artist should master and control techniques to achieve inner images, but sometimes it may be fun to leave it to God’s hand and enjoy the accident. I will share one image I think it is interesting. Please let me know how you think. Is it artistic or just garbage?      Kodak T-max 400 film. T-max is famous for its fine grain but grains in this image are so visible ??

Ethereal Photographic Art Show (6) – Samantha Chrysanthou

Samantha kindly joined the Ethereal Photographic Art show. I think only Sam, Darwin, and myself are showing photos from film. Furthermore, their images were taken by Holga, (toy camera) and printed on vinyl, Yes, it is HOLGA and VINYL. How can her images be more ethereal? Yes, I know, holga does not create such artistic photos.

Although I take landscapes, I am not impressed by nature photography so easily. I tend stop by portraits or street photography more. Honestly, I am following only handful of landscape photographers. Having said that, I have being following Sam’s blog for quite long time because of obviously her fabulous photos, but also because her images make me think so many things. What kind words can I think of to describe her photos….mild, soft, pure, simplistic, subtle, delicate or introvert ….well, I am sure they are completely opposite end
from words like gorgeous, wild, masculine (of course), intense, or bold. I
don’t want to use the word “artistic’ to describe her images since the word is
overused. Anyway, I am sure her images are different from typical –aphrodisiac landscapes.

I mention this many times in my blog, but let me repeat my question, why great photos have to be “WOW” and “Gorgeous” with full of digital effects. I often think about life span of an image. How long people can stand the same “WOW” image hung on their wall in a dining room. 3 years, 3 months or 3 weeks? Who knows? It is no doubt “Transformer” is super entertaining movie and fun to watch (Don’t get me wrong, I love the series). But don’t you feel to watching a human drama in some quiet Sunday afternoon? Are you excited when you scrolling TV channels and find “Independence Day”.   Listening to cutting edge dance music with iPod can be uplifting, but you may get more quality time by listing to live folk music at a local café? I personally think Sam’s images are comparable with Joni Mitchell music. (Sam may not like this). Joni’s songs are somewhat so intellectual.

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words. Please check Her blog, Sam’s Rant and her web-site. I hope you can see what I wanted to say. Again, you may not find typical panorama-sunrise landscapes, but photos with profound taste and lovely images…. these are ones I like. Oh, and don’t forget reading her insightful articles as well. I took a hour to read sometimes with my English level.


“In the Meadow” by Samantha Chrysanthou

“Columnar II” by Samantha Chrysanthou

“Columnar I” by Samantha Chrysanthou

Gallery show at Mount Royal University – Size matters, but be gentle (man)

One fantastic thing at the Stampede western photo gallery is I met so many amazing photographers and people. Also I was kindly offered another exhibition at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. I had to add 2 more images for the exhibition so I checked my website and I found the photo below was highly viewed. However, I am not 100% satisfied by the result of the image.

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Woodman 4×5, Fujinon 90mm, Velvia 100F, Click the photo for larger version.

What is wrong with this photo? Actually I wanted to have more space between rocks and the summit of the mountain reflecting on the lake. I had known the problem but this was only I could achieve with my TRIPOD. There are reasons why professional photographers carry a giant tripod. My tripod extends as tall as my height, but in this case, I was standing on the rocks and some part of tripod legs were submerged in the water. So the camera position was much lower than I expected. And what was worse,  I was shooting with my 4×5 view camera so I could not extend a center pole since it may have caused camera shake blur. For a lot of times in nature photography, a tripod which is as tall as your height is not high enough. Furthermore, after people become more serious on photography,
they tend to upgrade to heavy cameras and lenses. Then an extended center pole will result in blur images. Now selection of tripod is getting narrow. So which model I am looking for ….after some research…Gitzo systematic series is only option for my purpose due to their lightness and durability. (I would not go with ones made in Taiwan.) I hope I can sell some of my photos and I can scratch off one item in my “to purchase” list.

One more anecdote about this photo. The location in the photo is a kind of Mecca for photographers in Jasper, Alberta. I woke up early morning not to miss sunrise. When I arrived at the location, a lady had already started photographing. She set up a flagship model of camera on a huge tripod. I was mad since I had to give up the location. I left her with a parting shots, “you must
be professional”. After I took pictures around the area I came back to the location. The lady was still there with her husband, shooting photos. I tried talking to her and actually, they were really nice people. They were professional photographers from near Edmonton, and she told me how hard nowadays being full time photographers in photographic industry. When they were leaving they gave me their business card. It says “Outdoor photography Canada Contributing Editor”. I know this magazine! I subscribe to the magazine!! They were Lealie & Mark Degner. I felt embarrassed by my attitude before. I, being as a nature photographer, cannot control conditions of the locations,….so just be happy! Who knows how amazing people they are. Next day, I woke up really early again, and I tried the same location again. While I was waiting for sunrise, a car arrived at the location and a guy took off from the car. It was still dark outside, but I heard voice, said “shxt!”

Panorama by 4×5 camera

For nearly one and half years, I have been scanning my film taken from about 20 years ago to current chronologically, and now 4×5 film came to point of my college years in Kamloops about 9 years ago. I tried panoramic  photography by my large format camera which allows perfect overlapping of 2 images. Here is how it works.

Since primitive design of the large format camera, its front board shift both orizontally and virtually (like a slide door).  With my camera, the amounts of the vertical movement is larger than horizontal one.

So I set up my camera vertically on the tripod, therefore, I could get wider panoramic images. Shift the front board to one side and take a shot.

Then shift the front board to the other side. Since a lens is mounted off center on the lens board, I flip the lens board to get more shift from previous position. And then take another one.

Finally, I merged them with Photoshop CS5. I do not think this photo does not meet my current quality standard. This is just youthful impetuosity.

So am I going to use this technique to obtain panoramic photography? Most likely, not because I own a panorama head now and prices of film have been doubled since 10 years ago. Obviously, Nikon PC lenses or Canon TS lenses are more practical in the digital age. However, if you are interested in large format cameras and taking full advantage of the bellows techniques, I think now is the time. You can find unbelievably cheap ones on eBay. That is another sad reality, though.

A Socky Sock – Worth it!

Spring has come and I revisited my favorite location in Kananaskis, Alberta on the Easter weekend. The lake was still covered with snow, and it was too early to take picture of the icy lake. One morning after shooting sunrise, I found a little pool, which was covered by ice and snow. But nice blue colored water already appeared on the center of the pool. I tried some different compositions. And eventually I found very interesting composition.

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21mm lens. HDR processed with Photomatix. But still natural feel, I think.

But I knew the mountains turned orange around sun rise time. So question is…if the mountain in this image is orange sunrise one…it must be really cool shot. I grabbed my 4×5 field view camera and rehearse setting up for the shooting next morning. By the way, for who are not familiar with view camera, setting up a view camera takes usually over 20min since it allows many different adjustments by bellows technique. (Imagine the vertical and horizontal perspective control in Photoshop, plus depth of field, you can control these things with a view camera. Don’t you think it is cool?) It worth checking set up before big shooting. I left tripod mark like male dogs do; now go back to my car, have breakfast, call to youth hostel to extend stay, and take a morning nap.

Next day, I was so excited while driving in dawn; I was, however, so shocked when I arrived at the pool. It was supposed to go down to -5C at night-time so I thought it was fine in the morning. But ice was melted over night and the pool became much bigger. No way I could achieve the composition I wanted. Anyway, I set up my tripod and 4×5 in the pool as far as I could manipulate the camera. I was struggling with the situation; the sky was getting brighter. Then suddenly, I noticed my foot was in sherbet water. Actually, Ice could not hold my weight and cracked. I could save my camera from being dropped in the pool, but I had to run to my car and got to look for a sock and spare shoes. While I was changing, I saw the mountain reflecting beautiful orange sun light. No time to tie shoelaces; just ran back to my camera quickly. I got to set up the camera again. Somehow, I could manage one image from my 4X5 view camera but missed the fun bellows technique part. Damn!

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Woodman 4×5, Fuji 90mm, Velvia 100F scanned with Epson 750v scanner.  BTW I miss Kodak E100VS.

Well, I could not get the perfect image I expected. Is it really that bad? It may be true that Goddess did not smile at my shooting but I could feel that spring was truly coming. I had just witnessed small changes the mother of nature creates every day. That is why I go back to mountains. It is a real pleasure of the nature photography, isn’t it? Also, I got a good excuse to go back to this place next year, my favorite and secret place.

If you want to know about field view camera, here is another blog post by Samantha Chrysanthou. This is fun to read.


Autumn color – Lake O’hara

My hiking outfits for photography

Autumn color – Lake O’hara

The best season for photographers has come. I mean autumn season! Trees along streets have already changes to yellow in Calgary so Rocky mountains must be really beautiful now. Another good thing of this season is camping sites are not as busy as summer. Last year, I traveled to Lake O’hara. I met many photographers over there and many of them carried Canon or Nikon DSLRs. But also, interestingly, I could see more unique formats of cameras, such as old film Hasselblad, Infrared film, Kodachrome, and pin hall camera. I brought my 4×5 view camera as well as my regular camera sets. The photo bellow is the one of the images I took with 4×5 in lake O’hara.

The Autumn of Lake O'Hara

Also this is the photo I could sell at the last gallery exhibition. PLease click the photo for the larger image.