Tag Archives: Brooklyn
While I normally use my Nikon FM2n if I’m shooting 35mm, lately I’ve been using my 40-year old Olympus OM-1. It’s paired with a versatile 50mm Zuiko f1.8 lens and is a bit smaller than the Nikon. I love that this camera served my father-in-law for dozens of years, then Kate during high school photography classes, and is now working like a champ for me. I’m not sure how how many digital cameras we use today will still be around in 40 years. Probably none.
This past weekend I loaded the OM-1 with Kodak Portra 400 for our random exploring.
Virginia Slims Poster, Prospect Heights, Kodak Portra 400
As the summer fades and my use of color film dwindles, I’ve been fickle regarding 100 speed film. The new Kodak Portra 400 has proven to be a solid lock for higher speed color film, but I’ve bounced around a bit when it comes to color negative film at 100 speed. I’ve shot dozens of rolls of Fuji Reala 100, which I love, but it sometimes lacks that punch I like from color film. Kodak Portra 160 hasn’t wowed me as much as its big brother, so I’ve been shooting Reala 100, but always thinking I could use something I like better. Enter Kodak Ektar 100. Ektar is a fairly recent addition (2008) to the Kodak family, boasting “ISO 100 speed, high saturation and ultra-vivid color, EKTAR 100 offers the finest, smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.”
It’s certainly punchier than Reala. It’s decently priced, readily available no matter where I shop for film, and scans like a dream. I’m definitely warming to it. Here’s a quick look at how it handles different colors in my experience.
Blus Sky and Plane, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Kodak Ektar 100
All images shot with Hasselblad 501cm and Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens and scanned with Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
Living in NYC gives you, as someone very wise often says, an embarrassment of riches when it comes to activities. And yet, our favorite thing to do is something you can do anywhere. We love taking long walks on the weekends. Kate wakes us up early (sometimes before dawn) and I bitch and moan for five or ten minutes, lounging in bed for as long as I can. Then we get dressed and go for a 5 or 6 mile run. I’m not a happy camper for the first mile or so, but then something happens to my outlook. I start to feel energized, the sky looks amazing and the light starts to have that amazing glow that you only get early in the morning.
We come home, shower, and grab a quick bite. And then we head out for a long walk. It doesn’t matter where we go. When we lived in Manhattan, it would be the West Village, the Hudson Promenade, through the Meatpacking District on the High Line and into Chelsea, or the Lower East Side up into the East Village and then into Union Square. But we always stayed south of 23rd Street and there isn’t much room to go between the East River and the Hudson.
Now that we live in Brooklyn, we have SO much room to walk. It’s nothing to leave Park Slope and end up walking to Dumbo or Carrol Gardens. Lately we have taken to long walks along the Gowanus Canal or even down into Red Hook.
The weather lately has been perfect for these long walks. Last weekend we did a walk through Brooklyn Heights on Henry Street and came home parallel to the Gowanus Canal. I took the Hasselblad with us to capture the sights on some Kodak Ektar 100 film.
Intersection of Warren and Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights, Kodak Ektar 100
Red House on Union, Park Slope, Kodak Ektar 100
House on Union Street, Kodak Ektar 100
S & P News Stand, Corner of 9th and 5th, Kodak Ektar 100
A break in the rain on Thursday night allowed me to head out to Prospect Park with a tripod for some long exposures. Most of these exposures were between 30 and 60 seconds at an aperture of f11 or f16 as metered by my Digisix light meter.
This roll was shot with Hasselblad 501cm on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and developed in Kodak Xtol Developer at 21C for 7.5 minutes.
Tree and Prospect Park Lake at Night, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Fallen Tree in Prospect Lake at Night, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Tree and Moving Clouds at Night, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Grand Army Plaza Arch at Night, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Grand Army Plaza Fountain at Night, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Bark Hot Dogs at Night, Park Slope, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
Firo Grocery Bodega on St. Marks and 3rd Avenue at Night, Gowanus, Brooklyn, Fuji Neoapn Acros 100
Man at ATM of Paul’s Grocery and Fruits on 5th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, Fuji Neopan Acros 100
I have a talented Flickr contact named David who regularly posts botched photos on Fridays. He used to call it Failure Friday, but now it’s Freedom Friday (as in Freedom to Fail). I like these installments and often learn from his explanation of the process and what his intentions might have been.
A photographer shouldn’t be afraid of failing often. I know that failure is an odd concept in the age of digital photography, where we can take a shot, check the LCD screen, delete, adjust, and take the shot again. There’s very little mystery and no heartbreak involved: just keepers, then those bytes and bits relegated to the virtual trash bin or languishing on a hard drive.
But for a curious film photographer, failure is real. That roll you haven’t developed yet could be just what your experience has taught you to expect – solid and well exposed. It may even contain a shot or two that just makes you weak in the knees – somehow the quality of the light and the emulsion have combined to give you something so beautiful and unexpected that you treat it like a gift. On the other hand, that undeveloped roll could be brutally underwhelming. Maybe it was your first time using that film stock, a new technique, or you thought that you could make bad light into good.
I’ve recently started shooting long exposures and really enjoy the change of pace that night photography gives me. There’s no concern about the quality of the light or the harshness of the sun. There is only light from the buildings, signs, streetlights, and moon. For my first long exposures, I did my research and picked a tried-and-true film (Fuji Neopan Acros 100) that would be easy to use and develop at home. I was very happy with those two rolls, even stunned by the quiet beauty of a couple shots.
Excited about those shots, especially the ones of Jane’s Carousel, I got a little greedy and returned to the same spot in DUMBO a few days later. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm I downplayed the inclemenent weather and I shot a black and white roll in a light rain and heavy wind. The results were exactly what I should have expected and I now understand that shooting into a 20mph wind negates the careful use of a tripod. Lesson learned: check the weather next time.
That night, I also used the roll of Fuji Velvia that I happened to have in my bag as an experiment. I didn’t check the fact sheet for the film. If I had, I would have known that Velvia is not recommended for anything past 64 seconds (doh!). This roll of twelve exposures was muddy and underexposed. And now I know why: reciprocity failure is very real with Velvia. I bracketed my exposures, but none of them turned out very well. The carousel is well-exposed, but the sky looks like a purple mess of coffee grounds were smeared across it.
Not all was lost that night though. Despite the wind and rain, I managed to salvage this shot on a roll of Fuji Neopan Acros 100.
I also didn’t do my research when using Astia film on the Hudson River. (Turns out, it’s fine up to and even past 120 seconds provided you account for reciprocity failure and up the exposure.)
The slides were mostly okay if a little underexposed. But what was most alarming was the color shift when I scanned them.
Scanned long exposure slide of Fuji Astia about 10-15 minutes after sunset. Hello purple sky and water!
After color correction the Astia slides turned out decent, but they were not sharp. The lights in the buildings across the Hudson River are soft and a little “blobby.” I realized at the time that my tripod was resting on steel grate, not concrete. Joggers and walkers were tromping past during exposures…I remarked to Kate at the time, “That can’t be good for my exposures.” It wasn’t. Another lesson learned.
Reflecting the Stars Lights on Hudson Piers, Fuji Astia 100, Long Exposure
This slide of One World Trade Center jutting into the sky is also pretty unremarkable, but at least it didn’t have the crazy color shift.
All images were shot with my Hasselblad 501cm and Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens.
The results weren’t catastrophic, just a bit of a letdown. I knew when I handed them over that I might be unhappy with the results. I consider these two rolls a learning process or a starting point.
I’ve had a tripod for ages and, until this weekend, have only used it twice. Despite the bulk and weight of my Hasselblad, I shoot handheld comfortably to speeds of 1/60 of a second and use a 400 speed film to get dusk shots.
For months though, I’ve been admiring the night work of a few Flickr contacts (Daniel Regner, Andrew Mangum, Bryan Vana, and Michael Wriston). With every new night photo of theirs I hit the Favorite button and marvel over that little extra something that a long exposure photo at night possesses. Their night photos are full of mystery and possibility. It’s as if time has stopped and anything (or absolutely nothing) can happen in that frame. And frankly, they also make it look like fun. Often someone else will be there capturing a shot of the photographer taking the shot; this behind the scenes photo will sometimes show up in the comment section.
Inspired by these intrepid nighthawks, Saturday night I loaded up my Hasselblad with Fuji Neopan Acros 100* and grabbed my tripod. I had a cable release (unused until then) in my camera bag already, so with camera, film, light meter, tripod, cable release, and watch I was ready to tackle long exposures.
I walked down to Brooklyn Bridge Park, set up my gear, and realized it’s really not that much work to do long exposures. I set the lens on the Hasselblad to Bulb setting, took a meter reading (between 2 and 3 EV), calculated a 30 second exposure at the tick between F11 and f16 and then hit the plunger of the cable release. I hadn’t brought a flashlight so my watch was useless. Luckily, I had my cell phone, which has a timer function on its clock app.
For my first experience with long exposures, I’m pretty happy with the results. These were developed in Kodak Xtol at 22C for 6.5 minutes.
*I chose Fuji Neopan Acros 100 to use because it has no reciprocity failure until 120 seconds.
Last Sunday I went on a photowalk in Gowanus with pals Joel Zimmer and Drew Shannon. We meandered around in Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and ended up back in Park Slope. Joel had his trusty Nikon D7000 and Drew had a bag of cameras including an old Minolta film cam and the super sexy Fuji X100, which Joel and I both got to play with for a few shots. The X100 is a sweet little camera, but doesn’t feel as solid as older film cameras that it emulates. The autofocus seemed a bit slow to me as well, but you can’t argue with the pictures that Drew is getting out of it. The X100 gives you stellar pics.
I also loaned Joel my little-used Nikon F3 to see if I could entice him over to the film side. I put a roll of the new Kodak Portra 160 in the F3, but forgot to check the battery until I was heading out the door. Since the F3 sits on my shelf unused (MUCH prefer the Nikon FM2n) the battery for the meter had died. Not a very good start to Joel’s film experience, but hey how often do you have to charge the battery on your DSLR?
I only had my Hasselblad 501cm on me and a bag full of Fuji Reala 100 film (and two frames of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 on a roll). The Reala is fast becoming my favorite 100 speed film in medium format, because it renders colors very naturally. The only exception is that the greens tend to be a little strong sometimes. With no scanning software, the Reala scans well and you don’t have to do any post processing to remove color shifts. On these I didn’t even bother cropping out the borders I scanned them so fast.
When you consider razor sharp depth of field or crazy blurred background, you might think of the super fast lenses for 35mm cameras – the f1.8 lenses, the f1.4, and even the occasional f.95 lens. They will definitely deliver shallow depth of field. But when you step up to medium format (not to mention large format where f5.6 is speedy!) an f2.8 lens feels super fast. The f2.8 Zeiss Planar lens on my Hasselblad spends most of its time between f5.6 and f16. The subjects that I tend to shoot with this camera don’t really need exaggerated depth of field and f5.6 gives me a nice pleasing background if I want to isolate something that’s a normal distance from my lens.
The other day at the park I set the lens to f2.8 just to play around. This is pretty shallow, really just an inch of two of grass is in focus. The lens was set at the closest focusing distance.
This one was also at f2.8, but I wanted to get a pleasing, useable photograph, not a freakshow. I selected the leaves closest to me, knowing that the sun streaming through the leaves behind them would create a nice blurred background.
And just for fun, I focused on a few strands of Kate’s hair that I could see in the evening sunlight. Those few strands are crisp and clear, while everything else is soft and a little dreamy.
There’s no point to this exercise besides just playing around. I do think shallow depth of field has its uses, but I avoid using much of it in medium format film. The margin for error is so steep and you only have 12 shots on a roll. Still, it’s kind of cool to play with.
On a side note, I’m *really* starting to like Fuji Reala in 120 format. I’ve heard that Fuji may be phasing it out, so I might need to grab a stash for the fridge!
It’s been some time, since I’ve turned my lens to capturing signs as we walk around the city. Old signs always grab my attention, but I realized a lot of them popped up in my last roll* of film. It’s probably because we are exploring new neighborhoods so much.
These were all taken with the Nikon FM2n and shot on the new Kodak Portra 160.
This is a VERY common sign in the city; yet, it’s a beauty. I love the red and green, the “everything you need” in one place aspect of it, and the two glasses on the left. This one is on our block at Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks. I like how it’s right next door to the overpriced joke of a store – Brooklyn Larder.
This simple, but effective sign over a real estate office in Ditmas Park was calling to me as we were eating in the window of Mimi’s Hummus across the street. After our meal, I zipped over to pay it a visit.
I think I rmember this exact sign from when I was a kid. Composition Notebooks, check. Crayola, check. Krazy Glue, check… Wait a minute, Krazy glue for back to school? Elmer’s Glue, of course, but Krazy Glue? I wold have been so busted taking Krazy Glue to school.
*which I realized is my 180th roll of film shot this year.
I’ve been kind of hooked on these Polaroid shots lately. Maybe it’s a function of the move or the season, but I haven’t been as driven to be out everyday with the Hasselblad or FM2n. I’ve shot a few rolls of 120 and 35mm color film that are sitting here waiting to be developed, but I haven’t been as impatient to get them developed as usual.
I think some of this has to do with the fun I’m having with the Polaroid Land Camera. I’ve shot several packs of instant film since the move and have a growing stack of photos by my desk. Last week, I posted a dozen Polaroid shots for Film Friday at Kate’s blog, Embarrassment of Riches. There I mentioned that “This week features probably one of the most fun cameras you could ever shoot with: the 40-year-old Polaroid 420 Land Camera.”
The Land Camera certianly has its limitations for someone used to shooting manual cameras, but there are things that the Polaroid does so well that you forget those limitations. I learned this last night when I wanted to take a picture of a beautiful tree that was kind of lost in shadows against a perfect sky. The tree came out a big, black, blob while the sky was perfectly exposed. With a manual camera, you could have chosen to meter the tree or split the difference between the tree and sky. Not with the Land Camera – it chooses the exposure for you.
But when you shoot something simple with a less latitude in color, it’s pretty much perfect.
Plane in Blue Sky, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Polaroid 420 Land Camera and Fuji FP100C Instant Color Film
I was underwhelmed with this image at first, but the more I look at the it, the more I love the idea of that plane lost in blue. I think it’s one of my favorite picutres that I’ve taken this year.
US Open Sky Writing, Redhook, Brooklyn, Polaroid 420 Land Camera and Fuji FP100C Instant Color Film
I took two pictures of this, but prefer the one with the power lines. It kind of grounds the scene. One thing here to note is how the photo is more saturated in the lower right hand corner. Instead of peeling this after 90 seconds, I let it sit for over an hour until I got home. I had read that the FP100C is “self-terminating,” meaning that you can peel it hours later and still get a good exposure, but that the photo will be a little darker or more saturated. That is certainly the case here.
Prospect Park Lawn and Sky, Brooklyn, Polaroid 420 Land Camera and Fuji FP100C Instant Color Film
This is getting a little difficult for the Polaroid to render properly as the dark green of the huge lawn and the light blue of the sky are almost too different for the camera/film to capture correctly.