Tag Archives: Film Photography
I’ve always loved the look of the old wooden folding field cameras. And of course, I love Eastman Kodak. Therefore it’s no surprise that one of these old 8×10 view cameras ended up on my doorstep one day (Thursday). Large format photography definitely suits the way I like to work and I enjoy the 4×5 format, but I have always wanted the flexibility to shoot 8×10 for projects. This Eastman View Camera No. 2D came up on Ebay and it looked like it had all the pieces I wanted – both front and rear extensions, a sliding tripod block, and a newer bellows. The lens looked shot (it’s a Wollensok Versor and totally shot) and I could tell that there was a knob missing, but the price was right.
I unpacked it last night and I was surprised that it feels lighter than my Toyo 45A was. The wood is in decent condition with many marks and imperfections, but the bellows slide along the rails nicely. I’ve never really cared how beat up a camera is as long as it does what I ask it to do. I’ve applied a coat of wood wax to sit overnight and it should condition the wood.
The missing knob, however, is a problem. It’s the knob that locks down the rear standard. On Thursday night, I kept racking out the bellows only to watch the rear standard slowly creep forward. A trip to the hardware store will get me a temporary fix until I can find a proper knob. The bellows are not original (the original bellows were red) and look to be in good shape.
Overall, and especially for a camera produced in Rochester, NY in 1935, I think it will be a good camera. I’ve got film holders and a new lens board coming. I’m also on the lookout for a 4×5 reducing back so I can shoot both 4×5 and 8×10 sheet film.
The bottom line is I could have purchased a MUCH more expensive, modern wooden folding camera or pay way less for this little piece of American history and spend the difference on film.
Test shots coming soon!
Haven’t shot a lot this week, so here are a few pictures from last week. It’s been so beautiful this Spring. I don’t know why, but every year I’m surprised when the trees start to bloom and then even more surprised to see leaves popping out.
I took these first four shots early in the morning on a walk to meet Kate after her long training run. At this time of the morning, the light is perfect. These were all shot with Hasselblad 501cm on Kodak Portra 400 film.
This was taken later in the day on the way to the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene. This is the Koadk Portra look that I always hope for…
For my birthday Kate and I decided to spend a week at her parents house in St. Michaels, Maryland. Besides New York, it’s probably my favorite place in the world. Since we’ve moved to the city, St. Michaels has been the perfect compliment to the fast paced life we normally lead. On Maryland’s Eastern Shore you don’t hurry. You don’t feel rushed, you don’t feel like you have to do this or do that. You relax. We read, take pictures, nap, eat, drink, then repeat.
I took a fistful of film, my Hasselblad 501cm, Nikon FM2n, and the new Polaroid 400 Land Camera with me for our weeklong stay. As I look at my pictures, I realize that Fuji films are definitely better for pictures of water and boats. Kodak Portra is still perfect for people and things on land, but there’s something about Fuji films and water that look better to my eye. Fuji slide film (like the Astia I used) does have a tendency to shift to purple, but you can correct that in post processing if you want.
The Selina II sailing on the Miles River, St. Michaels, Maryland, Fuji Reala 100
The Selina II is a beautiful sailboat that offers cruises. We haven’t taken advantage of one of their trips, but we will one day.
On Wednesday evenings, they have sailboat races on the Miles River. Wednesday just happened to be our last night and our neighbor and friend Bob invited us to go out on his boat for an amazing view.
Red Sail on Miles River, St. Michaels, Maryland, Fuji Astia 100
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we kicked off summer in on of our favorite places – St. Michaels, Maryland. Kate’s parents have a beautiful house on the water in this tiny town and it’s our favorite escape from the city. Since the forecast for the weekend was sun and blue skies, I grabbed a fistful of color film for the Hasselblad, including a few rolls of Fuji Astia 100 slide film. Astia is a slide film that gives the punch of slides, but without the technicolor rush of Velvia. Looking at these pictures though, it’s plenty saturated for me. If there’s a bit of cloud cover or you aren’t in direct sun, the colors are very strong. In harsh overhead sun, it looks more like negative film.
Between bouts of reading, eating, and relaxing we took a trip into town and a boat ride, both with the Hasselblad in hand.
Big Al’s Market and Grocery, St. Michaels, Maryland
Flowers on Talbott Street, the main drag in St. Michaels
Town and Country Liquor Store
Old House in St. Michaels
The Little Boston Whaler
Boat with Flags in St. Michaels Harbor
Kate and Her Dad Behind the Wheel of the Big Whaler
British and American Flags in St. Michaels Harbor
This one is more saturated and contrasty than I would like because I under exposed it.
Deep Blue Sky Above the Miles River
Clouds Above the Miles River
Kate Enjoying the Boat Ride
Sailboat Anchored in a Quiet Spot off of the Miles River
Sailboat Crossing Our Path
Trio of Sailboats on the Miles River
This one also shows how underexposure intensifies the saturation of slide film.
Two Trees Along the Shore
I also shot a roll of the new Kodak Portra 400 during the weekend. Those shots, which I’ll post tomorrow, look very different from the Fuji slides. I’m not sure which I like the best. Slides are so beautiful to look at and there’s little room for a lab technician to do something squirrely with your colors. But slide film is a little less forgiving of an exposure error. I shot all of these with a handheld meter, but you can tell I underexposed a few of them when the light changed. The new Portra 400 is VERY forgiving. You can pretty much shoot it at any ISO from 200-1600 without ill effects.
My weekend shooting Astia did convince me to buy a 5-pack of Fuji Velvia slide film with an Amazon gift card. I’ll save those for our next trip to St. Michaels!
I don’t see many movies, because I often walk away feeling like I’ve wasted two hours of my life. The medium of film just rarely moves me. But when it does, I get pretty excited. Case in point: “Bill Cunningham New York.” I walked out of this movie on such a high; so happy to spend two hours with such an odd, lovable, driven artist.
I do read his long running “On the Street” in the Style section. I love how he rounds up the latest trends he sees on the streets of New York each week. What I did not know was that he shoots everything on film with an old Nikon FM SLR camera. Yes, only film – at a major newspaper. The New York Times just has to wait as he gets his film developed at a random one-hour spot. One scene (among many) that film shooters will identify with: he gets his negatives back from said one-hour store and immediately, right there in the store, pulls them out to see what he got. And he’s excited like a kid at Christmas. I know that feeling.
He lives in a tiny apartment that’s filled with nothing but filing cabinets containing every negative that he’s shot. His bathroom is in the hall. I’m not sure there was a kitchen, nothing but those dozens of filing cabinets stuffed with negatives and a few clothes hangers. “This is my closet,” he laughs as the points out the hangers attached to a filing cabinet drawer handle.
Another scene shows him in Paris at Fashion Week. After standing there ignored by a clueless fashion show gatekeeper, someone grabs him and tells the gatekeeper, “This is the most important person on earth.” Inside, he explains his method of shooting fashion shows. He sits in the front row and only raises his Nikon to take pictures of what interests him. He’s deliberate, choosy, and not easily impressed. The videocamera zooms out to show the multiple rows behind him of photographers with HUGE zoom lenses all pointed at the same scene with flash bulbs snapping multiple times a second. It’s photography by blitzkrieg, a blanket of digital mediocrity. Then it zooms back in on Cunningham in the front row with his tiny Nikon FM camera and what looks like a standard 35mm lens on it. That totally summed up how I often feel about the current state of photography. I loved the man instantly.
This image is from a post on the blog of another street fashion photographer who gets it right, The Sartorialist. Knowing how much he owes Bill Cunningham, Scott Schuman calls him Master Bill Cunningham in this blog post.
If you love photography or fashion, do not miss this movie. If you still shoot film, you have to see this movie. You’ll love the energy of this man. You’ll love his attitude. And you’ll wish you had his work ethic. I’m still blown away.