A Winter Day in Dorchester + APX100 film

Enough vintage clothing shoots (see previous posts)! It’s back to film and Dorchester in Dorset (UK) – one of my favourite photographic locations, especially given some foggy winter weather.

Firstly a Victorian park and some nice foggy tones into the distance. APX100 is very good at rendering delicate midtones which is why I use it as an  ‘all purpose’ film.

There wasn’t much light around so this was shot at maximum aperture hence the narrow depth of field.

This shot of benches and some pollarded trees really came alive with a texture layer – something to do with the way it interacts with the foggy midtones.

Next on to a church and a cemetery – sorry I’m a book cover photographer and a bit of gothic is irresistible!

My usual ‘not sure why I like this’ shot – I’ve taken it several times over several years but it’s never quite right.

Finally a controlled depth of field shot taken at 3 apertures to get the best effect – the maximum aperture of 1.4 left the gravestone too out of focus – this was at f2.

All shots on Agfaphoto APX100 on an Olympus oM2 with either a 50mm f1.4 or a 28mm f2 Zuiko, which is a lovely light kit for a day’s shooting. The film was developed in Rodinal 1+50.

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Vintage Clothing (with Emily) Part 3

Finally the last of the vintage clothes pics – until we do another shoot anyway. If you’ve missed the background story it’s in part one so I won’t repeat myself!

Onto the first shot – Lensbaby portrait of Emily in a cloche hat and one of my all time favorites. This was taken with diffused natural light from a frosted window against a plain coloured wall – about the simplest lighting possible.

Emily with a vintage spanish fan doing the ‘look over the top’ thing. It took ages to get the colour right for this, balancing the blue of the eyes with the subtlety of the other colours!

Not sure why I like this one…. as with the previous one the texture layer and the Lensbaby blur combine to make something special.

Emily outside with some nice flare to give it some atmosphere. I never liked lens hoods!

Emily + Lensbaby, outdoors in the sunshine. Not much more to say really.

Cloche hat again, and ‘copy space’ for book covers to the left. Light from a reflector brightened the face under the brim of the hat.

Finally just a simple 1940’s style portait in a dress of the period (well ish).

If you’re interested in kit, as before all Lenbaby shots were taken on an Olympus EPL3 and everything else on a Canon 60D with a 15-85mm. Both cameras were shooting in RAW. The indoor shots were all shot at 2000+ ASA and both cameras, especially the Canon, coped very well.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome. All images have a signed model release, and Emily is happy for them to appear on the blog.

The other vintage clothing posts are here (with Amber) and here (with Mary) and further down the log if you’d like to see the others. I’d like to thank Emily and Amber for their patience, and Mary for supplying the clothes and organising the venues for these vintage clothing shoots.

If you’re interested in any more of Mary’s vintage clothing, the link to her Facebook page is here.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Vintage Clothing (with Emily) Part 2

On to part two and this time in colour! In brief – same background story as part one – vintage clothing from Mary’s shop.

Starting with a Lensbaby portrait of Emily in a white fake fur wrap. The soft blurriness of the lens seems to suit the hair and white wrap and I really can’t decide if it’s better in black and white or colour!

Drifting quickly back into classic ‘book cover’ territory here – people holding stuff like books, postcards etc.

Emily with the stone staircase as a background. Does this count as a portrait?

More book cover stuff – hands held whilst sitting down on the steps.

And one from the same series – the shoes resting by Emily’s side make this one for me.

Now a ‘prim and proper’ abstract – reminds me of ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ for some reason.

Finally Emily writing in a notebook in a 1930’s jacket and dress, though I’m bit miffed the notebook isn’t more obviously in focus.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

All images have a signed model release, and Emily is happy for them to appear on the blog.

The other vintage clothing posts are here (with Emily part 1)here (with Amber) and here (with Mary) if you’d like to see the others.

If you’re interested in any more of Mary’s vintage clothing, the link to her Facebook page is here.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Vintage Clothing (with Emily) Part 1

This post is the latest in a short series about shooting vintage clothing supplied by a friend from her shop’s stock.  These are the black and white ones – there are two more colour posts to follow due to the number of pictures. Looking at these they’re more portraits than fashion shoot – never mind!

Firstly, a simple ‘classic’ portrait taken with studio lights (supplied by the two other photographers – thanks), toned in DXO filmpack. Emily was wearing a black cape which disappears nicely into the black background.

Next, two taken in the same spot but with some of the industrial background showing behind – these were shot in a factory being converted into shops (where Mary’s new shop outlet will be).

And one more outside with a rather bleak background…

This next one is taken with a Lensbaby, and converted to black and white, which removed the distraction of a very brightly coloured 1950’s dress. There are some colour shots in subsequent posts.

Again with the Lensbaby which has excelled itself in the ‘blurry out of focus’ department! Just on the edge of being unrecognisable…

Finally Emily in a cloche hat with light from a reflector providing some light under the brim of the hat. Looks a bit 1920’s.

These shoots are always a good day, and we’re all getting a bit better each time. We even remembered to take lunch on the last one!

If you’re interested in kit, all Lenbaby shots were taken on an Olympus EPL3 and everything else on a Canon 60D with a 15-85mm. Both cameras were shooting in RAW. The indoor shots were all shot at 2000+ ASA and both cameras, especially the Canon, coped very well.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome. All images have a signed model release, and Emily is happy for them to appear on the blog.

The other two vintage clothing posts are here (with Amber) and here (with Mary) if you’d like to see the others.

If you’re interested in any more of Mary’s vintage clothing, the link to her Facebook page is here.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

The Wish Tree

Dorset is a great place to be a photographer (except today when it’s been raining heavily all day!). Within a short drive there’s heathland, castles, old market towns, varied coastline, towns – well small ones, downland and hundreds of historic churches and villages. Before you think this is an advert for the local tourist board, I’ll get on with it.

Apart from the ‘normal’ locations, there are some very atmospheric sites, often hidden away down long farm tracks or in woodland.

These shots are taken at a ‘wish tree’ – two ancient Yew trees really – which are in an isolated spot near a complex of neolithic monuments and a ruined church – definitely an atmospheric location and a favourite place to visit. There’s a real mish-mash of equipment used for these so I won’t try to detail the kit used for each shot.

A theory is that the ancient monuments remained a focus for pagan activity well into the 1300’s, and the church – which served a now long abandoned village 1/2 mile away – was placed in the centre of the monuments to ward off any lingering doubts that the church was now in charge.

The objects put in the wish trees seem to change very regularly – almost as if someone is tidying them up, then they’re replaced with different ones.

Some like the one above are very elaborate – this must have taken someone a long time.

There are often cryptic messages and names attached but what the wishes are remain a mystery. Let’s hope they came true.

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking!

Shooting Shadows

There’s a small notebook I carry where ideas for photographs (or a series of photographs) are scribbled when they drift idly into my head. Most of the time they never go anywhere – probably because my writing is so bad I can’t read them afterwards, but this one made it and has been a theme on and off for a while now – shadows.

It’s probably because  they’re often just shapes without detail or clutter. Thinking about it, a Lensbaby or a fast lens with narrow depth of field can blur away clutter too, which is maybe why I like them so much. A pro wedding photographer once told me the key to successful photography was to concentrate more on the background than the main subject, as no matter how well everyone was posing for his shot, a cluttered background could ruin everything!

Anyway on to the shots.

This is a toy cycle bought in a junk shop just on some plain card in winter sunlight. Shot with a 50mm F1.4.

A toned Lensbaby shot of a door and window, but it’s the shadow dividing the frame which gives it something dynamic.

OK – only 1/2 the picture is shadow – this is Bournemouth Pier by the way – but the shadow gives it some symmetry.

This is the shadow of a religious statue in a church – it needed some of the statue to make sense as it didn’t work that well with only the shadow.

This is a quirky abstract which er, well, make your own mind up! It’s something to do with the middle bit of the tree missing I think, but I’m not sure!

I keep on like a broken record ‘always carry a camera’ – sometimes you just need to fetch it into the kitchen! Low winter light giving some odd diffuse shadows of nearby trees, and my morning cup of coffee.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Adox CMS20 – Fast Becoming a Favourite Slow Film

It’s always fun to try a new film – especially if it’s one of the more exotic ones.

This post is a mini test of 35mm Adox CMS20 black and white film, which claims to be ‘The sharpest, most fine-grained and highest resolving image recording system in the world‘ with an equivalent of 500Mp of detail on a 35mm negative. It’s original purpose was as an ultra high resolution and high contrast document film, but if developed properly it can yield a full range of mid-tones.

So, I had to give it a try.

Adox CMS20 Zuiko 50mm F1.4

Zuiko 50mm f1.4 at maximum aperture

Sample from the top left plus a few dust spots

As you’d expect it’s slow – 12 or 20 ISO, so your first problem might be finding a camera with a slow enough film speed setting. The Olympus OM2 goes down to 12 so that’s what’s been used here, along with my sharpest lens, a Zuiko 28mm f2 shooting at f5.6 or f8 – and a few from the Zuiko 50mm f1.4.

ADOX CMS20 Zuiko 50mm F1.4

Zuiko 50mm f1.4 stopped down to f5.6

Adox recommends a specific developer, ADOTECH II CMS which is quite pricey by comparison with ID11 or Rodinal, but as I wanted to do something approaching a proper test I used that. The processing is different to most films – the developer smells strongly of something like acetone, fixing takes a very short 45 seconds and is followed by a short wash time of 5 minutes. Caffenol, Rodinal and HC110 can all be used too.

ADOX CMS20 Zuiko 28mm f2

Zuiko 28mm f2 at f8. This is Knowlton Church, now a ruin, in the centre of a neolithic earth circle (a ’causewayed enclosure’) which is 4000 or so years old. A spooky location for a film test. There’s loads on Google if you’re interested.

As a general impression it looks a little like Ilford PAN F, and the slow speeds allow some nice shallow depth of field effects with a fast lens. It shares PAN F’s tendency towards high contrast darker images which I quite like.

ADOX CMS20 Zuiko 28mm f2

28mm f2 at f8 – White Mill Bridge.

The ultimate question though is – where’s the grain? Here are some enlargements from a scan from a Plustek 7500i set at 18 by 12.6 inches at 350 dpi which is close to it’s maximum physical resolution.

Here’s a shot of White Mill –  a National Trust property on the River Stour. No spotting or dust removal just straight from the scan.

ADOX CMS20 Zuiko 28mm f2 White Mill

28mm – White Mill

And here’s a couple of small samples from the shot  :-

The dovecotes in the centre of the picture. The brickwork is still sharp.

Enlargement from the top left of the shot

No grain at all, except a slight speckling in the sky which is just discernible. It’s easily out-resolving my best lens and scanner and showing no grain – something I can pick up with PAN F. These are only scans – Adox claim it can be printed grain free up to 2.5m horizontally from a 35mm negative and I’ve no reason to disbelieve them after this mini test.

The only downside of this film is that there’s no grain to hide small dust or spots, so for a large print it will take a lot of cloning/spotting.

If you haven’t already, give a few rolls a try – if nothing else shooting at 12 ISO is an experience! It’s available in 120 and as sheet film too – in 5×4 with a top lens, the resolution must be astonishing.

Shooting Funfairs

I was never really interested in funfairs or carnivals until I read ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes‘ by Ray Bradbury – which made all the difference. Now they seemed a bit more dark, mysterious and intriguing rather than just a noisy place to eat burgers, chips and candy floss.

Anyway, on with the pics – a shot of  the artwork on a modern ride with split frame to show the grass underneath and not make it a ‘straight shot’ of the artwork. Rollei Blackbird film in an Olympus OM1.

Another bit of artwork from one of the ‘horror’ type rides, rendered nicely dark by Rollei Blackbird again.

More funfair artwork but less horror this time! This is an odd composition, and I’m not sure if I like it or not. Agfa APX100 film for this one.

This was an empty children’s ride – only a small child could get into these seats, they’re that small. I must have been in a ‘leave the bottom half of the frame empty’ mood judging by this and the first one. Good ‘copy space’ is always an excuse if you’re a book cover photographer! APX100 film again.

More Rollei Blackbird and a narrow depth of field of this empty ride. without the blue tone it doesn’t work s well for some reason.

A subject I’m always trying to get that ‘killer shot’ of horse carousels. They’re fickle subjects though – you think you’ve got the shot on the day but they’re never as good in Photoshop. There is something scary about those horse faces. APX100 again.

Finally – a digital one. Close up of some traditional funfair decoration – though not very mysterious!

For ‘film people’ interested in such things, the Rollei Blackbird shots were developed in ID11 stock, the APX100 in Rodinal 1+50.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Shooting Cars

I’m not really into cars – well not in the sense of talking about engines and cylinder heads down the pub. If mine starts in the morning that’s all I need to know about it.

Morgan + Lensbaby plastic lens + barely perceptible chromatic aberration

However, cars do offer a real opportunity for some creative shooting. Some talented designer has spent months getting the perfect body shapes and colours.  A looked after car has nice glossy paint, shiny glass and chrome so  should look gorgeous. Even a  rusty wreck should look good too.

Rusty Wreck

So here are my best attempts so far – though it must be said I don’t find shooting cars that easy. Modern cars didn’t work that well, so these are all old ‘classics’. Don’t ask me what make/model they are – apart from the Jaguar, Morgan and the Jeep I haven’t a clue.

First a few shot on Agfaphoto APX100 developed in Rodinal 1+50 which gives it’s usual nice mid tones.

Jeep Steering Wheel

Another steering wheel on a military vehicle

APX100 toned in DXO filmpack

Just a wing mirror but a nice abstract

Don’t know what this is but it makes another nice abstract.

Second set is from some 1950s/60s cars, shot on the Lensbaby and run through the Canon 60D’s ‘Toy Camera’ creative filter. Other than these shots the creative filters haven’t been used that much, but it seems to work here.

Next a simple shot of a Jaguar headlight – can’t mess around with a classic.

And finally one from inside my car using the image in the side view mirror – just to be contrary.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

I really must think of a better way to finish each article!

Autumn Leaves (and Playing with Colour)

Just when you thought you’d seen enough pictures of autumn leaves someone else decides to post some!

I’d spotted this avenue of trees a while ago, and had a free day to return just as the colours were about right and the light (eventually) was perfect. After a few weeks of shooting 35mm film, this did seem too easy, and as a result I ended up taking way more shots than I do with film. Which is fine until you come to edit them…

While I was post-processing these I also ran them through DXO Filmpack to see the results as rendered by different types of film (now mostly discontinued). It’s surprising how much of a different feel the different film profiles give. I’ll do a proper  comparison between the different film types in another post (someday), but for today I’ll just post the pictures as I didn’t really make any notes as I went along – just went for a good effect.

All shot on a Canon 60D in RAW mode, with a 15-85mm, a 70-300mm lens or a Lensbaby Sweet 35.

More muted colours and a slight green tint give this a completely different atmosphere, almost like it was shot early in the morning.

The light was just getting better for this shot, and the shadow of the cloud was advancing towards the camera giving a darker foreground.

This shot at a low angle and the lens set to a wider focal length.

Virtually from the same spot with a Sweet 35 Lensbaby.

And another…

On to a different location – some beech woodland with some low sunshine filtering through the trees.

The light on the branches was so good a shot from closer in seemed to work.

Finally a shot I’ve been trying to take for years and not succeeded, but this time the light and colours seem just about right.

So a really good days shooting and some shots for the agency as well.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

More Shooting with a Lensbaby

There seems to be a bit of interest in the results you can get using a Lensbaby, so maybe a few more shots would be OK. The first post introducing how to use a Lensbaby is here.

BTW – I have no links with the Lensbaby company – I just like using them.

Plastic Lens plus some gentle layers

I remember starting with the Lensbaby Muse and getting a bit frustrated with it, as it’s got to be bent and held in position which is tricky if you’re using the LCD to focus (not enough fingers!). It’s tough on the hand tendons too in cold weather as the flexible plastic lens mount gets difficult to move. The Composer though was much better as it stays in place and is easy to focus on the LCD like a conventional lens.

So here are some shots to show results from the Sweet 35 as well as the 50mm glass and plastic lenses, and a variety of post-processing treatments to go with them (most of them need some post processing).

First then, high contrast monochrome. This could be done in camera or even better in Photoshop. The first is with the Sweet 35, the second the 50mm single glass lens. The glass lenses are quite sharp in places, and high contrast emphasises this.

Secondly, the lovely soft plastic lens. This can produce results which sometimes look as if they’re paintings (only almost!).

Plastic lens, blue filter and monochrome ‘in camera’. Olympus 620.

Plastic Lens and ‘in camera’ monochrome and blue filter. Olympus 620.

Plastic lens, wide aperture and a layer or two.

Plastic lens plus a very light layer.

Finally some vintage style processing – layered to look like old prints. A simple sepia tone doesn’t give the same  ‘depth’ as a layer. The first shot is using a glass lens, the other two are taken on the Sweet 35.

Glass Lens and a Canon 60D

Sweet 35 and a Canon 60D

Glass lens and an Olympus 620

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Vintage Clothing (with Amber)

This is the second post about some photo shoots done using vintage clothing supplied by a shop run by my friend Mary. The first post is here if you like this one!

This set was taken of model Amber wearing a very glam embroidered satin number (I’ll ask Mary for a technical description), so we were going initially for a ‘grand entrance’ vintage type look. The fake fur stole adds to the luxury look.

These next 3 are typical ‘book cover’ type shots – people in vintage clothes holding things like books, keys etc. These props were all bought for this purpose from Ebay or junk shops, and we formed a sort of mini ‘production line’ with a pile of stuff going left to right whilst being photographed. Not very creative and a bit mechanical but it produces some results. All on the Canon 60D or an EPL3 with a lensbaby and all lightly layered and toned.

The next 3 are of Amber wearing a 1960’s number (please correct me if this is wrong Mary!) along with 2 unusual handbags chosen from Mary’s stock.

This next one was a bit hit and miss on the exposure (as Lensbaby shots often are) – the highlights of the white handbag were only rescued in RAW processing.

Finally one more with the Lensbaby – Amber holding some flowers.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

All images have a signed model release, and Amber is happy for them to appear on the blog.

If you’re interested in any more of Mary’s vintage clothing, the link to her Facebook page is here.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting in Abandoned Buildings Part 2

As the first post on abandoned buildings was quite popular, it seemed OK to post another.

This first set were taken in a building found when taking shelter from some torrential rain. The water has been leaking in for years and cracked the paintwork up nicely.

For once I remembered to look up.

Can’t resist peeling paint – can anyone?.

Same light as before – the blurriness down both sides was done using the 60D’s camera RAW processing filter ‘Miniature Effect’  turned vertically.

This second set were taken in my house after a fire 7 years ago. As the camera gear survived more or less unscathed it made sense to take some pictures a few days afterwards. All taken on an Olympus 8080.

This was taken in the kitchen – I really liked the subtle patterns made by the smoke and the tiny cracks in the plaster.

This is the melted burglar alarm – the black soot splashed everywhere and the melted plastic contrast quite well.

These were in the spare room – old framed victorian adverts.

Finally my favourite – the cracks and burned bits of the frame make some nice patterns.

Hope you like them – not a Lensbaby shot amongst the lot!

As always comments, critiques and questions always welcome.

Off Season English Seaside Towns

There’s an enduring fascination with seaside towns off season. I like the emptiness of these places which were packed with tourists and holidaymakers in the summer and are now closed up and dormant for winter.

So I thought I’d have a wander around a few of Dorset’s resorts with an Olympus OM2N, a 50mm and a 28mm lens and a few rolls of Agfaphoto APX 100. I had in mind taking some quirky shots of piers, beach huts, amusement arcades and the strange stuff which is wheeled out to grab the attention of visitors.

Hope you like them – they were taken just for fun really – they won’t go to the agency as I’m not sure what they’d do with them.

This first set is in Swanage which is a very old fashioned family resort.

Empty Swanage Tea Shop

And another one

It was really good travelling light and taking shots for the enjoyment of it rather than trying to get agency shots. None of the shots are extensively post-processed, maybe just a slight tint or a layer – APX100 is such good film it doesn’t seem to need much, and always seems to produce a rich range of midtones without becoming too dark. All developed in Rodinal 1+50.

This is quirky…

So, off down the pier – always a good location.

These Jubilee flags are getting a bit worn.

Victorian pier and beach front shelters – I could shoot these all day!

This chair was outside one of the beach huts and had seen better days (and plenty of them).

This is the corner of a mural – nice of them to tell us.

How much more Swanage Tourist Information can there be off season?

This second set is in Bournemouth, which is a bit trendy (at least by comparison with Swanage!).

Happy happy happy!

Cheesy shot of some plastic spades in a beach hut – sorry!

Beach huts and a shadow – one day I’ll get the perfect shot.

I’m sure the curious lady on the left was determined to get into a picture.

Comments, critiques and questions always welcome.

Shooting Gothic

As a kid I probably watched too many Hammer ‘horror’ films. These were made in Britain in the 1950s to the 1970s and were very tame, even comical by today’s standards – so tame they were often shown on Sunday afternoons. I don’t remember being scared at all, but the graphic style kept me watching.

Shot in a park one winter morning – I didn’t even see the figure by the gate when taking it.

At least that’s one explanation for my liking of a visual style which could loosely be described as Gothic (in the sense  ‘Of or relating to a style of fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious, and desolate‘). It fits well into commercial work for fiction book covers, and if you’re not careful becomes something of an occupational hazard.

Can’t resist a shot of a gothic door arch.

Lensbaby – plastic lens and lots of vague blurriness as a result.

The best part of doing shots like this is that you can let rip with all sorts of vignettes, brushes, layers and wierd post processing and not be too worried about subtlety – it’s supposed to look like that!

Speaks for itself really. The birds were added afterwards in Photoshop using a brush – the one and only time I’ve done this – honest!

Locations can be anywhere where there’s what my nieces would call ‘old stuff’.  Monuments, churches, parks, the old parts of towns and older buildings.

Basement door with possibly too many layers…

As for kit, don’t worry too much as these shots will be heavily processed. If you have one, try the Lensbaby with a wide aperture (no surprise there) or failing that a fast lens shooting as wide open as you can – if needs be use a neutral density filter. The more vague, blurry tones the better as they seem to work well with Photoshop layers. Don’t be afraid of messing about with your DSLR’s ‘in camera’ processing either – this may be the only time you’ll use it productively.

The blur down each side of this is caused by the ‘Miniature Effect’ in camera raw processing on the 60D not being used as designed.

If you like the ‘look’, give it a try and experiment with as many different post processing techniques as you can. There are articles about Photoshop layers, brushes etc all over the web if you want to play.

Above all have fun, and don’t take it too seriously!

Sorry – it’s another door!

As always (broken record) these are taken for the book covers market and all comments, critiques are very welcome. Hope you like them.

There’s a slightly older article here in the same style here Shooting Gargoyles if you’d like to see more.