Shooting Snow on Film (APX100 developed in ID11)

We’re having unseasonably cold weather here in Dorset – snow in March is rare to say the least, so it’s inevitable that it’s going to get photographed. All shots on AgfaPhoto APX100 at box speed in an OM2N, developed in ID11 after it’s remarkably good results on Silvermax film.

These were all taken on a single roll at a small church nearby with +1 or +2 exposure compensation applied.  The slight blue cast from the scanner was left in place as I quite like it, though it would have been easy to remove.

First, lines of gravestones black against the snow and a bit of an abstract, graphic look (it’s all the rage in Dorset at the moment..).

apx100_id11_1s

That path was treacherous! The few midtones aren’t bad – ID11 seems margnally less contrasty than Rodinal, but the grain isn’t much better on this roll. I’ll give it one more go but Rodinal will probably make a return for developing this film.

apx100_id11_2s

The 28mm lens has done well here wide open at f4, but the depth of field is so great it hasn’t really isolated the foreground.

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And finally a favourite location again, the slightly darker area of sky towards the horizon helps to divide the frame horizontally nicely. That’s a strange pattern of melted snow though…

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Shooting in snow can be pretty tricky on film – the positive exposure compensation required varies a great deal depending on the intensity of the light, and if you’re not used to snow you never get enough time to practice! Luckily most B/W film has enough exposure latitude to produce an acceptable image, and APX100 seems particularly good in this respect.

Thanks for looking and hope you find this useful.

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40 Years of Imaging Technology Development – how much difference has it made?

An earlier post saw me going on about how good the Olympus Trip was.  So in the interests of  ‘putting my money where my mouth is’  I got to thinking – how does it compare to a relatively recent digital equivalent – an Olympus PEN? Both are aimed at roughly the same group of  photographers, even if they are separated by a generation or two. How much has technology really improved photography at the ‘consumer end’ of the market?

Olympus PEN and EPL3

So, armed with an Olympus Trip (loaded with Agfaphoto APX100) and an Olympus EPL3 on a fine winter’s day I took the same pics with both and did a comparison – it turned out to be more of a challenge  than I anticipated.

ot9s cmp

Trip on the left, EPL3 on the right. Not bad for the Trip but the EPL3 has a bit more dynamic range.

The EPL3 has a smallish micro 4/3 12 Mp sensor, the Trip uses full frame 35mm film so can be scanned to 20 MP, it’s only advantage. The Trip has no autofocus, no image stabilisation and only has simple metering. It’s also only equipped with ‘P’ program mode, the EPL3 has all the bells and whistles – aperture priority, ISO 200 (the lowest setting) and mid aperture were used for this comparison.

The film pics are nearly all crops – it’s surprisingly difficult to compare the field of view between a LCD and a basic viewfinder when taking comparison shots. Good fun though… This is a monochrome test because – well, I like black and white. No other reason!

ot1scmp

EPL3 Top, Trip bottom. More even this time – the Trip has a slightly better look but it’s only a personal preference.

To do a fair comparison, the EPL3 pics were taken in RAW and converted using default settings to JPG and desaturated in Photoshop, the Trip shots scanned, then noise reduction, ‘dust and scratches’ and unsharp mask applied which seemed fair for comparison purposes.

ot5scmp

Trip left, EPL3 right. The EPL3 has managed to capture more DR in the water but only marginally.

The EPL3 has a nice 14-42mm (28-84mm equiv) zoom lens, the Trip a faster fixed focus 40mm lens. this meant the ‘defining’ shot had to be taken with the Trip, then an approximation with the EPL3.

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Trip left, EPL3 right – these were framed as the same shot the same to me on the day. This was more difficult than I’d initially imagined!

As much reduced images size can only give a basic impression – so here are some crops:-

ot4 cmp

Detail crops from the above shots – Trip left, EPL3 right. Not much in it but the EPL3 has just won this one on sharpness (and no scratches).

The APX100 film was developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 12 minutes.

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Trip left, EPL3 right. The Trip is better based on personal choice here – more subtle midtones.

It’s significant that these shots were taken in good light – the EPL3 would have such an advantage in low light that the test wouldn’t be worthwhile.

There are so many film/developer/post-processing variables that any number of answers could result from this test – I like film and digital so I’m not trying to force any conclusion – just come to a general one.

The surprising thing is that for these two ‘consumer grade’ cameras the differences aren’t that great. The Trip needs slightly more experience to get the most out of it – especially estimating focus distance, and it’s results aren’t immediately available like its modern digital equivalent. However within the restrictions imposed by its age the Trip can put up a decent performance against its modern digital descendent which surprised me.

Maybe it shouldn’t though – film technology had many decades of development before it was widely dropped in favour of digital 10 to 15 years ago. The EPL3 is a very capable camera for all everyday uses, as was the Trip in its day. I’m really surprised that the Trip can still – just – hold its own against a much younger rival.

Is the inconvenience (some might say fun) of using film worth it versus the convenience and sharp clarity of digital? B/W film + home processing is £3 for 36 (more carefully) taken shots so you’ve got around 3000 shots before the cost equation is equal (the Trip was £50 refubished, the EPL3 £300). I’d personally say yes – on aesthetic as well as cost grounds, but many would say no!

Hope you find this interesting and thanks for looking – I had loads of fun doing this!

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 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!

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.

A Rainy Day Out with the Olympus OM1n

This post is about gaining inspiration on a wet, dark day. Sometimes simplicity is in itself inspirational, so leave the digital monster and zoom lens at home (it’s raining and it’s probably best not to get it wet) and just take out the most basic equipment and try to get some good shots.

In this case a 30 year old OM1n and a 50mm f1.8 lens, plus 2 rolls of film – Agfaphoto APX100 which is a great all purpose B/W film. As it turned out I only needed the 1 roll.  All  shots developed in Rodinal.

For those not familiar with old Olympus cameras, an OM1n is a small, all mechanical manual camera with just the basic controls –  shutter speed, aperture and focus. There’s the built in luxury of a needle exposure meter too powered by a battery, but if the power fails you can carry on shooting anyway, guessing the exposure.

Wet Day Shot 1

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