Great Grandma

I’m having a hard time getting back to writing on this blog as frequently as I used to after this long summer break, but my goal is to do posts several times a week again sooner rather than later. I have a whole backlog of digital photos that I took in Sweden that I haven’t even taken past pulling up in Lightroom yet, and a whole bunch of film photos that I really like that I want to share here at some point.

Anyway, the subject for this post is great grandma. It needs to be clarified that it’s not my great grandma. Heck, three out of four of my grandparents died before I was 10 and none of my great grandparents were still alive when I was born; so this is about my kids’ paternal great grandmother who is happy and healthy at the very respectable age of 97 and whom my children are lucky to get to see at least once each year when we go to visit my husband’s parents at their cabin in Washington state.

I really wanted to get one good photo of her that I could print in the darkroom and that would be a forever memory for us of her. I did not bring my big DSLR with me on that trip and, because we met her at a restaurant where I couldn’t “separate” her from others for a portrait or have her pose for me in any way because it would have interfered with everybody’s dinner, I only got one shot on my film camera where I was able to got mostly just her in the frame. You can imagine how nervous I was thinking whether that one frame was what I needed or not. You can also imagine my happiness when I scanned the film and realized that it was all that I had hoped for and then some. I have only surface level knowledge of who she truly is, but this photo somehow captures everything I know of her. I’m actually really, really proud of it. And really, really happy that I now have something frame-worthy to remember her by.

(Mamiya C330f, 105mm 3.5 DS lens, Ilford Delta 3200 film, developed in Ilfotec DD-X)

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My Most Favorite People All Together

I love this photo. I love it because it has all my most favorite people in the whole wide world together, and I love it because they naturally fell into place like this while we were waiting for a tram in Norrk√∂ping, and I love it because they somehow look so much like their most natural selves here. Even my mom and my oldest daughter, who appear to be posing, actually have something very authentic about them. I miss having them all together. It will sadly be a while until next time…

(Mamiya C330f, 105mm DS lens, Kodak Tri-X)

Family

Alvastra Abbey Ruins on Ilford SFX Infrared Film

It’s been nearly two months, but I’m back. I’ve spent the summer traveling first to Sweden to visit my family and then to Washington State to visit my husband’s family. We came back from the last trip about a week ago, and it’s been a slow recovery for me. I only had three days between the two trips and our last flight coming back from WA was an overnight flight, and it was actually tougher than I imagined.

I came back with 18 rolls of film from the two trips. For some reason I got really bored with digital photography in Sweden and barely used my digital camera there. I ended up not even taking my big digital camera to WA, and only traveled with one film camera and my very old Canon G1. There is something about that Mamiya C330f that just feels right in my hand, and I’m always excited to shoot it. There is also the fact that I never randomly shoot anything with it and each exposure is carefully thought through, so I’ve managed to end up with almost 90% of keeper rate on the 13 rolls that I’ve developed so far. That never happens with digital.

This shoot at Alvastra Abbey Ruins was something I had planned already before my trip. I even brought an outfit for one of my girls to wear, and later acquired another one from Sweden. I also knew that I wanted to use the Ilford SFX (near)infrared film with Hoya R72 infrared filter for the shoot. I had used the Ilford SFX film once before with R25 filter on 35mm film, but I didn’t quite know what I was doing back then, so this was pretty much a new territory for me and I had no idea of what to expect. It just so happens that I love the results. By saying that, I don’t mean to praise my own photos – the ideas and execution could well be better than what can be seen below – what I mean is that I like the look of the film with the R72 filter and definitely want to use it again.

I shot one roll with 12 exposures there and below are 7 of my favorites. My scanner (yes, I have a scanner now – Epson V600 that I bought used from Craisglist for $50.00 – and no longer have to use my digital camera to digitize my negatives) is probably not doing the negatives justice and I can’t wait to print these in the darkroom. I can imagine how lovely they will be sepia toned. Gotta curb my excitement though until the rest of my 18 rolls of film from the trips are developed.

All the below photos were shot with Mamiya C330f, 65mm lens, Ilford SFX film rated at ISO12 with Hoya R72 filter. Developed in Ilford DD-X. All exposures were around 1sec and f/11 with minor variations.

Alvastra_Infrared_1Alvastra_Infrared_3Alvastra_Infrared_2Alvastra_Infrared_4Alvastra_Infrared_5Alvastra_Infrared_6

Something happened when I took this last image. Not sure why there are those blurry lines all across the bottom of the photo. I don’t remember having grass on the foreground that would otherwise explain this, but maybe my memory is failing me. It couldn’t have been something during the developing process because this was the only photo that was affected in this way. Either way, I kind of like the blurry lines. They add a sense of mystery to the photo.

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Anguish

I did a series of photographs depicting the anguish and self-hatered I experienced as a young adult this past fall. I decided to name this photo anguish as well. Although it is not officially a part of the older project, it is in a way related to it.

I didn’t plan to create this specific image. I went down to my studio tonight to do a double exposure shot on film of something I had had in mind for a while. I made two attempts to create what I wanted and I think I pretty much messed up both. I was planning on developing the film tonight, but to avoid a big disappointment, I decided to pull one of my digital lighting tests for the first of the two exposures into Photoshop and create something with it. The result is below. It attempts to show shame and dislike of one’s body. Your mind is a funny thing. While there may be nothing wrong with one’s body, objectively seen, when you suffer from really low self-esteem, your mind will make you feel disgusted by it. You will notice every single blemish that nobody but you will ever be able to see, until you no longer want to look in the mirror, because what you see makes you ashamed.

(90mm, ISO 800, f/10, 1/125 sec + strobe with softbox on camera right)

Anguish-II

A Happy Accident

I’ve been pretty frustrated with always having to either use really high speed film or push film during the development process to get reasonably exposed photos indoors, and I finally pulled the trigger on getting an old school handlemount flash – Sunpak 622 – to pair with my Mamiya TLR. I was a bit nervous about getting something like that from the big auction site since I know very little about handle mount flashes and I wanted some guarantee that it would work, so when one in good condition became available at KEH I jumped at the opportunity. I decided to play with it with my digital camera first to gain some familiarity before using it with film, and I was completely blown away with how powerful and versatile it is. You know that feeling when you can suddenly shoot at 100 ISO in a darkish room with a bounce flash with 1/125 sec, and 1/200 sec, and 1/250 sec, and you just keep going because you are having too much fun and then you forget that your digital camera has a max sync speed of 1/250 sec. Mine actually did pretty well also at 1/320 sec, but at 1/500 sec the bottom quarter of the image suddenly was more or less blacked out. That was a harsh reminder that my digital camera lacks the lovely leaf shutter of my beloved Mamiya TLR that can sync at any speed.

As it turns out, that mistake of shooting at 1/500 sec with the flash was my favorite photo of the bunch. I brought back a little bit of detail in post in the shadows where the shutter curtain of my camera didn’t have time to fully open and darkened the top a bit to balance the image, and it looked better to me in monochrome than color, just as most photos do, but it really required very little work. That Sunpak flash is absolutely amazing and it creates beautiful light when bounced.

(90mm, ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/500 sec + hammerhead flash bounced from wall)

A-Happy-Accident

Emotion

One of my best friends came to visit the other day with her son, and I jumped at the opportunity to take a bunch of photos of him. He is a natural in front of the camera. He is also a very complex person with an extensive range of facial expressions. In other words, he is a joy to photograph. This photo is by far my favorite of the ones I took of him. I’ve received a few comments on both Facebook and Instagram about this photo, stating that the person on the photograph looks to be way older than his actual age. While that’s probably true – the monochrome processing does add a few years if not decades to his looks – my goal with this photograph was not to create a regular portrait of him but, rather, emphasize the emotion he is displaying. Granted, the emotion is very much up for interpretation by the viewer. He could be deep in thought, or in pain, or heartbroken, or tired. I like the mystery of it.

(90mm, ISO 1000, f/2.8, 1/80 sec)

Emotion

This is Where Very Old Digital Cameras Fail

I wrote a post recently about my newest acquisition – the 3.3MP Canon G1 camera that was released in 2000 and how much the quality of the images it’s capable of producing surprised me. I’ve had more time to shoot with it, and I’ve found the one area where it really can’t keep up with modern cameras – high ISO performance. And by high ISO, I mean really anything over ISO 100. In fact the highest ISO you can set on it is 400 and I was pretty horrified by the results at 400 ISO. Granted, the photo below is also under-exposed which makes any digital noise even more apparent, but even perfectly exposed photos taken at 400 ISO look pretty bad. To the camera’s defense, despite the terrible noise, everything in the photograph is still well-defined, which you certainly can’t say about modern day cellphone photos taken under less than stellar lighting conditions.

I shot this photo in RAW, but despite that, I was able to do very little to minimize the noise in Camera RAW. It’s not just noise either, it’s like there are straight lines going across the image. I decided to convert it to black and white, because all the noise was just too colorful and looked even worse in color. I also added a little bit of digital “grain” to make the noise look just a little bit more “even.” Despite everything, I happen to love this shot of my baby boy, who had fallen asleep sitting up on the couch while watching the 101 Dalmatians movie after spending a very active day outside swimming in the pool and running around.

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