So how did my Washington State film cameras do?

In addition to bringing my Nikon Df camera (as well as my BlackBerry PRIV camera phone) with me on my Washington State trip, I brought three film cameras with me as well – my Leica M3 35mm shooter (“Leica Green”), my Krasnogorsk ФT-2 super-ultra-wide panoramic shooter (“Raskolnikov”), and, just for the heck of it, my AGFA Clack 120 rollfilm shooter.

I used all three of the film cameras on my vacation, including shots at Mt. Rainier and at the Carbon River, as well as shots on the flight home.  Of course, I couldn’t just drop the film off at the local Walgreens in downtown Tumwater.  No, I needed to take these images to my trusted film developing company – McGreevy Pro Lab in downtown Albany.  Trust me, I’m not in a hurry, I can wait to see how these pictures develop – so to say.

Continue reading “So how did my Washington State film cameras do?”

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Raskolnikov’s take on the Boreas Ponds

I’m still feeling the tightness in my hamstrings, and maybe it’s because I’m completely out of shape.  That happens.  I wasn’t built for speed.

And when I traveled to the Boreas Ponds Tract last Monday, I over-estimated how much hiking was necessary to get from the parking lot to the destination – and from the destination, back to the car.

With that in mind, however, I did get some amazing photos of the Boreas Ponds and of the Adirondack High Peaks in the distance.

I used two digital cameras – my Nikon Df and my BlackBerry PRIV cameraphone – and those photos turned out really well.

Today, I scanned and cleaned up the film exposures from my third shooter – my Krasnogorsk ФT-2 super-ultrawide camera, the shooter with the nickname “Raskolnikov.”

And of all the shots I took of the Boreas Ponds and the LaBier Flow and other Adirondacks-based fall foliage photos…

This photo of the Boreas Ponds caught me.

Boreas Ponds 3.  Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Boreas Ponds 3. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Smooth.

So I have three different exposures of the Boreas Ponds, one from each camera.  And we know that after Competition Season 2016 wasn’t my best, I feel like I have something going strong for next year.

The Boreas Ponds.  Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Boreas Ponds. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I have this photo that I can enter in standard-sized contests, where I’m limited to one exposure and a specific image size.

Boreas Ponds 2.  BlackBerry PRIV camera phone.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Boreas Ponds 2. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And with my BlackBerry, I can enter this ultrawide in any panorama competitions.  That’s a nice “stitch job.”  And Raskolnikov put together a helluva photo as well.  Three good images … three different available possibilities.

And even if I go back to the Boreas Ponds – albeit with lots of training, so that I don’t end up in traction after a four-hour hike – even if I get better pictures than these …

These are pretty damn good pictures in and of themselves.  Confidence builders, they are.

And “confidence builders” are nice things to have.

Raskolnikov and the Colorizebot

As you can imagine, I’ve been having some fun with this layered-film attempt to photograph a switchback road in the Helderbergs.  And in doing so, I snagged a great five-layer film shot with my Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultrawide camera (the one I’ve nicknamed “Raskolnikov”).

Intersection 5. Fuji Acros 100 film (5 strips), Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Intersection 5. Fuji Acros 100 film (5 strips), Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I posted this shot of Intersection 5 on the social media site reddit (have I mentioned that I have a love-hate relationship with the social media site reddit lately?), and someone in one of the forums saw my photo, and decided to post a one-word response to it.

That word was “colorizebot.”

Huh?

Wha?

Apparently there’s a computer program called “Colorizebot,” which when you mention its name on reddit, it will take your black-and-white photo and attempt to transform it into full color.  It uses a very detailed and complicated algorithm for this project – if you can watch Mr. Robot without needing crib notes, you can visit this link for more information on Colorizebot.  Most of the time, Colorizebot’s results are quite impressive.

So here’s what “Colorizebot” did with Intersection 5.

Yikes.

Nice try, Colorizebot.  Maybe next time.

Of course, this gave me an idea.  An inspiration, if you will.

Why not go back to the Helderbergs with some color film, reposition my camera so as to get the entire road (and not lose the lower center section of the road) and give this another shot?

Listen, if I’m on an idea, I’m sticking to it like Krazy Glue.

Last Sunday, I went back to Beaver Dam Road near Thacher Park.  Beautiful sunny noontime day.  A pack of Kodak Ektar 100 print film in the camera.

Ready.

Set.

Snap.

Tilt.

Snap.

Tilt.

Snap.

Tilt.

McGreevy Pro Lab.

Pickup.

Scan.

Enhance.

Load.

Tilt.

Tilt.

Tilt some more.

Too much tilt.

And…

The Switchback. Krasknogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film (three strips). Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Switchback. Krasknogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film (three strips). Photo by Chuck Miller.

Ooh.

Wow.

Now THIS is what I want.  THIS.  This right here.

The technique works. The concept works.  The Soviet camera works.  And the film works as well.  Perfect choice for a sunny day.

Colorizebot might not have gotten my original B&W picture right… but it did inspire me to go back to Beaver Dam Road and try another shot.

Have I started a shortpile for 2017 Competition Season yet?

Hmm…

I just did.  Right now.  😀

Raskolnikov’s Intersection, part 2

You may have heard that I’m trying something new with my Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultrawide camera “Raskolnikov.”  I had previously tried to craft a “weave” by crossing two strips of 35mm film into an intersectional photograph.

Liked it, but wanted more.

So last Sunday I went back to that bendy road near Route 157, just off the roadway to Thacher Park.  This time, I’ve loaded Raskolnikov with a pack of Fuji Acros 100 film, to get stunning B&W exposures.  That, and to better control the amount of light going into the camera and the resultant shots therefrom.

This is geometry at work.  That, or algebra.  Or calculus.  Or something.

And instead of panning the camera in a sweeping motion from left to right on its axis, I decided instead to pivot the camera from 10 o’clock to 11 o’clock to 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock to 2 0’clock.  In theory, doing this guarantees that whatever stays in the center of the picture will make for a clear and solid intersection when all the images are layered.

Hope, hope, hope, hope.

Of course, all I want is street and greenery and sky.  So any time I hear any engines nearby, I have to wait until the car or motorcycle travels through.  I don’t need them in my picture.

One guy stops his car in the middle of the road, rolls down the window and shouts, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“Taking pictures of this bend in the road,” I reply.

“Weren’t you here last week doing this?”

I nodded.  “Yeah.  Just trying something here.”

“You doing survey work?”

“No.”

“You with the government?”

“No.”

“Okay,” he said, and drove off.

Well, that was eventful.

Okay.  Film dropped off at McGreevy Pro Lab.

And when I received the developed results…

Okay.  Looks like everything turned out.  Now let’s see if my layering technique will work for a change.

I scanned in five of the ultrawide films.  Yep, some of them were a little overexposed, but a contrast and brightness adjustment should take care of that anomaly.

Now to layer them.

And…

I got this.

Intersection 5. Fuji Acros 100 film (5 strips), Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Intersection 5. Fuji Acros 100 film (5 strips), Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Sweet tapdancing St. Basil, Batman, I got it!

Okay.  Now to build on this.  Bring the camera lower to the ground, so as to get the entire road (the intersection cuts off the bottom of the street).  And do I want to use five strips, or maybe just three – the horizontal and the two extreme angles?

Gotta think, gotta think…

You know… inspiration is a wonderful thing.

And building on inspiration is even more wonderful.

 

Raskolnikov and The Intersection

Off and on, I’ve tried to create a “weave” photo, which would entail warping-and-wefting two different types of film together into one cohesive image.  But none of my cameras had enough wide-angle ability to do it either properly or productively.  At least nothing that would work as well as I preferred.

So right now it’s Raskolnikov’s turn; let’s see if my Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultra-wide panoramic camera can achieve this weave.  First … the hypothesis.

Experiment with Krasnogorsk ФT-2 “Raskolnikov” camera

PARAMETERS: To shoot a series of images that will span a road intersection, and then weave the finished negatives into a single artwork.


SOFTWARE: Two rolls of Fuji Velvia 100.

☭ ONWARD, COMRADE! ☭

Any time I shoot a picture with Raskolnikov, it comes out three times as wide as your average 35mm camera shot.  So let’s use that to my advantage.

Now comes the next adventure.  I need to find a street intersection in the Albany area that will be equal parts vibrant and stunning and distinctive.  And I need to access this intersection without fear of traffic or pedestrians or people who don’t understand what I’m trying to do.

But every place I looked at had one logistic problem or another.  Dangling traffic lights.  Streets that were too wide.  Shadows from buildings.  Sneakers that dangled from power lines.

Yecch.

So I drove to various locations in the Helderbergs.  Nada.  Nope.  Not good enough.

More yecch.

Finally, I found my spot – a location off Route 157 on the way to Thacher Park.  The main route had an intersectional spur of Beaver Dam Road.  The sun was at the perfect angle to avoid any distracting shadows.  And outside of some telephone lines, it looked like the best location for me.

More yeah than yecch.

Raskolnikov in its test location on Route 157. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Raskolnikov in its test location on Route 157. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I put the first 35mm cartridge in the camera, tilted the camera on the X-axis to a 30° angle and shot ten pictures along the Y-axis in a sweeping, panning motion.  Then I unloaded the camera, packed a second cartridge in, tilted the camera 90° on the X-axis to an opposing 60° angle, and hit another ten-shot panning run on the Y-axis.

Twenty ultra-long shots on two 35mm cartridges.  Yeah, this should work.

Monday morning.  Two cartridges dropped off at McGreevy Pro Lab.

And as I scanned in each image… I started to notice there would be some serious issues with this project.  Even with the sun at my back, at certain times during the process my camera was angled in such a way that the camera would pick up bright sunshine in the focal plane.  This caused half the picture to be washed out.

Also, using Fuji Velvia 100 was not the smartest move on my part.  Color slide film is extremely exacting, and every time I adjusted the camera, I got an ever-so-slight color adjustment with every exposure.  Urgh.

So scrap the weave for now.

But…

I did find two shots – which I called A3 and B3 – and blended them together to see if they would match up, not in a weave, but in a cross.

And granted, this is a bit rough… but here’s what came out.

The Intersection. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Fuji Velvia 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Intersection. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Fuji Velvia 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Well now…

And granted, this is a first-time effort on this… and it wasn’t what I was originally planning…

But it IS a step in a new direction.

And it’s not perfect, it’s barely “hey look what I did” worthy.  Still, this is why experiments are performed.  Everybody knows Alexander Graham Bell perfected the telephone.  They don’t know about the 200 times he tried and failed in creating that phone.

Now I must change some of the variables for the next time.

Variable one.  Go to black and white film instead of slide film.  It will help control color seams.  Use something nice and crisp like efke or Fuji Acros, or maybe even a roll of AGFA Scala 200.

Variable two.  Look for an overcast day to minimize shadows.

Variable three.  Make this work, dammit.

Make this work.

Beaches, birdies and bikinis

Look, I know I’ve been going on and on about my Florida vacation.  But I need to focus on it so that I’m not focusing on other things.  If you know what I mean.

And that includes the remainder of the photos from my cameras.

I spent Memorial Day at Flagler Beach, along Florida’s Central Coast.  I figured each camera I brought would provide different views of the sunshine coast.

And I started at 6:00 in the morning with my Nikon Df camera right on the shoreline, focusing along the horizon to get the sunrise off the water.

Flagler Beach sunrise
Flagler Beach Sunrise. Nkon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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Wow.  Scuse me while I dance.

I took a few more photos, then ate some breakfast at a nearby eatery called the Funky Pelican.  I asked the server for the local morning cuisine, as I could eat bacon and eggs back home.  She recommended I try the shrimp and grits.  I’m glad she did.

I went back to the car and swapped cameras – this time pulling the Nimslo for some three-dimensional film photos.  Since there were birdies on the beach – mostly they were swiping bait from the fishermen – I waited until I could catch a bird and shoot it.

And you know by “catch” I meant photograph, and by “shoot” I meant photograph.  Right?

Oh look, there’s a little black bird on the pier.  Stay still, little black bird.

Come on, Nimslo, do your best.  Get me a shot of that little black bird.

Great shot of that little black bird on the fence posts.  That works.

Sorry, readers… for some reason, I’ve got a little blackbird on my mind.

Time for more photos.

I took a walk back onto the shore, and found a flag that warns not to swim out too far from the shore.  Hmm… what would this flag look like in a 3D construct?

Let’s find out.

How many shots do I have in the Nimslo?  One left.  Okay, I guess I could take another picture of the “no swimming” flag… then go back to the car and get more film …

Hey, wait a second.  There’s a lifeguard.  And she’s walking by.

“Scuse me.”

She looked at me.

“Is it okay if I take your picture with the ‘no swimming’ sign?”

“Um, I don’t know… I tell you what.  You can take my picture as I’m walking by it, how does that sound?”

Works for me.

One shot, Chuck.  Make it count.

Got it.  Okay, now I need to get this person’s name and have her sign a release form so I can enter this picture in competition season 2017 and …

Oh, crap.  She walked away.  Dang it.  Seven other lifeguards in red swimsuits.  No fair.

Oh well.  I may not be able to enter this photo in competition without a signed release…

But it still looks nice on the blog.

On Wednesday, I drove to Daytona Beach, checked out Daytona International Speedway – took a tour of the grounds, almost saw Danica Patrick there – and then drove over to the white sands of Daytona Beach.  For an additional $10, you can drive on the beach sand, just like the stock car drivers did in the old days – although now you must maintain a 10 mph speed limit, have your lights on (at high noon, no less) and keep one side window open while driving.

I continued forward.  Okay, Leica Green, it’s your turn to shine.

Oh look, someone built some sand castles with a little plastic pail.  Man, this feels great.  I asked the family of sunbathers next to the sandcastles if I could take a photo of the sandy artworks.  They said yes, and then handed me an iPhone so they could get in a picture as well.

“That’s a neat old camera you’ve got there,” one of the family members said to me.

“I know,” I smiled.  “It is a neat camera, isn’t it?”

Beachbuilder's dozen
Beachbuilder’s dozen. Leica M3 (double stroke), Summicron 50 lens, Kodak Ektar 100 film flipped to B&W, then selectively color to restore color to the sandpail. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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I walk down the beach, and as I do, I see the lifeguard dragging that high chair to another location.

Oh yeah, you think I’m going to miss an opportunity to get a shot like this?

Silly you.

Lifeguard
The Lifeguard at Daytona Beach. Leica M3 camera, Summicron 50 lens, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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Dang, those lifeguards at Daytona Beach are strong, aren’t they?  I’d better not joke about if this lifeguard was previously selling shoes and working in a shopping mall… #blottohumor

Back to the car, and this time I brought out the Rolleiflex.  Yes, I’m going to shoot with every camera on this trip if I can.

I still wanted to capture some ocean birds in their environment.  And unfortunately, these birds were a bit camera shy.  Although they did enjoy eating bait from various beachgoers.  And by “bait,” I mean Cheetos.  No lie.  These seagulls and pelicans and whatnot were more than happy to chomp on junk food.

I did get this shot of one bird soaking his little birdie toes in the surf.

Wade in the water
Wade in the water. Rolleiflex Automat MX camera, Fuji Velvia 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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Damn that’s so peaceful and serene.  And I’m just feeling great.  Smiling like I just discovered milk chocolate.

On Thursday, I started to head home, but first I made a pit stop at St. Augustine Beach.  I picked up dozens of little beach shells for future projects.  I’m always thinking of future projects, I don’t know why…

But now it’s time to bring my Russian ultrawide Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera into the mix.  Come on, Raskolnikov, do your duty…

St Augustine long pier
Along the pier. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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Wow.  If I keep getting shots like this, I might stay in Florida and never come home.

A few steps around the beach… I grabbed the Rolleiflex and took a few more photos on the pier itself.

Gone Fishin'
Gone Fishin’. Rolleiflex Automat MX camera, Fuji Velvia 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsAnd, of course, you know this final photo from my trip.  My final photograph, which among all my treasures from this Florida vacation, this is the one that I’m going to enter into competition.  I don’t even care that of the seven cameras I brought to this trip, this photo came from my eighth camera.

Yep.  I’ve decided that one of my entered photos in Competition Season 2016 will include my BlackBerry PRIV’s camera.

St Augustine Pier
The Pier at St. Augustine Beach. BlackBerry PRIV camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.

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I have to hold on to these great memories of my first visit to the Sunshine State.  I have to.  I need to hold on to these as tightly as possible.

I need to hold on to the memories of the good.  The fun.  The peaceful.  The serene.  The amazing.

It was my last great adventure with my 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS.

And of the three cars I’ve driven in my lifetime…

I’m going to miss that car most of all.

 

A pew, a one-horned goat, triplets and a very long lakehouse…

No, that’s not the opening line of a confusing joke.

By the time you get up and read this blog post, though, I’ll most likely be out the door, dropping off photo images at McGreevy Pro Lab on my way to the day job.  One of my famous blog slogans is, “It’s not Monday unless I’m dropping something off at McGreevy Pro Lab.”

So why am I bringing photos to the downtown Albany photo processing plant this morning?

Well… two of my pictures will be part of the Photo Center of the Capital Region’s “Best of 2015” members show.  The show, which is part of Troy Night Out, features the Photo Center’s fantastic lineup of photographers and camera experts as they showcase their best work from last year.

And although I could have entered shots like Aerochrome Falls or Vivaldi’s Pond, I had to leave those out of the mix, as both were exhibited at the Photo Center’s “Members Show” a few months ago.

Okay.  With all that in mind… these two pictures will be part of the month-long gallery show at the Photo Center.

The Pew of Holy Innocents. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Pew of Holy Innocents. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

One of the images selected was The Pew of Holy Innocents, the “urban exploration” photo of the distressed North Pearl Street church, which at the time was being used for storing old air conditioners and furniture.  Yeah, I’m sure the designers of that magnificent structure envisioned a ratty loveseat positioned at one of the altars.

Now I already have a print of The Pew of Holy Innocents at a Historic Albany Foundation satellite show at Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy’s office; but that won’t be released in time for the start of this show.  So… I’ll make a second print of this artwork for the Members’ Show; and then I’ll decide where that alternate print might end up.

Trust me, I have options.

Washington Park Lakehouse. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Washington Park Lakehouse. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

The second image that was selected for the show was Washington Park Lakehouse, which I’m printing in an ultra-wide configuration.  This was the photo I took last year – and then left it in the camera for a couple of months, completely forgetting I took it.  Facepalm.  Still, it did get accepted in the show, making it the second picture to come from my Russian camera Raskolnikov to make it to the gallery walls, after my black-and-white tree-branch picture Falling Skyward.

So those two got accepted into the members show.  This is good.

But what’s the deal with the goats?

Well, the photos I took over the weekend at Mack Brin Farms in Ballston Spa have kinda inspired me.  I want to enter one of these photos in competition.  And to really see how things play out, I decided that a few of the pictures will be printed out – and if I like one of them above all, then I’ll enter it for Competition Season 2016.  And right now, my thoughts are to enter a print of this big guy…

Chile. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Chile. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Either that, or these little guys.  I worked a little extra on this picture…

The Triplets. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, flipped in B&W. Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Triplets. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, flipped in B&W. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Right now, although the triplets are cute and adorable, and would certainly get an “oh wow” factor, I’m starting to lean towards entering Chile in competition.  Why?  Look at him.  He’s big, he’s old, and he once had a 3-foot hornspan… and in the photo, you’re almost wondering if he broke off one of the horns by chasing the last photographer who took his picture.

So I’ll print both pictures, and then decide which one I like best.  Or maybe I’ll show both pictures, albeit in different competitions so as to not split the vote.

So two pictures for definite show… and two pictures for future show.

This I can work with.

Competition season … it just keeps getting better with time.