ƒ= {ƒ equals}

Analog and Digital opinions from photography to politics and everything in between.

11 April 2010

First Show

Kinda late for anyone to show up to the opening reception, but the print is still there along with the others and you can check it out if you're in the area. I'd say its worth a stop by to look at the other prints up. I don't know how long it's gonna be running but judging by the last show, it should be a few months.

Dave @photoworkssf did a great job picking the right paper for each image, too. He printed my photo on Hahnemühle photo rag, and that is a bomb ass paper. I always heard good things about it but it really is the shit. I would have loved to darkroom print this one, but I'm definitely not complaining about the photo rag.

Anyway, thanks to dave and everyone @ photoworks, you guys are rad and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have my work up.

Head Above Water
Nikon F100 + Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED + Kodak TMAX 100 + Kodak D76 stock

31 March 2010

Dear Dad,

I'm sorry.

I'm really sorry that my last feelings toward you were of hatred and spite. And I'm sorry we never really got along well. I wish we would have. I feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities, and I feel like you did too. You missed out on a lot, but it's not your fault. People get divorced, and they drift apart. And I didn't call you ever, or fill you in on my life unless you asked. I'm sorry you ended up where you did, your lips to the bottle all day. You still had a lot of potential left in you, and that's what's killing everyone here.

And I'm sorry about everything you're going to miss out on. My graduation, wedding, children, maybe even being succesful. Everything. And it kills me that you can't be a part of it. Not in this world anyway. There's just so much you didn't know about me too, and that's my fault and I can't take it back.

You know, the last thing I can remember you ordering is a Gordon Biersch Marzen. and when I got to Cottonwood that's just about all that was in the fridge. I hated you then. I hated that lunch, and being stuck with you in that shitty hotel room for New Year's. I wanted to be anywhere else. Now though, I'm glad I had the time with you. It was horrible, but it was time: time I wish I had more of. I feel incomplete and I'd give anything for just a few more days, a few more weeks, a few more months. I haven't felt bad about this since I left the hospital. I tried not to look back but this is too big to not, and now I hate myself for hating you.

I can only apologize for so much though, and there's nothing left I'm sorry for. But I also wanted to say thanks. I am who I am, for better or worse, because of you and mom, and I'm grateful for the time I've had.

Goodbye, Dad

Until next time, Semper Fi.

17 March 2010


I'm really just trying to avoid doing any work right now. I'm stressed as fuck and still nursing a hangover. Life's just full of weirdness right now and it's beating me up. Thank God for good friends and cheap liquor.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED + Fuji Velvia 100F pushed to ASA400

01 March 2010

Developing film, @home.

It's about damn time I got around to developing my own B&W. Having originally planned for B&W development last year in my dorm/apartment/shithole, the year overdue is really unnecessary. I'm just going to share some experiences here, a little advice, and some frustrations. some of the resources I utilized while preparing for this will be listed down at the bottom of the page.

For my developer I went with D-76, not really for any particular reason other than that it was easy to mix up the stock solution and that Action Camera didn't have X-tol, which I had decided on earlier based on developing times available on the Massive Dev Chart. Mostly that it would develop pushed Neopan reasonably quickly and wouldn't enhance the grain like Rodinal would. D-76 doesn't give the huge grain but it does take me about 18 minutes of development time with a stock solution just to develop Neopan 1600 pushed to 3200. Which is really why I wasn't excited about it, but it turned out fine in the end. I most likely won't be going back to D-76, simply because I'm not excited about the times and at this point, I'm just looking to experiment with developers to see what I like. Most likely I'll be going with HC110, Xtol, or something like Diafine. Maybe Ilfosol but I'm not counting on it.

Anyway, on to the process. I mixed the D76 powder with hot distilled water (left a gallon jug of it in a hot bath for an hour). Kodak recommends 40 degrees Celsius or higher for mixing. I reckon I was below that but the developer turned out fine, or at least as fine as I can tell through a black jug. Fixer (Kodak's) was also mixed in the same way, one whole gallon of heated distilled water. HOT water is a definite key here (I hated high school chemistry. never paid attention). As the fixer didn't fully dissolve in the lukewarm water, I had to agitate it quite a bit. I was lucky I only bought one black chemical jug in this regard, as I would have had no idea that the fixer wasn't fully blended. I left the fixer mixed in the distilled water jug, and the developer was in the black chemical jug.

A note about plastic jugs not meant for chemicals: make sure you put something under them, like a garbage bags, because they aren't meant for anything but their contents and may leak excessively over time. I put 2 heavy duty garbage bags down in the shallow bucket I use for all my developing equipment.

Kodak recommends letting the mixed chemicals cool for 24 hours before use, but I was in a rush, so I filled the tub up with COLD water this time, stuck the jugs in em and left to go get some drinks. I came back, checked on the temparature occasionally, and pulled the jugs when they got to 21 degrees celsius. I use celsius even though I'm in the USA, mostly because it's easier to read an exact C temperature on my thermometer than it is to read F. also, you can get lots of cheap digital thermometers on the FleaBay, but they're all from Hong Kong and in Celsius. I bought one for $2 shipped, but I've yet to check on its accuracy compared to the $5 glass thermometer I bought from Adolph Gasser Photography, which I probably will end up trusting much more.

While I was waiting for the chems to cool down, I started to get my film onto the reels. I bought a used Paterson tank on eBay w/2 plastic reels. Everyone will recommend you use plastic reels over stainless, at least as a beginner. I will second that. However, Neopan 1600 is by far the most difficult film to get on any reel of any type, at least in my experience so far. the emulsion is flimsy, has a tendency to get stuck 3/4 of the way onto the reel, to come off the reel and make you start all over again, and to be a general pain in the fucking ass. My first time it took me about ten minutes to get it on a reel. it's only gotten worse from there for some reason.

Anyhow, you'll need a light tight room to get the film on your reels. I use my bathroom. it has no windows, the door into my bedroom seals fairly well, the window in my bedroom is covered by a thick curtain, and I can keep lots of light out of my room by turning off the lights outside of it. This all becomes about ten times more difficult in the day, as my bedroom can get pretty bright in relation to a dark room, so I do all of my developing after the sun goes down. You'll need scissors (I use kid sized safety ones. you're cutting in the dark, no need to lose any blood over some film), a can opener (the kind that's pointy, the round ones are more difficult to get the film canister open with in my opinion), and your reel. pop the top off the reel, pull the film out (if you can stick it back out the hole it normally comes out of, it makes shit a lot easier. that way you won't have over a meter of film dangling all over the place). cut the leader off, then feed the film onto the reel. you can go balls to the wall fast, or you can take it slow. either way, you need to get the film onto your reel. if you've got neopan, say a prayer before you try this.

if your film gets stuck, just pull it out and start over. I don't worry about touching the negatives. I've never had any ill effects from it, but YMMV. if it keeps getting stuck, unravel the whole reel, cut off the tail end, and try to get it on backwards. This helped me once or twice, but isn't totally consistent. if all else fails, wipe your hands clean, pinch the film between your fingers, and try to thread it on manually. this generally works. go slow, and with short lengths at a time. eventually, it'll all get on there. once your film is on the reel, in your tank and with the lid on, you can turn on the light again. I love putting film on reels with my roommate in that bathroom. The Grudge traumatized her.

I also found out that there are multiple kinds of plastic reels. This kind, from Adorama, are probably the easiest. if you can go with that, then by all means, full steam ahead, captain.

Alright, so the film's on the reel, chems are at the right temperature, and everything is ready to go. pour your developer into the tank and start the timer. I use FNDmobile, an ipod/iphone app from bambooapps. it's awesome, I've talked about it before, and it's much easier than trying to time yourself. you can get yourself a timer, or you can get the app if you've got an ipod touch/iphone. I agitate for the first 30 seconds, then do 2 inversions at every 30second mark. You want the agitation random, not uniform. Swirling is not acceptable, so go with inversions or something similar. Tap the tank on the counter or something hard to dislodge any bubbles. this is more or less pretty important. once the developing timer is done, you need to pour out the developer and pour in the stop bath. I don't use stop bath. I use purified water, it's one less thing I have to buy, and that's good. I pour it in, do ten inversions, pour it out, and then repeat that process 3 more times, with new water each time (duh).

Fixing is easy. it's exactly like the development step, more or less. pour it in and start the timer. I agitate with two inversions every minute. seems to work fine. originally I used a 7.5 min fix time as a compromise for the "5-10 minute" recommendation on the fixer bag (so specific kodak, you're awesome!). Turns out, Neopan 1600 clears in about 3.5 minutes, so twice that is 7. Not bad for a random guess. I fix for anywhere between 7 and 9 minutes, depending on chemical temparature. more time for colder chems. After the fix, I repeat my stop bath process, except it is a 3-bath process and in the third bath, I add between 3 and 5mL of photo-flo. 5ml for 2 rolls is my general rule of thumb. it's probably excessive, but photo-flo is so cheap that even if I'm overusing it I don't care. Once the last rinse is done, open the top and hang up the film. I used film hangers on shoe string attached to my shower hanger rack. ghetto, but usable.

if you don't want to waste time getting your chemicals up to temparature, here is a little cheat sheet, courtesy of Ilford. I wish bamboo would incorporate this into its app, it's all just linear funtions so it wouldn't be too difficult to implement. hopefully. I don't know about the Massive Dev Chart app because I'm not paying five extra bucks for minimal extra functionality. if anyone who has it wants to chime in, please do and I will pass on the information as best as I can. my chems are pretty stable at 18 degrees Celsius, so I've standardized at that temperature. I've been using a stock solution of the D-76 because I don't care about keeping it or the fixer for too long. I'd rather run out than have it turn on me. some people put there chemicals in [clean] empty wine bottles (the dark green kind), filled to the top and corked to prevent oxidization. I may be doing this with the next round of developer I make. always keep your chemicals in a dry, room temperature area that is out of the reach of kids, animals, etc, and that you can access easily. all of my stuff is in a plastic bin, lined with a garbage can to prevent leakage, and is CLEARLY LABELED. be smart and you won't have any accidents.

also, please do remember that developing black and white film is not the exact science that C41 and E6 are. there is wiggle room and you will not see adverse results resulting from slight deviations. experiment as you see fit, and have fun. results are below, and links below that.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED + Fuji Neopan 1600 @ 3200 + D-76

Acceptable grain, nice contrast, and this lens is still KILLER. any imperfections in this image are from my scanner or my own photographic ineptitude.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED + Kodak TMax 100 + D-76

Again, this lens is AWESOME. I love its sharpness and the TMax is an extremely fine-grained film with excellent contrast and resolution. What happened here was a rookie mistake. I was high from my success at developing my first few rolls and forgot to measure enough chemicals to put in the tank. this image could have been great in my opinion, but now it's just okay. DO NOT DO THIS. always make sure you've got enough developer and fixer in your measuring cylinder before you develop. ALWAYS err on the side of caution when it comes to this stuff. my TMax negs turned out purple. the scanner didn't pick it up at all, and they were sleeved immediately after drying and scanning. chloe left hers out on the table in the sun and the purple coloring disappeared. strange, but irrelevant.

Some resources I found helpful:
Action Camera SF: bought developer, fixer, photo-flo, gallon jug, and some misc equipment here. small selection of developers, but all of the popular stuff and LOTS of miscellaneous developing gear. toners, E6 kits, etc. really nice local place a few blocks from me, and the owner's super helpful. found me dev times for neopan pushed in D76 that the massive dev chart didn't have. also, they have a deal with Borrowlenses.com, and you can pick up rental stuff in-store. pretty slick, though I haven't used it yet.

Adolph Gasser's Photographic Equipment: Film hanging clips, thermometer, measuring cylinder, and neg holders. huge selection of used equipment, film, digital, a repair department, everything. motion picture gear upstairs, and can probably order anything you want.

I Shoot Film: This particular discussion in the I Shoot Film Flickr group is very in depth and has plenty of tips and hints on how to do this for cheaper than it usually is. very insightful when starting out. a definite must-read for a first timer.

This thread on photo.net as well as this one were a gold mine of information regarding the peculiarities of Kodak's D-76 and fixer. good stuff if you like being a know-it-all.

As always, some of the best information about certain films and developers come from the manufacturers themselves. so google your particular film or chemical and read up on the data sheets. Everyone provides them and you can learn a lot about the behaviors of what you're working with. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your tools the better at your craft you will be. No exceptions. as always, I'll leave here with a new photo.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 + Fuji Neopan 1600 @3200 + D-76

adios, kids.

22 February 2010

It's Been A Long Time Coming

I've really lacked the motivation lately to do anything in regards to this blog. Kindof a bummer, but there's just been too much stuff going on with school lately, some personal stuff that's been beating me to shit, and just a general lack of anything idea-wise I suppose.

I guess I need to do some recapping of my photographic life, starting with I guess long before Christmas.

I ended up buying the MB10 for my F100. I can't express enough how awesome it is to have and how balanced the camera feels now, especially with huge lenses. I could care less about the .5fps increase I got in sequence shooting, it's hardly relevant. Mostly, the vertical grip is the huge factor in this equation. I've been getting a much more stable feeling from the camera&grip combo than I have been from shooting without it. the integrated AF-On button is nice, but I shoot with manual primes so it's lost on me for the moment. The shutter lock switch is also nice, and not hard to use at all. There is one problem though, and that's that the grip takes six AAs. I would have much preferred 8, and now I have to keep track of my NiMHs that I put through the grip so I can keep them together and conditioned well when I charge them. I'm using 200mAH Eneloops but I think once I snag a better charger, I'll be switching to something with a bit more capacity. Amazon.com has a ton of options and the Strobist group on flickr is a gold mine of information regarding rechargeable AAs. I haven't been using any in my strobes since I haven't been using them much and the batteries in em are fresh enough. The MB10 is here to stay and it's definitely high on my list of recommendations for any camera that can accept a vertical grip.

I ordered the grip from KEH along with a power winder for my Pentax ME. The winder was an off brand, I think the P1, and it's a load of horse shit. very inconsistent winding. It also fucks with the metering in a big way. for shots under ~1/60s, the winder would trip the shutter and keep it open for about 10 seconds. definitely not good, and not a nice way to waste an entire roll of Velvia. I threw that shit away as soon as I got the Pentax replacement. The bummer is that the Pentax winder feels very plasticy and there's not much leatherette at all on the piece, but it winds consistently and doesn't fuck with the meter, and that's quite a bit more important to me. it feels solid and I don't think I'll be parting with it any time soon.

Also from KEH: the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED Ai-S. That's a mouthful. and it's a fucking honkin' lens, too. BGN quality and for $150. a scratch on the front element and a few dings but it's in great shape otherwise, considering it's a lens a PJ was probably banging against everything else in his bag. The scratch doesn't affect image quality at all, at least not in any way I can discern from high res scans of slides. It's a problem when shooting into bright, direct light, but if you fiddle around with the camera angle you can control where the flare lands and can even completely hide it in details in the image. Not something I'm worried about, especially with the integrated sliding lens hood. The focusing ring goes past infinity, which was a PITA at first but now it's second nature for me to rack it back a few degrees of rotation to nail focus. I'm not normally shooting at infinity either, so I haven't found it to be an issue worth trying to find a replacement for. One more thing, this lens is HEAVY. At 880g, it's heavier than a D300, and its probably more than a foot long when focused at closest distance. the lens hood adds about 3" to the length too, but doesn't change how the weight is distributed. it balances decently well with the F100 + MB10 combo, but it will start to hurt the neck after a few hours of walking around. I don't mind it so much, but I know some people will.

The 180/2.8 ED is a SHARP lens. maybe the sharpest I own. I don't look at MTF charts, nor do I care what they have to say. I know my lens is sharp as hell and could give my Zuiko 35mm/3.5 Macro a run for it's money. Actually, I would have to say that my Zuiko would give this Nikkor a run for it's money, considering the Nikkor was about a grand brand new and the Zuiko is a $200 basic lens. But I digress. The point is, it's a sharp lens and you can check my flickr for examples. I should have a ton up in the coming days, all using this lens. Here's an example to keep you happy. More on the weirdness at the bottom in an upcoming post.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED + Kodak TMax 100 +D-76

Overall, the Nikkor is an awesome lens. Would I trade it for a 70-200/2.8 VR II? fuck yes. in an instant, provided it was a straight trade. but for my purposes? the 180 can't be beat for the price.

I also picked up a Takumar bayonet 135mm f/2.5 for the ME while I was at it. for 50 bucks, I couldn't pass it up. I think the 135mm focal length is more ideal than the 180 for the bulk of the work that I do, but the 180 just sings so nice I'm definitely not ready to get rid of it. However, back to the Takumar. It's single coated I believe, so it's more prone to flare than the SMC versions of pentax lenses, which are also about $100 more for this lens. There's an integrated sliding lens hood so, again, I'm not worried. I really don't use my pentax enough and I really should since it's a sweet camera, especially with the working winder. I wish I had some samples with this lens but I don't think I've even gotten through a whole roll of film with it. I'm taking it out later today so hopefully I can burn some film and get some results soon. Will probably update my progress with it with a different post instead of updating this one.

KEH was awesome about shipping everything, and I hope that everyone helps keep them in business because I cannot stress enough how important the used gear market is to those of us who still shoot with film and old cameras.

New post again soon, I promise. A lot has happened photographically on my end and I'll be chronicling it if not for my own purposes but hopefully to get some traffic here. Might be updating this with another post as well for more in depth reviews of new gear.

adios for now.