Diary of a camera addict

Recent Posts

Being a tourist

Being a tourist

It is not easy to be a tourist. Visiting popular places has the obvious disadvantage  that they are already photographed from every possible angles at every possible time of the year. So what can a photographer do who is short on time and cannot afford […]

Paul, Dan and Miran

Paul, Dan and Miran

At the beginning of this year I have given away a few lenses and cameras. Among others Paul and Dan received a camera. Miran on the other hand got a 135mm lens and all three of them sent me a self portrait taken with their “new” […]

Jakominiplatz

Jakominiplatz

The Jakominiplatz is one of the most important public transport centers of Graz. Tram lines meet here as well as it is the starting point of many local and medium distance bus lines. It is indeed a very busy, sometimes seemingly chaotic, ever changing colorful place. So many interesting and not to mention very different people are mixed here in this relatively small parcel of space that the Jakominiplatz is truly is a photographic goldmine. The combination of the crowd with the wide variety of heavy vehicles and infrastructure makes it an ideal location for street photography, portraiture or even abstract architectural shoots.

I am one of the daily passengers. Sometimes I pass by more than once a day and of course I always have some kind (mostly different) camera with me. It was inevitable that eventually I will end up with a nice collection of images taken here using a wide range of equipment under different light conditions and in many distinct styles.

I have captured the greenish mist of  winter nights painted by the army of mercury street lamps on heavily expired film as well as using a digital pinhole camera, I have played with the strong shadows cast by the pylons and with the perspectives of the tracks in strong back-light. I have taken sneaky street photos with a digital compact and I toke some nice medium format portraits here. I find it fascinating that every time I pass by here something is different and there is always a new perspective to explore. In addition it is really fun to see how much impact the particular camera/lens has on the end result even under otherwise similar circumstances.

I think that at the end of the day I found myself in an experiment which I have not planned through or intended to do at the beginning at all. An experiment to prove that the photographer’s choice of the tool does matter even though this is not the only factor. Furthermore to show how much inspiration can be found in ordinary places which we visit every single day and therefore tend to ignore. I hope that my pictures will encourage some of you to explore your own Jakominiplatz.

Camera giveaway

Camera giveaway

  Thank you Everybody! All these things have found a new home in a remarkably short time. I am really pleased that how many different yet equally film photography enthusiastic people were interested in this little action of mine. This means that we have a […]

Balcony door portraits

Balcony door portraits

Light quality is extremely important to a photographer, just like snow for an Inuit. We have  countless names for the different types of light while any average people would only call them “strong” or “weak”. The amount of light we get is very easy to […]

My film collection

My film collection

Just about a week ago I was called by the reception at work that a package arrived with my name on it. I was genuinely surprised, because I have never received anything unexpectedly at work. Who on earth would have sent me a package and especially to this address? It must had been a conspiracy.

My curiosity reached an even higher level once I picked up the package and I realized that the sender is an old photographer I only know remotely through a friend. I made some small animations in flash for him as a favor and I’ve almost completely forgot about it. It seems that he has a much better memory and he sent me this little package to cheer me up.

Well, he managed to make me very happy, because the small box was full with gorgeous films of many types. There were even some legendaries like the Kodak Ektar 25 and some, which I have never even heard of before, such as the Lucky SHD. Now I have film for tungsten light and a bulk package of medium format Ektachrome. It is truly an amazing gift, even though some of the films had expired way before I was born (which unfortunately was already pretty long time ago).

Of course I have already had an interesting collection of films. But, with this addition, my stock has reached the critical mass to share it with you. After this post I finally free some place in the freezer and it will become hard to show the full collection as a whole.

Camerajunky film stash
Temporal storage of my film collection
Camerajunky film stash revealed
Film collection revealed

The films

Kodak Fujifilm Agfa Ilford Other
Kodak Technical Pan Fuji Acros Agfacolor Portrait Xps Ilford FP-4 Plus Forte Supercolor Fr
KodacolorII Fuji Superia Xtra Agfachrome 50S Ilford HP-5 DM Paradise
Kodak Ektar Fuji Pro 160 NS Agfachrome 50L Ilford Pan F Plus Centuria 200
Kodak New Portra Fuji Pro 160 Tungsten Agfachrome 100RS Lucky SHD 100
Kodak Portra 160 NC Fuji Provia Agfachrome 50RS
Kodak Elite Color Fujifilm Pro 160C Agfa Vista
Kodak Gold 200 Fuji Velvia
Kodak Farbwelt 200
Kodak Echtachrome
Camerajunky film stash part 2
I also have some photographic papers (Forte, Foma) for black and white prints
Camerajunky film stash part 1
Just another angle

 

What film really means to me

Also I have started to think about my very intense reaction to this gift and decided to try to summarize my thoughts and feelings about what film means to me.

Film powers old cameras

First and foremost film allows me to use the plethora of cool film cameras, which would otherwise be usable only as fancy paperweights at best. This way I can experience what other people could feel when they used these now vintage cameras through history.

Even better, if I put state-of-the-art film into any old camera, I can achieve state-of-the-art results if the lens is good enough. I think it is fascinating that someone can reach levels of quality today with the very same gear his grandfather used, which was considered impossible at the time the camera was made. This is something a digital camera of current times will never be able to provide. If this would not be enough, film opens up the world of medium and even large format photography on a very affordable price point compared to their digital counterparts.

Leica M2
Leica M2

Film is a symbol with deep meanings

But film is a lot more than the ticket to film cameras. It is a very deep symbol in our culture. It symbolizes nothing less than eternity. It captures moments but unlike the digital sensor it encapsulates them. Film itself becomes the frozen moment of memory and emotion. This is of course a process, which cannot be reverted. Once something is captured it will be preserved unchanged as long as the film physically exists. This very nature of film gives us the impression of truthfulness, the feeling that anything recorded on film must be real. Of course, we all know that any image in a medium can be faked, but it is very hard to alter the film for ordinary people after it was developed.

Film is commitment

Once the film is loaded into the camera, there is no way to return and the photographer has made his/her commitment to a particular type of film with all its properties. Although there are plenty of parameters that can be changed later (thinking of push, pull, cross-processing and other tricks), the characteristics of the used film will be inevitably present in the result and the possibilities to change this in post-processing are rather narrow.
Today there are many excellent software out there to manipulate photographs. The possibilities of manipulations are nearly endless and even film/developer simulation is possible on a very high level (though it can be debated how truthful such simulations are in reality). I embrace and endorse these tools, but, honestly, the countless amount of options often makes me insecure in my decision. I tend to hesitate and eventually I run into contradictions with myself. I want to retain the maximum amount of detail, while also wishing to bestow a strong character on the image. As a result, many of my images are good, however, they fall short of featuring such strong character and I am frustrated because of the possible other ways I could have chosen. One has to be able to keep the power of the tools provided under control, otherwise that power is useless.
It seems that I am not fully ready yet for the marvels of the digital post processing revolution. I just prefer to work the character given by the film I choose and then try to get the most out of it in post processing. Yes, it comes with commitment, but it gives me results (I like) and frees me from the burden of too many possibilities. All in all I am much more satisfied with my film images.

Chimneys and cranes (2014), Leica M2, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, Ilford FP-! Plus, Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F
Chimneys and cranes (2014), Leica M2, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f/1.5, Ilford FP-! Plus, Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Film is responsibility

A piece of fresh unexposed film is like a newborn baby. It has an inherited genetic character, but it is completely blank, has no criminal record and can become virtually anything. It is the responsibility of the parents (sorry photographer), to provide the best start and guidance to achieve the most. Shoots can be repeated, but every frame is an effort and an investment, especially if someone (like me) uses a tedious hybrid workflow. Of course it is not a good idea to over complicate or worry too much about the process of taking a photograph, just like an overprotective mother can be also harmful. But it is important to be aware of the responsibility over the film we are about to use.

Film is heritage

Needless to say that film has an enormous historical heritage. The different materials, processes and characters resemble historical periods, great moments, fantastic artworks and intellectual advancement. Film has such a deep roots in our culture that it is impossible to not to feel its importance and legacy.

Blue ceiling (2014), Not as famous as the red version though.
Blue ceiling (2014), Not as famous as the red version, but at least I own the rights.

Film is fun

Despite all the serious thoughts here, film also provides a lot of fun. It is such a gamble to use a crappy camera with some expired film and hope for cool light leaks. There are plenty of applications for simulating this, but I think part of the fun is that the control is not completely in or hands.

Jump, Pajtás, Lomo Lady Grey 400 (expeired), Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F
Jump (2014) , Pajtás, Lomo Lady Grey 400 (expeired), Rodinal, Canoscan 9900F

Film is alive

Unlike digital files film has an organic grain structure. It can be emulated by software, but computers can only work with pseudo-random generators. There will always be a pattern in digitally added noise. Film has a life-cycle. It ages and it can go bad when stored inappropriately. On the other hand even if it is expired and stored recklessly there is still a chance that something interesting will come out of it. A box of expired film (like the one I have received) is like a box of old exotic old wine. You could find something truly amazing or the completely opposite, but you cannot say until you taste it yourself. This is also part of the magic.

Film is magic

If I needed to find a single word to describe what is the most significant property of film, I would say it is simply magical. There is something mystical about the chemical process, which forms a photograph. I always found this quite fascinating even though I am aware that everything about it is well described and no dark arts are involved. But when I combine this feeling with the uncertainty of the result (especially when I use expired film) and with the waiting necessary to finally get the developed film back from the lab, the experience is truly magical.

These aspects are just a few among the thoughts circulating in my head about film. These are all interconnected, and after all that is why I feel special when I can hold a package of film in my hand. I am sure that others would come up with a completely different list, but I am pretty certain that almost everybody who is old enough to have had some connection with film photography retains some emotional connection to it.

Film is magic
Old negatives (from my first roll which was developed few hours after this moment), Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 L/D, Fed 5, Flash, Silver print

Just one more fun thing to think of

I have played around with Blender and made this highly sophisticated scene of a plain and 2 boxes. I painted a texture for it based on some old Forte and rendered the scene. It is pretty obvious that this is not a photograph because of the sharp edges and the way to perfect texture, But the point is that it is possible to make it photo-realistic with some additional effort. An image generated solely by a computer to tribute the film which may be one day substituted entirely by the computer, or at least the possibility will be given. At the end it is all about personal and professional preferences.

Fotrepan_final

Computer generated illustration of old Forte film by Camerajunky

 

 

Flowers and textures

Flowers and textures

A quick and light post for today about flowers, textures and even flower-textures that caught my eyes. I am experimenting with the Leice M2 and this subject is something I enjoy shooting. The photos were taken with my Leica M2 using a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm. The film (DM Paradise […]

Livin’ Streets on Ektachrome

Livin’ Streets on Ektachrome

Walls are usually not the most exciting subjects to photograph. To use medium format slide film to do that is even more strange and could be considered as some sort of crime by some. After all we live in a time when both film and labs which are able […]

The Kodak Ektar adventure

The Kodak Ektar adventure

Finally, I have convinced myself to try out the famous Kodak Ektar film, so I loaded a roll into my beloved Olympus OM 4 Ti. Unfortunately the camera had other plans and the electronic circuits gave up at the middle of the roll.

At the end I ended up rewinding the film and I loaded into the good old mechanical workhorse Yashica TL super. This process however lead to 2 consequences. Unsurprisingly I have got some nice double exposures, but most importantly I bought a bit worn Leica M2. At least I wont have problems with the electronic parts of that camera.

I still haven’t gave up the hope that the Olympus can be repaired at some point, but I generally lost my trust in these old electronic cameras.

The Ektar on the other hand is truly a gorgeous film which delivers everything what is written on it’s box. It is smooth, high resolution with fine grain and with rich deep colors and high contrast. My scanner is absolutely unable to extract all the possibilities of this film. I am very impressed by this film indeed, however I find it not the best suited for portraits as it is too vivid. But it is only my impression based on less than a complete 36 frames roll, so I might change my mind.

I am definitely going to experiment with the Ektar, but from now most likely with my “new” M2 and with a ZM Sonnar.

Joanneumsviertel
Joanneumsviertel , Olympus OM 4 Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
FemHattyvakAHidAlatt
Olympus OM 4 Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
GrafitiesSzoborAHidAlatt
Olympus OM 4 Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Reflections
Olympus OM 4 Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Facsemete-2
Olympus OM 4 Ti, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
ReggeliHarmatMunkabaMenet
Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/ 1.8, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/ 1.8, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/ 1.8, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Yashinon 50mm f/1.7, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Yashinon 50mm f/1.7, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/ 1.8, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Yashica TL Super, Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 80mm f/ 1.8, Kodak Ektar 100. Canoscan 9900F
Digital Classic, Canon EOS 5D

Digital Classic, Canon EOS 5D

Digital cameras have been around for a while by now. In fact we have access to pixels so long ago that recently it became fashionable to dress digital cameras into retro looking shells so they resembles the look and feel of old film cameras. Up […]