Garland Wetlands - Combining Infrared and ICM

Earlier this year a co-worker made me aware of the Fairborn Art Association’s call for entries for their annual Landscape gallery. This year’s theme was the Garland Wetlands park, and was open to all forms of 2d and 3d art. Given that one of the challenges I set for myself this year was to enter more shows, I put this one on my list to enter.

I first visited the park in early March, with my D750 digital camera, a few lenses, and a tripod. Ready to get my landscape on! What I found out on that visit was that the park was small. Very small. My yard is bigger. The park consisted of a very short boardwalk situated in a wetland area that took all of about 1 minute to walk. I quickly realized that there wasn’t a great deal there to shoot, and that there would probably be a lot of paintings and photographs of that boardwalk that get entered. I needed to do something different. So I left without taking an image that day – to regroup, gather my thoughts, and decide what to do.

My first thought was to bring the macro gear back to the site and so some macro. But that idea wasn’t going to work because to me, macro is not “landscape” and I wouldn’t be happy with that, even if no one at FAA cared about that distinction.  I also thought about doing one of my “tiny planet” images (360 degree pano that’s stitched together at the ends and inverted in photoshop), but the park with its straight boardwalk and surrounding trees didn’t have a lot of good separation, and would make for a lack-lustre tiny planet image in my opinion.

Then it finally came to me – infrared. I’ve shot infrared in the past for photo competitions, and the different “look” that it has often sets it apart from other images.  I’ve been looking for a project that I could use infrared for again and this was perfect for it.

Armed with my 720nm-converted D2X I visited the park again and took a lot of images. I wasn’t happy with them at all. They looked like the same thing everyone else would shoot, just with the novelty of infrared.

So I went back again. I ended up sitting on the boardwalk for an hour listening to the birds, watching the wind in the trees, and hearing the occasional bullfrog. Watching the trees swaying and moving above me made me think that maybe catching that movement with a long exposure could be interesting. But would that translate well? Probably not.

What else could I do? Oh! I know. Intentional Camera Movement. Otherwise sometimes referred to as “ICM”. ICM is a technique using a slowish shutter speed and moving the camera while the shutter is open. The movement can vary – circular, side-to-side, up-and-down, etc. It makes for a somewhat dreamy image and often times can make the ordinary look interesting. I’ve played around with this technique a little bit in the past – it completely goes against my whole “its gotta be sharp and perfect” mantra and is outside of my comfort zone. Perfect!

OK, now this is starting to work. Over the course of the next few months I visited the park several more times.

At different times of the day.

In different light.

In different weather conditions.

After many visits I came away with several images that I really liked, and entered three of them in the FAA competition. Whether I won anything or not I was just happy to have done the project and push some of my boundaries.

This image did win a “Judges Merit” award, which was a great surprise!

 

The gallery is located in the old Central School building on Central Avenue in downtown Fairborn, and is open for viewing Sunday July 21st and Sunday July 28th for viewing from 2pm-4pm. Congrats to all of the artists who showed work!

Thanks for reading!

Jeremy

A Hero's Camera - History, and Shots from the Past and Now

<WARNING – This is a somewhat long read, with a LOT of images, and not exactly what I had planned on writing at the time I began this story.>

I’m a bit of a history addict.

Especially anything that involves the WWII era – and what is known as “The Greatest Generation”. The generation that banded together to put an end to one of the greatest evils the planet had seen in a very long while.

So when the opportunity came up to put my hands on, and shoot with, a camera that had travelled extensively through the European Theatre in the hands of an American GI, I jumped on that chance.

First I want to tell you about the prior owner – the late Herman (Zeke) Zederbaum. Below is the email I received from his son, Scott Zederbaum. The italicized portions are from his dad’s memoirs:


“From: ScottZ 
Date:  
Subject: FW: My Dad in WW2
To: <jeremy.mudd@gmail.com>

Hi Jeremy

 Enjoy the camera. I shipped it out this afternoon. The camera went all across Europe with my dad, in combat and in the liberation of a concentration camp.

 My father was the late Herman (Zeke) Zederbaum. My father died in June of 1975 and was part of the 100th Infantry 325th Engineers Battalion Company C. He was a decorated explosive/demolition expert. He saw combat in the European theater of operations in France and Germany. My father was an amateur photographer, and also wrote 22 pages of memoirs after he landed in France and include some chilling descriptions with his first brushes with combat. . All I ask that that anything that is used is properly credited to Zeke Zederbaum and pls let me know, where and when, it will be used.

  The 100th infantry arrived at Camp Kilmer around September 30, 1944. Late in the afternoon of October 5 the entire division comprising 762 officers, 44 warrant officers and 13,189 enlisted men began the Exodus from camp Kilmer. They travelled to Jersey city and boarded four ships, they weathered a hurricane at sea and spent 12 days en route before landing in Marseille, France.

 Some Highlights of the 100th Infantry Division

Tore through deeply-entrenched German resistance in the craggy High Vosges Mountains in two weeks of savage fighting.

Practically destroyed the brand-new, full-strength German 708th Volks-Grenadier Division in the process of penetrating the Vosges Mountains by assault for the first time in history Since the 1st century BC, Romans, Huns, Burgundians, Swedes, Austrians, Bavarians, Germans and even French forces had tried and failed, but in the late autumn of 1944, in the face of nearly constant rain, snow, ice and mud, the US Seventh Army did what no other army had ever done before. For its success in ripping the Germans out of their trenches on the formidable heights overlooking Raon L'Etape, the 1st Battalion, 399th Infantry Regiment was awarded the Division's first Presidential Unit Citation, the collective equivalent of the Distinguished Service Cross for individual valor. Lieutenant Edward Silk, of the 2d Battalion, 398th, won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the rout of the German forces.

Pursued elements of the German 1st Army through the Low Vosges to the Maginot Line.

Overcame stiff resistance by the 361st Volks-Grenadier Division at Mouterhouse and Lemberg and advanced on the Maginot Line. (3/399th Infantry won a Presidential Unit Citation for its assault of Lemberg.) Attacking into the Maginot, elements of the Division seized Fort Schiesseck, one of the Maginot forts attacked by the Germans in 1940, from the same direction, i.e. the south. In 1940, the German 257th Infantry Division failed to take Schiesseck, whose French garrison only surrendered a week after the rest of the French Army. In December of 1944, the 100th Infantry Division took the 14-story deep fortress, replete with disappearing gun turrets and 12-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete walls, in a four-day assault, 17 - 20 December 1944.

Defeated the combined attacks of two German divisions, which were strongly supported by tanks, super-heavy tank destroyers, artillery and rockets, in early January 1945, during the last German offensive in the West, Operation NORDWIND.

Highlighted the Seventh Army's drive into Germany in March, 1945 with the seizure of the Bitche, a heavily-fortified town in the Low Vosges Mountains.

Since the erection of the enormous sandstone citadel there in the early 1700s, the town had been continuously fortified with concentric rings of outworks, including several major Maginot forts, dozens of concrete pillboxes, and thickets of barbed wire and minefields. Although it had been invested several times, most notably in the Franco-Prussian War and in the 1940 campaign, Bitche had never fallen. From this point on, after the 3d Battalion, 398th Infantry won a Presidential Unit Citation there, the entire Division became known as "The Sons of Bitche."

Fought one of the last major battles of World War II in Europe with the assault river crossing of the Neckar River at Heilbronn, 3 - 12 April 1945.

In all, in 185 days of uninterrupted ground combat, out of an authorized strength of 13,688 officers and enlisted men, the 100th Infantry Division sustained 916 killed in action, 3,656 wounded in action, and lost 180 men missing in action. The overwhelming majority of these were sustained by the three infantry regiments, which together were authorized 9,771 men; in other words, considering that the infantry units were rarely maintained above 80% strength, about 50% of all the infantrymen in the Division became casualties in the course of achieving the Division's magnificent record. In liberating or capturing over 400 cities, towns and villages, they defeated major elements of eight German divisions. In this process, the men of the 100th inflicted untold casualties on the enemy, the only calculable number of which is the 13,351 enemy prisoners taken.

In return, in addition to the Presidential Unit Citations and Medals of Honor listed above, the soldiers of the 100th Infantry Division earned 36 Distinguished Service Crosses and over 500 Silver Stars for valor in combat. To preserve the esprit de corps and fellowship forged in their grueling training and six months of bitter combat, the men of the Division formed the Association of 100th Infantry Division in 1946, and have held annual reunions ever since.

 

Hope you find this helpful

 All the Best, Scott

 Scott B . Zederbaum”

 

Here are the pics that Scott sent – picture credit goes to Herman (Zeke) Zederbaum.

325th C Gang - Image taken by Zeke Zedarbaum

325th Engineers at Work- Image taken by Zeke Zedarbaum

Company C in France - Image taken by Zeke Zedarbaum

Hitler’s Eagle Nest - Image taken by Zeke Zedarbaum

PFC Zeke Zedarbaum

The word “hero” is often thrown about rather easily nowadays, but to me Herman (Zeke) Zedarbaum and his fellow soldiers were TRUE heroes.

Next, a little bit about the camera - a 1937 Voigtlander Bessa. It’s a medium format folding camera that shoots 120 roll film, and has tripod mounts for both portrait and landscape orientation. Shutter speeds range from B to 1/250th, and the lens has an f/stop range of 4.5 to 22. That’s about it for features – no TTL, no coupled viewfinder, no A-priority modes. To line up the shot you either look thru a (now fogged) prism cube near the front of the bellows, or you pop up the square composing attachment to roughly line up the shot. Focusing is based on distance from the subject, with the distance ranging from about 3 feet to infinity depending on where you set it. It shoots in 6x9 or 6x4.5 format - depending on if you have the 6x4.5 mask on the inside. This gives you either 8 shots or 15 shots per roll, respectively.

1937 Voigtlander Bessa

This particular camera really shows its age. From the very worn leather case, to the worn and missing leatherette covering, to the repaired bellows – you just know its seen a lot and was well used. The life a camera should live.

Surprisingly, it needed little work on my end to make it operational again. Not many 82-year-old things can claim that. Inspection of the bellows and the ancient tape repair showed no light leaks. After a cleaning of the lens and some light lubrication, all of the shutter speeds seemed to check out and it fired as it should. It took me awhile to figure out how to make the zone focusing work but once I had that down I felt like I could get out there with it and shoot it.   

My plan was to use the camera over Memorial Day 2019 weekend to shoot some of the various Memorial Day gatherings in and around my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. I thought that would be a very fitting test of the camera. I had an old roll of Tri-X 400 B&W ready to go and planned on developing it in Rodinal – all in keeping with the period of the camera.

Unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes – family came in from out of town, some plans changed, and I didn’t get a chance to shoot it over the long weekend.

The fact that my plans had to change that weekend was really trivial, at best. Because on the evening of Memorial Day 2019, the Dayton, Ohio area was hit with (at least) 14 tornadoes – ranging in magnitude from EF-0 to EF-4. Some areas of Dayton were completely devastated. Many plans were changed that evening.

Luckily for me, I live south of town, so the nearest tornado passed about 6 miles to the north of my suburb. Images and video of the affected areas on the news was shocking and troubling. Early responders and disaster teams were deployed immediately and general public in the non-affected areas was instructed that the best thing they could do was check on their neighbors, and give to local relief efforts and charities. So that’s what I did.

A week passed and I found myself heading to a local reserve to so some more wildlife shooting, and I knew that on the way there I would skirt some of the affected area. By this time the rescue efforts were over and things were in the clean-up phase. In addition to my wildlife photo gear, I threw the Bessa in the truck, then stopped by the local grocery to buy food and water. I dropped supplies off to two local shelters – then drove thru the area in NorthWest Dayton near the intersection of Shoup Mill Road and Route 48. I stopped to shoot a few images with the Bessa.

I forgot to bring my light meter with me, so I just used the Sunny 16 rule to guess at exposure and added 2-stops extra to compensate for the older expired film stock. I set it once and left it thru all of the shots. I was also so taken back by the damage in an area that I once lived, that I just set the focal distance to near infinity and left it there.

When I arrived home later in the day I developed the images in Rodinal and scanned them in. They were surprisingly sharper than I thought. The only work I did to them was some slight exposure work, dust cleaning, and cropping in Photoshop. I thought the camera was going to be difficult to shoot with at first, but when I was there in the moment the set-it-and-leave-it method seemed to work OK. I would imagine this is how many of these early Bessas were shot, especially in times of war and conflict. Where possible I’ve included a recent Google image of that area. I only managed to take 6 out of 8 shots – I accidentally rolled the film past two shots while not watching for the number in the red window closely.

47996666107_d2cc0f8864_k.jpg

Its hard to have a conclusion for this story, especially given that this isn’t exactly what I set out to write, and for those that were affected by the storms there won’t be a conclusion for them for a very long time.

I do plan to take the camera out to the National Museum of the US Air Force sometime soon to shoot some more images there. More on that in the future.

I want to thank Scott for sending me the camera, and the info. And special thanks to his father, the late Herman (Zeke) Zederbaum, and all of the men and women who served their country.

And lastly, thanks to all of the first responders who came to the aid of Dayton after the Memorial Day 2019 tornadoes.

If you’d like to contribute to the tornado relief effort, please go to: https://www.daytonfoundation.org/DisasterRelief.html?fbclid=IwAR2YnGgerIb14_W8Kaq1S2OBuUngTwKDdjRrp-kVcBdVBOnpVH0zVoxAr8A

 

Thanks for reading,

Jeremy

Simple is Better (or, what I’ve been up to the last few weeks)

Since my last post, I’ve been pretty busy. And I’ve been placing some restrictions on myself throughout it all in an effort to change the way I shoot/create.

Let me explain.

If you’ve read any of my posts in the past, you will see an occasional theme where I state that I brought way too much gear with me and didn’t use it all.  Not only is bringing too much gear a logistical mess and is often tiring – it can sometimes create other problems, like being frozen in my hotel room in the morning agonizing over which of the 5 systems and 10 lenses I brought to pack and shoot with that day. It’s just too much – and I think my trip to OBX earlier this year really put that nail in the coffin for me.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m NOT selling any of my gear. So if you thought you were going to get a great deal on a Hasselblad or one of my RB67’s – think again.

For the past 6 weeks or so I’ve been living with the mantra of not shooting with a lot of gear and keeping it simple.

April 28th was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, so on that day I went out early in the morning in downtown Dayton and shot pinhole with Doug Brand (@doug.brand). I shot a few rolls and had a blast. Just me and my NOON 612 Pinhole Camera. Can’t get much simpler than that! It was on this outing I learned that I actually like shooting with 400 speed film in the pinhole – up till then I usually stuck with 100 speed film. But I like the look that the 400 speed film has on pinhole – especially HP5+ and Bergger Pancro 400.

Shooting pinhole is freeing – no worry about focus, aperture, lens length, etc. Just point it at what you want to shoot, line it up, meter, open the shutter, and wait. 

Old Montgomery Courthouse Back Door- NOON 612 Pinhole with HP5+ film

Ghost Selfie in front of the Schuster - NOON 612 Pinhole with HP5+ film

Looking Up - NOON 612 Pinhole with HP5+ film

The next weekend I went out and shot with Eric Wright (@ewright523). This time, we shot a few rolls of expired film on some 35mm film cameras. After that I pulled out the medium format gear I had in the back of the Pathfinder and let Eric shoot a Hassalblad 500c and I shot my Yashicamat. Nice simple set-ups with fixed lens lengths and square composition. Again – freeing. Just meter, line up the shot, and fire the shutter. I had a blast.

Nikon F5 with 50mm f/1.8 on expired Kodak c41 B&W film

Nikon F5 with 50mm f/1.8 on expired Kodak c41 B&W film

Nikon F5 with 50mm f/1.8 on expired Kodak c41 B&W film

Yashicamat medium format camera on HP5+ film

The following week, Renee and I went to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a long weekend, and I packed fairly light. I brought three cameras – my d750, a D2X Infrared camera, and my Fuji GX617 with a 90mm lens. That’s it. In the past I would have had bags of gear but not this time. Most of our hiking was done with only one camera in my pack, and the GX617 only came out to play at one location that I had planned on using it (that also wasn’t far from the car).

I was a great, long weekend.

Fuji GX617 with 90mm lens on ACROS film

Nikon D750 with 24-85mm lens

I stated to notice that during the past few weeks, I was taking a lot more time to compose and shoot, and thinking more about what I was shooting versus whether or not I needed to grab a different lens out of my pack and shoot something wider, or tighter, or whatever. I just got down to business and made what I had work. All the while thinking more about the shot or task at hand.

Also, while I’m on the subject of keeping things simple, I have an update on two images I shot while I was in the OBX in February. Both are simple compositions, and both, now, have won awards.

This image took first place in the Color Landscapes category at the Middletown Arts Center’s 2019 Photography and Digital Art Competition and is on display thru June 20th.

Into the Blue - Nikon D750 w/80-400mm lens

And this image took first place in the same competition in the Black & White Landscapes category, and is also on display thru June 20th.

Mattamuskeet - Fuji GX617 with 180mm lens on ACROS film

I was a bit surprised by the two wins, and flattered. While the OBX trip produced some great images for me, I was frankly a little upset about how bad the weather was during that trip, and the fact that I wasn’t able to make it to all of the locations I wanted to see/shoot. Seeing these two images that came out of that being recognized makes me feel much better about the trip and the time I spent away from home and work.

I know this post has been a bit of a ramble but my point is that simple is often better – whether that’s keeping the amount of gear down that you bring with you on a trip or to a shoot,  or when you are thinking about composition and images.

Right now I am working on some pieces for an upcoming show at the Fairborn Art Association and I’m keeping the simple theme in mind! I’ll post more about the images and the show in the coming month.

Thanks for reading!

Jeremy

Dandelion in the front yard - Nikon D750 with Helios M44-2 58mm lens

Pinhole Cameras – making images without a lens

April 28th is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, and in honor of that upcoming event I wanted to write a short blog on pinhole photography and include some pinhole images I’ve made in the past. Hopefully this will inspire you to get out there and shoot Pinhole – even if you don’t have a Pinhole camera. More on that to come.

Pinhole Photography is based on the original Camera Obscura concept. From Wikipedia:

“Camera obscura (plural camera obscuras[1] from Latin, meaning "dark room": camera "(vaulted) chamber or room," and obscura "darkened, dark"), also referred to as pinhole image, is the natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening. The surroundings of the projected image have to be relatively dark for the image to be clear, so many historical camera obscura experiments were performed in dark rooms.

The term "camera obscura" also refers to constructions or devices that make use of the principle within a box, tent or room. Camera obscuras with a lens in the opening have been used since the second half of the 16th century and became popular as an aid for drawing and painting. The camera obscura box was developed further into the photographic camera in the first half of the 19th century when camera obscura boxes were used to expose light-sensitive materials to the projected image.

The camera obscura was used as a means to study eclipses, without the risk of damaging the eyes by looking into the sun directly. As a drawing aid, the camera obscura allowed tracing the projected image to produce a highly accurate representation, especially appreciated as an easy way to achieve a proper graphical perspective.

Before the term "camera obscura" was first used in 1604, many other expressions were used including "cubiculum obscurum", "cubiculum tenebricosum", "conclave obscurum" and "locus obscurus".[2]

A camera obscura device without a lens but with a very small hole is sometimes referred to as a "pinhole camera", although this more often refers to simple (home-made) lens-less cameras in which photographic film or photographic paper is used.”

There are three ways to get a pinhole camera:

1.       Buy one from a company that makes them or a used one on eBay (generally shoots only film)

2.       Make your own pinhole camera out of anything (box, can, etc – generally shoots only film)

3.       Make a pinhole “cap” for your existing digital or film camera. This way you can shoot film or digital depending on the camera.

Option 3 is generally the cheapest and easiest alternative, although know that it doesn’t always give the best results as compared to a specifically designed pinhole camera. Also know the larger the “sensor” or “film plane”, the better the result. The best pinhole shots I’ve seen in terms of sharpness and clarity are on large format cameras, and the quality and perceived sharpness generally decrease as the size of the “sensor” decreases. Also, know that “sharpness” is a relative term; no pinhole images are really very sharp and start to fall apart if you really pixel-peep them.

If you are interested in making your own pinhole camera body cap to try it out on your existing digital or film camera, go here: https://digital-photography-school.com/make-pinhole-camera-dslr-body-cap/.

Chapel at Calvary Cemetery - NOON 612 Pinhole on Fuji ACROS 100 film

NOON 612 Pinhole Camera - image courtesy of NOON on Etsy

I have a cap I made awhile back, but I generally shoot with my NOON 612 medium format film pinhole camera. The larger medium format negative yields, in my opinion, better results and I also like the challenge of composing an image with a wooden box with only sightlines on it to gauge the edges of the frame.

The other great thing about the NOON 612 is that it has the ability to shoot in 6x6, 6x9, or 6x12 format depending on where you put the dividers in the inside of the camera. This means you can get 12, 8, or 6 images from your roll of medium format.

The NOON is f/207, so the way you shoot it is that you compose your shot (on a tripod), meter the scene for f/22 and whatever film speed you are using, then take that exposure time and plug it into the supplied chart that comes with the camera. On bright days, depending on what film you use, it could be seconds. On dimly lit days, it could be minutes. The shutter is a simple block of wood on a pivot.

Incoming Storm - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera with Fuji ACROS 100 film - IIRC this image was a 5 minute exposure.

There are a few interesting things about shooting pinhole. First - the images tend to be the same level of “sharpness” thru the entire scene front to back. This is due to the high f-stop of the pinhole. Second - if you get your camera level, anything that is an upright in the image is perfectly straight with no lens distortion. That’s because there is no glass to distort it. Even your eyes distort things when viewing them due to the “lens” in your eye but you don’t notice it – when looking at a pinhole it often looks odd due to this lack of distortion. Third – things in the image look a lot further away than what you think they will when you are working on the scene. I think pinholes generally work best when you are fairly close in to what you want to capture.

Bridge to Dayton - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera with Fuji ACROS 100 film

Here are a few more pinhole images I’ve shot over the last 1-2 years.

Schuster Center, Dayton on a windy morning - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Fuji ACROS 100 film

Woodland Cemetery - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Fuji ACROS 100 film

Calvaray Cemetery - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Fuji ACROS 100 film

Calvary Cemetery - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Fuji ACROS 100 film

The Yellow Springs at Glen Helen - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Kodak Ektar 100 film

Troublemakers - NOON 612 Pinhole Camera on Kodak Ektar 100 film

I hope that this has inspired you to give pinhole photography a try. If you are interested in learning more about Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, feel free to check out http://pinholeday.org/.

Also, if you are interested in the NOON 612 camera they have a store on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/592983087/noon-pinhole-camera-6x12-panoramic-6x9

Thanks for reading!

Jeremy

"Shoot Lots" - a ramble on film, digital, gear, and "maturity"

1937 Voigtlander Bessa - I have a future blog about this camera and all of the adventures its seen over its lifetime. The fact that this was the height of technology in its day and you framed your image with the small square piece on the right meant you had to know what you were doing back in the day to get the shot.

Yesterday I went to a camera swap meet and didn't buy anything.

It wasn't because I was penny-pinching or being frugal; it was because there was nothing there I wanted. Note that I used the word "wanted" instead of "needed".

I went to the swapmeet mainly because its one that happens every year and I am usually busy and can't go, but this year the weather was so bad (even for me) that I couldn't get out and shoot so I thought this was the time that I would actually go to the swap. I had a list of a few items that if they were there I would buy them, but none of those things were to be found on the sea of tables there. I did see a few things that I thought might be "nice-to-haves" like some additional A-12 backs for my Hasselblad or a 180mm lens for my C220, but nothing made me crack open my wallet and spend the $$. At one point I was having a conversation with myself over the fact that I had spent $5 for an admission fee so I HAD to walk out of there with something, but ultimately I made the "mature" decision of leaving empty-handed.

During my 45-minute drive home I started thinking about gear and how it relates to my photography and a few things came together that made me want to put this down in my blog, even if for no other reason as it being something I can refer to later.

American Bald Eagle (juvenile) in flight. There’s no way I would have got this shot without a long lens (and a lot of patience and footwork).

Gear doesn't matter. Or does it?

You could argue the fact that a good photographer could take a good photograph even if you handed them a cheap camera. And I'd agree with you. It's where things get specialized that gear does matter. Wildlife photography? You need a long lens if you want to get close. Wildlife doesn't just come up to you and allow you to fill the frame with your 50mm lens. Macro photography? That bug isn't going to appear huge on the screen and draw someone in unless you have a macro lens, tubes, or some other gear that lets you get in really close. Architectural photography? You aren't going to get good interior shots that a realtor will pay you for unless you are shooting with a wide lens that shows off the space and makes it look bigger than it is.

The great Eddy Merckx

The great Eddy Merckx

I could go on but in general I would say that gear matters to a point. You could have the best gear in the world, specific to whatever genre you are shooting, but if you don't know how to use it or have the vision, its not going to make for a good result.

How do you get there then?

I've referenced a few times the fact that I have a background in cycling and bicycle racing, and there's a parallel to be drawn here. The great Eddy Merckx was once in an interview where he was asked about his specific training regime and what he did to be at the top level of his sport. Remember that this was at a time (1960's) when pretty much all of the bikes and gear were the same and hadn't changed much over the years. His answer?

"Ride lots."

He rode, trained, and raced more than nearly any other competitor in his day. He lived on the bike, to the point where it became almost just an extension of his body.

The same holds true for photography. You need to be out there shooting. A lot. Making a lot of mistakes and (hopefully) learning from them. Knowing the camera like it is part of you. Wear out that shutter on your digital camera. If you aren't wearing out gear you aren't getting your value out of it or growing as a photographer.

This is where I will break with the purists that think you need to learn on a film camera because that's the way they learned back during the times of Eddy Merckx.

Yes, I shot film when I first started shooting in the 80's like everyone else. Was I good back then? No. Film was expensive and paying somoene else to develop it meant even more cost. So I would guess that the number of exposures I made during my first several years of photography was less than 5,000 images. That's probably being generous. Fast-forward to a few years back when I really picked a camera up again and started shooting; I was shooting digital. I took a lot more crap photos, and my number of exposures went WAY up. I was shooting over 50,000 shots a year and that's probably conservative. Did I process all of them? Nope. But I made a lot of mistakes in a short amount of time and learned from it.

Trees in the Fog - 1968 Nikon F with HP5+ film - the choice of film, camera, and processing gave me the “look” I wanted but knowing how to get the shot was just as important.

I'm not saying I'm anywhere close to the level of an Eddy Merckx in photography terms, but I know my way around the camera, any camera, because the basics are now ingrained into my mind. Exposure, composition, good light, bad light, anticipating the scene - all of that comes to me much more naturally now to where I don't really need to think about it. This is freeing and allows me to focus on what I'm trying to make from an artistic standpoint. And I don't think you can get to that point without shooting A LOT and making A LOT of mistakes. And you just can't do that with film. From a purely monetary standpoint, and also from an instant feedback standpoint. With digital, you can sit in one spot and take the same image over and over, changing things in terms of exposure and shutter speed, and get instant results and see how your image is affected. You can't come close to that with film.

That being said - I shoot a lot of film at this stage in my photography journey. Why? It's a choice of medium that adds another aspect of control to what I am doing. Certain films and lenses add a "look" to an image that I like to experiment with. And having the basics built into my head already means that I don't need that instant feedback. It helps that I develop and scan my own film so that I see my results often the same or next day after shooting. But still I'm shooting film often as a choice and only for my personal projects. Any paying work is digital and done with redundancy to two memory cards. The last thing I want to do is lose something and tell the client their special day was never recorded.

I see a lot of bad film photography out there. There are several facebook groups where often times someone will post an image that has no point of interest, no composition, and nothing to draw one in - but because it was "shot on film" somehow that makes it more interesting.

It's not.

So this comes back full circle to point out that gear (film, lenses, cameras, digital, etc) just doesn't matter. Its what you do with it that counts.

So get out there and "shoot lots".

Outer Banks Photo Workshop February 2019

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll remember that one of the things I wanted to do in 2019 was invest in my photography. Not in buying more equipment, but working on shooting different things, different places, and interacting with other like-minded creatives. So with that in mind I signed up for the Outer Banks Photography Workshop that occurred last week in the Nags Head area in North Carolina from 2/21 thru 2/24, hosted by New Life Photos with Mark Hilliard and Jamie Konarski Davidson.

Below is a recap of my trip and the workshop – WARNING, it’s a long read. If you get bored feel free to skip and just look at the pretty pictures; each one is more or less captioned.

I left Ohio early in the morning of 2/20 with the plan of taking two leisurely days to get there and hit a waterfall along the way, stopping overnight in Lexington, VA. Unfortunately Mother Nature laughed at my plans and decided to throw a lot of snow at me the night before in Ohio. The roads in Ohio weren’t overly bad, and when I hit West Virginia there was no sign of snow and I thought I had smooth sailing ahead. WRONG. Once in Virginia on I-64 I hit freezing rain and the highway became a mess. While the trees were glistening and pretty, the road was also glistening and NOT pretty.

A much-needed Dirty Martini after a harrowing drive.

The waterfall I planned to stop at in Virginia was near the town of Covington, but once I made it off the highway near there and headed in the direction of the falls, the roads were even worse. Remembering that I promised Renee that I wouldn’t do anything overly stupid, I turned around and got back on the highway. I finally made it into Lexington in the early evening, 9 hours (instead of 6) after I left home. It was already getting dark and it was raining super hard, so none of the things I had planned on seeing or shooting in Lexington happened. I checked into the hotel and then went for a drink and a bite to eat to calm my nerves. I found a great little farm-to-table restaurant named Rocca (https://roccaristorante.com/) and had some great food and, a couple of much-needed dirty martini’s.

I headed out at 6am the next morning and only had wet roads to deal with, thankfully. The drive was mostly un-eventful. This time I was able to make my planned detour for the day; Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge (http://www.mattamuskeet.org/refuge/mnw_refuge.htm) . There I shot the famous Bald Cypress Trees and also did some wildlife photography.

Study of Two Bald Cypress Trees at Mattamuskeet - you can see some of Michael Kenna’s influence on me with this image. Nikon D750 w/80-400mm lens, long exposure.

The Mattamuskeet Bald Cypress Trees - Fuji GX617 w/180mm lens on Fuji ACROS film, long exposure

White Ibis at Mattamuskeet - Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

The first night of the workshop was introductions, tutorials on long exposure and HDR imaging, and discussions regarding the impending weather for the weekend. More on that later. Mark and Jamie did a great job of explaining the techniques involved to the point where I felt that even a beginner or novice would be able to understand and execute the techniques.

The next day we were “wheels up” at 6:00am to go to several locations.

Avalon Fishing Pier in the Blue Hour - Nikon D750 w/24-85mm lens, long exposure

Dock at Duck - Nikon D750 w/24-85mm lens, long exposure

Study at Duck - Nikon D750 w/24-85mm lens, long exposure

Broken “T-dock” at Duck - Nikon D750 w/24-85mm lens, long exposure

Tree at Currituck Banks Preserve - 7 image HDR stack

Unfortunately the rain worsened as the day went on, so the late afternoon and evening shot locations were cancelled. We spent the evening in classroom sessions and working on images.

The forecast for the next day looked even worse, so plans for the early morning shooting were cancelled and this allowed everyone to get a little extra sleep and/or work on processing images. We left for our first location at 8:00am.

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse - Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Fuji ACROS film, long exposure

We shot at a few locations before the weather went totally bad – the afternoon sessions were cancelled. The rest of the day and evening were spent in 1x1 classroom time. At the end of the evening we shared our favorite 3 photos we had each taken so far. It was interesting to see the different images that people shot while in the same places. It reinforced to me that you can shoot the same subject many different ways.

The last day of the workshop, Sunday, was scheduled as a half-day ending at noon. While it was still lightly raining, we were treated to some great fog.

Into the Blue near Nags Head Fishing Pier - Nikon D750 w/80-400mm lens, long exposure with tide coming in.

Nags Head Fishing Pier - Nikon D750 w/80-400mm lens, long exposure with tide coming in.

Nags Head Fishing Pier - Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Fuji ACROS film, long exposure with tide coming in.

Osprey Nest Platform in the Fog - Nikon D750 w/80-400mm lens, long exposure

Workshop participants and the leaders - image courtesy of Jamie

After that it was time for everyone to part ways and go home. I took two days to drive home with an overnight stop in Roanoke, VA. On the way I had to deal with some high winds that made for some white-knuckle driving at times, but I made it home safe and sound.

I was able to reflect on the experience while driving home and have the following thoughts:

1.       It takes a special person to run a workshop. Jamie and Mark were very helpful, knowledgable, and patient with everyone. There were many different personalities in the group and they did a great job with all of them.

2.       I’ve said it before, but bad weather often makes for the best photos. Yes, it sucked that it was so bad that the sideways rain kept getting on the lens element and some of the locations were cancelled, but the shots I did get had a mood that I really like.

3.       Shooting in new locations sparks your creativity.

4.       So does hanging out with other photographers and talking shop.

5.       THE SHOT – often times a location has THE SHOT that is taken from the same spot and same angle that everyone wants. If you research a place you want to shoot you see it, and when you get there you want to shoot it. Having a group of people all wanting to get that shot means you have to wait your turn. What you do during that time is up to you, but I found that moving around and looking for other shots and angles often leads to shots you may like better than THE SHOT. Don’t get me wrong though – if you are there and won’t come back anytime soon, be certain you get THE SHOT before you leave, even if you don’t plan on putting it into your portfolio. You are there so why not?

6.       Instead of spending money on photo equipment and still shooting the same stuff all of the time, that money was better spent going to a workshop. I could have purchased another nice lens for what I spent in total for the registration fee, hotels, food, and gas – but then all I would have is another lens that I really didn’t NEED. Now instead I have several portfolio-worthy shots and renewed energy and inspiration.

7.       Once again I brought WAY too much gear. I could have left the RB67 and all of its kit at home since I never shot it. I didn’t shoot any of the 35mm film cameras I brought. And I had additional digital bodies that I didn’t need. Most of my shots were taken with my D500, D750, and the GX617 panoramic film camera. Since I was driving and not flying I thought having a bunch of gear wouldn’t be a bad thing, but schlepping all of it back and forth from the car to put in the hotel rooms was a pain (I don’t leave gear in the car overnight, that’s just asking for trouble). Next time I am going to try to be a little more “minimalistic” if that’s possible.

 OK, that’s it! Thanks for reading. Sorry for such a long post this time. If you are interested in attending any of the workshops that New Life Photos does during the year, check them out at https://www.newlifephotos.com/photo-tours-workshops/.

 

Jeremy

Hope for the Best, but be Prepared for the Worst - Hocking Hills Winter 2019

“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.” - Eliyahu Goldratt

A month or so ago, I got a note from a fellow photographer that he’d be interested in meeting up at Hocking Hills and spending the day shooting. Always up for shooting at Hocking, especially during the winter, I threw out a few dates. While the initial group plans didn’t work out, a small group of us settled on Monday February 11th as the date to block our calendars and take a vacation day in order to hit Hocking during winter weather AND, more importantly, on a weekday when the visitor level at the park is low.

As the date loomed closer, the weather started to look promising, with snow predicted the night before and a mostly clear day. Unfortunately though, that forecast changed and it looked like most of the day would be rainy.

“Moody” was the word I bantered about, hoping that the rain and cold temps would mean fog, wet rocks, good flow, and atmosphere. The group decided to soldier-on, so in the days leading up to the trip I began to clean, pack, and prep the Pathfinder for the trip. I bought high-wader rubber boots just in case and made certain to pack my water-proof winter jacket and gear, along with my waterproof camera backpack.

I prepped some digital gear and charged batteries, with an assortment of lenses covering the 14mm to 400mm range,

Then I went overboard when I thought about the fact this was the first trip I’ve made to Hocking for ONLY photography (not vacation and hiking, with photography as secondary), so I cleaned and packed nearly all of my mainstay medium format film gear: Two RB67 bodies, all of my RB67 lenses, 4 backs, my GX617 with all three lenses, and my Hasselblad 500C with all three lenses. Lots of ACROS and EKTAR film. I was fired up to shoot both digital and film, but mostly film.

We left Dayton at 6am – it rained the whole way. It was beginning to look like a very wet day. We found a great “lone tree” in a snow-covered field not far from our first planned stop so we got out and took a few shots.

Lone Tree - Hocking County. Digital Pano Stitch

                                                                                 

Shortly after that we arrived at Boch Hollow and shot Robinson Falls. I’ve shot there in warmer months and also late fall/early winter and this was the first time I’ve seen snow there. It was gorgeous.

Robinson Falls in Boch Hollow - Digital Pano Stitch

Next stop was Old Man’s Cave. It was then I had to come to the stark realization that I was not going to haul out my big medium format film gear and hike in the pouring rain, on ice and snow-covered trails. Not only was the weight a concern, but the fact that it wasn’t really waterproof while most of the digital gear I had was. And there was a big chance (err, I mean “guarantee”) of falling – if I fell with my GX617 and broke it I would be heartbroken and out a lot of $$$ as they are fairly rare and therefor pricey when they do come up for sale on occasion.

Let me say that Old Man’s Cave did not disappoint. While the going was super slippery and all of us fell at one point or another, it was well worth it.

Upper Falls - Digital Pano Stitch

Upper Falls with Bridge

Upper Falls with Ice in foreground

I’ve never seen Upper Falls flowing that well; it was stunning and powerful to see. After the Upper Falls we made our way to the Devil’s Bathtub. I’ve shot this several times in the past, but finally came away with a shot that I like.

Below the Devils Bathtub

Eric at Middle Falls - image courtesy of Bob Blum

After that we made our way to Lower Falls, and shot the Middle Falls along the way. We stopped for a hazy, wet selfie along the way.

Eric, Me, and Bob - image courtesy of Eric. This shows you just how hazy it was…..

The last part to Lower Falls was probably the most treacherous, but well worth it. The flow once again was amazing and the little bit of snow that the rain had yet to chase away added some nice highlights to the scene.

Lower Falls - 18 image Digital Pano Stitch

We took the upper trail out of the area back to the car, with the next stop being Cedar Falls. It was flowing so well the signature split with the rock in the middle was almost impossible to see.

Cedar Falls

Hidden Falls, in the same area, was also flowing quite well.

Hidden Falls

After that we headed to Conkle’s Hollow. The light was fading so this would be our last stop on our whirlwind tour.

Conkles Falls - Eric and I in action. This image shows how difficult the lighting was and why bracketing was so important. Image courtesy of Bob Blum.

Conkle’s Hollow

We stopped on the way home at Canal BBQ, my favorite BBQ joint in Chillicothe. As usual they didn’t disappoint.

So now that myself and my gear are finally drying out, here’s a few observations from the trip:

1.    If you’ve got the room, there’s no harm/foul in packing a bunch of gear hoping for good weather and the ability to use it.

2.    But you better have your back-up plan in place and have good gear that can handle the inclement weather.

3.    Towels and micro-fiber towels are your friend. The rain was coming down so much that I was wiping the lens after every shot even with a lens hood on.

4.    Tall high-wader boots are worth any price you paid for them if your feet stay dry the entire time.

5.    Bad weather DOES make for great moody shots. And those are usually the type of shots the general public doesn’t get because they can’t make the commitment to get out there in the crap weather.

6.    Being with other like-minded people on your foul-weather adventure does make the going seem easier and helps keep you engaged.

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading! Most of my images from this trip should be up for sale on my site shortly.

Jeremy

Ohio – The Land of Extremes

There’s a saying that Ohioans like to quote that goes something like “If you don’t like today’s weather, just wait as its bound to change tommorrow.”

Never has that been more true than this past week. Early in the week we had a large snowfall and below zero temps. Like -8F in the morning with a high of 0 for the day. BRR! Nearly all of the Midwest was in the grip of Old Man Winter. We received an additional 4-5 inches of fresh snow fall on Friday 2/1 which lead to hazardous roads and many crashes. But Saturday 2/2 was due for a warm-up, and knowing how cold the ground was and the amount of ice and snow build-up was around I knew that we’d be in for some great fog that morning, possibly even freezing fog.

I made plans to get up and get out there to shoot at daylight, with my Hassleblad 500C and Nikon F packed in my bag along with some HP5+. I’ve been amassing a list of shots that I’ve wanted to get in these conditions – subjects that normally don’t have great backgrounds can look stunning when all of the clutter is hidden or nearly hidden by the fog.

Below are a few shots from the morning. All were shot on HP5+ pushed to 800ASA and also over-exposed by about 1 stop to compensate for the snow. Developed in Ilfosol 3 at 68F for 13.5 minutes and scanned on an Epson V600.

Hassleblad 500C on HP5+ film - Bellbrook, Ohio

Nikon F on HP5+ film - Bellbrook, Ohio

Nikon F on HP5+ film - Bellbrook, Ohio

Nikon F on HP5+ film - Bellbrook, Ohio

Nikon F on HP5+ film - Dayton, Ohio

Nikon F on HP5+ film - Dayton, Ohio

 

 The next day, Sunday 2/3, saw record high temps of over 60 degrees and a massive melting of all the snow and ice. I knew that the birds would be out in force that day because waterways were finally thawing and after being frozen over for the past week the animals would be making up for lost time/meals.

There’s been a juvenile Bald Eagle hunting near the Deeds Point spillway area the past few weeks and I had some far away shots of him – but on Sunday I was prepared to put the time in to get something better.

I was in the area nearly 5 hours with some spottings and some fly-aways, but finally after observing his pattern I waited near a tree near the water that I had seen him in a few times I was rewarded – he landed there and spent about 10 minutes posing for me before he flew off. Here’s a few shots of him and some other wildlife from the day. All were shot with a Nikon D500 with a Tamron 150-600mm lens at varying settings.

Juvenile Bald Eagle - Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

Juvenile Bald Eagle - Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

Juvenile Bald Eagle - Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

Male Belted Kingfisher - Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

Song Sparrow- Nikon D500 w/Tamron 150-600mm lens

 

Persistence pays off!

Most of these images will be up for sale on the website in the next few days. As always if you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to reach out.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Jeremy

There's no such thing as bad weather.

I once had a cycling coach who had a saying that has stuck with me for years: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.

Most people have probably heard that saying, or something like it, applied to various sports and recreational past-times – but it also applies to photography. Well, sorta. I can’t advocate that you go out and shoot in a tsunami or tornado, but if you can do it in a safe manner and get the shot, kudos to you. Well, maybe not “kudos” but I’ll respect your choice, because some of the best images come from shooting in less-than-ideal conditions.

Dayton Skyline during a severe thunderstorm. Probably not one of my brighter ideas to stand on a bridge with lightning strikes all around holding an umbrella over my camera and tripod.

“Bad weather” doesn’t have to be something that is life-threatening; it could be as simple as getting out on a really foggy morning, shooting in the falling snow, rain, etc.

Tree in the Fog. Fuji GX617 on HP5+ film.

Anyone can get out there and shoot on a sunny, warm day. It takes getting out of your comfort zone to get out there and shoot in bad weather. It helps if you are prepared with the proper clothing and gear, but 99% of it is actually just getting yourself out there and doing it.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned….and in some cases, still learning:

1.       Dress properly for the conditions. This means rain gear if its raining, good winter clothing in layers if its cold, etc, etc. I can’t stress enough the importance of layering, especially if you are hiking around with a heavy pack of gear in changing conditions. Also, shoe choice and glove choice are critical if its cold/wet. I will usually wear waterproof hiking boots (LaSportiva brand) with high cuffs and wool socks. I usually will have a spare pair of socks and boots in the car in case I come back fully soaked. Gloves are critical – and people have all sorts of different ideas on what they like. Given my cycling background, I tend to wear thinner neoprene full-fingered gloves from Pearl Izumi that allow me to use the camera buttons and controls. Some people prefer those type of gloves that have removable fingers. I think they are “ok”, but I usually end up with a really cold finger or two if its below freezing outside.

Sparrow above the frozen lake at Spring Valley Reserve. It was 6 degrees Farenheight that day and windy.

2.       Know that your gear is going to get wet or dirty. Do your best to protect it, but know that cameras and lenses are tools and meant to be used. Unless you are super concerned about resale value, they aren’t doing you any good sitting on the shelf and only coming out to play on perfect days. Have several micro-fiber towels with you to keep lenses and viewfinders free of water drops.

Image shot during a thunderstorm at the Dayton VA Center on an infrared camera. I shot this for a photo competition a few years ago on probably my 10th trip to this spot.

3.       Bring a tripod. Light is usually low in bad weather conditions, and having a tripod with you allows you to get the best image possible at the lowest ISO/ASA that you can. You should also have an umbrella in your pack you can hold above the camera and tripod to keep it as dry as possible.

Trees in a snowstorm - image shot in the Black Forest in Germany in 2014 during near white-out conditions.

4.       Check your exposure. Bad conditions often wreak havoc with camera exposure logic and often times you need to use that grey mass between your ears to get the image correctly. A perfect example is snow; your camera will tend to under-expose in snow and you end up with dingy-looking grey stuff instead of white snow. In those conditions you learn to over-expose by a stop or two to compensate. When in doubt check your histogram. If you are shooting digital it doesn’t cost you any more to shoot until you get it right.

Eiffel Tower - Paris, France as seen from the top of the Arc d’Triumph. It was very rainy, cold, and foggy that day which made for a different view than normally seen of this famous monument.

5.       Consider Black & White as an editing choice (or b&w film, if you are shooting film). Often times the muted colors and light don’t look good in bad weather images, but punchy black & white images will help communicate the drama that you were experiencing that day.

SR73 - 30 minute exposure in the pouring rain and torrential wind with a pinhole film camera. Basically a wooden box with a small hole and film inside.

6.       Break the rules. Often times the weather IS the star of the image, so remember that when you are out there shooting. No one is going to care about the “rule of thirds” if you nail that awesome image of a tornado with lightning all around it and cows flying through the air. OK, maybe that was a little extreme but you get the idea.

7.       Keep at it. Don’t just go out once and then stop if you don’t come home with a great image. Often times is being  in the right place at the right time; and you aren’t going to make that happen unless you are out there time after time trying to get something.

Female Mallard at Spring Lakes in Bellbrook, Ohio. It was single-digit temps that day and the snow was coming down hard. This Mallard made for great contrast in the nearly white-out conditions.

8.       Don’t be stupid. This is one I am still learning. Mother Nature IS unpredictable. If you put yourself in a situation that makes you feel unsafe – you probably should reconsider what you are doing at that moment. There have been several times in the past that I’ve come home and after telling my significant other about the shoot I’ve realized that I had made some poor decisions. Don’t be like me.

This image only barely catches just how bad it was when I shot it. I could barely stand upright due to the high wind and rain.

That’s it! Some of this is probably common sense for many but some of it I’ve had to learn by putting myself out there and/or making mistakes.

Thanks for reading, and please reach out if you have any questions, thanks!

Jeremy

Looking back at 2018, and thoughts on 2019

2018 was a good year for me - in both my photography life and my personal life. Taking a look back at this past year, along with committing to a few things for 2019, is a good way to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.

This year I gave back by shooting several non-profit events, including the ALS Walk and the FOA Rally.

I also shot several theatrical productions, including Last Pirates of the Vast Golden Treasure, Oliver!, Shrek the Musical, and Lion King Jr. I also shot the Haunted Walks in Springfield in October – while not exactly a theatrical production it was super fun and a real test of both my thinking on-the-fly and my equipment.

I greatly enjoyed shooting all of the events this past year and hope to continue to shoot more of them in 2019. The energy is infectious, and shooting them is not easy – but rewarding. Shout out to Tammy Scheissler, Andy Grimm, Troy Berry, Brad Boyer, and Krissy Hartman for asking me to be a part of their events and productions.

This year saw me travelling more to shoot, including a few trips to Kentucky, Northern Ohio, Indiana, Hocking Hills and other Ohio parks, and Colorado. Shooting the same local places all of the time can make one stagnant – getting out to new locations is good for the soul and inspires one to shoot more.

I shot more film in 2018 than 2017 – 210 rolls of 120 and 35mm film versus 124 rolls the prior year. The majority was 120 (“medium format”).  All rolls were developed by me at home and scanned with my Epson V600. Shooting film has really slowed me down, and while I tend to shoot less, my “keeper” hit rate is much better. Having a camera readily handy at all times was a commitment for 2018, and when I grab a camera to take with me every day, its now usually one of my film cameras. It appears that most of my personal work is gravitating toward film – while events, paying work, and wildlife images tend to be taken on digital formats.

Speaking of wildlife imagery – that’s the one thing I really slacked-off on in 2018. I didn’t shoot much wildlife after the beginning of March this year. There was a core group of guys at my day-job that I would go out and shoot with at lunch, but earlier in the year the company did a re-org and nearly all of them were let go at that time. That put a damper on my desire to go out and shoot wildlife at lunch and was a bit of a sad blow. I’m happy to say that all of them are now working again at different companies. I just need to get my Wildlife groove back for 2019.

Great Blue Heron above the Great Miami River, Dayton, Ohio February 2018

One of my resolutions for 2018 was to put myself out there more, in terms of showing my artwork, so I did apply for a few shows including one at the Middletown Arts Center and also the 2019-2020 Season at DVAC. The DVAC proposal was a joint-show between myself (photos) and Renee (watercolors). While the DVAC proposal wasn’t accepted, my image I entered for the Middletown Arts Center show was accepted and is currently on display there thru 1/10/2019.

Sunset Over Cincinnati with the Skystar Wheel - October 2018

 

I also finally got this website up and running in 2018, along with this blog. I enjoy writing so being able to do so again, and have a webpage that makes ordering prints has been great. In the past I had folks contact me thru Instagram to buy stuff but having a direct portal has made life much easier.

On a personal note, 2018 saw me finally getting serious about losing weight and starting the Whole30 diet in September. As of the writing of this post, I’ve lost 44lbs. I still have about 35 more to go to get to my ideal weight, but the change has helped me in many ways including photography. Hiking and climbing up and down hills with heavy gear is much easier now that I weigh less and have a lot less joint pain.

Sharon Woods Middle Falls - Sharonville, December 2018

In November 2018 we also decided to tackle a large project at the house, and part of that project was de-cluttering. We filled a large SUV-sized dumpster with “stuff”, and now the house, and our lives, are full of a lot less clutter. People have too much “stuff” in their lives.

So, what’s in store for 2019? A few things. This list seems long but its really not. :)

1.       Continue to lose weight and focus on my health – It’s probably not a good idea to keep calling my new way of eating “Whole30”, but that’s what it is - essentially transformed into a lifestyle. The only change from “Whole30” is that I have allowed legumes to be back in the plan. They don’t really cause any inflammation or joint pain for me and are a good source of protein and variety.

2.       Start to ride again (this could be part of #1 above but I wanted to break it out separate to keep me honest). It’s been 4+ years since I’ve basically stopped cycling. 2019 is the year to get back on the bike(s). A side benefit is that I do some of my best creative thinking when riding alone on a trail in the woods.

3.       Get out and shoot more wildlife images.

4.       Invest in my photography – by that I mean take the time, to make the time, to shoot more. This includes planning a few small photography trips. Already lined up is a photo workshop in the Outer Banks in February and a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in May. Its really not all about gear – getting better as a photographer is in your head, not your equipment.

5.       Do a show – by this I mean enter more events in 2019, along with possibly setting up and selling at a local fair or art show.

6.       Shoot more events – I loved shooting events in 2018 and will do more of it in 2019. This includes continuing to give back by shooting non-profit events.

7.       Shoot even more film – different types, expired films, new films, you name it. It’s fun and is a good way to stay motivated while “slowing down” all at the same time. Part of that is shooting more 35mm film – I always seem to grab the medium format gear but 35mm is portable and fun to shoot. I have too many rolls of 35mm stock-piled and need to use some of that up.

8.       Find inspiration – photography books, painting books, museums, performances – inspiration comes from everywhere. Photography is a relatively new form of art in comparison to the other great art forms, and can take its inspiration from anywhere.

9.       Continue to evolve the blog and the website.

That’s pretty much it! I hope that 2018 was great for you, and that 2019 has something great in store.

I’ll end with an image I just shot on Christmas Day 2018 when Renee and I went out for a hike in the falling snow. I love this image because it reminds me that you’re never too old to enjoy yourself, and stop to taste a few snowflakes. :)

Renee on Christmas 2018 Hike - Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200, Mamiya 645 ProTL

Happy New Year!

Jeremy

Hocking Hills - Winter 2018

At the beginning of this month we did a long 4-day weekend in Hocking Hills. It had been 7 months since we were last there in May, and the park was very different in Winter than it was in Spring. It had lightly snowed earlier in the week, and also went thru a few freeze/thaw cycles, so the waterfalls were actually flowing better than they were when we were there in May. We were also treated to a few falls that we had never seen flowing before.

I shot both film and digital while we were there. For longer hikes I carried my D750 digital camera along with two lenses, a tripod, remote release, and various filters and batteries. For short hikes and photo opportunities that were close to parking lots, I shot with my RB67 ProS and Fuji GX617 film cameras.

Our first day in the park was a rather easy day – we didn’t leave the house until mid-morning so we arrived in the Hocking Hills area after lunch. We did some recon and short hikes that day before checking into our cabin. The weather was very overcast, dark, and it was fairly hazy.

Below the “Devil’s Bathtub” - Mamiya RB67 w/250mm lens on HP5+

This shot, taken just below the Devil’s Bathtub, was one of the last images I shot with this particular RB67 ProS body. The 180mm lens jammed while shooting the next set of falls in near the Old Man’s Cave and I couldn’t fix it on the trail. Once back in the cabin I was able to remove the lens by way of the access port just under the logo, and test-fired the camera. It sounded different when cocking it; but I thought it was OK. Only later after developing some film did I find out that it was no longer firing the lens – so I ended up with 2 blank rolls of Ektar film. This was a hard lesson to learn – I SHOULD have been more suspect of it after the jam and checked to make certain it was firing the lens, and I also SHOULD have brought one of my back-up ProS bodies – but neither of those two things happened. I’ve now retired that body to the shelf and am using another ProS body now.  This was a fairly rare occurrence as the RB67’s are fairly robust. But as I was not the original owner, I have no idea of the life it lived before I started using it a few years ago. The only maintenance I had to perform to it was rebuild the light seals in it and my backs. I shot many, many rolls of film thru it so no regrets.

The next morning found us up early and out in the woods for a long hike from Whispering Cave to Cedar Falls and then back.

A few points to make here. 1. Hiking in Hocking Hills in the winter can be very slippery due to ice – be certain to wear good shoes, and also hike with a hiking pole or stick. We were prepared and careful so we had no real issues. 2. Even though the forecast calls for a high of 37 for the day, the woods act like a freezer. It never got above the mid-20’s that day in the woods.

Cedar Falls - Multi-Image Pano Stich - Nikon D750

It was very hazy and overcast so the light was not harsh even at mid-day – this made for some great long exposure waterfall photography.

While at Cedar Falls we were treated to see the smaller “Hidden Falls” near it flowing well. I’ve never seen this fall flowing before, so the cold, slippery hike was worth it.

“Hidden Falls” near Cedar Falls - Nikon D750

On the way back from Cedar Falls we stopped and shot another waterfall that is often dry. The large flat rocks near it made for a great place to stop for lunch and relax.

Small Waterfall on the trail from Whispering Cabe to Cedar Falls - Nikon D750

The next day we were up early again – this time making a stop at Robinson Falls in Bock Hollow. Formerly known as “Corkscrew Falls”, this area requires a permit to access. If you plan on visiting make certain you apply for your permit 2 weeks in advance. Robinson Falls in the Winter had an entirely different look compared to what it looks like in the Spring.

Robinson Falls in Winter - this is a smaller crop of an 8-image digital pano stitch - Nikon D750

This was also a very hazy day, with some of the fog freezing on the trees. I’d like to show you some shots of that on Ektar that I took with my RB67, but you know why you, I, or anyone else won’t be seeing those. I did take some shots with my GX617 at Upper Falls. Yes, the water really was that green. We hiked at Conkle’s Hollow as well but I didn’t take any shots that day there.

Upper Falls - Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Ektar 100 film

The last day, we checked out of the cabin and went back to Conkle’s Hollow to hike and get some shots. This morning the light was spectacular and a big departure from what it had been the last few days.

Illuminated Hemlock Sapling - Nikon D750

A bit of magic at the end of the trail in Conkles Hollow - Nikon D750

Renee in Conkle’s Hollow - Nikon D750

After Conkle’s Hollow we stopped at Cantwell’s Cliffs and did the short, strenuous hike there before heading home. As usual we stopped at our favorite little BBQ place, Canal BBQ, in Chillicothe. Yum!

I’ve mentioned this before but want touch on it again – being in much better shape than I was before has really helped with my photography. This trip to Hocking Hills found me 43 pounds lighter than what I was when we were there in May. The long climb out of Whispering Cave nearly put me under in May, while on this trip it seemed like nothing. Being in good physical shape, or even just “better” physical shape, does make it much more enjoyable and easier to focus on being creative and getting good images.

If you saw any images you are interested in - I will be putting most of these up on my sale page. Also feel free to email me if you have any questions about hiking in Hocking Hills.

Thanks for reading, and have a great Christmas Holiday!

Jeremy

Autumn in Ohio - 2018 Edition

Autumn seemed to get off to a late start this year – due to the weather being warmer and wetter this summer the change of colors seemed to be about 2-3 weeks later than normal in Southwestern Ohio. In fact, I was concerned that there wouldn’t be much color at all this year. Thankfully, I was wrong.

No fall would be complete without a visit to Tom’s Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze to pick up Fall gourds. My two favorite girls enjoying the maze on a hot autumn day.

Mamiya 645 Pro with Kodak Portra 400 film

The next weekend I made a trip South to the Cincinnati area to shoot, and the leaves were just starting to change at Sharon Woods. Still, there was more color in the downed leaves than there was on the trees.

Mamiya RB67 ProS with Kodak Ektar Film

The following weekend found me travelling North to Lake Erie to shoot the Fairport Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse. As usual, the weather was rough – but it made for some exciting imagery.

fuji GX617 with Fuji Pro 400H film

While I was in the area I stopped to shoot Painesville Falls in Painesville, Ohio. The colors in Northern Ohio were in full swing!

Mamiya RB67 ProS with Kodak Ektar film

Last fall, Renee and I participated in the Haunted Springfield Ghost Tours and had a great time! This year I was hired to shoot the walks which made for a fun experience – although I have to admit it was difficult to listen to the stories when I was trying to get the shot.

Nikon D500

Nikon D750

Finally, the colors in our area were beginning to get into full swing. One of the Gum Tree leaves in my back yard – shot on an old Soviet cold-war era Helios lens for some crazy bokeh.

Nikon D750 with 58mm Helios M44-2 lens

The same weekend I hiked at Caesar Creek and wasn’t disappointed. Such a crisp, beautiful fall day!

Mamiya RB67 ProS on Ektar film

This time of year oten finds me in our two local cemeteries; Calvary and Woodland. The fall colors are fantastic and I love the peace and quiet.

Mamiya 645 Pro with Fuji Pro 400H film

Mamiya 645 Pro with Fuji Pro 400H film

Mamiya 645 Pro with Fuji Pro 400H film

Fuji GX617 with Fuji Pro 400H film

I went for a hike the next weekend with my big GX617 at Possum Creek Metropark.

Then, sadly, the colors faded away. Mother Nature also provided us with a fairly bad icestorm that knocked down what was left of the color.

And so closes another fall in Ohio! I’m glad I was able to squeeze in a little time here and there to get out and enjoy it! I hope you did as well!

Nikon F with Helios M44-2 lens on Kirkland Signature 200 film

The Lion King Jr Musical, and Thoughts on “Perfection”

Last week I shot the dress rehearsal for the Lion King Jr musical for the Springfield Arts Council (https://www.facebook.com/SpringfieldArtsCouncil/). It was held at the John Legend Theater in Springfield, Ohio. The theater is gorgeous – I highly recommend seeing an event there.

This was a departure from my norm, as this time part of the ask was to be there early to catch some behind-the-scenes images of the cast and crew prior to the event. Generally I just show up and shoot the performance, so being back-stage and seeing all that goes into an event of this magnitude was impressive and very rewarding. It really gave me an appreciation for all that the crew does to make the event happen.

Kids are awesome – as an adult I would have been freaking out and nervous before the performance; the kids were just being kids and having a good time.  Actually, truth be told I was nervous not knowing what to expect back-stage and the kids having such a great time put me at ease behind the camera.

Once the performance got underway my second shooter and I got to work; each of us taking a designated side of the stage and moving to the middle as needed to capture the action. Once again, knowing the plot and story ahead of time made it easier to be in the right place at the right time. This was a very active musical, with actors using all of the aisles in the theatre as part of the performance.

After the event, I stuck around to shoot the cast and crew for the obligatory group shot on stage. That was held up a bit as Krissy spent quite a bit of time going over the mistakes that were made and what needed to be fixed for opening night. I was a bit thrown off at this because to me, it was great. Yeah there were a few moments where I could tell some kids didn’t hit their marks and were distracted, but I was really entertained.

I was looking at it through a different set of eyes, and frankly was probably distracted by being behind the camera and trying to figure out timing and placement for shots. I didn’t see all of the mistakes because I wasn’t close-in like the cast and crew were – they had been practicing for 8 weeks and knew every word, note, and step. I didn’t – so I didn’t see the mistakes.

I thought about this more while I processed the images over the weekend. At one point I was griping to myself about how high the ISO was on a lot of the shots due to low lighting and how I didn’t like some elements of some shots; they weren’t “perfect”. But they captured a lot of great emotion and expression, and there were some images that I was laughing at as I recalled the show. None of the kids and parents when looking at the shots would care about “perfection” – no one is going to pixel-peep and zoom in and chastise me about the noise in an image that was shot at 6400 ISO. They care about the shot; how it makes them feel and what emotions and memories it stirs. It’s the same thing that I experienced in the theater; I wasn’t close to it so to me it was great. I need to remember that on a personal level when I get into a funk and judge myself and my images harshly – obviously I’m my own worst critic.

Shout out to @reneehopson for being my second shooter at the event, and as always, putting up with my bouts of “editing grumpiness”. :)

Thanks for reading!

Found Memories - Do you know "DW Boring" ?

Mamiya and Film.jpg

Last week Renee texted me with some images of some old cameras she saw in an antique store in Lebanon, Ohio, and one of those images was of a Mamiya 528TL. I have a rule that I am not acquiring any additional cameras unless it is something that I plan on shooting (ie, no dust collectors). Even though I have several 35mm cameras and most of my shooting on film is done in Medium Format, I have a special place in my heart for Mamiya products as I absolutely adore my RB67’s, my 645’s, and my C220. So why not one more Mamiya?? I love the quality of my Medium Format Mamiya’s so this 35mm version should be fun to shoot.

Renee brought it home and, of course, the shutter was dead. Had I done my research beforehand I would have found that this is a common problem with the 528TL, and to get a working one now is actually more rare of an occasion than finding a dead one. OK, so I broke my rule unintentionally - and the 528TL becomes another piece of decoration for my office at work.

Even though the camera is toast it looks great, and when inspecting it I saw that the shot counter was on #16. I removed the snap-on leather case, hit the film-release button, and rewound the roll. I popped open the back to find a 24 exposure roll of Kodak Kodacolor VR100. Based on the counter being at 16 my guess was the shooter didn’t finish the roll and just put the camera away to use again later but never did. Being in the protective case may have saved the film inside since the case had to be removed to open the back. Dead or not, my plan was to develop the film the next time I am developing some color film.

Fast forward to yesterday – I shot a roll of Ektar out at Ceasar Creek so I developed that and the 35mm roll of found film. The Roll of Kodacolor was super difficult to get on the film reel due to it being curled very badly. Probably from being rolled-up on the take-up spool for years. Once I got it in the reel and started I found that the film was badly damaged about 2/3 way thru the roll. My guess is people kept trying to rewind the camera without removing the film lock, so they succeeded in tearing the hell out of the sprocket holds on the film. I ended up cutting that portion off in order to get it fully into the roll.

After I developed it I hung it to dry and was disappointed as it appeared that there were no images on it. But after it dried and I could inspect closer there were some faint images on there. It was a bit of work to get them scanned in but they were salvageable so I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Not all of the images came out though. It looks like there was an outdoor family party and as it got darker outside the images were quite dark – and given the time that had passed they weren’t recoverable. But the ones that were look to be sometime in the early-to-mid 80’s given the hair and clothing. There was a lot of damage and fading to the images, and the color had shifted quite a bit.

Then there was the chair. These were the last two shots on the roll and I’m not certain what they are all about. I’m guessing it was some sort of restoration project that was about to take place given the nature of the shots and the newspapers laying on the floor to protect it (?).

Engraving.jpg

Obviously a lot of time has passed since these were taken, and I’m not even certain if the person who took them, or the people in the shots, are still alive. The name on the bottom of the camera was “DW Boring, Jan 15, 1971 M-W Co.” Guessing that these images were about 10 years or so after that date I’m thinking that was who shot them. Before the age of digital not everyone bought a new camera nearly every year, so it is entirely conceivable that it’s the same person. I found a mention of a “DW Boring” in an old copy of the Portsmouth, Ohio times from July 1976 so it could be them?

Portsmouth Ohio Times 7.20.1976.JPG

If anyone knows DW Boring, or any of the people in these images, please reach out to me at Jeremy.mudd@gmail.com. I’d be happy to share the digital scans with them and/or give them the negatives.

Thanks for reading!

Chasing Waterfalls in Indiana

The RB67 ProS - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The RB67 ProS - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Saturday 10.13.2018 found me out of the hose and on the road by 4:00am heading towards Indiana to photograph some waterfalls that I’ve never been to before: Cataract Falls and McCormick Falls. I’ve been feeling a bit restless lately and needed a small roadtrip to mix things up a bit. It was between this trip or going north to the Lake Erie area – but given the cold 34F degree morning that was forecasted I thought this would be the perfect time to shoot the waterfalls and not worry about people being in the way wading and playing in the water. Which looks to be a pretty common occurrence if you look up any Youtube videos of them, especially Cataract Falls.

Packed in the car were my faithful Mamiya RB67 ProS and my Fuji GX617, along with my D500 and 150-600 lens (in case any wildlife opportunities came up, but the plan for the trip was to just shoot film for the most part).

I arrived at what I *thought* was the park containing the Cataract Falls only to find out, after driving all over the park, that the falls were actually about 20 minutes away from there. Oops. So much for being set-up and ready to shoot before dawn. Once finally there I was fortunate to mostly, other than one small group of people who came and went, have the place to myself.

Cataract Lower Falls in the Mist - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls side view- Mamiya RB67 ProS with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Lower Falls - Fuji GX617 with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Cataract Falls actually consists of two groupings of waterfalls; the Upper and Lower. Most of my time was spent at the Lower falls as the Upper falls had a lot of dead trees and deadfall everywhere and it was not picturesque. I didn’t really shoot anything there – It wasn’t worth wasting the film on it. And, the few spots that looked like they had any hope of getting a good composition had very prominent signage preventing entry. Given that I was a stranger in a strange land, I decided it was best to move on.

The next stop was McCormick Falls in McCormick’s Creek State Park. This is a smaller waterfall set fairly far down in a ravine area. I hiked into the ravine and then upstream in the water with the RB67 in my pack. Here’s one of my favorite images from this spot.

McCormick Falls - Mamiya RB67 ProS with ACROS 100 film, long exposure

Over the last several years after I quit riding my bike (long, work-related story), I’ve put on weight but for the past 6 weeks I’ve been on the Whole30 diet (well, have turned it into a “Whole60” now) and have lost almost 30lbs. This really showed when carrying all of my heavy medium format gear into these locations – it was much easier. Getting healthy and back to a good weight makes everything in life better and easier, including photograpjy.

If you plan on visiting either falls, remember that Indiana charges $9.00 for out-of-state visitors ($7.00 for in state folks). From my experience with many Indiana State Parks this $$ is well worth it – they are some of the best kept parks that I’ve been to. If Ohio decided to charge admission to parks in order to fund them better, I would be happy to pay.

For those of you that are into the technical details, all of the above images were long exposures of over 3 minutes each on a tripod on Fuji ACROS 100 black & white film. I developed the images in Rodinal 1:100 misture in what is a “Semi-Stand” method with very little agitation. This has become my go-to development method for long exposures of waterfalls on ACROS film. I’ve found that the highlights of the water don’t get blown out and the shadow details are much better with this method. The developed negatives were scanned on an Epson V600 scanner with light dust clean-up and borders added in Photoshop.

If you are interested in visiting these waterfalls, the addres for the Cataract Falls is 1-70 N Cataract Rd, Spencer, IN 47460 . More info can be found at http://cataractfalls.com/. The McCormick Falls address is 250 McCormick's Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN 47460 . More info can be found at https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2978.htm.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Cincinnati, Ohio skyline and the Skystar Wheel 10.2.2018

Currently at the Banks in Cincinnati, the Skystar Ferris Wheel is running. This is a temporary attraction that is in the grassy area where the “Sing the Queen City” sign resides. The Skystar is a beautiful, temporary addition to Cincy’s already great skyline when viewed from the Kentucky side of the river.

I’ve shot the city many times from the Covington, KY viewpoint but the addition of the Skystar gave me a reason to shoot it again with my recently acquired Fuji GX617 panoramic camera. The GX617 shoots a huge negative that offers the ability to print very large – plus, getting a panorama “in-camera” is much easier than stitching several shots together. Especially when doing long exposures to smooth out clouds and water, and on windy days when things are moving around.

After getting set up in my favorite spot, I shot 8 shots of the skyline during the varying degrees of light from pre-sunset thru dark.

Here is one of the shots at sunset.

Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Kodak Ektar film at f/16, 240 seconds with a 4-stop ND filter

The detail on such a large negative is incredible. To illustrate my point, here is a crop into a small portion of the bridge in the original of the image.

And here is an image just after nightfall.

Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Kodak Ektar film at f/16, 60 seconds

While there, I also shot some images with my Mamiya RB67 ProS with a few different lenses.

Mamiya RB67 ProS w/90mm lens on Kodak Ektar film at f/16, 60 seconds

Mamiya RB67 ProS w/250mm lens on Kodak Ektar film at f/16, 60 seconds

 

I will be adding some of these images and others from the evening to my For Sale section soon.

If you have not been to Cincinnati lately to check out the Skystar, I highly suggest it. It is only there until December 2nd; then it gets broken down, packed up, and moved to another city.

https://www.skystarwheel.com/

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Jeremy

WIDE LOAD

Ask any 5 photographers what their favorite aspect ratio is and you’ll get 5 different answers: 3x2, 16x9, 4x5, 1x1, 2x1, etc, etc. Cropping and/or shooting in a particular ratio can often times completely change the look and feel of an image, and depending on what you are presenting, can be a very important tool in your arsenal.

Over the last 3 years, for the most part I have gravitated toward shooting and composing in 4x5 and 1x1 formats, with the occasional stitched together landscape at 2x1. 4x5 translates very well into commonly available off-the-shelf matting and frame sizes, and 1x1 is popular once again thanks in part to Instagram. Panoramas can often be successful in many different ratios but I have generally stuck to 2x1.

Dayton Early Morning B&W - a five image digitally-stitched pano in 2x1 ratio

Last year I purchased a 220 film back for my RB67 ProS along with a set of 35mm adapters on eBay with the thought of doing some really WIDE shots in the approximate 3x1 ratio. I modified the back so that the counter still worked with 35mm film, and with the adapters the area exposed onto each image (between the sprocket holes) measured 24mm x 72mm, a ratio of 3x1 (2x the width of the regular 2x3 ratio = 2x6). In order to compose properly I made a mask out of black .5mm Polypropylene that drops over my viewfinder. I can get about 16 shots on each roll of 35mm film this way, and it also has the added benefit of exposing the image outside of the holes in case I am going for that “look” of the sprocket holes. Sometimes I like that, sometimes I don’t. Generally when processing I will do an image both ways and save it in case I want one or the other later.

Monument Avenue Bridge long exposure. Mamiya RB67 ProS on 35mm Ektar film

The Memphis Belle - Mamiya RB67 ProS on Ektar 35mm film

Dayton Sunrise - Mamiya RB67 ProS with Ektar 35mm film

Bridge to Dayton - Mamiya RB67 ProS with Ektar 35mm film

The neat thing with this set-up is that I can also do verticals with the rotating back on the RB67 as long as I turn the mask on the viewfinder to match the vertical back. With the ability to change out the composition by swapping out between my 6 lenses that I have for the system makes it very versatile.

Carillon Tower - Mamiya RB67 ProS with Ektar 35mm film

The only drawbacks to this method is that the negative size isn’t as big as medium format: Cropping the image to 24mm x 72mm yields a negative of 17.28 square centimeters, while the 6cm x 7cm negative when using the entire area of the 6x7 back yields just under 42 square centimeters. The other drawback is that once I shoot the entire 35mm roll in the 220 back, I can’t shoot another until I get home into a dark room or use a dark bag to swap out that roll of film – because the back design can’t re-roll the film back into the 35mm canister it came on. So it needs to be removed in the dark. Neither of those are game-enders for me, but shooting that ratio and enjoying it immensely led me to look for something bigger.

Enter the Fuji GX617.

There are a few 6x17 cameras on the market but my research lead me to gravitate toward the Fuji. There is an older version out there with a fixed 105mm lens, the G617, but the ability to swap out between standard (180mm) and wide (90mm) lenses with the GX617 is super appealing to me. With the 617 the negative size is HUGE: 102 square centimeters. Print size is only limited by your storage space, wall size, and wallet size.

Deeds Point - Fuji GX617 with 180mm lens on Delta 100 film

Deeds Point 2 - Fuji GX617 with 180mm lens on Delta 100 film

Drawbacks of the Fuji?

Well, its huge.

Travelling with it would be difficult unless I was driving. I wish I would have had it for my trip to Colorado in July but then part of me wonders what a pain in the ass it would have been and if I would have still just brought my 2 digital cameras and 4 lenses anyway. My Domke bag with all of that and extra batteries and memory cards was about the size of just the GX617. I just got it last week so I haven’t hiked with it yet – but my hope is that if I hike with my RB67 (which I do), then this is possible.

It’s expensive.

You get 4 shots per roll of 120 - so add up the cost of the film, and my time/cost of developing chemicals/scanning/processing - the per shot $$ goes way up along with the quality. In addition to that, being a relatively rare camera means the lenses and accessories are expensive. My camera came with the 180mm lens, but I really want the 90mm to add to my collection for wide shots. The only three for sale I could find recently were on eBay and 2 of the three didn’t have the needed viewfinder to compose the shot, and the third one had the viewfinder but no center-weighted ND filter which is a must. And that lens was over $1800 used. Someone also has a kit with three lenses and the body but that’s $8500 and NOT justifiable by any means, not even if I had a spare kidney to sell.

Focusing.

The viewfinder isn’t coupled. So, you can frame the shot with it, but you can’t use it for focusing. You have to estimate the distance and dial that into the lens. You could also buy the ($$$ and rare) ground glass that goes on the back – but that only works for composing your first shot, because after the film is in you really can’t open the back again while there is film in there. Same with switching lenses – you can’t do that mid-roll. I think focusing will be OK; I’m fairly good at judging distance and most of my work will be on a tripod at f/16 or greater, and probably at infinity or near infinity anyway. But it won’t be as nice as looking down into that bright RB67 viewfinder and knowing it’s in focus before tripping the shutter. #trade-offs

All that being said I am still excited to shoot a lot of images with this camera. Renee and I turned in a show proposal to DVAC (Dayton Visual Arts Center) for the 2019-2020 season and will find out on December 15th if the proposal is accepted. If so, this camera will make a great addition to my tool bag for taking some images that can be made into massive prints.

I’ll post more on this camera as I shoot more images with it over time. Please feel free to ask me any questons!

Thanks for reading!

Families of Addicts (FOA) Rally for Recovery 8.26.2018 - Dayton, Ohio

I shoot a few charity events every year as a way to give back, in addition to the money I donate to various causes. While money always helps, the act of volunteering is often invaluable to smaller organizations. This year was the first year I’ve shot the FOA Rally for Recovery at Courthouse Square in Dayton, Ohio. If you’ve never heard of FOA, check them out at http://www.foafamilies.org/. They are a great non-profit organization that is an important resource for addicts and their families in the greater Dayton, Ohio area.

There are two things the photos don’t show: 1. Just how upbeat and helpful everyone was. Yes there was a lot of sorrow and talk of lost love ones, but the outpouring of help and caring was evident. 2. It was hot as all heck out there. I was melting, along with most of the other attendees. Thankfully the event organizers did a great job of assigning folks to walk around with wagons of bottled water. That was a life saver.

Also, I want to give kudos to the organizers for issuing press badges and ID’s to the photographers in attendance. It makes a world of difference when people see that you are “official” and not just some creeper there with a camera. I wish more events would do this.

Shout out to Andy Grimm (@mr_grimmisregret) for allowing me to help, and to Andrea (@ruff_creek_photography) and Doug (@doug.brand) from the Dayton Photography Group who were also there volunteering their time to shoot the event.

Shooting 50-year-old Expired Kodak Verichrome Film

20180825_073651_HDR[1].jpg

Recently I acquired a pair of medium format film cameras from a co-worker -  a Bessa Voightlander 1 (I’m guessing 1949ish) that belonged to his father, and a 1969 Mamiya C-220 that belonged to his wife’s father. Both are cameras that I have wanted for a while for different reasons – the Bessa shoots a 6x9 format, and the C220 has bellows focusing which makes for some nice and close near-macro work if desired. Both make nice additions to my collection of medium format cameras that I use regularly – no shelf queens in my collection. I’ve shot with both of them already and both work great; other than the Bessa’s viewfinder being a nightmarishly small fogged-over pinhole that’s nearly impossible to see thru, but results can be great if one perseveres with it…….more on that in another blogpost.

20180825_073847[1].jpg

In the cigar box with the Bessa were several rolls of very expired film, including a roll of Kodak Verichrome that expired in 1969. Yes, 1969. Before I was born.

I’ve shot some rolls of expired film lately thanks to the Film Photography Project selling off some old film from their freezer. Why shoot expired film? Why would I want to do that? Well, for me it gives me a chance to shoot film that’s no longer made, and, I quite like the interesting look/effects that sometimes result. Call it being experimental. No, I wouldn’t shoot expired film for something important/critical, and no I wouldn’t shoot it for paid work.

All film has an expiration date on it. The reason is that as over time film degrades, and for consistency its best to use it before that date. Manufacturers want to guarantee that you get what you expect when you shoot their film, and the date is a way to guarantee it.

But film doesn’t become useless as soon as soon as it expires. It’s not like milk. Some films may last years, maybe decades past their intended use-by date, as long as they’re carefully stored. Heat and radiation will eventually turn film into a fogged mess.

And even with that degradation, expired film can be used to take good images. Color/density shifts, curl, and lack of sharpness can elevate some shots from mundane to interesting. Think of expired film as an unpredictable, old-school Instagram filter that’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.

So, all that being said, time to get down to it.

I loaded the Verichrome into the Mamiya C-220. I wanted to shoot it with a camera from the same era and the C-220 ticked off that box. Plus, with its “blue-dot” 80mm f/2.8 lens I had a good chance of getting sharp images and the wide aperture helps with gathering as much light as the film needs.

Next, I had to figure out what speed to shoot the film. The Verichrome WAS rated at ISO 125 but given its 50-year old age, it has now become less sensitive to light. Probably a LOT less sensitive. The conventional wisdom is to shoot expired film 1-stop slower for each decade of expiration. So that’s 5 stops for this roll – meaning that instead of 125 I need to shoot it at ISO 4. Yes, 4. Thankfully my lightmeter goes that low.

I went to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. It's a beautiful place and full of interesting gravesites. Given my theme of shooting old film in an old camera, I thought the location would be fitting.

 

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Now comes time to develop and see what I have. Developing old film can often be problematic as well. Resources like the Massive Dev Chart won’t have any info for times/mixes for most expired films. I’ve found in these cases that, at least with B&W film, that the “semi-stand development” method works fairly well. The next-to-zero agitation helps keep grain issues low, and the process can help with perceived clarity and sharpness, all while helping get detail in shadows and not blowing out the highlights. Although I have to admit I’ve never shot with film this old before. I’m into uncharted territory.

I developed it in Rodinal 1:100 for 60 minutes, with slight agitation after putting the developer in the tank, and then at the 30 minute mark. Stop and Fix as normal, followed by PhotoFlo.

All images were scanned on an Epson V600, with dust removal and slight tweaks done in Photoshop CC.