My Graflex Speed Graphic and Dallmeyer Pentac 8in f2.9 aerial lens are finally an item! and, I’m delighted to say that I’m pretty happy with the results. Following on from my post here, I purchased a custom made lens board from Jo Lommen to mount the huge aerial lens on to the camera. It’s fair to say that the resulting combination of camera and lens is perhaps a bit on the cumbersome side and the possibility of hand holding has diminished somewhat but mounted on a solid tripod it’s real nice to use!
Allow me to introduce Keith Pitts, a film wedding photographer and improvisational children’s portrait photographer from Phoenix Arizona. Having had a look around his blog I really admire how his subjects seem so relaxed and natural, there are so many moments captured right on the button – a true skill. Just like myself, Keith shoots a mix of traditional film and digital, opting for the most suitable medium for the conditions. I love the image that Keith has chosen to share here, I’m not a regular b/w shooter, it’s tricky to get right and easy to muck up but Keith has nailed it! Here’s what he has to say…
Good old Santa Claus came up trumps this year and left me a cracking Olympus OM1 film camera for being such a good boy in 2012! Well, OK then I bought it just before Christmas on Ebay along with a winder and a few lenses. There’s a lot to love about the OM1. It is about the same size as a Leica M camera, way smaller than Canon and Nikon’s offerings of the same period. The viewfinder is without doubt the largest on any 35mm slr – it’s huge and pretty bright. I got it with some decent glass; 50mm f1.4, 35mm f2.8 and a 200mm f4. I love the fact that I can carry the lenses in my pocket without being totally weighed down – they’re tiny, especially the 35. Feature-wise it’s pretty basic, which I love – I used the built in meter for all of these pics below and the shots are consistent throughout. I always shot slightly over what the meter showed which I found matched with what my Sekonic meter read.
I felt a real connection shooting with the OM1 – I guess it reminded me of my first camera, a Nikormat FT2, which was a good bit bulkier to be fair but similar in many ways; for example the shutter speed selector sits just behind the lens instead of on the top plate like many other cameras of the period. Another nice feature (and just like Leica glass) is the aperture dial is at the front of the lens making it a doddle to turn, especially with gloves on. The film rewind release is on the front plate just like a Leica M. The pics were shot on well expired Fuji Superia 400 rated at 800 asa and pushed two stops by RPL. The scans are a bit on the grainy side but I think they suit the subject matter and the environment OK.
Set phasers to ‘moderately excited!’ I’ve just shot my first test (below) with a recently acquired Graflex Speed Graphic 5×4 press camera. Subject matter aside, I’m pretty chuffed! I’m basically looking to photograph some shots at weddings this year on 5×4 film in a bid to produce some imagery that is quite different to what I’m shooting now on 645. However, nice as the lens on my Graflex is, I’m looking to achieve a bit of a different look which requires a bit more exotic glass. Now it would be nice to go out and buy a Kodak Aero Ektar f2.5 lens and mount it on the Graflex but courtesy of David Burnett and his amazing results with the same combo, they are in demand and prices are crazy at the moment (as I write this there’s one selling on ebay for £750 still with an hour to go.) So, I’ve bought the closest British equivalent in the form of a Dallmeyer Pentac 8″ f2.9 lens for a fraction of the price. Let me explain…
The good people at Photo Professional Magazine got in touch at the end of 2012 asking if I’d like to share a top tip for making 2013 my best year ever – how could I refuse? My tip was to shoot more gorgeous film for my wedding and portrait work and less digital. My aim for the year is to hit a 80/20 mix of film to digital. I was even more delighted when they said that one of my images was going to open the feature over a DPS. The photo featured was shot at a styled shoot at my favourite venue, Fingask Castle just outside of Perth. The model is the beautiful Laura Ferguson who works for Alison Kirk Bridal who kindly lent dresses for the shoot. You can see more pics from the shoot here. The films were processed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in the States and shot on my Hasselblad H1 camera.
It is with the greatest pleasure that I introduce you to Dena Robles, a film portrait photographer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Dena has just moved back to the States after spending six years here in the UK and I’m pretty much sure she’s loving the light over there, especially shooting on film. Like me, Dena shoots her portrait work using ambient light on location and her work is very beautiful. You can check out her website here to see just how pretty her work is. Here’s what she has to say!
“Like many photographers I started my photography journey by shooting film and printing in a darkroom. Like most of those photographers I also made the switch to digital when DSLRs were finally available at a price less than the cost of a luxury car. And like a small handful of those photographers I have made the switch back to shooting film over the last few years. Why? I can talk on and on about the difference in the way film looks and feels, about the tangible quality of loading and advancing film, about the way it makes me slow down and think more about each frame I expose, about how inspiring it is to use classic old cameras. I won’t dare to try to qualify film as better than digital or vice versa. I know that is an endless and dangerous conversation to enter into. In the end, shooting film is a personal thing for me.
Recently I have discovered a bonus advantage for shooting film. Whether shooting with an old classic camera like my Hasselblad, or my tiny old school Pentax K100 or my large funky looking Contax 645, pulling one of these cameras out is a great conversation starter. People stop and notice, they recall memories of their father or grandfather using the Hasselblad or they might exclaim excitedly that they also learned photography on a Pentax K100 and relate “I should pull that old thing out and give it a try again.” Usually, this conversation leads to portrait making between the two of us, often it leads to a great cup of coffee and an afternoon talking about art and swapping stories. This autumn I vowed to carry the Pentax with me everyday for a month. When it wasn’t slung on my shoulder, it was parked next to my car keys at the front door, ready to go. I met many people, had coffee and lunch with several artists and students, and even scored free sushi when I started photographing the beautiful interior of a new sushi restaurant in my neighborhood. To my surprise, I was also stopped by the local TV News crew who were out filming a story one day during the lunch hour. I don’t know that I was necessarily ‘newsworthy’ but they did ask me to speak about what I was photographing and why. I declined the story, it felt to personal to me. It felt great to make these connections in my city and it was also very satisfying to discreetly document the activity going on that month. With such a vast amount of people owning, carrying and pointing digital cameras, I felt less conspicuous and like I had a free ticket to photograph the public.
Following is a snippet of the series I created documenting my new hometown. I think I will do this again in the spring, but with a fabulous old Polaroid, I would love to be able to immediately hand over a photograph to the people I meet, a little token of our encounter. I wonder if the news crew will be out that day…”
The photography in this book is simply haunting as it documents the gradual death of analogue film. Watch the video then be sure to click through to the images at CNN’s website. Photographer Robert Burley, captured the death of analogue photography: the demolition of Kodak plants, the rapid downfall of the film photography industry, the sudden obsolescence of neighbourhood photo shops and subway photo booths. Naturally, he did so on film. His book, Disappearance of Darkness, is just released, and some of the gorgeous, haunting images are featured on CNN’s website
I was delighted a while back when Photo Professional magazine here in the UK asked me to contribute to an editorial they were compiling focussing on UK photographers shooting weddings on film. The piece features in the current (December) issue.
I recently said goodbye to my Contax 645AF camera and invested in a Hasselblad H1 to photograph weddings on beautiful medium format film. I’m in no way a reviewer of cameras, I just take pictures, so I’ll keep things very simple. I loved shooting with the Contax – a lot! It is a very refined camera and a pleasure to shoot with. Why then did I change to the Blad? I didn’t have 100% faith in the Contax following a series of small blips. The camera would freeze up for no reason. Reset the battery or the prism and it would go again, no sweat. The battery life wasn’t great and it produced heart in mouth moments when it went mid roll on a shoot. OK so I could have got the AA battery grip but it adds a bit more bulk and I’m not really all that big a bloke! I could have lived with these quirks but I was also having an issue with film flatness which I couldn’t quite pinpoint and that was what bothered me most about the Contax.
Choices abound when it comes to photographing weddings on film; camera, film stock, lab and even film scanner. It can be a bit daunting at first and takes a while to settle on a combination that suits you and the look your trying to achieve. Below are a couple of photographs I captured at a recent styled shoot at Fingask Castle in Perthshire, Scotland. They were scanned by the awfully talented people at Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood, USA. One is scanned on a Noritsu film scanner and the other on a Fuji Frontier scanner. Both images are displayed exactly as they came from the lab.