Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beacon II

This really cool looking 127 roll film camera, the Beacon II, was manufactured by Whitehouse Products Inc. of Brooklyn, New York from 1947 through 1955. Made of Bakelite (a heavy plastic) the camera takes 16 photographs on each roll of 127 film through a 46mm, f11 lens and a 1/50 shutter speed. It also has a “B” setting allowing for extended exposures.

The lens is coated and color corrected so it should do equally well with either color or black & white film. I have thus far shot only one roll and it was Rera Pan 100 black & white so I can’t say much about its capabilities with color film but the black & white images produced by the camera were fantastic.

My November 15th (2014) blog post shows one of my favorite photographs from my first and only roll of film to date. Although the camera is capable of taking 16 photographs I didn’t understand the way the two red windows on the back of the camera work at first so I messed up and only got 9.

Here’s another from that roll.
Another oddity of this camera’s design is that the lens section on the front to of the camera must be pulled out and locked into position before the shutter will fire.  When I first got it I thought the shutter was broken because it would not fire. Once I pulled the lens section out I realized it worked fine.

Overall my first experience with this camera was very satisfying and I plan to shoot it again and recommend it highly to anyone interested in shooting 127 film.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rollei Digibase 200 Revisited

In my November 29, 2013 blog post I offered my initial comments on this film stock after shooting my very first roll. The results were beautiful then and a year later I am still really pleased with this film.

The shot above was taken of an abandoned structure overgrown by weeds beside a small pond. Its an interesting structure and I can’t figure out what it was but the light was golden and the reflections in the pond offered an intriguing image that begged to be captured on this warm and colorful film. This one was shot with the Pentax ZX-L but I didn't record and don’t recall the settings.

In my comments last year I compared this film to Fuji Velvia and I still believe there are similarities between the two. The Rollei is faster by a stop and the clear base seems to have been designed for scanning. Both films offer a warm and brilliant color palette that is pure magic for shots taken during the “Golden Hours” and beautiful anytime.

I highly recommend this film and will be using it again.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rera Pan 100 Rocks!

My last two or three posts have highlighted images shot with a digital camera. Enough already! Its time to get back to film – which is after all, what this blog is supposed to be all about.

Recently I was bemoaning the absence of a good black & white film available for my 127 roll film cameras when I heard about Freestyle Photo starting to carry Rera Pan 100. I had never heard of it but decided to try it anyway. The results from my first roll are spectacular.

I hate to make sweeping endorsements based on only one roll of film but if my results are typical of what to expect,  it is an awesome film. Black “blacks” like my all-time favorite black & white film, Tri-X. Plenty of rich grays with lots of detail everywhere, and all this from a Beacon II which is essentially a really cool looking, 127, bakelite, box camera from the late 1940’s.

I’ll talk more about the Beacon II in a later blog post.

The shot above was taken at the old state capital in Baton Rouge of one of my favorite subjects, a fire hydrant sitting unnoticed right out front. Processing and scanning were done by The Darkroom.

I couldn't find much information on Rera Pan except that is a traditional fine grain black & white film from Japan that can be processed with the usual black & white chemistry but I think I’ve seen what I need to see. I will definitely be shooting this film again!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sometimes They’re Hidden

New Iberia seems to do a great job decorating their fire hydrants but you really have to hunt for some of them.  Here’s one in colorful camo attire that was discovered next to the St.’s College, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. It was off to the side standing guard over the entire Grotto and backed up by an awesome angel.

Sometimes the real attraction is off to the side or behind the what everyone else is seeking. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One More Time!

Fire hydrants really are everywhere.  I found another one in front of the current Louisiana State Capitol building. It took a little extra effort since this one was across the street but with some creative composing I pulled it off.

It’s a shame Baton Rouge doesn't decorate or maintain their fire hydrants better. These are not very colorful and what color there is, is pretty faded. It would be really cool if this one was bright red, white and blue; although I believe the colors actually mean something to the firemen and have something to do with the water pressure or volume.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

They’re Everywhere!

I can’t remember when I first became interested in fire hydrants as photo subjects ( it was sometime back in the 1970’s) but one of the really great things about them is that they are literally everywhere so I am never going to run out of them to shoot. Another neat thing about them is that they are almost invisible. Even though they’re everywhere people just don’t notice them at all.

In fact if you are honest about it, most of you will have to look a second time at the photograph above to “see” the fire hydrant because you missed it the first time and just “saw” the Old Louisiana State Capitol building.

Diane Arbus once said, “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”  I guess I feel that way about fire hydrants.

This one was shot with the Pentax K-1 in downtown Baton Rouge on a gorgeous fall afternoon.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How Wide Can You Get?

I have recently been awed by the pictures from the Holga WPC (wide pinhole camera) but just as I am coming to fully appreciate what it can do I run into the Clipper 6 X 18 Panoramic Pinhole Camera shown above.

Originally a Kickstarter project this camera which is produced by 3-D printing has a curved film plane and produces four 2 ¼” X 7” panoramic images from each roll of 120 film.

That’s all I know about it for now except that you get one from for $79. I may need one of these.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rollei Redbird, Creative Edition Film

Having seen some really nice results and being totally intrigued by the name of this film I had to get some and try the Rollei Redbird, Creative Edition film. I got the film in both 120 and 35mm formats but started out with the 35mm version in my Pentax ZX-L.

I really had no idea what to expect or how to manipulate the film since it is essentially regular film shot backwards through the base side rather than the emulsion side. I am told that this is achieved by rolling the film backwards onto the spool. The film ends up with a “reddish” look due to the color shift that occurs when the red layer gets exposed first rather than last.

The other thing that happens is that the film loses at least one stop film speed so that I suspect the Rollei Redbird (ISO=400) film is actually Rollei Nightbird film (ISO = 800) that has been reversed when rolling it onto the spool.

My two biggest concerns were whether I would get the results I wanted by just shooting the film at box speed (ISO=400), and whether The Darkroom would remember to reverse the film when scanning to give me the image I wanted rather than the reverse image derived from scanning the usual side.

Both of those concerns were addressed in my first roll of film. From the image above you can see that shooting at box speed does not yield the best results although there is a certain “something” that makes this a compelling image. 

My other concern was quickly realized too. The Darkroom scanned my negatives as they would any other film so that my images came out backwards. This is not a huge problem since I easily flipped them in post processing but I would have thought they would have known better.

I will be trying this film again but I likely will experiment with longer exposures to see if I can optimize the exposure times for the best combination of shadow detail and the “redscale effect.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Pick of the Litter"

Here’s the next installment in the continuing adventures of me and my Holga WPC. In my last post I briefly explained a little about my initial experiences with this amazing camera shooting with Kodak Portra 400 color film. I took a total of six shots and they all came out. That is, the exposures were correct. Out of the six there were four “keepers.” The other two are okay but the compositions didn’t turn out as I had hoped.

The photograph above is my favorite of the four keepers. This is actually the reason I went to visit the Chalmette Battlefield where the Battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815. I had been there previously and taken an incredible shot of the monument with my digital camera. I was hoping to duplicate the image with the Holga WPC but the sky was overcast and rainy so the lighting was all wrong. I went off to take some shots of the canons instead. Eventually I turned around to behold what you see above. 

This was not the image I went there to get but sometimes serendipity provides a better reward. I can’t wait to see what else this camera can do.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holga WPC

The latest addition to my arsenal of pinhole cameras is the formidable Holga WPC (wide pinhole camera). This camera comes with two masks, one for shooting in 6 x 12 format and the other for shooting in 6 x 9 format on 120 roll film. That translates into negatives that are 2 ¼” x 4 ½” or 2 ¼” x 3 3/8” respectively. Either of these are impressive for the size alone and could result in extreme enlargements of excellent quality.

In fact when shooting the in the near panoramic 6 x 12 format The Darkroom thinks it is so impressive they charge extra for processing. I believe this is justified because it takes extra time & effort to identify these non-standard negatives and scan them properly, something The Darkroom takes the time to do and do very well. 

With my Holga set up for the 6 x 12 format and a roll of Portra 400 loaded I set out on my photo safari to see what my new pinhole camera could do.  In my last post I displayed a photo of “the crossroads” taken with my Pentax K-1.  As you can see from the panoramic image above the Holga WPC’s version of that shot includes a “little” more of the crossroad.

The famous “dark corners” are in full splendor here, even after a little cropping to better present the image. I confess to not really liking the “dark corners” the way the WPC presents it and will probably crop most of my shots to soften the effect somewhat. Otherwise however, I really like the WPC and am impressed with the initial results of my first adventure with it.

Lessons learned – get closer! As with most pinholes you always seem to be too far away from the subject and the WPC is no different in that respect.

A few days after I shot these images I had planned another shoot but cancelled it once I realized that the Holga cable release I had did not have a reliable locking mechanism for use with the extremely long exposures (15 to 20 minutes) I was contemplating.  This is the one sold under the Holga brand name and works well with all my Holgas but like everything “Holga” it is mostly cheap plastic and rather flimsy. 

After a bit of experimenting it appears however, that a couple of strategically placed rubber bands might effectively hold the shutter open so that I can just use the lens cap as the shutter for such exposures. I will let you know how it works after my next Holga WPC adventure.