Where have all the film photo bloggers gone? A solution to ‘scanning’ film using a digital camera?
A single blogger who I followed from my other, non-photographic, blog (grumpytyke) has persuaded me to open this other blog of mine and think about beginning to post on it again. It was a sad experience; many (most) of the blogs I followed from here had not been updated for more than a year, of those the majority had not been updated for more than two years. Does this mean those bloggers have deserted the ‘photography on film’ community or, like me, health or something like equipment failure has kept them away?
So, I have ‘unfollowed’ bloggers who have not posted for more than two years, still following those who have posted in the last two years, in the hope they will join the few still posting, though that’s probably optimistic.
Briefly, my dropping out on this blog was due to serious problems with health and, at the crucial time, my old scanner packed up. So most film photography, including housing an enlarger in a wardrobe, half done, has been on hold. I almost sold the majority of my film cameras but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Scanning problems – a solution?
It’s a possible solution to the scanning which has made me think about blogging here again. It was my ‘Minolta ‘Dimage Scan Dual II‘ which packed up; my Epson Perfection 4990 was always too much of a hassle for 35mm.
So what scanning solution has brought me back here? The possibility of the launch of a product which would make easy ‘scanning’ using a digital camera.
I’ve tried it using a cobbled together set-up but it proved to be even more hassle than the Epson. Now someone has come up with what looks like a great solution – ‘pixl-latr‘. Problem is that it’s not available yet; money to put it into production is being sought, through crowdfunding (though so far I haven’t been able to find a scheduled production date). However, what it has shown is that the film fraternity is far from dead; over 500 backers have jumped on the crowdfunding. You’ll find the details here:
Cameras for a trip to Romania
Whatever I decide about posting again, I will take a least one, possibly more, film cameras on my planned drive to, around and back from Romania this summer, as well as a digital. Last year I took my Olympus OM2 but hardly used it. I’ll probably take the same this year with one or two OM lenses (with adapter to use on the mirrorless digital), but supplemented by one or more ‘pocketable’ ones – maybe Olympus XA and/or XA4, or maybe the more pocketable (lighter) Cosina CX-2. The Minox 35 GT would be my choice had it not become unreliable. For quick ‘snapshots’ for the blog I’ll use the iPad.
Developing will have to wait till I get back home in September. That has never been a problem for my preferred black and white. For C41 I’m lucky enough to have an excellent, reasonably priced processing house close by. For now rarely used diapositive film (I still have a few rolls of my all-time favourite – Astia, mostly 120) I use the Fuji service.
Another decision I’ve made is to document my travels on my other blog with as regular a posting as I can manage, when I can find convenient WiFi. Hence the digital camera. In past years I’ve used Facebook in a private group for this travelog but I so dislike Facebook I’ve almost closed down my use of it.
You are very fortunate to have the D659. It is as good as anything Leica ever made. You are especially lucky if you have the lenses it came with, serial #’s matching what is on the enlarger’s nameplate. I got mine, still coated with cosmoline, at the University of Washington’s surplus property auction, for $25. That was untold years ago. Unfortunately, the lenses had been removed. Finding the parts to mount similar lenses was very hard, but Eventually I got it together. Sine the lenses don’t match the autofocus cam, I must always focus. Not easy! But worth the effort. Using the Setoneg glass carrier with Durst’s AN glass (may be hard to find) the film plane is absolutely flat. It has been a major adventure. I’ve used many enlargers over the years, up to the 10×10 Chromega Saltzman, but the 659 is my absolute favorite. There has never been a finer enlarger. For 4×5 negatives, I use the Omega D3 I bought in 1964.
By the way, I solved my darkroom problem by building it into a 16’ contractor’s trailer. I do all my own lab work in there, and my wife’s, too. Controlling the ambient temperature is challenging, but with a 10 gallon gas+ electric water heater and Wing Lynch water panel, (RIP Boeing Surplus!) the water part is easy. We are “retired” but actively photographing, especially in the diminishing shrub- steppe of central Washington.
For scanning my wife’s 6×6 zone plate negatives, she is using a Durst Chromapro with a Sony E mount, upon which she leaves her old NEX 7. She has a miniature light panel she puts on it. I can’t remember why we just don’t use the chromapro’s built in light source. There is a reason, but what we are doing works great.
Hello, I’m just beginning in black and white film photography, have a Nikon FM2 and a darkroom, and I’m using Ilford chemicals. I have an old enlarger but it works. I’m looking for a blog(s) to follow to learn the craft. Can you recommend any? My questions at the moment have to do with learning when to over or under expose a shot depending on the lighting situation, how to get the best contrast in printing using filters, and how to scan black and white photos to upload on social media and retain the quality of the print, or what to look for in a shop that does that, and I live in India but a large city. Thank you.
Thanks for the comment Donny. I’m no expert so not sure I can help very much.
I too now have an old enlarger but not yet ‘commissioned’. It’s a Durst D659 and I got it to enlarge from my 6×9 negs but that came to a halt when I was unwell. I hope to get it working this coming autumn.
My experience enlarging a long time ago was not by using filters with multigrade paper but using paper of different grades.
Personally I think you can never equal a good analogue print digitally and viewing on a computer screen, ie on social media, can never equal a print. That’s why I’m trying to get back into ‘analogue’ photography with film and paper.
I’m talking about black and white because my colour photos are what I’d call ‘snapshots’ and for attempts at more serious photography I only ‘do’ mono.
As for blogs to follow, I’m trying to build up a list again and so many I used to follow have ‘disappeared’. All I can suggest is you look at my list of ‘posts I’ve recently liked’ and pick up on any of those you like. Cee would be a good starting point as she has a lot of ‘challenges’ with pix from many different photo bloggers.
Avoid underexposing AND overexposing! It’s best to erase those terms. What you want is enough exposure and not too much.
If you are using the manufacturer’s recommended ISO you are probably already deficient by a full stop. Manufacturers always seem to over-rate their films. The old rule still applies. “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.” A good start is to divide the ISO BY 2. That alone will probably go a long way toward getting you better results. Then, if you take a light reading in the darkest area in your scene where you want to retain detail and set your exposure as two stops down from that while you photograph the whole scene (ignoring what your meter is screaming at you that it’s wrong) you should have a decent exposure. I hope this makes sense to you.
Example: you read an important shadow on a sunny day with your meter set at 200 ISO for Kodak tri-x (which Kodak rates as 400), you might get a reading of f/8 @ 1/200 of a second. If you were to photograph the whole scene that way, you would be very overexposed. So you would use f/16 @ 1/200. Recognize this? It’s the “sunny 16 rule”: “On a sunny day, use the reciprocal of the ISO at f/16.”
You are in a special case situation, and what I’m describing should serve you well, but you will need to be firm in your resolve! You have blazing light and deep shadows in India, don’t you? Most people, seeing more light will think they need less exposure. WRONG! Expose for the shadows! It will seem- and your meter will tell you- that you need to give less exposure. Counter intuitive as it seems, you might even need more. Why? Because the shadows are deeper in relation to the scene as a whole. The shadows need the exposure they need! What you need is LESS DEVELOPMENT. You need to have a good basis for the exposure, and upon that basis, you need to control those rampant brightnesses. Development controls contrast. You will have better results if you follow the exposure rule, and cut back your development time by about 20%. For starters. Could need more, but I suspect this will give you a good start.
Of course, every circumstance will be different, and you will need to build up a library of experience to help you develop an intuition that accommodates different situations.
One further suggestion. If you are shooting a backlit subject (toward the light source) you will need 1 to 1 and 1/2 stop more exposure than if the light is behind you. Of course, if you are diligent about basing your exposure on the shadow, that will automatically accomplish this.
The Olympus OM is my preferred kit for 35mm. They are great camera’s, their optics very sharp. I use a Minolta 5400 for final 35mm scans but I use the Epson v700 for quickly scanning a 35mm film (4 strips with 6 images)
Set up and properly used I believe the pixl-latr will give good results, better than those very cheap, almost toy scanners for 35mm. But it will be a very slow process for those who want to use it frequently.
Thanks for the reply Stephan. Something to think about. I’ve never liked the scanning process, nor ‘messing about’ in Photoshop or something. For sure this ‘colours’ my view. In my latest post I do say I’ve decided on OM1/OM1n, subject only to a ‘road rest’ to ensure as far as possible they don’t jam up. As you say, they are great cameras and optics.
Hey, I understand your concern and observations! I was also at the verge of giving up too several times but I realised shooting analogue and blogging keep my creative side in shape and it makes me happy! So still today me and my blog are still alive! I don’t post that regularly but I don’t give up in front of the hurdles.
My problem is the preriods of lack of muse either to make photos or to write a matching story with the photos.
Interesting Tsvetina. I never have a problem to write but that’s not surprising as it was my profession before I retired. However, apart from discussions of equipment etc like the ones I’ve posted here recently most of the ‘writing with photos’ rather than ‘photos with writing’ is on my other blog – grumpytyke. In fact for my planned daily ‘diary’ or ‘travelog’ of my forthcoming trip to Romania, most of the photos will be necessarily on digital. In previous years I’ve done these ‘travelogs’ on Facebook but I now dislike FB so much I’ve decided to transfer it to ‘grumpytyke’!
I have a feeling we may have ‘spoken’ in the past, before I ‘dropped out’ (maybe 2-3 years, or even more). Do you recall that or was it someone with a similar name?
PS. I thought I recognised your name Tsvetina but it’s a long time with a lot of water under the bridge. I sent you a Fed 2 or 3, but the last I heard you hadn’t got it working. Good to make contact again.
Scheduled availability date of pixl-latr is Sep 2018. Sorry I missed before.