35mm · Film photography · Photography

AMC Pacer (with cheese)

I sent a copy of my zine of New York City photographs to fellow blogger Jim Grey recently and he pointed out that one of the images contained within – of a car dressed to look like a cheeseburger – depicted an AMC Pacer. Apparently this is quite a rare car (and no doubt rarer still to be found garbed as this one is!). I know little of cars, and even less so where American cars are concerned, so thanks for the info Jim!

As I have another photo of the same car that isn’t in my zine, I thought I’d post it here today.

Burgermobile

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 29 May 2019

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Arcades, invaders, and zines

A couple of pictures to continue the seaside theme today, albeit with nary a grain of sand, nor a splash of salt-water in sight. Both these were made in that other stalwart of the seaside resort – the arcade. This one has been open as long as I can remeber (it’s definitely older than me), although it’s changed considerably since what was (to me and my own personal nostalgia, at least) its heyday.

Back then it was full of bleeping, blooping video games. At first the older titles like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Night Driver and such, but later expanding significantly as the craze for such games grew and grew. A few years later it was possible for show-offs to display theit skills on the Don Bluth animated laser-disc games like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, the huge cabinets given pride of place next to the street to draw the crowds.

This arcade is a sizeable place and it used to have some full-sized fairground rides within. A ladybird ride for the younger customers was near the ntrance, but a set of dodgems awaited the bigger kids right at the back of the place. Along one wall were a series of fairground stalls in the form of coconut shies, shooting ranges, ball games, and – perhaps most memorably – a place where you could make artwork by squirting plashes of colourful paint onto a sheet of paper that would then be spun at high velocity on a turntable to create amazing, psychadelic works of art. I remember with fondness the smell of the lacquer that would be applied to hold the image in place, and also the disappointment you’d get when it turned out that some of the paint had stuck to the inside of the card cover, ruining it when you later opened it.

Wheel of Fortune ega win

I still love visiting Mablethorpe, and suspect I will for as long as I live, such were the happy memories formed there when I was a child, but each time I go I also feel a certain disappointment that things are not as I remember them in my youth, that the bleeps and bllops of the arcade games of old are mostly gone, the old stand-up cabinets replaced by larger “event” machines offering experiences that cannot be had on home consoles. Much of the floor space is now given over to fruit-machines and devices that let you win lengthy strings of tokens to be exchanged for prizes. It’s not the same as it was. But then, not many things are. Sometimes you really want a time-machine though…

Anyway, one of today’s images shows a couple of retro-games. Not the originals, but still enough to bring a smile to my face when I saw them.

In other news, my zines arrived today! This is the first time (other than the odd print) that I’ve ever had my photos published in physical form. The zines were made ostensibly for me to take part in a zine-swap with a group of other photographers, but I’ve got a whole bunch of them – it was the same price to get twenty-five copies as it was to get ten, so I went for the maximum. I can hopefully use the spares for other zine swapsies (plus I’ve already promised copies to a few people). I’m very happy with the quality of the materials and the reproduction of the photographs – I decided to go with a heavier weight 150GSM paper for the pages, with a 170GSM soft-touch laminated cover and it has a very nice feel to it. There are a few things for me to take away for the next time, but for my first go I’m more than happy.

Modern retro
Not the originals, but still nice to see the old alien foes in their natuaral environment.

Canon Sure Shot Z135, Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 11 September 2020

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Chevy Sedan Delivery

I made a few pictures of this vintage Chevy on the way to Mablethorpe the other week, some with my Canon Sure Shot Z135, and some with my Zeiss-Mess-Ikonta 524/16. I photographed the same car before when I passed by last year, using the Zeiss on that occasion too, but with some Ektar (and in bright sunshine). The conditions this year were more subdued, the same layer of thin, high cloud that would be present most of the day, obscuring the sun so that much of of the light was diffused, removing much of the contrast. Despite this, I still like how both these images turned out.

I think the car is a Chevy Townsman from the early 50s, but I’m happy to be corrected by someone more knowlegeable about such things.

EDIT: I’ve been informed my fellow blogger, Jim Grey, that it’s actually a Chevrolet Sedan Delivery. Thank you Jim.

Chevy
This is the Z135 shot, taken on Kodak Gold 200, scanned on my Plustek 8100 as a linear tiff and then converted with Photoshop and Grain2Pixel.
Chevrolet Townsman
And this is the Zeiss shot, this time taken on Kodak Portra 400, scanned on my Epson V550 as a linear tiff and converted with Photoshop and Grain2Pixel.

Taken on 11 September 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

The obligatory launderette photo (plus a Lipca Rollop update)

It seems like it’s almost the law that you must make photographs of launderettes if you see them. That, or petrol stations (often at night). So, taday I’ll share a photo of a launderette.

I can see the appeal though, there’s something interesting about the places. They often have a sense of faded glory about them, many of them having fallen away as more and more people bought domestic washing machines. There’s still a demand though, whether it be for full service washes, or when you need to launder a bulky item like a quilt that simply won’t fit in the machine at home.

I remember my mum taking me in a launderette on a number of occasions when I was little. It was fascinating place for a young boy, full of buttons, dials, coin slots, washing powder dispensers, and a long row of heavy-duty washing machines and tumble driers full of other people’s clothes spinning round-and-around. The air would be filled with the warm scent of detergent and fabric conditioner and, if I was good, I would get a hot-chocolate in a plastic cup from the vending machine mounted on the wall.

I think the lunderette in my post today probably does good trade. I expect that seaside towns, particulalry those with large camp and caravan sites, have a strong demand for laundry services.

In other news, I shot another roll through my Lipca Rollop II yesterday, this time with a makeshift felt skirt fitted to the lens standard to attempt to combat the light leak. Alas, it didn’t work, three frames show the same arc of light as before. Now I need to decide what to do with the camera – when it works (usually when focussing on items further away) the lens is sharp and produces very nice images. Unfortunately, despite this, the fault means I can’t rely on it fully. I’m not sure that I want to pay for a repair as I have another, fully-working, TLR anyway, so I might sell it on as a working, but faulty camera.

Almost obligatory launderette photo

Canon Sure Shot Z135, Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 11 September 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Beach chalets

I’d wondered if I’m manage to make my annual trip to Mablethorpe this year. The lockdown of a few months ago had made it seem unlikely for a time, but as restrictions loosened, so it started to look like I might make the trip after all.

As I had a week off work in early September, I decided that would be my chance, so made the trip on the 11th. The weather was forecast to be partially sunny, but in the end was just bright, with a skein of high cloud that mostly removed any contrast and shadows, Not ideal for colour film, which I feel savours blue-sky days. Still, in a country like the UK you have to make the best of what you get when it comes to the weather. In the end though, these shots have come out quite well despite the conditions.

I took a bag full of film with me on the day. Well, around six rolls anyway. In the end, I only shot two-and-a-half of them though due to the light. Today’s photos were from a roll of Kodak Gold 200 that I’d already partially shot, but there will be some images on Ilford Delta 400 (better for the conditions I had) and, possibly, Portra 400 to come over the next few days too.

Around the back of the chalets
I managed to catch a little sunshine for this shot, as evidenced by the shadow cast by the palm. It required me waiting for some time with an eye on the moving clouds though, and the brightness was only fleeting.
Number 45

Canon Sure Shot Z135, Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 11 September 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Starsky & Hutch (again), home scanning, and Grain2Pixel

For the best part of the last two years, whenever I’ve shot colour negative film, I’ve sent it off to be developed and scanned. While I have the means to scan it at home, I was never satisfied with the colours I achieved using Epson Scan. I tried a number of other tools to see if I could improve my results and managed to do better with Silverfast for 35mm when I bought my Plustek scanner, but the images still didn’t look quite right. So I resigned myself to getting lab scans of all my colour negative stuff.

While I’ve been mostly happy with my lab scans, one point of frustration is the way they size the images. The labs I’ve looked at tend to offer scans in small / medium / large options which, on the face of it seems fine. However, what I came to realise was that a scan was based on a particular number of pixels on the short side of the image. This results in a bewildering situation where, for any given scan “size”, it seems medium format scans will be smaller than 35mm scans (or the same size, if shooting 6×9). This is clearly disappointing if you want to benefit from the added detail that medium format allows. The image below shows comparisons of three different image ratios and how the larger medium format images lose out when scan size is determined by the number of pixels on the short edge.

By comparison, when I scan at home I get larger scans for the larger formats, as can be seen in the example below with each image being scanned at a uniform DPI setting and not limited to a specific number of pixels per side:

This discrepancy in image sizes made me want to home scan my negatives. While I don’t think my Epson V550 or Plustec 8100 really compare with the abilities of something like a Noritsu of Fuji Frontier, the ability to control the settings means I can get much more detailed results than what the labs I’ve tried will supply. While I’m sure that there are labs out there who will provide higher resolution scans, many of them also charge a considerable amount for the service, putting them out of my price range unfortunately.

I’d seen very good word of mouth over the past year about Negative Lab Pro, but that costs in the region of £60, which isn’t something I want to pay right now (although I’ve been tempted), so it was with interest when someone alerted me to a new Photoshop plugin called Grain2Pixel recently. Grain2Pixel is used to convert negative scans to positives and is currently free of charge (although I believe a more feature packed version is in the works which will require payment).

In order to use the plugin, you have to make linear scans of your negative, e.g. it still looks like a negative after scanning. The plugin accepts TIFF and DNG files, so you can scan with a digital camera if you like. Once launched in Photoshop, you select your scans via the plugin’s interface, choose any settings you want to apply such as automatic colour correction, and then run the process. The process is straightforward and you can convert individual images or a batch.

I’ve tried a number of different film stocks with it and have been getting good results on the whole. Some that I’ve tried, such as Kodak Ektar and Kodak Portra 160 have looked great directly out of the plugin. Some others have been a little more tricky – Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Portra 400 seem to have a blue / cyan cast no matter what settings I use. Despite this though, the results are still good and I am able to tweak the results further in Photoshop or Lightroom to get results I’m usually very happy with, with the extra benefit of having much higher resolution images.

The plugin can be found, along with instructional videos, here: https://grain2pixel.com/ There is also a Facebook group for the plugin which gets regular traffic and is useful if you need help.

All three of todays photos have used Grain2Pixel for initial conversion. I’ve then tweaked the results in Lightroom to add additional contrast etc. They were scanned on my Plustek Opticfilm 8100 using Vuescan to create the linear TIFF files.

Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino
Simca 1000 Rallye

Canon Sure Shot Z135, Kodak Gold 200. Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken on 31 August 2020

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Looking up in NYC

As I still haven’t written my camera review post yet (although I do have a cheesy title for it!) I thought I’d dip into the archives and pull out a photo that never got published before. This one was taken last May when I travelled to New York City with my wife and our two youngest boys.

I’ve been looking back through these pictures – taken when the Covid-19 pandemic would have likely seemed an impossibility to most people but, yet, a year later and look how the world changed! – because I’m taking part in a zine swap with some folks from a forum I’m a member of. I’ve never made a zine before and time was ticking on, so I decided to choose a bunch of street-shots for my first publication. I have everything set up and now just need to finalise a few bits beore clicking the button to get them printed. I’m probably going to end up with far more than I need for the zine swap, so might have some to swap with others too.

While zoomed-in, spotting the photo for dust before uploading it, it was fun to notice a guy stood atop the scaffolding at the lower left of the shot. Photos are so often full of little details such as this. Unspotted at the time of making the picture, and even overlooked on initial viewing, but there waiting to be found when you spend the time.

Looking up in NYC
Can you spot the man on the scaffolding?

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Ilford HP5+.

Taken on 29 May 2019

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Day 365 – Twelve favourite photos from 2019

My initial plan for today’s post was to publish 12 photos that were taken this year but which haven’t featured in the blog, but on second thoughts I’ve decided to take the more traditional route. There might still be some that never appeared here before though – I tend to upload more stuff to Flickr than gets featured here – so aren’t you the lucky ones. 🙂

Today also marks the 365th consecutive blog post of the year – a target I attempted once before but which fell through when other events in my life took precedence. Not every blog was written on the day it was posted – in situations where I’ve been away from home I’ve pre-written blogs and then scheduled them to automatically publish (or made them live from my phone). Because of the way I link my photos from Flickr, I’ve found it’s a complete PITA to try and write and publish from mobile devices.

Anyway… Before I get on to the pictures, I just want to take the time to thank all who’ve viewed, interacted or commented on my blog over the year and to wish everyone a happy new year.

So, the photos…

January – This tree sits on the moors just south of Sheffield and is just a few metres from the roadside. It’s distictive shape made for an easy composition. Sadly the tree has now suffered damage – the last time I passed all that remained was the trunk as the upper branches have been broken off. 😦

FILM - In a lonely place (35mm)

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 AF & Fomapan 400. Taken on 20 January 2019

February – Eyes in the back of his head? One of the tenets of street photography is to be prepared and ready to catch that decisive moment when it occurs. Sadly, this is rarely the case for me and I’ve missed loads of potentially nice shots due to fumbling with the camera. This was one of the times I didn’t.

FILM - He's got eyes in the back of his head

Olympus 35 RC & JCH Streetpan 400. Taken on 15 February 2019

March – Portraiture is not something I have much of an interest in, particularly studio portraits (although I do enjoy looking at environmental portraits), so when an opportunity arose to photograph some models at the local camera club I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it or not. While I can’t say it ignited any desire to take more portraits, I was very pleased with my results, one of which is below. It isn’t prefect (the creased backdrop lets it down a little), but the way the Sigma 105mm lens and the Kodak P3200 rendered the images is lovely.

FILM - WPS Model Session-2

Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM & Kodak Tmax P3200. Taken on 19 March 2019

April – A gate on a public footpath through Edale in the northern Peak District National Park. I think this photo has a certain charm to it, there’s a sense of mystery as to where the path leads and what might be beyond the gate. This is from the penultimate roll of film through my Yashica Mat 124G last year. I shall have to rectify this situation and shoot with the camera again post haste!

FILM - A path near Edale

Yashica Mat 124 G & Fomapan 100. Taken on 20 April 2019

May – During May I visited New York with my family. It’s the second time I’ve visited (and I’d love to return – although I think my wife would prefer somewhere else in the US if we get across the Atlantic again) – I could have spent all day, every day just walking the streets taking photos. It was a family trip though, so I grabbed whatever I could. This is just a view down 7th Avenue after a rain shower, but it screams New York to me.

FILM - 7th Avenue

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 28 May 2019

June – A box of pre-owned pool balls on a stall at the Sheffield Steam Rally. I think I might have said at the time that colour would have been a more obvious choice here, but I love the contrast given by the HP5+.

FILM - Balls

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 30 June 2019

July – The beach at Scarborough. My wife and I took a trip to the seaside and I shot a roll-and-a-half of film during the day. This is just a snap of the beach, the people enjoying themselves there, and some yachts in the sea beyond, but it has a nice “Martin Parr” feel to it that I like. It was also an opportunity to test the little Pentax Espio compact that I’d bought for £1 a fortnight before.

FILM - On the beach

Pentax Espio 140M & Fuji Superia 100 (expired 2008). Taken on 13 July 2019

August – Taken at the Lincoln Steam Rally – the first time I’d attended this event, but it was huge and I hope to go again in 2020. I shot four rolls of film on the day, but this Ektar shot of a vintage truck is a favourite. The almost 70-year-old Zeiss Mess-Ikonta continues to impress with it’s superbly sharp lens.

FILM - ERF

Zeiss Mess-Ikonta 524/16 & Kodak Ektar. Taken on 17 August 2019

September – A day trip to my childhood seaside haunt: Mablethorpe. It’s a place I’m always drawn back to, even though I’m always slightly disappointed that it hasn’t remained frozen in time as I remember it from when I was a child. Another day where several rolls of film were shot (including three botched rolls through my Holga because I had it set to bulb mode!). I’ve many photos from the day that I like, but this is the one that always springs to mind when I think back.

FILM - Water dragon

Olympus 35 RC & Kodak Portra 400. Taken on 13 September 2019

October – I took a trip to Doncaster racecourse with my dad, and this is one of the photos from the day. The weather was awful, with heavy rain all day, but oftentimes bad weather makes for good photos.

FILM - A day at the races

Olympus OM-1, Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 & Ilford HP5+. Taken on 25 October 2019

November – This shot is potentially my favourite of the whole year. The simple but beautiful charms of the Holga coupled with a wonderfully foggy day made for some amazing photographic opportunities.

FILM - The path untaken

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 30 November 2019

December – December is a little difficult as, as I type this, I have three rolls of film waiting to be processed still and there might be a showstopper on there (or possibly not), but this image that I took just before Christmas on a lunchtime walk is definitely worthy of the spot. It’s another Holga 120N image, but cropped to a 4×3 ratio (the bottom of the frame has a river in it, but it didn’t add a lot to the overall image and the landscape crop works much better. The way the Holga renders out-of-focus details is wonderful, and almost impressionistic in style.

FILM - Breaking through

Holga 120N & Kodak Tmax 400. Taken on 18 December 2019

So there you have it. Twelve favourite shots from 2019. As with any list like this it’s subjective, and if I were to do it again tomorrow several of the selections might change, but for now it will do.

One final word – I’ll proof read it later, so apologies in advance for any typos or grammatical goofs. 🙂

35mm · Film photography · Photography

Winter sun

Low winter sunshine is a wonderful thing. It makes scenes you might otherwise walk on past simply glow. This is a relatively ordinary terrace of houses, but the light is gorgeous. It illuminates things with a crisp, warm light and casts relief onto every surface. Lovely.

FILM - emedies

Canon Sure Shot Z135 & Fujifilm Superia 100 (expired 2008).

Taken on 5 December 2019