Photo Friday


Currently traveling (hence a few less posts than normal) but it does make for some new pictures… While I’ve taken many with my beloved xpan, I won’t be home for another month and a half, so it will be a while before they are developed. Since my new camera didn’t arrive in time, I also brought along the Nex 3, which is a capable camera, but the lack of viewfinder is a real deal breaker for me.

Anyways, enough whining, here’s a shot from this past week in Marrakesh, Morocco. Taken on the Nex 3, converted to BW after.

Blurb – Black and White Text Book quality review

I’ve made several books before, but I’ve always been tempted by Blurb’s “Black and White Text” books.  They come in both Trade (6×9″) and Pocket (5×8″), and are significantly cheaper than their other offerings.  You still get a full colour cover, however the inside pages are “cream” and while called “Text only” books, Blurb advises that:

While perfect for text, the textured, low-contrast paper also gives black and white photos and drawings a decidedly edgy and lo-fi feel. 

I’d been reluctant to try as I couldn’t find a single review on the web about printing pictures in this type of book.  So I thought I’d give a quick summary of how it turned out and a few sample pictures side by side with the originals to see how it looks.

Sorry about the thumb, had to hold the book somehow!  Anyways, as you can see, the paper is definitely cream colour, which affects the whites.  Also, the blacks are not that “deep” compared to the original (a scanned black and white negative).  That being said, it still looks fine, not sure if I find it edgy, but lo-fi perhaps.  The type of picture above (contrasty, lots of light and dark but not so much midtones) seems to work best with this format.  It isn’t as good as the original but it’s not bad and not a lot is lost due to the printing.


The above picture shows where this format doesn’t work.  The picture has very small differences in shades of dark grey along the fence line.  In the original you can see these differences clearly, in the book however, most of the detail is gone, in fact the one pedestrian is even hard to see.  While this is disappointing, now that I know, I will refrain from using this type of picture.

Finally, this picture shows the quality of the printing up close.  The picture was printed 3.5×3.5″ so it has been blown up significantly.  As you can see, the printing really looks a lot like newsprint.  Good quality newsprint, but newsprint nonetheless.  Again I’m not being critical of this, just pointing out what you can expect from this type of book as examples are hard to find on the web.

Overall I’ve been quite happy with the book.  You can’t beat the price at under $10 for a 150 page 5×8″ book.  So long as you know what types of pictures to include or not to include, you can have an excellent book for a rock bottom price.

If you’re in need of a 5×8″ calendar (day planner) with pictures of Paris, or if you just want to check out the print quality for yourself, click here to see my book (or buy it if you like!).

Photo Friday

Still tons of scanned negatives to go through, but I saw this one and couldn’t resist posting it.  I absolutely love the contrasting pattern in the foreground.  This is at the palace of Versailles, just outside of Paris. Taken with my Voigtlander Bessa R using the 15mm Heliar lens on Fuji Neopan 400.  Scanned and no adjustments added, I did straighten the photo slightly (it’s tough to keep the 15mm level!).

Photo Friday


Ahhhh, something new for a change.  Instead of pulling another gem out of last year’s photos (which I really haven’t made much of a dent in processing), I thought I’d put up my new favourite picture.  Took my daughter on the bus (her new favourite activity) down to the Louvre.  We walked across Pont du Carousel and she became enamoured with all the locks.  While she played, I took some pictures.  I liked the silhouette from the sun, but it wasn’t till I got home that I realized the sun makes it look like the light is illuminated, fantastic.  Sort of wish I took the shot when the lady was on the other side of the post, but maybe it still works, either way I love it and that’s what counts.

Photo Friday

This week’s photo courtesy of Amsterdam….  Taken with my xpan on fuji pro 400H film, then converted to BW in Aperture.  Speaking of Aperture, why does it take it about 5 minutes to convert 5 photos into web sized jpegs? In fact it takes forever to do just about anything that any of my older photo editing programs can do almost instantly… Apparently you get what you pay for as it is one of the cheaper ones out there… Sorry for the rant.


Photo of the Week

Hot off the scanner….  Still working my way through last year’s European adventure, developed another two rolls the other day and just scanned them in this evening.  This shot is from Amsterdam, a biker flying over one of the many bridges.  A nice slow shutter speed gave me a little motion blur in the biker while still enabling a sharp foreground.  The brick pattern really makes this image (in contrast with the blurred biker).

Taken with my Voigtlander Bessa R, and I think my 15mm Heliar due to the great depth of field, but I could be wrong.  Film used was Fuji Neopan 400, I took a lot of Tri-X near the end of our adventure, and looking back at the two films, I still prefer Neopan, will have to stock up before our next trip.

Put up a collection of photos on Etsy as well, will be updating my store more frequently in the coming weeks.

Photo of the Week

I’ve taken so many pictures over the last 5 months, and they get developed in batches, so that some good ones often fall through the cracks.  I’ve been visiting rail stations lately, and looking back to some older photos I saw this shot I took of Gare du Nord.  We were waiting for a train and I went for a little wander as I often do, camera in hand.  Used my Voigtlander Bessa R with the 15mm lens.

Marcus Bleasedale

I was on the Guardian website earlier today when I found this great little video on Marcus Bleasedale.  I’m new to photography and have many photographers to discover, however I was quite blown away with his work.  I envy photographers who travel the world taking pictures, especially in war torn countries, the danger must be exciting and the pictures are surely rewarding.

What really struck me was that he seems to be taking pictures in order to try to help these people.  Although he is a photographer, I would say he’s really just using his camera in order to bring some social justice to the people he photographs.

I highly recommend going to his website to check out his work.

AGFA Optima Review

You may remember a while back I was fortunate enough to receive a free AGFA Optima Sensor Flash.  I’ve had it a few weeks and have ran a couple of rolls of film through it and feel ready to write a brief review.  Don’t expect hard hitting facts and lens reviews, I’m not interested in those things.  All photos here were Fuji Superia 400, scanned with my diaper scanner, so not the greatest quality…

Some quick details about the camera:

  • 40mm f2.8 lens
  • scale focus
  • flash (pops up quite high to avoid red-eye)
  • powered by 2 AAA’s
  • large red shutter release
  • film is rewound using the film advance lever

The first thing you notice with this camera is that it is well built. Although there are plastic parts, there is obviously a lot of metal in the construction. It feels sturdy in your hands and has a bit of heft to it.  Although scale focused, there are click stops at 1.5m, 3m and infinity which can help when taking shots on the fly.  The flashes powers up almost instantly and while a bit harsh, it helps in a pinch.  I was quite impressed with the quality of the photographs.  The other roll that I shot was actually slide film, and it had absolutely no trouble getting the exposures correct.

So as I said this review will be short on technicals, however I think the feel of the camera is what’s important.  This camera as I said feels great in your hands. It’s well built and leaves you feeling confident that it will perform well and not leave you stranded.  Loading the film is simple as you only have to slide the leader under a special flap and it catches on it’s own. The film advance is smooth with just enough resistance to let you know the film is indeed advancing.  The only oddity I noticed is that when you get to the end of the roll of film (12, 24, or 36, you can’t take anything besides these multiples) the camera will allow you to keep pressing the shutter release and allow you to move the film advance. No more pictures are taken, and the film doesn’t actually advance, so it’s odd that it doesn’t simply stop working like most film cameras.

I also love this camera’s simplicity.  Sometimes it’s nice just to take pictures without too much thinking, and that is something this camera excels at.  Simply guestimate the distance and snap away!  I took it to a few markets and found it a great street photography camera as you are generally the same distance away from all the stalls so it’s easy to pre-set the distance and take pictures of what ever interests you, no need to worry about exposure and aperture.  I’ve got a roll of BW in it now, and I’ll be searching for a yellow filter later this year to see if I can boost the contrast up a bit.