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.

Of Cameras and Paris…

This is a re-post from 99 days in Paris.  With our recent move to Paris I spent the day exploring the film possibilities of this city.  Read on to see my results.

I didn’t bother buying any more film before we left as I had discovered that it was much cheaper in Paris.  Roger had suggested Prophot as an excellent place to buy film, and he wasn’t joking!  While the camera stores in Calgary have a very limited selection, this store sold ONLY film and photo papers and chemicals, that’s it.  The selection was astonishing, I didn’t have to buy the only film they had, I actually had a choice.

They were even selling black and white slide film, although I didn’t get any as I wasn’t sure where it could be developed.  I did however pick up a roll of PX100 Impossible Project film (for polaroid).  This is the new polaroid film that has just reached the market and is now in black and white!

I then headed over to Negatif+, a store that specializes in pro film developing.  While in line I was chatting with the man behind me.  I told him how great the film selection was in Paris and that you could get nothing like this in Canada.  He told me that this was only common in Paris, and was getting worse and worse.  Too bad, I thought maybe Paris was reversing the trend!

Should have some pics back in a couple of days to post on the blog…

Failure and Redemption – DIY film processing trials and tribulations

I very much enjoy processing my own BW flim, especially when it is my ultimate favourite, Fuji Neopan.  Although when I first started I was developing 1-2 rolls/week, however lately I’ve dropped to closer to 1 roll/month.  This gets dangerous as you get out of practice and start making little mistakes.  I’ve been very fortunate to have never had a major screw-up, all my rolls have always worked out, even the first one.  This has always worried me as I was sure this streak could not last.

Then about a month ago I went to a friends wedding.  I was NOT told that they needed a photographer, and so for fun I thought I would try something new (and this is where it all started to go wrong). I bought some Ilford Delta 3200, put it in my Bessa R, and headed off to the wedding.  Got there and it seemed like everyone had a camera and was snapping away.  I took a few shots, not really sure if the meter was reading accurately in the very dark restaurant.  I got home and decided to process the film.  I really didn’t have enough time to do it properly, and so I rushed.  Took me 3 tries to get it on the reels, didn’t quite seal the door correctly, etc. etc.  When I checked the film, most of the shots were underexposed and the light leakage from the door had wrecked about half the film.  I wasn’t too choked until the bride called me up in a panic because all of the other pictures people had taken were terrible, and no one had got a good one of her and her husband, THE WHOLE NIGHT! After much work scanning and in photoshop, I managed to save one photo, it was the shot of them cutting the cake.  I didn’t think it was all that great as it had tons of grain, but they were thrilled.

Fast forward a month and I am developing a roll of 120 Neopan 400. Things were going smoothly but I couldn’t help but notice the developer was awfully dark. Then each time the chemicals came out of the tank, the colours seemed off.  When I pulled the film out at the end of the developing, I was staring at a completely blank film. My developer had expired.

Two in a row was a bit much for me to handle, and I had a roll from a recent trip to Norway which I absolutely could not screw up!  Bought some new developer (Ilford Microphen DD-X), and set to work.  Was I ever relieved when it worked out perfectly, well except that I used enough chemicals for 120 when it was a roll of 35mm, but I am definitely back on the horse….  The lesson to be learned here is take your time, and take A LOT MORE PICTURES!!!!!