Archive for October, 2009

Daisy Scout Adventure: Owl Time

I went with Lily on her Daisy Scout field trip to the Anita Purves Nature Center in Urbana, IL. The troop leaders had scheduled a presentation on owls. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember the name of the little guy above, but I do remember being told that when the owl’s ears are back, it’s not happy. As we can see, this one was starting to get grumpy with me….

The girls were pretty attentive to our speaker. She discussed a few of the different owls found in our local area, owls special traits, and their silent feathers.

At the end all the girls got to dissect an owl pellet. An owl pellet is the remains of the owl’s dinner that it can’t digest. Anything that it can’t digest (bones and fur mostly) get thrown up as an owl pellet. I think that all of the parents were a bit skeptical about this activity, but the girls had a blast. The found many bones and one girl even found a complete skull. Everyone was pretty excited.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Lucy looking out the window (larger)

Continuing my trials with medium format, I wanted to try push processing. I am using TMAX 400 (TMY) and wanted to push it to ISO3200. When shooting around the house (especially in the winter), certainly 400 is too slow, and 1600 is pushing what I’m comfortable with hand-holding. Hence my desire for pushing to 3200.

Yes, I could use a bounce flash (sometimes) but I’ve not worked that out yet. Those are tests for a different roll.

I’d have to say that I’ve got mixed reactions. The picture above seemed to turn out okay. The contrast is definitely more that ISO400, but I think it’s okay.

Lily in the basement (larger)

The next picture is more typical of when I’d use a high speed push: in our basement. While there are several can lights in the ceiling, I meter to f/4 @ 1/30 (if I remember correctly) @ ISO 3200. It’s a high contrast pic, to be sure. I’m not terribly fond of the picture, but this just may be the overhead lighting and the subsequent shadows it produces on Lily’s face.

One aspect of shooting with the C330 is that I’ve only got full stops to work with. If I meter for anything in between, I invariably choose more light as opposed to less.

For what it’s worth, all of my development has been in XTOL replenished at stock strength. I’ve thought about trying XTOL 1:1 or 1:2, but that will burn through my developer pretty quickly. Using it replenished is very economical. 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hand-held low-speed

Norah (larger)

My next roll was my hand-held, low light roll. ISO was held at 400 for this roll, but I wanted to see if shooting at f/2.8 and 1/30th was going to work out. Norah’s picture above was (if memory serves me) f/2.8 at 1/30th.

Let’s start by discussing what I think went well in this picture:

  1. Clarity
    I’ve very happy with the overall clarity of the picture. I’m quite enjoying medium format.
  2. The eyes.
    I’m also happy with the reflection in her eyes. I’m very happy to report that the reflection was quite intentional and I moved around to get it. Now, you can scoff and think to yourself “well, duh” but I’ll tell you that it’s not easy for me to remember all the little details when shooting.
  3. Blur isolation
    I also like the blur of the lens that the aperture provided. Granted, I chose the aperture for exposure reasons, but nonetheless, I’m still happy with the isolation it provides.

Things that could have gone better:

  1. Dust, dust, dust.
    Dust spots are still a major problem. I spent a considerable amount of time in Lightroom removing dust. I’m working on it, but I’m still not sure where it’s all coming from and how to mitigate it effectively. Aaargh!
  2. Overall composition.
    It’s not bad, but it is just a grab shot. While nothing to be ashamed about, I’d still like to strive for better.

Stella on fire (larger)

Of course she’s not really on fire. I just think the rim lighting of the sun makes her hair look like fire. I don’t remember what speed I was shooting here, so I don’t know if this qualifies for my “hand-held low-speed” shooting or not. Still like the picture though….

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Medium Format, Frost, and Bugs

Asian Beetle on a Mum

I finally got a medium format camera. I’ve been hemming and hawing about this for a while: 35mm, 6×6 TLR, or 6×7 SLR? I finally went with a Mamiya C330 TLR purchased from KEH via Ebay. It was relatively inexpensive, but could use a good cleaning.

Frost killed tomatoes

The picture above is from my first roll of file through it, Kodak TMAX400. All in all not too bad, I’d say. The scans reveal an incredible amount of detail. It’s really quite stunning. I seem to have a bit of a lint issue somewhere, as all of the negatives have somewhat large squigly pieces of lint in them as well as regular flecks. I’ll have to think about my processing procedures and see where I can try to reduce dust contamination.

I’m very happy with the sharpness of the pictures. I also like using the waist level finder. It’s easy to get focus (though not fast). The biggest downside is the price. A single roll of TMAX400 film costs about $3.80. I get 12 exposures from a roll of film. Once the bloom wears off my new toy I’m guessing that I’ll shoot a roll a week or so. I had thought about trying some slide film, but the cost of the film plus processing is approaching $10 per roll. A bit too much for my blood.

I’ve already got a series of shooting strategies for my next several rolls:

  • Hand-held push: My current roll has several shots at 1/30th shutter speed. I want to see how that will turn out.
  • Under the lights: I want to see how the camera / film / pictures respond when using it for portraiture and my lights.
  • Pushing: Push the film to ISO1600 and/or ISO3200.

I had 10 rolls of film when I started. I’m down to 8 rolls now. Soon to be 5.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Costume Birthday Party

Fighting Evil Doers At Every Turn

We went to a costume birthday party this past weekend. The kids got a trial run on their Halloween costumes.

Above is Lily and a schoolmate, who’s house we were at. We had a good laugh that they both were dressed as SuperGirl, but neither of them seemed to mind.

Stella as a dog

I find this picture hilarious. Stella with her screwed up face. Perhaps it’s ’cause I’m dad.


Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Portrait Mood

Sarah and Norah

I’ve definitely been in a portrait mood lately. Sarah and Norah were kind enough to pose for several frames. This is probably my favorite, but there are a couple of “out-takes” that I find funny as well.

Norah whacking Mom                         Lucy wanders into view

The portraiture work has been both rewarding and difficult. I think my viewfinder awareness is getting better. I’m becoming more adept at posing too. I think the practice is helping. Also, using the light meter has been fantastic. Maybe several facets are simply “clicking” at the same time, but it seems that using the light meter has really enabled me to think about what each element will look like, and more importantly, what I want each element to look like.

In fact, I wanted to revisit using the pink background. The first time I used it (for Lucy’s birthday pictures) the colors seem to have an almost orange tint. So, I decided to add some light to the background and make the pink “pink-er” whilst photographing Norah.

Norah looking cute.

I’m very pleased with the background color. Just what I wanted. I think that had I moved the flags in closer I’d have at least mitigated the shadow line, if not mostly eliminated it.

Making progress.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,