Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Flic Film Visions3 250D review

Recently I started carrying my Canon 7 around most places I went. The idea was to keep an eye out for interesting scenes. I've found that the camera I'm carrying influences what I 'see'. While there's been times I'd see something and say to myself that I wished I had a good camera on hand, mostly when I don't have a camera I don't think about photos. The Canon 7 is small enough that carrying it around isn't a burden.

During a photo road trip last summer I'd stopped at Film Experience in Longview, Alberta, and picked up several different kinds of film when I bought the camera. I exposed a roll of the Visions3 back in May 2022, and loved the results, but mostly I was about putting an inexpensive roll of film through the camera. I wanted to try it again with autumn colours. 

During another road trip I picked up another roll, and exposed it October 2022 during the peak of autumn colour. So far so good. What I'd forgotten was that the lab I use has a 2 roll minimum for processing this film. It needs the ECN-2 process, rather than the regular C-41. Oops.

I wasn't going to drive out to Longview for one roll of film. Neither could I find any film in Calgary that needed that processing. I ended up buying a bunch of film to get the free shipping, and it arrived in a few days. Now I have lots of film for both cameras, probably enough for all winter, maybe longer. 

In the meantime, I'd put a couple rolls of Kodak Gold 200 through the camera, and loved the results! I finished those off, and loaded a second Visions3. By now the autumn colours were essentially gone, and I worked some street and nature scenes. I got stalled with a half dozen exposures to go. 

Then I was watching a video about a person running a weekly film contest. Every Saturday the idea was to submit a photo taken within the previous week. The logistics of joining that were pretty daunting, in terms of exposing a roll and getting it back from the lab within a week. But something he said struck me, about getting the photo you wanted to send in, and still having some of the roll left. Just go shoot it! Experiment. Play, take photos of anything. So I set the camera up on our front lattice in the evening and tried light trails. 

When it comes to comparing Visions3 to Kodak Gold 200, I don't see a lot of difference. Give the films lots of light and the images come out with bright, and true to life colours. Exposure gets a bit more tricky in more subdued light.

But first, for new readers that care about the background details. If you just want to see the photos scroll down. I'm using a Canon 7 with a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. Mostly I expose for the shadows with an iPhone meter and let the highlights take care of themselves. The lab is Paul Stack, and I think he does a great job. I digitize the negatives using a Canon T6i with a Canon 100mm f2.8 L macro lens. Inverting from negative to positive is with Negative Lab Pro (v 2.3.0 and yes I know there are updates available, and that whole thing is another issue entirely), and I generally tend to have a light hand on editing. I like the image to look like film, and I don't try to make it look like a digital image. My thinking is that if you want it to look digital, the capture it on digital, and if you want it to look like film, capture it on film. Then into Lightroom to deal with any dust spots or hairs, cropping, or correcting rotation. All this practice and I often still hold the camera slightly rotated off horizontal.

The hardest thing about the whole process is loading the cut film strips into the carrier to go onto the light source. These two rolls were slightly cupped from edge to edge, making it a bit tricky to load. I've been thinking about getting some small sheets of Anti Newton Ring glass but it's stupidly expensive at the places I've looked so far. Since the last film I digitized was 35m, the camera was already in the right spot on the copy stand. A moment to double check focus and I was off.

When I said I used a light hand during Negative Lab Pro editing, I'm not kidding. Play with the white point a bit too much and yellow turns orange and the sky gets really dark. As a photo that might look nice, but anyone living in Calgary knows the trees don't go quite that colour. As shot, the colour tends to be quite vivid. I missed capturing our red peony with this film. I've got another two rolls of it, so maybe I'll wait till it blooms next spring and capture that.

1. We had a fabulous autumn! We get lots of gold and yellow in the trees, and this film picks that up wonderfully. The film loves lots of light.

2. Straight up through a different tree, hoping to catch the glow, and maybe get a nice composition of dark branches. The colour is right, though the glow didn't quite show up as I hoped.

3. A street scene with some of the trees changing colour.

4. This looked almost a little lurid without any processing at all. The only change was to change the Tones filter to Cinematic Rich. Nothing in Lightroom.

5. A scene in South Glenmore park. This nailed the colour and light.

6. A bike pump track. I think that's what it's called. I liked the red stripe and waves of pavement. I could have spent longer looking for composition, but some kids showed up wanting to put the track to the intended purpose. I was almost there a couple days ago, hoping to get interesting shadows in the snow on the waves, but it was way too cold to walk there.

7. A view into Fish Creek.

8. Near the sports centre formerly called Lindsay Park/Talisman/Repsol and now it's some name I can't remember. I was out for a walk with a dear friend who was housesitting another friend. The leaves here were starting to fade, and the bridge really is that ugly rust colour. The Calgary tower is exactly the right colour.

9. The dear friend posing. I am loving how this film captured the light, and treated her skin. I think this is one of my better portraits. Photos like this are why I love using film.

10. I think this is south Glenmore park again.

11. In darker shadow beside the reservoir, but the trees still catching some light.

12. Onto another roll, during a walk just south of downtown with overcast skies.

13. A spontaneous photo. Again, I'm loving how the light is falling on their faces.

14. Inside the library, right beside the photography section. I wasn't sure how the exposure would work, or treat the artificial lighting. I had to fix the shadows a bit, but seems quite acceptable.

15. A twilight winter (duh!) scene in Fish Creek near bridge 3.

16. I think I just followed a couple that cleared off just enough space to eat.

17. Caught a wind gust blowing up as I walked along the creek. About here it started getting really cold and I bailed out of the walk.

18. The promised light trails from just in front of our house. The is the neighbour's front yard UFO landing pad; the one in the back yard is even brighter.




Overall I love the colour! However, the ECN-2 processing is more expensive, and there's that two roll minimum. Once I do the two rolls next year, I probably won't get any more. For sure I wouldn't get anymore if I could reliably get the Gold 200 in 35mm. I bought out all that Walmart had, and I hate shopping at Walmart. They didn't think they would get anymore since it was already back ordered.

What's in the camera now, you ask? Black and white Acros II 100. I got a bunch of it, just barely expired for cheap. 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Dawson City on film

In early September I was in Yukon with some friends for 10 days. Late September I got the film back from the lab and posted some Tombstone landscapes. While walking around Dawson City I captured some of the buildings that caught my eye. These were captured on a Fujica GW690 using Kodak Gold 200 film. 

Digital photos exist for some of these, but you won't find them side by each. The intent was not to create images for easy comparison. I don't have the technical skills or the desire to do the documentation for a rigorous comparison, and there is no real reason to do so. The main intent was to wander the town during some quiet time before lunch, and capture images of the buildings that interested me for whatever reason. 

In a few cases I was using the camera as a sophisticated light meter, since the light was flat and kind of tricky. In some cases there are digital photos but not film, or film but not digital. Why would I do that? Good question. (Look! Over there, a polar bear!)

1. In three visits to Dawson City, I have not been inside this building. I'm told the show is excellent. But most evenings I was in one of two states. One, heading out to try to capture aurora skies. Or two, collapsed in a heap in bed.




5. The ferry across the Yukon river. Back and forth all day. This is not a cable ferry, the pilot has to actually account for the fast current, and then run aground just right. Hard enough to anchor the ferry so people can drive off and on, yet not so hard as to damage the ferry or make it impossible to get off again. Every trip is a bit different. 

The astute of you are asking yourselves, "what do they do in the winter?" The ferry is retired for the season and they build an ice bridge. Yes, life gets tricky during the transition seasons. I'm told it's $400 for about a 1 minute helicopter ride across the river. Maybe ok if you are suffering severe medical distress, but you'd hate to do that because you planned badly and are running out of groceries.

I was sitting, waiting for the ferry to be in just the right spot for this photo. 


7. The Kissing Sisters. These are a pair of famous buildings, built before people fully understood how to build on permafrost. This is why there are abandoned buildings in Dawson.


9. No, that's not an artifact of holding the camera at a funny angle. The building really is tipped over.

10. This one and the next one are just beside each other, and do not appear to be falling down, so I'm not sure why they've been abandoned. There is a housing shortage there, so I'm a bit surprised they haven't been renovated. Then again, the costs for doing so could be far more than any possible return.

11. I was wondering what this building used to be. It has a vaguely 60's federal look to it. 

12. The school and library is such a cheerful building. I don't think it's new, I think they've dressed up an older building. 

13. One of the hotels. Our group stayed there on the last trip.

I missed one of the more famous buildings downtown, the one that used to be a bank. I do have a photo of it in digital, and it will appear on my other blog site, probably tomorrow. Every time I was near it with the film camera, there were obstructing vehicles ruining the photo. There are some Dawson photos that will show up as well, because, why not.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Yukon by film

Yukon is an amazing photography destination, especially in September, and especially Tombstone Territorial park. That was the highlight of my recent 10 day trip as part of a Neil Zeller tour. This was my third time there, and I loved it all over again. 

The first time into the park overwhelmed me. I'd never seen anything like it. The bleak mountains with rivers of vegetation colour changing by the moisture levels, the open spaces, the dramatic skies, the silence, all really got to me.

This time I wanted to capture at least some of the images on film, thinking that Kodak Gold 200 would really do justice to the landscapes. It was a bit tricky packing all the digital gear, and the Fujica GW690 with 15 rolls of film, knowing I had to go through airport security and trying to be within weight limits. It all worked out better than I expected. The security people asked if I wanted the film hand examined before I had a chance to ask them, and were curious about the film camera. Not that we had a lot of time to talk.

In the end I put 7 rolls through the camera. 8 photos per roll, so 64 photos. I really goofed with the roll from Solomon's Dome, in that they were all slightly out of focus. Not quite sure what I did wrong there. Down to 48 possible photos. The light conditions were a bit challenging and I'm still new to metering light myself. In no case did I use the digital camera as a fancy light meter.

In the end I edited 45 photos, which is actually more than I expected. I missed focus ever so slightly on one, and a couple are near repeats. Some are the same landscape from subtly different points of view, and somewhat widely different lighting. Wait a few minutes and the look of the landscape can change completely. I love watching cloud shadows drifting along the mountainsides. 

There's two sequences. Today is my pick of Tombstone landscapes, with one from the Top of the World highway. Later will be some of the buildings in Dawson itself. The remainder of the film photos from Yukon, as well as several from an earlier trip to the Great Sand Hills in Saskatchewan will be showing up in my other blog. You can see the Tombstone digital panorama photos here  and more of the film and digital landscapes will show up as well.

There are of course subtle and not so subtle differences between digital and film, but I'm not going to put them side by side to compare them, mainly because that's not the way they were captured. If you want to go through and do that, feel free.

All of these are metered for shadows (as best as possible with an iphone app) and tending to err towards over exposure. Scanned with a T6i using a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L macro. Converted to positive with Negative Lab Pro and lightly edited there. The biggest task in Lightroom was removing dust spots, most were very lightly edited overall. I've found pushing the sliders for film photos in Lightroom gets weird fast.

1. The best example of rivers of colour.

2. The first film panorama ever for me, constructed from the digital version of two film photos. 9000 x 3900 px, or 30 x 13 inches.

3. The second panorama, 13300 x 3900 px, or 44 x 13 inches. This is the valley leading to Tombstone Mountain, with the actual mountain just visible. That doesn't happen often.

4. One of the photos used to construct the above panorama. 

5. I don't know what I did, but I'd love to do it again. And again and again. One of the effects I try to get on digital photos is to look like a painting. All of the film photos tend to look that way a bit more than digital, and these next several really hit it out of the park on that front.

6. Yes, that same valley again, but with totally different light.




10. There was essentially no editing done in NLP and none at all in Lightroom for this photo of the beaver pond.



13. Top of the World highway on the way back to Dawson after a river tour to 40 mile. You can see photos of that here

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Film astro learnings

Learning film photography continues to be fun. Digital photography is so forgiving because so much can be fixed during editing. Typically not so much with film, at least not now with my current skill set. I'm learning that I need to pay attention every step of the way.

So for starters, when loading film into the camera, be sure about the film and it's ISO. I goofed. I thought it was Gold 200, when in fact it was Ektar 100. That makes a huge difference in exposure settings. When I dropped it off at the lab I mentioned that, and asked the film to be pushed 1 stop during developing. I think it worked out. This is on 120 film in the GW690.

Cleaning the lens is always a good idea, and that includes the camera that is scanning the negatives. There's one faint line that is consistent in several negatives that I think is actually in the scanning camera. I don't really like any of the images where that faint line shows up enough to scan it again. Although I suppose I should clean the camera, pick a negative and do it again so that I know for sure.

For the astro session we went out to Forget-Me-Not pond. It was a perfect evening for sky photography. There was no wind so the pond was calm, there were no clouds, there were no bugs, and it was warm. We set up looking mostly straight south to catch the galactic core. 

Here's the film view, trying to expose for the shadows, but the sky was still surprisingly bright. (f3.5, about 2 or 3 seconds exposure) For those interested in this camera, the 90mm f3.5 equivalent in full frame terms is about 38 to 40 mm, and f1.2.)

As an aside, exposures more than a second, and less than about 5 seconds are kind of imprecise with this camera because it's a T mode, not B. Meaning the shutter stays open till the shutter speed is changed. I cover the lens with a hat and reach under it to do this. I suppose if I really, really knew what I was doing in situations like this I could slowly cover the lens with a piece of card stock from the top down, so it acts like the old neutral density filter in Lightroom that you could drag down. It seems like a chancy proposition.

Once I got the digital camera set up and clicking away, I started with the film camera. The initial plan was to aim straight north between some trees that I thought would make for a nice composition. After some tripod trouble I put a beanbag down on the ground. I made sure the focus was set to infinity, lens open to f3.5, put it down on the beanbag, aimed pretty much straight up, and clicked the shutter button. No way I was going to lie down and try to peer through the range finder for composition. This was one place where having one of the shutter buttons on the front of the camera makes it easy. The first exposure was 15 minutes, the second was 20, and I moved the camera a bit between photos.

They look like this.

These next two are the same image with different processing. The first of them is converted to B&W, which seemed to help with the vignetting. 

The sky is pretty dark there so the overall exposure time was about right. I might try 25 minutes with Gold 200 next time, providing the sky is really dark. That will get a longer trail. Now that I know it works, I can think about composition to make the images more interesting. I've got some Acros II 100 to try as well.

This digital photo from that evening ended up being July Image of the Month. (Sigma 14mm f1.8, 30 seconds)

Here's the other single digital images I liked, just for fun. There's lots of other photos with various satellites and aircraft in them.

When I'm capturing the night sky I sometimes assemble many images into one to get the star trail effect, but that night the digital intent was to get nice single shots of the galactic core.

For the next session I'll do a bit more research around the specific film I plan to use, (and make sure that's what goes into the camera!) what filters might be useful, and aperture suggestions. I shot wide open because that lens is still sharp, but closing down a stop might help with the vignetting. I've got two more chances coming up, one in the Great Sand Hills, and the second in Yukon. Hmmm, I should probably research capturing northern lights on film, last time I was there, it was spectacular!

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