I am attempting to shoot a roll of film a month this year – I’m about a month behind, but I’m catching up. My niece, Laura, came for a visit at the end of June. She is an avid shutterbug and has been interested in learning to operate a film camera. She picked up a Pentax kit and brought it with her on her trip. Once we got the pieces out and looked them over I found that my mother’s Vivitar Cosina from the late 70s was also a Pentax mount. Score! I was able to add a doubler, a fast 50, and a telephoto to her kit. More importantly, I was able to hook her up with a very cool vintage strap…
In preparation for her visit I had purchased us each a roll of T-Max 400 and a roll of 100 speed film. We covered the basics and she was off and shooting in no time. I started with the 400 – that’s what this roll is. Having Laura here got me out and about, so most of these shots are taken away from the house and I shot very few still lives. I actually only had a couple of chances to shoot indoors at all. I shot exclusively with the 50mm 1.4. This gave me a very shallow DOF, but also allowed some areas of sky to blow out.
Shooting outdoors I had a chance to play with sunlight – sometimes with better results than others. I’m finding that instead of seeking out high contrast subjects, that I need to make sure a black and white image has lots of mid tones.
While the shot above shot worked exactly as I imagined it – the next shot I’m not completely sold on – I like the bokeh and the light on the leaves – even the sunspots, but I wish I had more detail in the sky.
There is a spot I love to shoot – I’ve never really mastered it but I know that someday I will get the shot I’m imagining there. It’s an underground grotto that surrounds a natural spring. I want to get a shot from inside the grotto in the fall capturing all the color in the distant hills – these are not those shots, but I kind of like them. The feel historic to me.
The shot above is from the center of the grotto – on most days sunlight overwhelms this view, but the detail before you leave the stairs works fairly well. The blown out sky does give you the sense of sunlight pouring in.
Next I tried an angle – it lets the texture of the limestone stairwell come alive, this one feels more like the experience of being underground and looking up into the light.
While I was inside the grotto, a small circle on the ground caught my eye – it’s a perfectly round hole in the surface of the limestone step – a stair railing must have been here at some time…
The surface of the stone gave me some of those mid tones I have been searching for. The deep shadow and the highlight on the water give me the full tonal range I have been hoping to achieve with my black and whites.
I have been reading a lot about leading lines in hopes of improving my landscape skills – this historic bridge gave me some lines to work with…
This is the Ozarks very own “Golden Gate” bridge – the towers are actually painted yellow – it’s a one-lane bridge so you have to take turns crossing it. I have shot it many times in color and have a photo by a local artist in my home – I resisted the temptation to shoot it straight on and vertical – I see that done a lot here. For the second view I decided to make the diagonally striped sign the focal point – I have never known what that sign means…
The “fast fifty” lens lets me get sweet details in the foreground, like the bolts to the right of the signs – and lets the details in the distance soften.
Shooting the manual camera has been a challenge – you need longer exposures in many cases to capture detail, but it is very difficult to keep the camera still enough. In college I shot my moms Vivitar Cosina – the one I gave Laura. It has an Auto setting that is basically a primitive Aperture Mode. You set the aperture and the light meter tells you the shutter speed. I would adjust the aperture until the shutter speed was about 125. The Olympus is completely manual with a built-in light meter. You have to adjust both the shutter and the aperture until you get the needle centered on the light meter. In some cases there is just no room to shoot at 125 – there isn’t enough light.
More good mid tones – I shot this with the aperture close mid way down – this let me capture details in the balloons and in the limestone behind them – it was bright enough to still get a decent shutter speed at about f/11.
This shot of Laura was taken with the aperture wide open – I focused on her camera. The DOF is very shallow. I love the bokeh created by the picket fence behind her.
I used the same setting to capture these flowers, Laura was actually shooting these when I was shooting her.
This log cabin is on Spring Street in Eureka Springs. It hangs out over a hollow in the middle of town. There are trees near the sidewalk, so you have to find a way to peek through them to get a shot of it with the hollow visible. My first instinct was to shoot it straight on from the street – but I thought about the leading lines and decided to get a view at an angle.
Now for something a bit more modern – this is a view of the Spring at Crystal Bridges Museum – through a curved glass window. I was curious to see how the curved reflections would play on the image. I close the aperture down to about f/11 in this shot – the DOF is pretty deep.
When I had a chance to shoot still life, I tried to shoot with the aperture wide open – aiming for a very shallow DOF.
I loved these – I also like the shallow DOF – but think I could have closed the aperture down a stop. A local artist creates these from repurposed lightbulbs and clock parts. I shot several of these shots at a great gallery in Bentonville Arkansas located very close to Crystal Bridges.
This vase is by a local artist – he fires pieces with leaves pressed into the clay – I have one of his bird feeders and love the look of it.
I can’t go to Bentonville without checking in with Rosie – my goal with this shot was to capture a bit of the sheen of the paint on the canvas – it’s subtle but it’s there. It’s very interesting to look at something known for its color in black and white.
These old newspaper machines gave me another chance to play with leading lines – the diagonals draw you into the image. I like the surfaces on these – they were a vivid blue.
I shot this image of the jeep with the aperture fairly wide – the DOF is shallow enough to isolate the subject, but not so shallow that you lose the depth of the image.
So – my thoughts on this project 5 rolls in? Well, I’m getting more keepers per roll and I’m taking a lot fewer shots of each subject – on this roll I only shot a few subjects more than once. Showing Laura the area kept me moving so I shot lots of variety. I also took my film camera everywhere except kayaking. Having it with me gave me lots of opportunities. I stared the next roll at Crystal Bridges in the gardens – I am anxious to see how those worked out. I’m shooting 100 speed now, so maybe I’ll get some sharper images in the mix.
If you would like to catch up with my project, here are the links for the other posts in the series:
Where is Roll 3? Well, it’s in the trash because I didn’t pay attention to the light meter.
Reblogged this on Eureka Springs, AR.
My brother is going to get a film camera for our big trip across country. Your pictures are wonderful, but I agree with one of your readers who says you can take good pictures with anything! I am not sure that I see the advantage of using film. Your pictures are always fantastic! 🙂
Thanks, the main reason I am shooting film is to get back to the basics – no electronics, no decisions made by the camera. I have been reading about “shooting with intention” – completely taking back the control of your camera. Shooting film is the most basic way to do that. I like shooting black and white – it has a unique feel. But I can take those principles back to my digital shooting.
They are lovely. I just love digital so much because mistakes are so expendable. 🙂
I think your shots would be amazing even if you used a fisher price camera, Lorri. Beautiful!!!
LOL – that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me 🙂
Well now I am LOL! 🙂 (but you know I mean it!!!)
Lovely shots with a classic camera. I sure hope film never dies.
Me too! Thank you!
All of these are wonderful, but I really like the sunflowers! I wonder if the bridge sign is length and grade? Hmm.
Thanks – you could be right about that, no idea what the diagonal stripes are supposed to mean though.
I love these so much. I’m such the sucker for black and white. And bokeh…I love my 50mm.
I’ve been wanting to do a project on film. The slowing down of the picture taking process – the intention behind each photo because you only have so much film appeals to me. I think my next present to myself is going to be a vintage film camera.
AND I love your tattoo!!!!!
Thanks – I love black and white too, but I just don’t get the same feel when I convert a digital image to B&W. Shooting film has really made me think more when I shoot my digital camera – thinking more about the settings and making more choices instead of letting the camera decide. The great thing about film cameras is that you can get a really good one pretty cheap these days. I highly recommend it! The tattoo is an image of the camera my mother used to shoot – I’m looking for a good one of those – someday…
I’ll be looking for one of those too someday. It’s a great tattoo, but the sentiment behind it is even better.
Thanks for sharing all these B & W images. Those mid tones are where I seem to lose out in trying to shoot B & W.
Only yesterday I read a tutorial on the subject which an American friend had sent me.
I like the first shot of the sunflower and the one of your jeep. The vase also comes up nicely.
Look forward to seeing more of these film images through the months ahead.
Thanks Vicki – I have not had a lot of success converting photos to B&W – there’s something that modern digital cameras seem to lack in tonal range as compared to film.
I really like that backlit sunflower. What a great thing to share with your niece!
Thanks – Laura took an amazing shot of that sunflower with her digital. I had thought that having to carry all those lenses and gear might turn her off shooting manual – but she’s embracing it. I can’t wait to see her first roll.
Absolutely LOVE the black and white photos. It makes for a completely different outlook.
Thanks Elizabeth – I chose B&W because shooting color film could feel too much like grainy digital photos – the departure has been fun – and challenging 🙂
very interesting photos and I love the detailed explanations to go with them. I’m not sure I would ever go back to using film, but having a limited number of images on a roll does make you select your shots more carefully. I will go and look at the other rolls tomorrow.
Thanks Jude – it’s more challenging than I thought it would be, but I love the surprise of seeing how the shots turn out. I would never want to depend on film, but I am learning a lot about manual shooting that I am using on my digital.
Great photos Lorri. I especially liked the old cabin and the steam punk balloon. Nothing like spreading the likes! ha. I love the black and white shots. They usually look so….peaceful. Weird huh?
I don’t think it’s weird – it does seem like something from another time though. The artist doing the steampunk pieces is doing some amazing things with different shaped bulbs and cuckoo clock movements – genius! Thanks!
Using such a different camera is a worthy challenge. I like the old cabin photo – that looks like the photo could be ancient.
You know that cabin looks ancient in person too 🙂
Really fun shots, and impressive photos. The shot of your niece with the Pentax looks very vintage. Greatly enjoyed the B&W photos!
Sadly, I noticed after the post was up that I didn’t get all the dust off of my scanner – I think those dust particles add to the “vintage” feel 🙂 I’m enjoying working in B&W – it makes you think more about contrast and composition.
I like your b&W photos in this post. I started out with a 35mm Pentax ME 30 years ago. They make a great product.
Have you experimented with lens filters? I have found that Red is especially dramatic for popping clouds out of dark skies.
That Pentax seemed solid as a rock and the Vivitar lenses gave her some nice primes. I have a red filter and forgot all about it – the nice thing about the OM system is that all the lenses use a 49mm filter so I have lots to choose from in this last kit I bought. There is one that specifies it is for B&W – I should try it out too.
I liked the Red filter the best, followed by a polarizing filter. They both had amazing effect on skies and clouds.
I am so impressed by these photos… and great that you explain your settings and feelings about the results… lessons for us idiots to learn from… Thank you…
Thanks Bulldog – I appreciate it. I should be taking notes, but I just can’t multi-task that well. I’m learning a lot from the project – I felt a bit like an idiot that first month, but it’s a bit like riding a bicycle