Friday, September 22, 2006

The Clickless Favorite

The Clickless Ones
I was bemoaning with an online photo friend about the curious phenomena of image clicks, and how personal favorites often are the ones that get the least amount of attention. I commented on one of his images and he was surprised. I've a few of those. Here's one:

The Girl Reflected

Color Street
I couldn' wait to get back to shooting black & white (real b&w, not color conversions or that C41 b&w stuff), and now I miss shooting color on the street. This one looks nice as a b&w, but I really like the extra element.


I like how these two images are tied together by color. Have a great weekend.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to Black and White!

Last night I mixed 5-liters of developer. Now this may elicit a yawn from you, but for me it is significant. It means I can start processing some b&w again! You see I create my black and white developers from scratch. That is, I buy bulk chemicals (e.g., metol, hydroquinone, sodium sulfite, etc.), and create developers based on formulas, or recipes. To make developer from scratch requires a scale, and not your run-of-the-mill kitchen scale. The scale has to be fairly precise. Mine is digital and runs out three decimal places (one more than I really need).

I lent my scale out about a month ago (for a week) and was not able to get it back (until this last weekend). So, when my backlog of unprocessed b&w film hit 14 rolls, I stopped shooting black and white film and switched to shooting color film. I don’t need the instant gratification of digital, but I like to see how things are going, especially when I’m working in fairly unfamiliar territory—namely, color. So, by paying for “process-only/no-cut” color negatives from a couple of trusted one-hour labs I was able to satiate my need to see—without feeling the decadence of digital. I am still shooting film after all.

Converted from color negative film

I’ve shot with color, but not to the extent that I have with b&w. There is a big difference between the two, and not the most obvious one, either. For one thing exposure latitude is different. Knowing how to handle the f-stop ring when shooting with color takes a little getting used to. Color balance is tricky too, especially when over or under-exposing.

Shooting with color opens up a lot of possibilities and can be very flexible. You can make excellent b&w images from color negatives, especially if you’re somewhat proficient in Photoshop.

Shooting in color is a different mindset, entirely. Wayne a fellow RFF’er defined the differences between shooting color and shooting b&w (Here in this thread) as:

"I use color film if I want to show you something and I use B&W film if I want to tell you something"

I can subscribe to this, somewhat. It's an interesting and catchy distinction. When I load color film I don't make this distinction, consciously. When viewing color images I don't necessarily feel this distinction, either. But it's interesting, nonetheless, and worth thinking about.

When I shoot color, I find that I look for that extra plane, or level (color), when composing, or seeking out shots.

However, with Photoshop (as with most other image editing programs) knowing that I can "go to b&w" gives me the ability to shoot with color film and think in black and white, too.

However, while shooting color is pretty flexible, there's no subtitute for the real thing. It's nice to be back shooting with black and white film.

Black and white film or a color negative conversion?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I wish I was in Tijuana...

Wow. A bit of a spike in hits. I was able to trace this anomaly to Chris Weeks site Barbecued Iguana. Thanks for the pointer, Chris. It was the response on RFF to Weeks’ Street Photography for the Purist PDF that sparked the idea for these hip shot posts. I enjoyed the PDF and felt it was a great injection of spirit and enthusiasm for all us who love street photography. The genre sparks much passion, and the document both polarized and united—a good sign. Does any other genre fire people up as much? I don’t think so. I’ve never seen a treatise on portrait photography or landscape photography, or factions of those genres drawing lines in the sand. Long live street photography, its indefinable glory, and its many and various permutations!

Fondlers and Artists Unite!
RFF took a beating for its response to the Street Photography for the Purist and rightfully so. There really was no reason to disrespect the effort behind the PDF . Some of the photographers/writers included in it are also members of RFF, and the work, and spirit behind the work, is impossible to fault. It’s too easy to discount effort while sitting back doing nothing. RFF can get smug at times, but certainly that’s no reason to snub the site. There are some really good people over there and what is offered is valuable to all photographers, especially those shooting street photography. After all, this is a site dedicated rangefinders, the camera responsible for defining the genre. It's a great place to learn about RF gear, and come up to speed on what works best for street-shooting. I’ve yet to see a question regarding rangefinders go unanswered on RFF. In the end, we use gear, talking about it ain’t a bad thing. It ain’t the only thing, I know.

A strong contingent exists within RFF that wants to pull it away from being such a heavily-weighted gear site, and that effort is paying off. While there’s actually value in knowing information like:

  • the Hexar AF is a great street camera, but its fastest speed is 1/250
  • the CV 35/2.5 is a great street lens (small, compact and sharp), but it’s contrasty
  • fish-scale bokeh can ruin a shot
  • the Leica viewfinder is nice, but the Zeiss Ikon might be better
  • etc., etc. etc.

in the end people want to see how all this translates into images. And who can blame them. RFF has got its fondlers, but it also has its “artists,” and people who want to see images. That’s why W/NW threads are seemingly always on the front page, and why critique threads started up. The gallery has a strong set of proponents and an equally strong set of consistent posters. Comments in the gallery are way up, and the Photos of the Week thread was recently revived—it appears every Monday. People are shooting street and posting in the gallery. There’s some excellent work. Check out:

J Borger, Kbg32, Graksi, foolproof, benilam,…to name a very few. There's also a nice little RFF splinter group on Flickr

Enough…it’s lunchtime here in the City by the Bay, and I’m going out shooting.