I’ve been carrying around the mju II now and again for the past few months- when I returned from Byron, I decided it was time to clear out all the stray C-41 around the apartment.
I should have some more posts coming soon as have a few rolls of E-6 slide film in need of development and an assortment of black and white that I’m in the process of scanning. Recently, I purchased 2 big boxes of travel slides from the 60’s, a collection of negatives from WWII, and an assortment of Australiana- stay tuned.
Since acquiring the mju II a couple of months back, I’ve been exploring color a little more than normal with some accumulated portra stock from my fridge- I find its handling better than my GRD III for speed out of pocket. If I use my three middle fingers when reaching for it, I can be opening the clam shell casing and have it ready to fire by the time I can get the viewfinder to my eye.
When it comes to analog AF’s, I hit the jackpot this weekend when I found a Ricoh FF3 Super and a series one Olympus mju for $6 each in the second hand goods store for the Cat Protection Society of New South Wales. Normally I assume every Salvos and St. Vincent’s across the greater Sydney area has been cleaned out of classic camera gear by the type of old men that rule the Ultimo Camera Fair thrice a year but I guess no one thinks to wander into a place like the Cat Protection- I only ended up there while trying to find a half-gallon canning jar to mix up Philly Fish House Punch in for the coming summer- not an easy find out in Oz.
Das Racist with Lakutis performing at the Oxford Art Factory
I’ve taken a little hiatus from shooting around town but I’ll be back in action this Friday at Oxford Art Factory to cover the ‘Big Things Tour’– in preparation I’ve purchased a speedlite 430 and charged up ye olde digital Rebel XSi
I ended up at the Friend in Hand for a few beers a couple weekends ago- this is the Cockatoo “George” that lives at the bar
This last photo was of a guy named Nigel who came up to me outside the Clarendon to inquire about my camera- he had just order himself a Spotmatic off eBay from Canada for $60.
I found some more old negative packets at a second hand shop and a tag sale up in Katoomba; I’ve been slowly accumulating more and need to find the time to get them all scanned, culled and posted.
While I enjoy looking at color work by photographers by like Martin Parr, Paul Graham and even Alec Soth– I still don’t feel that I can really see or fully understand color. It could be a product of all the street shooting in black and white that I’ve been doing for the past couple years- in The Ongoing Moment Geoff Dyer alludes to something like this when he talks about the start of color photography with the scorn heaped on photographers who clearly saw in black and white but attempted color as opposed to later photographers of the 1970’s and 80’s who clearly saw in color from the start.
I feel like i’m still trying to “solve color as a separate problem” instead of intuitively seeing and shooting in it as naturally as I do black and white.
Part of the issue is that I don’t feel like I can trust color to be accurate to what I saw- this may be in large part due a lack of work flow around my scanner (an Epson v700) or a lack of familiarity with film stocks. Each time I scan a color transparency or negative I get at best a darkened version compared to what I see when I hold it up to the light or at worst a washed out negative scan that requires me to turn on the Epson scan software’s color restoration which sets off alarm bells in my head as I assume the Epson software is making automated judgement calls around proper exposure and color levels that I’m too uneducated on to correct for in something like Adobe Lightroom.
Or maybe its that I’m just not interested enough in it to bother learning to start with, as none of this can really be that complicated- when I think of the work I look at for inspiration its almost always my copy of In The Balkans but rarely my copy of American Surfaces.
Or maybe its a comfort thing- I enjoy a lot more than just shooting with black and white, I like to still develop and do my own proofs. If I ever have issues with my scanner, I can always compare the results of my scans against my analog contact sheets to see the difference- if I don’t like the feel or the texture I can change developers or switch up my film stock- to some extent the hands on work allows me to feel like I’m refining a process that’s already set in motion, or possibly gives me the mental illusion that what I am doing is worth my time because it takes time to do.
This shot was one left over from Mardi Gras that I had forgot to include
I found this cardigan hung over a parking block on the way back to my flat so I shot a few frames with the Rollei; I like to take the Rolleiflex out when I’m running errands or otherwise not going out with the sole intent to shoot even though its somewhat heavier and bulkier than my M6- it makes a great camera for shooting when there’s no need to move fast.
I took a lot looser approach with the camera then I normally would- it yielded a few blurred shots in combination with the overcast weather but I got some decent shots on the lead up to the parade kicking off when compared to last year’s Mardi Gras haul from the same time.
All shots were HP5+ pushed to 1600 and developed in a stock Xtol solution for about 9:28-9:35 at 23C-23.3C depending on the tank.
I made it out to Mardi Gras again this year- I shot most of the afternoon with the M6 but swapped over to my GRD III for the night shots akin to what I had done last year.
The digital came in handy as I still dont feel confident in my ability to shoot with a flash.
It was good to have the display screen to see my results straight away and correct for distance versus flash strength. In addition, I had picked up an external view finder six months ago that made framing a lot easier, I updated the GRD’s firmware before I headed out hoping to try out its subject tracking focus option but in the end it was too much thinking so I swapped back to snap focus, set it to 1.5 metres and put it out of mind.
Based on gut feel, this year’s Mardi Gras had a way lower turn out- that made it hard to do a repeat of last year when the main drag of Oxford Street was so congested that I was able to run loops through the back lane ways and find plenty of material.
I’m also getting a little worn out on street photography, I think I need to find a singular documentary style project to work on for awhile although I’ve got no idea where to start finding some suitable subject matter.
I’ll try and get the rest of the shots developed, scanned and posted within the week.
I played around with the film this time a little more than normal- the meter in my M6 is about one stop over so I loaded it with Neopan 400, set it to 800 (effectively 1600), then shot most of the shots about one stop over and ultimately developed it in Xtol at a little over the recommended time for 800 with temperature around 24C yielding the more contrasty shots. Along with this I tried out a roll of Neopan Acros pushed one stop and developed in T-Max instead of my usual Xtol, while the rest were part of my first step toward shooting through the fridge load of HP5+ buy-2-get-1-free packs ordered from the states a few months ago.