Author Archives: jordi

About jordi

Longtime resident of Japan recently returned to the USA.

On the road near Warm Springs

I finally got a scanner again- a Canon 9000F, the same one I had in Japan. So now I can start scanning my negatives that have piled up over the last couple years.

I think the second photo is stronger due to the composition, but both captured the quality I saw that day on the drive out to Central Oregon. I will see how this prints out after summer when hopefully I can get into a darkroom again.

Camera: XA2

Film: TRI-X

Dev: HC110 Semi-Stand 50 min/68F

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The bricks of the Yellow Brick Road weren’t made out of gold, they were just painted yellow.

How important is truthfulness in photography?  In photojournalism at least the importance is obvious. A photograph, as Susan Sontag writes in her essay In Plato’s Cave (On Photography, 1977), “passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened.”  Well maybe not so much nowadays, at least not exactly as it happened..

Manipulation of images isn’t a new thing of course but it wasn’t so easy in analog times, and there was always the physical negative to fall back on if required, unless it had been destroyed, in which case it may have called into question the authenticity of the printed image.  With digital imaging and sophisticated and capable image editors today we are not so sure, and presumably it will only become more difficult.

Well, in this case , a well known photographer has apologized for the offending staff’s transgression (now there’s an excuse of I ever heard one..), however it led sleuths to discovering interesting things about some of his other photographs, such as people or objects being removed.

If a child has been removed from a photograph because it made for a more effective photograph does this mean that the event photographed didn’t happen?  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around…? I would say yes and no, but more precisely, the photograph has now portrayed a different reality of the event. Some might say that, well, the child could have been removed from the frame during the composition which is true but in that case that is exactly what should have been done.

Another interesting instance was this Nikon competition where a badly photoshopped image won, and led to all sorts of great fun! Some competitions now require the original RAW file to be presented together with the final image. In the future will there will be some sort of 3rd party authentication or guarantee for photographers selling prints perhaps?

The offending images may still have all the qualites of a beautiful photograph, the perfect Flickr algorythm, but they have lost their luster to those that know. Sacrilege! You can picture in your mind the owners of the artist’s prints upon hearing of this fiasco rushing to check the ones they have on the wall were unaltered “real” photographs. It brings a smile to my lips..

The episode does raise more questions about the ability to use photography for portrayal of “reality”. I say “more” because photography has been used to selectively manipulate opinion since day one. I suppose I am a bit of a cynic when it concerns the business that is the art world (art or Art?).  “Legalized money laundry tis all it tis”, I can hear the wizened old guy say as he spits from his creaky rocking chair to the dusty road beside him, some of it landing on the edge of the porch, spittle clinging to his beard like morning dew..

The bricks of the Yellow Brick Road were not paved in gold, they were just painted yellow, and at the end of the road the Wizard of Oz turned out to be a just a man after all.

Best!

Jordi

shibuya

3F 7F 6F, cranny in Shibuya. Leica 3f / Summitar 5cm.

This image has only been adjusted slightly for contrast/exposure level and contains everything and nothing more (except pershaps some dust from the scanner that I missed..) that was in the camera’s viewfinder at the time of pressing the shutter;-)

Why??

That was someone’s question on one of the wonderful video demonstrations by master woodworker Paul Sellers. In the demonstration Mr. Sellers uses a square, a pencil and a chisel to make a mortise and tenon. Mr. Sellers calls himself a lifestyle woodworker, and has his shop in Penrhyn Castle in North Wales where he gives demonstrations and apprentices a few people every year.  In addition to teaching how to make furniture, he teaches how to make your own tools, such as a rabbet plane, how to sharpen your chisels or re-tooth an old saw blade.  His pieces are in the United States White House Collection.  He uses a handsaw made in the 1700’s.  How cool is that?

Well that simple (and lazy, albeit humorous) one word question, “Why?” got me thinking.  Why should you work with your hands taking three or four, or maybe ten times longer for each mortise and each tenon, and each dovetail until weeks, or maybe months later you have a piece of handcrafted furniture made by you, when if you just bought a dozen or so power tools and a shop, you could turn it out much quicker and with much less effort?  Better yet, why not just shop at a furniture store in a couple hours (or a few minutes online) for less than a fraction of those power tools? Why just get one piece, when nowadays with how cheap the stuff is from China you can probably buy a set for the whole house at IKEA? Who cares, when you move just throw it out.

There is the obvious that we have way too much cheap stuff that we don’t really need, as well as the environmental aspect, but there is another. Our Cheaper Faster More is often made in deplorable conditions that we publicly condemn, yet support with our dollars. Even where the working environment is clean and safe, there are other consideration such as the grey line between free choice and that of wage slavery. I recommend checking out some of the interesting photographs of factories in China by Edward Burtnynsky to get an idea.

I see a similarity with woodworking and photography. Mr. Sellers is using tools over 100 years old, many of which will keep working for generations into the future.  Film photographers everywhere are using cameras forty, fifty, and even 100 years old.  Meanwhile the scrap heaps are full of plastic electric tools and plastic digital cameras made only a few years ago. Mr. Sellers is lovingly and painstakingly making beautiful furniture that will last, and enjoying taking the time to do it. Film photographers are lovingly and painstakingly taking the time to make beautiful photographs (well, hopefully to the photographer at least..). And more importantly, enjoying it.

P.s. You can see Paul Sellers’ website here.

usa today bananas

USA Today and old banana (the banana isn’t fake), Portland Oregon. Leica IIIf / Summitar 5cm

Night ride

Stepping out from Shibuya Station one night,

I raised my camera to my eye,

and panned while clicking the shutter

to catch this cyclist speeding by.

I didn’t intend to put that into a poem but when I wrote the description it it kind of ended up that way:-)

Film: HP5+ developed in HC-110 preparation HIMG_3900

It has been quite some time since my last post. It’s not that I haven’t been shooting film, it’s that I have moved back to the US and have been busy getting everyone settled. And, I left me scanner behind and do not have a darkroom here yet. Most of my stuff is still in Japan.. I have recently enrolled in a darkroom class in order to use the lab and have met some great people there. I am really looking forward to getting back into printing again and hopefully learning some more. I have spent most of my efforts up until now focussed on camera work and film development, and although I enjoy printing I have approached it in a kind of haphazard, as needed way.  I look forward to sharing more of my latest on this blog soon, and in the meantime I might put up a few from the past that I haven’t shared yet. Thank you for looking.

Best!

Jordi

80 Year Old Camera Explores the World Again

This Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder accompanied me on a recent business trip to Sri Lanka, and although I didn’t have much opportunity to use it there I did get to take a few frames (on an overcast day..) which is better than nothing, and then took a few more back in Japan.

These old cameras are handy for travel due to their compact size- when folded and stowed away they are slimmer than your average 35mm slr.  Of course without automatic winding stops you have to watch the number in the window for each frame, and when framing be careful not to crop things out of the top when in close range due to parallax (like I almost did in the portrait of the three friends in below), but this is all part of the experience.  A speed camera it is not.

Slave Island Fellows

These two friendly guys were enjoying the afternoon in this narrow alley in Slave Island with their beautiful cat. They jokingly offered to give me the cat to take back with me to Japan (the cat went along with it for the sake of the joke, but wasn’t that keen on it I don’t think). 

I did ruin a frame due to the bag of lychees I was carrying in my left hand contacting the shutter tensioner while taking one exposure thus slowing it from 1/100th to probably around 1/15th and causing the camera to shake slightly. This is something I like to do with my thumb on my Superb as well.  It generally takes one frame of doing this I’ve found and then I am ok for the rest of the time using the camera:-)  Then I forget again when it is put away for a few months..

slave island alley lychee dream

Doh! Darned lychees. They were delicious though (and cost only about ¥100 for 20pcs).

The Voigtlander Bessa RF was made from 1936-1951 I understand (according to Camerapedia). They were fitted with Skopar, Heliar, Heliomar, Helomar, and Color-Heliar lenses.  I like the 5 element Heliar 3.5/10.5cm, but I have heard good things about any of them.  It does get soft in the extremeties below f8, and swirly opened all the way up. This can look pretty cool for portraits etc if that is what you are going for. It has a yellow filter attached which conveniently flips up and down.  I don’t have a lens shade for it yet so have to watch the flare though haven’t noticed anything too shocking yet.

This high contrast photo of an old Japanese farm building would have benefitted from the zone system (and a tripod) in order to get more detail in the shadows and some more depth of field, although I like all the shapes, textures and shadows as it is.  Probably around 1.5 more stops exposure and then n-1 development?  Next time..

japanese rustic

Film was Arista Edu 100 (Foma 100) shot at ei200 just to get a little more speed for better handheld use. Development was HC-110 E 8 minutes/20C (recommended was 6 min at 20c at box speed).

This camera also is able to shoot square format which would give 12 frames instead of 8, and centralise the image to the area where the lens performs best.

 

Acros/HC-110/and the trusty FM2

I purchased this FM2 at a camera fair around 25 years ago and it has served me without fail ever since. It is my most “nostalgic” camera.  It hasn’t gotten as much use the last few years due to my growing collection of cameras, but I always take it out again eventually.

Usually I have the 50/1.8 attached which is compact and a wonderful portrait lens, however this time I grabbed the 55/3.5 macro, which is a great macro lens and a fine all rounder.

I used Acros pushed one stop to ei200 developed in HC-110 dilution E (1:47), developed for 7 minutes at 22 degrees C. For Acros at ei100 I would normally develop for 7 minutes at 20 C, and I saw on the Massive Dev Chart that someone recommended 7 minutes at 24 C for ei400 so this was a guess but it worked out fine I think.

I am cognisant that since getting this bottle of HC-110 my use of caffenol has nearly stopped.  I also have the ingredients for D-23 waiting in the wings but alas, the corruption of convenience.  I think some of it has to do with my concern about the HC-110 expiring before I get through it.  Due to the dilutions this stuff goes a long ways!

 

 

 

Caffenol Stand Development

Stand development, or developing film without agitation by just letting it “stand” is generally considered a foolproof (and lazy) way to fully develop film without worring too much about blowing highlights. Caffenol works well for stand development and is one of my favourites.  Below is the recipe I use.

IMG_4688

Caffenol Stand – makes 50oml

  1. 500 ml fresh water (I use filtered tap water)
  2. 8g washing soda
  3. 5g Vitamin C powder
  4. 0.5g Kbr (Pot. Bromide) to restrict fogging, too much will restrict development as well..
  5. 20g instant coffee

Equipment needed: A thermometer, a scale, and a mixing container (don’t use your significant other’s ice coffee/tea pitcher).

Add in the order listed mixing well at each addition and let coffee bubbles settle before adding to film tank.  Presoak film for 5 minutes. 10 gentle turns to start then 60 minutes stand @20 degrees C for any film shot at box speed (I dont worry about the temperature too much after I start unless it is mid summer and it might rise more than a couple degrees over the course of the development).

Pushing and pulling, toing and froing..

You can push film one stop by simply increasing the development time out to 70 minutes and maybe adding another 10 sec agitation the second minute. Another stop increase the time a bit more and add a couple turns agitation as follows: 1 min, 2 min, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 (this is called Semi Stand).  I might reduce time to around 45-50 minutes for Kentmere or Acros shot at 80 or less.. Experiment to find out what works best for you. The interesting thing is in my unscientific opinion I don’t think there is anything gained really by pulling the film when you are using Caffenol in terms of grain at least.

I have really gotten a lot of enjoyment out of Caffenol.  It works well for push processing so I like to use it with Acros shot at 200 or 400 since Tri-x is so expensive over here in Japan.

The above recipe is from Rhinehold’s site one of the innovators and responsible for a lot of great research given free to all of us- fantastic resource!  Also check out the Caffenol Cookbook for some inspiration!

 

morning plant

Just before dawn, Tri-x ei1600 / Caffenol semi stand 85 minutes

This frame captured the early morning peace and solitude I felt when I awoke early and finished off the roll so I could start developing.  A handheld snap really, possible due to the iso of 1600.  Sometimes the discounted frames taken towards the end of the roll hold something when you happen to look at them a few months later.