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Old 04-08-2012, 11:27 AM   #1
inte OP
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Adventure Riding captured in Analogue

Like many shooters who work part or full-time behind the lens, several years back I "made the switch" from film to shooting a majority of work on digital.

While the digital workflow was at first something of a godsend at first, my use of 35mm and medium-format films never went away completely. Eventually, I started encountering situations where the digital workflow was oddly enough more cumbersome to deal with than shooting analogue.

Cut to the present day, more than 50% of my work has now gone back to film. There are many instances where the look simply can't be duplicated digitally, or at best it requires a great deal of time beating up the digital files in Photoshop. In the adventure riding arena, durability of the cameras and media was a huge incentive to start leaving the digital bodies at home.

This thread is by no means trying to start a debate of which is better. Rather, just to throw some images out there that are captured in what has become an atypical way. I've got an extensive library of 35mm, 120mm, b/w, Dr5, E6, x-process, and Polaroid taken over the past couple years & plan on putting a handful of images together to post here.

If nothing else this hopefully provides a different flavour of eye candy. Better yet, possibly inspire some other people to dust off that old 35mm in the closet & load a roll of whatever is available at Walmart, you might be surprised.
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:32 AM   #2
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Getting the right look.

Much like the different scenes in the movie Traffic, the look of a particular film (or digital processing method) really creates a mood or vibe in a piece of work.

On a recent shoot following a dentist volunteering at a rural clinic in Baja, Mexico, I wanted a travel/roadtrip vibe. Clean, but with a bit of grittiness to it. Rather than opt for pristine reversal films, this entire piece was shot on basic colour negative stock.










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Old 04-08-2012, 11:46 AM   #3
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Death Valley

Working on a separate ride report thread, but figured I'd post a few of the shots here as this is the most recent film-only dual sport ride & the images are still handy spread out on the light table.

Following guys like Jimmy Lewis & Casey McCoy around, you've got to be very quick - both riding and shooting.

Using a camera that doesn't employ batteries means there's no startup time required, and no shutter lag. Shooting a roll of 35mm film means there's less concern about dust on the sensor - you get a new "sensor" for every photo & the previous one is stored safely in a metal canister.

Plus the look is just cool without needing any computer tweaks.










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Old 04-09-2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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Keep it coming

From a frustrated convert to digital photography -- keep those film images coming.

I understand the benefits of digital, especially when travelling on the bike. But I have a large collection of 35mm equipment -- two Canon bodies, a collection of Canon and Vivitar lenses, a few flash units -- that I simply don't know what to do with. I wouldn't even know where to buy film today, never mind get it developed and printed.

So I just point the digital and blast away, keeping maybe one shot in 20. Sometimes I miss the careful composition required with real film. I would bracket an exposure, but that was as far as the "error" part of the trial went.

I'm a lousy photographer. Show me some cool shots that could have been taken with the equipment I have, but for all practical purposes, can no longer use. Do they even make Tri-X any more?

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Old 04-09-2012, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt_Aubrey View Post
From a frustrated convert to digital photography -- keep those film images coming.

I understand the benefits of digital, especially when travelling on the bike. But I have a large collection of 35mm equipment -- two Canon bodies, a collection of Canon and Vivitar lenses, a few flash units -- that I simply don't know what to do with. I wouldn't even know where to buy film today, never mind get it developed and printed.

So I just point the digital and blast away, keeping maybe one shot in 20. Sometimes I miss the careful composition required with real film. I would bracket an exposure, but that was as far as the "error" part of the trial went.

I'm a lousy photographer. Show me some cool shots that could have been taken with the equipment I have, but for all practical purposes, can no longer use. Do they even make Tri-X any more?
More to come for sure. Oddly enough, traveling on the motorcycle was one of the primary things that pushed me back to film use. I needed something compact, as light as possible, but also needed pristine quality and high resolution. Rangefinder was really the only answer on all counts. Added bonus was not having to worry about dust on the sensor (which was and continues to be a serious issue).

On gnarlier rides, when I can't sacrifice quality by shooting a compact digital, I've been relying on Nikon 28 & 35Ti cameras, and a Voightlander rangerfinder - using the old screw-mount style lenses. Arguably tougher, and even less chance of dust entering the camera through the threads versus a bayonet mount. One of the first images shot with this camera just popped up in another thread in Day Trippin':



The resale value on old cameras is so low, I'd say hang onto that stuff. Ironic that it won't sell for much, but most likely will do a better job than 80% of what you could pick up in an electronics store today.

Tri-X - yes, just fired off a roll yesterday in fact. I actually have a few other films I tend to use more often, but there are actually several new b/w & colour film stocks coming out that are really amazing. Freestyle, Samy's, B & H ... all these places and many more have film online or in the stores.

BUT ... you don't need to go to speciality shops depending on what you're looking for. Case in point ... the Baja/dentist magazine piece earlier in this thread, it was a bit of an experiment. Shot entirely on whatever film I could pick up at Target & Walmart while on the road, processed & scanned at Costco for less than $5/roll. No computer editing was done to anything - the raw scans were used in the magazine. Even modern-day basic colour neg film is pretty amazing.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inte View Post
On gnarlier rides, when I can't sacrifice quality by shooting a compact digital, I've been relying on Nikon 28 & 35Ti cameras, and a Voightlander rangerfinder - using the old screw-mount style lenses. Arguably tougher, and even less chance of dust entering the camera through the threads versus a bayonet mount.
I'm guessing my Canon gear are bayonet mounts. Tough enough for dual sport touring (CDT, etc.)?


Quote:
The resale value on old cameras is so low, I'd say hang onto that stuff. Ironic that it won't sell for much, but most likely will do a better job than 80% of what you could pick up in an electronics store today.
I can't bring myself to sell it. Are you telling me there might still be some useful life left? That I might be able to use them on the road?

Quote:
Tri-X - yes, just fired off a roll yesterday in fact. I actually have a few other films I tend to use more often, but there are actually several new b/w & colour film stocks coming out that are really amazing. Freestyle, Samy's, B & H ... all these places and many more have film online or in the stores.
I'm clearly out of touch. Will check these out.

Quote:
BUT ... you don't need to go to speciality shops depending on what you're looking for. Case in point ... the Baja/dentist magazine piece earlier in this thread, it was a bit of an experiment. Shot entirely on whatever film I could pick up at Target & Walmart while on the road, processed & scanned at Costco for less than $5/roll. No computer editing was done to anything - the raw scans were used in the magazine. Even modern-day basic colour neg film is pretty amazing.
I loathe computer photo editing (GIMP, this house is a Linux shop). Costco will process and scan for $5/roll? They'll hand me a flash drive or a CD, or I'll download them from somewhere? Then I can print what I want?

There are available modern-day equivalents to Ektachrome, or other ASA 200 daylight color films (I'm sure I'm revealing my ignorance here...)?

If this is too much of a thread hijack, please say so, and we can take it to PMs or e-mail. But you really have me curious, and I'd appreciate any counsel. I'm no pro, but the gear is basically good (Canon A-1), and I hate to see it sit there.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:06 PM   #7
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I'm guessing my Canon gear are bayonet mounts. Tough enough for dual sport touring (CDT, etc.)?
Definitely tough enough. The screw-mount thing is just a step beyond IMO, but so antiquated it is extremely difficult to find. An unfortunate loss of amazingly useful technology for imagined "progress".

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I can't bring myself to sell it. Are you telling me there might still be some useful life left? That I might be able to use them on the road?
Dear GOD yes. I'm a Nikon guy, but had an extensive AE-1 rig for a while. Essentially anything pre-1990 will blow your mind. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens is great. "Might be some useful life" is a tough question to answer without sounding trite or over-the-top. The quality of old film gear is so far beyond 90% of modern digital equipment that it's not really a fair comparison.

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I loathe computer photo editing (GIMP, this house is a Linux shop). Costco will process and scan for $5/roll? They'll hand me a flash drive or a CD, or I'll download them from somewhere? Then I can print what I want?
Just tell them you don't need prints. Process/CD only. That's exactly what you're seeing in the above Baja/dentist magazine story. I got CDs back from Costco and sent the files directly to the magazine via FTP. Target/Walmart Fuji 200/400 whatever film they had in stock. It's just that good.

Plus, I was shooting in Baja. Dusty. No worries about dust on the sensor. Every time I fired off a frame, I had a new "sensor" to work with & the old one was stored safely away, rolled up in a metal canister.

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There are available modern-day equivalents to Ektachrome, or other ASA 200 daylight color films (I'm sure I'm revealing my ignorance here...)?
Yes & no. If you're looking for a very specific thing (Kodachrome, for example) some film technology has been lost, sadly enough. That said, there are modern film stocks coming out that are truly stunning. Ilford is making several new b/w films, and things like Ektar on the colour front are amazing. Ektar is particularly intriguing to me because it has such an intensely tight grain structure, but is a negative film. I still rely on Fuji E6 films when I want that over-the-top "pop" to it, but Ektar is a truly amazing film for capturing accurately a scene. Used a bunch of it in Nicaragua last year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt_Aubrey View Post
If this is too much of a thread hijack, please say so, and we can take it to PMs or e-mail. But you really have me curious, and I'd appreciate any counsel. I'm no pro, but the gear is basically good (Canon A-1), and I hate to see it sit there.
No hijack at all man. Not interested in debate over better/worse - it's all good. Like the idea of opening up the idea that better imaging quality might be sitting there covered in dust throughout closets everywhere. Trips to "Big Box Store #A" simply aren't necessary ... just dust off whatever 70's camera gear your parents left lying around and make something amazing.

I've got one other somewhat extreme example I've got to dig up here... stay tuned...
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:22 PM   #8
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Extreme example ... from 1917

This image...





Was taken with this camera...





It's a Kodak 3a from 1917. Rodenstock lens. Uncoated. Those guys simply knew how to work with glass back then. The film these cameras use was discontinued in 1934 to my understanding, but you can find these cameras floating around relatively inexpensive. Dave wood who runs the Dr5 lab can convert them to use modern 120 films. http://www.6x14.com/3ahistory.html

Why would you want to do this? Aside from all the benefits of film itself (if you're shooting something that can take advantage of those benefits), consider a standard 35mm frame is roughly the digital equivalent to a 45MP image & you've got massive resolution to work with.

This camera produces a 6x14cm positive. I honestly can't guess at the resolution. Several hundred MP. Dave is the first to point out these are not accurate cameras (we're talking pre-rangefinder days ... it has a brass infinity stop and I used a tape measure to focus & capture the image below). But DANG. A medium-format LEAF back will cost you the same as a luxury sedan, and I gained more resolution and an equally sharp image from 1917 technology sourced from ebay.

No matter how you look at it, this stuff is worth investigation for anyone with a need or interest in achieving the best possible imaging results.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:54 AM   #9
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Great food for thought...

Your insight is very timely. I'm glad you have exposed some of the weaknesses of dealing with digital capture. There's such a streamlined approach to film when you can set the look in advance with film stock and processing. And from that point you can go straight to disc for archiving and circumvent the computer ingest vacuum.

Love your study on the old vintage bellows. That's a great story, technically and creatively.

But seriously, above all... you can hang with Jimmy and Casey on adventure rides. Mad skills and in great company.

How do you carry your photo gear while traveling on two wheels if I might ask. Do you bring multiple lenses and if so what are your primary choices.

Thanks for the great insight.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:12 AM   #10
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How do you carry your photo gear while traveling on two wheels if I might ask. Do you bring multiple lenses and if so what are your primary choices.
+1. This is critical. I'd like to bring enough to get good shots of the kinds of subjects that present themselves on dual sport trips, but I don't want to take anything extra. And I'd like the gear to survive the trip.

My stuff is late '70s - early 80s Canon and Vivitar gear. I know where it is, but it might take a minor archeological dig to uncover it.

I'm not interested in the "film vs digital" religious wars. But I can buy a lot of film, and pay for a lot of processing, with what I wouldn't spend on equivalent digital gear.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:12 PM   #11
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How do you carry your photo gear while traveling on two wheels if I might ask. Do you bring multiple lenses and if so what are your primary choices.

Thanks for the great insight.
De nada.

All depends on the gig. For personal/fun dirtbike trips where everything in on my back, typically a small rangefinder in a pouch on one of the straps, and a separate setup in the pack for when I'm off the bike.

All the domestic & overseas press stuff requiring DSLR use, I'll pack everything into a Tamrac Expedition 8 pack. No fun to carry, but part of the gig...




On a Nicaragua shoot a couple years back, loaded gear into a backpack & the bags on a Harley. This included Holgas, Nikon F5 + lenses (all manual focus primes), Mamiya RZ67 (with 120 & Polariod backs), and a Mamiya C330. That was a gnarly setup to haul around for sure.




While the processing was up there for that trip, I probably saved two solid weeks of computer time not having to deal with editing all the digital files.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:28 PM   #12
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+1. This is critical. I'd like to bring enough to get good shots of the kinds of subjects that present themselves on dual sport trips, but I don't want to take anything extra. And I'd like the gear to survive the trip.
While everyone is different, you'll probably find there's only one or maybe two lenses you use most often. I used to take everything & the kitchen sink until I started to realize the majority never came out of the bag, depending on the assignment.

Nice thing about your Canon stuff, if it's in good shape, extremely high likelihood it will survive better than a digi point/shoot. Moreover, if something does happen, they're relatively inexpensive to fix, or simply get another one. If I remember correctly, the AE-1 is the best selling camera of all time. There are a LOT of them out there. I've seen them in pristine shape for around $25. One of these bodies, a clean f/1.8 50mm or faster and some slide film - you're at a quality level that will rival or exceed virtually any digital camera today.

Digi point & shoot cameras have risen to an amazing level, and you can't beat them for size & versatility, so a lot of this is really a personal call. I've found carrying just a 35mm body & 50mm lens I take less, but better photos. Aside from the medium, some of this is probably simply because there's less tendency to "spray & pray" with the shutter, versus looking around & being a bit more selective when shooting.

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My stuff is late '70s - early 80s Canon and Vivitar gear. I know where it is, but it might take a minor archeological dig to uncover it. I'm not interested in the "film vs digital" religious wars. But I can buy a lot of film, and pay for a lot of processing, with what I wouldn't spend on equivalent digital gear.
Excellent point. I have DSLRs that are only a few years old, but considered "obsolete" (they work fine, but that's the nature of the electronics market). On the flip side, my Nikon F5 still working as good now as it did when I picked it up nearly 15 years ago! Interestingly enough, the current flagship Nikon D3s (just replaced by D4) is the first camera to claim the same level of speed and accuracy as the F5!

The 1917 Kodak seems to be working just fine as well...
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:29 PM   #13
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there is hope

very cool, don't pretend to be any good with a camera, lucky sometimes, but that's about it. Still have 2 Nikon FG bodies I used to like to travel with, almost as compact as a range finder, and with a 24, 50 and a 200 could just about do anything. Today I might only carry the 24 and a 85.

Curious though, if Costco processes a roll into a CD, would guess 36 exposures, how big are the files and what file format are they. From a DSLR I am trending back more to a PS for the convenience, but film for the times when the light is magic would be pretty sweet, and the dust issue is real. I can clean a FG

Nice stuff, admire your work.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:27 PM   #14
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THANK YOU!!!!
...for saying that film is not dead!!!
Guess I'll have to check around more for film and processing. Still have the Minolta 101 I bought in '73 and it works fine. And now,,, I can probably afford some real nice lenses for it!
Carry on,,, I'll be listening.
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Old 04-11-2012, 05:15 PM   #15
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very cool, don't pretend to be any good with a camera, lucky sometimes, but that's about it. Still have 2 Nikon FG bodies I used to like to travel with, almost as compact as a range finder, and with a 24, 50 and a 200 could just about do anything. Today I might only carry the 24 and a 85.
Good stuff, agreed on the lenses. Depend on long-lenses for assignments, almost never for personal stuff - go figure. Most trips only carry 2 lenses. Always a 50 for the speed (1.4 NIkkor or 1.5 Voightlander), and a wide-angle (usually 24 or 28mm).

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Curious though, if Costco processes a roll into a CD, would guess 36 exposures, how big are the files and what file format are they. From a DSLR I am trending back more to a PS for the convenience, but film for the times when the light is magic would be pretty sweet, and the dust issue is real. I can clean a FG Nice stuff, admire your work.
36, 24, or 7 ... whatever you shoot on a roll, that's what will be processed. I'd have to pull a disk to see what the resolution is, however I can definitely say it's sufficient nearly all the needs out there. The Baja/dentist magazine story above is raw Costco scans & they look perfect. To be fair, I rarely use Costco for my stuff, simply because they can't do E6, b/w, cross-process, etc... but for C-41 it sure seems to work really well. My local lab also produces much higher-res scans - which are really only needed if you're looking to do gallery enlargements or something along those lines.

I've found when I head out on some random excursion & want that "magical" fast lens look that pretty much any/all old 35mm cameras (like the Canon AE-1) do, it makes way more sense to take a "beater" 35mm body than an expensive-to-service-or-replace DSLR and pony up the $4 or 5 it costs to process & scan the film.

Often have more fun seeing what comes back from Fuji stock picked up at Target run through a 70's camera than files from my D3s.
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