As I delve deeper into teaching myself how to print in the darkroom, I find myself constantly scouring YouTube for videos on the subject. In trying to relay the things I've learned to you, I realized that there's a lot about printing in the darkroom that I had no clue about. In this video, Andrea Calabresi, an educator based in Italy, does a wonderful job of giving an overview of what it takes to get a good print.
Articles written by Hans Rosemond
The Intrepid Camera Co. is on a roll. With the lofty goal of bringing low-cost large format film photography to the masses, they launched their initial 4x5 model's Kickstarter in the fall of 2014. Although plagued with fulfillment issues and mixed reviews (You can see our review of the original model here), enough attention was garnered to warrant a follow up of a much more refined model in 2016. Now, Intrepid is stepping up and hoping to swing for the fences with a big boy: an 8x10 camera.
Although I've professed my love for film many times in many articles, I've always been missing a key ingredient to the analog experience. Namely, I've never learned to print my own film in the darkroom. Sad, I know. Well, no more! My journey to teaching myself to use a darkroom starts now and, whether you like it or not, I'm taking you with me. First things first: Where the hell am I going to put a darkroom?
Browsing YouTube can be an exercise in either frustration or bliss, depending on the day. Today, though, I happened upon something that truly speaks to me. If you are a portrait photographer, or anything resembling one, you owe it to yourself to check out the documentary, "Darkness and Light," a part of the American Masters Series, produced by PBS.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on my favorite camera, the Mamiya RZ67. Even though such a camera sells for peanuts compared to its original cost decades ago, buying into a new system can be costly. Well, in celebration of May the 4th, KEH, a used camera gear reseller, is having a fantastic sale on Mamiya gear.
As one of our site's regular film shooters, I naturally tend to post a lot of articles on the subject. Without fail, I'll get a few comments to the effect of digital being so much better than film or vice-versa. I've always laughed off such remarks, but since they keep on coming I figured I'd address them. Maybe the mediums have more in common than some would like to admit.
One of the beautiful things about film is the variety of cameras out there. You could shoot a different one every day and seemingly never get to the end of them. With that variety, though, comes a lot of quirkiness. A new generation of photographers has embraced one of the quirkiest cameras of all: The Nishika N8000. Although no technical marvel, its resurgence in the photography community is because of one unexpected trick, creating 3D animated GIFs.
Presets are awesome. They've sped up my workflow by an order of magnitude since I first started using them back when I switched to Lightroom years ago. They save time and, therefore, money! But, to quote every action movie ever made: "Is that all you got?"
Everyone has their baby. You know, that one camera that speaks to them in a way that all other cameras fall short. Of course, saying something like, "best portrait camera ever" is pretty loaded, but I calls it how I sees it! The Mamiya RZ67 is, for a variety of reasons, one of the best cameras ever made. In this article and accompanying video I'll give a birds eye view of the camera and its features, show a little work produced by it, and give you some insight into why this camera is at the top of the heap for me.
What a tangled, twisted road this has been. When I finally built up the courage to try out large-format photography a little more than half a year ago, I knew that I was in for a bit of a rough ride. But with a healthy serving of ruined film, swear words, and YouTube lessons under my belt, I've come out semi-clean on the other side. Here are the most useful lessons I've learned thus far. Hopefully I can stave off some frustration for those of you who feel like taking the plunge.
Last fall I reviewed the Intrepid Camera, a low-cost 4x5 large-format film camera. Although the sentiment behind the camera was admirable, I found it lacking in finish and functionality. Well now Intrepid has come out with their second version which aims to correct many of the flaws of their first generation. Were they successful? In a word: Yes!
Although words like "best" and "ultimate" are fun to throw around, of course there is no objectively best camera out there for a beginner. But to me, the Yashica Mat 124G is pretty close for a variety of reasons. From its handling to price, there is a lot to appreciate in this little gem. Here are some of my favorite features and why I think a person starting out in film photography might be in hog heaven with the little Yashica.
Shooting portraits in large format film is extremely rewarding. There's a simplicity of the process, from the posing to the static camera position, that helps ground both the photographer and the subject in the moment. Beautiful images may be your reward for such patience, but it's not without its challenges. For me, the biggest challenge shooting portraiture is not working with the camera, but the insane amount of light you need to throw at it. For the uninitiated, here are some facts about the format and its light-eating characteristics that you may need to consider.
It sits there on your shelf, looking at you: that old camera that you were so excited about a few years back. Now, it's not even worth the trouble of listing it on eBay or Craigslist. Or is it? Recently I picked up my old Fuji X-E1 and put it through its paces. I was surprised to find out that it's still an enjoyable camera, but not for the reasons that it originally was. Sometimes, a camera's flaws hold a certain charm that can only be appreciated with some distance.
So you've read all my articles on film and decided: "You know what? I'm going to give it a shot!" Great! You're about to embark on a rewarding, sometimes frustrating journey into the old school! However, one of the first questions you'll have to answer is: What film should I shoot with? There are so many choices out there with varying brands, speeds, grain structures, and formulations that it can be daunting to select a few to try out. I know that when I first started out, I had no clue what to try. Hopefully, this guide will serve as a broad primer on some of the most popular stocks and take some of the mystery out of picking your first film.
Style. The idea of finding your own voice and style has become an intricate part of growing as a photographer and differentiating yourself from the competition. It's not only a way to get work, but a way to be remembered in a field of talented artists. But, as a portrait photographer, I find that my need to make a signature image sometimes gets in the way of capturing the human being in front of me. I'm so concerned about making the image "cool" that it's almost as if the person in front of the camera doesn't matter. Today, that ends (I hope).
Tim Heubeck, over at the Waste of Film channel on Youtube, has made a great video detailing the Film Toaster, a platform for using your DSLR to scan film. DSLR scanning has rapidly become a preferred way to capture negatives with a potentially higher quality than a traditional flatbed. The Film Toaster brings attempts to make this process easier, but with a $1699 price tag that may turn off potential investors.
It happened. After wrestling with lighting, posing, finding the right angle and composition, and bringing out that perfect moment, you finally caught the shot. It's everything you saw in your head and more. This! This is what it's all about. You've got the butterflies in your stomach that accompany that feeling when you've managed to get your art out into the real world. "Can I see it?" Oh no. "Sure," you say, doing your best to sound enthusiastic. "Hmm...it's nice, but I look fat. Can we try something else?" "Of course we can," you say, "let's switch it up." All the while you're thinking in your head that it was perfect as it was.
I don't know about the rest of you, but when it comes to comparing my work to others, I'm a sucker for punishment. Try as I might, I can't help but peruse the latest trade magazines when I'm cruising the bookstore, avoiding the editing I should be doing at home. And without fail, something catches my eye that makes my jaw drop. In this day and age when so much of the great work out there is heavily Photoshopped, should we be so quick to compare our own work to it?