Stonebridge al la Digital

With my previous post, I shared a photo shot on film with a medium format camera. I returned to the same bridge and at a similar angle, and shot this image (originally in color, 12-bit RAW file converted to black and white with Camera RAW, Silver EFX and Photoshop).

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I’d like to say there is a clear difference between the two images. In reality, I notice subtle tone differences and some detail differences, but in the end the two are very similar.

So, which one is best? That I’m not sure of. I do like the actual process of slowing myself down, composing, setting exposure and taking a shot on film; something about knowing how to properly set everything on the camera to get a correctly exposed photo without seeing the image on the back of the camera is appealing. That, along with having to properly mix chemistry and maintain temperature for a proper image to appear on the film is very satisfying.

With digital, it almost seems too easy. You know a couple software programs, take a photo that may not have been exposed correctly and make some adjustments after you pull the image off of a memory card.

Which one is correct? I think both are, honestly. I prefer film for my personal projects, but clients want digital files for their workflows now instead of a “chrome”.

Which took longer to get to a final image of? I’d have to say the digital file did. Developing time for the film was about 30 minutes, and about 5 minutes to scan, then 5 minutes to clean up some dust spots and adjust brightness and contrast. The digital file, while the initial image capture and pulling the image off of the card was shorter than the developing of the film, the processing of the image to achieve an image that is acceptable to my mind was about 45-50 minutes of editing.

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The Return to Shooting Medium Format

A couple years back, I picked up a Mamiya 645 medium format camera setup. While I liked it, it was just too bulky to work into my workflow at the time. I ended up selling it off to a friend, but have missed shooting medium format film ever since.

That was until a friend of mine let me use his Pentax 645 film camera. My first roll I shot with it was a test roll – I had an old roll of Lomography Earl Gray 120 film that I had in the freezer. So instead of loading up a new roll of 120 that I recently picked up, I went with the “lets shoot a roll and see what happens” route with the old one.

Of course I went to the old stone bridge in Stillwater. Brought my knee high rubber work boots along and walked around the creek to find a nice angle. I started out on the west side, and ended up on the east side of the bridge.

15 images total per roll of film. I considered on saving a few frames for a different subject, but after a few different angles and heights, all 15 frames were gone and I had not brought along another roll.

I brought it home, unloaded it on Monday and had a chance to develop it today. I’ve been using some Sprint chemistry, but not overly happy with the results. I used up all of the Kodak D76 developer I had with some 35mm film, so it was on to the 20+ year old Kodak HC-110 developer I picked up. I was a bit nervous; the film was stored properly since I purchased it new, but the chemistry was not; it came from a musty basement on a farm in southern Minnesota.

One of the hardest parts of developing film (for me) is to roll the film onto the developing reels. The new ones let you “ratchet” the film once you get it started on the reel. That’s the hard part; getting it started. With the 120 film, I was able to load it in and slide it around a ways, then the ratcheting took over. Instead of 15 minutes for a roll of film, it was less than 5.

I found the directions online as to how to mix the HC-110 (Dilution B; 63ml solution to 437ml water at 68 degrees, develop for 6 1/2 minutes). The hard part is you never know what’s going to turn out until you not only mix up the developer, but the stop bath and the fixer so really you could be wasting three different chemistries and not just the one.

I did the final rinse, and pulled the cover off of my developer tank. Upon unrolling the film, I saw images! Not only images, but nice, clean looking negatives appeared in front of me. I clipped the film and hung it up to dry, and then cleaned up the mess I had made.

I don’t have a darkroom to actually make prints from the negatives on paper, so I scanned the images into my computer. The first image; underexposed a stop or two. The rest? They look great. Super clear images with some excellent contrast and exposure. After a few “oops” issues with my scanner (like having film overlap the top of the light bar so the scanner wouldn’t work), I got all 15 images scanned in. Of those 15, I picked this one out as it not only is my favorite angle of the bridge, but I almost had to sit in the water to shoot it. I was playing with the exposures; 1, 2 and 4 second exposures. I believe this was the 4 second exposure. I had to clean up a bit of dust from the scanner (I do clean it before each time I use it), and did a little exposure adjustment.

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My Return To Keller Golf Club

It has been a year since they re-opened Keller Golf Club in Maplewood, Minnesota and when I shot the course before they opened. They’ve had a lot of golfers go through the course in the period of the last year, and had a winter for the course to settle in a bit since the huge, year and a half remodel.

Since I was in the neighborhood, and the clouds were looking pretty great, I figured I’d stop in and check the course out. The maintenance crew were just starting to mow the course, and I ran around to a couple of the holes to get a few shots.

The course appears to be in great shape. Wish I had my clubs with me so I could have got a quick round in; I was there before they let anyone on the course to play.

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Aurora at the Stillwater Lift Bridge

I went out Monday night in search of the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. All reports on the sites I check said they would be great. The deciding factor was not only a couple of the sites, but a friend said he could see the lights from the end of his driveway. So I walked out to the end of mine and checked as well. And there they were. Came back home, brought my wife out and she saw them as well. Next step; grab the camera gear and go.

I ended up going to a spot I have been thinking about for a while, near Marine on St. Croix. After a wrong turn and crossing the path of five deer, I found my spot. I walked up a hill and saw my view; a lookout over a prairie and the lights. Oh, the lights. Just amazing! There they were, dancing across the sky.

Aurora Across the Prairie After the mosquitoes had a good feast on me, I decided I would head homeward; it is tough to beat a shot like this, and it was late and I had been up early that morning.

Driving home, I was going to turn right on one of the ways home, but couldn’t. There were construction trucks all around the intersection, and a big tower of really bright lights. So I went south towards downtown Stillwater. There was some place I wanted to check out on the other route home, but figured I’d just roll through downtown and see what was going on.

And am I glad I did. I’ve never seen the northern lights this bright before. Even in downtown Stillwater, you could see them perfectly.

Aurora at the Stillwater Lift BridgeAfter fiddling around with some settings, I ended up with the shot above. I didn’t want too long of an exposure, or the green lights would just be a green blob of color. I wanted to see the spikes of the aurora. So I bumped up my ISO to 1600 and ended up with a shutter speed of a couple seconds at f/4. A little bit of editing in Adobe Camera Raw, and presto; there is the shot above.

Summer Fun

While most people do not consider work to be fun, or even put the two words in the same sentence. I do. I love my photography work, and I love walking a golf course and seeing all of the angles and the lines of the course light up for me when I’m shooting. For example, this shot from Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park.

DSC_0736_adjSomething about looking back at a hole on a course and seeing everything come together. Little wind, great clouds and a course that is in excellent shape.

Shooting Film…Slowly

As I’ve posted in the past, I do still shoot film. It takes me a lot longer to go through a roll these days, mainly because I’m more picky of what I want to shoot on the film.

I’ve been trying to find a replacement for Agfa Silvertone film (of which I was able to find two rolls of before it disappeared on me), so I went and purchased about 7 different types of black and white film looking for something with a nice, high contrast but still wasn’t overly expensive. These images were taken on Ilford Pan F 50 black and white film; no shooting in color and converting to black and white in Photoshop.
WexfordThis old church was a result of a road trip to Iowa. It was a long trip down and a long trip back, with me only reaching one of the three locations I was hoping to get to before the sun went down.

Plated WindowI found this unique window at a garden store north of the Twin Cities. I couldn’t make out what the cross bar said on it, but there is text (maybe a couple of layers, which could make it hard to read) there that I cannot make out what it says.

Stillwater Lift BridgeAnd of course, the Stillwater Lift Bridge. Taken on the same morning as the image here, this was on true black and white film with a little cleanup of some dust that was either on the negatives or my scanner.

I have another new roll of black and white film loaded up in the film camera. I believe it is Kodak black and white (that can be processed in color – aka C41 – developing), so I’ll keep up the posts with the new film images as well.

Old Highway 61

If you know me, you know that I study maps. Seriously; I have maps upon maps printed out and maps I have ordered and state maps and maps of parks…well, you get it. I’m constantly looking at maps. In fact, writing this post made me think of a spot I wanted to check out and I had to stop typing and go look to see where this specific street was.

Anyways. I was up on the north shore last fall. On my way back, I stopped in Mahtowa and visited this little grocery store called TJ’s Country Corner. I was originally looking for some smoked salmon to bring back home but couldn’t find any of the stores open along the north shore when I went past them. And as a FYI., they have fantastic jerky and smoked fish.

Leaving the store, I noticed that I was actually on the old Highway 61. A nice old sign told me so. Admiring the scene, I told myself I needed to go back and photograph the road and the sign, as it was a decent setup for a shot.

This past weekend, I went back and checked it out. I really need to actually drive more of the old 61 and see what it has to offer.

Old 61 in Mahtowa