betabug... Sascha Welter

home english | home deutsch | Site Map | Sascha | Kontakt | Pro | Weblog | Wiki

Entries : Category [ photography ]
On picture taking... and pictures
[digital]  [language]  [life]  [security]  [media]  [zope]  [tourism]  [limnos]  [mac]  [athens]  [travel]  [montage]  [food]  [fire]  [zwiki]  [schnipsel]  [music]  [culture]  [shellfun]  [photography]  [hiking]  [pyramid]  [politics]  [bicycle]  [naxos]  [swim] 

29 September 2010

Home Souping Film

Developed my first film at home

This evening I developed my first film at home. It's still drying in the bathroom, while I'm slacking on the sofa. So far the film looks good. It's from the Canon, so it's a 135. I'll see the true result once I scan it. (Whichever way it comes out, I think I'll post some crappy pix here.)

It had taken me a while to get all necessary parts together to develop at home. The tank and chemistry I had ordered from Maco in Germany. Since my bathroom is not completely light-tight even after I put some extra thick carton for shutters on the window, I had to wait till it was dark to spool in the film.

When I ordered the other stuff, I had considered getting a changing bag, but in the end I chickened out. Now I think I'll order one, it could make things much simpler. I'm even considering getting the larger (and more expensive) one and inserting something like a "frame", so the fabric does not fall on my hands all the time.

Posted by betabug at 20:25 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
30 September 2010

KTEL Thiva in the Rain

As shot on Tri-X in Diafine
KTEL Thiva in the Rain

So, I scanned the negs from yesterday's film. The scans are not that great, the Epson V700 is definitely not the best tool for this job. (...anybody want to donate a Nikon Coolscan 9000 to me?)

I do like the tonal range of Tri-X in Diafine though. It seems to handle situations with lots of contrast just fine. It's also good for not-so-high-contrast cloudy skies, provided you give the contrast a good kick in the "curves" after scanning. The image could be improved with a bit of burning in, right now I just added some contrast in tonality - trading shadow detail for atmosphere. (Canon F-1N, 28mm.)

This here is the KTEL (ΚΤΕΛ, long distance bus service) station in Thiva. The rain had just about stopped. We were on our way to Askri and had to wait about an hour for our bus connection.

Posted by betabug at 11:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 November 2010

New Fresnel Screen on the Firstflex

A crappy 6x6 TLR with a good viewfinder
Look through my new fresnel on the Firstflex on my fridge

Last week I got my Firstflex (6x6 TLR, cheap Japanese Rolleicord copy) back from the camera repair shop. It wasn't broken, but it got "upgraded". Mr. Picopoulos put in a fresnel screen. The fresnel screen is placed in front of the matte screen ("in front" as in "between the lens and the matte screen"), which is different from how I'm used to it on large format cameras. This required re-setting the focusing distance of the top / viewer lens.

That hack was made possible, because my Firstflex was at some former point in its life fitted with a viewfinder from a Yashica. Since that was done before I owned the camera and since I had bought the camera from Mr. Picopoulos father, I guess it was his father who did the first hack.

The result is stunning: Where before I had a light spot in the center of the screen and corners so dark that I could only guess at an approximate composition... now the viewer looks as light as a Hasselblad's or Mamiya's. There is still a tiny bit of falloff in the corners. Also now I have that round clear spot in the center. Not too bad though, you just blend it out in your mind after the first 30 seconds.

I've spent hours just pointing the camera at things and looking. In the dark in the street. Inside the house, watching the effect of lamps on things. In the sun. With the sun shining on the camera - which is a problem only when the sun hits the screen directly, but then I can block it with my hand. It works great with everything. Took very little pictures so far, but that is more due to the season, as it gets darker early in the evening now. (The picture is taken with my crappy digital phone camera... no "real" digital camera available right now. Oh, you're looking through the Firstflex at my fridge... in the evening, with some lamp light only.)

Posted by betabug at 18:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 November 2010

A Portrait of the Firstflex

It's been some time
Firstflex TLR, a bit battered

I've owned both the Arca-Swiss and the Firstflex for many years now. I think I've taken pictures of the Firstflex with the Arca before, but never any which I was really happy with. Last week I gave it another try.

Now I don't have a studio any more, neither anything resembling studio light. This was lighted with a desk lamp. I used a piece of black, thick cardboard to shield the lens from the lamp. There was also some white paper to open up the shadows a bit and give more reflection to the chrome bits and the lenses. It's all done on my dining/breakfast table at home.

Since I had Fuji Acros 100, the exposure time of 16 seconds was no problem. That film is devoid of reciprocity failure at that time range. I developed the next evening and scanned another day later. That the camera (and to a lesser degree the table) has not been cleaned is a very private joke, that I probably understand only myself.

Taking the Firstflex' portrait

Desklampist Info

(Not having any "strobes", I can't give any "strobist info".) Desk lamp (with yucky, mercury containing eco lamp) to the right of the object. Black cardboard shielding the lens (the one on the Arca, that is). 2 sheets of A4 sized white stationary paper on the left. The desk lamp is actually quite close, which gives softer light (relatively large square area of the light source), but it gives a lot of contrast from the shadow to the light side of the object.

Also I'm quite close with the (taking) camera to the object. This is to emphasize the form of the square camera. Notice those fleeting perspective lines, i.e. the top/front side of the Firstflex goes steep up to the right - while the bottom/front side goes steep down to the right.

Posted by betabug at 16:17 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
23 November 2010

Another Film and a Catalog Reindexing Bug

It's getting better every day
Sign saying "Shock Prices" in Athens' center

Today I got back three color films from development. One of them was a Fuji Pro 400 H, a film I've bought for the first time. So far it looks like the colors are in line with the Fuji 160S that we all love and worship (haven't tried the "replacement" 160NS yet). having about 2 stops more of wiggle space is nice, but the weather was so good I didn't really need it. This being 120 film for exposures in 6x6cm, I didn't see any grain. I need to re-scan most of those pictures though, the lab scans are just not cutting it.

BTW, the sign says: "The crisis brings the solution: Shock prices - everything at cost prices". As the Beatles song says, it's getting better every day :-)

All the while in a world filled with more technology, I'm still battling a bug in one of my Zope products: I've got this thing that is something like a circular reference of indexes. This is of course the point in my blog post, where I have lost even the last of my readers - after film photo geeking it out and then posting about some waaaay off esoteric tech stuff. Well, I'm working on this bug on and off for days now. Which means I have been working on it and doing other stuff in the meantime, since a really good solution hasn't come up yet. Like every other bug, at some point in time this one will be eradicated and forgotten too.

Posted by betabug at 22:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
27 November 2010

Hiking the E4 at Taygetos 2010-11-13+14

Singing in the rain
Hiking up to the Taygetos hut

It's already two weeks ago that I went on another excursion with the Krystallis hiking + mountaineering club. We went to the Ταΰγετος (Taygetos) mountain. The plan was to hike to the hut on Saturday, then either (if time permits) hike straight up to the summit or go to the summit early on Sunday morning. The weather wasn't agreeing with either of these plans at all...

It was all gray skies and rainy. Shifting between pouring down and light rain. So instead of going to the top, a few of us hiked up to the hut, while the others drove. At the (very nice) hut, we cooked dinner and enjoyed a nice evening.

The next morning we woke up fairly early, but not "mountaineering early". Since it was pouring down again, it would be the 2nd time that I was at Taygetos and not getting to see the summit. The last time fog stopped us. This time we even discussed going down by car and doing a normal "tourism" program. Well, we didn't go that far. Instead we dressed up for rain and headed out on the E4 hiking trail down to Anavryti.

Starting the hike in the rain

Somewhere along the way, the rain finally let up bit by bit. In the end we were still under clouds, but we could see the sun peek through in the distance. We had started out at an altitude of about 1400m and went slowly down to about 700m. The E4 around Taygeto is really beautiful. It's the 2nd time I've been around there and I really like the place.

The rain is lifting

All the time I had my sturdy (and heavy), old Canon F-1N with me. Most of the time I had it strung around my neck. When it was pouring down, the camera was underneath my rain poncho and I would pull the poncho up to point the camera through one of the side openings. At one point after walking along in the heavy rain, the humidity likely shorted the battery, the shutter button stopped working. I packed the camera into the backpack for half an hour. It dried out a bit and at the next stop, where the rain had let up already, it came out again and worked fine.

Old Master Tree in the rain

Most pictures I took with Tri-X, in black and white. One film was a cheap (I mean, really cheap, 1.29 Euro) Kodak ColorPlus 200 (the same film is also known as Kodacolor VR200, with edge marks "Kodak 200-8"). I had to re-scan that film twice to get the colors right, because VueScan (the scanning software) didn't have it as "Color Plus" in its settings list. In the end it came out quite nice by setting to "Kodacolor VR200 Generation 5" and the pictures needed only minimal adjustment. As I've posted b+w pictures on the last hiking report, I'll post some color ones here.

Posted by betabug at 16:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 January 2011

Quick Contact Cheat

Can't wait! Can't wait!
Small piece of a contact "cheat", showing some Tri-X

Yesterday evening I developed 2 films (135, Tri-X, in Diafine). They were drying in the bathroom when I went to bed, dry when I woke up. I cut them up, then I was on my way to work... as usual with this kind of thing, the big question is: "What is on the film? Anything good?" In the good old days of darkroom work, we'd do a contact sheet. Nowadays I do what I could call a "contact cheat".

As I've cut the film and placed it into a protective sleeve, I hold it up to the window and take a picture with my mobile phone. For 120 film, one picture is enough, for 135 two pictures (lower and upper part) work better. As I get to work, I transfer the pix to my computer. I open them in a simple image editor. Obviously they show the negatives, pretty washed out too. First I invert them, then I go into the "Levels" function and hit the "black point" way up and the "white point" a little bit down. The histogram shows the right points quite obviously. But also the pictures start to look almost right too.

Just like on a real contact sheet, these adjustments are done for all the pictures together. So I can see which negatives are over/under exposed. I get an overall idea of the composition and "what's there". Sometimes it's not so easy to make out what a picture actually shows... but that's just like a real contact sheet too. And I can fuss over my "new" pictures all day long, till I get the time to scan them :-)

The "contact cheat" shows the pictures larger than you see them in the example picture. So in some way it's better than a real contact. On the other hand it's not as sharp as a good contact sheet.

Posted by betabug at 10:14 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
13 January 2011

Mixed Up Some D-76

Old School
My new batch of D-76

Tuesday evening after developing my films, I mixed up a new batch of developer. This time it's Kodak's D-76. One of the older and most standard developers around. This is nothing fancy and special like the 2-bath Diafine I used for the last 20+ rolls of film I developed (and which I'll continue to use).

The reason I got good old D-76 is that Diafine ruined me a roll of film from my Arca-Swiss. You see, Diafine sometimes has this bad habit called "Bromide drag" or "Bromide stains". Essentially it gets pictures developed with strains of lighter parts. Not nice, especially not in the skies of carefully crafted landscape pictures.

Truth be told, I haven't had the problem with Diafine ever since. I had adjusted my agitation, which is the point most people blame for bromide drag. I also stayed away from the upper part of the allowed temperature range. Diafine can be used according to some between 20 - 28º Celsius, while I saw others say 20 - 24º Celsius - I now go to maximum 24ºC.

Outside the Megaro Mousikis, about Christmas time

So I'm still happy to use Diafine for the Tri-X I load into my handy little 35mm Canon F-1 (only about 1kg) to go and make fancy night shots in the city like the one above. I'll also use it for Tri-X in the 6x6 Firstflex, where fine grain doesn't matter that much either. But the Fuji Acros 100 I use with the Arca-Swiss I want to develop the old fashioned way. With the Arca I don't need fast film speed (it's always on a tripod anyway), I don't really care that much about fine grain, but I want even development.

Posted by betabug at 14:27 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 January 2011

Streetlight Photography

Not quite dark, not always quite there
Dry Ship Yard, Paleo Faliro

Over the course of this winter, I've occupied myself partially with what I call "streetlight" photography. Meaning that I have loaded some Tri-X in the Canon F-1 and carry the camera with my after dark. The reason for this is mainly that it's already dark when I leave the office. But it's also a chance to learn something about the technical and aesthetic aspects of handheld night photography in the city.

Election propaganda booth in Petralona

I'm not much of a "street" photographer, meaning that a.) I shy away from photographing strangers on the street and b.) I rarely see that much sense in it, at least not in the mass of it apparently going on in some circles nowadays. So in my pictures there aren't that many people. I might wait for someone to have left my frame, especially if I sense that maybe they don't want to end up in some unknown guys picture. I might have people in there, but mostly when they have become anonymous, more parts of the city than recognizable human beings. Combine that with the 28mm wide angle (my only reasonable lens choice right now) and I get a lot of too empty scenes.

Technically, I learned that streetlamp light is mostly about the same levels of light. Measuring the light is tricky. My camera's center weighted metering gets confused easily with light sources (lamps) in the picture. I own a good handheld meter, but I'm too lazy to carry it with me every day. What I do is point the camera around to get an overall "feeling" for the light level, then set the camera manually - mostly to the same values: 1/30th of a second, f:2.8 - which means the film would be exposed at ISO 1600. More important is actually looking at what the light is doing in front of the camera. The scene might be ok with my exposure, but maybe that face (or whatever detail you're interested in) is in the shade.

Neoclassical columns in Panepistimiou street

Contrast can be harsh. Developing film in Diafine (a "compensating" developer) helps a lot with that, while traditional "push" development aggravates contrast problems. With Diafine you let the shadows go very dark (which is what setting your meter to ISO 1600 does), but the compensating part of the developer makes the highlights still bearable.

You might even get what I call the "diafine glow": Due to the compensating character of Diafine you get more information in the very lightest highlights - they don't block so easy as with "normal" developers. so for example a fluorescent lamp on the street is not just a white blob, but there is a tiny outline of the lamp still there. The lamp seems to glow.

Posted by betabug at 18:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 February 2011

Mein Gossen Batterie-Adapter ist eingetroffen

Geduld, geduld
Gossen Batterie-Adapter für Lunasix-3 in Verpackung

Mein Belichtungsmesser Gossen Lunasix-3 braucht langsam neue Batterien... die alten haben zwar irgendwo zwischen 15 und 25 Jahre gehalten, aber so langsam ist der Saft weg. Das spezielle daran ist, dass da Quecksilber-Batterien reingehören, die es nicht mehr gibt - aus Gründen des Umweltschutzes. Nun einfach andere Batterien mit entsprechender Voltzahl reinzutun geht nicht, weil die Entladekurve nicht stimmt. Es gibt aber Adapter, mit denen auch "moderne" Batterien stabile Volt abgeben. Gossen selber stellt so einen Adapter her.

Gefunden und bestellt habe ich ihn bei Foto Brenner in Deutschland. Zuerst hat die Bestellung etwas gehakelt, der Artikel traf vom Lieferanten nur mit Verzögerung ein. Als sich noch eine zweite Verzögerung abzeichnete, wurde ich vom Kundendienst angefragt, ob ich die Bestellung trotzdem noch will, sehr korrekt. Was solls, etwas Geduld und dann war es soweit. Heute hat DHL ein Kartoncouvert vorbeigebracht, den Adapter und einen Katalog. Bei Brenner hat der Preis gestimmt (25 Euro) und die Versandkosten nach Griechenland waren mit 12 Euro auch noch zivil. Heut abend werd ich das Teil gleich ausprobieren.

Posted by betabug at 10:51 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
18 February 2011

Keeping Things Straight

Levels in the accessory shoe
Levels in the accessory shoe of the Firstflex

A couple of weeks ago I bought this little accessory, a tiny pair of levels to put into a camera's "accessory shoe" (often mis-labelled "flash shoe"). What are the levels good for? Why, to make better pictures, haha! Of course that's not really true, because all kinds of good pictures are made without the camera being leveled, but there is a certain beauty to a picture that was made like that. The reason is that we don't really see with our eyes, but instead it's our brain that assembles the image... and the brain corrects vertical lines and levels horizons. An image that has vertical lines and level horizons will seem "just right", often it has a special kind of feeling to it.

On my Arca-Swiss (baby large format camera), I don't need this thing, since it has levels built in. In Large Format photography, leveling the camera is routine. On a 35mm camera, using this add-on levels requires a tripod, because you can't see the levels while you look into the viewfinder. Good for those occasions when you use a tripod anyway. Now on the 6x6 Firstflex, since you look at the viewfinder from above and since the levels are in the accessory shoe on the left of the viewfinder, it's perfect. You can see the image and right next to it check if you are leveled. It's not perfect if you're hand-holding the camera, but it's doable.

There are two levels in this thing: One for checking the horizon, one for checking the elevation. With this camera the horizon is easy to correct, it won't change your image much. On the other hand, you will point the camera up and down almost all the time. The result is that vertical lines will not be vertical. With the large format camera, that is easy to correct, but with a normal camera, that's just what you get. The choice is either to keep the camera leveled and crop the image or else live with it. At this point the accessory levels will at least help to keep the horizon in line and tell you where you would be leveled... or you can just decide to choose artistic freedom and point the camera whichever way you like :-)

Posted by betabug at 10:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 March 2011

New blog: imagelog

The fun hacking project went online

Two weeks ago I embarked on my weekend fun hacking project, at the end of the last week it went online. It's my image blog. Well, I'm posting images in this blog too, but the new one is about the images only.

When there are images that need a long story, something more than a few lines, I'll link to this place here. Otherwise I'll just post a stream of images, one every couple of days, each in some relation to the next and previous ones.

Here you go: imagelog

Posted by betabug at 15:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 March 2011

square tokyo

Yes, there's more wrong than that

A few months ago I discovered the photoblog square tokyo through a link-from-a-link from tokyo camera style. I was stunned. Ever since, "square tokyo" had been an inspiration to me. Not in the sense that I wanted to make the same pictures, but in the sense that I totally dig the dedication to composition and excellence in pictures. It gave me something to aspire to.

Well, you all are stuck together with me and everybody else trying to follow the bad news from Japan. I can't say much about that. I don't know the dude that makes "square tokyo", never exchanged messages with him (assuming he's a "he"), never even tried an automated translation on the texts. But I sure hope he's allright. There are many, many more people in danger and dire need and I hope for the best for all them, but for me this was just one more personal touch.

Posted by betabug at 10:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 April 2011

Early Morning Tourist Walk

... and the trees have flowers too
Detail of flowers in a tree in Athens

This morning I took a little detour to get off at the Akropolis Metro station and walk to Petralona from there. I took the nice pedestrian area that passes by the Akropolis and the ancient Herodion theatre. This is really tourist area and having my Firstflex with me, I took some pictures and in any way was not distinguishable from any random tourist (assuming that a tourist would carry such an old, beaten up camera).

The morning is definitely the right time to take pictures in that area, very few people around. The light was nice too. Only when looking at the Acropolis from Thision I was looking into the sun.

I also enjoyed the flowering trees on the way. I didn't really take any pictures of them, as the Firstflex was loaded with Tri-X (which is black+white film) and as it can't focus close enough to show flowers in detail. The picture you see here was taken with the mobile phone, which is always at hand these days.

Posted by betabug at 13:09 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
08 May 2011

St.Gallen Camera Style

Not much, but still...
Mamiya C220 in shop window

In the true spirit of Tokyo Camera Style, I was going out for walks today with the Canon F-1N (with film, for those who don't know that camera) in the city of St.Gallen. That's where I'm right now. In difference to Tokyo Camera Style, mine was the only analog camera around, in fact it was the only camera of any kind I've seen. There weren't many tourists in town.

The weather was wonderful, nice and warm, totally not typical for the season. After strolling around a lot, I came across this poster in a shop window. Looks like those Mamiya TLRs are the total fashion accessory nowadays. This one is a C220 even. Less "professional", but a bit rarer than the C330. Maybe the C220 is considered more "fashionable" or maybe it was simply the one they had at hand?

Posted by betabug at 23:02 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 January 2012

Parnitha in Winter with Company from E.DAS.A.

With people from ΕΔΑΣΑ - Forest Protection Volunteers of Attica
Towards noon the snow already started to retreat partially

Yesterday, we were out hiking in the Parnitha mountains with a group of people from ΕΔΑΣΑ (E.DAS.A. Volunteers Of Forest Fire-Watching Of Attica). We took the gondola lift up to the casino, complete with plush carpets and gilt framed mirrors. Then we went out into the cold...

Snowflake on jacket sleeve

There was light snow and a fine, cold wind. We hiked out towards the Flambouri hut, first going through the areas of Parnitha that were burned down in 2007, then through still forested parts. Despite the cold weather, most of us soon felt warm and sweaty, so some layers of clothing had to go back into the packs. We then went on a round-trip around the area.

I had the Firstflex with me and shot two rolls of Tri-X. I mostly concentrated on shapes and interesting renditions of snow, rocks, and trees. As usual, many, many times I looked through the viewfinder, very few times I actually took a picture. We also had the Panasonic Lumix FT-3 with us, which showed not even the slightest bit of being touched by the cold weather. It just worked. The battery lasted without problem (in my experience so far, the only way to bring the battery to its knees is to turn on the GPS).

At some point someone noticed that cold, fresh snowflakes could be seen nicely on our jackets and gloves. We experimented a bit taking macro shots with the Lumix. I think they came out almost acceptable. The biggest problem was that everybody was moving, so keeping things in focus was a matter of luck.

Reforestation, trees planted in 2008

Both at the Flambouri hut and at the Buffy hut there were huge crowds of people. At the Flambouri hut there was the cutting of the Vasilopita of the Aharnon mountain club, while the Buffy hut was simply overrun by Athenians going to see some snow. Passing both huts, we didn't stop except for brief rests and went on into the trees.

After a long, good hike we turned back in the direction of the (truly ugly) Casino in its belt of burned forest. The sun started to come out a little bit and were able to see the carnage around us in nice light. On the positive side, we enjoyed looking at the little trees peeping out all through the burned stumps. They are the result of reforestation efforts. The E.DAS.A. guys were justly proud of those young trees.

We also saw the road passing the Casino and going to the huts, with lots of Athenians driving up there for food or coffee. It's not that there's never snow in Athens, but it's rare. So people decided that this Sunday is a good chance to see some. We just hope that they came down safely again, as we expected roads to freeze over in the evening. Ourselves, we took the gondola down again (seeing some mountain goats). As usual, we summed up the days hike with some good food in a taverna on the way back.

Athenians drive through burned down forrests to see some snow

Posted by betabug at 19:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Prev  1   2   [3]   4   Next