Making B&W Prints

Hong Kong street

I’m getting better at making prints, and starting to understand how all the bits fit together properly. I’m finding myself disappointed that I’ve shot colour sometimes :)

The light-sealing of the darkroom (also known as laundry (also known as brewery)) is not exactly pretty… but it does work:

The camera never lies

Of course it does! We have The GIMP and Photoshop! Well…

Back in the day, when everybody shot film, things were a bit more difficult. For a lot of operations it was pretty easy: select the right film, right exposure. For control you could vary how you developed it and beyond that, you could do a million things in the darkroom when printing. However, if you wanted to do something like combine 2 images or take out part of an image or smooth a skin tone, you were in for a lot more fun.

Retouching was done by changing the negative. If you wanted to remove that pimple from a portrait? Go get some paint and pant over it. This was tricky, as for 35mm film, this was very small and fiddly.

This is why publications such as Playboy shot on larger format film. From what I’ve read, either 120 (“medium format” to you and I – bigger than 35mm, but still not huge) or 4×5 (inches – much bigger) or even 8×10. While we can all wish that we too could get hold of some 8×10 Kodachrome to play with (and presumably a lab to process it for us) – those days are long gone.

With a negative of 8×10 inches, you have a lot more to play with and it’s much easier. For one thing, a contact print is as big as most enlargements people do from 35mm!

With humans essentially painting on negatives, it became relatively easy to spot when things had been manipulated (meaning there were experts who did it). However, with the increased sophistication of digital tools, creating quite realistic (even to expert eye) manipulations wasn’t that hard.

Recently, Canon (among others) has tried to bring technology to digital that would enable you to check that the image has not been manipulated after it came out of the camera.

This technology is, of course, flawed.

From the guy who enabled blind people to read eBooks comes the breaking of this system (Boing Bong and Network World).

“Pics or it didn’t happen” just is completely not true.

Making my own B&W Prints

I managed to light seal the Laundry (not pretty… but it worked) and started playing with one of the enlargers I bought recently. I had a bit of an inkling from some reading I did ages ago about what I had to do to make prints.

I didn’t really have any developer meant for prints… so I just grabbed some Rodinal and dived right in. Basically started with the lens wide open and around 0.5 to 1 seconds exposure.

Because I was just experimenting, I skipped a stop bath (did a rinse though) and then straight into some fixer.

Here are the results of my experimentation (photos taken with my phone of the drying prints)

bench (print)

Leah

Contrast these with the scans of the negatives:

dedicated bench

by the water

Rackspace Rookie-O (in Hong Kong!)

I’d meant to finish writing this way back in July… but I failed at that. Now is a good time to talk about Rookie-O as my again new colleague Andrew Hutchings (Buy his and Sergei’s book on MySQL 5.1 Plugin Development!) just went through the same thing (but in London instead of Hong Kong) given by the same trainer (Hi Eddie!).

Rackspace is the second employer I’ve had that has some kind of new hire training (the first being Sun). I am, of course, not quite counting Salmiakki as new-hire training for MySQL (although I probably should). To quote from the Wikipedia article: “Although the rumor of the heart attack was a hoax, the drink may still cause harm. The strong flavor almost completely masks the presence of ethanol, and the drinker may not realize he is consuming a drink almost 40% alcohol by volume (80-proof), leading to possible alcohol poisoning.” A promising introduction to the company.

Monty, MÃ¥rten and Kaj with Salmiakki singing Helan GÃ¥r at the MySQL User Conference Japan in 2007

Monty, MÃ¥rten and Kaj with Salmiakki singing Helan GÃ¥r at the MySQL User Conference Japan in 2007

I could possibly say something about the Sun New-Hire training… but I’m just trying to find something positive to say – and I can’t. I got a bit of hacking done? Seriously.

Actually coordinating a time to attend a Rookie-O (Rookie Orientation, the Rackspace name for new hire training) was rather tricky. There was one right before the MySQL User Conference back in April (not the best of timing), one during an upcoming team meeting (again, not ideal) and one that got organised in the middle of everything for the office in Hong Kong. So, I headed to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong streetlife

The Hong Kong office is relatively new (late 2008) and there were people there who hadn’t gone through the standard Rackspace Rookie-O (Orientation).

Rackers walking Hong Kong at Night

It was rather cool to hang out with other people who worked for the company – and in totally different areas than I do. I did get a better understanding for how the rest of the company operates and the people involved. The training itself was useful and substantially less geared towards not-my-job than Sun’s was.

The good news is that Andrew thought it was useful too. Pretty impressed so far.

Ubuntu 10.10 biggest mistake: shotwell

This is meant to replace f-spot.

It just isn’t ready.

I do not have what I would consider a large photo collection. It’s about 77GB on disk, maybe 30,000 images.

Importing from f-spot is horrendously slow for what is essentially a few INSERT..SELECT statements. It does not copy your photos anywhere, yet takes about that long.

It eats memory for breakfast. No, really. I bought a digital camera around New Year 2003. In just importing the photos from 2003… It’s now using 800MB of memory… sorry, 900MB now. At final count, at the end of 2003, it’s up to 1.6GB of memory used and an additional 300MB of disk space in ~/.shotwell/thumbs. How on earth is it going to cope when it gets to where I really start shooting? Now, the Shotwell website does state that there was a memory leaking bug that is now fixed in trunk. Note where it isn’t fixed – in Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 10.10 currently ships with an unusable photo manager.

f-spot is nowhere near perfect. Relegating it to universe instead of main (i.e. it’s now “not maintained by Canonical”) is just stupid.

Meanwhile, I still love darktable – it’s simply wonderful.

Stand Development

On advice from one of the guys at Vanbar (the “local” – meaning still a drive away, but at least in the same city – place for photographic chemicals) I tried stand development for the roll of Efke 25 I had shot at Burning Man.

Stand development differs from normal B&W film development in that a) it takes longer and b) you don’t agitate. You just leave the film sitting in the chemicals for a while…. in this case, one hour. I used Rodinal, which is a pretty nice, easy to use and versatile developer (incidentally, it’s also the oldest photographic chemical still sold and in use – patented in 1891).

Anyway, I got some good images out of it (I think). Here are some from a roll of Lucky 100SHD I shot:
Lebanese Doughnuts @ Oasis Bakery
going riding

and here’s some from the Efke 25 that I shot at Burning Man:
Jay and Suzanne washing up
Mel & Ellery
Yazz and Suzanne
constructing

Kodak Portra

I started to realise that I was liking the look of photos shot on Kodak Portra. I wanted to shoot some of it to see what I thought. I bought a pack of 5 rolls of 160VC from Glazer’s just before heading to OSCON.

Here are some of the shots I got:
Selena

Dustin

Mark

Helen


(granted I didn’t press the shutter release, but I like it)

HiPurr Camp!
Is the one that sealed it for me. This was the “ahh… I can use this for all sorts” shot.

All of these were developed and scanned at the Walgreens down the street. I could probably do better scans of some… but this was awfully less work for me.

I am really liking the skin tones from it. The vividness of colours also comes through while retaining excellent skin tones (certainly not always the case). I may even end up shooting some at Burning Man (did buy more rolls yesterday!)

There is (of course) more being added to my Kodak Portra 160VC set on flickr.

Dynamic Range Theory

A great video podcast is Meet the GIMP. It’s quite accessible and has some useful information. The recent(ish) episode on Dynamic Range Theory is useful if you’re wondering why images look different through your eyes, on an LCD and on paper (and what the hell the difference between RAW and JPEG is).

Kodak Ektar 100 – fun with colour negative film

I’ve been writing a bit about my adventures with Black & White film and developing myself. I haven’t (yet) developed my own colour negative (C41 process) film. I do hope to do so at some point in the future – even though I can get the local lab to do it for $4 a roll, it’s nice to be able to do this yourself.

When I was young, I also took photos. I still use that camera sometimes too. Recently I’ve been scanning in the first ever slide film I shot – a roll of Kodachrome when I was 8 years old. I do like the look of Kodachrome, and am sad that it’s going away.

Last year, when I was in the US for Burning Man, I got introduced to Kodak Ektar 100. With the promise of colours that remind you of Kodachrome, I grabbed a bunch and headed to San Francisco and then Burning Man.

I liked the look of a bunch of stuff I shot. For example:

San Francisco beach at dusk

Golden Gate Bridge

Pier 39San Francisco in late afternoon

Barbie Death Camp

14default.png

Sun peeking under the man

Recently, on my trip to Hong Kong, I shot some too. The above was all shot with an old Ricoh SLR, when I was in Hong Kong I used my Nikon F80 and the 50mm f1.8 lens.

One of my favourites was of this little statue:
Statues in walkways

In Hong Kong a lot of buildings are interconnected so you can walk between them without having to go outside (where it’s hot and humid). There are bits of sculpture in the buildings around the Rackspace office. This is one near the hotel I was staying with. During the morning and afternoons, these walkways are filled with people, exactly like streets…. but a floor above and indoors.

I’m adding more shots from Hong Kong to my Flickr Photstream as the days go on.

I really like this film. I even don’t mind it for people… the first was the test shot (have I loaded correctly, things winding, wonder if this shot will work) in the hotel lobby in San Francisco. Leah:

Leah

I should learn to scan better (I have since, this was probably the first image I scanned using my scanner, certainly the first Ektar frame). Another two people images I like on Ektar are:

Amy in WhiteChristine with spoon!

Dare I say that I always seem to find the Ektar colours to be relaxed? I like it. The blues really shine through. Reds are also really nice (heck, I even love the yellow), and I plan to go and investigate how I can combine these colours in interesting ways on film.

Reciprocity failure

As the light level decreases out of the reciprocity range, the increase in duration, and hence of total exposure, required to produce an equivalent response becomes higher than the formula states” (see Wikipedia entry).

Those of us coming from having shot a lot of digital, especially when you’re experience of low light photography is entirely with digital are going to get a bit of a shock at some point. Why didn’t this image work exactly as I wanted it to? Why isn’t there as much.. well.. image!

You’ll probably read things like “you don’t need to worry about it until you’re into really long exposures” or maybe you’ll start reading the manufacturers documents on the properties of the film and just go “whatever”.

Ilford Delta 3200 Professional is one of the films where you have to start caring about it pretty quickly. Basically, you need to overexpose once you start getting exposures greater than ~1second.

In decent light, handheld with a pretty quick exposure, things look great:

leah

But whack things on a Tripod and have a bit of a longer exposure you’re going to start failing a bit. Even though I like this shot, I find that it’s just not quite got everything I would have liked to capture. Just exposing a bit more I think would have done it. I had to do too much in scanning and the GIMP…

under the bridge

So I learnt something with this roll, which is always good.

No, I haven’t forgotten digital (darktable for the epic win)

This was my first real play with darktable. It’s a fairly new “virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers” but if you are into photography and into freedom, you need to RUN (not walk) to the install page now.

My first real use of it was for a simple image that I took from my hotel room when I was in Hong Kong last week. I whacked the fisheye on the D200, walked up to the window (and then into it, because that’s what you do when looking through a fisheye) and snapped the street scene below as the sun was going away.

Hotel Window (Hong Kong)

I’d welcome feedback… but I kinda like the results, especially for a shot that wasn’t thought about much at all (it was intended as a just recording my surroundings shot).

The second shot I had a decent go at was one I snapped while out grabbing some beers with some of the Rackspace guys (Hi Tim and Eddie!) in Hong Kong. Darktable let me develop the RAW image from my D200 and get exactly the image I was looking for…. well, at least to my ability so far. Very, very impressed.

Hong Kong streetlife

Being a photographer and using Ubuntu/GNOME has never been so exciting. Any inclination I had of setting up a different OS for that “real” photo stuff is completely gone.

(Incidently, I will be talking about darktable at LUV in July)

More film developing

I’ve developed some more film! Here’s some shots from last time I was in Hobart. All shot on Ilford HP5+, which I quite like. I’m still getting used to this developing thing and next time should be much better!

The HP5+ was shot at the box speed of 400 with my Nikon F80 and the wonderful 50mm f1.8 lens. I developed in R09 OneShot (Rodinal) for the standard 6 minutes that the Ilford box tells me to. I used my Epson V350 Photo scanner to scan the negatives with iscan. I am wishing for better scanning software. *seriously* wishing.

These first four are probably going to be recognisable to anybody who knows Salamanca.

Buskers at Salamanca

boat in the fountain

Dead leaves and a bench

The Telegraph

For those who love the Lark Distillery or English Bitter, I snapped a shot of (one of) the pint I had:

Hand pumped bitter

So I’d count this as fairly successful! Of course, need some animal shots:

black and white rabbitBeaker on film

… and there was a stop at a Sustainability Expo that had a surprising lack of bountiful vegan food when we got there…
Hobart Sustainability Expo

I have to say, pulling that film out and seeing an image is incredibly rewarding.

If you want to know more about how I do it all on Linux, come to my talk at LUV this upcoming July 6th.

Developing my own film

dedicated bench, originally uploaded by macplusg3.

This is from the first film I’ve ever developed myself. I know a lot of people who’ve done this in school or something, but I never did.. so it’s just me, teaching myself (and playing with chemicals).

This was shot one day when I went out riding down in Black Rock (not too far from home). There’s something about benches dedicated to people that just twinges something in my brain… How do you get to the point where you think a great way to remember someone is to have a plaque on a bench? Carrying a camera while bike riding is quite useful sometimes.

Shot on Lucky B&W SHD100 film on at early 1970s Canon rangefinder.

Photos of Burning Man: Getting to Black Rock City

This year was my first burn. More amazing than I could have imagined. I think it was day two when Brian caught me saying “so, next year what we’re going to do…”

Due to the harsh environmental conditions, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of taking my digital gear (it ain’t cheap) and had the idea of handing cameras to people and having a kind of communal photo album (planning for a larger scale implementation of this next year). So… I went purely film. Several older and smaller compact 35mm cameras that I picked up either for nothing or next to (no loss if lost or dead!) plus a Ricoh SLR was my arsenal.

Now… that means I need film.

I mainly shot the new Kodak Ektar 100 and a Kodak Ektachrome E100VS. For the smaller, cheap 35mm ones, I just used some Fuji Superia.

trees in Portland

Trees in Portland

Firstly though, there was a stop in Portland to a) recover from jetlag and b) hang out with Eric, Wendy and their dogs. I do like Portland, quite a lot actually. While there, managed to get some work done, fiddle with some SPARC hardware that Eric has, enjoy excellent vegan ice cream, enjoy awesome vegan food (both at home and out) and walk around both downtown and up in the hills. Portland (and Oregon) is certainly pretty.

trees in seattle

Trees in Seattle

Before heading to Burning Man, I was in Seattle, where Leah joined me to prep for (and then go to) Burning man.

Then Leah and I were in San Francisco for a day. This is when I started shooting exclusively film for the first time in… well.. Since 2002 (I got my first digital camera for linux.conf.au in 2003)

05

Leah enjoying going around San Francisco

We actually did some touristy things… so I saw a bit more of San Francisco than I have before. One issue with mostly being around San Francisco just before/after the MySQL Users Conference is a severe lack of time/energy to go for much exploring. Preparing is exhausting, and afterwards I just want to really chill out – usually heading out to some forest or down to Santa Cruz or just hanging out with cool people.

Across the Golden gate

Going over the Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most surprising things was running into David while just walking down the street. Although knew he was in town, and we’d planned to all go down to Burning Man together, actually running into somebody in the street always surprises me.

I’m pretty sure this was the first time that I went across the Golden Gate Bridge. Seen it, taken photos of it, used said photos as my desktop background, but this was the first time going across it and looking back on the city. Manual focus, moving bus: epic amounts of fun… I’d kinda forgotten how much fun this could be.

Sun going down in San Francisco

Sun going down in San Francisco

There are things I like about San Francisco, but if I had to call somewhere in the US home, Seattle and Portland are both much higher on the list. Maybe it’s because of the wonderful coffee of Seattle, or the laid backness and awesome vegan food of Portland or if I’m just delusional and think it’d be possible to catch a Nirvana gig in Seattle.

In the evening in San Francisco we met up with David again and went down to the beach. It was pretty. Somehow, I deluded myself into thinking “ISO 100 Film, no tripod, cold, sunset…. Photo time!” I did get one I quite like too:

The Sun setting over the water, San Francisco

The Sun setting over the water, San Francisco

After what can only be described as a “I love side impact airbags” car crash on the way back to the Hotel (everybody okay: shaken, not stirred. also not our fault), headed back for a stiff drink, some sleep and eagerly awaiting the drive to Reno and then Black Rock City.

Waiting in line to get into Black Rock City (for many, many hours)

Waiting in line to get into Black Rock City (for many, many hours)

It was not a short wait once we got to the gate. We did, however, not too long after sunrise, make it to camp. I have no idea where I shot this from… but it was before we got to camp (or at least the first photo of us helping to set up):

People arriving at Black Rock City: first thing in the morning

People arriving at Black Rock City: first thing in the morning

More to come… including setup of Pi Camp!

Drizzle Meeting Photos

I didn’t take many photos at the Drizzle Meeting, although I did take a couple at the end at the Hopvine (just down the road from Brian’s place).

A good read is Brian’s wrap up of the meeting.

But we have (courtesy of Brian):

and a couple I took at the Hopvine:

DSC_4574DSC_4575DSC_4577DSC_4581DSC_4582DSC_4583

The last one there of Lee looks almost scary… strange light, moving subject, all part of the fun :)

It was really good to get a number of people together and chat. In future, we’ll no doubt have larger gatherings that are really inclusive.

Experimenting with Ilford Delta ASA 3200 B&W Film

So it has been a long time since I’ve shot film… and it pretty much was always colour. Part of this was in prep for Burning Man. i.e. how to take a photo in the dark (and part was “hey, what cool tricks can I do”).

Reading up on film, I found Ilford Delta 3200 Professional as something that could be interesting to shoot with. I’d read a bit about it, checked out the flickr group and decided what the heck, it’s only money.

I grabbed my dad’s old Ricoh SLR and took some photos – trying to learn how this film responds, what I can and can’t do with it along with developing my own skills.

I got Michaels to develop and scan (hey, they do B&W processing in Melbourne in a reasonable time frame)… ignoring the advice of some that doing it yourself gets you best results (anyone for a Laundry/Brewery/Darkroom?)

While at Rrose, I took this shot which I quite like:

Rrose drink
If you look at full size you see the wonderful graininess that is this film:

F1000023_crop1

But a simple GIMP Despeckle gets you:

F1000023_crop1_despeckle

(and a much smaller JPEG file size). But I do kinda like the speckle.

The amazing thing to note is that this was shot handheld with a not particularly fast lens and without any artificial light beyond what was at rrose at 9 or 10pm in August.

MySQL Conference: Day 2

Day 2 Photos

I gave my Intro to Cluster talk and then a Design and Internals of MySQL Cluster.

Also some photos from the DRBD BoF in the evening (which was really good). So was the BLOB streaming BoF earlier (but I didn’t take my camera out).

Currently in Eben’s keynote on Wednesday morning. As always, insightful and thought provoking.

World of awesome.