My grandfather was many things, a fireman, radio operator, carpenter, and a photographer. He in fact was asked my the US Army to photograph during WWII. Unfortunately i never got to meet my grandfather but I’ve always taken to one of his professions: photography. I’ve shot mostly digital photography for most of my life and film was something that i’ve always had an appreciation for, but never the means or the unfortunate need to explore it further. One of the perks of my job as a teacher is that it has given me a reason to finally do so.
A few weeks ago Mumford and Son’s released their Road to Red Rocks concert film. With that release came a hardback book filled with photos of their tour. This book inspired me to take another look at not only what i’m taking photos of but how. With the ability to take 600 photos on one memory card doesn’t mean i should need to. I wanted to make sure that what i’m shooting was for a reason. When it’s costs about $.50 a picture on film you start to make sure it’s worthy!
While going through the book i saw a picture of a Rolleiflex camera that their bass player keeps with him on tour. A similar camera, a Rolleicord (top), was owned by my grandfather. This camera has been in my possession my entire life and i’m only now taking the time to really appreciate it. These large negatives that the camera gives are so beautiful. I want to take advantage of this gift he left me and really see what i can do with it. Not only do i want to learn to use it better but it kind of inspires me to want to find more interesting subjects to shoot. Today i took it to the West Side Market for it’s reopening. I haven’t yet developed the negatives.
What you’re looking at while reading this is my first real attempt in using the camera 100% on my own. You’re seeing all the good and the bad. For starters i’ve never used a camera without a light meter. I use manual a lot but i’m always able to meter my light through my camera. The Rolleicord has no such meter. My Sekonic is helpful, but it’s really not designed for what i’m doing. Ironically i’ve found that there is an iPhone app that works quite well. It’s by no means perfect, but i’m getting the hang of it. The second problem i was having was with developing the negatives. I have all the correct developer and tools but not the experience. When you look at the scans, for example the one of Cydney Parr (above), you can see the lines on the left of the image. The developing tank i have is just slightly larger than the 120 film the Rolleicord uses. The developer was just not quite completely submerging the film therefore not all of the negative at the edge developed evenly. It kind of looks cool, but it’s not how it’s supposed to be.
The next thing i needed to decide was what to do with all these negatives. I don’t really have the ability to enlarge them right now so i’m going to have to scan them. I picked up a Canon 9000F MKII film scanner. The software is terrible but i think i’ve gotten the hang of it. The guides that hold the film work well, but it cuts off the edges of the photos. I personally like the Kodak written on the side of the image, as in this photo of Damaris Ruiz (above), i think it adds character. It’s a genuine print and not an app pretending to be something else. I’m going to have to devise something to make scanning the whole negative easier. There are just so many variables to consider with scanning now. I have the exposure of the original negative when i take the photo and the settings the camera is set at, i have the settings of the scanner when scanning the negative and then i have a 90mb raw image that i can process in Lightroom. There are so many ways for me to either enhance or ruin these pictures.
It’s been a lot of fun experimenting with this camera these last few weeks. I have a new respect for film photographers past and present. I can’t even imaging trying to take photos at concerts like i’ve been for several years while shooting on film. There’s so much going on during a concert and i’m constantly changing settings. To not be able to look at a screen and see immediately a confirmation that i got the shot or not would drive me crazy. I’m going to continue to work on shooting with this 120 film and move on to some 35mm black and white film too. There’s a Nikon F100 i might pick up next week. It’s funny how i’m kind of going backwards with everything but really i just feel like i’m getting better all around during this whole thing.