Afterexposure Photography

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Posts Tagged ‘film’

Diana Surprise

I shot a roll of Ilford XP2 Super 400 last week, and was all excited to develop it… until I realized that although it was black & white,  it needed C-41 development! Ooops! I bought it on a lark without even reading the box, just to take it for a spin, so not a huge deal.

For development I took it to Vistek, since they seemed a likely place to get C-41 120 format film developed, and they did a great job. If only my scanner was up to the job! Most of the scans have streaks in them; in some I’ve minimized them with some digital editing if it was overly distracting.

One technique that worked really well, and is a HUGE cheat, was to shoot every frame digitally first. I had my K10D with 28mm lens set to ISO 400, 1/60, and read the aperture right from the cameras meter. To confirm I did the shots in digital, and it also helped that I had set the camera to use full stops instead of halves or thirds of a stop. So besides a double exposure on the first frame, I ended up with a roll of perfectly exposed film, and 12 usable (if some boring) shots, which was sort of surprising.

The bigger surprise, however, was the clarity of the Diana F+ and it’s plastic lens in some shots. And the not-clarity in others. To get super-crisp shots is almost disappointing; I’d rather they came out all funky and weird! All of these images are hosted over at flickr, and you can see higher resolution versions of them there.

Decent clarity, nice contrast. Surprise!

Decent clarity, nice contrast. Surprise!

Or not so clear. Surprise!

Or not so clear. Surprise!

The interaction between aperture and focus is really pronounced on this camera. Even though the estimated apertures of  f/11, f/16, and f/22 seem to be grouped at the slower end, the depth of field can vary from almost infinite at f/22 @ infinity focus to really shallow at f/11 @ 1-2 meters.

Here are some more:

Sharp. Surprise!

Sharp. Surprise!

Not so sharp. Surprise!

Not so sharp. Surprise!

And on and on it goes:

Sharp, sort of.

Sharp, sort of.

Soft. Except for dead-center.

Soft. Except for dead-center.

It’s almost a 50-50 split between the sharp and soft shots from that day.

Fairly sharp (less so at full resolution)

Fairly sharp (less so at full resolution)

The physical prints are fairly impressive in their own right. Although they were only printed at 5″ x 5″, they show a bit more shadow detail and tonal range than the scans do. I was expecting something less crisp; what I had read about this type of chromogenic film was to expect ‘dye clouds’ instead of silver particles… well, that’s not exactly accurate. At large print sizes I could see it contributing to the overall quality, in fact I could see using this film for just that effect with the Diana, or any Lomo camera, especially when it could be printed at poster sizes, or bigger. I think I’ll compose some images for printing at LARGE sizes and see what I get.

Right now the Diana has some of that no-name Lomo film in it, and then I have some T-Max and Delta that are going for a head-to-head in my developing tank, so look for more black-and-white goodness over the next few weeks.

Just for fun: Cross-Processing

First off, this isn’t about cross-dressing, like the killer in ‘Dressed to Kill’. (Great movie. Lots of little plot details. Even a bit of a photography angle, in the form of character Peter Miller, who hides a camera to catch a killer.)

Nope, this is cross-processing; the intentional developing of one type of film in chemistry intended for another. You’ve seen the look; like Kodachrome, but more vivid, darker blacks, and blown highlights, and often incorrect or unnatural colors.

Cross-processed Fuji Sensia 100

Cross-processed Fuji Sensia 100

When I got the Diana F+ one thing that drew me to it were the samples; unreal colors and flaws that are really difficult to produce by editing digital, if only because of their apparent randomness.

My first couple of rolls were some Lomo 120, ISO 100. Not bad for outdoor use in bright light. But black and white; and I developed myself – the first time in 25 years, so a little lacking in deep blacks. But that’s another post.

My third roll, and one I was dying to shoot, was some Fuji Sensia ISO 100, a slide film. I had purchased it intending to use in the Kodak Stereo Camera on a mountain hike, but the hike evaporated, and there sat the Diana, just begging for some color film.

The first surprise is how hard it was to get it processed here in Calgary. Within 15 minutes of me are probably a half-dozen drug-store processing machines, all C-41 (print chemistry). What I had was slide film, or E-6 chemistry. I did a little leg work and found that neither WalMart or London Drugs would take it, first citing fears that I wouldn’t like the results, and second that it might somehow gum up their machines. I did a little reading after that, and found that the only film that’s likely to do that is Kodachrome – no longer available. (There are others, but likely to be in unmarked/self-loading 35mm cans).

In that search I found a local lab that would process it ‘wrong’ for me, but I’m going to have to keep it a secret; I don’t want a sudden influx of hobbyists flooding the lab because they don’t make much (if any) money from it. If you have a roll, live in northwest Calgary, just do some leg work (and a Google search). You’ll find it.

The next surprise was that the slide film came back as a negative… I hadn’t thought about it; all the shots that I’d seen online, even those with sprocket holes, seemed to be clear slide film. A thread over on APUG showed me the light; the chemistry dictates if the results are positive (slides) or negatives (for prints).

But it wasn’t an ordinary negative; the actual film substrate turned green. Yikes! Again, the APUG threads indicated this is normal-ish… for certain films, notably a few of the Fuji’s, like my Sensia. Ah well…

My next challenge was to scan it and see if I could invert it digitally. I was hoping to avoid any digital manipulation at all – and go totally lo-fi, but what the heck; I had an HP film/photo scanner, so let’s see what we have…

Step 1: Scan as Slide

The scanner did some pretty funky things to the scans if I told it to ‘scan as negative’, so I lied to it and said it was a slide. Also, for this sample strip I did NOT use the film loader; it hides the sprocket holes! I put the slide into a print carrier, which is just a bit of clear plastic with a white paper backing that is only sealed on one edge. Great for feed loading delicate items, like this. But the big reason why I like this way: I get sprocket holes.

What the film looked like from the lab. Ugh! (click for bigger version)

The scanner saves this as a TIFF file; which is perfect for more manipulation…

Step 2: Color Inversion

This is really straightforward: I loaded the image into the GIMP (think ghetto Photoshop) and selected ‘Invert’ from the Colors menu. That’s it.

Ooohh! Thats looking better...

Ooohh! That's looking better... (click for bigger version)

I saved this step as another TIFF file also, so I could come back to it if needed. These files aren’t high resolution, so the files are really small, about 2.4 MB.

Step 3: The Tweaks!

This is where things get personal. I used the curves editor to drop the red a few notches, and bump up the blue and green. In the curve grid I simply drag the point from the right hand corner; straight down for red, and straight left for green and blue. Play around until you get it ‘right’. It’s possible to actually get colors that are really normal – but where is the fun in that?

The result: Lomographic goodness.

The result: Lomographic goodness. (click for bigger version)

That’s really all there is to it. You’ll notice that I didn’t get the film advance right, and one frame is damaged. Meh. That’s part of the process. If you don’t want overlapping frames then take the time to load and count turns; I used about 1.25 turns at the start of the roll which was waaaay to few; and 2 turns in the middle  – waaaay too many; and about 1 turn at the end… which was about right. That sounds like a whole ‘nother post, so I’ll leave it at that.

My flickr page has a few more samples, sans sprockets. Comparing the two: Sprockets Rule!

Another one bites the dust…

I just tried to have a roll of color slide film shot with my Diana F+ cross-processed at the local Royal Oak Wal-Mart in Calgary last night.

No Dice.

The kids looking after the photo counter were afraid of ‘ruining’ my film. That has to be one of the funniest things ever, since the chemistry of cross-processing has just that effect.

Ahhh…. kids.

So I thought I’d wait until later today, and see if I could get one of the nice day-shift techs at the London Drugs next door to take a stab at it. They were excellent with the oddball film from the Kodak Stereo camera, so this should be a breeze for them.


No dice at the Royal Oak London Drugs, either. They’d never heard of cross-processing, and thought it might damage their machine (ie, contaminating it’s chemistry). They thought they might be able to do it if they sent it into their custom lab, but I doubt that the lab would understand, either, and would either process it as slide (wrong) or cut it (wrong), or god knows what else.

Next stop… Vistek. The only camera store in Calgary that has ever been rude to me.

I’m sooo looking forward to this.


Update #2:

I now have a super-secret location for cross-processing.  I don’t know how long the good times will roll, but I’ll roll with them…

Visualize it. Dare ya!

I mentioned yesterday that if you visualize something, it will happen.

Today I’m the proud owner of a darkroom.

Yup, just like that …. *poof* and it appeared.

Well, actually I was Googling around for a developing tank, and found a classified on kijiji … a guy about a mile away from me was selling a complete darkroom setup. A phone call later and I was on my way.

It was like this weird light surrounded me and a voice said “This one’s for you!”.

I like when that happens. I should visualize more. Like an actual room to set this up in, for a start…

And the homework from yesterday? Due Monday. I have a darkroom to build.

Accidental Exposure

I have a series of photography business related posts that are gestating in draft mode that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Something is distracting me…

On the weekend I bought one of these; a Diana F+.

Why, oh why, would I buy another camera?

Something about the imperfections and unpredictability really appeals to me. It’s fast, off-the-cuff photography. Not the super-buttoned-down studio style that I sometimes do. And certainly not how I frame and compose most shots; square on, level, and … boring. I’d been looking at flickr images tagged with lomo, holga, etc, and the honesty and simplicity really grabbed me.

I was visiting family in Edmonton on the weekend, and as chance would have it I found a retailer that stocked the Holga, Diana, and a ton of Lomography stuff. So on Friday I become the proud owner of a plastic lens camera, and I started to see the world around me in cross-processed, light fogged colors. Ahhhh….

I got up early the next morning, thoughts of the Diana and it’s image style compartmentalized, a memory of yesterday, not part of my today yet. I was in Mr. Photographer mode, of course I was shooting with my Pentax K20D, 360 flash, and 50-135mm lens, which usually travel with me.

I wanted to take some stock shots of the gardens;  really shallow, even out-of-focus images, to make page backgrounds for wedding albums, and since summer here is so short, having stock images isn’t a bad idea.

Then something odd happened:

White balance? White balance? We dont need no stinkin white balance!

White balance? White balance? We don't need no stinkin' white balance!

Ack! A mistake! An error! Ewww!

I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, so with bleary eyes I switched the white balance to daylight, and kept on shooting. I forgot all about it; we had brunch, drove home to Calgary, and got caught up with chores around the house.

Tonight I managed some free time to sort through the 150+ images I shot, and came back to this image.

Wow, it’s an unpredictable, improbable error! And it’s really cool! And it’s digital!

And it took buying a plastic camera with a plastic lens to make me see that happy accidents don’t always have to be on film.

More experiments with film; scanning and stereo!

Some time ago my Dad gave me a Kodak Stereo Camera as a novelty from one of his antique store forays. I’d wondered if it still worked, so I took it to the Lethbridge airshow. With lots of aircraft on static display, it would be a good place to try it out. It has some very limited settings for aperture and shutter speed, and focus is by guesswork, using a distance scale; the viewfinder is actually the square window between the lenses, just above the green bubble level.

Kodak Stereo Camera

Kodak Stereo Camera

Originally slide film would have been sent to Kodak and they would have cut and mounted the left and right images in cardboard to make them easy to use.  Keep this in mind if you have one of these cameras and would like to try it out… starting with slide film will save you a TON of time later on. All the unused film I have handy is 35mm for prints; not slides… had I known how much hassle I was about to cause myself I would have sprung for a roll of slide film for sure.

For starters, the images from each lens are almost square, and quite small. They are interleaved 3:1 on the negative, and that was the first hurdle. The photo lab couldn’t print or scan them because of the non-standard size… the tech tried, but the spacing didn’t match the standard mask sizes.

That left me on my own; I could go to a pro lab and explain to them what I wanted, and it would have cost a fortune in labour… or I could buy my own film scanner – but still have the same problems with needing non-standard image masks and having to realign every frame. What I ended up doing – photographing the negatives – was far more work, but the end results are (almost) worth it. If you get close enough to the screen and let your eyes cross the images below should fuse to a single 3D image!

Final result: A left+right image pair. Click for a larger size.

Final result: A left+right image pair. Click for a larger size.

After some failed experiments simply photographing the negatives against window light, I mounted a flash on one end of a 4 foot long bit of wood, my trusty K20D with a Tamron 70-300mm macro on the other end. One thing I had read about photographing negatives is that the orange cast of the negative can be best dealt with by gelling the lightsource to blue/cyan. I picked a strong blue gel from my freebie pack of Lee filters, and my first guess was pretty good (I think it’s #200 – Double C.T. Blue). I also put four layers of a white plastic bag in front of the flash as diffuser.

I mounted the negative at roughly the minimum focus distance. I used a folding cardboard slide holder taped against the bottom of a shoebox, with an oversized hole cut in the box. The flash was a few inches back from this, firing into the box to limit light spill. The camera was set to ISO 100 and f/11. Because of the spacing of the flash and camera I used some cheap eBay triggers; to keep the sync right I set it to 1/30 second shutter. The hotshoe trigger also gave me a handy mount for the flash.

The steps of transforming the negative to positive required some trial and error. These links should help: (scroll down to Dave Martindale’s post)

A negative, lit from behind with a blue gelled flash.

Starting from the image above, here are my steps using the GIMP (Photoshop should work too):

1. Switch to the color picker, and choose an area of neutral orange (the sprocket holes, for example) or something known to be grey (like a cargo plane).

2. Add a new layer using this new foreground color

3. Invert the new layer from orange-pink to blueish. I ended up editing this blue tint to be Red: 0, Blue:255, Green:175, after experimentation. A different filter on the flash will mean these values will change!

4. Set the new layer to ‘Overlay’ mode. This should improve the color range, but it’s still a negative image.

5. Merge the new layer down (you should have only one layer now)

6. Invert the layer; it won’t be quite right yet, but it should be close

7. Edit the curves for red, green and blue individually; I just selected the midpoint and dragged it up or down very slightly. Also edit the brightness and contrast to taste.

Hope this helps anyone looking to scan or copy old negatives with their digital camera. For the money a good flatbed scanner, with masks for 35mm film is going to save you a lot of time.