Up in the Mountains

Is there anything that is easier to photograph in black and white than winter landscapes? And even easier, mountains that are covered in fresh snow under a deep blue sky? You don’t need to convert colors into grey values in your mind, what ever you look at is already in black and white. AII you have to do is focus on your composition and exposure and then take the shot. Easy as pie!

Slap a yellow or red filter in front of your lens and you are set up for some truly dramatic alpine photos. Even more so if mother nature is kind enough to add some puffy white clouds to the scene. Which she wasn’t on my last trip to Innsbruck, but I came home with some nice shots never the less.

Comparing the photos it is getting clear, that l really need to invest into a couple of filter for my medium format camera. It really makes a big difference if you have a yellow or even red filter in these conditions!

Nordkette bei Innsbruck, Bronica SQ-A 80mm TMax100
Nordkette bei Innsbruck, Leica Monochrom, 90mm Summarit
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Dog Tales I

There once was a girl who worked in a dog shelter. She loved animals and found great joy spending her time with them. She was a nice girl, sweet, gentle and maybe almost a little bit too nice for this hard world. But she enjoyed her time at the shelter, and looking after the dogs gave her the feeling of doing something meaningful and making the world a better place, little by little.

Sometimes she felt sorry for the dogs who spent there year after year without finding an human who would look after them, whithout a human they could give all the dog love they had. She knew each one of them had a heart of gold, if only the right human would walk through the gates into the shelter, each one of them would be the very special friend of that human. She had thought about adopting one of them, but she already had a dog and how should more dogs fit into the small appartment she was living in?

It was a cold, miserable grey day when Mel and Jojo were brought to the shelter. A 13 year old maltese dog who had tumors  on her belly and  breathed as if she had been smoking cigars all her life. And her buddy, 7 year old buddy Mel, a beagle with a never ending hunger and epilepsy. She watched their humans delivering them to the shelter, a pretty young woman with tears in her eyes and a grown up man who’s tears ran freely down his cheeks when he said goodbye to Mel. It was a heart breaking scene to watch. Thes dogs had been part of the family for years and years and it was clear that they would have done anything to keep them. 

But as it looked like, they had no choice and her heart sank when she saw Mel watch her master walk out of the gates. She knew the dog felt her masters mourning and she felt like tears in her eyes herself when she heard Mel call him with a soft whince.

Another winter walk

Finally we got some snow here. And luck had it, that it arrived just when I had a day off and could head into the hills to give the good old Bronica S2A another spin. It is a great old camera, but more about it on another day.

1 had to hurry a little bit as the weather forecast indicated that the sun would hide behind clouds around lunch time. So I decided not to drive to the mountains but to go to the hills and forest just behind my place. Although it was already a little bit hazy, there was enough light to cast some shadow and add contrast. Very peaceful and quiet. I truelly enjoyed this quiet walk. So peaceful, no other sound than my feets in the snow and the cold fresh air cleared my mind like nothing else. I felt first a bit tense, as the sky already had thin clouds and I was afraid the light would fade before I get anything done. But luckily I walked into the first scene within minutes and once I had my first picture under my belt I could finally relax, enjoy the day and breathe. With other words, I charged the batteries.

 

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Deeper into the woods – Bronica S2A, Nikkor 75mm, TMax 100100 & Rodinal

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Buechenegg – Bronica S2A, Nikkor 75mm, TMax 100100 & Rodinal

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Buechenegg – Bronica S2A, Nikkor 75mm, TMax 100100 & Rodinal

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Time for lunch! – Bronica S2A, Nikkor 75mm, TMax 100100 & Rodinal

Most scenes I encountered had a contrast range of 5 stops, so I simply placed the shadows in Zone 3 and had the highlights fall into Zone 7. I think, next time l will place the shadows in zone 4 or, if all shots have 5 Zones, do a N+1 development as I had to lift the lights quite a bit after scanning. I used a roll of Kodak Tmax 100, rated it at 100 ASA and developed it in Rodinal ( 1+25 for 7 minutes). It is the first time I used this combination and I am quite pleased with the results. I go t nice contrast, good sharpness but also a bit more grain.

Magic of imperfection

When was the last time you were satisfied with something mediocre? Or even happy with something that was far from perfect?

In our society, we are so conditioned to be successful, perfect, to have no weaknesses and failure is never an option. We are so indoctrinated with this thought, that we completely forget that perfection is not the norm and that much knowledge comes from mistakes and learning from errors.

In my quest to learn black and white photography I also try to get better and better and mediocre shots don’t give me the feeling of accomplishment we all love and want to experience as often as possible. But by the magic of film photography, every now and then a shot that didn’t turn out as expected has a quality that makes me look again and again at the photo, trying to understand what it is that makes it so special, so I can repeat it when ever I want a photo to have this special thing.

On the first roll I shot on the Flexaret, three shots had quite severe light leaks. I still have to find out what caused them, but on two of the photos, the light leaks added something quite special to the photo.

For once, I’m quite happy with imperfection!

Taking a break, f4, 1/125
Flexaret V, Ilford HP5+ developed in Rodinal (1:25 for 8′)

It has arrived

So, after weeks and weeks of waiting, the camera, that reinspired my fascination with film photography has finally arrived. And the repairman at Ars-Imago did a great job, the camera is in perfect working condition.

Was it worth waiting for? Well, what definitely can be said is that it is a beauty and catches the attention of people who see it dangling around my neck.

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Flexaret V, taken with the Bronica SQ-A on TMax 400

I visited the Christmas markets at Innsbruck and quite a few people commented on it were fascinated that it is still in use. One older Lady told me how they recently cleaned the attic of he old uncle. She told me that they found old cameras like this one. “you know, old russian cameras like Leicas” l was really tempted to ask her to take me to her uncle’s place. 🙂 But then I decided to tell her instead that at least the Leica might be worth some money.

I am actually quite impressed with the quality of the pictures this old lens produces. The photo of the mime was taken at f3.5, which is the widest aperture of this lens and the lens resolved plenty of detail. As the focusing screen has not aids for focusing at all and the viewing lens is not the sharpest lens, getting focus is actually nothing you can do quickly.

But without more talking, below you’ll find a few photos from the first roll of film this camera took since decades.

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Innsbruck, taken on HP5+, f11, 1/125

Proof that focusing is not easy… the two buskers stood perfectly still, yet I missed focus on their faces…

Buskers, f4, 1/125

6X6

I have to admit, I got sick waiting for the Flexaret to be repaired. It is now being serviced for over two month and I understand that the guy doing it is probably in retirement doing it as a hobby.

But I just wanted to try it out, to see, what it would be to have such a bit negative and so I started to look around. What would be good cameras? What format do I want to use? How much was I willing to spend? And what format? 6×6? 6×4.5? 6×7? So many choices!

In the end, I decided to get myself a Japanese camera from the seventies, a Brand named Zenza Bronica. the feedback on these cameras was good and, according to the internet, they had really good lenses.  And so I went to Ebay and got myself one.

After waiting for two weeks, that felt again like an eternity to me, it finally arrived and I used the nice weather for a short hike and fill a roll of Kodak TMax 100.

The mountain hut where I hoped to get something to eat and drink was of course closed, after all, it is now middle November and they are closed for the season

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No drinks served here Bronica SQ-A, 80mm, Kodak TMax 100

What really surprised me was, how much the Epson V800 scanner was able to rescue a very underexposed negative. After taking the reading with my light meter I forgot to adjust the shutter speed as well (stupid noob!) and instead of 1/8th I exposed at 1/125 so four stops under. The negative was  very thin and I didn’t expect anything to show up. Much to my surprise, this is what I got from it! Still very much underexposed, but I like the mood 🙂

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Way underexposed (4 stops) Bronica SQ-A, 80mm, Kodak TMax 100

I’m quite pleased with the results, I hope you like them too!

 

All shots were taken on a Zenzanon Bronica SQ-A, Zenzanon 80mm PS lens on Kodak TMax 100, developped in Ars-Imago FD developper (6 minutes, dilution 1:39)

Waiting Game

It is still not here yet. l know the repair man does a good job and is very busy, but I now wait for almost three months for it and it feels like an eternity. I am so curious how the big negatives will look the and how they will scan!

But as I do not have the camera, all I can do is practicing and take photos of Buckley.