Photography

Learning photography lessons with Fuifilm Velvia

Of the twelve images I made on that roll of original Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8/2006 but always stored frozen) at Crown Hill Cemetery, eight were stunning and four had exposure issues. I did what I could in Photoshop to rescue them.

I overexposed this one. Photoshop rescued the trees and sky, but the grave markers were simply too blown out thanks to reflecting sun. I did the best I could with them but I think they just look unnatural. Lesson learned: notice reflected light and consider its effect on the photo.

Herrington

I wanted to see how Velvia handled this tree’s deep, vibrant red. But the sun was off to my left rather than directly behind me, which created some haze in the image I couldn’t Photoshop away. Lesson learned: invest in a lens hood for my 12.

Red tree

Heavy contrast between light and shadow tripped up the Yashica-12 and the Velvia. As I stood at the top of Indianapolis’s highest hill and looked south toward the Indianapolis skyline, such as it is, a cloud partially obscured the sun. The rest of the sky was bright, but the shadowy ground took on a sickly pall. Lesson learned: when using slide film, wait for the sun to come out for even lighting.

Down the lane from Riley's rest

Finally, as I crested this hill on this side lane, Crown Hill opened up before me. I thought it would make a lovely image but I didn’t realize, I guess, how poor the light was right where I was standing. I don’t know much about the Yashica-12’s meter and the Internet isn’t much help. If I had to guess, I’d say it measures the center of the frame. The center of this frame was in the brightly lit distance, so the 12 underexposed the foreground. Lesson learned: meter for the shadows, because with Velvia you can often correct overexposure, but never underexposure, in Photoshop.

Out toward the land

There’s always one more thing to learn in film photography. Especially when shooting Fujifilm Velvia.

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A lane in the cemetery

A lane in the cemetery
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)

If you think I’m milking this roll of Velvia I shot at Crown Hill Cemetery, you’re right.

Since our pastor quit at church, I’ve been attending a lot more meetings, and I had to prepare for my sermon last Sunday. It went fine, by the way. But it takes time and energy away from the blog.

Just you wait: on Monday I’m going to share the images from this roll that didn’t work out. They’re interesting in their own right.

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Film Photography

single frame: A lane in the cemetery

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Riley's rest

Riley’s rest
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)

Many people who visit Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis stop here, at the top of the highest hill in the city. This is where Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley is buried.

It’s hard to contemplate now, but Riley was as popular as any rock star in his day. Throngs would come to listen to him speak. His death in 1916 saddened the nation.

Riley had an unusually large presence in my life as I attended a high school in South Bend that was named for him. It was built just eight years after he died.

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Film Photography

single frame: Riley’s rest

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Unknown U.S. Soldier

Unknown U.S. Soldier
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)

The military cemetery within Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is one of the largest in the nation. Countless rows of little markers just like this line a large section of the grounds.

In past visits I’ve looked and looked for an Unknown marker to photograph, always to no success. This time I was just walking by and caught this one out of the corner of my eye.

I cut the in-focus patch just a shade too thin on this photo. The marker is in focus but the fake flowers right in front of it are not.

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Film Photography

single frame: Unknown U.S. Soldier

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Contemplating boy

Contemplating boy
Yashica-12
Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)

Inside Crown Hill Cemetery, as you go up what turns out to be the highest hill in Indianapolis, you find the graves of some of our city’s most prominent and wealthy citizens. The markers can be elaborate, sometimes even gaudy.

This statue of a kneeling boy sits on a concrete bench marked “Home Sweet Home.” No name is given. It’s unusual for this part of the cemetery. I’ve always wondered this statue’s story.

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Film Photography

single frame: Contemplating boy

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Film Photography

Shooting Kodak Portra 400

Salem Cemetery

How is it that I’ve been back into film photography for 13 years but have never shot Kodak’s Portra 400? My 2018 EMULSIVE Secret Santa gave me the nudge I needed by dropping two rolls into the gift box she sent.

Magnolia blooms

As I’ve seen others shoot Portra 400, some use it as a general-purpose color film and others find it most useful for photos that involve people. I don’t often shoot people. I tend to shoot things that don’t move. Like cemeteries. And flowers. In cemeteries.

Served

I had been shooting my Nikomat FTn and decided to keep at it for this roll. I had my 50mm f/2 Nikkor H-C lens mounted. Portra gave me just enough exposure room to shoot inside, albeit with shallow depth of field.

Books

I can’t decide whether I think the colors are muted or not. So many people have said Portra’s colors are muted that I don’t trust my judgment. I see muted colors in these books, but that might be because the books’ colors are genuinely muted. The magnolia flowers and the American flag above don’t look muted to me. Are the greens below muted? I want to say no, but I also can’t recall how vivid the scene was in real life.

Down the path

I don’t notice grain in these photos at this size, but I do when I look at them at full scan size. It’s neither pleasing nor disruptive. It’s workmanlike grain, faint and unobtrusive. However, I scanned these on my flatbed scanner. Lab scans might have made the grain even harder to detect.

Flowers for sale

The Portra was at its best at early evening, the sun in that golden-hour sweet spot.

Blooms

Portra 400 is a very good film. I haven’t pixel-peeped to be sure, but it might have the least obtrusive grain of all the fast color films I’ve shot.

Starkey Park

But the film I use most, Fujicolor 200, suits me fine and costs a lot less.

Starkey Park

My EMULSIVE Secret Santa sent me two rolls of Portra 400, so sooner or later I’ll put the other one through a camera. I shot it at box speed this time, so next time perhaps I’ll shoot it at EI 200. Several photo bloggers I follow get really nice results when they do that.

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