Film Photography

Kodak Portra 400 at the zoo

Where I work now, I have budget to take my team somewhere fun every few months. This isn’t uncommon in the software industry. It’s supposed to be a time for team bonding. After 30 years I could live without any more outings. But the young people who report to me are still enthusiastic about it. Fortunately, I have a delightful team and we know how to have fun together.

The weather was good, so we went to the zoo. I brought my Pentax ME with my big 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M zoom lens attached. Kodak Portra 400 was inside. This lens was made for trips to the zoo.

The ME isn’t enough body for this long, heavy lens. My fingers had to grip it hard. My larger Pentax KM would have been a better choice from a handling perspective. But it can’t do aperture priority, as my ME can, which would have slowed me down and perhaps made me miss some photos. But also, I still haven’t had the KM repaired after I dropped it on its Operation Thin the Herd outing. The ME is my only working K-mount body right now.

This is only my second experience with Kodak Portra 400 (first here). I like it a lot better this time than last. These colors are terrific. I’m leading with some birds because they’re so colorful, but the Portra beautifully handled the muted, neutral colors that are so prevalent there, too.

Birdie
Budgies
Budgie
Tortoise
Rhino
Bear
Giraffe
Giraffe
Primate
Flamingo(es)
Flamingo(es)

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Courthouse

The Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Film Washi S
2019

I’m at best a beginning student in photography appreciation, with limited ability to describe the qualities of a good photograph. For that matter, I’m not even sure I can judge a photograph to be good, not on some universal scale. I just like what I like.

I like this photograph. The 35mm lens brings in tons of interesting context surrounding this neoclassical federal courthouse. The glowing sunlight cast against the building’s facade contrasts pleasingly against its shadowy flank.

It’s said that Film Washi S performs best in diffuse light. For a day of black-and-white photography in full sun, I should have been better served shooting something like T-Max 100 or FP4 Plus. But I would have missed out on the chiaroscuro effect, though unintended, obtained in shooting this film in non-ideal light.

Analogue Wonderland provided me this roll of Film Washi S in exchange for this mention. Buy yours from them here.

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Film Photography

single frame: The Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse

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Doorway

Doorway
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Film Washi S
2019

I bungled my roll of Film Washi S by shooting it in bright sun. I didn’t know it at the time, but it does best in dull, diffuse light.

This photo of a doorway in Downtown Indianapolis turned out all right somehow. Perhaps it’s because I was on a side street and tall buildings blocked much of the direct sun.

The film (and lens, of course) captured good detail and sharpness. There’s a compelling silveriness to this image.

Analogue Wonderland provided me this roll of Film Washi S in exchange for this mention. Buy yours from them here.

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Film Photography

single frame: Doorway

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Film Photography

Shooting Film Washi S

Federal Courthouse

Let me say right off that I’m frustrated with myself. These photographs don’t capture the best that Film Washi S can do. It wasn’t until after I shot most of the roll that I read over at EMULSIVE that you’re supposed to shoot this film in dull, diffuse lighting. I shot every single frame in blistering, blazing summer sunshine.

aw_logo

And so I’m considerably embarrassed to admit that this post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, who sent me a roll of this film to try in exchange for this mention. My humblest apologies to the very good people at Analogue Wonderland that I bungled this so badly. Click here to buy some Film Washi S of your own from them. But don’t be a doofus like me — shoot it in the right light.

Firestone

Not that the roll was a total bust. With a little light Photoshoppery I was able to get usable images from almost every frame. The contrast is mighty high, is all. In full sun, you get your black, you get your white, but you get very little in between. On a few photographs it was mighty appealing. But not on the one below. It shows the film at its contrastiest.

City Market

Film Washi S is actually sound recording film — bright purple! — spooled into 35mm cartridges. On a film print of a movie, the soundtrack is imprinted optically onto the film, and is then transferred to the final movie print.

Apartments

I loaded the Film Washi S into my Pentax ME and mounted my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens. That light little SLR and that widish lens are a great kit for making photographs in Downtown Indianapolis, as I did.

Circle Tower

Whenever the sun was not directly behind me, the frame tended to fog a little.

Mass Ave corner

I can’t see any grain on any of these images. I’m not surprised, as this is an ISO 50 film. Check out all the great detail the film captured on this ornate theater building.

Indiana Repertory Theater

It is a shame, however, that so much is lost in the shadows. This is why with specialty films it pays to read everything you can before you go off shooting. (That’s a note to self.)

Doorway

Despite my challenging choice of lighting for this film, it did lovely work in a few cases. Like this one. So silvery! So sharp!

Lacy

Shooting specialty films is great fun under any circumstances. But it is even more fun when you read up on it first and know the conditions in which it delivers its best results. So let me be clear: shoot Film Washi S on an overcast day. Don’t be a doofus like me.

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In memoriam

Roadside memorial
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

I remember well the first time I saw crosses arrayed in a memorial to people who died at a site. It was 1984 and I was visiting the Berlin Wall. It’s hard even now to think about why and how they died.

I’m not sure exactly when we started erecting crosses in the United States along roadsides where accidents claimed loved ones. I don’t recall seeing any as early as 1984. But given the date on this one, we are likely to have been doing it since at least 1996.

The 50mm f/1.7 lens I acquired recently is a real winner. Just check out that lovely bokeh.

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Film Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Roadside memorial

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