Adventures in Analogue Pt15

Meet the latest addition to my camera collection, the Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera.

The SX-70 was produced in the 1970's and is a manual focus fold-able instant SLR camera. I had been thinking of getting my hands on one for a while without considering the practicalities and cost of acquiring film. Just the look of it alone made me want to get one regardless of its photographic capabilities. It looks like a futuristic piece of design and engineering today, can you imagine how it looked in 1973! When its folded it converts into a smart little package of tan leather and steel that easily slots into your back pocket.

Now onto the the issue of finding film. Polaroid phased out production of SX-70 film in 2005. In 2008 a company called The Impossible Project bought the original Polaroid production machinery and produce their own film to this day. The only snag is that it ain't cheap. Fortunately you are able to buy unsold expired stock at discounted prices, which I did. As it is expired stock there is no guarantee of reliable image development, which I soon realised after shooting my first pack of film.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement! I thought the camera was a dud. Thankfully, the next pack of film gave much better results and I went on to shoot a Black and White pack which also developed well. Overall I'm happy with the images the camera produces. They do have a retro, Lo-Fi look but you can still maintain depth and sharpness with the manual focusing. I enjoy using the camera as well, there is a very satisfying clunk noise when you press the shutter, then you get the anticipation of waiting for the image to appear.

It also looks cool!

Adventures in Analogue Pt12

It's been a while!

Usually winter brings a bit of drama to scene, and the late sunrises make it easy to catch the morning light even for the laziest of landscape photographers. However the last couple of months had given us an unrelenting blanket of greyness. This combined with an over familiarity with my surroundings had left me with a case of photographers block.

A couple of weeks ago I had a trip to Barcelona. Unusually for me I tried to keep the gear to a minimum and chose just one film camera, my Hasselblad Xpan. It was a refreshing change to just look at my surroundings at one focal length, not over think it and just enjoy shooting away.

Since returning, I'm back on the horse again. I managed to fill two rolls of film today alone. These may or may not make it on to the next blog post.

Here's a few shots from the Barcelona trip.

Adventures in Analogue Pt10

In recent years the big players in film manufacture are cutting back on their output, and even stopping production of some stocks altogether. Kodak for example, stopped production of slide film completely in 2012.

As the film becomes scarcer the prices start to creep up and up. One of the most sought after films is Kodak Aerochrome (see Adventures in Analogue Pt1), a roll of which I have recently seen sell on ebay for over €100. Lomography.com have recently decided to capitalise on this by producing two new films that allow film photographers to still be creative without having to sell a kidney.

Lomochrome Turquoise and Lomochrome Purple are colour negative films that render colours differently to give surreal effects. For example with Lomochrome Purple, green grass will appear purple and a blue sky will appear green. 

I got my hands on a few rolls of each and have given both a go. I think the results are pretty cool.

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Adventures in Analogue Pt9

The least said about the dismal Connemara summer we've just had the better, but Autumn is so far shaping up to be a corker. The days have been dry and crisp and the nights clear and starry. The low sun in the sky is is illuminating Autumn leaves to full effect and every woodland walk is a feast for the eyes.

The current conditions have prompted me to pop open a few rolls of Fuji Velvia that I've had stored in the fridge for a while. Velvia is famous for the juicy saturated colours that it yields so hopefully some of these shots will do justice to spectacles I've been lucky to witness over the last couple of weeks.

Adventures in Analogue Pt5

In my last post the Belair X6-12 camera made an appearance and I mentioned how it had so far been a bit of a let down. I wasn't prepared to give up on it just yet (after all it does look cool), so I invested in a new lens for it.

The lens is designed by Russian company Zenit and has a focal length of 114mm. This sounds quite narrow, but on a medium format camera with a 6x12 frame it has an equivalent focal length of 42mm. 

I am impressed with the look of the lens, it seems pretty sturdy with a bit of weight to it and the focus is very smooth. I stuck a couple of rolls of film through it this week and the results are not too bad at all. It's never going to replace the Hasselblad, but I doubt any camera ever will.

Adventures in Analogue Pt3

 While I have been processing my own negatives for a while now (I will maybe go into this at another time), actually producing prints from the negatives was until recently venturing into the unknown. Last year I took the plunge and bought myself an enlarger and converted our unused attic space into a dark room.

I had long since been put off the idea by the notion that this was an expensive folly as it is much easier and cheaper to just scan the negatives and print them on a modern inkjet printer. However, have you seen the price of ink cartridges these days? So when you weigh the cost, print against print there isn't a whole lot of difference.

Next is the issue of convenience. Sure it takes longer, but you get a greater feeling of satisfaction in the end product when you have laboured over it, instead of just clicking on the print icon.  Digital photography and printing is relatively new, with resolution  and quality being able to compete with film only in the last ten years or so. Darkroom printing has been practised since the inception of photography in the early 19th century with  little change to the basic process from that time to this day. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Lastly, I simply enjoy it. I like setting up the equipment with the neat production line of trays. I like mixing up the chemistry and the associated smell. I like the way the image slowly appears like magic in the developer. I realise this makes me come across as a bit of a geek. Then so be it, I AM A PHOTOGRAPHY GEEK.

Adventures in Analogue Pt2

Although heavy and cumbersome my Hasselblad 500C is my favourite film camera. All the photos taken in the Analogue gallery on this website were taken using it.

This model was in production between 1957 and 1970 and is a classic, a modified version of this camera was used on the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Recently while browsing through Ebay (as you do), I typed Hasselblad into the browser to see if anything interesting (and affordable) would pop up. I came across a few extension tubes and decided to buy one.

Without getting too technical, an extension tube is a tube that fits between your lens and camera body allowing you to focus on objects much closer to the front of your lens. For example without the tube I can focus on objects at a distance of 3.5 feet and beyond but with the tube attached I can focus on objects between 6 and 20 inches away. This might not mean anything to you but it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for my trusty Hasselblad.

Below are the first fruits of the new purchase. I use two rolls of film. The first, Kodak Ektar which gives super fine grain and nicely saturated colours. The second roll was Fuji T64, a slide film which I cross processed resulting in a nice warm purple tone to the images.

I have to say, so far, I'm very happy with the results and I think the tube will be stuck on my camera for a while more yet.