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Wednesday, 22 December 2021


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>> Among my New Years resolutions this year is to stop being lazy and discipline myself to shoot with my better cameras.

A few months ago I decided that I was tired of carrying my heavy D850 with two heavy Sigma f/1.4 lenses and I started to put my old, small Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens on the camera in a small bag instead. Way less heavy,, pictures were almost as good, actually indistinguishable when viewed Web size which is where almost all my photos are seen these days.

Then one day last week I took my old kit out again in my shoulder bag, those two heavy Sigma lenses, and after walking all over creation all day with the heavy bag I realized that I didn't actually notice the weight after all. It was perfectly comfortable -- no backache or sore shoulder, no problem.

So I've gone back to my favorite lenses.

The real choice is between carrying a DSLR kit or carrying nothing at all, and I'm not ready to carry nothing at all.

The iPhone is the 35mm Tri-X + D76 of its time. Discuss.


Fred Picker of Zone VI studios was a D-76 guy. So, I followed his lead, even though I had a hankering for experimentation (always wondered about Rodinal).

I did use their graded papers while they were available. True story: I was loaned that Fuji 6x9 by a Baltimore camera store, Service Photo (still going strong!), and I went out and shot a roll with it, then developed and printed a sample to show them when I returned it. Used that Zone VI paper. (and this was the very first image I took back in the '80's of my current series that I started in 2006-ish, an "Ah-ha" moment).

When I showed it to the guy who let me borrow the camera,an excellent photographer, he took the print and started scrutinizing it to see how the lens was. But then he started turning the paper this way and that in the light, and finally said, astonished, "What is this stuff????". That's how beautiful that silver rich paper was. Such a pity it is gone...

As regards ' "my Photo 101 technique"—35mm Tri-X developed in D-76 printed full frame (sorry) on 8x10 or 11x14 paper. ' I recall an essay you wrote back in the 1900s (maybe 37th Frame, maybe Sunday Morning Photographer, who knows?) that seems an expansion of this. The essay was titled something like 'How To Get 'The Look'' and the missing element from the quoted text above was to use a tripod. I think you were referring to a glow in certain B&W photos that can really only be captured by absolute solid camera stability.


[I think you've added that element yourself Patrick! That article was called "The Glow"...

(You might still be able to see it here:

https://luminous-landscape.com/sm-02-04-28/ )

...And it contained no mention of a tripod. But by all means use a tripod if you like! --Mike]

With wet photography I always put more effort into making the process as easy and predictable as possible. Diffusion enlargers are easier and more predictable than collimated light enlargers but they have some tonal and acutance properties that are different. No problem, just adjust the chemistry and agitation to optimize the negative for the easy enlarger. I ended up developing all film in D-19 one to one for five minutes at 80 degrees f (because I was having problems getting 78 degree water constantly in the summer in nyc buildings) . The negatives were pretty unprintable in a condenser enlarger but as long as I used my workflow it was great. An unanticipated bonus is that the super long scale negatives turned out to be easier to digitize.

Constancy with TOP has been one of your better things. And in "Internet years" that's bee absolutely forever.

Abandoning bad ideas as soon as possible is also good. Trying things you're not sure of is good, so it can be important to then abandon them after the trial gives you a basis for judgment.

I too started out with specialized formulas, before simplifying the process to a common denominator- not to do it "better" than anyone, but for greater ease, economy and... consistency.

In the digital era, I also utilize common and low end tools and workflows to make personally worthwhile work. I understand the need for exceptional equipment for challenging, specialized needs; I just enjoy striving for exceptional end results using Everyman goods and practices.

In the film days, I was lazy. I read about all the "special" techniques, developers, papers, but in the end, I did not have the energy, even though I was young. What I did was adopt (otherwise known as steal) techniques from successful friends. When someone whose work I admired, used Agfapan 100 in Rodinal (also known as Rodent-all), I used it. When that friend switched to TMAX 100 in Xtol, I did that. I assumed that while I could not match my friend's skill or vision, at least I could start with the same raw materials. I enjoyed my film days, spent way too much time testing instead of photographing but it is what I enjoyed. Bruce Fraser was a master, still missed by many of us who admired him.

3 recent mention on TOP. iPhone, B&W, Film and digital as they relate to B&W. I shoot and develop 1-2 rolls of B&W film a week because I really like the look, the craft of it all do and participate in a forum or two that are centered around film photography. Digital B&W never really did it for me but my iPhone 12 somehow creates a look that converts into good looking B&W images I find pleasing to the eye.
I plan to ween myself down to one film and developer combo and maybe just one camera for a while but that iPhone will always be along for the ride just in case.

There are many truisms. One is there no such thing as a free lunch. There is no such thing as a magic bullet is another. Yet many people spend their entire life looking for these two will-o'-the-wisps.

I'm now using a 64 megapixel Samsung S21+ 5G as my main camera. It has a Hybrid Optic Zoom with Enhanced Super Resolution for close-ups.

The S21+ fits in my pocket. One photo-phone every two years forever.

If you really want to do OC/OL/OY keep the camera under the front seat of your car. Oh and keep a few batteries in the vehicle too as one day you will see the perfect shot and the camera battery will be dead. Number the batteries 1,2,3 etc and use them in that order. Take them indoors frequently and charge them too even it you have not used them.

It’s a good point. I wrote about something similar on a forum yesterday. Famous cartoonist Dave Sim has made a largely impenetrable comic book called The Strange Death of Alex Raymond. He has become intensely obsessed with photo-realistic comics and making them, and has worked himself into a near cripple trying to do that. (He has some bad wrist condition now.) Some of his fans don’t care, and in the book he laments loudly: “Does degree of difficulty of execution not count for anything?!”

I wrote, “No”. Why would I care how difficult it was to draw a page? What I care about is the expression and enjoyment a page giveså, no matter if it took an hour or a month to make.

Mike, you and I have talked about technique. I used to have a fetish for the best lenses. You pointed out that some of the best photos have been taken with crap cameras. And that’s the thing: technique only matters up to a point, and many of us continue to care long past that point.

– Eolake Stobblehouse

I too am prone to making things complicated for myself, though (I think) I've never quite believed the results would be much better... just maybe more interesting. It can lead to a good story, a richer experience, a deeper memory of the whole business at hand. And isn't that what it's all about? Complicate away! Why not?

Your story behind the "photo of S." (in the next post, that is, the "Oed' und..." pic) is a good example of this kind of complication. That picture, even if you think that's the only remnant of that time, was worth it. And that ignores the move you made to a beautiful place, all the changes and effort you made to get it, and how many of those changes have stuck! Inked like a good print.

I love the four pics in this series. Thanks for featuring them. The stuff that led to those shots working out, even just using that phone in your pocket, and the trained eye to recognize them, well that's the real work and the photos somehow prove it.

i've never done the one thing-one year thing with photography

however i've done it relative to fly fishing (two different years) and illustration (once and never again)

as long as you can lie to yourself that the one thing isn't limiting...things just go along and at the end of the year you've done it

if i was doing oc/ol/oy my ol would be a superzoom because i can't crawl on my belly to get wildlife shots that i used to get with shortish primes

but good luck to you

There is an old computer programming book called "The Elements of Programming Style" by Kernigham and Plauger. One of the bits of advice:
Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place.
So if you’re as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?

OC/OL/OY?… Sure, but I’d be more likely to do the ADD version of that, the one that ends with One Day. That is about the limit of my attention span. Now that I have my new eyes (cataract surgery) my attention has shifted to an old passion, stargazing. Don’t know how long that will last, it is a cloudy rainy part of the country so viewing opportunities are limited.

I've been doing a one camera one lens routine for years. I define one camera as many bodies that do pretty much the same thing and one lens as any lens between 28 and 50. I put one of my one body cameras in each space I may reasonably inhabit, with one lens stick to each one camera. There. That's a system I can follow.

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