Glass Scanning Without The Newton Rings

The Nikon Coolscan 9000ED scanner is an excellent scanner. The included holders are of a very good standard and many extremely useful and high quality optional holders are available. None of them, however, are cheap.

I have been scanning happily for many years with my Coolscan 9000 ED and never seen the need for glass scanning. For the most part I use high quality film that is not difficult to make lie flat and my only medium format camera until recently was a 6×4.5 model that I never used anything but Fuji and Kodak film in. Nevertheless I had ordered some glass insets some time back from Focal Point — mostly out of curiosity. In my limited testing the gains were modest and the extra effort significant so they mostly stayed in the box.

In the past six months my camera stable grew to include two medium format folders: the new Lomography X 6-12 6×12 camera and a beautiful German Agfa Record III 6×9 folder with the high quality Solinar lens. All of a sudden I was having significant challenges with film flatness. Try as I might I could not get the flatness I needed out of Nikon’s “tension” holder.

The product offered by Focal Point for the 9000 is a pair of glass inserts that fit in the standard FH-869S film holder. The standard way of doing this is to make a sandwhich with the AN glass on top facing the “shiny” side of the film and the standard glass on the bottom in contact with the emulsion side of the film. Since the shiny side is usually the side that has bad Newton Ring problems this is meant to work well. However, in my experience with the films I shoot (and maybe the climate I’m in) I often find that the emulsion side is smooth enough to give rings and I invariably only find these later when I’m editing. These problems disuaded me until my new cameras prodded me to solve the problem.

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Plastic Fantastic V

Plastic Fantastic V

What equipment do you need to take a great photograph?

This photograph was taken with a cheap plastic camera with a plastic lens bought at a drug store in South Africa. It was loaded with the cheap Fuji film that they give you for free in Qatar when you get your film processed and pay for prints. Whatever redeeming qualities this picture have did not come from the crappy camera or the crappy film.

So what equipment do you need?

I recommend the following equipment list:

  1. One or two eyes. You should keep these open. Try to use them to really see the world around you. If it seems like everything is the same hour by hour and day by day then consult your user manual. You are not using them properly
  2. One heart. Keep it soft. Allow things to move you. If you have set up a firewall and access control list to limit what has access to your heart consider drastically opening the ruleset. A lot of mundane things are often part of a default “ignore” list. Although this is considered an industry standard “best practice” I strongly advise you to consider removing most items from this list
  3. One brain. Use this to store as much technique as you can. Try every new technique you hear about that interests you until you don’t have to think about it. Store macros for all your commonly used camera equipment. Consider not adding to your equipment until you have all commands for all your current equipment automated. One word of caution: use your brain to automate the process of capturing what your heart and eyes are captured by. Do not expect good results from simply firing off these automated processes at random objects that your eyes have not been captivated by or your heart has not been moved by

Well, that’s it. Take with you the above three items and use them as directed. Along with that you should have some sort of camera or camera phone (or even pen and paper). If you make proper use of your equipment you should have no trouble at all making stunning world class photographs!

Time to Roll

Time to Roll

Improvisation.

Sometimes you just need a tripod and don’t have one. Other times you need two tripods and you only have one. This photo relates to the former. I am currently experiencing the latter.

Here’s the thing. Are you going to let life stop you just because you don’t have an 800WS monolight, or an 85mm f1.4 lens, or the latest super camera body? Good tools can certainly make the work easier and give better results than poor ones when skillfully and artfully used but even bad tools are better than no tools and you may be surprised at what you can build for yourself if you think through your exact requirements.

As I write this I am timing an eight minute exposure. I’ve taken a few frames tonight with the Crown and I like the way it looks out there on the balcony with the lights behind but, of course, it only looks like that on its tripod. What is the Retinette supposed to stand on to get the right angle? Why, my makeshift tripod. Here’s the bill of materials:

  1. One Polaroid back for a large format camera
  2. One TV remote control
  3. One camera bag for a large format camera
  4. One chair (stood on end) from inside the hotel room
  5. One outside chair (already on balcony)

To assemble, simply stack all of the parts with the highest number at the bottom and the camera resting on top.

Now this is certainly not the finest tripod known to man. In fact, I won’t be surprised if I later find out that it shifted at some time during those eight minutes and ruined my shot. However, neither was the roof of someone’s Jeep a perfect tripod either. But without it, I would not have the picture you see above. If you later see the picture I made tonight then you might want to remember this emergency tripod recipe!

Postscript: it worked! The result is here:

Retinette San Francisco Crown Graphic on Station

Forest Dream II

Forest Dream II

Black and White

I grew up in Alaska and I knew the name of one photographer. The name everyone knew. Ansel Adams. I love his work and the power that it evokes. I love the way black and white focuses you in on the essentials in a picture. And yet, I can hardly bear to shoot any.

I love colour. The bolder the better. The richer the better. I don’t like colour to look too unnatural but I just love amazing colour. When nature presents amazing colour it is that amazing colour I want to capture!

This is a shot I took when I first got my large format camera. The shop I bought it from only had black and white film in stock. I like it. I like it for all the reasons mentioned above. But I’m not sure I can bring myself to do it again…

Rose Garden Rose I

Rose Garden Rose I

As a photographer I find that I respond strongly to colour. Recently, however, I had a shoot where I had great difficulty achieving the coluor I had in mind. This seeming setback, as so often happens, was really an opportunity in disguise.

Colour profiles are not something I had really been paying attention to. Apart from ensuring that my monitor is calibrated I mainly have been happy just to move around controls until I like what I see. However, the brick wall I hit on this last shoot sent my flying down the rabbit hole of ICC. It just doesn’t seem like it should be all that complicated but the world of colour, like all of God’s creation, is as wide and as deep as you care to explore.

Along the way I came across the work of a great photographer named Joseph Holmes. His gallery is here:

http://www.josephholmes.com/gallery01.html

What this guy has to say about colour I want to know. Recommended reading!