Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Looking back: 2010

Monday, January 3rd, 2011 by

Last januari, I wrote about my goals for the year. Time to look back and see what got of them.

My goals were:

  • Shoot at least 3 pictures I consider good enough to enlarge to at least 30×45 cm. One of those should be B&W.
  • Shoot at least 50 rolls of film.
  • Set up a place were I can print B&W pictures, and learn to do that.

Let’s start with the second one: 50 rolls. I shot 48 rolls during the year, and had two almost complete rolls in my cameras, both of which I completed on New Year’s day. I think that counts as 50. I finished one of the rolls shooting fireworks at midnight (and immediately shot the first full roll of 2011).

The third one, set up a darkroom and learn to use it, was not so successful. The home renovation project took much longer than initially expected, and I only got to the darkroom late in december. The good news is that I spent this weekend moving in my parents’ old darkroom equipment. I still have to light-proof the room, but after that I can get some chemicals and paper and start experimenting. So, not completed, but well underway.

Finally, the first goal. Shoot 3 pictures good enough to enlarge and frame them. This one I simply don’t know yet. I haven’t completely caught up with my scanning after the move, and haven’t looked very deeply into all my negatives, even the ones I did scan.

I do know I shot one of the most important pictures of my life this year, which already got enlarged and framed. So that’s one. (I’ll write more about it in a future post). The other two, time will tell once the darkroom is finished.

Aside from the goals, 2010 was a pretty uneventful year. Most of the pictures I shot were simple shots documenting the rebuilding of our house, and much of the rest was filled with pictures of my family and other snapshots. I also shot my second wedding.

Equipment-wise, I fell in love with the Leica system, completed a nice camera/lens set, and started selling off some Canon equipment that became superfluous. The Leica set is finished now, I plan to write about the different parts in the coming months.

The end of the Leica Year…or not?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by

August the 10th. It is now a year ago I started with Michael Johnston’s ‘Leica Lessons‘ project.

I feel like I didn’t really complete the year, though. As I detailed before, I’ve been using my 400D occasionally to record the progress of our renovation project1, and as you can see from last week’s picture, I haven’t stuck to one lens either. I’ve also started using a light meter during the second half of the year2.

So, will I ditch the Leica tomorrow and go back to my EOS 30, or even run back to the modern embrace of digital? No, definitely not. I’ve found that for most of the things I shoot, the Leica is close to my perfect camera. It’s small, so I can carry it always, it’s reliable, and it’s an enormous pleasure to use. It certainly has its weaknesses, and rangefinders don’t suit every purpose, but nothing prevents me from using one of my SLRs if the need arises.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t really stuck with one lens. When I realized the Leica was there to stay, I started drawing up my ultimate Leica kit3, and started watching Ebay for deals on these lenses. Over the past few months, I’ve been able to get both lenses I wanted for very reasonable prices. I haven’t used the lenses much, mostly put a few rolls behind then to make sure they worked as they should, but I still used them. They have, however, confimed my assessment that the Leica suits me.

Why did I start using a lightmeter? This I blame on the remodelling project: Because I had very little time to shoot, and equally little time to develop, I practised little, and there was often a long time between shooting the picture and seeing the result. It is also my experience that you need to keep excersizing the skill, or it will fade very fast. When I started getting less than 10 well-exposed shots per roll it started taking the fun out of the whole project, which wasn’t the idea. So I picked up a Leicameter MR from Ebay, and I’ve been using it for most of my shots since then. That, combined with the fact that I’ve finally zeroed in on a exposure index/developing combo I’m happy with means that the last 5 months have given me a lot more satisfying shots.

So, what’s next? I might, in the future, redo parts of the year, since I feel like I cheated. I’ll certainly give GSOTPANWASTOTZSS another go, when I can make more time. I’ll also keep shooting a lot of B&W film. For one thing, I like the ability to do your own development, but I also feel like I haven’t learned everything I can about shooting in B&W yet. I will be trying out the Leica (or more exactly, the Leica lenses) with some colour slide film though4.

Next friday I’ll be shooting another wedding, so I’ll get a healthy dose of modern cameras and lenses. Let’s call it detox.

  1. I was also asked to shoot a swimming match a few months ago, for which I brought the Canon as well. []
  2. Though to be fair, this requirement wasn’t stipulated by Michael Johnston, but by me []
  3. On which more in a following post []
  4. If I like both, there may be a second body in the future, though that won’t be soon. []

Fish ladder

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 by

Just a quick picture to show I’m not dead yet.

Shot two weeks ago in the east of the Netherlands, a close up of a fish ladder. A little experiment with shapes and close-ups.

Technical details

Leica M3, 135mm Tele-Elmar, Neopan 400, developed in Rodinal 1:45


Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by

Ok, let me explain.

As may be obvious from my lack of posts, I’ve been busy.

Fact is, December last year, F. and I bought ourselves a house. It’s a moderately old house (1948), and we are practically the second owners (the previous owners bought it from the housing developer halfway though the 1950’s, we don’t know if it was lived in before that), so, understandably, there was (is) some work to be done on the house. It is (was) in reasonably good shape, just very outdated. We knew this from the start, and were planning on some intensive renovations. Which is what I (we) have been doing the past two months (and probably will be doing for the next few as well). We’ve pretty much stripped the house of all its insides, leaving only the walls and beams standing, and are currently in the process of putting back all the wiring1 and plumbing2, as well as renovating the bathroom, adding an upstairs toilet, insulating the house better, etc.

To make time for this, I’ve started working extra hours during the week, giving me an extra day in the weekend, which I spend working in the house, meaning my spare time has been reduced to a close proximity of zero.

Lack of spare time equals a similar lack of time to go out shooting pictures, or update this website3. The fact that my darkroom equipment is already in a box also doesn’t help.

In a related event, F. indicated she would like to have some pictures of the renovations that weren’t in black & white. Combined with the fact that tearing out the entire electric system meant lighting in the new house is slightly limited, and that a 50mm isn’t exactly designed for photographing small rooms, this made me invoke my escape clause for the Leica Lessons project, and so I’ve taken the 400D out of storage, together with my 17-40L and 580EXII. These pictures aren’t exactly interesting to anyone but us, so I doubt any of them will be published here. If I might find time, I’ll try to post some older pictures here over the following months, but don’t expect too much updates. Hopefully, after the move I’ll be a bit more diligent with my postings4.

On positive news: One of the things I’ll be doing in the new house is furnishing one room to be used as (among other things) a darkroom.

  1. The electricity was heavily outdated, and damaged, part of the pipes transmitting current, and the whole system was much too small for a modern set of appliances. []
  2. Also outdated, as well as laid out in a very impractical manner. []
  3. There you have it, my explanation. []
  4. I’ll be living much closer to work, so I’ll have roughly 2 hours more spare time each day. []

Looking forward: 2010

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by

After looking back, it’s time to look forward. What do I want/expect from the photographic year 2010?

My goals:

  • Shoot at least 3 pictures I consider good enough to enlarge to at least 30×45 cm. One of those should be B&W1.
  • Shoot at least 50 rolls of film2.
  • Set up a place were I can print B&W pictures, and learn to do that.
  1. And of course: Make the prints or have them made. []
  2. Without being wasteful, no shooting just to burn through the rolls []

Bus lane

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 by

A more abstract street shot. I’ve had a 8X12 of this on my whiteboard for a few weeks now1 and once I get my darkroom set up, I intend to make a bigger one to frame2.

Technical details

Leica M3, 50mm Summicron, Neopan 400, developed by my lab in Ilford chemistry.

Why I like it

It’s something new for me, but one of the first shots where I really think I got to the gist of B&W photography (at least what I want to do with it).

  1. Whiteboards are great for keeping test prints. Much like a pinboard, but with the ability to add notes. []
  2. Unfortunately, my normal lab prints B&W shots on colour paper, which doesn’t look as good as I want it, you get a kind of pinkish undertone in the midtones. []

Falling apart – Part 2

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by

First, my apologies for yet another long radio silence. I’ve been renovating my new home, so I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures, and haven’t been close to a computer either.

Second, the follow-up to the missing-lever-problem I described three weeks ago. Back then, I mailed Leica’s spare parts service1, and within a few days got a reply that if I supplied them with my postal address, they’d send me a replacement lever free of charge2.

The new lever promptly arrived a few days later, so I can now once more preview how a picture would look with a lens I haven’t got…

Tomorrow, I’ll finally post another picture.

  1. I also contacted Will van Manen, the Dutch Leica repair technician who serviced my camera before I bought it, who also replied promptly that he could supply and re-attach the part, even if the inner coupling had gotten dislodged. []
  2. Leicas may be expensive, but the service is great: Free parts on a second-hand, 54-year-old camera. []

SOOKY-M manual

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 by

Just a quick note: As I already stated on my lenses page, one thing that bugged me when I was looking into the SOOKY-M (SOMKY) device, was the distinct lack of info available online. I’ve therefore made the manual available as a download.

Falling apart

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by

Well, this sucks.

Sometime last saturday, the screw keeping the frameline-preview lever of the M3 in place unscrewed itself. I found the screw again, luckily it fell out indoors, but I’m afraid the lever itself fell off later, outside, and I haven’t been able to find it again.

Luckily, this is the only control on the camera that isn’t needed for actual shooting, but it’s still annoying.

If anyone has suggestions on where to get a replacement, please let me know in the comments! I’ve looked at DAG but he currently only has the (fugly) M4-style levers in stock.


Friday, November 13th, 2009 by

As I mentioned back when I explained the lens I’m using for the Leica Lessons project, I was really tempted by the Dual-range Summicron. In the end I decided against it, but mentioned in the footnotes that if I would end up missing the close range too much, I could always get a SOMKY adapter.

Well, I just did.

I love using the Leica, and it does pretty much everything I want from a camera. I’m surprised at how little I miss my Canons, quite frankly1, but one thing keeps bugging me: The lack of close focus. Product shots, and of course flower photography are hard or impossible without excessive cropping, so in the end I caved.

I managed to find one in excellent condition, with manual2 and in the original red box. I’ll be testing it out over the coming period, and keep you posted. I already posted some info on the lenses page.

  1. Which bothers me a bit, as I have quite a bit invested in that system. []
  2. Which was pretty important, as there is frightingly little info on this device available online. []