Film Portrait with Nikon F801s and Ilford FP4

One more portrait from our recent studio session with films. This time with the Nikon F801s camera, Nikon 50mm f/1.4D lens and Ilford Fp4 black and white film.

I really didn’t expect to get so good results from a 35mm camera. I usually shoot portraits with the Plaubel Makina 67, and on the last session I also used my Sinar Norma large format camera. I was really surprised from the quality of the 35mm negative!

For lighting we used a Godox AD200 flash with a 80cm Octabox and a LED light with a white umbrella. 

I had not used Ilford Fp4 for a long time, and I really was stunned with the results. It’s a superb film with a classic look and I am definitely going to use it with my medium and large format camera for future work. 

Development was done with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X (1:4), 10 minutes at 20C, and scanned with the Epson V500 scanner.

(click on image to see large size)

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.

 

 

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Large format portrait

It’s been almost 4 years since I last used my Sinar Norma 4×5 view camera. A long time indeed. During the past months I have returned to film photography, so it was just a matter of time before I used my Sinar again.

Shooting large format is really something completely different from any other medium. It requires careful planning and patience. Everything has to be done right or you don’t get the image. And at a very high cost per image compared to other mediums, you have to everything right.

Together with my woman Vaia Daldis, we arranged a studio photoshoot session, in order to make a few shots with the Sinar. It is a monorail camera, almost 50 years old, but it still looks and works like new. I chose to use the Scheider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6 lens and Ilford HP5. 150mm in large format has the field of view of a normal 50mm in full frame format (35mm). 

The “good” apertures on a camera like this is at the range of f/16 and f/22, so we needed powerful lights to get the image. I used a Godox AD200 flash and a LED light, which was barely enough at full power to provide sufficient light. The good old PC sync cord was used to trigger the flash. A 80cm octabox was used with the AD200, and a white umbrella with the LED light to get softer light, and the Sekonic L-308s meter was employed to measure exposure.

For testing purposes we shot a couple of instant sheets (Fuji FP-100C) to check light. It is really sad that Fuji discontinued the Fp-100C and Fp-3000B instant films. I have a few packs of them left in my fridge, but eventually the will run out. Today, they are sold at very high prices, and eventually there will be no more peel-apart instant sheet film. I really hope Fuji or another company will produce these films again. 

Aperture was f/16 and shutter speed 1/30. I rated Ilford HP5 at ISO 320. In total we shot 4 sheets of film and Vaia processed the image with Photoshop. 

The tones and look are different than what I get with a digital camera. A more 3D pop, and smooth transition from shadows to highlights, and  keep in mind that we shoot a 150mm lens at a distance that would have required a 50mm on a 35mm camera. Large format is on a league of it’s own and with camera movements you can make very interesting experiments. 

I developed HP5 with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X 1:4, 9 minutes at 20C, and scanned the negatives on my Epson V500. This scanner cannot scan the huge 4×5 negative at once (the Epson V700 can do that), but by scanning two portions of the image and stitching them with Autopano pro software, you can get the job done. 

The whole photo session was a very interesting experience. It requires patience not only from the photographer but also the model, since it takes some to get just one shot. You open the aperture blades and use the ground glass in order to focus, then close aperture blades, set your aperture and shutter speed, cock the shutter,  insert the film holder, remove the dark slide (the one facing towards the lens, since I have accidentally removed the one facing the ground glass in the past and ruined the sheet, things can easily go wrong with large format if you are not focused on what you are doing!), take the shot (preferably with a cable release), put back the dark slide, and that’s it! All that for one shot!

I was really happy shooting with Sinar Norma again, the whole experience was great, and the final result was very rewarding. I am going to print of course the image, you have to see a large format image on paper to appreciate it’s quality. 

Here is the final image (click on photo to see large size).

We also shot a few 35mm and 120 film on the same session, and will post the images soon.

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.

 

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Fuji GSW690iii with Fuji Velvia 50 film

As you can see from my latest posts, I have almost completely returned back to film photography.  That made me go back to my archives and notes, in order to remember things I’ve learned over the years of shooting film, and by doing that, I rediscovered some of my old images. Today I am posting a few images taken with the Fuji GSW690iii camera and Fuji Velvia 50 slide film. I have sold this camera, and this was a hard decision to make, since I consider it to be the best landscape film medium format camera. So, today I am reposting an old article about my experience with the GSW690iii.

(click on images to view large size).

This camera is fully mechanical, no batteries needed for the shutter, no meter, just an advance lever and a shutter button (actually there are two!). I take light readings with the Sekonic 308s and although a spot meter would do a better job especially with a difficult film like the Fuji Velvia 50, it gets the work done.

I have rated my last two rolls of Velvia at ISO 40 and I can say that I am getting better results with this setting. The very limited latitude of the Velvia makes it difficult to capture a high contrast scene but I do like the colors and contrast of this film. The use of graduated filters helps a lot although using them with a rangefinder camera like the GSW690 is not an easy task. Also, the use of polarizer with Velvia can create a very dark blue sky which is not always what I want to see on a photo. So, the whole procedure can be quite tricky but when you get a good image you are rewarded (it’s part of the whole “ritual” of shooting film !!).
One thing in which Velvia excels, is resolution. Combine that with the size of 6×9 negative and the stunning quality and sharpness of the Fujinon lens and you can easily top quality large prints.

The GSW690iii can be shot handheld even at low speeds since its a rangefinder camera but I prefer to use a tripod since this way you get the maximum quality. For handheld shots I have observed that if I use the front shutter button (there are two shutter buttons on this camera) I get more sharp images, so I work this way when I don’t use the tripod.

The only thing I miss on this camera is the Bulb mode. Instead of that you get a “T” mode but it doesn’ work like a large format lens, you have to cover the lens with the cap and then move the shutter dial in order to close the shutter. Now, for long exposure images that’s not really a problem, but for an exposure of two to three seconds for example it gets a little frustrating. Nevertheless, I haven’t missed a shot yet, so it’s not a big deal.

I get about six keepers with every roll shot the Fuji (you can take 8 frames per film with a 6×9 camera), sometimes even more, and that’s due to the fact that with this camera you spend the time and thought needed to make an image. Scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 9000 you get a file larger than 100 megapixels (now,i t’s not really 100 megapixels if you compare it with an equivalent digital file, but still there’s a huge amount of detail and information in a 6×9 frame enough for very large prints).

So, these are my thoughts for this superb combo, the Fuji GSW690iii with Fuji Velvia 50. Here are the images…

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.




 

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Road Construction

A walk through a road construction area and a few infrared images. A kind of different subject than my usual infrared landscapes. As usually, I used the Leica M8 with the Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f/4 lens and B+W 092 IR filter.

When shooting infrared handheld, I will mainly stay with apertures f/4 and f/5.6 in order to have a decent shutter speed. This time I used f/8 which makes it easier for me to nail focus (as I have explained in previous posts, focusing with a rangefinder camera and infrared filter is kinda tricky, your focus point is not what you see in the rangefinder window, and Leica lenses don’t have an infrared scale on them). That meant that I had to go to ISO 640 which I normally never do with infared (ISO 160 is the best, and ISO 320 is acceptable). For that reason, I chose to shoot uncompressed RAW files. You can learn more about shooting uncompressed RAW with the M8 here

I was very happy to confirm once again, that RAW files will give you a cleaner image at higher ISO’s and you also gain more detail in the shadows. The disadvantage is that takes a lot of time (about 10 seconds) to write each image to the card, but I can live with it. 

Here are the images (click on photo to see large size).

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.




 

 

 

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Uncompressed RAW files with the Leica M8

The Leica M8 is 10 years old, yet it remains my favorite digital camera. I love shooting with rangefinders, and the M8 has served me well over the years, and still does. The sensor has a  very thing IR filter and produces razor sharp photos and has a distinctive look (being a CCD sensor). It is also a great infrared camera which can be shot handheld at decent shutter speeds, so I don’t need a tripod with me. Finally, I consider it’s black and white converted files to be the best of any other camera, probably due to the lack of a proper IR cut filter on the sensor.

10 megapixels are enough for me, more than adequate for the web, and I have printed at 45x30cm without any problems. The two main problems I had with this camera, is the low light performance which is not good at all and the 8-bit DNG files actually there’s a third one, the awful LCD screen, but that really does not bother me!)

I recently started to experiment with 14-bit RAW files on the Leica M8. If you visit http://m8raw2dng.de/ you will find out how to shoot uncompressed RAW files with the Leica M8. The site has all the files and tutorials needed, so I won’t get into many details.

In a few words, you enter M8’s service mode (by pressing 4 time the right arrow key, 3 times the left arrow key, 1 time the right arrow key and finally the SET button), and choose JPEG+RAW files. Then you import the files into the computer, run the software and it will convert the RAW file to 14-bit DNG’s. 

It’s not a very simple process, but it gives you the chance to shoot uncompressed RAW, which I consider to be a great upgrade for a 10 years old camera.

Shooting RAW requires times for the camera to write the file into the SD card. It takes about 10 seconds, so you have to go easy. I don’t really mind that for the times where I will need the RAW quality.

What I have found from my own experience, is that you gain more detail in the shadows and more important for me, ISO 1250 much better than the DNG file. It produces less color noise , so it’s easier to produce good files. With the DNG, I considered ISO 640 to be the highest acceptable. Even at ISO 2500 you can now get a decent image (and when converted to black and white its even better). 

This is really a great upgrade for me, and one stop difference on a camera like this is huge.  I will try to make a  comparison between DNG and RAW files and post it soon. For now, here’s a very simple example that shows the difference between DNG and RAW at ISO 1250 (click on image to see large size)

 

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.




 

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Plaubel Makina 67 with Kodak Portra 400

Images taken with Plaubel Makina 67 and Kodak Porta 400 film.

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For one more time, I have to say I am really impressed by the Portra 400 which is by all means, a superb film. Wonderful color, minimum grain for a ISO 400 emulsion and a huge dynamic range. The latitude of this film is very impressive and it helps to get great results even in the most contrasty scenes. I shot it a box speed, and it’s probably the only film I consider safe to do that.

I consider Portra 400 as the best all around color film for my 6×7 medium format camera. 

These photos were scanned with a Coolscan 9000. This is the best film scanner I have tested,  the results are simply at a different level than my flatbed Epson. It is very close to the Imacon scanners, and only a drum scanner or the Hasselblad Flextight can produce better images.  At 4000 dpi, I was able to print a 40 inches wide print with great detail, and I could go larger if I needed to. I don’t own the Coolscan anymore, I currently work with a humble Epson V500, but i can always send some good negatives to a scanning service If I need to.

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 The Nikkor 80mm of the Plaubel, has a soft contrast and reveals tones beautifully, and of course you can add contrast and saturation if you want to. This lens is not as sharp as the Mamiya 7 lenses, but I prefer it’s rendering, which comes very useful in portraiture, and of course this is a f2/.8 lens, which is considered fast for medium format. 

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At the image above, a lens hood would be very helpful, still I was impressed with the image I got, I really expected it to be completely washed out given the lighting conditions.

Overall, I find Portra 400 to be a fantastic film for those who want to shoot color with a medium format camera.

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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(c)2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.





 

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At Meteora with Nikon F801s and Ilford HP5

Meteora is a unique and wonderful location located above the city of Kalabaka, GREECE. I have visited and photographed Meteora many times and have used every possible combination of cameras and lenses. This time I had with me the Nikon F801s loaded with Ilford HP5. My lenses were the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and Nikon 24mm f/2.8 with an orange filter to enhance contrast.

(click on images to see larger size)

Meteora is a location where you can try shooting color, black and white and infrared images, the scenery allows for any kind of experimentation you can think of and still get good images. I have used digital cameras, and film cameras ranging from 35mm to medium and large format, and despite the fact that I have practically made thousand of images there over the years, I always find something interesting to shoot.

Ilford HP5 with the orange filter, has evident grain on 35mm format, but I really like the look of it. Still, if you don’t like much grain , you can shoot a slower film.

I rated HP5 at ISO 400 and developed the film with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X (10 minutes at 20C, one minute more than the chart suggests). Images were scanned with Epson V500.

Enjoy the rest of the images!

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.




 

 

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Nikon f801s with Ilford HP5 and red filter

A few images taken with the Nikon F801s and Ilford HP5 film. I used a red B+W 091 filter r on the lens to increase contrast. All images shot with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and Nikon 24mm f/2.8D lenses.

(click on images for larger size)

The Nikon F801s has a very reliable meter , which allows me to get proper exposure even at difficult lighting conditions. It requires much less effort than the Leica M6, which took me quite some time to figure out how to use the camera’s meter. 

My most uses lenses are the 24mm and 50mm, I also own an old 35-70mm which can be very versatile, but image quality is not in par with the primes, so I barely use it.

I rated Ilford HP5 at ISO 400 and developed for 10 minutes at 20C with Ilfotec DD-X (one minute more than suggested). I noticed that on some images there was heavy grain, which was more evident on the sky. I suspect that some times the camera’s meter gets fooled by the red filter (depending on the light conditions) and underexposes the shot. This is not uncommon with a red filter. 

One annoying thing when shooting a SLR camera with a red filter, is that you the viewfinder get a red cast and is darker. I was spoiled shooting rangefinders for so many years, where the viewfinder is not affected by the presence of a filter on the lens, so there were a couple of times where I had to remove the filter to compose properly. That of course would much better if I was shooting on a tripod.

A red filter can be too much for certain subjects, so for many situations, I prefer to use an orange filter which has a more subtle effect. 

Images were scanned on the Epson V500 scanner. As I have mentioned before, I get sharper images when I place the negatives directly on the scanner surface with a anti-newton glass on top of them to keep them flat.

Enjoy the rest of the images. 

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.

 



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Infrared Timelapse Video

A short infrared timelapse video shot with the Leica M8, Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f/4 and B+W 092 IR filter. 

Shooting a timelapse with the Leica M8 is not simple. It requires a laptop connected to the camera through USB cable. The only software that works is Apple’s Image Capture. I can choose the seconds between shots and it triggers the camera’s shutter.

Now, the strange thing. I can only operate the M8 in “timelapse mode” with the Image Capture software I have installed in my 10 years old Macbook Pro running Yosemite OS, but not in my newer laptop runnning Sierra OS. It seems a 10 years old camera also requires a 10 years old laptop to work !!! 

Images were imported i Capture One 9, a few adhustments applied, and then I batch imported them in Photoshop , in order to make the false color conversion, Finally, I imported the images in Fina Cut Pro X to make the timelapse video.

Not a simple process, by any means. Its sure would be much simple to get a IR converted camera with automatic interval and video mode, but for an occasional timelapse video, I don’t see the point, so the M8 works fine for me.

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.


 

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My last two images with Fotoman 612 camera

These are my last two photos I shot with the Fotoman 612 panoramic camera before I sold it a couple of years ago. Fotoman was a great camera with a Nikkor 90mm f/8 SW lens, and I really enjoyed shooting with it over the years. Images were taken with Kodak Portra 400 film (black and white conversion on the first image).

Click on images to see larger size.

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.




 

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