Landscape with Gaoersi 617 panoramic camera

(click on image to see large size).

Landscape photo taken at Plastiras Lake with a Gaoersi 6×17 panoramic camera and Nikkor 90mm f/4.5 SW lens. My film of choice was an old Kodak Portra 160VC (now discontinued). 

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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

 

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Shooting with a 8×10 large format pinhole camera

A pinhole camera is actually a box with a small hole which allows light to enter on film. There is no lens or any mechanisms, just a light-proof box with a hole. I have shot pinhole cameras like the Holga 120 WPC, and what you get is a very specific kind of image, no sharpness like a camera with a lens, but with a very interesting look.

What you see above is a 8×10 large format pinhole camera. A box which takes 8×10 sheet film, and a small hole on the front which translates to an f/400 aperture and a focal length about 15mm.

A f/400 aperture means that on a bright sunny day with an ISO 100 film you need about 5 seconds exposure. Add to that reciprocity failure, and you get the point, very long exposures!!

8×10 film is very expensive, I had purchased a few years ago two packs of film, Ilford FP4 and Provia 100F (and still have many sheets left, since I only shoot only a  few sheets  every year). The choice of FP4 was not really wise, a 400 ISO film would be more appropriate for a pinhole camera. Provia has excellent reciprocity behaviour so I don’t worry about that.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 210 seconds exposure)

I base my calculations on the Ilford chart formula: Ec=Em^1.48 (Ec is the corrected exposure, and Em is the measured exposure, in seconds). So far, it has proven quite accurate.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 9 seconds exposure)

This camera has no viewfinder, but I use an old Voigtlander 15mm viewfinder to determine my frame (not with the highest accuracy but at least you get a good feeling of what you are about to shoot. It helps a lot.

Since exposures are so long, a good and sturdy tripod is necessary to minimize camera movement. The image lacks the sharpness of a normal camera with a lens, so you don’t want to further decrease the image quality.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 15 seconds exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 240 seconds exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

The above image is my favourite from this camera. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the exposure time. I have made a contact print from this sheet, and it looked great.  

I develop the black and white sheets using the taco method in a Paterson tank. It works fine. 

I have only shot two sheets of Provia 100F slide film with this camera. The results were not good, but I believe it was my mistake, somewhere in the process of placing the exposed film on a box I allowed light to harm the sheet. You can see the effect on the two images below.

I am probably going to try and shoot again slide film with this camera in the near future. I hope with more consistent results this time. 

Overall, the whole experience of using a 8×10 pinhole camera is very enjoyable for me, you never really know how the images will turn out! It also easy to contact print the sheet and get a 8×10 size print. Full analog experience!!!

You can always start with a smaller sheet format , a 4×5 pinhole camera like the Harman Titan 4×5 for example. 

More images coming from this camera soon…

 

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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

 

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Sea Umbrellas

This is one of my favorite captures, sea umbrellas on a cold winter’s day. Image was taken with a Fuji GSW690iii camera and Ilford Pan F Plus film.

(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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Kastoria

A short video clip I shot at the beautiful city of Kastoria, GREECE with the Sony a7s.

©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Revisiting an old favorite: Ricoh GX200

The readers of this blog may remember that for quite some time the Ricoh GX200 was a favourite camera for me. An simple compact camera (well, not so simple for its era) which is about 10 years old now. Together with the Leica M, this was my favourite street photography camera. It allowed me to use it single handed (and being able to change settings) which was perfect for rainy days (it allowed me to hold the umbrella in one hand and the camera on the other!).

I always loved Ricoh cameras. I believe they made “cameras for photographers” if you know what I mean. The specific model may be outdated by today’s standards (it has a very small size sensor), but for its era it was really unique. It had RAW, a zoom lens (24-72mm equivalent), an intervalometer for timelapses, and many other “professional” settings. 

There were also very good accessories, like an external viewfinder and an add-on lens caps which opened and closed when you turned the camera on and off.

I recently took the GX200 out of the closet after many years, the battery was still 50% charged (!!!), and I took some photos. This camera has a 1/1.7-inc CCD sensor, which means lousy ISO performance, but the black and white JPEG is really superb.

In many occasions you can mistake it for a film photo, and only the Leica M8 can come close to this “filmic” black and white look. This is exactly the look I want from my black and white images.

Of course, I don’t expect these images to look good in a large size print, but for the web and small prints it can do the job.

I have really enjoyed shooting with this old camera, and the size which is tiny helps carrying it in your pocket. So, I may soon try some more photos with it.

(click on image 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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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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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.

20140415-125001.jpg

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. 

20140415-130451.jpg

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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