“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”

The above sentence translates to “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
That sums up my 2016 regarding film photography.

I can’t remember being so long without using film cameras and shooting film and that fact is, of course, tied down to having changed my income activity from graphic design to  photography.

Back in 2014 I was shooting and developing two rolls a day, yes, every single day!
(Those who follow this little blog know that the goal was to feed Cooking Film with experiments and examples of films/developers combinations.)

Changing my main income activity makes me shoot a loot more and to edit a lot more. My clients don’t care about the “visual poetry of film”. They care about the result and, many times, the result is not a photograph, it’s a visual product.

That is fine, those are the rules. The clients play the tune and I dance to it. I know my way around the digital tools and I have no problem in meeting the clients desire. I don’t aim to be like Paolo Roversi, or Dan Winters, or Anton Corbjin… I don’t have their talent and I’m just starting to build a name for myself and I’m already too late at it.

I know it will not be a name connected to talent but, I hope, very much connected to competence.

The bottom line is getting home too tired to even think about photography. I don’t have the mental energy to pick up a film camera. I need to reboot. My 9 to 5 is what it is but I need to find that extra bit of energy to keep shooting film.

Many of you know the following story but I’ll write it anyway because it means a lot to me and I often go back to it when I need to restart.

A few years ago I sold my Leica D-Lux 3 (amazing camera) and bought the Leica X1. It was such a bad, bad decision. I hated everything about it and instead of making me want to shoot more, it almost made me give up the whole photography thing.

Luckily I came across the work of two amazing pinhole users on Flickr (thank you Nhung and thank you Wayne). Everything changed! I discovered new possibilities and also a new camera, the Zero Image 2000.

And that was a (photographic) life changing event!

I never use the Zero on a tripod and, as you can guess, exposing for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds, hand held, can produce some pretty… abstract stuff. To me that was magical. I couldn’t care less about the results, I was enjoying the process.

In a couple of weeks I’ll take a few days off. I’m planning a little road trip with my son and I will take the Zero 2000 along.

Zero 2000 means fun, means letting light do the whole thing. Means I can just relax, enjoy and uncover/cover the pinhole from time to time.

 

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Every picture I take is a wish not a capture of reality.

Let me share two pictures with you as an example.

This is my father. The first picture was taken with the digital Canon 5D and the cheap 50mm/f1.8 and yes… I’m going to say it… straight out of the camera!

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Okay… it’s a pretty nice picture, the day was kind of cloudy, the camera did a good job, maybe a bit on the underexposed side. My fault but I was not aiming for an artistic capture, just a casual snap.

This is the second picture.

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My father holding a baby rabbit. It was taken with the Contax 645AF. It was a sunny day and we were in the shade. The camera did a great job and, again, I was not aiming for an artistic picture, just another casual snap.

When I look at both I feel the Contax one more appealing as a “photograph”. The digital one only has sentimental value, the second one has both sentimental and photographic value. Why?

I can imagine having the Contax picture hanging on a wall and the digital one kept in a family album. Why?

When it comes to photography both were made carelessly, both were made for that family album however, one looks so much more special.

Is it the lens? The “famous” bokeh? Is is the light? Does my father look better? Is it a better angle? Is it the rabbit?

Is it the simple fact that being in black and white adds an extra layer of seriousness?

Even my father likes the Contax one better. Why?

Well, reality is boring and the black and white image is the further from reality and that’s why I like it better as a photograph.

Let me give you another example. This is my son.

The first shot was taken with the (sweet) Ricoh GrD3. The second one was taken with the Zeiss Ikon Nettar.

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Again. Which picture do I like the best?

As photographs they should have the same visual value but they don’t, why?

Why do I keep on liking the ones further from reality?

Why do I feel that my pictures do look better in black and white? One is as good or as bad as the other.

The truth is, my pictures do look better in black and white and that’s why I don’t use digital cameras to capture these personal moments or other kind of personal images I make.

Reality is too… raw. Too real, too accurate. I don’t like it. I aim to capture it in many ways but only as the raw material to work on.

Every picture I take is a wish not a capture of reality.

At the end of the day, when developing and scanning (or printing the negatives) my black and white pictures are a pretty good hiding place for my lack of inspiration and talent but, at the same time, it is my black and white photography that comes closer to the visual approach I like when it comes to image making.

As usual, please forgive my limited English.

I’ve never been a great fan of the Hp5+.

I mean, I’ve had some decent results with it but I always feel that it’s too cold. It lacks the depth and the spirit of the Delta 400 or Trix.

Kodak Trix 400 is like a sprinkle of cinnamon on a hot apple pie slice. It’s smooth, warm. It has depth.

Ilford HP5+ is like a lemon slush on a cold afternoon.

(I’m no photographer as you all know and I don’t know how to express myself using technical terms however, I use the films, I develop them, I scan them and I print them in the darkroom, and these are the therms I know to share my thoughts.)

On the other hand I absolutely love using HP5+ pushed to 1600 or 3200 or 6400! That’s when those blacks really start to show up. Well it all depends, of course, of what we want from our pictures.

I’m just saying that the HP5+ is not my favorite 400 ISO film, to use at 400, and despite being very good when pushed it is not, still, my favorite film to push.

Trix is still my favorite film and choosing from the two Ilford offers I like the Delta 400 more than the HP5+.

Please do take all of the above stated with a huge grain of salt!

Here are the samples.

Gear:
Hasselblad 500CM
Recipe:
Ilford HP5+, Tmax Dev, 1+4, 7 min

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Gear:
Hasselblad 500CM
Recipe:
Ilford HP5+ @1600, Tmax Dev, 1+4, 11 min

 

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I have a passion for Holga cameras, however there’s this one camera I truly think it is a great all around medium format 6×6 camera, the Zeiss Ikon Nettar.
 
A couple of years ago I was at the airport boarding to Genève and, when going through the X-Ray machine, airport security stopped me because the X-ray caught an unusual object in my back pack.
 
It was the Nettar Zeis.
 
The police was immediately called and one of them reached inside my bag and grabbed the camera. It was the only time I called myself a photographer:
 
– It’s just a camera, I’m a photographer and I like using old cameras. I will show you, can I just press this button?
 
Guys, don’t ever, and I mean ever, say those words to a nervous policeman in an airport.
I was trying to press the button that unfolds the bellows and exposes the lens.

I did press it though and everything ended up well.

Here are some samples.
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Taken by my son, I’m the one in the white jacket.

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Hello guys

This is the first post on building a database of interesting samples (I hope) of manual focus lenses on a digital camera body.

I might add some personal comments about the performance of the lenses.

This lens is from the personal collection of my friend João Carlos so thank you a million times João.

These samples are from the Auto-Takumar 85mm.

Let me start by saying that any lens is a portrait lens. Personally and when it comes to express our artistic vision of someone through a portrait, anything goes. It all depends on what we want.

This first shot was taken using the Super-Takumar 50mm/f1.8. It’s not a bad shot, I think, it’s pretty much distortion free but it does not “flare” as nicely as the Helios.

On the other hand it has depth!

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Canon 5D and the Super-Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

Okay, the problem of using a 50mm lens for portraits is the distortion when shooting at close range.

Look at the next shot. See how the chin is distorted making her face longer?

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Canon 5D and the Super-Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

And now a somehow similar shot taken with the 85mm lens.

The perspective is corrected and it handled the flair in a nicer way. Look at the top of the image. I was shooting almost straight into the Sun and the light floods the image, love it.

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

Moving on to another location.

Again, this first shot was taken with the Super-Takumar 50mm lens. And… again… look at the distortion. That slight distortion is making her arms look “fatty”.

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Canon 5D and the Super-Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

This one was taken with the 85mm.

I love the short DOF and the way the focus breaks with the 85mm.

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

Here are some more samples from the 85mm Takumar. It is a very good lens and it performs nicely with an adapter.

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

Hello guys

A couple of months ago I was going back to the office after a photoshoot and when I took the camera out of the bag only half of the lens was attached to the body! Again!

I know I’m a cheap bastard but that was my third, yes, third, Canon EF 50mm/f1.8 lens that broke apart itself for no reason other than being poorly constructed as fuck.

My dear friend Filipe made me move my arse and look for another kind of solution. He lent me a Helios 44-M4 with a Canon EOS adapter with focus confirmation and told me to “use it”. (Index finger pointed at my nose!)

Of course I knew about the possibility of adapting older lenses to digital bodies, we all do. I read a zillion posts about it but… what’s the point?

Modern lenses are great and built to match digital sensors. The best ones are expensive but they are of good construction and pretty solid pieces of equipment.

So what’s the point?

What can a $20 Helios and a $10 adaptor give me so much better or so much different from a fast, accurate, solid, Canon 50/1.2?

I know some of you will laugh and some of you will think “what an arsehole” but the truth is it was love at, literally, first shot. The $20 Helios has spirit!

This was the first shot, shooting straight into the Sun. Couldn’t even get focus confirmation.

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Canon 5D and Helios 44-M4

 

I started re-reading all those articles and I got a Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8 the following days. Again, I loved the results. I loved how the shots are rendered and I love what those Raw files can deliver in editing.

Here are some examples taken with the Takumar.

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Canon 5D and the Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

I know this is a computer screen but the images are… thick. They have depth, they have something hard to explain but very noticeable when I look at the files.

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Canon 5D and the Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Super Takumar 50mm/f1.8

 

A 50mm Takumar in beautiful condition with front and back caps and an adapter, with focus confirmation, for $60!

The following deal was a Pentacon 50mm/f1.8. Yes, another 50mm. For another $60 I managed to buy an excellent condition classic lens.

The Pentacon is totally different from the Takumar. At f4, the Pentacon is razor sharp, the Takumar is round and soft (in a good way). Again, another old manual lens proving to have spirit!

 

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Canon 5D and the Pentacon 50mm/f1.8

 

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Canon 5D and the Pentacon 50mm/f1.8

 

Thanks to that simple adapter I’m now using new lenses and learning what they can deliver on specific situations.

Update: I now own a Takumar and a Pentacon, both 50mm.

While searching for an 85mm as a portrait lens fate put João Carlos on my path again.

João Carlos is a friend and a connoisseur. He also own hundreds of cameras and lenses and all kinds of adapters. João is also kind enough to let me try out his gear.

All of the sudden I have access to a collection of cameras and lenses that will take a lifetime to experiment. And that’s what we are going to do.

João will help me in creating posts about lenses and their use on digital bodies, adapters and yes film! Cooking Film will continue on trying to deliver, not so boring, samples from cameras, lenses and, of course, film related stuff.

With that being said, guess who has a Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8 I was looking for as a portrait lens? Yes, João.

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Canon 5D and the Auto-Takumar 85mm/f1.8

 

Here is a fast, fast sample form another goodie. An adapter to use Zeiss/Hasselblad V system lenses on the Canon 5D! Again thanks to João!

 

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New posts will follow, I’ll try to add something useful to the Cooking Film database.

As usual please forgive my limited English.

There’s a short tale by Italo Calvino that goes (pretty much) like this:

“Once upon a time a man was crossing a road and all of the sudden he started to see things as they really are.”

These words always come to my mind every time I use my beloved pinhole.

The pinhole sees slower. It drags things throughout time and space and, to me, that’s where the magic is.

What if things really leave a trace?

What if things are not isolated snaps but a whole fuid action and we can only see a fraction of it at a time?

What if I add more tobacco to the mixture?!

Nevermind…

Here are some images from the Zero Image 2000.

Gear:
Zero Image 2000

Recipe:
Ilford HP5+
Tmax Dev
1+4
7 min

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