Painting with light and the Mamiya C33

I am still rocking this camera since my last post. In fact now I have two of them. One Mamiya C33 I will be running black and white film through it and the other I will continue to run color film through it. Plus, if one ever breaks I have a back up camera! Yay!

It has been an interesting few months learning the C33 and getting used to what it can and can’t do well. I have been mostly using Kodak Portra films and having them professionally developed and scanned. The results have been amazing and very satisfying for me. It has become my go to camera when my wife and I go out and about exploring. However after seeing the results from one of our trips to the Chicago Botanic gardens, I am going to have to take what I can do with this camera way more seriously. I was able to create art! I am an artist by trade but this was the first time that I felt I had made a painting using light and film. I will be pursuing this more in the future with the C33.

The magic came from using the Mamiya lenses almost wide open, mixing it with beautiful natural light and choosing the right film to paint the colors. In this case it was Kodak Ektar film. The subject was the lily display at the gardens. In most of the area the light was strong midday lighting but in a couple of spots there was shade with some spattered lighting sneaking through. I tend to use this camera on a monopod all of the time because of it’s size and weight. It helps keep it steady for the slower shutter speeds. Very little work is done to the scans afterwards other than dust removal and maybe some curve adjustments. Everything is done in camera at the moment it clicks. I have added a couple of other photos to this post for you to see what you can do with this camera.

Happy wanderings and long live film!

The Mamiya C33

It’s been a long time since my last post. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone has left and wouldn’t blame you. However there is a new camera in my collection that I think is worth people knowing about so here we go! The Mamiya C33! It’s Mamiya’s answer to the Rolleiflex. Like all Mamiya cameras, it is built like a tank. If you have handled an RB67 or an old 645 1000s by Mamiya, they are all solid hunks of metal and the C33 doesn’t stray from that lineage.

It is quite a bit larger than the Rolleiflex and heavier so you won’t be quite as nimble with it. I have found a simple monopod helps quite nicely in keeping the camera steady. Mine came with the standard chrome version 80mm, 2.8 lens which is a very sharp lens. The great thing about the Mamiya vs. the Rolleiflex is you can change lenses on the Mamiya and it usually sells for a lot cheaper price! I picked mine up and also added two lenses to the kit for a lot less money than I would have spent on just a Rolleiflex 2.8 or even 3.5 camera.

But is it any good you ask? I have been pleasantly surprised and actually thrilled with the results. I have shot with a TLR before, I own two Rolleicords and love this type of camera. The Mamiya gave me a chance to try a TLR with a 2.8 lens without breaking the bank and it did not disappoint. The other two lensed I picked up were the 65mm and the 180mm. The 180mm is not the Super version and yet it is very sharp. I am waiting to get the film back where I shot the 65mm but I am expecting the same results. All the lenses have leaf shutters built into them. The camera also operates with a bellows system which allows one to focus really closely for detail type photos.

The Mamiya is quite the bargain in TLR cameras but the results I feel match the best of them. Happy wanderings!

Chasing the light with Ektar 100

Photography by it’s very definition is painting with light. As a photographer it seems that we do a lot more chasing of that light than painting with it. Landscape photographers are always chasing the sunrise and sunsets. I’ve done my fare share of that. For me great light can happen anytime and anyplace. The light can me made by nature or man made. I have created the wonderful light myself when it didn’t already exist in the situation being photographed.

They say the golden hours are the best time for photos and to some extent those time tables can certainly put the odds in your favor for getting beautiful light. In this case it was morning but it was already getting past what is considered the golden hour. On this day I was chasing the fog as much as I was the light. I needed the sun to be a little higher in the sky for the dramatic look I was hoping to capture.

With my camera backpack in hand I headed off to a nearby forest where I knew the sun would break through the fog with a cool effect. On the way I passed this cemetery and instantly went to plan B, which required a U-turn on my part a race back to the cemetery. As a photographer if nothing else you need to be flexible.

I had never explored this cemetery so I had to scout it out quickly before I lost my light. I knew this event wouldn’t last long. I drove to the back end of the cemetery and there the light was just streaming through the trees like you see in these photos. It was amazing! I loaded my camera with Kodak Ektar 100 in the hopes for more saturated colors but I was worried if it would have enough latitude to capture everything. I ended up really liking the look. I shot off one roll in less than 30 minutes and the light was gone along with the fog.

While I was taking these photos a woman walking her dog came up to me and asked “what are you taking photos of?” Probably curious as to why anyone would want to shoot in a cemetery. With what must have been an incredulous look on my face I stammered “well the gorgeous light of course!” She looked in the direction I was pointing and her eyes widened and she said ” oh my that is amazing!”

This morning I chased the light and received it by the bucket full. I was looking for things that other people would walk by and not even notice. Beautiful things.

Happy wandering.

All photos were shot on a Mamiya M645 and the film was developed and scanned by Indie Film Lab.

The nectar of Ektar

I cheated on my family vacation. Yes I confess I tried a different film other than my beloved Portra films. If that wasn’t bad enough I cheated within the same family, the Kodak family that is. The allure of the vibrant colors that one was supposed to get from Ektar made me stray from my more plain and quiet film Portra. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Portra and always will but it was time to try something new.

All kidding aside I do love the portra films. I almost always get the results I want shooting that film. In this digital world of over saturated color, I have found the Portra films to be more realistic in what I see color wise. If I want a bit more color out them I just bump the saturation a bit on the post processing side, but not by much. The exposure latitude of these films are amazing. I tend to over expose them a bit and usually meter for the shadow  or shaded areas. For Portra 160 I rate it at 120 and for Portra 400 I rate it at 320.  Some photographers take it farther than that but I am not looking for pastel colors I am just looking to open up the shadows a bit. Portra is known for just that, portrait photography, but I have been using it for landscapes as well and love the results. It makes my photos feel like the old Master’s paintings of the american landscape.

Enter Kodak Ektar 100. I only shot one roll on vacation and the rest of the time stayed with my tried and true Portra. I rated the 100 speed film at 80 and then metered the same way I meter for Portra.  Above you see some of the results. All and all I really like the film. It certainly does have a different feel to it. It reminds me more of slide film and has a bit less exposure latitude than the Portra films. With that said though, I metered incorrectly for the deep woods shots and over exposed them quite a bit. I was able to pull them back in with my post processing and still get a nice photo. Impressive. What I was most amazed with was the sharpness in detail. Wow! Big prints would not be a problem with this film at all. It gives digital a serious run for it’s money with the amount of detail recorded.

I’ve read people having trouble scanning the film and getting good colors from it. All of my film goes to Indie Film Lab and they did an outstanding job of the processing and scanning. One thing I did notice, which was no fault of the lab, was that the blues have a heavy cyan look to them. Your really see it in your skies. It looks a bit fake. More internet research revealed that a lot of photographers feel the film needs to be used with warming filters to help get the correct color. That information was too late for this roll so I added a 81a filter tone to them in photoshop. Sure enough it helped pull the cyan back into reality. My 81a filter is now packed with my other filters in my camera backpack.

So will I cheat on my Portra film again? Let’s just say the nectar of Ektar will become very attractive around the fall season.  Happy wanderings!