Second analog shoot with Esther in Amsterdam

Posted by on Jun 16, 2019 in Film Photography, model shoots | No Comments

It’s been a while since I wrote something about a shoot, besides just posting the photos. But as part of my “experiments with film” – I figured I should. If only so I can remember what I did when I’m shooting next. But also because I do enjoy reading other people’s write-ups about their experiences with film and scanning. And perhaps sharing the details of how I go about scanning my negatives helps others (details at the bottom of this page).

On 6 June Esther and I met for another analog shoot (photos from our first shot are here). This time driving around Amsterdam Noord looking for locations. Esther is a great, creative and fun model to work with. We made a mood board for our shoot, but ended up not using it. When it comes to shooting, she’s a “go-with-the-flow” person – like I am. It’s great to be shooting with a model who’s flexible and who doesn’t mind not getting the instant feedback that we’re used to with digital. I tried different color and black & white film stocks, but decided to stick with Kodak only this time. I more or less know what to expect from these films by now – which ones to use under certain conditions, and when to over/under expose. Although Kodak Ektar is generally not recommended for portraits, it’s becoming one of my favorite films nonetheless – for portraits too.

I’m really enjoying using different older camera’s and the process of shooting film – especially medium format. And I think I’m starting to get the hang of it a bit more after having shot several test rolls. It is more costly and more time intensive, but it’s worth it. Nothing beats the anticipation, not knowing exactly what you’re going to get – and finally seeing your film come to live after digitising the negatives. I do find myself taking more time to compose my shots and to not press the button if I think a shot doesn’t quite work.

If you want to read about the digitising process for these files, I’ve added a paragraph about it at the bottom of this post.

Below are the photos taken with the Pentax 67 (medium format 6×7) and the standard manual focus 90mm 2.8. I recently picked up the 165mm 2.8 for portraits, but I didn’t use it this shoot. The black and white ones are on Kodak Trix 400 and the color ones are shot on Kodak Ektar 100. The Pentax has a metered finder but it’s a bit unreliable – so I metered most shots using the MyLightMeter iPhone app which works well. I bought the PRO version which is about 5 Euro in the app store if I remember it well. You get only 10 shots on a roll of 120 with the Pentax 67, and I did lose a few frames because of a light leak. That was a bit of a surprise because I did shoot a test roll with the Pentax before, and it didn’t show any light leaks then. This issue is hopefully fixed now as new seals have been added to the back. These things happen when you shoot old camera’s, it’s all part of the game. Incidentally, I think the first black and white photo below is my absolute favorite.

The shots below were taken with the Mamiya 645 and a 80mm 2.8 lens (medium format 6×4.5).  The color photos are on Kodak Portra 160. The black and white photos were shot on Kodak Trix 400 (out doors) and Kodak TMax 100 (studio). The studio shots were lit with a double diffused Rotalux 150cm octabox and a ELC1000 studio strobe camera left. I used an Elinchrom Skyport to trigger the strobe at the standard Mamiya AFD sync speed of 1/125 (it has a focal plane shutter, so no high speed sync). The Skyport is connected with a cable to the camera’s synchro terminal, not the hot-shoe.

The below gallery was shot using a Hasselblad 503cx and the standard manual focus 80mm Planar (medium format 6×6). The film is Kodak Ektar 100. I metered with the myLightMeter app.

Lastly, the below photos were taken with my recently acquired Nikon F5 – on Kodak Portra 400 135 film. I got the F5 because although I do like shooting manual focus lenses, the F5 works with all modern auto focus Nikkor lenses – including the G lenses that I’ve bought over the years. I used the 50mm 1.4G for these shots. The F5 is the one-before-last professional film camera Nikon made before going digital only. I don’t own the last one (Nikon F6), but I doubt it’s any better than the F5. The format of the 35mm files feels almost awkward after shooting and scanning a lot of medium format film, but the F5 is a joy to use. Being able to rely on its auto focus is a big plus to me.

 

As always, I had my film developed by Fotolab Kiekie in Amsterdam. The negatives were “scanned” with a Nikon D850 as RAW files white balanced at 2500K / ISO100. I generally use aperture priority mode @ f9 – and setting the exposure compensation to +1 does seem to result in a more evenly distributed histogram. I shoot tethered with Capture One so that I can use Live view to zoom in on the grain and to get the files on my Mac without having to copy anything when I’m done. The 35mm negatives were photographed with a Nikon ES-2 adapter on a 60mm Nikkor, and the medium format negatives were photographed using a Nikkor 105mm macro. I used a Kaiser Slimlite Plano light panel to back-light the negatives.

Below are a few iPhone set-up photos of scanning the 35mm film with the ES-2 adapter, and scanning the medium format film with the negatives directly on the light panel. For MF, stray light is blocked with black cardboard and the negatives are kept in place and flat by weighing them down with two heavy watch stands – finally a good use for those :). Putting the negatives directly on the light panel can cause Newton rings – and I did get those in about three of the scans. I was able to fix that in post. I’m still looking for a better solution. Having tried the Lomography medium format film holder, I can say I don’t like it. Regardless of how it’s advertised, it just doesn’t keep the film flat. I also tried Epson V850 holders, but the AN glass in those is a dust magnet and it scratches too easily. I’m probably going to order a piece of AN glass to put between the light panel and the negatives to see if that helps, if I can find any in The Netherlands. In one of the photos (the 4th) you can see the anti-static brush from Kinetronics. I used this for the first time to gently wipe the negatives, and it does help a lot. Much less dust removing to do in post. The level in the camera’s hot shoe – that you can see in the first photo – is used to align the camera as good as I can with the film plane. That’s only necessary for the medium format film because with the Nikon ES-2 adapter for 35mm film, it’s automatically properly aligned.

Finally, all files were converted with the Negative Lab Pro 2.0 plugin for Lightroom. I already liked the previous version, but the recently released version 2.0 is a huge improvement – much less finicky and easier to get the colors right. The colors that you get are of course an interpretation. It’s a matter of of changing the plugin’s settings and sliders until I think it looks nice, not necessarily “natural” looking. In any case, I highly recommend Negative Lab Pro. It has its own helpful user group on Facebook and it’s supported by a very driven and supportive developer/photographer. Post processing was kept to a minimum and basically involved not much more than dust removal, color correction and cropping of a few of the files.

Model: Esther van Rijn
Location: Amsterdam
Gear: Pentax 67 90mm 2.8, Nikon F5 50mm 1.4, Mamiya 645AFD 80mm 2.8, Hasselblad 503cx 80mm Planar
Film: Kodak Ektar 100 (6×7), Kodak Portra 160 (645), Kodak Portra 400 (35mm), Kodak Tri-X 400 (6×7), Kodak 100TMX (645)
Light: Elinchrom 150cm octabox for the B&W studio shots, everything else ambient light only.

 

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