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Alabama 2023, Part V, Magnolia Springs

August 21, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Even the last road trip's photographs are now growing old without being seen. The couple I am sharing today are from almost the same place. One beautiful old oak tree alley from its two sides. First, we're looking one way in color.

Old Oak Trees of Oak Street, Magnolia Springs, AlabamaOld Oak Trees of Oak StreetAlabama

Old Oak Trees of Oak Street, Magnolia Springs, Alabama

And then we are looking the other way in black and white. Old trees may be a photographic cliche, but I really do not care. Finding a beautiful old tree is always a good reason to bring the camera to my eye and click the shutter. And the oak trees of the American South are gorgeous. Their crowns tend to create these beautiful tree tunnels. Add some Spanish Moss and the Southern vibe is complete (even if it's neither Spanish nor moss)!

Oak Alley at Oak Street, Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Nikon FE, Ilford Delta 100 black and white film, D-23 developer.Oak Alley at Oak StreetAlabama

Oak Alley at Oak Street, Magnolia Springs, Alabama
Nikon FE, Ilford Delta 100, D-23 7 minutes

Alright, that's it for today's duo from our 2023 road trip to Alabama. Which version do you like more? Color? Black and white?

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Alabama 2023 Series: Part I, Houses on StiltsPart II, Ends of Day, Part III, A Hop to Pensacola, FloridaPart IV, Mardi GrasPart V, Magnolia Springs

Seville Quarter, Downtown Pensacola, FloridaSeville QuarterPensacola, Florida Plaza Ferdinand VII Sculpture, Downtown Pensacola, Florida. Nikon FE, Ilford Delta 100 Film, D-23.Plaza Ferdinand VII Sculpture, Pensacola, FloridaAlabama Office and Palm Trees, Paradise Isle Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama.Office & Palm TreesGulf Shores, Alabama


Cyanotypes XIII: American History

August 07, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Rolleiflex Automat, 120 Medium Format TLR Camera from the 1940sRolleiflex AutomatMedium Format Welcome to the 13th edition of Cyanotypes. In 2022 we made a family road trip to Virginia to see and learn more about some key places of the American history: Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, and the surrounding area. It felt right having the film cameras with me even though even those were too modern for the subject matter.

I changed things up a little bit on this trip and left my trusty 35mm Nikon FE at home. For black and white photographs it was replaced with a World War II era Rolleiflex Automat. To document the family trip in color the plastic fantastic Nikon N75 came along. Auto-focus comes handy for quick snapshots and to make sure family members are in focus even when things happen fast. And for the historical photos when time allowed the Rolleiflex was a great companion.

Another thing I usually do not do for trips like this but did on this one was bringing a mix of film. I prefer limited choices and familiar film but had some film laying around I wanted to try and did not get to it and so it went on the trip. I had the Cinestill BwXX (Double-X), Berger Pancro 400, Fomapan 400, and Fomapan 200.

Smith's Fort Cyanotype, Surry, Virginia, United States.Smith's FortCyanotype

Smith's Fort Cyanotype, Surry, Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper

Even though I have to admit the film choice was probably completely irrelevant for today's post. The rough texture of the Shizen Design watercolor paper ends up having so much more influence over the look of the print that any black and white film would most likely end up looking similar. All of my cyanotypes so far have been from 135 or 120 film, scanned, and turned into a large negative printed on an inkjet printer. Thus the thought about the insignificance of film. When at some point I contact print some of my 4" x 5" or 5" x 7" large format negatives, the film choice will certainly matter. Cyanotypes love low contrast negatives.

Smith's Fort, Surry, Virginia, United States, Toned CyanotypeSmith's FortToned Cyanotype

Smith's Fort Cyanotype, Surry, Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper, Toned in Wine Tannin

Today, you are looking at three pairs of cyanotype prints. The first one of each pair is the traditional blue print one gets after an ultraviolet exposure and a development in water. The second print of each pair has been dried for 24 hours to allow for a complete oxidation, then fully bleached, washed and toned in wine tannin. In both versions the imperfect vintage look is preserved, yet, each come with their own mood.

Fence at New Town, Jamestown, Virginia, United States, CyanotypeFence at New Town, JamestownCyanotype

Fence at New Town, Jamestown, Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper

When it comes to toning, the choice of paper seems to be very important. Even though this is the 13th edition of me blogging about cyanotypes and the first one was back on August 11, 2021 - wow, almost exactly 2 years ago - I feel I am still barely scratching the surface and there is so much more to learn. I have already learned, though, that some papers stain pretty heavily during toning and both highlights and shadows take on the tones of the toner. I experienced that with black, green, and white teas. White tea seemed to be the most forgiving probably due to an overall subtle stain. The same happened with red wine and also with wine tannin. The paper all six of todays prints were printed on is a perfect match from that point of view. The shadows stain wonderfully and the highlights stay clean.

Fence at New Town, Jamestown, Virginia, United States, Toned CyanotypeFence at New Town, JamestownToned Cyanotype

Fence at New Town, Jamestown, Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper, Toned in Wine Tannin

With the last pair we already left the main destination of our expedition and were headed back towards Buffalo, NY. There was a semi-planned stop along the way in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to supplement our knowledge of John Brown and the events of 1859.

John Brown's Fort, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, CyanotypeJohn Brown's FortCyanotype

John Brown's Fort, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper

The arsenal’s engine house that served as Brown's last hold out is no longer at its original location and was actually moved four times as far as Chicago, IL, but found its way back to within a stone's throw of where it started.

John Brown Fort, Harpers Ferry, United States, Toned CyanotypeJohn Brown FortToned Cyanotype

John Brown's Fort, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, United States, An Original Hand-Made 5" x 7" Cyanotype
Chemically Printed on a Hand-Coated Textured Shizen Design Watercolor Paper, Toned in Wine Tannin

Which versions do you prefer? The blue? The brown? I'd love to hear from you so don't hesitate and drop a comment on this post.

Thanks for visiting, hope you'll be back :-)

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

Previous posts in the Cyanotypes series: 1. First Cyanotype - 2. More Cyanotypes - 3. Highlands Cyanotypes - 4. How do Cyanotypes Happen? - 5. Cyanotypes V: Tweaking the Curve - 6. Cyanotypes VI: Toning - 7. Cyanotypes VII: More Toning - 8. Cyanotypes VIII: Toning Different Papers - 9. Cyanotypes IX: Horní Rozsíčky - 10. Cyanotypes X: From Black and White or Color - 11. Cyanotypes XI: Moravian Countryside - 12. Cyanotypes XII: Prague Castle - 13. Cyanotypes XIII: American History

If you like cyanotypes, you can explore the Cyanotypes Photo Gallery dedicated to my growing collection of them. Would you like to browse through traditional darkroom wet prints? Visit my Darkroom Photo Gallery and enjoy!

Bird Island Pier Cyanotype, Buffalo, New YorkBird Island PierCyanotype Chautauqua Belle Steamboat, Meeden Cyanotype, an original hand-made 5" x 7" cyanotype print from the Chautauqua Lake, New York.Chautauqua Belle SteamboatMeeden Cyanotype BUFFALO Cyanotype, Buffalo, New York.BUFFALOCyanotype


SilverFast iSRD Fighting Remjet

July 24, 2023  •  2 Comments

Zorki 4 in East AuroraZorki 4East Aurora While I made the mistake of letting this post sit for too long again, I believe this was my first time using a 35mm movie film with a remjet layer. Specifically, the photographs here were photographed with a 35mm Zorki 4 camera on 35mm Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative film.

The first difference was that the film is designed for development in ECN2. All of my color development so far has been done in C-41. In theory, even the 250D can be developed in C-41 but my understanding is that its sensitivity would then be more around ISO 400 rather than 250. I also wanted to try the native process instead of cross-processing in different chemicals. No problem, I got myself one of the ECN2 KITs and since the steps are similar to the C-41 KITs this did not pose a problem.

However, another differentiating feature of movie film is that it is coated with a black remjet that needs to be removed during processing. Automated minilabs had water jets on both sides of the film to wash the coating and quickly carry it away from the film. My home environment does not offer that luxury. What now?

Gingerich Auto Care, East Aurora - iSRD OFF, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2.Gingerich Auto Care, East AuroraiSRD OFF

Gingerich Auto Care, East Aurora - iSRD OFF
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

In theory, a simple prewash in baking soda should soften the remjet and wash it off the film. However, it stays in the developing tank until the water is dumped. There is so much theory on the Internet about how to make this effective that it is hard to choose what method to go with. Some say to do several normal inversions, dump, repeat until the water runs clear. Others advise vigorous shaking, followed by thorough washing. There are even people who don't do a prewash at all, develop their film, and then physically wash the remjet off the film at the end of the cycle either with a fiber cloth or with their thumb!

Gingerich Auto Care, East Aurora - iSRD ON, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2Gingerich Auto Care, East AuroraiSRD ON

Gingerich Auto Care, East Aurora - iSRD ON
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

For this first attempt at movie film, I tried the baking soda prewash and if my memory serves me well the vigorous shaking method. Everything seemed to go well as a lot of "dirt" came off when I dumped the baking soda solution. I refilled and emptied the tank several times until the water came out completely clear. Then the two developers and fix with washing in between each step. The ECN2 process was more demanding on water than C-41 for sure. The prewash and two extra thorough washes during the process definitely result in a higher consumption.

Little Red Caboose, East Aurora - iSRD OFF, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2Little Red Caboose, East AuroraiSRD OFF

Little Red Caboose, East Aurora - iSRD OFF
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

When I hung the film to dry all seemed well. However, when I started scanning, I saw problems right away. There were specs all over like it snowed ash on the film. I was familiar with dust spots, water residue, or leftovers from a wetting agent but this was so much worse! There were so many specs! There was no way I would manually retouch them one at a time. If automation was not available, I would have written the roll off as an unsuccessful attempt and moved on.

Little Red Caboose, East Aurora - iSRD ON, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2Little Red Caboose, East AuroraiSRD ON

Little Red Caboose, East Aurora - iSRD ON
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

While a lot of people are happy with and promote digitizing film with digital cameras and macro set ups, I use a dedicated Plustek scanner along with SilverFast software. The scanner offers IR scanning that the software's iSRD can use for automated spotting. While the use of it doubles the scanning time, which is slow to begin with, I usually have it on with all color negative film. It can't successfully be used with black and white negatives due to the film density preventing a successful infrared scan.

Taste & Red's, East Aurora - iSRD OFF, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2Taste & Red's, East AuroraiSRD OFF

Taste & Red's, East Aurora - iSRD OFF
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

I figured why not try what it would be capable of in this extreme case. I turned iSRD on and let it do its magic. Were the results perfect? Absolutely not. But in my opinion, they were better than good enough and all of a sudden, the photographs were usable with minimum number of specs. I am really glad that was the case as I really liked the colors the film and ECN2 gave me. It created a whole different mood for these photographs from East Aurora, New York, compared to my previous many rolls from that beautiful village.

Throughout this post I am sharing three pairs of photographs. In each pair, one image is scanned without iSRD and the other one with iSRD. Feel free to click into them to see them large and compare. I did not do any additional manual spotting.

Taste & Red's, East Aurora - iSRD ON, Kodak Vision 3 250D, ECN2Taste & Red's, East AuroraiSRD ON

Taste & Red's, East Aurora - iSRD ON
35mm Zorki 4 camera, Kodak Vision 3 250D color negative movie film, ECN2 developer

In my mind, the availability of infrared scanning and automated dust and scratch removal gives the old-fashioned scanners an edge over digital camera scanning. Sure, it also has disadvantages and everyone will end up choosing what works for them but in this not so successful remjet wash I sure was grateful for the automation.

What advice would you give for remjet removal? Do you have a solution to automated spotting with digital camera digitization? Or do you have any questions or other comments? Please, drop me a comment on this post, I would love to hear from you.

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy


Different Take on July 4 Fireworks

July 10, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

July 4 Fireworks, Niagara Falls, 2006July 4 FireworksNiagara Falls, 2006 It has been a long while since I photographed any fireworks. My most memorable ones from the past were at Niagara Falls where I aimed for perfection with a combined landscape below and fireworks above, a wide-angle lens, my camera firmly on a tripod, remote release, and probably several other things to try to come up with the best possible landscape photo featuring fireworks. I wanted to stay vague here saying that it has been a long while. It has been indeed but instead of staying vague I bothered looking that set of photographs up and it was in 2006, very early in my photographic journey! I really got heavily into photography in 2005 so that was only about a year in. However, that is a whole different topic.

What I was getting at here was that I have not really photographed fireworks since. I am just not into them, they seem like a monster waste of money, and they create a lot of mess on the ground and in the air. Especially with the 2023 wildfires in Canada and a frequent bad air quality it felt even weirder this year to do all of this.

July 4 Fireworks, Two Bursts, Orchard Park, NYJuly 4 Fireworks, Two BurstsOrchard Park, NY

July 4 Fireworks, Two Bursts, Orchard Park, New York

However, since we went to see the July 4 parade in Orchard Park, NY I stayed for the fireworks too. And since I had the camera with me why not use it, right? I had a 50mm lens mounted and thus my photography was limited to the bursts alone without any foreground or ground level reference point. I have always felt that was a problem because the fireworks could have been anywhere without any recognizable foreground features.

July 4 Fireworks, Ghosts, Orchard Park, New YorkJuly 4 Fireworks, GhostsOrchard Park, New York

July 4 Fireworks, Ghosts, Orchard Park, New York

Maybe the lack of context encouraged me to think of other ways to be more creative rather than mechanically repeating what I did 17 years earlier (wow, that sounds so much worse than saying 2006). I decided to do these long exposures handheld. Why not, I thought. Since I had no stationary objects in my frame, the fireworks were moving objects anyway, and the background was almost black, why would there be a need for perfect stability? Sure, 10 - 20 seconds is quite a long time but why not?

July 4 Fireworks, Handheld Abstract, Orchard Park, New YorkJuly 4 Fireworks, Handheld AbstractOrchard Park, New York

July 4 Fireworks, Handheld Abstract, Orchard Park, New York

I had the Nikon D610 DSLR with me and during long exposures the mirror is lifted and one can't see anything through the viewfinder. Therefore, I used a trick often used with other optical instruments and kept both of my eyes open. I started by tracking the fireworks through the viewfinder and when it burst open, I'd initiate the long exposure and continue hunting for and tracking additional fireworks with my left eye, trying to move the camera along hoping it would somewhat point at what my left eye was seeing.

July 4 Fireworks, Squiggly, Orchard Park, New YorkJuly 4 Fireworks, SquigglyOrchard Park, New York

July 4 Fireworks, Squiggly, Orchard Park, New York

Initially, I tried to keep my hands steady following one, two, or three different fireworks. As time went on, I went crazier. I explored what would happen if I moved my hands up and down, left and right, or even turning the camera clockwise and back. I also tried going out of focus and back into focus during some exposures. The LCD confirmed that whatever I was doing was translating into the photographs, which encouraged me even more.

July 4 Fireworks, Rain, Orchard Park, New YorkJuly 4 Fireworks, RainOrchard Park, New York

July 4 Fireworks, Rain, Orchard Park, New York

From an exposure point of view, things were really easy this evening. Not including any foreground and having the almost black sky for a backdrop, I only needed to record and not overexpose the fireworks. Shutter speed had minimal impact on the exposure as the fireworks move and the source of light does not stay long enough in one spot for the exposure time to matter. Instead, the shutter speed only controlled how many different bursts I could catch in a single exposure. I found a sweet spot around 15 seconds which allowed for 2 - 3 bursts. Any longer and the result was too chaotic and less would mean single bursts only. To get the fireworks bright but not overexposed I had to work the aperture. I found that between F/16 and f/11 worked well this evening. That also provided enough depth of field for the infinity focus of the 50mm lens.

Conclusion? This was simple and a lot of fun! The results can vary from quite steady with predictable fireworks light trails to a complete mess of lines and anywhere in between.

Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! (#etbtsy)


Inverted Blog

July 03, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

A reader mentioned the gray on black was hard to read. While it seemed alright on a large desktop monitor, I had to agree it was not that great on a phone screen. Just for the blog pages I switched to an inverted black / gray on white. What do you all think? Drop me a guestbook entry if you have an opinion whether this made things better or worse.

For some reason, the reader view is not available. I will have to figure that one out too.

Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! #etbtsy

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