And the Place Goes Boom Tuesday, Oct 16 2012 

Two and a half years ago, on April 11, 2010, Dallas Cowboys blew up their old stadium, because they made a big new shiny one. They made the implosion a public event, and I was there with many hundreds of people who love to watch things blown up.

Texas Stadium Going "Boom!"

Texas Stadium Going “Boom!”

About six months earlier, I purchased the Canon 7D digital camera. One of the secondary reasons for the purchase was the amazing speed of the camera – it was advertised to be able to record eight frames per second. It’s not something you expect using all the time, but, for example, when you’re on a photo-safari hunting whales, it helps.

On this Sunday morning, I knew I’ll only have a few seconds before Texas Stadium falls down, so when the explosions started, I pressed the shutter and kept it pressed. One of the shots was this one, with two fiery explosions going off at the same time. The very next photo on my memory card, taken fraction of a second later, doesn’t have these fireballs.

Boom!

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Double White Line, Lewisville, TX Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Double White Line

Double White Line

The story behind this image might be my favorite photography story so far.

It begins with my purchase of the 70-200mm f/4L USM lens – I wanted to play around with the telephoto zoom, and this was one of the best bargains in Canon’s lineup. Fantastic image quality and great utility for a few hundred dollars. It was irresistible, and I loved it.

To test it out, I took it to a highway overpass to take some shots in the late afternoon light. I set up my tripod and had fun looking for a perfect long exposure shot, first on one side of the overpass, then on the other. A few people honked and I got a few looks, but I took it all in stride.

That is, until the police car pulled up next to me.

Canon Rebel XT with a 70-200mm f/4L USM lens

Canon Rebel XT with a 70-200mm f/4L USM lens

The officer couldn’t have been nicer. He said that there were a few 911 calls talking about a sniper on the highway overpass, so he came to check it out. I showed him that my Canon Rebel XT with the 70-200mm lens doesn’t look anything like a rifle, except for the fact that I “aim” it like a rifle and “shoot” with it.

We talked for a bit about photography, he laughed it off and left. I shot this shot a few minutes later.

Mamiya 645 1000S Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Once I started shooting 35mm film, I found that I was really enjoying the process and the result. Film makes you slow down, think about your shots, and as a result, you usually end up with better photos.

Mamiya 645 1000S

Mamiya 645 1000S

I got greedy, though, and I knew I wanted to get into medium format film. I stumbled upon a great deal on Craigslist and bought this Mamiya 645 1000S camera, with the 80mm lens, for $250. I even got an extra body, along with some knicknacks.

It was heavy and clumsy, and it took some getting used to, especially since there were some minor bugs that I had to learn the hard way. But I enjoyed the simplicity of it – manual focus, manual exposure, split level focus point, and a gigantic viewfinder. Most of all, I liked the huge image area – when the developed slides would come from the lab, it was just beautiful to look at.

Mamiya 645 1000S with the 25mm fisheye lens

Mamiya 645 1000S with the 25mm fisheye lens

I bought two other lenses for it; one was a slightly wider 45mm, which worked brilliantly, and the other was Mamiya-Sekor 24mm f/4 Fisheye ULD C, which was a mouthful to say, and a beast of a lens. It works out to be about 15mm on a regular film format (35mm), which is extremely wide.

I eventually sold all my 645 gear and traded up for the Mamiya 7 that I have now. I wrote a blog post when that camera was only a shy little wish list entry. Mamiya 7 is a 6×7 format, so it is slightly larger than the 6×4.5 format. The camera is also a rangefinder, so it’s more compact and easier to carry around. I’m still enjoying the medium format film, and I think I have a great camera; I may start getting some more lenses for it soon.

Forks, WA Saturday, Oct 13 2012 

I mentioned earlier that my friend Tyler and I went on a quick tour around the Washington state National Parks. For our visit to Olympic National Park, we decided to spend the night in one of the motels at the city of Forks. I don’t remember the name of the motel, but I do remember that it was the only one in the city that wasn’t Twilight-themed.

Forks = Vampires; LaPush = Werewolves

Forks = Vampires; LaPush = Werewolves

You see, in case by some miracle you didn’t know, the Twilight books are set in the Pacific Northwest. Tyler told me a story that, apparently, the author Stephanie Myers never visited the area, but picked Forks, because it was reported as the wettest city in the US, and she thought that would be an interesting setting for her books.

Not far away is the city of La Push, which apparently also features in the novels. This photo was taken in one of the diners in Forks; while waiting to pay our breakfast bill, I snapped it with my phone camera.

Belize Sunset Friday, Oct 12 2012 

Friday is a day for celebrating the end of the work week with simple posts.

A few years ago I went on a cruise around the Caribbean, with stops at Progreso and Cozumel in Mexico, and in Belize. The visit to Belize was particularly nice – I spent the morning shopping around Belize City, but in the afternoon I took a tour to one of the cays, which looked like one of those deserted islands you’d see in a cartoon – a patch of sand with a palm tree or two sticking out of it.

Belize Sunset

Belize Sunset

After we left Belize, the ship was going to take two full days to return to Galveston. I took one last look back and snapped this photo.

Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX Thursday, Oct 11 2012 

I mentioned recently that I had some fun shooting expired Kodak Portra 800 film a few years ago. The film expired in 2003, and the first effect of that was that the film lost at least a stop of light sensitivity. So, I exposed the following rolls at EI 400, which yielded much better results. The colors were still hit and miss – in the Desoto shot I posted earlier, they looked great, but they looked quite muted elsewhere.

Deep Ellum, expired film

Deep Ellum, expired film

In terms of content, the murals in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas depict two blues guitar icons, Robert Johnson, who famously sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads, and John Lee Hooker. The third painting seems to show a Dallas skyline, with a cat resting on the half moon above the city.

Final note: on this occasion, I went on a walk through Deep Ellum with two other local photographers, who were also shooting medium format film. It was one of them who gave me the idea to try developing my own film. The process of developing color print film is much more involved, but developing black and white film turned out to be pretty straightforward.

One Last Rome Post Wednesday, Oct 10 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

I meant to split this post in two, with one photo in each, but decided you probably had enough of Rome shots for a little while. So, I’m combining them into one post, so we can move to something else tomorrow.

Forum, film

Forum, film

First we have the Forum again, with Temple of Saturn in the foreground on the left and the Coliseum in the background on the right. I like the clarity of this shot, and the high-contrast afternoon light gives a more pleasing result here than in the color shot from a few weeks ago. There is, however, some banding in the sky that is probably a result of an uneven exposure to some chemicals during the development process. But it’s still a very nice shot overall.

Trevi Fountain, film

Trevi Fountain, film

The second shot is Trevi. Again unflattering, late morning light, but a slightly tighter composition brings up the majesty of the fountain a little better than the earlier shot. It also helps that there are no tourist heads at the bottom, but I’m really angry at the Rome municipal government for setting up that scaffolding on the left of the fountain.

Rome is my favorite city in the world. What’s yours?

St. Peter’s Basilica, Part Three Tuesday, Oct 9 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

This post might as well be titled “St. Peter’s Basilica, Part Two, Part Two”, because the photos featured here are just about the same as the ones I posted a few days ago.

St. Peter's Basilica, film

St. Peter’s Basilica, film

For the first photo, I climbed on a ledge of the obelisk in the center of the St. Peter’s Square, but I still had to crop off some tourists’ heads at the bottom of the frame, which made the photo a little wider than the natural 6×7 format of the Mamiya 7 camera.

St. Peter's Square, film

St. Peter’s Square, film

The photo from St. Peter’s cupola showcases that format very directly. The digital color shot in the previous post was taken with my zoom lens at 29mm, which is about normal for a small sensor digital camera. The lens I had on Mamiya 7 is also normal, 80mm, but because the format is more square, the field of view opens up to include a little bit of sky above the horizon, which was not visible in the earlier shot.

I very much enjoy the 6×7 format, because it is very nearly square, so there’s no visible advantage to rotating the camera to a portrait orientation. That way I eliminate one of the variables and I have one fewer thing to think about while shooting.

You’re welcome to share your experience and advice about developing film in the comments.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Grapevine, TX Monday, Oct 8 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

The first of the successful photos from the film roll I developed is this image of a 1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, taken at the Italian Car Festival. You can see a closeup of Giulietta’s grille, in color, in my post about the ICF.

An interesting “feature” of these new photos is that the image area includes a part of the “Ilford FP4 Plus” imprint on the bottom of the film. On this one, I decided to scan the whole imprint, almost as proof that this is a film shot.

You’re welcome to share your experience and advice about developing film in the comments.

New Roll Failures, Grapevine, TX Sunday, Oct 7 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

These two photos are my only major failures on this roll. The culprit again was the spiral spool, and there was a spot where the chemicals didn’t quite flow freely to the film surface.

Lamborghini Murcielago

Lamborghini Murcielago

The first photo above is of a wheel of a Lamborghini Murcielago. You can see that the right side of the photo is a smear, where the chemicals got all haywire. The bottom right corner of the photo is somehow preserved.

DeLorean

DeLorean

The next photo on the roll was this shot of a DeLorean grille. The smear is on the left this time, and you can see how it angles away at the bottom – that line continues and saves that little corner of the previous photo.

The good news is that the rest of the photos came out just fine, and I’ll be happy to post a few more of them next week.

You’re welcome to share your experience and advice about developing film in the comments.

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