Pontiac Starchief Thursday, Oct 18 2012 

Since I talked yesterday about some rusty cars, I thought I’d add another.

Pontiac Starchief

Pontiac Starchief

Most of the cars in the field were covered in rust, but this Pontiac Starchief still had the bright red paint on. Perhaps it wasn’t shiny as before, but it still made it stand out, especially with that massive tail fin.

Again, my Mamiya 645 1000S camera, with expired Kodak Portra 800 film, shot at EI 200 (2 stops overexposed), due to the age of the film.

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.

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.

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.

Sunset, Grapevine Lake, TX Saturday, Sep 15 2012 

This photo is literally the last photo I took with my Canon 20D.

Sunset, Grapevine Lake

Sunset, Grapevine Lake

I mentioned yesterday that I owned a Canon 20D digital camera for a few years. I bought it from a friend who had upgraded, and I really liked it. It had the dial on the back, which made selecting options very easy. The camera had a nice heavy feel to it and fit nicely in my hand.

When I bought it, 20D was already obsolete – 30D was already on the market and 40D came up shortly after that. But those cameras didn’t really offer anything I wanted. The Live View on the 40D would have been nice, but it wasn’t enough for me to switch.

I went on many trips with the 20D, shot several studio sessions and a wedding. But when Canon released their 7D, I was ready. The new camera was faster, more powerful and easier to use, it shot HD video and it wirelessly controlled off-camera flash. So, a few days before my new 7D arrived, I took my 20D for a visit to Grapevine Lake, where I took some sunset pictures including the one above.

It’s a good reminder to not rush into “upgradeitis” — maybe the shiny new device that just came out isn’t the right choice for you. Instead, get as much use you can out of the one you already have, and upgrade only when it makes sense.

Desoto Powerflite Thursday, Sep 13 2012 

This is one of my all-time favorite photographic surprises.

A few years ago, I scored a fantastic fisheye lens for the Mamiya 645 medium format camera I was shooting at the time. I only paid $50 for the lens in the used section of a local camera store. For good measure, I bought a 5-pack of expired Kodak Portra 800 film in the 220 format for another $20, I think.

After the first roll was developed, I realized that I needed to severely overexpose the film. Soon after that, I was shooting some old rusted out cars in a field just off the I-35 highway and grabbed this photo of a Desoto Powerflite.

Desoto Powerflite

Desoto Powerflite

Surprisingly, I didn’t have to do much to make the colors pop, even on expired, grainy film. Portra seems like it was a nice emulsion for Kodak, although it seems inconsistent. I even tried the recent 160VC, but the results were very underwhelming.

On this photo, I wish I had composed the telegraph post out of the picture, and at 1/60 there is still some movement in the leaves of grass. I didn’t have my digital on purpose, and I never went back to try again, so this is the only photo I have of the scene, but I really like the way it turned out.

Sydney, Age 7 Wednesday, Sep 8 2010 

This past Labor Day weekend, I wanted to drive around North Texas and find interesting photographic subjects. By chance, I found a website for CARE – Center for Animal Research and Education, a refuge for big cats just outside a small town of Bridgeport, TX. Having heard of a few similar places in the area, I expected a few tigers, maybe a couple of bobcats, and not much more. Once I got there, I was stunned to find more than 50 big cats, most of them gorgeous tigers, like Sydney here.

Sydney, age 7

It was a slightly cool morning compared to the heat waves we’ve had the past month or so. Most of the cats were out and about, and the host, Derek, played around lovingly with each of them as he was showing us around. Sydney was on a platform in her enclosure, and when I first saw her, she was in the middle of a sleepy stretch which you can see below. Shortly thereafter, she perked up and assumed this regal pose you see in the main photo. Truly a gorgeous cat, and according to the CARE web site, she’s available for adoption. They also accept donations… Hint: tigers love chicken.

Sydney, stretching

Since I now shoot JPG, it was a bit of a challenge to nail down the white balance on the shot. Straight out of the camera, it looked very blue because my Canon 7D probably got confused with the warm shadow of the foreground with the cooler light seeping in from outside. My friend Tyler taught me this interesting Photoshop technique (too elaborate to go into here), so I managed to warm up the beautiful oranges on Sydney.

In the coming days, I’ll post a few more shots of beautiful cats from CARE. Until then, get on over to their web site and donate a few bucks or simply volunteer. The cats will love it.

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