State of the Art

Me, Mamiya C330f, Leica M6TTL, Biogon 35 F2

Photo courtesy of headsticks.com

It’s been about nine months since I’ve done much blogging. In that time, I’ve moved to DC, sold my car, started a new job, been promoted twice, been to lots of museums and a few plays, bought an iPhone, ate some good Korean food, updated to WordPress 3, wrote a new theme and shot almost 100 rolls of film. It’s been busy, and I’m not going to spend my whole day off going into the details, so here’s the current state of the art in brief.

Cameras and Lenses

I still carry my M6TTL almost everywhere, usually with just a single lens, most often the CV 35 1.4 SC, but also the Biogon 35 F2 or the Hexanon 50 F2. The 28 and the 90 mostly stay on the shelf.

On the weekends, I sometimes shoot with the Beast, a Mamiya C330f with an 80mm F2.8 lens and a sticky shutter. I wish it had a built in meter, but I’m getting better at guessing exposures or using the M6TTL for metering. I saw someone carrying a Mamiya 7 II the other day; those have meters in them, right?

I also shoot occasionally with an Olympus OM2 and 50mm F1.8. The OM2 replaced a dead OM1 with a sticky mirror. I like it enough that I often think of buying an OM4 and that ridiculously over priced 40mm F2.

Tamrac straps on everything, the kind with leather pads and quick release buckles.

Film & Developer

The last three to four months I’ve mostly been shooting TMY2, about 30 rolls of it so far, but I’ve also shot a couple of rolls of Provia 100 and other odds and ends that have been at the bottom of the film bin for too long. I’m developing with XTOL stock almost exclusively. TMY2 developed in full strength XTOL forgives many exposure errors and scans with very little apparent grain. XTOL is pain in the ass to mix up, but a batch stored in eight 600ml Nalgene bottles lasts 16 rolls of 35mm, so mixing it up is at least an infrequent chore. There’s half a bottle of Rodinal on the shelf for emergencies.

DC’s tap water doesn’t leave hard water stains on negatives, so I’m not even using filtered water anymore except for the final dunk in PhotoFlo.

Scanning & Post

I’m using a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000, still the most expensive piece of photo gear I’ve ever purchased. I’m scanning to 16 bit greyscale tiffs using Vuescan’s Tmax 400 Pro preset. Crucial detail; the crop buffer is set to 10%.

Some quick curves, sharpening and adding a border completes the post work. A flickr pro account gives me unlimited space, so I export a jpeg large enough of to make a 6X9 print and archive to flickr for safe keeping. Near-line storage goes onto a pair of mirrored WD drives. Working files get backed up with Timemachine.

Printing

My Epson R2400 died from neglect months ago. I’ve replaced all the inks, but the magenta stills says it’s empty. I’ve considered getting it fixed or just replacing it, but I never printed that much anyway apart from infrequent bouts of misguided discipline. As an alternative to home printing, I’ve just assembled and ordered my first blurb book. We’ll see how that goes.

Stuck (06160011)

C330f, 80 f2.8, Neopan 400, 120, Xtol 1:1

C330f, 80 f2.8, Neopan 400, 120, Xtol 1:1

Looking over the scans from the first rolls of 120, I’m realizing that I forgot to set vuescan’s whitepoint to 0, hence, these scans will show some – 1% is the default – areas as pure white. I had to reset vuescan to its defaults before I could get it scan 120 without crashing; resetting to defaults seems to be the vuescan panacea, but it always takes me a while to remember to put back all of my preferences.