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Celebrating the art, process, and gear of the film photography community!

18 Jun '15

Keep 35 Alive Embroidered Patch Now In Stock

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, film, Patches

Check it out! Shipping to every corner of planet Earth, and just in time for summer, let's help keep 35 alive with this custom embroidered patch!

These make a great addition to your  camera bag, jacket, or hat. They have an iron-on heat seal backing.

Get one for yourself or get one as a gift for the film photographer you love!

07 Jun '15

In The Frame: Laidric Stevenson

Posted by Mike Padua in Books, Film, In The Frame, Interviews, Photography

Print your pictures. That's the thing that is missing in a lot of photographer's workflows: the final print. In an analog process like film photography, a finished print is the thing that can keep the "tangibility" of shooting with film a tangible, living thing.

Especially important is collecting your work in cohesive volumes and collections, such as books. Today, we're talking to another film shooter who has created two books, with more on the way. Volume 1 is  a book with images created across the country using only a Holga, and I Spent a Sunday in Miami was a project born out of spontaneity where the photographer hopped on a plane to Miami specifically to create the book, using medium format film. Let's get to talking to Laidric:

1) Tell us a bit about yourself, and what type of subjects you typically like to shoot the most. Hello, I'm Laidric Stevenson, residing in the city of Dallas, located in the Great State of Texas!  Not a native however, just got down here as quickly as I could!   I'm what happened to that high school newspaper / yearbook photogeek that you would see at basketball and football games, roaming the halls with a camera, or flashing you in the face during prom...  I guess you can say that my formal training was photojournalism?  Although, I never worked for a daily paper or weekly magazine, I still approach subjects with that sort of mindset.  Get the wide establishing shot, then move in to the details to tell the story.  I don't know if there's a subject that I like to shoot the most, my photos are my reactions to situations and objects that I come across in the wild.  I will say that I am drawn alot to text and image, especially when the meaning can change when you take it out of the context of being an advertisment, or whatever the original intent was.

2) You have two books that are in print: Tell us about what inspired you to take those particular series of photos and put them in printed volumes. Volume 1 is a collection of images from my America Untitled series, which grew originally out of having to use a Holga camera for an assignment in my Intermediate Photo class back in 2005.  I was a rigid purist up to that point, black and white film only, manual focus, manual exposure, etc.  Using this camera that had gave me little to no control, that allowed me to shoot in a free-flowing stream of consciousness, and gave these dreamy, hazy, and techincally poor images, was a rebirth for me photographically.  I started shooting any and everything I came across.  As I started going through the negatives, certain themes kept reappearing; class & income inequality, patriotism, religion.  After I had to leave school that year due to other obligations, I set everything aside for a few years.  After my wife and I purchased our first home in 2011, I started shooting again, as well as travelling for the first time to photograph; New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Antonio.  I picked areas / cities at random, there really wasn't any rhyme or reason to it.  I knew that the photos would eventualy end up in a book format, because I felt that the overall statement that I was making came from the images playing off of each other.  The book is called Vol 1, because the intent was to release the series in a serial format, every couple of years make a book, and get it out into the world. I Spent a Sunday in Miami was actually the first book that I made, and I made it because I was inspired by all of the small photobooks / zines that I had been buying off of other photographers.  I would just see someone's book on Instagram, or come across someone's tumblr and I would just buy it.  After a while, I thought "I should be doing one of these", but I didn't know what to do one on.  While on Facebook one night, I came across something about Urban Beach Weekend on South Beach (I think from a friend of a friend liking something and it showing up on my news feed), and I instantly thought, "I'm going to Miami for that".  I jumped on a plane, and spent the Sunday before Memorial Day walking up and down Collins St and Ocean St on South Beach.  I shot 6 rolls of 6x7 image on 220 film, which is 120 photographs, then I came home scanned and edited, put the book together and sent it to a few friends.

3) It seems that you seem quite comfortable with interacting people and taking photos of them quite closely. How do you interact with these people? I wouldn't say that I'm comfortable interacting with people, I'm actually a shy person by nature (as alot of photographers are), I'm also a bit introverted and I tend to disappear into crowds of people, which makes for some good street shootin' (no g, it sounds dirtier that way...).  I don't consider myself to be a street photographer by any definition, but I think that I do have those traits that allow me to blend into the environment.  I think it also helps when you photograph in places where people are naturally comfortable and unaware in their surroundings.  For example, in Miami, there were so many people with video cameras (trying to videotape the girls in bikinis) and photographers (searching for "models"), that people weren't apprehensive, like "What's that guy doing with that camera, what are you taking pictures for?!" The only opposition was the photo in the book with the woman that has a snake draped on her shoulders, and there's another woman with her hand up in a "No Pictures" gesture towards me.  She actually said 'no pictures', but I had already made the shot, so what are you going to do?  That was actually one of my favorite photos from that trip, and I actually walked past them at first! I don't generally interact with people when I'm out shooting, unless they are the ones initiating the interaction, these are generally the "What are you taking pictures for?" people.  Which I get, to a point.  The public at large generally views the usage of photography as a tool of record; recording some event like a graduation or wedding or a concert.  Even as photography is viewed these days as a major tool of communication, it's mostly "We were here, look at this".  It's just replacing or accompanying words / text that would normally be used, a visual shorthand as I've heard it referred to.  And it's difficult for them to understand why someone would making photographs that aren't going to be used in that fashion, or maybe they think that there's some more ominous intentions at work.  Which of course with the way that photos are taken and spread these days (like in internet memes), or how corporations will take and use images without permission without a second thought, I get that as well. After we get past the "What are you taking pictures for?", if we do get past that that is, as some people are just opposed to cameras and photography in public.  I've been meaning to start carrying around some materials, not for marketing purposes, just a 'this is me, who I am, what I do'.  I've been looking at a couple of print on demand companies that offer small (3.5 x 2.5) inch books, something to fit in a coat or pants pocket.  A conversation difuser / starter so to say.

Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved. Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved.

4) What inspired you to use film for these projects? I only have one digital camera currently, a Fuji Xpro-1, and I mostly use that for family snapshots and such, when I'm out to do what I consider my serious work, I'm always grabbing a film camera.  I just have so many more options with my film cameras, do I want the grainess and portability of 35mm, or do I want the resolution and tonal richness of medium format?  Or do I want the holga?  And when I get my hands on a 4x5, that will give me another option.  I think personally for me, that's what keeps me using film, that choice in tools, choosing a different tool, changes my approach and mindset on making the work.  That and the whole process of film photography, editing raw files in Lightroom, I can't stand that for more than 15-20 seconds, it just bores me to no end...but I can sit there and spot a film scan for minutes on end.  I just seem to have more patience with film.

5) What kind of cameras/film did you use for these projects? The Volume 1 book was a combination of Tri-X / HP5 (which ever one I found cheaper or more available) with various Holga cameras. I Spent a Sunday in Miami is Fuji 160s and Portra 400 with a Mamiya 7 + 80mm

Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved. Photo © Laidric Stevenson. All Rights Reserved.

6) What are you working on next? What new projects can we expect from you? Right now, I'm juggling being a new father (with a soon to be 6 month old) with a bunch of scattershot ideas.  I've actually changed to carrying all small compact 35mm cameras, Olympus XA, Stylus Epic, Nikon Lite Touch, etc and that is strongly influencing my current approach to making new work.  One of my biggest photographic influences / favorite photographers is Lee Friedlander, and I've found myself making images inspired by his America by Car series, it's only a few months old at this point, and I'm not sure where I'm going to go with it at this point, but I've gotten to a stage in my photography where if I have an idea and I feel strongly enough to work on it, I want it to naturally run it's course to where I can feel like "Okay, that's done" I started a series about Miami that's on hold.  Not just Miami, Florida, there are 11 states that have a city named Miami (maybe not pronounced the same, but spelled the same); Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.  I want to do a compare / contrast of the differences (and similarities) of these places with the same name but spread out throughout the country.  Due to the amount of travel that something of this scope pertains, it will take me some time before I feel I have enough work to show. I keep coming back to America as a theme and subject, so I have another series called GBA or God Bless America (that's a working title), this project I feel is an extension of America Untitled, but taking me down what I feel is a different pathway. Then of course, I just have random images that don't really fit any particular project or theme, I just see something, and I shoot it. And of course, more books on the horizon!

*******

Please make sure to check out more of Laidric's work, and buy his books at the links below:

Website: http://laidricstevenson.format.com

Buy the books: http://www.magcloud.com/user/stevensow

Instagram: https://instagram.com/18percentphotographer/

Tumblr (shared project): http://meetingnewpeoplezine.tumblr.com/

21 May '15

Now shipping worldwide!

Posted by Mike Padua in Film, Patches, shipping, Stickers
Big news for everybody across the globe who has been asking: I'm now shipping everywhere in the world! So those of you that ask if i ship internationally--the answer is YES! I also have some big announcements coming up in the next week (cough...new designs...cough), and more gear reviews and SO many interviews with film shooters lined up. Check out the catalog and grab your wares!
19 May '15

In The Frame: Nate Matos

Posted by Mike Padua in Books, Film, In The Frame, Interviews, Photography

We're proud to feature Nate Matos, a photographer from Portland, Oregon. I first came to know Nate through his YouTube channel, which has become prominent among like-minded film shooters looking to feed their appetites for information about film photography.

More recently, Nate has just published his latest printed book, Serif & Silver, a quarterly film photography journal of his curated work. The first edition, Polaroids, is a collection of his instant film work between from 2010 to 2015. Today, we get to talk to Nate and learn about his process of getting his work from the idea stage to a final, printed volume.

Tell us about yourself, and what you do. I'm from the Portland area originally, although I was born in Fullerton, CA. This has become a small point of contention in my life as when people ask where I'm from I can't simply say born and raised. There is always an asterisk on the statement. Photography for me took a few tries to get going, and a lot of that was finding exactly what spoke to me and what I was able to say back with my images. I don't think I'm alone when I say I was first introduced to photography via a high school arts credit. The wet darkroom we used was outstanding, and a great outlet of creativity. But unfortunately after the class was over I didn't pay much more attention. It wasn't until my 18th birthday that my mom bought me a Canon Digital Rebel XT for me as a birthday gift, hoping to rekindle the passion she saw while I was taking the class. That brought on a new wave, lots of digital work, specifically automotive. I even had my photos show up in a few car magazines and got a bit of recognition. But when I picked up a Canon AE-1 to play around with something new started for me. Since then (around 2009 when I purchased the AE-1, and I've shot film exclusively since late 2011) the pieces have come together and provided me with direction and context for my work. I use film to support my images and the stories I tell, it's a choice just as one would pick oil over acrylic for painting, and a choice that I am grateful we are able to use.

 

IMG_7396

Photo © Nate Matos. All rights reserved.

What motivated you to create printed volumes of your work? Printed work has been in the works for a long time. I've always been a fan of the printed medium, we subscribe to and purchase individual magazines at home, am always picking up photo books, and I love to support other photographers through their small print works like zines. My last self-produced publication (I've had my work in other collections) was in 2011. Since then I've gathered a large backlog of images and prints, and I knew that something needed to be done otherwise the work would never get released. So I sat down with my many boxes of Polaroids and started pulling out photos I liked. From there it was a tedious process of review, sort, review, sort, into perpetuity as I narrowed the selection to about 50 images. Once I had reached that point I could finally arrange them into a format with more of a narrative attached.

Which cameras/films did you choose for this particular project? As this collection was based off content within a photo format, the materials and cameras used are many. But as a quick rundown; Fuji FP100B is very prominent, and most of the time I was using an NPC 195; a large format rangefinder that's been designed to use polaroid pack film. Sprinkled in this is some Fuji FP3000B, FP100C, Polaroid 690 of various expirations, as well as a bit of Polaroid Chocolate and Blue. Other cameras include a Colorpack II and Automatic Land Camera 100.

 

serif-and-silver-nate-matos

From Serif & Silver, all Photos © Nate Matos. All rights reserved.

Since this is planned to be a quarterly volume, are their any ideas for what the next volume will be? I've committed myself to one year of a quarterly format. Based on how this goes I may switch to a bi-annual, but who knows. I do know where the next issue will take me, and I'm actually already in the midst of working on it. But can't say too much just yet. Issue II of Serif & Silver will start shipping September 1st 2015. Beyond that a roadmap does exist for issues 3 through 6, and I'm excited to present work through various formats and themes; though I don't know where it will ultimately take me.

What other projects can we look forward to? Right now Serif & Silver is taking up most of my time. But for me 2015 is a year of beginnings. The series featured on my website currently have been up for about 2 years, and are coming to a close. They will eventually be replaced with new images and bodies of work with more direction and greater stories to be told. Within that though there is still a lot up in the air, and I'm not entirely sure when it will come to the ground. I'm excited for what the future brings, and I feel Serif & Silver is a good start.

A big thank you to Nate for taking the time to talk with us about his project.

Make sure to get your copy of Serif & Silver here, and connect with Nate on social media below:

Instagram: @natematos

Twitter: @NMatosPDX

17 May '15

Gear Review: Minolta XE-5 35mm Film SLR

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, Cameras, Film, gear, Gear Reviews, minolta

The Minolta XE-5 is a 35mm film SLR that uses Minolta's manual focus SR mount, also commonly known as the MC mount, or simply the "Minolta mount." It is the same mount used by the famous SRT-type cameras and also the XE/XE-1/XG-7 series. The system was generally referred to as the MC system, with a whole range of compatible bodies, lenses, and accessories. First, a little about the original XE-1, which was the original in the line and the descendent of the XE-5. The XE was the first electronically controlled Minolta SLR that was targeted for advanced amateurs. It features metered manual and aperture priority shooting modes. Perhaps the most interesting part of the the XE heritage is that it is the first SLR that Minolta designed and produced in association with Leitz, the maker of Leica cameras. The XE-5 carries on most of these features, but since it is a lower end model than the original XE-1, there are some features that don't carry over. The viewfinder does not display the current aperture and shutter speed settings; there is merely a needle that shows the suggested shutter speed to which you should set the camera to depending on the your ISO and aperture setting. The focusing is achieved through a diagonal split prism.

Minolta XE-5 viewfinder

Minolta XE-5 viewfinder

Unlike the XE-1, there is no viewfinder curtain, double exposure lever, and no safe load "flag" that shows proper film advance, although you can see the rewind lever spinning when you advance the film, telling you that the film is in fact advancing and being taken up on the take-up spool, so that's a fairly minor concern. The pentaprism housing (the SLR "bump" on top of the camera) is all black, unlike the black/chrome prism housing of the XE-1. The front panel features a self timer lever, an X-sync flash socket, a locking depth of field preview button, and the lens release button. The "Minolta" logo is engraved and painted white onto the front of the black plastic pentaprism housing. The XE-5 badge is engraved and painted black onto the upper chrome portion to the left of the Minolta logo. The grip is a stiff, slightly rubbery material. The top panel has a hot shoe, rewind crank, underneath which is the ISO dial with a locking pin (labeled "ASA"), which ranges from 12 to 3200, in 1/3 stop increments. On the same dial is the +/- exposure compensation dial, also with a locking pin, ranging from -2 to +2 in single stop increments. On the right hand side of the top panel is the shutter speed dial, including X, Bulb, and 4 seconds all the way to 1/1000th of a second in one stop increments. There is also the shutter release button with a threading for a remote release cord and the familiar film advance lever.

DSCF6800 Minolta XE-5, top plate

The rear of the camera has an on/off lever. The camera will not fire in the off position, as the shutter is electronically controlled and cannot fire without battery power. So that means dead batteries = dead camera. There is also a frame counter which goes up to 36 and stops if you have any more frames on the roll. You can still keep taking pictures, but the frame counter won't go any higher than 36. The left side profile of the camera has a tiny little lever that is easy to miss, which is a battery check lever. When you activate it, there is a red LED that lights up to let you know the battery is functioning.

DSCF6799

One particularly convenient feature about this film camera is that it uses the very common LR44 batteries (two of them), which can be found in any grocery or drug store for very inexpensively, or online for even cheaper. You can generally buy 10 of them for just a few dollars. Many older generation cameras use battery types that are either expensive or worse, no longer available. The camera is not exactly light. While not as heavy and considered more compact than the professional level Canons and Nikons of the day, it's still larger and heavier than the similarly priced and competing Olympus OM cameras. However, it is still very comfortable in the hand. The rewind lever is nice and smooth, with a somewhat long throw distance, but still advances the frame in a single stroke. The mirror slap is nicely dampened as the entire body is nice and solid. The shutter button depresses very smoothly in one motion; it does not have a half-press function to activate metering. The camera is always metering as long as the power switch is in the "on" position.

Personal experience

The camera is solid feeling, and I felt very confident in its operation in the few rolls I shot with it. The lens I had for it was a bit of an odd focal length: 58mm, but it had a very nice fast aperture of f/1.4. The lens is not particularly sharp at wide open apertures but by f/2.8 it was sharp and contrasty. Because of it's somewhat long focal length, it can be susceptible to some user misfocusing at wide open apertures if you use the focus/recompose method, which can change the plane of focus, so you have to be careful with that if you're shooting fast. The camera feels really good to me, something I'd be happy to use as an everyday shooter if it was my only choice. If I had owned more lenses in the system, I would most definitely keep it, as the example I had was in very nice cosmetic shape. I certainly wish I had some wider lenses to test with it. The meter was accurate and I shot half of the roll using the built in meter, and the other half using a handheld Sekonic meter, both of which yielded fine results. Like many manual 35mm film SLRs, the appeal with this camera is the fact that you have so few choices in how you expose a picture. Shutter, aperture, and film speed--that's it. I found that this lack of choice kept me in tune with the subjects I was shooting and the shooting experience itself, and not so worried and engaged (or distracted) by the gear in my hands. I feel that the single biggest drawback this camera suffers from is that, due to it's electronically controlled shutter, it cannot be fired without batteries, like other film SLRs that can fired mechanically and only need batteries for metering (the Yashica FX-3, for example). It's construction feels hefty and durable, despite the fact that the top pentaprism housing is plastic. I would highly recommend this camera to anyone who is looking for a manual SLR, with an aperture priority mode. It certainly fetches a far lower price than Canon and Nikon models of the same level in used markets, because Minolta was simply a less popular manufacturer in the 70s and 80s, but no less of a viable option then as it is today when it comes to 35mm manual focus SLRs. Sample images below. Shot on Kodak 5279 500T color cinema film, scanned on a Pakon F135 film scanner.

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner

Sample Image, Minolta XE-5, 58mm f/1.4, Kodak 5279 500T cinema color negative, scanned on Pakon F135 film scanner