My girlfriend and our close friends decided to spend the weekend at my Uncle's cabin in Virginia a few weeks ago. It was such a relaxing time -- we floated in the Shenandoah for a couple of hours, ate hot dogs and rotisserie chicken, and even learned how to play mahjong! As usual, I dragged my humble M2 along for this weekend outing. I only shot one roll of Fuji X-TRA Superia 400 color neg film, but I am so glad that I did. I'm so happy that I chose to play with color negative instead of black and white this time around -- the comforting, warm light cast by the sun would have been lost by Tri-X (well, at least with me behind the camera). I think I ran the Fuji roll at EI 200. Cutting the box speed in half allowed to shorten the depth of field in some of my photos -- just enough for my girlfriend and company to subtley pop out from the Virginia countryside.
I was a little doubtful of taking the Leica out into the river, but the results were well worth it. If I stayed on shore, the resulting photos would have seemed so impersonal. Admiring these scans conveys the feeling that I'm actually in riverwater at this very moment.
All ready for the river.
The frustrating part about wading in the river are the millions of sharp rocks. They really do hurt. At times I felt I might have fallen in and given my rangefinder a juicy little bath. The rocks become softer the further middle one ventures out into the river.
I love the perspective on this one. I could have captured this frame digitally, but recording it on film creates another level of emotion for me. I didn't exactly know what this photo was going to look like. I actually forgot I took this photo, as I got the scans back a week and a half after I squeezed the shutter release. A big smile on face showed up when I remembered I took this photo.
Again, I think it was a swell decision to bring the Leica into the river -- well, on top of the river. This sort of shot, low to the water, is very intimate. I think I can hear dragonflies buzzing around right now?
I've read this from other users' experiences and I'm starting to see it -- Fuji X-TRA Superia 400 can sometimes result in ruddy skin renditions with lighter skin folk. When it does happen, it's not as noticeable on Asian skin colors. Perhaps this was intentional from the Japanese film maker, Fuji? I'll point out an example of a ruddy rendition in a few frames.
See how his skin color is ever so slightly pink-reddish? I'm not sure which lighting conditions reliably produce this result. There is a possibility that I shot this particular frame at box speed. Due to film color negative latitude, I'll cut the speed in half in daylight and shoot box speed in the dark or shade.
This frame is either before or after the previous frame chronologically. Notice the lack of reddish skin tones. Another guess I have is under shade vs. under direct sun may have a hand in this film's skin reconditioning.
My "published" work (okay, so Flickr and Tumblr, lol) is mainly non-personal photographs. I've shared them with the web because I think they are decent photos on their own, not because I am emotionally attached. Somehow, my work can feel at times distant -- as if I wasn't the one behind the camera. This fall and winter I am going to try and focus on documenting my friends and personal life. This one roll of film probably has more emotional value than -- I'm guessing like -- three-quarters of my work. Will the compositional quality of my work degrade? Perhaps a little, but in all honesty, I'm shooting photos for myself, and not anyone else. Is it a sin to like photos that aren't complete, fine art masterpieces? The value of film in my endeavors forces me to frame the moments that really shine in my eyes. This way, I'll have finite proof that I enjoyed the younger years of my life, but I'll also have some interesting photographs to share with the rest of the world.
So how come you don't see me post color photos that often? Well, it's really because I can't develop it (right now) by myself! Developing C-41 process films does not look that difficult. I may try it sometime soon. What really irks me with color negative film is scanning the frames! My current scanning set up works more than adequately for black and white negatives -- take digital macro photo of, invert colors and adjust tone curves in post. I can't figure out how to get the correct color out of a negative film. Alas, with practice I may end up with better results.
This particular roll of film was developed and scanned by the kind people from "The Darkroom," a mail-order photo lab in California. I am very pleased with the results and will definitely send future rolls of C-41 film their way!