Venice Camper

Having fun with the Hassleblad and Kodak Tri-X 100 film.

I’ve been to the Venice Boardwalk for years.  And this camper has always been there.  Although its colors are muted, the message does ring out.

a beach camper on venice beach


Film grain

What I love about shooting with film is the grain.  There is magic in shooting with film, but part of that magic is the film grain and how it formulates itself within the image.  I have two examples of two types of film.

early morning watching century city glow at dawnThis is Kodak Tri-X 400 shot with my Nikon F4 with a 85mm f/1.8 D lens.  The grain was so generous in not interfering with details of the image.

the girl wearing white boots walks by a transient enjoying a cigarette

With this snap I used Fuji Neopan 1600 with my Contax G2  and 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens.  The grain was so beautiful as if painted on the image. To me it was very musical.  I really miss Fuji Neopan 1600 film.  If you come across this film, use it.  You won’t be disappointed.


From the shoebox

When I bought my first film camera it was a process of trial and error.  I thought in this instance to capture moods, my moods.  And with a couple of rolls of Fuji Provia and Fuji Acros, I took my trusty OM-2n to task.

corner of Harper and Melrose Avenue

film blur of dancing lights

missing the late night bus

outside my window

Fun with Hasselblad

I should call it Hasselblast!  It is fun shooting with a medium format, manual focus, waist level finder film camera.  It’s even more challenging using a hand-held exposure meter because with a Hasselblad 500C/M there is no built-in metering.  I used Kodak Tri-X 320 film with an 80mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens.

Venice skateboard park in Venice California

What better place to take snaps with an all manual camera than the Venice Skateboard Park.

Venice skateboard park in Venice California

Some serious acrobatics on my part to meter, focus, shoot, wind and ready for the next shot.

Venice skateboard park in Venice California

Overall, it was a great experience for me.

Venice skateboard park in Venice California

After the last shot of the roll, it would be a couple of days before I head back to the lab and see the results.   I highly recommend shooting with film.

Tale of two tunnels

I was in downtown Los Angeles visiting some of my favorite photo sites.  The 2nd Street underpass is a uniquely designed tunnel built in 1924.  The ornate side of the tunnel is on Figueroa Street and ends on Hill Street as the length runs under Bunker Hill.

famous 2nd street tunnel beneath Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles

I shot the above image with my Fujifilm X100 digital camera.  Where the image below I shot using my Contax G2 35mm rangefinder with 45mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens using Fuji Acros 400 ISO B/W film.

this is the film version of the underpass on 2nd street in downtown Los Angeles, CA

Shooting with Film

I do own a couple of digital cameras.  But film is still the elixir that makes photography fun, exciting and unpredictable.  I’m not saying shooting with film will make your images magical. With film you have to work a little harder, plan a bit more, choose your opportunity, and anticipate the moment to release the shutter.

standing on the walking over Figueroa Blvd in downtown LAI took this snap with my Fujifilm X100.  This camera is quite the workhorse for me.  I can snap many images and see the results instantaneously.  Giving me results that are pristine.

overpass on Figueroa Street downtown LA

This image I took with my trusty Olympus OM-2n with a 200mm f/4.0 lens using Fujifilm Acros 1600 ISO B/W Film.  How warm, how pleasingly detailed it looks to me.  For me, this is magic.

If you are shooting with film, keep at it.  Don’t worry.  Digital snappers will catch up.


The beauty of transparency film

When I started using 35mm film cameras it amazed me the selections of film to choose from.  There was Kodak, Fuji, AGFA, Ilford, Rollei, Arista, Fomopan and others.  Eventually I figured out which type of film and sensitivity would give me the results I wanted.  In this instance I was shooting with Fujichrome Provia 400X.  After playing around with my OM-2n and transparency film I’d set my meter to 1/2 stop under exposure to get the results that for me was about richness in color and deeper contrast.

martin guitar leaning against the wall

ensconced light fixture

Once I got a handle of my camera and film it was time to head out with the resulting beauty of transparency film.

a street lamp covered by fog on a street corner

a back alley in west hollywood in twilight

A foggy night on Melrose Avenue

I took a walk on this foggy night on Melrose Ave with my Contax G2 rangefinder film camera with a 45mm f/2 lens using my favorite film Fuji Acros 1600.

a stretch of Melrose ave at night

It’s a shame Acros 1600 is no longer in production.  It is a versatile film with a sweet grain.

walking along melrose ave at night

Shooting with film is fun and forgiving especially with a simple manual focus SLR.  You’d have to wait to see what develops (no pun intended). But that’s okay because when seeing your prints for the first time, a new world opens up.

an image of storefront business of tequila and wedding dresses

Suddenly those frames come alive with imagined possibilities which helps you strive to become a better photographer.

figurines behind a storefront window

Soon your compositions turn into marvelous stories that can be shared for a very long time.

Kodak Ektar 100

I took this image a few years back of my Martin six string using Kodak Ektar 100 and my trusty Olympus OM-2n 35mm camera with a 24mm f/2.8 lens.  I love the rich color, its grain, and how easy it responds to subtle meter changes.

image of my martin six string guitar

Happy Valentine’s Day

To all of you thinking of love and a box of chocolates.

an ebony woman dancing mysteriously on the pier in Santa Monica, Californiagirl in a black bikini on the beach in Santa Monica, CaliforniaGirl outside medical marijuana building in Venice, Californiagirl with a lime green body board in Venice, California

Black & White Film

I’m no expert of film, but I know what I like.  Black & White images have a visually immense impact for me.  There are things that catch your eye quickly, and then, there are things in the shadows.

A crystal ball atop a bed of crystals
Kodak Tri-X 100 — Nikon F4 w/ 16mm “Fisheye” f/2.8D

I think it’s a forgiving medium to start out with when first shooting with film.  It certainly is impressive when it turns out the way you saw it and equally so when you print it.

A ceiling light with ornate housing
Fuji Neopan 1600 — Olympus OM-2n w/ Zuiko 35~70mm f/3.3 lens

For me Black & White film gives you more freedom to capture the things that appeals to your eye.  There is no distraction that color film inadvertently has, having to think twice before composing a shot.

Window shopping along the sunset strip of Mercedes with Hustler reflected off window
Kodak T-max 400 — Contax G2 w/ Zeiss 45mm f/2

It’s either there, or not with Black & White film and not a moment wasted pressing the shutter.  Decisions become instantaneous and soon those images translate easily and profoundly.

A park meter wrapped in plastic in the middle of the night
Fuji Neopan 400 — Nikon f2 w/ Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI

However,  do dress appropriately.

About film

I believe shooting film is the purist form of photographic artistry.  To me film is most forgiving to amateurs, and a strong ally to professionals.

perspective askew photo of a Goodyear blimp mooring on a lamp post
35mm Fuji film transparency of the Goodyear Blimp crossing past a lamp-post.

Not to take away from the current technology of digital cameras.  But for people who love to take pictures,  try shooting with film a couple of times. ..before the media becomes extinct.

a three quarter moon slowly descends in the morning
35mm Kodak Porta 400 color negative film of a descending moon in the morning.

It’s a marvel to see what’s been captured on film whether intentional or not.  Simply because you have a moment to pause during the process and to see the things you might have overlooked.

My dog before a mirror seeing himself for the first time
Fuji Color Pro 400 color negative film of my dog fixing his makeup for a photo shoot.

And maybe find yourself looking at things differently as you head out for your next photo adventure.

Sunrise and the City of Angels

I took this snap from the rooftop of my office above the Sunset Strip.  I used a Nikon F4 w/ 80~200mm f/2.8D lens using Fuji Color Pro 400 film.  Both camera and lens weighed a ton, good thing I brought a tripod. Great way to start the day.

sunrise over the San Gabriel Mountains

Concrete forests

I took this from inside the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  From the main lobby looking up you can see the towering elevator columns.  I used a Nikon F2 with Kodak Gold color film–I had used up all my Fuji Pro color doing my walkabout before setting foot inside.  I am not a fan of Kodak Gold.  But I was in a pinch, so what can I do but keep snapping.

looking up from inside the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles

Good morning Hollywood

I took this awhile back with my trusty OM-2n using slide film Provia 400.  This was by the Gower Studios off Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. I scanned it as color, but decided to take away the color saturation.

Early morning in hollywood california

The old ferris wheel

I shot this a few years back with my OM-2n using Fuji Color Pro 400 film.  It’s the old ferris wheel at Santa Monica pier from the vantage point near the harbor office.

the old santa monica ferris wheel

Fun with film

I took this snap outside the Brewery with my trusty OM-2n using Fuji Provia 400 transparency film.   It was dark that night, friggin spooky in that part of downtown LA.  I love shooting with film.  If you haven’t shot with film before, I recommend you try it.

The brewery taken with fuji provia film

The moment

I took this snap a couple of years back when lugging around a Mamiya 645 Pro TL was a “labor of love”.  Don’t get me wrong I still love the camera, even though my back will beg to differ.   This was one of those moments I was glad of lugging that black beast with me.

a man talking on his phone walks past a neon sign of a girl talking on the phone

From the shoebox

I’ve decided to go through boxes of film negatives and slides to pick out the best for prints.  I shot these two while walking about the downtown area of Los Angeles.  I used two cameras, a Contax G2 with a Carl Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2 lens, and my trusty OM-2n with a Zuiko 200mm f/4 lens.  With the OM-2n I used Fuji Acros 1600 B/W film and with the Contax I used Kodak Portra 400 color.

4th and Broadway street in downtown LA

overpass on Figueroa Street downtown LA

Meta Guitars

It was raining outside that day and so I decided to have a little fun.  I used a Nikon F2 w/ Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI lens and Ilford XP2 400  taking snap of my Olympus E-500 taking a snap of my guitars at home.  BTW Ilford XP2 film uses C41 process, and with rich contrast and fine grain is actually nice for doing head shots.

photo of a camera taking a photo of guitars

Let sleeping logs lie

A delightful juxtaposition caught with my Nikon F4 with 28~200 f/3.5D lens using Fuji Provia 400 transparency film.  I normally use center weighted metering, but instead I switched on Matrix metering using the Program mode on the Nikon. It was the last shot of the roll and thought nothing of it.  That is until I came home from the lab with my slides.  I love those little surprises.

an image of a man napping next to a gnarly tree

French postcard

Window shopping in the middle of the night on Melrose Ave in West Hollywood, CA.  I used a Nikon F2 with a Nikkor 20mm f/28 AI lens.  I was using very fast film that night, Ilford Delta 3200 which I find is a forgiving film to use under low light situations.  Plus I really love the grain on this film.

window shopping on melrose ave after midnight

Behind the black door

I used to live across the street from this house of the spooky black door.  It  had an ivy covered wall that was high with a wrought iron gated driveway.  A very private residence that once housed members of MTV’s The Hills (the camera crews were nice people).  One night on Halloween I stepped out with a Nikon F2 and 50mm f/1.8 lens with a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 and my first snap that night was this door.

An image of a spooky black door at night

Agave in sepia

I bought a Nikon F3 with an HP viewfinder from Ebay.  You can get film cameras relatively cheap these days.  I used a Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AI lens and with a roll of Kodak T-max 100 took to the streets playing with my new (old) toy.

agave plant in sepia tone

Clean voltage

I just happened upon this woman emptying water bottles to a deck drain and not the sink next to her.  I used a OM-2n with a 50mm f/1.4 lens using Fuji Provia 400 transparency film.

a woman emptying water next to high voltage

Reflective overpass

I took this with my OM-2n w/ 50mm f/1.4 lens using Fuji Color Provia 400 reversal film.  I like to under expose transparency film by 1/2 a stop to give it more color contrast.

image of water puddles on a stairway.