Bokeh or Bust

Flower Power, Draper Girls Farm, Parkdale, Oregon

Dahlia in full flame-on last summer at Draper Girls Farm in Parkdale, Oregon. I added a little Photoshop PFM to enhance.

Within the last few years, I have begun learning the ins and outs of macro photography.  I don’t have one of those lenses that can be used to count the hairs on a dust mite, but I can get up close and personal with flowers.  It all started when I bought a 90mm Vivitar Macro lens from Blue Moon Camera at the owner’s suggestion.  Jake said that it was an outstanding lens, despite the Vivitar branding.  It turned out he was right.  I used that one for a couple years until I accidentally left a camera bag on the back of my car and drive off.  Now, it sits on my bookshelf as a reminder to never do that again.  Now, I have two lenses: A 90mm Tamron Macro, and a 28-105mm Nikkor-D.  Both do a decent job, but the Tamron, surprisingly, is the superior lens for macro work.  The Nikkor vignettes at wider apertures.

The image above was taken with the Tamron.  I like the bokeh that I get with this lens.  It’s creamy and lush.

As mentioned in the caption, this picture was taken at Draper Girls Farm near Parkdale.  If you live in the vicinity, stop by.  Bring your camera.


Terra Incognito

I have been looking to branch out into new territory both in location and subject matter, and in technique. After I took the plunge into digital photography, I continued on the path I set for my film photography, which was reality turned up a few notches. I never went for extreme colors or contrast. I wanted what I called “The Slow Zen,” which referenced the time involved in setting up a large format camera, and my quest for calmness and beauty in a photograph.

Recently, I discovered something called The Orton Effect. The technique entails putting a blurred layer in front of a sharp layer (or two). All layers need to be brightened first. I decided to give it a try because I know a few photographers who use it.

My first attempt was unimpressive. It hurt the eyes to look at. The next time I tried, I didn’t brighten the layers. When I selected “multiply” for the layers, was astounded by the look. The colors were off the chart, and the lights and darks popped. I then dropped the opacity until it looked more pleasing.

Why do the same thing with digital as I did with film? Why not set off in a different direction? They are two different mediums with different aesthetics. So, with my digital work, I’m going to experiment, but without the gaudiness of most HDR. With my film work, I’m going to continue on the path I have always been on. We’ll see both paths lead.

Flickr and the Art of Image Maintenance

When I first started posting my photos on Flickr in 2008, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was a darkroom photographer trying to display my images on the internet with a race car computer and a horse-and-buggy monitor.  I had a 2007 Mac Pro, which cost me so much that I couldn’t afford to replace my old CRT monitor.  My pictures didn’t look so bad on that monitor, really.  I started with Adobe Photoshop Elements, and then went to CS4, and used “Save for Web and Devices” before uploading to Flickr.  The CRT monitor displayed them as slightly pixilated, but otherwise decent pictures.

Fast forward to late 2015.  I upgraded to an iMac with a Retina display.  I started to review my older Flickr images and was horrified.  They looked awful.  I couldn’t believe that anyone would have actually liked them.  I began going through those images, and re-editing them to improve their contrast, and to remove the pixilation.  It’s been a long, and tedious process, but it has been rewarding.

Why does this matter?  I’m glad I asked.  One of the things I discovered while re-editing was going down in contrast instead of going up.  I have always used yellow and magenta filters in the darkroom while printing pictures, and some pictures proved impossible to print because of their extreme contrast ranges.  It never occurred to me to include blue, which decreases contrast in both the printing phase as well as the capturing phase

Becoming and better digital presenter made me a better film photographer.  Who’d a thunk it?


Grain Elevator, Biggs Junction, Oregon

Now that summer is around the corner, I’ve been shooting through the rolls of Infrared film I loaded last summer.  IR is useless in the winter, so if I don’t finish it by September, it will have to wait until spring.  

I have 4 rolls of Konica IR 750 remaining from a block of 10 I bought off of eBay a few years back. It expired in 1990, but it has been freezer kept, so fogging is at a minimum.  It’s my all-time favorite film, so naturally it’s been discontinued since 2005.   

I plan to shoot a bunch of IR this summer.  More to come…

Still Making Due

Starvation Creek Falls, October 2016

I’ve been without a darkroom for over a year and a half.  My attempt to carve one out of a spare bedroom was foiled by carpet.  Gaia and I don’t consider this to be our permeant house, so ripping up the wall-to-wall carpet upstairs is out of the question.  And, even if we could do that, imagine the damage that a few major fixer spills could do to the resale value.  
I have the room set up, sans sink.  The enlargers are ready to go, I have chems and paper.  I can get the room dark enough to load film, but the dust is impossible to control.  I can do contact prints, and develop them in a Jobo Processor in the bathroom, but the dust is… you get the point.  

I could muddle through.  The situation is not impossible.  But, after having a real darkroom for so long, the difficulty of doing the most basic processes, when compared to the ease I experienced before, makes it not worth doing when I can send my film out for developing, and scan the negatives.  My scanner won’t do 8×10 negatives, but I’m working on that. 

What does the future bring?  Someday a different house with space for a proper darkroom.  I’m also reconsidering carving a small darkroom out of the garage.  More on this later.

Digital:  I am looking to buy a pro digital camera like a Nikon D810.  I do not intend it to take over for film, but I can use it for the quick shots, and save the medium and large format film for the spectacular shots.  

Featured image: Camera: Hasselblad 500CM with a 40mm Carl Zeiss lens.  

Between darkrooms and making due

Well, the new house in Hood River is very efficient, but not conducive to containing a production darkroom.  I set up the third bedroom with the D5XL enlarger, and some of the framing equipment, but it’s carpeted, so all of the wet stuff has to happen in the bathroom with my Jobo CPP processor.


I bought a digital camera to keep me going until I carve a darkroom out of the garage.

The impossible happened.

I have the photos to prove it.

Ruthton Point, October 2015 # 2I bought a used Nikon D300 with a 24-120 VR lens.  Then, I had my Nikon prime lenses converted to AI at Blue Moon Camera.  These include the following:

20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 65mm Macro (Vivitar), and 135mm.

Add to that my 300mm Tamron with a 2X teleconverter, and the package is complete.

The interesting part of this is that it made me a better film photographer.  Having the ability to see how my shot will turn out immediately enabled me to get the most out of my film shots.

I’m still shooting film, but I don’t get around to developing them as often as I’d like to.  I hope to get the Jobo fired up this weekend, so I’ll have some early spring shots coming up soon.