London on Film

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Back in March, some friends and I took a quick trip across the pond to spend some time in the UK, and visit our friend Samer (top left).

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Hm. What to bring?

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I wanted to travel light, as I was only spending a week traveling, but I always have such a hard time doing that.

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I managed to fit everything into a backpack, and an american sized carry-on (Europeans use much smaller carry-ons, I’d come to find out), but as a midwesterner, I think minimalism is something we all struggle with. I brought both my DSLR gear and my film gear, which is probably overkill. 

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I was a little worried about placing all of my faith on my film gear on a trip like this, so I really wanted to have the versatility of my DSLR just in case (and if I wanted to shoot any video). 

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The film gear:

  • Bronica ETRSi w/ prism (6×4.5 Medium Format)
  • 2 120 film backs
  • 40mm f/4.0
  • 50mm f/2.8
  • 150mm f/3.5
  • 1 or 2 rolls of the following: Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Velvia 100 (slide film), Kodak Portra 160, Fuji Pro400H, Kodak Portra 800, Ilford Delta 3200
  • Cheap Sekonic reflected light meter

(I probably didn’t need both the 40mm and 50mm, but I wanted the wide angle of the 40mm, but the aperture of the 50mm, and I couldn’t decide, so I ended up bringing both.)

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I used one of the film backs for indoor/night time photos (with either the 800 or 3200 speed films), and the other for outdoor/daytime photos (with one of the other films). Having 2 backs made it much more versatile, but there were some challenging situations where neither of them would have worked well, so I didn’t shoot anything, or where I wanted to ditch the backpack, and only carried my DSLR.

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We had a number of flights throughout, and bringing film with you is always a challenge, since they want to send everything through the x-ray. I managed to have my film hand-checked at a few checkpoints, but a couple were unavoidable, so we will see how some of those turn out when I finally get my high-ISO film developed.

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My goal was to get out there, and shoot at least 2 rolls a day (one low ISO, and one high ISO). I have been shooting film so sparsely, that the other goal was to use a variety of film, and then develop some opinions and preferences on which film stocks I liked.

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I only ended up averaging about 1.5 rolls a day, and shooting mostly outdoors, but I really liked how the majority of them turned out.

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I was excited to get these rolls home, as that would be enough for me to actually mix my own C-41 chemicals, and develop at home.

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I developed these in my kitchen sink using Patterson reels and developing tank, and the Unicolor 1L C-41 powder kit. You gotta pretty precise with the temperature and timing, so I  kept the tank and the bottles in a bath or warm water to help regulate the temperature.

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Overall, I’m pretty please with how these turned out. After drying, I scanned them in on an Epson V600. I still have a ways to go with nailing the colors and white balance; but I think that has a lot to do with how I exposed, and the variation in film stocks, and also how I scanned. I’ll get there some day, but until then…

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Thank You for reading.


Chicago by Film…

I took these photos back in August/September of 2012. I had just picked up my first medium format SLR, the Bronica ETRSi, with a few lenses. I was excited to try it out, and because I had a few friends in town, I had some willing subjects.  I really liked how they turned out; the quality turned out pretty nice. These were shot on Kodak Portra 400, 220 film, and photos were developed and scanned by a lab. I made some adjustments in lightroom, but nothing too drastic (one I converted to B&W, because I screwed up the exposure so badly). The Bronica doesn’t have a built in light meter (although, you can buy a prism viewfinder with it built in), but, not to worry, there’s an app for that! I used the light meter app on my iphone to get a good approximation of exposure settings, and it worked really well!

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Buried Treasure…

Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124 (front). A solid garage sale find.

What’s new?

A lot of new and exciting things have happened since I last blogged.  I know it’s been a while.  But where have I been you ask?  What could have kept me away for so long?

More international travel!

I was able to work it out with my new manager to allow me to take a week off to travel to Italy.  I was going with a group of my friends from college, to celebrate the marriage of my old buddy/college roommate Thien, and his husband, Stephen.  I was honored to be one of his three best men. It was my first time there, and I would love to go back again.  I will likely blog about this in a separate post, just like I will for my trip to Europe last year, or my road trip last year.  I have so many photos to share, it’s pretty ridiculous.  But, my blog isn’t a buffet, it’s like a soup kitchen.  I don’t want my readers to over-stuff themselves on the abundant, but slightly bland heaps of 12 different types of pasta, but to appreciate it when I provide tiny tasty morsels every once in a while.  So, hopefully you haven’t died of starvation, and you’ll be coming back for every tasty bit.

New Digs!

I finally moved into my new apartment, in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  I’ve been slowly organizing my stuff, and one the things I’ve really enjoying is having my photos printed, cutting some mats, framing them, and hanging them.  I had a few unfortunate mishaps, as I found out the hard way that Command adhesive strips aren’t quite strong enough to support some of my larger frames.

And lastly, but not leastly…

New Knee!

So, this one is a bit of a bummer, but unfortunately for me, I tore my ACL playing soccer, when an opposing play collided with my fully extended (and quite shapely, might I add) leg.  It looks like I will have to have surgery if I ever want to be as active as I want to be, but it’s not urgent, and rehab is typically about a year.  I haven’t scheduled it yet, but I’ll probably wait until the end of the summer to do it, when I have less stuff I want to do.  I can get around just fine for the time being, as long as I’m not trying to run or anything.

New cameras!

In the past month, I’ve been able to buy 4 new cameras.  Well, to be honest, I bought 3 old used cameras, and received 1 new camera that I had bought in March.  The cameras I’m referring to are the Yashica Mat-124, the Kodak Duaflex II, the Voigtlander Vito II, and the Nikon D800. I actually got my D800 a few weeks ago, but haven’t really gotten the chance to use it. And for the other 3, if you’ve been following my instagram, @justinjle, you might have seen them already, and know that I found them at a garage sale in Minneapolis.  I am so stoked about these old cameras though, as I got the 3 for a great deal (I think, anyway).  My friend, Anh-Tram went garage-sale-ing, and came across a box of old cameras, and showed me a pic of them on her iphone. I just had to get down there and check them out for myself, and I ended up walking away with these 3 for $75. I’m not sure the Voigtlander works, and the Kodak is a bit scratched, and pretty dusty, but the Yashica seems to be pretty clean, in great condition, and the light meter seems to be working as well.  In any case, it’s really nice to look at, and feels really solid in the hands.  I ended up buying a roll of 120 film to run through it to see if it works.  In any case, it’s so nice, I thought I’d post a couple photos I took of it with my D800 & a couple of old Nikon manual focus lenses.

The Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124 (front). A solid garage sale find.

Yashica Mat-124

The Yashica Mat-124 (top-down view through the waist-level viewfinder). Inside of the viewfinder, is the Kodak Duaflex II.

Pretty cool stuff, right? Also, the detail with that D800 is pretty dang awesome! I’m hoping to be back to blogging in a few weeks, and posting more photos from my other trips, but not this week (I’ll be turning 30, and celebrating it like I was still 29).

But until I get back to blogging, I’d like to hear from you… So here’s my question:


What’s the best garage sale treasure you’ve found so far?

I hardly do any garage-sale-ing, and tend to opt for looking occasionally on craigslist, fredmiranda, or the National Camera stores I lived near in the Twin Cities, but with this great score, it makes me want to start going more often. I used to love going as a kid, as that was the only time me and my siblings got new toys, and we loved it.  Much simpler times then.  Anyway, what’s some good stuff you’ve found lately?