Friday, March 27, 2009

Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro

I got a chance to play around with the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens recently, and came to the realization that macro photography is tougher than it looks. With no depth of field at such close distances, it's imperative that you stop down...which in turn slows your shutter speed. A tripod is needed at the very least, and manual focus is advisable. Macro shooters know this, of course, but I'm usually late to any party.

It was the first time I've used "live view" on the 40D. Other than macro, I can't imagine using it again, really. Maybe for a portrait. To me it's a vestigial feature meant for marketing bullet points. Shooting macro on a tripod, however, it did come in handy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm getting ready for some fun with film. My dad generously lent me his Paterson Super System 4 developing tank and Western Model 100 bulk loader. I've got 7 or 8 rolls of film ready to develop, though I'll probably burn through a new roll to use as a tester since I've never actually developed film before. It seems like it'll be easy, but still...

I ordered the chemicals from Freestyle Photo in Hollywood. I've never ordered from them before, but after poking around on film forums the last couple of weeks I figured I'd check them out. They have a much more extensive collection of B&W film than the big NY stores. I added 5 rolls of Arista 400 B&W film ($1.99 a roll!) just for the hell of it — I really need to settle on one or two films I like, or I'll be developing one roll every time. The Paterson tank can hold 3. A lot of the forum jockeys are convinced that Arista 400 is really re-branded Tri-X. We'll see. If I like it, I'll buy 100 feet of it and fire up the bulk loader.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Canon's 10-22mm lens is a great option for APS-C cameras. I've got one for a few weeks and am having a great time with it. Naturally, 99% of my shots are at the wide end, like this one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Film school

I've had a real bug lately to shoot black & white film. I plan to develop it myself & scan it. I've even gone so far as to purchase a vintage film camera and a scanner that can handle transparencies. I'm not abandoning digital, but film is really tugging at me lately. How can this be?

I already spent a lot of my time taking/processing/sharing photographs. I found a way to take a time-consuming hobby and make it even more time-consuming.

Part of the pull of film is the DIY aspect — I love that. Deconstructing the photograph is another thing to love. There's a real sense of satisfaction that comes from taking a decent photograph with a toy Holga camera or a pinhole lens I made out of tinfoil.

My wife & I just had a baby, so I'm taking tons of pictures — but now I'm spreading it around. I keep the AE-1 loaded with ASA 1600 film and leave it upstairs for indoor baby shots. The Ricoh 35 ZF has ASA 400 film in it for casual outdoor snapshots. The Holga stays loaded with ASA 100 film just so it's at the ready. My 40D still does most of the work, but I carry the Ricoh around now as my point-and-shoot.

There's a look and feel to film that cannot be recreated in digital. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but it's true. I'm not saying it's always better, just different.

Is the pull of film becoming a trend? I read Ken Rockwell's site regularly, and he's been on a Leica M7 trip all this year. David duChemin published a post recently on the topic. Is it a strange lunar year or something?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow day

Virginia gets very little snow, so when some does come it's quite an event. Last night we got about 5 inches.

Here's Charlotte checking it out:

Later in the day, the sheet of snow starting melting on the metal roof at work: