A Creative Day

Many of you have been asking for some insight beyond the technical- more of “A Day in the Life” creative -type stuff, SO… here is a good example of how things can happen around here:

Ok, yesterday after posting the video on Focus and DOF here on Figital Revolution I was searching the web and came across a great new attachment which allows youholgaconversionnikandcanto connect a Holga lens to a Canon or Nikon with precision… here is a link. It is made by S.K. Grimes who I have done some work with in the past and I am sure the construction is spot-on. I decided to call Adam at S.K. Grimes and ask about making a device like this for my Leica M. I love the Holga (my second book is all Holga work) and thought this could be a great side project. I also found online a home-made attachment / modification for the Holga lens on the Leica M, LINK, but I would prefer the precision of the S.K. Grimes version if I have a choice.

Then I got to thinking about my Through A Glass Darkly artworks and what I liked about them and remembered that last year I had done some work with Zone Plates on several different camera systems and that I had purchased a 28mm F32 Zone Plate for my Leica M7… so then, of course, I had to go find it. After digging through a few drawers in my studio it ultimately surfaced so now I only needed to find some fast film because at F32, 100 speed film would be out of the question for hand-held exposures (maybe). So, yes, I found a roll (one, lonely little roll!) of XP2 Super which I knew had enough exposure latitude to rate with an EI of 800 or even 1250 if needed (I settled on 800).

Finally I decided to shoot a test roll around my yard here in Vermont. I was really curious to see if I could fuse the look and feel of my Through A Glass Darkly Artworks, the Zone Plate, the Overlapping-Frame Panoramic Technique AND my most recent A New Eden Artworks into one creative stew. About 30 minutes later I was off to my favorite lab Phototec, in Rutland Vermont,  to have the C41 film processed and-equally importantly although perhaps not so much creatively- get my Prius’s oil changed. One hour later my car was running fine and the negatives were dry.

new-zone-plate-image1
Zone Plate Overlapping Frame Panoramic Technique

I was surprised at how much I really liked them… really, really liked them! (This is not the way ALL my brilliant ideas go, you know.) So I had to hurry back to the studio, fire up the Imacon and run a test scan. After a bit of thought on how to compensate for the very low contrast negatives I came up with a good scanner setting and set to work on the file. An hour or so later the image was finished and I really liked how it looked on the screen. Buuuuuut as I had chosen to shoot B&W film and my current favorite art paper (hand-coated Fabriano, 640 gsm) only has an icc. for color and not the required K4 linearization for black and white printing on my d’Vinci Printer it was time- oh yes!- to make the linearization. So about an hour after THAT the linearization was complete and I was all set to print. I had several sheets of paper coated both rough and cold press (luckily left over from a client’s job from last week) but I ultimately decided to go with the cold press as the smoother surface texture would, perhaps, help define the soft elements of the image better than the rough would (I plan to run a test soon on this to be sure!)

surfacedetail
Surface Detail of Final Print on Fabriano Cold Press HC

Conclusion… I really liked the image and possible new direction for these artworks- hooray! Did I get my work for client’s done today? No! Is it ultimately worth it, in the end, to go with the “art attack” when it strikes? Always!! You can’t do it all the time, BUT inspiration is too valuable not to follow up whenever humanly possible. And if you can get your car ready for another couple of thousand miles of exploring at the same time… even better.

Next, I think I will try this in color using the Fuji 800Z. And as I always say… experimentation is key! Stay tuned.

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

4 Responses

  1. Finley

    Stephen- A few things:

    First, thanks for the tips on focusing, particularly the bits about the Leica. I, for one, often use the Hyperfocal technique, not just because it is a lot faster (I tend to shoot where there is a lot of haze, so a 1/250 shutter speed, alternating between f16, 11, and 8 tends to hit the nail on the head without needing to meter) but because the lack of tack-sharpness tends to flatter my work (I shoot a lot of urban and rural decay).

    As to this post, when you get your M modded holga attatchment, pick up a 35mm holga camera as well, and cannibalize the lens, so you have the choice between 65?mm from the medium format holga and 40something mm from the 35mm holga. Also, with the 35mm holga lens, if you are careful with your hacking, you can open the lens up to roughly f/2.8, although this is permanent without some clever gaffer tape ingenuity. I have a canon holga lens from the (i think) now defunct holgamods, and I always got relatively mixed results with it. I am interested to hear how your M mount version does, as this would be perfect for use with a CL, due to the ease with which you can adjust the shutter speeds.

    Also, pardon my ignorance, but please explain what exactly the zone plate is/does. I am not familiar with them.

  2. I’ve been wondering how you rotate the camera when you do the overlapping frame panorama technique. You seem to have a lot of foreground subjects in your shots and it doesn’t seem like they have parallax errors.

    I’m excited to keep trying the technique and see my results from my 35mm SLR.

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