Just in case you haven’t heard…that wonderful instant Polaroid material you’ve used for years is about to be no more! That’s right: Polaroid has announced that it will stop production of its instant materials at the end of this year. There have been rumors that Fuji and Ilford may be interested in the technology but to date nothing has, er, developed. Here is a link to a great interview from NPR on Polaroid and reflections by several artists who use this material for the artworks including Chuck Close. (Just click on the AUDIO logo.)
Having worked with Polaroid materials for several of my own artwork projects from my Through A Glass Darkly series and Book, The Haiku Series, The Sakura Porfolio and my Encaustic Cycle as well as also being collected in the Polaroid Permanent Collections as one of their featured artists I find this news of a once-great icon in photography closing shop very, very disturbing for the future of our creative medium.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
– Abraham Lincoln
This is a key underlying concept of the Figital Revolution…if we as photogrpahers band together and speak out about what we want in our industry, the industry will be compelled to listen! So over the next few months I will be conducting brief surveys (3 yes or no questions each) on what the photographic community really wants. So click on the survey link and and make your voice heard! I will post the results on The Figital Revolution and also use this information in meetings with industry (aka The Photo Industrial Complex) to illustrate what Real Photographers- that’s you- want! Please note you must enter your email address at the end of the survey to keep voting honest… please only VOTE once… it’s how Lincoln would have wanted it.
Via La Revolution – Stephen Schaub
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As promised here is a sample image (my wife Eve Ogden Schaub of Life=Art) in Puerto Rico pushing the new TMY-2 (Tmax 400) to an E.I. of 1600 and processed in Xtol Straight using Kodak’s suggested time/ temp . The light was very, very low as even at an E.I. of 1600 my exposure was still 1/8 at F1.4 (hand-held.) The image was made with a Leica M7 with a 50mm Summilux.
So what are my thoughts????
Please note: click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
1. Of course there is more grain than the 400 speed test I posted a few days ago (click here) but not a lot considering this is a 2 stop push! It is not as crisp and lacks some fine image detail as the other test image had due to the increased grain and I am sure the slow shutter speed and the f1.4 working f stop ( I do the best I can, but on 10 shots of espresso a day what do you expect?)
2. Good shadow detail and the highlights still have nice separation especially considering the light source.
3. Easy to scan- no problems with excessive contrast or anything…the scan was as easy as my last test scan. (Scanned on an Imacon Scanner at 3200 dpi, 16 Bit, wet mount, no sharpening.)
So what does this mean??? Where do we (I) go from here?
Well I for one will shoot this film as my NEW primary film at box speed (400) – but it is nice to know that in a pinch I can push this film to meet my needs no matter what they are… I am going to continue my exploration of different developers (stay tuned!!) for this film, but for now- Xtol works fine. Once again in my opinion – Kudos to Kodak! (It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to say that twice in one week!)
Image Copyright Stephen M. Schaub 2008
Kodak IMHO hit a home run with the new TMAX 400. I’ve been testing the 35mm version- (the box says world’s sharpest 400… and it is!) and having now shot around 30 rolls of this film in Puerto Rico and tested a few more here in Vermont here are some initial thoughts (note- please be sure to click on the images to get a larger view):
1. I tried 3 different developers (D-76, XTOL and PMK… XTOL Straight wins hands down.)
2. True 400 speed in XTOL.
3. Extremely fine grain with a very, very nice tonality…MY NEW FAVORITE FILM!!!
4. I feel that the times posted by Kodak for this new film are pretty darn good- at least the Xtol processing time/ temp produces negs that scan perfectly.
I have posted an example snapshot I took of my wife Eve Ogden Schaub of LIFE=ART while at lunch in Puerto Rico (my Pina Colada is just out of the frame). The image was shot on a Leica M7 with a Summilux 50mm F1.4 at F/2.8 (060 filter on lens). Be sure to check out the detail images as well as they really illustrate why I feel this film is a real winner (remember…this is 35mm 400 speed film!)
The scan was done on our Imacon at 6300dpi, 16 Bit, Wet Mount. Printed at 16″ x 24″ on our d’Vinci Fine Art Printer it blows me away that this is 35mm. Go get this film NOW! This is a film we as photographers should support as it is fantastic (and how often can you say that these days?)
Please note that there is quite a bit of old stock TMAX 400 out there (I don’t like the old film at all)…the new version has only been out since Oct/ Nov 2007 and can be a bit hard to find. The box should have a red rectangle that says “World’s Sharpest !” The Catalog Number is: 894 7947…I purchased mine from a Calumet Store.
Here is a sample preview of my new artworks from Puerto Rico (These are from my Fragment Series). The image is 36″ x36″!
Viva La Revolution!!
Please note all images Copyright Stephen M. Schaub 2008
Master Printer and Hybrid Artist Stephen Schaub explores many of the myths surrounding scanning film, both negatives and transparencies. How much resolution is really necessary? Oil vs dry mounts scans? 8bit vs 16bit and more. This informative audioblog provides a great general understanding regarding the process of scanning and it also provides tips and starting points for making YOUR best scan.
Never leave home without…what? Your credit card? Driver licence? Breath mints?
No, your camera!
I am hereby declaring it a mortal sin to leave home without your camera…it should cause you great physical pain and perhaps even nausea to be without your most beloved tool for too long or to be separated by too great a distance.
Ok, a bit over the top perhaps but this is a serious topic and one that is often overlooked. I, for one, have been working on a kit that will have all necessary gear for most situations (3 lenses, 28mm, 50mm and 90mm), simple flash, camera body (Leica M7), misc accessories plus film (6-10 rolls) and carry in a weather proof bag that does not scream “steal me!”- but at the same time looks good and weighs less than seven pounds…anything over 10 and you will not carry it day in and day out- trust me I’ve tried.
My reasoning for this mandate is simple: without a camera you do not create work, period. Without a camera you as a photographer are worthless.
Now go get your camera…do it NOW! (How’s that for positive life changing motivation?)
By Stephen M. Schaub
My predictions are usually right…I have successfully predicted over the last few years with clairvoyant accuracy many of the new trends in the photographic community (it’s a gift… and a curse).
So what is next, you ask?Let me gaze into my crystal monitor…
I see in our collective future…LENSES and more LENSES. Think about it…you’ve upgraded everything you own and the world is not perfect…a-hah! Caught you enjoying the remaining few dollars left in your wallet, didn’t we? Never fear …it’s time for new digitally optimized glass (lenses). This does make sense? Well, as most glass used by photographers today was designed for film and not digital capture… yes there is a difference, especially on the wide angle. But who will this really affect? Not all glass is created equal. Which systems will benefit the most from these new “future” offering (code for: the current glass is kinda sucky)?
Nikon and Canon users get ready for new glass. Nikon and Canon do have some good lenses to offer (a few) but nothing I would regard as really amazing and as such it’s UPGRADE time. Leica users are pretty much ok especially with many of the new lenses released over the last decade or so…even old Leica glass can go toe to toe with the best made by most other company’s lenses. I know Nikon and Canon users will bitch forever that I said that their lenses are of a lesser qualtity than Leica but they ARE- so get over it. Ever see an M8 digital capture using a great 50mm Leica lens, say a Summilux 1.4 and compare that to any Canon or Nikon with their best 50mm…have ya?… once you’ve seen it, all becomes clear.
Also interesting is that Zeiss and Schneider are getting into the SLR game and offering what is predicted to be some amazing glass (Schneider already offers a 28mm PC lens in Nikon mount that I looked at a year ago…it was simply stunning with a huge image circle.
Olympus and their 4 thirds system seems in my opinion to be right on track as their lenses are optimized already for their current digital generation cameras. No hold-overs here, they built the whole system from ground up…this took guts I’m sure but from what I’ve seen they may have been right.
So now that you’ve spent all your money on software, printers and a new camera body and were filling pretty smug with more resolution than you need, get ready for one of the biggest real advances in photographic technology that will really make your images sharper…new digitally optimized glass.
By Stephen M. Schaub
Today was a hard day. After water damage to my old studio this last winter destroyed my 4″ x 5″ and 8″ x 10″ enlargers- today, at last, was dumpster day. My 4″ x 5″ had traveled with me occupying 4 different darkroom configurations in different states spanning the last 15+ years. My 8″ x 10″ was the relative new kid on the block and I feel that it’s end was way too soon. Fortunately my lenses were fine (I will post them on ebay later) but my emotions are shot. I’ve also been cleaning out and rereading “old” photo magazines (good ones and suckie ones alike) and marveling at the rapid change our medium has gone through in just a few short years…it is very scary.
I have never been one to get too attached to equipment as I have always viewed gear as just that- gear to make my work with, period. But this was different. Now that I no longer have enlargers and my former darkroom is empty the option is gone to revisit the wet darkroom (unless of course I lose my mind and buy a new enlarger…not going to happen.) I’m ok with this (sort of) but it does bring up many of the points illustrated in the Figital Revolution book and today they all landed square on my doorstep with a bang and a thump of my enlargers landing one at a time in the dumpster.
It’s that time of year again when the excitement for the new and fantastic is palpable. Is it Christmas? Is it my birthday? No it is Photo Convention time! What?
It’s the hypnotic time of year when new cameras, printers and photo accessories are released upon the photo community at a frantic pace in an attempt to convince you that the gear you bought last season is now somehow dated and inferior.
Be Smart. Be Figital.
Look at the reality of what is new and is it movement or is it progress? Yes, there are new and wonderful products and some meaningful upgrades but REALLY look and don’t just buy into the hype.