Red, Green & A 20Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I would have long retired that venerable MX except that the lens on it when I fell on it was an excellent 20 mm wide angle. When used properly you would never know that this is an extreme wide angle. The lens has a maximum aperture of f-4 so with my aging 70 year old eyes focusing is mostly guess work on my part. My friend and camera repair man Horst Wenzl keeps the MX in good mechanical shape.
With the loss of my studio three years ago I have used my studio lighting (some of it quite portable) less and I have sort of liberated myself with the use of my two Nikon FM-2 and one Nikon FM. I sometimes use the very heavy Nikon F-3 but I always have that MX handy because of that remarkable lens.
Of late I have become awfully excited about taking pictures with those three Nikons, the MX and then just to complicate my life I use my medium format Mamiya RB-67 ProSD loaded with a wonderful 3200 ISO Fuji Instant Film.
To light make the task less complicated my 35mm film is Kodak T-Max rated at 800 ISO and Fuji 800 ISO colour negative. I still use my two exposure meters as one is set for the Fuji 3200.
What that means is that in all but impossible lighting situations I use all those cameras hand held with no cumbersome tripod.
Earlier in the year I experimented with different 35mm b+w films including my favourite and venerable Tri-X. But my tests have shown me that the T-Max at 800 is much smoother on skin (perfect for portraits and nudes) than the Tri-X.
With all that technical stuff in my back pocket and out of the way I can concentrate on the more exciting stuff.
|Pentax MX 20mm|
I load two of the Nikons with the T-Max and the Fuji 800 colour. In the last two Malibu sessions with Marsden I put colour in the Pentax MX in the second session and T-Max in the first. I am wondering if I should buy a used MX so I will not have a problem of choice.
You might chuckle if you have gotten this far to imagine watching this arthritic redundant human moving around inside a Malibu with three 35m cameras and one large Mamiya with various lenses and two exposure meters.
Technically there is one problem that has no easy solution. The colour Fuji is balanced for daylight and is able to more or less adjust to artificial light. The wrinkle is that the Malibu’s windows and windshield are tinted. Since the first shoot I have learned to lower the side windows (which eliminates some of the nice shots that I had in the first instance that also had window reflections). Since the colour film reacts to the hot lights by becoming redder I must remove red when I scan the negatives. You remove red by adding cyan and a bit of blue. The tint of the windshield adds green. So when I make the pictures less red they get green. And when I attempt to remove the tint they become redder!
For our two sessions we have not had any planned shoot list or concept. And yet it has all somehow moved in the direction of an edgy and tension filled images that made me think of film noir. John Lekich rose to the occasion (in one day!) and produced a wonderful essay. Bronwen Marsden, herself did the same with an intimate exposé of a teenage experience in her mother’s car inside a garage with closed doors.
I firmly believe that these photographs are some of the best I have taken in a very long time. All I can figure out is that by returning full-circle to my shooting technique of the late 70s that adventure, that excitement of youth, with a little help from that Pentax 20 have returned. And of course it would not at all be possible without the striking presence of Marsden.
Now if I only had a bigger car it wouldn’t be so painful.