Over the past couple months I have been wanting to try medium format film photography. The main difference between medium format and 35mm film is the size. Medium format is about twice as big so the image has quite a bit more detail. I was at Moler’s Camera and saw a Mamiyaflex TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera. A nice simple camera as an introduction to medium format photography. I must say I do like shooting with the Mamiyaflex. I find myself taking more time. Really thinking about the shot before I take it. Also it is totally manual. So I want to make sure the exposure is on point before I click the shutter. Below are some scans from the first couple rolls I took with the camera shot on Ilford FP4 120 film!
Earlier this week I was in New York City. Had a blast taking photos while I was there. While walking through Central Park I came across a group of people, young and old, who were enjoying making huge bubbles. I could have stayed here all afternoon but decided to shoot a roll of film and kept it moving. Here are some of my favorite photographs.
Something happened last night that I had dreamed of for years and thought would never happen. I can’t tell you how times I was sitting in class or walking to work playing the Wu-Tang Clan on cassette. I was obsessed. I had the clothes I had their music. At one point around 1997 I even had the Wu-Tang Clan symbol shaved on the back of my head. So as I was standing watching the Wu-Tang Clan perform AND doing it in Wichita… I had to keep pinching myself. Got to see some old friends and amazing people. Here are some of the photos I took while I was there. Definitely a night to remember.
A quick warning to anyone who uses color 35mm film. To save money I will buy old film that may have expired. I can usually get the rolls for pretty cheap. They usually sell them for around $2 a roll at a local photography shop that I go to. I usually luck out, but this time, I got some super old film. The photo below is one of the images from an expired roll of film.
Now I love how the images came out, but the colors are not as sharp as they usually are. I should have bought new color film and not decided to be cheap. So the warning is this… spend a couple bucks more and buy film that isn’t expired. You will thank me for it later. Luckily, I did have a couple of rolls that weren’t expired and I got some good photos that came from them.
The other day a friend of mine asked me how to shoot film with a camera that didn’t have a light meter. He had bought a Pentax K1000 but didn’t have a battery for the built in light meter the camera had. I told him, just use the Sunny 16 rule. He had never heard of it. So I figured it would be a great topic to blog about. It is a great way to get the right exposure without having a light meter.
The basic rule of thumb states that if you have a clear, sunny day and your aperture is at f/16, whatever ISO you are using, your shutter speed will be the reciprocal value of that ISO value (ISO X = 1/X seconds shutter speed). So for example, if your ISO is 400 at f/16, then your shutter speed will be 1/400 seconds. If your ISO is 100, then your shutter speed will be 1/100 seconds.
But lets say you want to change the aperture from f/16 to f/11. Then you would lower the shutter speed 1 stop. So on a sunny day if your ISO is 400 at f/16 your shutter speed would be 1/400. If your ISO is 400 at f/11 your shutter speed would be 1/800.
For other weather conditions besides clean and sunny, you can also compensate with the aperture in order to keep ISO and shutter speed at the same value. Here are some of the settings I use below.
Weather Condition - Shadow/Detail - Aperture
Snowy/Sandy - Dark with sharp edges - f/22
Clear & Sunny -Distinct -f/16
Slightly overcast - Soft around edges - f/11
Overcast - Barely - f/8
Heavy overcast - No shadows - f/5.6
Open shade/Sunset - No shadows - f/4
One film I want to shoot but will never have a chance to is Kodachrome. It is no longer made, and the chemicals too process the film aren’t even around anymore. But, there are still some great slide films out that you can take photos with. In the last five years of shooting film again, I have only processed one roll of slide film. That was a roll of Fuji Velvia 50. I currently have four rolls of slide film ready to send off to be processed. In the next couple of weeks I plan on sending them off. It has been so long ago that I don’t have any idea what photos are on the rolls of film. So whatever I get back will be a fun surprise. Here are some photos from the one roll of slide film I shot a couple years ago. If you ever have a chance to pick up a roll, I would definitely do so!
Colton Van Ness is a photographer based out of the Wichita, Kansas area. I came across his work on Instagram. Like myself he shots and processes 35mm film. He has helped keep me inspired and has became a good friend. He is someone who keeps me motivated. We go shoot, bounce ideas off each other and talk street photography. Happy to introduce everyone to Colton Van Ness a.k.a. @coltonvanness!
What got you interested in photography?
The thing that got me interested in photography was definitely the fact that my parents always had so many cameras, prints, and processed negatives lying around. As a toddler they were more of a toy to me, but over time I understood the camera better as a way of documenting your life, so I ended up attached to looking at old photos as a child.
Who or what inspires you and keeps you inspired?
I’m inspired by just knowing that whatever I document and preserve on film, I can pass down as a physical artifact of my generation and my individual experience.
What camera and film do you use?
I’ve been shooting a Nikon F3 with a 35mm focal length for around 2 years now. Always on Ilford FP4 or HP5
How would you describe your photography? What is your style?
Determining my own “style” seems to be the biggest challenge. I tend to just shoot anything that catches my eye in the moment. Which is why it’s so important to always have a camera, even if it’s just your iphone.
What are you favorite places to photograph? (Around Wichita?)
My favorite place to photograph in the city is literally anywhere north of Kellogg between Ridge and Greenwich. That’s the area I’ve stuck to for years now photography-wise, and I still haven’t seen everything.
How much are you able to get out to shoot?
I’m not able to plan days out to hit the streets much these days, but the camera stays with me for when I feel like I need it.
Do you prefer color or black and white?
Black and white.
Black and white can come off to some as less exciting than color, but to me, reducing images to black and white changes the reality of the image. Black and white has a special ability to amaze and confuse me. I’m drawn to them quicker than I am photos in color, because I live seeing in color.
You are currently working on your first zine? What is the process like and when do you think it will be available?
The process of narrowing 3,000 images to 40 for the zine was harder than the 6 months of shooting. Every photo is chosen and ready for print. I’ll get a sample or two, decide on a paper and bind, then i’ll make the drop and announce it on my instagram. Expect it before halloween.
Everyone always asks “Who are your top 5” when talking about any subject. So... who are your top 5 photographers that keep you inspired?
These lists are always filled with Magnum photographers, so this list is just friends and instagram accounts i’m inspired by.
* Royce Stevenson -@double_r_the_superstar
* Geoff Haggray - @geoffhaggray
* Sam Youkilis - @samyoukilis
* Jonathan Walker - @kingofkodak
* Lauren Lepore - @35mm.mistress
For people interested in Colton’s work you can find him on instagram… @coltonvanness!
I have an uncle who always says, “The worst thing you can do is lie to yourself.” How many people do you know of that lie to themselves? They don’t know who they are. The worst thing you could do is lie to yourself. That does not mean you can’t change your ways if you want to. But, one thing is for sure. If you don’t know who you are, you can never change your ways.
It is said that there are 26 universal constants. But I think they might have missed one. Change. If there is one thing constant in this universe it is that change is inevitable. I have been going through some of the photos that I have taken over the past couple years and I came across this photo inside the Wichita library. Or should I say, the old Wichita library. It got me thinking about change. Things, people, buildings come and go. Overtime everything changes. Somethings are remembered, others are forgotten. There are some who can’t handle change. Hiding from the truth and living in the past. But change is good. Who would want everything to stay the same for ever. Not me.
Life can be a funny thing. It has it’s ups and down, but also more than anything life will humble you when you aren’t expecting it. I can speak from experience on this. It has been that constant that helps me balance my ego when it gets out of wack. For some they don’t quite get the message. They might get humbled and brush it off or let ego get in the way. Ego is such a funny thing. It is that thing in your brain that tells you lie after lie. Telling what what you deserve or how things should be. It is more of a defense mechanism more than anything. The lies our ego tells to ourselves are ten times worse than any lie someone else could say about us. So try to stay humble. It is a constant struggle. Trust me, I know! Remember that someone else has it ten times worse than you.
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. “ - C.S. Lewis
Trying to think of some ways to expand and add more content to the website. Got some exciting things on the way. Interviews with other street photographers and people who influence me and keep me motivated. I also get quite a bit of questions about my process of shooting film and how I process the film. So want to make some videos to help anyone who wants to get into film photography. You also might notice I have been pushing for people to sign up for email club. Want to do more giveaways and keep people updated on what I am working on. It is really about building a community of like wise individuals. So looking forward to working and building that! So… make sure and sign up!
There is no shortage of American patriotism around Kansas. No matter where you look, you will always see the American flag and the colors of the red, white and blue waving proudly.
I often wonder why there are not more monuments around Wichita. I would think that there would be more, but there isn’t. Come to think of it there really isn’t that many statues. A handful in the downtown area. Outside of that, nothing. Maybe that is what it is. Most of the monuments and statues are in a 1 1/2 miles radius. Maybe to get people out and about and in different parts of the city there should be some put up in places that people don’t normally go to. It might give them a reason to go or at least be a sort of monument treasure hunt for people who come in town. Maybe one day.
So far this year I would have to say out of all the money I have spent that my zoo membership has been the best bang for my buck. For starters if my wife and I go 3 times in one year we have made our money back. I always like going to the zoo but at the price of general admission I didn’t make it but once a year tops. But now with a membership we can go, walk around and enjoy the zoo. If we only want to see the elephants, then we just see the elephants. There isn’t as much of a rush to get everything in at one time to get our moneys worth.
But what I like most is it gives me something to do when there is nothing going on. On a boring Sunday afternoon with nothing going on the zoo will always be there to keep me entertained. Plus the people watching is as interesting as the animal watching. That is the on place in Wichita that I can say that. I do always feel a bit of nostalgia whenever I go. My first job as a teenager was at the zoo. I think about my time working there and all the fun behind the scenes things that most people never see while walking around. So you might see me walking around the zoo a lot more often. Plus they have the best popcorn ever!
The drought is over. I was doing so well with blogging and posting photos. But, I went M.I.A. for a bit. Not really missing just not writing. Went out to Los Angeles for a couple of days. The weather was perfect and the scenery was amazing. I was able to take some photos while I was there. I was staying in Hollywood and it is true what they say about homeless people being everywhere. I did enjoy the area though. Interesting people all around and so much to see.
The huge irony of the entire trip was the place I visited where the most interesting people were and the most action was I didn’t take one photo. Venice Beach is a street photographers dream, and I didn’t feel like taking any photographs while I was there. I was too busy enjoying it all and taking everything in. But that just gives me more reason to get back and visit. The longer I am away from LA the more I want to get back to visit. That is usually how it happens though. I go somewhere and can’t wait to get back home. As soon as I get back home, I can’t wait to get back to where I just visited. I’m sure it will always be like that.