January 28, 2011

Canon + Diana = Panorama

I've been having fun with collages lately. My newest one shows six segments of a beach scene at Fort Story, one of my favorite places to enjoy the Virginia scenery and experiment with cameras. These photos were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel, with a plastic Diana lens attached via an adapter. I loaded the camera with black and white 35mm film, which I then scanned using the color setting, giving the images the slightest hint of color.

The plastic Diana lens is known for its dreamy, soft-focus look. But when the lens is set up correctly, at least a part of the image near the center should be sharp. These photos are a little blurry throughout. So... I did well with the light meter, but I know what I need to work on for next time.

Because of course there will be a next time before too long, when I'm out experimenting with the Canon camera and the Diana lens combination again. :)

January 27, 2011

San Giovanni degli Eremiti

This morning, I made a happy discovery in the office closet: shoeboxes with photos and negatives from my Italian study abroad trips in 2000 and 2001. Woo-hoo! I sat down with the computer and negative scanner and started digitizing.

This photo was taken in Sicily in the spring of 2001, by the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti. The current structure of this Arab-Norman church dates back to the 12th century, but there has been a religious building on this site since the sixth century. Its transformation from church to a mosque and back to a church reflects the the succession of cultures that dominated Sicily throughout its history.

Eremiti means hermits, and this little spot, although in the middle of the city, is a truly peaceful retreat. When I visited Palermo in the spring of 2001, it was one of my favorite places in the city.

Taken with an Olympus Stylus Epic.

January 26, 2011

January 24, 2011

Diana Mini Panorama

I've been having problems with my Diana Mini: the shutter has been sticking in the open position, overexposing a lot of images. Three rolls of film, to be exact. But after a bit of shaking, poking, and jostling, the shutter seems to be working again.

-click to enlarge-

The last two rolls I shot with the Diana Mini turned out as I had hoped they would. This is one of my favorite images: a panoramic shot of a tree from below. I was using the half-frame setting, so each individual image is portrait format, not square. I started on the left and worked my way to the right, only winding the film a little bit between exposures to create overlap in the images.

I'm happy that my little plastic princess seems to be working again. Stay tuned for more Diana Mini pics!

January 20, 2011

Project 365

To kick off the new year right and make sure I always keep a camera handy (haha), I've decided to participate in Project 365, with the goal of taking at least one photo each day in 2011. Some of them may be dedicated DSLR photos, while others might be mobile phone snapshots or instant pictures. The important thing is that there's an image for each day... and I think I'll share a few of them here just for fun.

The above collage is today's image, consisting of three Fuji Instax Mini pictures arranged in Photoshop. I've had a one-track photograpy mind lately — I seemingly can't take enough photos of bare, wintry tree branches, especially when there's a whitish gray sky behind them. So many shapes, so much contrast... I love it.

January 01, 2011

Through the Viewfinder

A little while ago, I became fascinated with TtV photography. TtV stands for Through the Viewfinder, and it’s one way to bring obsolete cameras back to life and spice up ├╝ber-modern digital photography with a bit of an analog look.

TtV involves using two cameras to take a photo. One camera must be functional: a DSLR, a point-and-shoot digital camera, a modern film camera, or even a cell phone camera will work.

The other camera will be used strictly for its viewfinder. So the larger and more interesting the viewfinder, the better. The Argus Argoflex is perfect for this, as its viewfinder has approximately a 2” diameter. But as you’ll see a bit further down, many other cameras, including ones with small viewfinders, can also be used for different effects.

The process is quite simple. Step one: frame your shot using the older camera.

New Cape Henry Light is framed in the viewfinder.

Step two: use the other camera to take a photo of the viewfinder… just like I’ve done above. Step 3: Crop the photo to your liking. One benefit of TtV photography is that the edges of the viewfinder create an automatic frame for your image… like so:

And that’s it!

In addition to a somewhat irregular frame, the image may also be somewhat distorted (note the slightly curved horizon line above) or have dust specs. But these imperfections are all part of the fun.

Ft. Story again. Here, the sky is less blown out, and I’ve left some more of the camera body in the image for a chunkier frame.

TtV is also great for still life photography at home:

Here, I arranged some of my beloved ceramics from Vietri and some silk flowers. I was curious what this would look like with the camera set flat on the table. But if I were to do it again, I would probably prop it up at an angle, to shoot up higher.

TtV is one way to add some imperfections and analog charm to your photos, to give them a different character. Many old cameras will have plenty of dust in the viewfinder to add plenty of rustic charm to your images. But be careful not to focus on the dust specs, or your subject will be blurry while the dust specs take over:

I didn’t realize it was THAT dirty inside!

Ah, much better.

All of the above images were taken with the Argus Argoflex. But other cameras with much smaller viewfinders work as well. Here is a sample of images taken through teeny tiny viewfinders, all about the size of my pinky fingernail:

The Argoflex and a couple of vases through the viewfinder of an Argus 75, a 35mm camera from the 1970’s.

Canon AE-1. The light spot in the middle is the manual focus assist.

Even the Holga’s small round viewfinder will work!

And… the Contaflex! Here, the focus assist and the surrounding ridges are clearly visible.

As you can see, the shape, color tint, and any other characteristics of the viewfinder all affect the final image. And yes, TtV can be done even with film. Check out these images, taken with a Canon AE-1.

Looking down into the Argus Argoflex. I used black and white 35mm film, then scanned it as a color negative film to give it the slightest hint of cream-tone color.

I have a few more TtV projects in progress, so look for more on this topic in the next few months.

And a very Happy New Year to you all! May 2011 bring us all health, peace, good times with family and friends, and last but not least, plenty of opportunities to take photos. ☺