March 31, 2011

Instant Triptych

I was photographing white blossoms against a gray sky.
But the photos turned out blue.
I love them just like this.

March 22, 2011

Panorama Vomerese

My first ever nontraditional film experiment!

-click- to enlarge

I don't even remember the name of the camera, but it was a vintage camera (1930's or 1940's) that I had bought for next to nothing at an antiques market and later gave away. I didn't think the film had turned out (the camera wasn't designed for 35mm film) and put it in the back of a drawer, but I found it again today. Now that I have a negative scanner, I can see exactly what's on it. I found a single series of overlapping photos, all taken in Vomero, our neighborhood in Naples. I'm glad I kept the film!

March 17, 2011

More coffee!

I was so happy with the first roll of film developed in caffenol that I simply couldn't wait to try it again. I was curious to see whether it would work with black and white C-41 film as well. So... what better way to find out than simply giving it a try?

So I broke out the Olympus again, this time loading it with C-41 black and white film from the local pharmacy. With all the beautiful trees around here, it didn't take me long to finish the roll. And voila, the coffee and vitamin c home brew did the trick!

The images are a bit more grainy, and they turned out a different shade of color than the first batch. But I like it.

My favorite tree. Caffeinated.

I think I've found a whole new way to be hooked on coffee.

March 16, 2011


Coffee and vitamin C. Good for a burst of energy and good health. But who knew that these two ingredients could also be used to develop film? It may sound a bit like science fiction, but surprisingly enough, it really works.

Developing film in a coffee mixture called caffenol can be done right at home. And it actually wasn't too complicated. A daylight developing tank, a roll of film, the coffee and vitamin C, plus some water, sodium carbonate, and dish soap is all it took. It's cheaper than having film developed, and it's more rewarding, too.

Not to mention completely thrilling. I felt a bit like an alchemist, and my good friend/film-developing partner in crime and I couldn't wait to check the film once all the solutions had been run through the tank and the film was rinsed.

We opened the developing tanks and felt like kids on Christmas morning - there were images on the film. Yess!

Most of my photos look best and brightest along the edges, where they're also a pleasant shade of coffee brown. The middle of many images is darker and a bit more blue-grayish, I'm guessing because the developing solution didn't flow over those areas as freely. I'll have to experiment with how much I agitate the tank while developing.

I'm hooked on developing film with caffenol — I didn't think I would have that much fun with it, but I really enjoyed it!

I used my Olympus Stylus camera to take these photos. I found the camera in a box at Christmas, together with photos and various college mementos. I haven't thought much about the camera in the past 10 years, but now that I've rediscovered it, I plan on using it much more.

Lynnhaven Marina

This was round 1 with caffenol. I'm sure there will be more to come!

March 12, 2011

Lomo Smena 35 (ломо Смена 35)

A Russian plastic camera with a plastic lens in a faded cloth case. Mixed Roman and Cyrillic lettering on the camera case. And a set of neatly folded, somewhat yellowed operating instructions, with the serial number of the camera and the production year (1972) hand-written on it. When I picked up the Lomo Smena 35, I didn't know anything about it. But I knew that I found a thrift store gem.

The camera is fully manual: focus, aperture, and shutter speed, conveniently labeled in numbers on the bottom of the lens and corresponding weather icons on the top of the lens. And the shutter and film winding mechanisms are independent of each other, meaning that it'll do double exposures as well as endlessly overlapping panoramas. What more can you ask for?

Detailed instructions explain exactly how to operate all the controls... just not always in perfect English. For example: "With stopping down the lens, the near limit of field depth will approach the camera while the far limit will run away." Although I intuitively understood the meaning of this sentence (small aperture = greater depth of field), it took me reading it several times before I could wrap my mind around the words. But there's something so amusing about imagining the depth of field literally running away from my camera! Just reading the instructions felt like a little adventure.

I loaded the Smena with a roll of color film and, after having set the aperture to f4 on the dial on the front of the camera, I taped a Sepia 2 filter over the lens.

And I was ready to go! An afternoon at First Landing State Park provided ample opportunities to try this fun and funky camera, film, and filter combination.

Through the lens of the Smena: looking up in First Landing State Park. I'm still loving all the bare trees.