This is one of the images that I captured in Italy using the Nikon12-24mm DX lens. While I’m generally quite happy to shoot with the 24mmand 50mm primes, relying mostly on the 24mm. However I had been usingthe 24mm with my film Nikon (an N80) and I thought that I ought to beprepared with a true wide angle option. For the D80 the only realisticchoice is Nikon’s 12-24mm DX zoom, a digital only lense that provides anequivalent field of view to 18-36 on 35mm film. Since I had no filters for it, I really was limited to the early morningand late afternoon light. So at this point I see it as a special purpose lens, needed for the right situation since it’s so large and for now doesn’t correspond to how I see. The 24mm is faster and matches how I see the small views that I most often encounter.This was a site that I returned to several times during our stay. For some reason it has the feeling of a shrine, being elevated above theroad and being dominated by the central structure. As we were leaving Italy, I realized that photographing these smallpersonal gardens would be a worthwhile project. The use of foundmaterial fits with my photographic vision as does the small view thatthe garden creates. In Italy, and perhaps elsewhere, this way of lifeis becoming less common with the industrialization and globalization ofour food.
It took me way too many big view captures to come up with this one. Iwas in a learning, exploratory mode, but I was generally more worriedabout capture the sky and the atmosphere. I should have been lookingmore at how the light was illuminating objects given how clear the skywas.In retrospect, I probably spent too much time capturing big views ratherthan documenting the village street, it’s connecting stairs and it’sgardens. I have some pretty good examples, but these images are a muchsmaller proportion of the captures.
A break from the Italian photos. I had a few film rolls from the winterkicking around and I finally had them developed. I got out the scannerand decided to simply scan the full rolls at high resolution. It takesabout an hour per roll, feeding the negatives on strip of four at a timethrough the Minolta Scan Dual III. I could speed up the process with abetter scanner like the Nikon CoolScan 5000 and ensuring that thenegatives are cut into strips of 6 to fill the negative carrier on theScan Dual.Why? I love the look of the Leica and, here, Tri-X. I like shooting withthe rangefinder, using the exposure lessons I’ve learned with the D80 tocapture images with the simpler center weighted meter in the M6.With the camera loaded with black and white film, it takes a while tothink more graphically knowing contrast will come from shading only, notcolors. Having shot so many color images over the past 6 months andpushed the saturation and contrast in them, my eye tends to be attractedto color contrast. I believe that I can use black and white to becomemore sensitive to shape in compositions, filtering out the colordistractions.Why film at all? I’ve decided that the M8 is just a bit version 1.0 forme to sink US$5000 into it. That’s a lot of film and developing. I havethe Nikon for digital work, so I’ll keep the M6 for these tonalexperiments and perhaps on occasion as a compact travel kit, shootingcolor slide film.
Another new workflow today. I shot two rolls with the Leica M6ttl onIlford XP2, an ISO 400 C-41 process black and white film. The Ilford isdeveloped like color print film, but yields a black and white dye basedimage. These are the first two rolls I tried in quite a while. I shot afew rolls of the Kodak equivalent, BW400CN, but wasn’t really taken bythe image quality. The Kodak scans were very creamy, not at all suitedto my usual style. XP2 was said to be closer to Tri-x and I think thisimage supports that idea.A local minilab told me they would do develop only for a good price-$4.50 for a 36 exposure roll. They also said they’d cut the film instrips of 6 which would make my scanning faster. When I got there, I sawthat I could have Noritsu scans made for $9.99 a roll. The result are3090 x 2048 scans saved as jpegs compressed about 6 to 1. Given the ISO400 and grain quality, this 6 megapixel equivalent is actually fine. Ifit were Velvia, I’d want some higher resolution. Having the scanningdone does run the price up from $8-9 dollars for film plus processing tonear $20. But they are adequate scans and they preserve the film feelquite well.For convenience, price and quality, the D80 with my trusty 24mm is farsuperior in quality. Given that I can handhold the Nikon down to 1/30thand ISO 800 has way less noise than XP2 has grain, there’s no low lightadvantage to the leica. The Leica just has that modeling that I feel islost somewhat with the D80 which is flatter in it’s rendering.
Another XP-2 image with the 50mm Summicron. Another chronicle ofsuburban nature.I’ve got a new MacBook Pro on order. 15 inch 2.2 GHz with a glossyscreen. I ordered it with the upgrade to a 160 GB 7200 rpm hard drive.Unfortunately it seems that Apple won’t have these drives for another 4to 6 weeks so I’ll be continuing to use this trusty AlBook.
Another XP-2 image shot with the Leica. These are the roots of my colorstyle. With the XP-2 images I’ve been doing much less post processing,just contrast and levels in Aperture. I have a solid flow of images, soshooting and posting are taking precedence over the creation of fineprints.Ilford’s XP-2 is an acceptable substitue for Tri-X. It has the snap whenscanned that I look for. The Noritsu scans from National Photo, a locallab, are full scale. It’s not an inexpensive workflow and if it weren’t for the equipment, I’d be shooting directly in digital. I like therendering of the Summicron and film.