A strange phenomena called "rain" happened today in San Diego, and it left a sight to behold. I almost missed this scene entirely, and were it not for a quick trip to the kitchen, I would have never glanced out our large windows and seen the majestic beauty of the sky. Sprinting for my camera and quickly switching to my ultra-wide lens, I ran back and snapped as many shots as I could before the clouds shifted just moments later, and the saturated pinks and oranges of the setting sun disappeared into ordinary gray clouds once more. For a few minutes today, my world was bathed in a shimmering and surreal shower of gold and red light, a scene usually reserved for a painter's imagination. But it was real, and it was beautiful.
Sunsets have a bad reputation in the photography world. Just about anyone can pick up a camera and take a half-decent sunset shot that's sure to impress both friends and family. Serious photographers, however, stay away from them like the plague. Nevertheless, sunsets have a special place in my heart. And if done correctly, it's still possible to photograph them in stunning and unique ways.
Photographed on a Pentax K-x body with a 16mm Zenitar lens.
I love film, don't get me wrong. There's something just insanely special about permanently capturing light onto a physical object, as opposed to mere digital image sensor. The whole concept of that particular frame on the negative actually having been where it was taken just makes the photograph feel more intimate and personal. Call it nostalgia (even though I'm a youngin'), or call it hipster vintage. Either way, film is something that I just can't seem to detach myself from.
That being said, dealing with film is one of the most annoying things in the entire world. First of all, it costs a lot of money. If you can manage to find cheap C-41 film for $2 a roll, then develop just the negatives at a big-box retailer for another $2 a roll, you've already cost yourself $4 for anywhere from 24 to 36 exposures. Add on top of this the time you spend having to scan the negatives into a digital environment, and multiply this by however many rolls you plan to shoot, and you've just gained yourself a load of misery. To make matters worse, the film cameras I use are both unreliable. Sure, the results are often interesting and add a level of charm to the image, but I just wish my FED-3 at least had an exposure meter.
Still, I just can't shake the desire to shoot on film. Last year, I would shoot on cheap black and white film from China and develop it myself in a daylight loading tank with my trusty bottle of Diafine. Sadly, I needed money at the time, and decided to sell off much of that equipment. No matter how hard I try though, I know that I'll always come back to film, if only for a roll or two a couple times a year.
The FED-2 Soviet Russian camera that I owned last year was a trusty beast. It never failed me, and the optical quality was superb. The FED-3 that I bought a few weeks back? Not so much, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. One of the first problems I've found with the FED-3 is that it experiences light leaks, and I'm not sure where they're coming from. It doesn't occur on all frames, and the ones that are affected range in severity from a slight blue haze over the image to a blown out mess. But that's just part of the fun, right?
The first photograph above was taken at the outlet malls in Primm, Nevada, and the second one was taken at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. Both were shot on the FED-3 with an Industar 61 L/D lens, and with cheap (and expired) Fuji 400 iso film. They are fairly grainy because of this fact, but I am still surprised at how well these shots turned out. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something personally appealing about the color tones found in these images that I just can't replicate with digital.
The first photographs from my recently-purchased FED-3 are in, and I couldn't be happier with the results. Though my local Wal-Mart still hasn't fixed their C-41 processing equipment, I actually shot a quick test roll with the camera right after I received it in the mail and prior to leaving on my trip. I didn't have a film scanner at the time, but I knew that even the negatives would be a good indicator of whether or not the camera produced satisfactory results. And my assumptions are now confirmed a couple weeks later.
Not only that, but I was also able to test out the scanning power of my new film scanner. I knew the Epson V500 was supposed to be good, but I am honestly blown away by how much quality this monster of a scanner offers at such low a price. I even had to knock the optical scanning quality of my scans from 6400dpi to 3200dpi, which still results in photo resolutions around 4400 x 2740 for a 35mm negative. It never hurts to have options though, right?