Greetings from last century, 13 February 2010

2010/02/13

No, I’m not kidding with that title. The photo I’m posting herein was shot towards the end of the 20C, [1] way, way back when I was in college. More on that in a moment.

AE1P_Cvl-TMax100_WoolenMills01-8x10

Photo Information:

Camera: Canon AE-1 Program
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.4 FD
Film: Kodak TMax ISO 100 (35mm)
Metering: TTL

Take that “metering” thing with a grain of salt…I didn’t quite nail the exposure settings on this one in-camera. Those of y’all who’ve read some of my previous posts may have already seen this photo¬†– the reason I’m re-posting it is that I just recently acquired a shiny new flatbed scanner [2] that can handle both documents and film, the latter due to the fact that the scanner has a lamp built into its lid. [3] Naturally, once I got everything set up, I needed to run a few tests to see how my new acquisition worked out – and, as you can see, I’m rather satisfied with the results.

As for the photo itself, rather than completely re-tell the story (if you’re interested, the original post was on 19 May 2009), the short version is that this was an unplanned shot that completely captivated me when I saw it – up until that point, I had been rather bored and uninspired, so I wasn’t sure what to shoot. [4] The mill building was (and still is) overexposed in the original image, as a result of poorly executed metering – I was shooting fast, though, since I was trying to capture the ripples in the foreground pool before they spread to the creek beyond. [5] I have also spent quite a bit of effort trying to re-create this scene using various cameras and film formats, but none have measured up to this original shot – thank God I captured it on film, and that I properly processed said film. [6][7]

Enjoy.

Notes:

[1]: I know with certainty that I shot this photo in either late October or early November 1999; I shot it while I was taking a photography class in college (the only “official” training I’ve ever received in photographic matters). And yes, I have not missed appreciating the fact that this negative is over 10 years old…

[2]: “Shiny” in the figurative sense, since the scanner body is, in fact, almost entirely matte black.

[3]: Those of you who are familiar with the archaic forms of scanning film on flatbed scanners can probably remember a time when one would need to procure a separate adapter that had a lamp in it, so that one could scan negatives (such scans require backlighting, hence the need for the lamp). Obviously, much has changed since then, as some brilliant designer figured out that they could fit said lamp inside the otherwise single-purpose lid.

[4]: As crazy as that sounds, yes, this was actually the case. Since I was taking a class, we were required to shoot at least one roll of film per week (yes, this was in ancient times when digital cameras were primarily employed by NASA…in space), so I didn’t actually have much choice in the matter. Massive sleep deprivation also tends to put a damper on one’s enthusiasm for, well, anything, but that’s another story.

[5]: This was a man-made occurrence…caused by me chucking a rock into said pool.

[6]: For those of you who aren’t aware of this, properly developed and fixed black and white film is practically immortal. Assuming that one keeps them shielded from sunlight, or any harsh light sources, for that matter (light is actually quite destructive, despite all its beneficial qualities), the exposed and converted silver salts are impervious to deterioration over time. The same goes for true photographic paper, which is why black and white photos from the early part of the 20C, kept under archival conditions, appear just as good today as they did when the prints were first made. Even most color films cannot hold up in the same manner – while the emulsion may be similar in composition and durability to the silver emulsions used in black and white film, the dyes that capture the colors are not so durable and tend to fade over time.

[7]: The age of this particular negative is also a clue as to why I decided to acquire the new scanner – while I have been getting my film scanned by a lab for the past couple of years, I’ve been shooting “serious” photos for more than a decade, and the vast majority of these shots have been languishing in archival sleeves for most of that time. Granted, I’m not arguing that I’ve got thousands of great photos there (my ratio of “great” shots to boring/horrible/unusable ones is probably somewhere in the range of about 1%), but there are, in fact, thousands of photos that I simply haven’t seen in years, and at least some of them are probably worth transferring over to a digital file. Also, y’know, I’ve been paying for those scanning services thus far, and I’ve recently reached the conclusion that considering how much shooting I do in a given year, investing in a scanner will probably pay off in, oh, about one year. Maybe two. Considering that my previous scanner has lasted for almost nine years, [*] it should turn out to be quite a worthwhile investment. [**]

[*]: Strictly speaking, it still works, too. I’ll be keeping it around as a back-up – its still a useful all-around scanner, just not for film scans.

[**]: Oh yeah, I know…if only I’d stop using such archaic technologies (film), I wouldn’t have to worry about such trivialities. What can I say? I like the archaic stuff, dammit! And seriously…you’ve seen the shots I captured using a 1930s-era box camera, right? New technology does not always mean better technology. Or, to use the popular parlance of our time, change does not always mean change for the better. I know…cheap shot.

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