One visit to our website, our blog, our studio, even our home and it's pretty clear that we seem to have a fascination making all things old new again. For me, it goes back to high school when I started to collect old suitcases. Long before the blogs and Etsy made it popular, I was filling my room with my Great Aunt's luggage and even packing them up for overnight trips. A duffle bag would have been much more logical, and practical, I suppose. But there was something about these suitcases. They made me wonder - where had the been to? How many people used it before I did? It made me think of the time when traveling was a luxury, when flying was new and traveling in style included what was on your baggage cart.
Typewriters were next. Writing had always been a passion of mine and I longed for the time when you would actually pick up a blank piece of paper, slide it into the typewriter and listen to the click, clack of the keys while you watched the page fill with your words. Then I started to go back to hand written letters. There was just something about them. Going out to the mailbox and discovering it, ripping open the envelope and gently unfolding the note to read the message. It has a sense of ceremony, a nod to a time before e-mail and text messaging took the romance out of correspondence.
When we got together, Rob not only embraced my quirky collection (a significant nod to his commitment to me when I have a 60 pound steamer trunk that we have moved several times, to several states), but he introduced me to one of his own - his collection of vintage cameras. The funny thing about vintage cameras? They usually still work. Because before digital took over, cameras were really simple. Less parts, no technology that could get outdated. We could pick them up and use them. And we did. And every time we did we would wonder - who used this before? What images has this captured before? And we would feel good that we were using it again - letting it return to it's original purpose, not using it as simply decoration.
All of which why it's logical that we gravitated to an older home filled with original molding, metal radiators and yard full of mature trees. It's why our studio is in a pre-war Manhattan building. But in our house and in our studio, we merge the old with the new. We have my typewriters right next to our Mac Pro, wheel our new luggage right past my stacks of vintage suitcases. We embrace the convenience, ease and functionality of the items of today while still seeing the value of the old way of doing things.
Even in our work, we have prided ourselves on producing classic images with the top of the line digital cameras. We want images that stand the test of time just as our parents and grandparent's images have. On display in our studio we have old family wedding photos, images that are 40, 60 years old. And they still look just as beautiful today as they did then. Shot on film, those images have the ultimate timeless look - something we have been missing. We longed for the time when a camera would be loaded with film, images thoughtfully composed and shot, film slowly developed until ultimately the image emerged. When we would shoot with our vintage cameras, we would love the results - the look and the feel of the film prints. We loved bringing photography back to it's rawest form. It was something we were aching to incorporate into our current work - to mix the old and the new as we have done in every other aspect of our lives. And today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be doing exactly that.
** From now on, we will be offering wedding photography packages that include both digital and film. Shooting with both digital and film cameras, we will be able to give our couples the best of both worlds - merging together the best of what they each have to offer, creating images that will truly stand the test of time.**
While in Paris in 2009 we bought an old film camera at a Parisian Flea Market. In a city still in love with film, we had no problem finding one of our favorite black and white films and were able to photograph this city as we think it should be captured - in black and white and with timeless film. This shot is of the rooftops in one of our absolute favorite neighborhoods in Paris - Montmartre.
* All of our current 2012 couples and those already scheduled for 2013 can add this option. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information. If you have not yet scheduled your wedding photography with us, when you are ready your package will include both digital and film! *
People often ask us about our workflow, about how we technically do things and often tell us to share more of those types of things on our blog. I thought that it would be really fun to do just that. Today I will be talking about the film workflow process and what it takes to get to a high quality image from film. We of course will probably be doing many posts like this about all kinds of topics so if you want to hear about something specific, let us know so we can write about it!
Today we had lunch at our place with our good friends Vicki & Erik Souza and Robin Dini. Robin has one of the cutest little baby boys and of course he also joined us all for the afternoon. His name is Harrison and he just turned 27 weeks. I told Robin that I wanted to take some film portraits of him just for fun (I am always itching to photograph something or someone with film). I took out a roll of medium format film and loaded it up into the Hasselblad and started shooting.
After I quickly made my way through a roll of film (which is only 12 exposures) I thought that it would be interesting to share not only the images of Harrison that I captured but also the process (from start to finish) that goes into getting to a complete image when shooting with film. So here it goes! You can read step-by-step under each image below. And when you get to the bottom you will get to see some of the incredibly cute images of Harrison that I captured today. Hope you enjoy!!
I absolutely love the look and feel of film but even more so I love the thought process that goes into shooting with film. You can't simply shoot and hope for a good photo because there is no immediate feedback, there is no screen on the back of the camera. It really slows you down, forces you to think about the composition, about the subject and truly makes you to think about what settings to choose to shoot with. One camera that is truly a favorite to shoot with (for me) is the Hasselblad 500C/M. It is a completely manual camera, you set everything right on the lens. There is no auto-focus either. This camera certainly makes you work for your photo but the outcome is something really beautiful.
My lens of choice while using this camera is the 80mm f/2.8. It is a great portrait lens and produces really sharp images and beautiful bokeh (the blur in the background). Notice all of the manual settings on the lens. There is no electronics at all.
Our personal favorite film is by far Fuji Color Pro 400H film. It produces incredibly gorgeous skin tones and colors and has a subtle contrast which suits our style very well. We also use Kodak and Ilford black & white films. If you are interested in shooting film, these and many other types of films are all available at B&H Photo.
Once we shoot a roll of film we have it developed at a local camera store. Although I used to develop film during my darkroom days in college, it is definetely a tedious process that is quite time consuming. Plus the developing chemicals leave you with quite a headache. Most color films (even pro films) can be developed in about an hour at most professional photo stores. At our store we simply have them develop it, we do not have them make prints or scan them. In addition we tell them not to cut the negatives and to leave them in the original strip. This way we can have complete control over image quality in order to produce the highest quality photo.
So what exactly is medium format film? Well, very simply stated the actual film is much larger than 35mm film which most of us are used to. In addition the image you get when you shoot with medium format is square as opposed to either horizontal or vertical. The square image (in my opinion is really great. It actually makes the shooting process nice in the sense that you don't have to think about what type of photo you want (horizontal or vertical). The benefit of having larger film is the ability to produce much larger enlargements compared to 35mm film. Medium format film and now medium format digital is used heavily in commercial and portrait work such as what you may see on the pages of high fashion magazines. This is not to say the 35 mm format isn't also used in those areas as well.
Once we get the developed film back from our photo processor, I cut the negatives into sets of 4 images each. Medium format film comes in either 120 which is 12 exposures (photos) per roll or 220 with is 24 exposures per roll. Cutting them down to sets of 4 just makes it easier to handle and easier to store. This is truly based on personal preference.
Once the negatives are all cut, it is time for the scanning process to begin. This is truly a tedious process but I like the feeling of putting work into something. It makes you appreciate the finished product that much more. We use a good (but not very expensive) flatbed scanner that has inserts which allow the scanning of 35mm and medium format negatives as well as good old fashion slides. There are certainly much more expensive scanners on the market that go much faster and can scan many more images at a time but for now we are happy with this one. It does a great job and capturing accurate colors from the negative and removing any dust spots that may have appeared on the image. For those of you who are interested the scanner model that we have, it is the Epson V500.
I scan each image from the negative at 300DPI (or pixels per inch) which produces (as you see) a very large file size. It also allows us to make large enlargements if we so choose. Of course we can always scan the negative at much higher DPI if we so choose.
Once the photo is scanned we bring into Photoshop. I usually scan a little outside the image showing the black from the negative. Once in Photoshop I crop the black out of the image and of course remove any spots or blemishes that may be on the image. I don't do many (if any) adjustments to the image as I want to retain the look and feel of the film that I chose to use.
The final and complete image!! This was Harrison just today. He is such a fun baby to photograph and I love how the window light really brought out his eyes.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about the background work that goes into creating a film based image. Please e-mail or leave a comment with any questions you may have I would love to answer them.
In the meantime here are a couple more images of Harrison from this afternoon. Enjoy!
As creative people we think it is especially important to constantly work on our craft so that we can be the best for both ourselves as well as for our clients. We also think it is important to go out often and photograph for ourselves. We love going places with just a camera in hand and no plan for what we are going to do. It is so amazing to shoot the things that inspire us at that moment and not worry so much about the end product. For all of you photographers out there, we HIGHLY recommend trying to get out and shoot for yourself as often as possible.
This past Friday we were itching to go on a little photo field trip so Kathleen and I decided to get up early, jump on a train and head into the city. This is truly one of the benefits of living so closely to New York. All I brought to photograph with me was a Hasselblad 500 C/M with film back and all Kathleen brought was a Canon EOS1 film camera. We each only brought one lens and nothing else. We really love the feel of film so we thought it would be incredibly fun to only shoot film for the day. Everything you will see below is film are film images. We ended up in Little Italy as well as China Town where the colors and textures of these two unique neighborhoods really inspired us. I was loving it so much that I shot 6 rolls of 120 film.
As a note: all of the photos that I photographed are SQUARE as all I was shooting was medium format. All of Kathleen's photos are RECTANGLE (either horizontal or vertical) as she was shooting 35mm. For those of you who have been asking us what film we shoot with, we love Fuji PRO 400H as well as Fuji PRO 160S in both 120 and 35mm when shooting color.
Film is something that is very special to us and as we said many times before, we are officially offering it to our clients to mix with their digital photography that we capture of their wedding day. The unique look of film combined with the modern feel of digital really makes for an incredible one-of-a-kind way to capture a wedding day. If you are interested in having your wedding day captured with film as well as digital please let us know. In the meantime, please enjoy these shots from our day in New York.
As many of you already know, along with our digital work we started to shoot film again early last summer. There is something that is incredibly special about the look and feel of film that can't be completely re-produced in a digital image. I personally also love the thought process that you go through when photographing with film. It forces you to slow down, to give even more careful thought to such things as composition and lighting, and it challenges you to question the importance of the subject(s) that you are photographing. Simply stated the art form is wonderful.
Early last week we had a consultation with a bride who brought her Dad along. We quickly found out that he has been a photographer for many years and also quickly found out that he enjoys talking about the technical side of photography. I of course was in my glory because my geeky side loves coming out to play once in a while. I mentioned to him that we have been shooting film again and are looking to purchase an old Hasselblad so we can shoot some medium format film. He said that he actually has some Hasselblad equipment that is in pristine condition. He definitely peeked my interest and hopefully we can get together soon to check it out.
In the meantime after that consultation, I briefly twittered something about this conversation as I was clearly excited. Our good friend, Robert Norman saw my twitter message and texted me right away that he has a Hasselblad (which just so happened to be the exact model I was looking for - Hasselblad 500C/M) and we can use it until we find one of our own. I quickly took him up on his offer, grabbed some 120 film and got to shooting. We had a dinner meeting in New Haven the other day so we went early and shot a couple of frames around Pepe's Pizza and on Thursday during the snow storm I went and got a couple of shots outside along with a couple of random things around the house and studio. Kathleen also may have made it into some of the photos! :)
To say that photographing with this camera is simply amazing would be a complete understatement. It has filled the gap of what I felt like I have been missing in photography. (This is in no way to say anything negative about digital - as we obviously love that too). As I mentioned earlier, I LOVE the slow thought process of film and I am completely overjoyed with the square format of medium format film. It is truly something special. Today when I woke up I couldn't WAIT to bring the film to get developed and was like a kid on Christmas Day when I scanned each frame into the computer this evening. So as you can imagine I am even more excited to share some of these random shots with each of you and hope you enjoy!
During a black and white film class that I took during my college years, the professor gave us a very basic project. The assignment was to take one lens and a roll or two of film and go photograph nothing but fences. It sounds simple enough but what I absolutely loved about that project is how it was designed to really make you think. It teaches you about depth-of-field but also about composition and how to approach photography in an interesting way. And by using only one lens it forces you to challenge yourself and work with the focal length that you have. If you are someone who loves photography or are a photographer and have never done this project, grab a camera (doens't have to be film) and only one lens and go shoot some fences. It is definitely something worth while.
Last week we were in New York for a photography conference. After the show we got to spend a rare day off in the city with a bunch of our photographer friends. With that fence project in mind, I decided that I wanted to be simple and bring only a film camera with only black and white film and only one lens. (We recently got a Carl Zeiss manual focus 50 1.4 lens that I have been wanting to really break in.) I don't often use a 50 but wanted to go back to the basics, after all a 50mm lens is generally one of the first lenses you use as you start in photography. A fixed 50mm lens is all about composition and it makes you really think about what you want in the frame and what you don't. If you don't want something in the photo you can't simply zoom in or out.
While spending the day and night in the city I took a few rolls of film. I wanted to shoot for myself, shoot what I was inspired with at that moment. I love documenting moments and objects that make up everyday life. For example when we are in NYC, I think one of the most quintessential NYC things is a taxi cab. There is something about a NYC taxi cab that has an energy all of its own that you simply can not find anywhere else in the world. When you are in the city you kind of ignore the taxis but they help make up the incredible personality of the city. When I was photographing I tried to capture things that make up everyday life that we might normally not even notice such a street light amongst the tall city buildings, an old man sitting on a sidewalk watching the day go by or a bicycle chained to a post. I think everything has beauty in its own way, even everyday things. One of the things that we absolutely love about photography is how you can capture these things and make them somehow more meaningful or more important instead of missing them in the business of life.
During the day we also took a trip to the Empire State Building to be a tourist for an hour or so, so I also got some great skyline shots that I am very excited for and naturally I took some shots of some of the people we were with. I really hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed capturing them.
Note: Black and white negatives tend to attract a little more dust than color negatives. As I was scanning these I may may have missed a spot of dust or two so please excuse that. :)