James Crowe's XS650
After I finally got my motorcycle wired up, following months of fabrication, anticipation, and desire to ride it, I spent a day taking it on short jaunts to test drive it. The first test drive ended in towing the bike home (with my brother’s moto). The second test drive resulted in me almost having to push the bike home, though I managed to make it back. Thinking the bike was good to go, I took it on a third ride to my friend’s house 15 minutes away. I made it within a few blocks, and the charging system took a shit again.
Undeterred, I let the bike sit for 30 minutes and kicked it with my friends. Seeing light rain drops, I kicked the moto to life, jumped on, and headed toward home. 30 blocks from my house, it died again. This time, it seemed it was not going to start. The charging system wasn’t working, and the battery didn’t have the needed voltage to run. I started pushing it down the sidewalk, trying to beat the rain.
It was early June, and the spring rain was mostly gone. But this storm seemed it was going to be a big and intense one, not like the standard Oregon constant light drizzle. The air was dense, humid, and still, much like it is before a torrent in the mid-west. There was an eerie absence of activity and sound in the street. I pushed my bike down the sidewalk on Foster as fast as I could, trying to beat the deluge.
Though I was in a hurry, I had to stop and shoot a photo. The light was so nice and atmospheric— that perfect time of the day for photography when color and contrast are perfect and even and charming. Clearly, I didn’t nail the focus, but I like this shot nonetheless.
No more than two minutes after shooting this, the rain came. It was heavy. It was quick. It was intense in a flash-flooding, not at all north-western kind of way. The streets were rivers, the gutters were overflowing, the drops were heavy and explosive. I pushed on, soaked to the bone, camera dry inside my waterproof messenger bag. I thought not of the bare metal on the bike being exposed to the rain, and just focused on getting home. It took some time, but I made it, and vowed to bust my ass on the electrical system until the bike was reliable.
Our own little Piedmont Belmont
Portra 160, Yashicamat 124G
As a side note: I love this exposure and light. Scan was good too.
Portra 400, Yashicamat 124G
Wind and Oar boat making school at ADX
My first three rolls of RVP100 came back from the lab. I’m in love.
These rolls of Velvia are my first foray into slide photography, and it has proved a great experience so far. Seeing the slides in pages on a lightbox for the first time was a fantastic experience. The 6x6 slides are bright, vivid, crystal clear, sharp, and just beautiful. Velvia is known for high saturation, vivid color, and sharp clarity, and that is all apparent even just by looking at the 6cm positives. Details are high, and colors are rich and lovely.
Slide film has also been a learning experience. I found out that since prints are not made from the slides, it’s not possible to correct small exposure problems during printing, as would be done with negative film. Thus, the film is a bit unforgiving. If the shot is underexposed, there is simply nothing that can be done— it is underexposed. Shoot better next time. If there is too wide a gap in EVs between the highlights and shadows, then tough. No saving it. Shoot it better next time. In some ways, shooting slide film is much like shooting digital images (digital images not destined for heavy post processing or HDR, that is). The dynamic range of slide film is very similar to that of a digital sensor. It is very necessary to be understanding of the shadow/highlight relationship when shooting slide film, and accurate metering— down to just one stop of perfection— is a must in order to create images with the proper saturation and contrast. Slight underexposure results in very underexposed appearance in the image. But, the upside to slides is being one step from reality. With negative film, the negative is exposed and processed, and a positive is made on paper. Things may not end up printed exactly as they appeared during shooting. With slide film, what you see in the viewfinder is exactly what you get.
The end result is that slide film is more challenging to shoot well. It takes a lot of focus and thought, but it rewards well. The beautiful and rich images that result are so worth the time and effort.
Obviously, with any scanning, color reproduction is key. With slide film, since prints can’t be made optically, scanning with proper color control is far more important. Right now, I’m trying my best to get X-Rite’s EZColor IT8 color calibration software to install on my machine. The IT8 color targets and software were included with my Epson V750, but the software simply won’t install, and their customer service is less than helpful. Suffice it to say, I don’t really recommend X-Rite to anyone wanting color calibration tools. Hopefully I’ll get something to work soon, because I really need good color reproduction with these slide scans. For now, using the scanning software, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of getting the color right, though I think some of these shots of this car are a bit too red-toned.
Anyway, stay tuned. I had a lot of keepers from the first three rolls. So many keepers, in fact, that Zeb Andrews (a great film photographer that I respect much) at Blue Moon told me yesterday when I went to the lab to pick up slides that I made shooting slide film look too easy. I’ll take that as a compliment.
Kodak Portra 160VC | Yashicamat 124G
Think back to the summer