Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Black & White Effects

While if possible I prefer B&W film for B&W images, there are times when a digital image looks to me like it would be better presented in B&W.  There are several options for doing such conversions in the default tools in Photoshop.  There are also many Photoshop plugins that can help with the conversion along with offering some other elements like toning. Today I am showing some images that were made with a couple of these plugins.  This is not a tutorial on using the plugins.  Just some images and basic info so you can get some idea of what they can do.

The image I started with.

The first one is a free plugin called Virtual Photographer. Virtual Photographer works with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  If you don't have these programs than you can use it in a free editing program, Virtual Studio, that is made to work with Virtual Photographer.

The Virtual Photographer preset "Aluminum".

Virtual Photographer has a large number of presets in which you can make adjustments for things like exposure and film grain. It is a fun program to play around with.  There also are a large number of effects that can be used for color images.  Unlike a lot of the free plugins Virtual Photographer has a good interface with an excellent preview image area.  Virtual Photographer only works with 8 bit images. There are a few more images from Virtual Photographer in the Some Black & White Effects Gallery.

The second plugin is Topaz Black & White Effects.  The Topaz plugins used to be fairly inexpensive when I first started using them. However in checking for this post they seem to have experienced some inflation.  Even at that they are still are more reasonable than many Photoshop plugins.  Topaz Black & White Effects comes with a lot of presets which I used in the images here to give some idea of the things it can do.  Unlike Virtual Photographer this plugin has a very large number of adjustments that you can make to your image. I usually find it helpful to find a preset that is close to what I want and then make adjustments.

This is Topaz's idea of a classic b&w image.

With a Sepia/Gold tone.

Topaz does offer a 30 day fully functional free trial.  Also in the past they frequently had special offers so that you seldom had to pay full price.  Another thing is that it seems that once you buy one of their products you keep getting free updates.  At least I haven't had to pay for a new version yet. 
There are more Topaz images in the Some Black & White Effects Gallery.

Anvil effect from Virtual Photographer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Auto Yashinon-DX 1:2.8 f = 28mm

M42 Screw Mount
f/2.8 - 16
8 elements in 7 groups
Filter size 62mm
Minimum focus 0.4 m
Weight 260 g

I got this lens with the Yashica TL Super in the photo.  I think it was made sometime in the late 1960's or early 1970's.  One thing that is nice about this lens on an APS camera is that the focal length becomes 45mm.  So you pretty much have a standard lens.  At least it is nice if you like a standard lens which I do.  One problem I have read that people have with this lens on a DSLR is sometimes the rear lens element protrudes into the mirror.  I haven't had a problem with that on Canon DSLR's.  Still if you are thinking about getting one of these lens you should check what people say about this issue for your camera model. 

In operation I find the Auto Yashinon-DX 1:2.8 very pleasant to use.  It is a solid well-made lens that focuses smoothly.  It also has half f stops.  Typical of most Yashica lenses that I have used this is a sharp one.  Sometimes I find the color a little muted, but accurate. Contrast is good.  I find Yashica lenses to be excellent with B&W film although it looks like I haven't tried it with this one.  That is all I can think to say about this lens.  Below is the gallery so you can see for yourself.
Auto Yashinon-DX 1:2.8 Gallery

Monday, June 25, 2012

Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150

Mounted on my old Canon XSi using an M42 adapter.
Manufactured: 1965—1967
Lens Elements:
Groups: 5
Maximum Aperture: f/4
Minimum Aperture: f/22
Minimum Focus: 6 ft
Weight: 324 g

I got this lens last summer when I was in a mania about getting M42 lens.  It was an odd focal length, however it was also a Super Takumar going for what seemed like a low price.  I have to admit that I haven't used it much.  And that is not a knock on the lens.  The build quality is excellent and it functions as smoothly as any lens that I have.  The pictures it takes are also pretty sharp and I like the color rendition.  Still it is a focal length that I don't use much. 

I have been impressed by the color I get with the Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150.

In theory I like it that I can get a focal length of 240mm when using the Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150 with an APS camera.  That is especially nice considering how small and light the lens is. Even at my advanced age it is easy to keep this lens steady handheld. So while I haven't used it much I do think this is a fine lens.  It is certainly worth what they are selling for these days. And after writing this post I think I will use the Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150 a little more.  I have been stuck on wide to standard lenses for a while so it might be good to get to know more about what I can do with a lens like the Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150.
Asahi Super-Takumar 1:4/150 Gallery

Friday, June 22, 2012

Superheadz Golden Half

Aperture: F8 - 11
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
Shooting Range: 1.5m to infinite
Film Type: 35mm
Photo Size: 24 x 18mm 
Film Counter: 72 images maximum 
Dimensions: 3 x 3" 
Film Advance / Rewind manually

The Golden Half is one of only a few half-frame cameras that is still being made.  As you can see above there isn't much to it.  Pretty much just decide if it is sunny or cloudy and start shooting. There also is a hot shoe so flash is another option.  The Golden Half feels pretty solid for a lofi camera.  Its plastic has a rubbery feel that can probably handle some accidents.  The Golden Half fits easily into a shirt pocket and because of its build and light weight it is easy to forget it is there until you need it.  I have found it to be a good walking around camera for daylight shooting. One of the biggest things for me has been to remember to take off the lens cap.  As a long time SLR user I am not used to a camera where I can still see something in the viewfinder when the lens cap is on.  Although now that I seem to have lost the lens cap that isn't so much of a problem.

The images from the Golden Half are what you would expect.  They tend to be decently sharp at the middle and get softer toward the edges.  

For the most part I find the images from the Golden Half to be pleasing.  Still I think the main advantage of the Golden Half is that it is so easy to carry around and that it takes so many pictures on a roll of film.  

Golden Half Gallery

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fixing 1940's Found Photos

Just have a short time to make a post today.  Over the past few months I have been posting photos that I made from old negatives that I purchased at an antique shop.  Most of the film strips have been in fairly good shape and haven't needed much work. The latest batch has been an exception. Most were underexposed, poorly composed, and dusty.

One of the images as it came out of the scanner.  I used curves in the scanner software to improve the underexposure somewhat.

This is the result from some fairly quickly done work in Photoshop.  I used a curves adjustment to improve the exposure and contrast.  To further lighten it I made a new layer which I overexposed and then blended with the existing layer. The clone stamp and spot healing tool took care of most of the dust and blemishes. I also used a small amount of LAB sharpening.

If you ever do work with this type of image it is very helpful to at least learn about some tools like the clone stamp and spot healing.  These are present in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  If you don't want to spend money to buy that software such tools are also available in The Gimp.

While I think this image is interesting because of the extended look at the vintage decor, the intended focus likely was meant to be on the woman and child.

Using the same tools as before.

If you ever tried to fix an old photo back in the days before digital than you may be like me and sometimes see the tools available in programs like Photoshop as being almost magic.

This also needed some fixing up, however I am showing it because the girl is holding a camera.  I finally was able to see that it is a Kodak Target Six-16

Also the man in the undershirt and the woman with the child on her lap were in one of my favorite images from a previous post.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Taking Pictures in a Cemetery

I have been looking at some of the images I have taken in the last few years to see if there are some regular themes in my photography.  One is that I have a lot of pictures taken in cemeteries.  I don't regularly seek out a cemetery in which to take pictures, however when I am in one I do take a lot of photos. 

Around here the two types of cemeteries that I find most interesting are the large park-like cemeteries that started in the 19th century as part of the rural cemeteries movement, and the small, most of the time abandoned country cemeteries.

Jessee Cemetery in southern Champaign Country is a good example of the no longer used country cemetery.  The last burial I can find there is from the 1930's. Probably as transportation improved people began to use the larger cemetery in nearby Villa Grove, IL.

Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur Illinois is a good example of one from the rural Cemeteries era.  There are many mausoleums in which rest the members of Decatur's prominent families.

Greenwood Cemetery is fairly hilly for central Illinois.  Its winding roads and large trees are a characteristic of the rural cemetery ideal.

Greenwood has a lot of ghost stories associated with it. These are the Barrackman Steps, about which there is a story of a weeping woman in a white gown who appears around sunset. Notice I am not above applying effects to cemetery photos. 

The evolution of the cemetery in the US is interesting to me.  Much of what we now know as cemeteries came about as a reaction to the often crowded and poorly maintained urban cemeteries.  Better transportation by the 1830's allowed the idea of having burials out of town in nearby rural areas.  The ideal was to have the cemetery retain as many of the lands natural features as possible.  Hence you have the hills, large trees, and winding roads of a place like Greenwood.

Nelson Cemetery in northern Douglas county is somewhat unusual in that it still has a few burials.  Trees are kinda sparse in the country cemeteries.  I would guess this red cedar has been there since the 19th century.

Often the old cemeteries have features that inspire some creativity.  This is from the fence at Nelson Cemetery.

Another mild creative effort with the Seeber family plot at Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Champaign IL.  The high ground on which this cemetery is placed was once a work site for the construction of the Illinois Central railroad.There are some great old peonies in this cemeteries. Me and a friend have a tradition of going out to see the peonies every year.

So I have taken a lot of pictures in cemeteries. Over the years I have noticed that these tend to be the most unpopular pictures that I post on Flickr.  And at the moment there is only one other person in my personal circle of photographers that takes many pictures in cemeteries.  So I would guess that this is a subject that most picture viewing and picture taking people try to avoid.  I suppose that shouldn't be surprising in a culture that loves youth so much that a lot of people use goofy expressions like a "I am 80 years young".   It is strange to think how less than a hundred years ago cemeteries were a place that people would use like a park.  Sometimes they would go out and spend the day and have a picnic.  The traffic to some of these cemeteries along with the demand for flowers was once so great that many cemeteries had florist shops at their entrance.  I think that may be because while 19th century people were experiencing unprecedented prosperity they were still dying from things like infections as much as people ever were.  I think these park-like cemeteries were a way of becoming more comfortable with the mortality that they were often confronted with. Myself I agree with the previous generations that thought the cemetery could be a beautiful and even peaceful place.  However while I like to take a picture in a cemetery I don't think I will ever have a picnic in one.

Cemetery Gallery

The last picture is not a cemetery picture, however I came across it when doing the images for Nelson Cemetery.  Near Nelson Cemetery is the most intact section of how the original county highways looked in this area.

A one lane piece of concrete road of the type that once connected towns in this area.  The only place around here where you can see one of these roads that has not had another lane added.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Canon T70

Introduced in 1984 the Canon T70 is probably one of the first film cameras that would not seem alien to someone who had only used digital cameras. The T70 has three daylight programmed exposure modes along with shutter-priority AE, and manual mode.

I was totally unaware of this camera when it came out.  I was still happy shooting with my Canon F1 and thought the only people who needed what cameras like the T70 offered were those who couldn't learn to use a real camera.  It wasn't until I was exposed to such features when I started using digital that I realized that they can be helpful. 

I don't find the T70 very appealing aesthetically, however it does feel comfortable in the hands and is fairly light.  The viewfinder is big and bright.  And with my eyesight I find the split-image rangefinder helpful.  While not as full-featured as the Canon T90, the T70 does have all that you should need most of the time.  And usually the T70 costs much less than a working T90.  For a nice camera to use with FD lenses the T70 deserves consideration if you feel the need for things like multiple exposure modes and auto-winding.  Right now Canon FD lenses are probably the best you can get for the money.  Since Canon decided to abandon the FD system when it introduced EF lenses and because it is not easy to adapt FD lenses to digital cameras FD lenses are mostly limited to film shooters. Which is good if you are a film shooter.  Today it is fairly easy to find a Canon body like the T70 with a lens like the f/1.8 50mm for under $50.  Such a combination can give you excellent results with film.

If you would like to read more about the Canon T70:
Additional information on Canon T70 Camera, 1984
Canon T70 From Wikipedia

The images in the gallery were all taken using the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. The film is Legacy Pro 100 developed in HC-110 solution B at 68 for 5:30.
Canon T70 Gallery

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nikon AF210/Fun•Touch 3

Produced: 1994
Lens: 32mm f/4.5(3 elements)
Battery: 2 AA

The Fun Touch 3 is one of a series of entry level cameras that Nikon made in the 1990's.  The last one was the Fun Touch 6.  The Fun Touch 3 sold for around $60.  I'd say they were good value for the money at the time.  The Fun Touch 3 is extremely easy to use.  It has auto-loading and auto film winding.  The film speed is set by DX coding.  400 ISO is probably the best film to use. 

The camera fits easily into a pocket and feels comfortable in the hands.  The images it takes are decent enough.  I imagine that someone in 1994 who was looking for an inexpensive camera would have been happy with the Fun Touch 3.  And it looks like Nikon sold a lot of these Fun Touch cameras because they turn up frequently at garage sales. 

I think this is my favorite of the photos I took with the Fun Touch 3.

The Fun Touch 3 seems to be another one of those cameras whose pictures are mostly lacking in the features desired by lomo enthusiasts and are not good enough to be sought after by other film users.  It is the type of competent basic film camera for which there isn't much demand today.  So if you do decide you'd like to try one out be patient and one will likely turn up for very little.
Nikon AF210/Fun•Touch 3 Gallery 

Antique Shop in Charleston. Illinois. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Famous Camera and a Obscure Camera

Introduced in 1985 the Minolta Maxxum 7000 was the first camera to use an in-body auto focus system.

Probably the Minolta Maxxum is one of the most well-known cameras.  It's success established the demand for auto focus in SLR cameras.  I found this one at a church sale for $10.  It shows some wear, however it seems to function well.  Its not a camera that I was seeking, but now that I have it I think I will enjoy it.  There was a roll of Kodak Max 800 with eight exposures already in the camera.  I have not idea how old the film is.  I will finish up the roll and see what I get. 

Zoom Range: 35mm Wide angle to 55 mm
Electronic Flash: 4 feet to 12 feet range
Power: 2 AA alkaline batteries
Motorized film advance and rewind

The most interesting thing about the Kalimar Autowind Zoom is that it has a manual zoom.  So far I haven't seen that in the cheap plastic point & shoots.  I also kinda liked the way it looks. I think I am safe in saying that The Kalimar Autowind Zoom never was or ever will be a famous camera.  Still it is marginally more interesting than many of the cameras that I see of this type.  And it was only 50 cents.

I also picked up an another Agfa Isoflash Rapid this weekend for $3.  I got it mostly because it had a rapid cassette and was in almost new condition with a nice case. I have to admit that these various Agfa Iso rapid cameras have grown on me.  I need to get around to putting some color film in a rapid cassette and see what kind of result I get.

Have been running behind today.  Hopefully no one was relying on my usual Monday morning posts. Looks like cameras are still scare in the garage sales around here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Looks like a Visit to the Country in the 1940's

I don't think that many parents today would let young children sit where these kids are. Still looks like they are having a good time.  I wonder what all the glass jars are there for?  Maybe they made a lot of sun tea.

I didn't get many usable pictures off this roll.  Most were very out of focus or had cut the subject off too much.  Most of the problem seemed to be with close-ups.  Kinda reminds me of images taken with an Argus A.  Which could be the case considering the era and the popularity of that camera.

Looks like the kids are using bamboo fishing poles.  I remember when I was a child that we used one of these until we were considered ready for a real fishing pole.

Can't think of much to say about these pictures other then most of them appear to be from a visit to a place in the rural country. There are a few more images in the Visit to the Country Gallery.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Auto Sears 1:1.4 f=55mm

Mount: M42(universal/Pentax screw mount)  
Focal length 55mm 
Aperture range f1.4-16 
Focal range .5m to infinity 
Filter thread 55mm 
Elements 6 in 4 groups 
Aperture blades 6 
Weight 10.8oz (306.2g)

This lens was the standard lens for the Sears TLS.  Since the Sears TLS was a rebranded Ricoh Singlex TLS the lens also may have been made by Ricoh although I have also seen that it may have been made by Tomioka or Cosina. I took some images with it wide-open this morning and decided to make a gallery for the results.

The hollyhocks are blooming early this year.

Auto Sears 1:1.4 f=55mm Gallery

Monday, June 4, 2012

If you are taking pictures than you must be up to no good

Fortunately I haven't had this happen often, however I have been told a few times that I could not take pictures in a certain place.  This weekend I was taking some pictures at the Wabash Depot Antique Centre In Decatur IL. One of the workers there saw me and said I could not take pictures there.  He said it was because his boss thought that some people would take pictures of items there and then post them on Ebay.  If they sold they would come in and buy the item.  Since I was just about done there I said okay and didn't really think much more about it at the time.  In a way I did wonder why this would be a problem for the store since they might end up making more sales. 

Still looking back on it I do have to admit that I am offended by what I think I will call the photo-paranoids.  First of all I would like to tell them that if somebody wants to take photos with a nefarious purpose there is probably nothing you can do to stop them.  There are plenty of cheap very small cameras that someone can use to take photos with minimal chance of being detected.  There are even cameras that look like pens or that can be hidden in eye-glasses. Maybe you don't keep up on modern technology, however you might as well accept that if people want a certain image they will be able to get it. All you accomplish by these photo bans are to offend people who are openly taking pictures, most likely for their own pleasure, by making the assumption that such people may be out to do you harm. And nobody likes to have someone make such an assumption about them.

Myself when I am taking these photos in antiques shops I am doing so because sometimes there is some interesting stuff there.  Occasionally I post these images to Flickr or put them on another blog that I have.  Most often I mention the shop that I saw the item in.  So by telling me that I can't take pictures a shop may be denying themselves some exposure with my three or four readers.

A pile of point & shoot film cameras a the Wabash Depot.  I did find a couple of things for my Vivitar collection here.  Another booth had some similar cameras, however the prices were such that they likely will never sell.

The Wabash Depot Antique Centre really is a nice store even if they do think that photographers are potential crooks.  If I go there again I may discuss this with whoever is in charge.  Although I generally would like all to assume that all my actions are benevolent.

Hope this doesn't sound like some kind of rant.  I was going to write about a camera today, however when I had the pictures for the gallery ready I couldn't find the camera I took them with.  Since I generally like to have a camera picture for the post I will have to wait until that camera turns up.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Family Reunion at Crystal Lake Park

It is not easy to see, however there is another photographer at this event.  The man in the middle is holding some kind of TLR.  TLR's were a popular style of camera in the 40's and 50's.

I had not scanned any of the rolls of negatives that I bought earlier this year in a while.  So last night I figured it was time.  What I found in the next roll appears to be a family reunion that took place at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana Illinois. Going by the cars and the clothes the time appears to be in the late 1940's.  There aren't any images that stand out like the little girl with the gun, or the couple hopefully just carving a turkey from past found film. Still it is pretty good coverage of a type of event that I think was once more popular than it is today.

Looks like there was a good turnout.

There was even some live music. Radio or recorded music wasn't easily portable in those days.

These negatives were in the best shape of any of this group that I have scanned so far.  They required very little in the way of cleaning up.

Here is the rest of the Family Reunion Gallery.