Experimenting with Rollei Retro 80s Film

I recently bought a two-pack of Rollei’s Retro 80s Film from B&H after reading a little about it and deciding that it would be something I’d like to mess around with myself. I shot a roll of it with my Canon A2e and had a pretty wide range of results; almost all of them had very high contrast, some even to the point of having so much contrast that significant detail was lost (though that was also likely as much if not more so due to operator error on my part). Below are a couple of my favorites from shooting my first roll.

These guys were scanned in shortly after being developed (D-76) and from what I remember had relatively little post-processing done aside from adjusting the contrast on some to bring back some detail.

One thing I did notice about the film is how much detail it did capture on certain frames, like in the shot of the leaf caught between two fence posts below.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much texture came through – here’s a close-up at a 100% crop so you can see what I mean a little more clearly.

I’d like to try shooting the next roll in my LC-A+ to see how the Minitar lens changes the results I get from the film; all-in-all though, I really liked the film and going out on a whim and trying it paid off. For those who want to pick up a roll themselves, you can find it lots of places across the web, though I bought mine through B&H here.

Self Portraits

I also recently took some self portraits at a grungy-looking portable classroom. These were inspired in part in subject matter and more in appearance by the work of the famous muckraker Jacob Riis, better known as the author of his famous work documenting the slums of New York at the turn of the twentieth century, How the Other Half Lives. I tried to style myself a little older-looking (hence the hat and coat) and look grungy myself.

I was going for a play on the words How the Other Half Lives because in most cases, I’m the “other half” of the picture as I’m the one who’s usually working the camera. I was excited to finally be doing a series of self-portraits as it was both a different kind of photo challenge for me but also because it was neat to be able to work with photographs of myself (I had to wing it a bit as the self-timer on my camera only gave me ten seconds to get in position each time.) There was a kind of spontaneous vibe about the whole thing that I really liked, plus mimicking the old, grainy film look is a little different than what I usually go for with my photos.

Next up is to try some double-exposure self portraits with my LC-A+; I’ll have to see where that takes me.

Playing Around with Silhouettes

I recently decided to try to experiment with some silhouettes since I’ve never really tried them (and the couple I have done have been a little spotty at best.) Below are the three that turned out the best; I also tried a book against a backdrop of lit-up pages (which sounds a lot cooler in theory than it actually ended up) but the text was a little odd looking, so I decided to leave it out.

The setup for these guys was a little unconventional, so I thought I’d touch on it briefly. I don’t have any studio lighting equipment, nor any kind of backdrops, so I had to improvise a little bit. I made a frame to hold the backdrops up out of two Costco boxes that I cut the bottoms out of and taped together (I had to have an empty frame to hang the backdrops from, or else any kind of holder would show up since the light would shine behind it and make it look like a silhouette itself.) The light comes from a desk lamp that I angled upwards and placed behind the frame with the backdrops in front of it.

For the backdrops, I used what I had on hand to get some different colors (all done in camera save minor adjustments in post-processing.) The first image of the apple actually uses Fuji and Granny Smith apples and oranges as the backdrop with light shining on them, which gave off a kind of orangey glow. The second and third are made using red and silver and blue and green tissue paper, respectively.

All-in-all, I feel the silhouettes turned out pretty decent for a first attempt; I do want to revisit my whole book concept (but I need to nail down a couple of the finer points first.)

Forgotten Buildings

I’ve seen these two buildings many times and have even photographed them before (quite a bit, actually.) I’ve been wanting to do an actual series of them for a while now, so yesterday I loaded up my camera gear and set about photographing them in all of their old rusty and grimy glory.

One of the classrooms still has its old room number on it: G2. The other one’s boarded-up windows and triple-locked door didn’t seem very welcoming. I don’t know the last time either of the rooms was used to house any students, though I think they’re currently used for storage of some kind because I have seen a janitor open them once or twice. It’s one of those things where I’d like to see what’s inside, but also don’t really want to for risk of inhaling a lifetime’s worth of dust and asbestos in just a few seconds. They’re textured and dirty and photogenic from the outside at least.

Around the two old classrooms is a chair graveyard of sorts where they dump all of the broken chairs, lockers, and other bits and pieces that are probably eventually slated to make their way to the dump but have yet to do so. The whole vibe is really cool (if you’re into photographing old, beat-up odds and ends) and despite frozen fingers due to the cold air I was able to get a series of the chairs lying around as well.

Most of the photos from both series were shot on a tripod, all with my 40mm lens and 5D Mark III. Post-processing done in Aperture, Lightroom, and for two of them Silver Efex Pro 2.

I’ll periodically check back and see if there are any new additions to the chair piles (or take some more photos once they really start to rust away.) Until next time.

More on Model Cars

This past week I shot another series of model cars, this time with the Cadillac (again), two Bel Airs, and an old Chevy truck. I used the same setup and lighting as I did to complete my last series and even re-shot the same picture to give myself a measuring stick to use when comparing my photos.

The setup

I stuck my Canon T3-i on a tripod and shot these photos with my 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. I decided to try tethered shooting this time, so I had the photos downloading into Aperture 3 as I went for quick adjustments and larger previews than I could get on my camera’s little screen. I also used the Triggertrap app on my phone as a shutter release (which is really awesome and something I recommend you check out.)

The background is just our pine table with some chairs placed behind it and the light came from a chandelier hanging above with a dimmer switch on it. It may not be the most technical studio setup, but it got the job done (I feel, at least) pretty nicely.

The old and the new

You can compare the link to my old post on the Cadillac Fleetwood to the re-shoot of the same photo below.

I always have to critique myself and this time is no exception. I’m torn on the new one, as I think the color is more accurate and the lighting a bit better, but the background is not quite as interesting (the old one had different shapes and colors and some more bokeh.)

The cars

This is one of the first times I’ve dual-edited photos in Lightroom as well as Aperture 3. Aperture is great for organizing and quick adjustments, while Lightroom I’ve found to be more of a powerhouse editor, though I’m not as fond of its organization. So, I used them together for this series, which I think turned out pretty decently.

Model cars have become one of my favorite things to photograph, so expect some more coming soon in the future.