Car Show Photography Tips-Episode 15


Spring is here! That means it’s time for car show photography. I really enjoy photographing cars and always look forward to getting out with my cameras to see what images I can make. I thought I’d share some tips that have helped me get the most from my car show photography.

Have A Plan

Before you head out to the car show see if you can spend a little time planning out your attack. Get a feel for how the show will be laid out so you can find the cars you want to photograph first. Plan a “route” through the show to make sure you see as much as possible. Knowing details about the show will also help you decide on the cameras and lenses you will want to bring

Arrive Early

For me, the hardest part of car show photography is the people. I like people, just not in my car photography. So, in order to reduce the stress of having to jockey for position with a bunch of people I try and arrive at the show as early as possible. Fewer people means you will have more options in photographing the cars.

Pick Your Favorites

1973 Ferrari Dino 246GTSMake sure you get to photograph the cars you want to photograph. If there are certain cars I want to photograph I try to get to those first, just to make sure. This also ties in with arriving early because if you get there before the crowds arrive you will have a better chance of getting the image you want without having to make compromises because of outside factors.

Triple Reflective EngineFind The Uniqueness

Every car has something that makes it unique. It could be the emblem, the hubcaps, the engine or the tail-fins. Instead of just (or in addition to)photographing the entire car, spend some time discovering the unique points of the car and try to capture that in your photography.

Crawl Around On The Ground

WMD?One thing I’ve discovered is that getting low to the ground really improves the quality of my car photography. Whenever I’m at a car show I spend a lot of time crouched down or kneeling. Getting low to the ground allows you to get interesting angles on the highlights of the cars like the fenders, emblems, bumpers, grills and wheels.

Think In Black & WhiteShiny Cycle

Many cars, especially old/vintage cars make great subjects for black & white photography. That’s why I almost always take one of my film cameras with me because in my opinion B&W in film beats B&W digital any day. There’s just something about the way black and white film handles the transitions between light and dark that gives it an almost “liquid” appearance. I haven’t been quite able to duplicate that using software to convert digital images to B&W.

Get Creative

Big Orange MercuryLots of cars cars invite you to take chances with them. Ultra-close shots, extreme angles and macro photography all work well with car photography. I sometimes take my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens with me because I can get some creative images by using the lens. Think a little out of the box whenver you are doing car show photography and you will most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Happy Shooting!

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Develop Your Own Film Part Two-Process And Steps-Episode 12

Welcome to part 2 of this series on how to develop your own film. If you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 (episode 11 of the podcast) for information on the equipment and chemicals you will need. Part 3 of this series will cover the process of digitizing your developed negatives so you can share them with others, so stay tuned for that in a couple of weeks.

OK, on to the fun!

There's nothing like film

The Rewards of Developing Your Own Film!

Film Developing Guides

There are plenty of “how to” guides to developing film on the internet. Just Google it and you’ll find all you want and more. I did that when I was researching how to develop film but found a couple of useful resources that I thought I’d share:

1. Ilford’s “Processing Your First Black & White Film” which is available as a PDF and summarizes the process very well. It’s biased towards Ilford but the steps are laid out well and you can transfer it to just about any film/developer combination.

2. Another great resource for information on developing times using various combinations of film and developer is the Massive Dev Chart at Digital Truth. They also have a lot of other information about developing film including temperature/time conversion charts. In addition to the website, they also sell a darkroom app that you can use on your iPhone or Android. I haven’t used the app yet but I may give it a try here soon.

My Film Developing Video

Back in 2012 I recorded a video showing the basics of the film development process. I think it will be helpful is seeing how relatively easy it is to develop your own film. It’s about 10 minutes in length. Enjoy!:


Film Developing Step-by-Step

Here’s my step-by-step guide to developing film. The key to successful film developing is to take your time, follow a specific process, be accurate in your measurements and temperature control and, most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

Before You Start-One Additional Piece of Equipment

I failed to mention in last week’s episode one vital piece of equipment- a thermometer. You definitely need to be able to accurately measure the temperature of the liquid mixtures used in the film development process. I use a kitchen thermometer/timer but any one will do.

Here are the steps:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice…

Before you develop your first roll of real film (with potential images on it) get yourself a roll or two of test film to practice with. You want to make sure you are comfortably able to load the film on the plastic reel and get it into the tank, all while not being able to see what you’re doing. It took me a good 10-15 trial runs before I felt confident in my abilities. Don’t rush it, just deliberately load/unload the film from the reel until you can do it by feel only.

2. Load Film Into Tank

Once you’ve practiced you’re ready to load the actual film onto the reel inside the changing bag. take your film, development tank, scissors and bottle opener/film-canister opener) and place them in the bag. zip up the bag, insert your arms into the bag and carefully open the canister, trim the film and load it onto the plastic reel. Place the reel on the spindle and put it in the tank and close the tank with the screw on lid. Congratulations!, you’re now ready to develop.

3. Pre-Soak

Before you add developer to the tank, fill the tank with “properly tempered” water (usually 68 degrees) and let the film soak for about a minute. This helps wet the film and reduces the chance that the developer will leave spots/bubbles on the film. After a minute drain the tank. You’re now ready to add the developer…

4. Developer

The developer is the star of the process. It’s what makes the images appear on the film. Each developer and film combination requires a specific ratio of developer to water and time of development. Make sure to read the documentation that comes with the developer or use the Massive Dev site to get the proper ratios/times. Use your graduated beaker to measure out the correct amount of developer and mix it thoroughly with water at the proper temperature. Add the developer to the tank and start your timer. Many people suggest you agitate the film on a regular basis in order to keep fresh developer flowing over the film. I agitate the film for 10 seconds each minute and seem to get good results. Once the time is up, drain the developer and immediately add the stop bath

5. Stop Bath

The stop does what it says, it stops the development process. That’s important because you don’t want to over-develop the film. The ratio of stop bath to water is usually 1 part stop to 14 parts water but be sure to check the specifics for the particular stop bath. Add the well-mixed stop bath the the tank and agitate thoroughly. You will want the stop bath time to be at least 15-30 seconds but you can leave it in longer with no ill-effects. The stop bath is basically very strong vinegar so you can pour it down the drain when done.

6. Fixer

After you drain the stop bath solution you add the fixer. The fixer is what “permanentizes” (my word) the image on the negative. It works by drawing the remaining Silver from the negatives. Fixer is fairly difficult to mix correctly so make sure you do a good job of mixing. The time for the fix bath is 3-5 minutes. Unlike developer and stop, fixer can be used a number of times before it is exhausted. In addition, since the used solution has a “heavy metal” -Silver, not Black Sabbath :-)  -in it so you don’t want to pour it down the drain. So, when you are done, pour the fixer into one of the storage bottles to be used next time. Fixer should last for 5-10 rolls of 35mm film. You can test the fixer by applying a drop of it on a piece of exposed film and if the film clears in a few minutes the fixer is still fine. If the film doesn’t clear you can replenish the solution by adding some more new fixer to the container. When you need to get rid of used fixer you can add  a piece of steel wool to the mixture, wait a couple of days, and then remove the “sludge” that is left over. Keep the sludge and recycle it at one of the local “hazardous waste” recycling events that many communities have. The remaining liquid can then be drain-poured with lots of water used to flush it down the drain.

7. Rinse and Photo Flo

After you fix the film you need to completely rinse the film with tap water. You can remove the top to the tank at this point and fill/empty the tank a minimum of 3 times, making sure that the negatives are completely submerged. Some people recommend placing the film under running water for 10 minutes but I think that is a bit over the top. Three to 4 good rinse cycles should be fine.

After the final rinse you will want to mix up a tank full of water with a couple drops of the Kodak Photo-Flo, which helps the film sheet water faster and reduce water spots on the negatives. All it takes is a few drops at most so don’t over do it. Take your tank to a spare bathroom and hang it up to dry.

8. Dry

Take your film to a spare bathroom and hang them up to dry. I just use a hanger over the shower curtain rod and attach the negatives to the hanger with a binder clip. Be sure not to touch/smear the wet negatives while hanging them up. Add another binder clip at the bottom of the roll to give it some weight so it doesn’t twist/curl as it dries. To help reduce the amount of dust I turn on the shower for a minute to get some steam in the room, hang up the film and then close the door. The steam helps to knock down any dust in the air thus saving you time in the scanning process. You want to make sure the negatives dry completely before handling them. I usually let my negatives dry overnight. After that I trim the negatives down to size so they will fit in the archive sheets.

Congratulations! you’ve developed your first roll of film. You are now an “official” film photographer :-) Now that you have your developed negatives you will probably want to scan them into your computer so you can share them with others. Part three of this series (in a couple of weeks) will cover the scanning process so stay tuned for that.

Until the next episode…….Happy Shooting!

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Develop Your Own Film Part One-Equipment And Chemicals-Episode 11

Have you wanted to develop your own film but were scared away by the thought that it was too difficult. Well, I’m here to say that developing your own film, especially black & white film, is easy and fun!

I started using/developing film in the Fall of 2012 and really enjoy the process. I was a little intimidated with the process but after spending some time researching the process and a little practice I have been getting consistently good results. Believe me, if I can do it you can do it, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems. This is part one of a three part series in helping you go from having never developed a roll of film “noob” to semi-experienced “home darkroom pro” who can share your film images with the world. Here’s a breakdown of the parts:

1.This first part will cover the equipment (camera, film,developing tanks, etc.) and chemicals you’ll need to get ready to develop your own film.

2. Part two will be a detailed walk-through of the film developing process with tips and suggestions that I’ve learned along the way.

3. Part three will be a quick review of how to scan your developed negatives into your computer so you can share them with the world.

OK, on to the fun!

Day 319-A Developing Interest

Day 319-A Developing Interest

Get A Film Camera

Before you can develop your own film you first need a film camera. See Episode 3 for tips on purchasing your 1st film camera. I would recommend getting a 35mm slr. There are a lot of film cameras available so finding one isn’t hard but you will want to do your research before purchasing.

Once you have your film camera…

Get Some Black & White Film

There is still a decent selection of black and white film, both in 35mm and 120 size. In the 18 months I’ve been shooting film I’ve come across a few that have become favorites of mine. Film is a very personal thing and every film has different qualities so what I like may not be what you end up liking. Here are some worthwhile films to consider when starting out. They are all good film and seem to develop well with a variety of developers:

100 Speed

1. Fuji Neopan Acros 100-($6.25/36 exposure roll) at Adorama

2.Kodak T-Max-($4.79/24 exposures, $4.95/36 exposures) at Amazon

3. Ilford FP4-($4.39/36 exposures) at Adorama

3. Ilford Delta 100-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Adorama

4. Kentmere 100-($2.95/24 exposures) at Adorama- a decent cheap film that I often use in my little Olympus point-n-shoot film camera. Get a roll or two of this to practice with before trying to develop a “real” roll of film with once-in-a-lifetime shots on it.

400 Speed

1.Ilford HP-5 Plus 400-($4.25/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Amazon

2. Ilford Delta 400-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.29/36 exposures) at Adorama

3.Kodak T-Max 400-($5 for both 24 & 36 exposures) at Adorama

Time To Develop The Film-Equipment You Need

Once you have your camera and have shot a roll or two of B&W film you need to have some basic equipment/supplies in order to develop the film. I have listed the equipment I use, in the order I use it, in order to develop the film. I use a combination of Amazon and Adorama for nearly all of my photography supplies/equipment so the links listed below are from each site, depending on which one had the better price/shipping terms, etc. as best as I could. There are plenty of other photography supply options, just do a search and you’ll come up with a lot of options.

Film Changing Bag (27×30)-($23.95) from Amazon-You will need a very dark place to transfer the film from the roll that you took out of the camera to the developing tank. A tabletop changing bag is a great way to accomplish this task.

Film Canister Opener-($14.95) from Adorama-If you’re developing 35mm you’ll need something to open the canister so you can load it on the reel. I hear this works great but I make do with a traditional bottle opener which is also very important for opening a bottle of tasty Craft Beer to enjoy while developing your film! :-)

Scissors-(FREE-hopefully you have some of these around the house!)-You’ll need something to trim the film (and cut the end off of the 35mm roll) before loading it on the spool. I use a pair of regular kitchen scissors that have a blunt tip (better safe than sorry while working blind in a changing bag).

Paterson Universal tank and 2 reels-#115-($30.59) from Amazon-This is where you will put the film and chemicals. It has a plastic reel that you load the film on (inside the dark changing bag) and once the film is on the reel you put it in the tank and screw the top on. You can then do the rest of the development process in daylight because the tank is lightproof but allows chemical/water to be added.

Plastic Beaker Set – 5 Sizes – 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000ml-($6.99) from Amazon-Developing film requires accurate measurements. To do this you will need some graduated containers. At this price you might even consider getting two sets of these so you can have some extra containers.

Chemical Stirring Paddle-($3.49) from Adorama

Norpro 243 3-Piece Plastic Funnel Set-($5.00) from Amazon

Plastic Transfer Pipettes 3ml, Gradulated, Pack of 100-($5.99) from Amazon-these will help you measure small quantities of liquid, like the Kodak Photo Flo listed below.

Chemical Storage Containers-($3.49 to $5.95 each) from Adorama


Developer-The developer is key to the whole process. There are many different developers, each with their own unique qualities, that people use. Once you get more experienced (and adventurous) you can experiment but for now you probably want one that is flexible and easy to use. I started out with Ilford Ilfosol-3-($8.50) from Adorama-it’s a liquid developer that makes 1-2 gallons depending on dilution. After I ran out of that I bought some Kodak HC-110 but sadly it is not being made anymore so my next developer will probably be some  Kodak D-76-($5.79) from Adorama-D-76 is a powdered developer that makes up to 1 gallon and gets lots of rave reviews for its simplicity and effectiveness.

Ilford Ilfostop-($6.50/500ml bottle)-Once you are done with the developer you need to stop the process so you don’t over develop. That’s where the “Stop Bath” comes in. Some people just rinse the film in water but I prefer to use an actual chemical. Just about any stop will work.

Ilford Rapid Fix-($6.95/500ml bottle)

Kodak Photo Flo-A drop or two of this in the final rinse will help water sheet off of the film as its drying.-($8.00) at Adorama

Hanger w/Binder Clips (take an extra hanger from your closet and a couple of large binder clips from your desk-FREE)

Scissors to carefully cut the negatives-(hopefully you have a pair of these-FREE)

Negative archive sheets-(various sizes & prices) on Amazon

What’s The Total Cost

After you get everything, the total cost for a couple rolls of film, the equipment and assorted chemicals should be around $150-$175, depending on where you get the equipment. That will be enough to get you through about 10-15 rolls of 35mm black and white film. After that you will need to re-stock the chemicals. The tank, beakers, changing bag, etc. will last a very long time. Near as I can quickly calculate, my approximate cost per roll of film to develop (including the roll of film) is about $6-$7, depending on the film. That works out to about 20-30 cents/frame, which isn’t too bad considering the fun you’ll have :-)

Stay tuned for part two which will cover the actual step-by-step process I use along with some tips and suggestions I have discovered along the way.

Happy Shooting!

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Black And White Film Photograph: Rent A Fence

Here’s an image of a construction site fence from the latest roll of 35mm B&W film out of my Olympus OM-1:
Rent A Fence

I’m really liking the Kodak TMAX film. The detail looks great and it seems to develop easily, at least in the Kodak HC-110 I’ve been using. I have another roll that I’ll be scanning this weekend that has a lot of shots from the recent Caffeine & Octane car show.

Zabriske Point Badlands In Black And White

I’ve spent some time in the last few days taking another look at the images we captured on our trip to Death Valley in October 2011.  Originally, I wasn’t too impressed with most of the shots but after a couple of years, and more time/experience in processing images, I’m finding some “new” diamonds in the rough. One of those diamonds is a number of images from our time at Zabriske Point, one of the most iconic areas in Death Valley. Zabriske Point is a beautiful area with lots of textured badlands surrounding the famous rock. We got up to Zabriske Point before sunrise one day and waited for the Sun to come up over the mountains. As the Sun rose the rock and valley below lit up with all kinds of great color. I captured the end of the “blue hour” on Zabriske Point in this image but there were a few other images from that morning that I think I will post over the next few months. One of those is of a small section of badlands that surround the rock outcropping:

Zabriske Point Badlands 1

I used the “kit” Canon EF-S 55-250mm zoom lens (a pretty darn good lens, btw) to capture the late sunrise sun casting some nice shadows in the rock. The original color file looked ok but the colors were a little washed out (probably due to the angle of the sun). Basedon that I thought it looked like a better subject for a black and white conversion. I used Silver Efex Pro to convert the color image. I chose a relatively high contrast image and added a bit of structure to bring out the texture of the rock. Seeing the result in B&W made me wish I had my Rolleicord with me on that trip. I think a “real” B&W image shot on film would look fantastic. I guess that’s a great excuse to go back!

There are a number of other images from that trip (which also included some time in Zion) that I will be taking another look at and probably posting over the next month or two.

Initial Impressions And First Images From The Olympus OM-1

I got out with my “new to me” Olympus OM-1 this past Saturday and shot nearly a full roll of film (Kentmere 100) as a test of the camera. I was dying to try out the camera so I took a short walk over to a cemetery (bad joke, I know) near the house that has a lot of old grave-sites in it. This cemetery was where I took one of the earliest shots with my vintage Rolleicord, of a confederate soldier’s grave. It wasn’t the best light for making photographs but I wasn’t really concerned about that as I was more interested in learning how to use the camera and making sure it worked. Here’s an image of the developed negatives:

As I said above, the light was terrible and this was my 1st time using the Kentmere film, so I didn’t quite know what to expect as far as developing went. I scanned in a few of the images to see what I got. Here’s some images.

As we were walking to the cemetery I came across this sign:

Follow Instructions

I got this shot pretty much dialed in. The focus seems to be good, and you can see our reflection in the button!

A little while later we made it to the cemetery, where I shot the majority of the roll.

This is the grave of P.V. Singleton. I made a photograph of this same headstone last October when I got my Rolleicord:
P.V. Singleton
I think this image came out pretty well, especially considering the light. I need to get used to the focusing on the OM-1 but the result was pretty good.

Here’s another headstone in the cemetery, appropriately named the “Singleton” cemetery. Nearly all the graves are of Singletons or what appears to be their extended family.
I did a little better with the composition and sharpness in this one.

Some Quick Impressions

Now that I’ve used the Olympus OM-1 I feel very good about my decision to purchase the camera. The camera seems to operate exactly as it should. It is a well-built piece of equipment with a nice, solid feel to it. When you press the shutter there is a satisfying “click”. All the switches and dials are tight and move with a purpose. The whole camera has a great “mechanical” feel to it that I don’t think any DSLR can ever hope to replicate. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy using these vintage cameras, because of their solid build and purposeful operation.

The lenses I got with the camera appear to be in very good shape as well. One thing that is a little different on this camera is that the shutter speed “dial” is on the lens itself, rather than on the camera body. It will take me some more time to get used to that but I don’t see it as a negative, just different.

All in all, after shooting about 30 images with the camera, I’m a happy camper :-) The Olympus OM-1 is a fine example of analog camera equipment and I am looking forward to using it. I may do a more in-depth review of the camera after I’ve had some more time with it. Until then, if you are looking to try your hand at analog photography and want a single lens reflex camera, the Olympus OM-1 should be on your list!