Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some film shots from Saturday

I took the Canon AE-1 Program out for a spin this past Saturday morning. It also happened to be snowing here in NYC, so it was quite a bit chilly, but made for some interesting material to shoot in any case. I picked up the developed slides and a CD with the scanned images on Tuesday evening, and was pretty happy how they turned out.

Admittedly- part happy, part relieved. Part of me expected to open up the files to find at least a handful with completely blown exposures, but thankfully, aside from one or two that had other issues anyway, they came out fine. Missed focus on a few of them, so that may just take practice, or more testing to make sure everything is aligned properly.

Here are a few of the ones that came out without issue:

January 21, 2012

On the High Line

January 21, 2012

Along 23rd Street

Street Crossing
Street Crossing
January 21, 2012

Herald Square area

Street Lamp
Street Lamp
January 21, 2012

From The High Line

January 21, 2012

I didn't love this picture all that much, but probably one of the best examples of how the color came out on this film. In terms of editing, for this one I think I just pulled in the highlights a bit and tried to darken the black levels. I imagine that on a brighter day, I might get a little less of that washed out 70's look.

Initially I was a little hesitant to do any post editing in Aperture, since shooting film was sort of an excuse to have something "straight out of the camera" that had a built-in distinctive look. However, after making a few adjustments on images, I figured it'd be easy enough to hold on to at least a bit of that analogue look, while also pushing and pulling a bit to get the image to my liking.

More experimenting and shooting to go. I'm 1/3 through another film roll, and looking forward to seeing how the next batch comes out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's not the thermometer.

On Bimetallic-coil Thermometers (i.e. the relatively inexpensive food thermometers with a spike on one end and an analog dial on the other):

This food thermometer senses temperature from its tip and up the stem for 2 to 2 1/2 inches. The resulting temperature is an average...If measuring the temperature of a thin food, such as a hamburger patty or boneless chicken breast, the probe should be inserted through the side of the food so that the entire sensing area is positioned through the center of the food.

- FDA Kitchen Thermometers Fact Sheet

Turns out that I've actually been doing that last part wrong for an entire year.

I'd just stick the tip of the thermometer into the food, and it would tell me a much lower temperature than what was actually going inside of that food. So then I'd cook the food in the oven for a completely unreasonable amount of time.

This mistake would be almost understandable, were it not for the fact that a few months ago I got a different thermometer, used the just-the-tip methodology once again, saw the low reading results, and thus concluded that the entire low-end food thermometer industry was peddling useless junk.

Now going to go eat dinner. I'm having stir fried broccoli, and chicken breasts that have been heated to an internal temperature that I now understand to be a toasty 182 degrees.


See also the clip from The Office (U.K.), in which Gareth calls the manufacturer of his malfunctioning calculator.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I arrived at CRC at 2:20 p.m. Turns out that I was 20 minutes too late to get it in for same-day processing. Even if I had arrived on time, there probably wouldn't have been enough time to get the scans done same day as well, so I guess in the end it didn't make too much difference.

Lessons learned:

  1. Film requires patience
  2. When walking around in the snow, wear boots. Not sneakers.

Thinking about bits of film

The one on the left is a Canon 60D. It came out in 2010, and I purchased this one during the summer of 2011.

On the right is a Canon AE-1 Program. My sister gave this one to me this past Christmas. Canon produced AE-1 Programs from 1981 - 1987.

So at its oldest, it could be two years my senior. And at its youngest, it could be a few years younger than me, though still old enough to buy itself a drink1.

I started college with an Olympus point-and-shoot 35mm film camera, and by the time I had graduated, I had moved on to a Sony Cybershot and stuck with digital all the way. Only recently have I started taking lots of pictures in earnest, so I can't say that I have any special allegiance to film based on experience or nostalgia for some simpler time.

Nonetheless, film's service towards nostalgia has started to strike me as one of its unique traits. Not nostalgia for film in terms of remembering days past when we all shot film and it was so much fun, but nostalgia provided by the physical material of the film itself.

When a digital camera's shutter clicks, light hits the sensor. The information from that light is processed, recorded, and in many cases, compressed, into the files on the camera's memory card (all at speeds more instantaneous than the description, but you get the idea).

After the files have been offloaded to a computer, the memory card is erased for reuse. They could just as well stay on the camera, or on the phone, but once they've been uploaded or downloaded from there, the info on the device may just as well be the info on the computer or photo sharing site. The bits are immaterial.

When a film camera's shutter opens, light hits the film. Particles and chemicals in the film react to the light, and the film is physically changed. After it has been developed, what is given back to you is not only any prints or enlargements that you had ordered, but also the negatives or the slides- the film material itself that had been present, and physically changed by what it had seen.

Of course, it's all for nought if your film got damaged by an x-ray machine, or if you wound up blowing a deadline because you were waiting for prints to come back. So, sure, for any number of reasons, digital wins an overwhelming number of pro/con arguments as far as I can see.

But there is something to the thought that the negatives or slides that you get back are artifacts were physically present with you at the time the photograph was taken. Not unlike a shirt or a pair of shoes that you had with you, that you could point to on your person today and say, "I had this with me when I was at (xyz) and took this photo." The piece of film was there with you, too, inside your camera. And while shirt or shoes may have moved on since, if you're at all like my family, those bits of film that were there on the scene are likely well preserved in a box or envelope, in an attic or the back of a closet. And another plus over the shirt and shoes, they can show someone what the scene looked like.

I have to backpedal again, though. Because I actually just got the AE-1 Program back from the shop tonight, and haven't yet shot with it. So I have yet to make any recent memory of my own that is anchored to physical bits of film.

Fortunately, there's a developing place that I heard about from a post on The Phoblographer, and they'll be open tomorrow. Their turnaround is 3 hours, so if I follow through and wake up early enough, I ought to have something to post back here by the evening.


1Riffed from How I Met Your Mother s1 e1, "I love a Scotch that's old enough to order its own Scotch." - Robin