Adventures in Film

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The last 4 months have been kind of an adventure (in photography, to say the least).  Besides not posting anything on here except for a few select photo posts, I’ve been going a little film-crazy.  35mm film-crazy.  I found a really good price on a perfectly working Nikon FE (shown below) on ebay.  And my Uncle Pepe gave me a perfectly working (and harshly underrated) “Series E” 50mm f/1.8 lens over 2 years ago. And I bought a “Series E” 28mm f/2.8 shortly after.  So I was okay on lenses.

Am I a camera nerd yet? #nikon #nikonfe #35mm

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

I was taking a trip to San Francisco (for a cousin’s wedding) right after the camera came in and I thought it was a good idea to just “try out film” while vacationing across the country.  So I took two cameras with me.  I took my x100s (which still is always on my person every single day, even to this day) and this old-school Nikon FE which uses watch batteries and these film canister things that I was able to purchase at my local Walgreens.

My life essential carry-on items. #timbuk2 #nikon #fujifilm #nintendo #sony #lowepro #bose #lenspen

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

It was insane.  The gigantic viewfinder and taking time with manual focusing (not as hard as I thought it was going to be) and then *CLICK* and then the smoothness of the film winder and getting ready for the next shot without even thinking of the previous (I’ve trained myself to be a non-chimper pretty well over the years).  What a crazy thing.  And the best and worst part of it all, simultaneously, is the waiting period.  I still have 4 or 5 rolls of film that aren’t developed yet.  Craziest thing about that?  I’m in no rush to get them developed.  Of course when I shot my first couple of rolls I was eager and rushy to get them developed but it really is nice to wait. 20140821-46310001 It gives me the freedom to put most of my effort into just shooting as opposed to editing and posting online as quickly as possible.  It also limits me with my shooting, which kind of sucks.  I got caught having to rewind a complete roll and load a new roll at a time I wanted to keep shooting during my cousin’s wedding reception and I was still new to the whole film world so it still took me a while to load it. It ALSO made me go a little camera crazy the last couple of months.  My local camera shop was having a closing sale (sucks that they were closing, rules that prices were marked down) and I was able to score an Olympus XA2 (below) for under $30(!) and that camera is pretty amazing. This is an excellent little shooter that fits in my pocket, has an awesome lens, and is relatively quiet.  It has zone focusing (great for street) and it came with a removable flash unit.  I haven’t really tried it in the street yet, just used it mostly for snapshots and what not, but the results are awesome, with and without the flash. Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH I’ve tried different types of film: Superia 400, Superia 800, Tri-X 400 Black and White, HP5 Plus 400 Black and White, Portra 160, Portra 400.  I have one roll of Velvia 50 that I haven’t tried out yet, and about 10 rolls of the above variations that I haven’t used yet.  I don’t really have a favorite yet, because everything just looks so amazing after it gets developed.

I’m kind of overwhelmed with excitement and satisfaction with my results so far and I will use that as an excuse for my hiatus the last few months. Oh, and I also ended up picking this guy up off of craigslist for cheap (under $40) due to brokenness and paid a small repair fee (but a 3 month wait, which sucked).

Finally fixed after three months in repair! #nikon #fm2n #boobs #butts #ears

A photo posted by Jon Suarez (@ragecat) on

But it’s back, works/looks just like new, has a roll of HP5 Plus 400 in it and I’m about 8 shots through.  It is an awesome purely mechanical piece of sexy 1980’s craftsmanship.

I’ll be eager to see the results but I probably won’t mind waiting a little while.

Comprehending Composition

angrybirds
Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

After 5 years of obsessing over photography, I learned a great amount about the back end process of creating a photo.  I can talk all day about the “trinity” of a photo: aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  But all this does is create an “exposure” which simply is the lens, the shutter and the sensor manipulating available light to capture what is in front of it.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

An exposure.  That is what an exposure is.  It’s just science.

Science is quite different from art.  I have a bachelor’s degree in science.  I learned about science all through my life and maybe that’s why I appreciate art so much.  Because art allows me to continue to learn.  Science makes sense but art doesn’t have to.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

There is still a great mighty deal of art that I just don’t know about and this is the reason the art of photography interests me.  It’s kind of like a relationship between science and art.  There’s the science part of it, which I can totally get.  It’s the “art” that takes it far beyond the science and can be even more stimulating to my mind.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

A photograph has so much more than just the three pieces of an exposure.  There are subjects, backgrounds, negative space, white space and composition.

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Composition is placing the camera in such a way in order to gather certain objects in front of it and creating a frame.  It is a process by design only and is the way a photographer can tell a story by limiting all of the world into one precise placement.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2012

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2012

In my very humble opinion, this is the most important piece of photography and is what makes an “exposure” a “photograph”.  It separates the science from the art and truly makes it the photographer’s own work.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

This is the reason why photography is art.

An Off-Color Habit

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Most of my photos published on this site so far are in black and white. And I had mentioned in a previous post that I prefer to convert to black and white. However, it can get pretty repetitive. I was going through some old hard drives from the last couple of years and found a few gems that I never worked on. And I’m beginning to see that some photos that didn’t make it past the Lightroom Development Phase in my workflow (more on this later) simply got overlooked because they looked bland and uninteresting in black and white. Since I was scrolling through the old raw files, they were coming up in color and I was beginning to see some potential so I went to work on some.

Here are three photos taken last year (in February and June) that never got worked on.

Keep in mind that I don’t like to do comparison shots of the same frame (because I like to finalize a photo and be done with it forever) so I will refrain from doing so.

friendly-neighborhood-kid

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez

Now if converted to black and white, it would take the attention off of his Spider-Man mask and would be overlooked completely.  And that is the reason I stopped to take this photo!  Red pants, red hood, blue jacket- he is basically cosplaying as a more fashionable version of Spider-Man.  Plus there is some red in the background signs that complement the frame nicely.

colorgirl

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

This sassy young lady is already killing the game with her color coordination, and that is what the focus should be on in this frame.  Her stare is one thing, but what really works about the whole subject portion is the color triangle between the pink parka, the khaki boots and the green bag create.  She really pops out of the frame especially since her legal guardian is wearing all dark colors.  I actually really like this one a lot.

yellowhat

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

This one looked alright in black and white but when looking at it in color the yellow hat really pops out against the neutral colors of the photographer (with the awesome pants I must say and the bricks of old Philadelphia behind the yellow hat girl.  The fashion sense of the two subjects makes it almost seem like this photo was taken long before 2013.

And here are a couple of photos from last weekend.

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

This is another shot with somewhat of a timeless feel to it.  Ice cream and cigarettes have been around forever. Looked okay in black and white but the color makes it more authentic with the context.  The shirts are solid colors so it doesn’t distract from the focus of the ice cream cone or the cigarette.

realamerican

Copyright- Jonathan Suarez 2014

The American Dream: rolling with two cell phones, a bunch of papers, a bottle of water and the American flag.  Like the first one, the interesting part of the photo (the flag) would be overlooked if in black and white.  What a strange but awesome thing to be carrying around.

Okay, so there is the first batch of some color photos.  I don’t want to shoot exclusively in color from now on or challenge myself to “find color” in my shots.  I just want to use what works.  If something looks better to me in black and white then I will process it in black and white.  And the same goes for color as well.  I just feel like I was kind of limiting myself by subconsciously believing that all street photos look better in black and white.  That isn’t the case at all and it’s nice to know that now.  Especially since three photos from last year didn’t even be considered because I processed everything in black and white by habit.