Sunday, 15 January 2017

3rd Place Winner - Monochrome Photography Awards

Truly wonderful news arrived this morning…
I was awarder 3rd place in International Black and White Photography Competition - Monochrome Photography Awards, Professional Architecture Category.
I can’t say anything else except that I am really really happy :)Below is the winning entry... 

Image was made with large format 4x5 camera and Fomapan 100 black and white negative film.
I wanted to transfer a very specific look of the place into my image. That's why I visited this location a few times.
Finally I managed to photograph it in the way I wanted... after third or even fourth approach. A few frustrating moments but it was so worth it...

Press Release (please click image to enlarge):

Have a look please at other great photographs from organiser's gallery:

Monochrome Awards website:      
My entry:                                       
Other entries in category Architecture:
Other galleries:                               

Thank you!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

B&W Instant film on test (Impossible Project)

I have been thinking about starting to work with instant camera on some photo projects for a few months now. Yes -  instant camera :) There are many people who consider it as a nonsense when we are talking about serious work but it's the same with Holga - 'useless toy camera'. I am actually using it successfully for photographic projects and I am getting fantastic images. Why not do the same with instant camera? Exactly. 
Once you mastering specific camera it will become a perfect tool in your creative process.
Doesn't really matter what it is.
Never got a good results with Large format polaroid films but it was usually due to faulty or simply imperfect equipment (holders).  

Now, there is a chance to make it right...with something smaller.
There is a few options available these days but after all it will be a choice in between two films - Impossible Project and Fuji Instax.

Fuji - seams to work perfectly with consistent, good results and images which are not really changing in time...
Impossible Project - these films can surprise in every single shot for a change and there is no warranty that the look of the image will be the same in a few weeks...
But...there is one thing which keeps me away from Fuji at least for now - format. I don't really like Instax Wide format and Instax Mini is just to small. Impossible is way better in this field giving nice large photographs in Spectra film or slightly smaller but square (the best format ever) with its 600 Type, I-Type and SX70...
There is however another factor/category which is quite serious and makes Fuji stands out - price. Impossible is about 3EUR per image which is quite expensive considering the fact that Fuji Instax Wide for comparison cost about 1EUR per image.

Right...lots of pros and cons on each side.

A few years ago I got a great present from a good friend of mine, Bart (Light Painted) - Polaroid Spectra camera with glass coated lens. Really nice camera.
I tried it just after that with B&W film from Impossible...which came out totally sepia. That was it. No more tests, camera ended up in a drawer as there was no other option for photographic material.

I just decided to give it another chance when I started to think again about instant camera and when I realised that after all this time Impossible invented a new type of B&W film.

Film arrived just before Christmas. Great! All I wanted to know was if the B&W is B&W and if gives relatively good quality image with nice contrast and acceptable tonality (as for instant camera). Colour is beyond my interest if you are asking ;)

Film loaded. All seams to be working well. 
Time for a few snaps... and big disappointment on the first try as photograph was not coming out from camera. 
OFF and ON... Here it is. Wasted one, overexposed... probably due to the fact that it was exposed twice or even three times in order to get it out from camera. 

Problem with power? Hm, not really. It's a new film and battery in it is fresh. Camera seams to be fine as well. 
Another try... The same story...
These test brings nothing... Time to calm down, relax and find solution... 
I did a quick research online - the problem seams to be with the curtain which prevents accidental exposure (in the front of camera, over the pocket where film is ejected). It seams to be blocking for some reason film on its way out.
One quick move and curtain is removed ;)

Third try... and here it is. Photograph comes out smoothly.
Processing takes about 5 minutes as per instruction. Image is slightly overexposed and has a slight sepia tint but it is almost B&W. It's acceptable kind of B&W ;)

© Artur Sikora
(bright sun from the left side, camera set to '0', no adjustements)

Spectra has a possibility of making small aperture adjustments - brighter or darker. Next shot was with 'darker' option.
I was trying to shoot in a really bright day with nice strong sun and good contrasts to get images in the way I like... Holga with similar aperture and settings works well in it so I presume this camera should behave in a similar manner.

Have a look please..

© Artur Sikora
(bright sun from the back, camera set to darken image)

© Artur Sikora
(bright sun from the back, camera set to darken image)

© Artur Sikora
(bright sun from the back, camera set to darken image)

Almost there but not exactly. I am quite happy with contrasts. Images are Black and white and they are big :) comparing to Fuji... But the look of it is still lacking something which is hard to explain... 

Two shots left. Time for different lighting. Evening at home... As usually during tests I had to talk to Amelia (my daughter). Two shots in two slightly different lighting conditions (please see descriptions under each photograph).
One is just perfect technically the other one is better from visual point of view but not sharp enough. It was however my fault.

© Artur Sikora
(desk lamp in a front of Amelia, over the book, ceiling lights in room ON, camera set to '0', no adjustments)

© Artur Sikora
(desk lamp in a front of Amelia, over the book, ceiling lights in room OFF, camera set to '0', no adjustments)

Perfect! This is exactly what I was looking for.  Nice tonality and excellent sharpness once properly set and focused (It is of course rather camera not film itself).

Photograph on the left side was made with first version of 'B&W' Impossible Project film and it was never B&W.
Image on the right side was made with new version of the same film. Please see description under the image above.

Will have to think now about getting nice SX70 with manual focus for square images at some stage. 

Now, Fuji plan to release square format Instax in a few months will be smaller than Impossible but this will be a great option for consideration. 
Not sure if they will decide to go with Black and White as well though...

Questions, questions... and doubts ...