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Vinalhaven on film

The adventures in film continue:

Last week I went on my regular summer trip to Vinalhaven, a lobstering island off the coast of Rockland. Normally I bring my DSLR and never take it out of the bag, but this year I decided to throw practicality to the wind and travel to the island (on a ferry, mind you) with my regular supply of clothes, cheese and gin, plus a monorail 4×5 camera and everything that you have to bring with it. It was an ordeal. Now I understand why field cameras were invented.

This was also my first time scanning negative film since college. Initially I thought I had failed utterly and shot thin negatives that simply could not be salvaged, since everything had a cyan cast to it. It turns out Ektar is just very, very hard to scan accurately. If you’re struggling with it, I recommend scanning it as a positive image and using the ColorPerfect plugin for Photoshop to invert the colors. It made a world of difference.

The super moon tides were extreme this year and the weather was beautiful.  Can’t wait to go back.

Vinalhaven, ME 08/15/2014 The falling tide surges out of The Basin, Vinalhaven, Maine. Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

The falling tide surges out of The Basin, Vinalhaven, Maine.

Vinalhaven, ME 08/15/2014 The falling tide surges out of The Basin, Vinalhaven, Maine. Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Vinalhaven, ME 08/21/2014 View from Flat Island on a falling tide, Vinalhaven, Maine Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

View from Flat Island on a falling tide, Vinalhaven, Maine

Vinalhaven, ME 08/21/2014 View from Flat Island on a falling tide, Vinalhaven, Maine Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Vinalhaven, ME 08/21/2014 Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

 

The return of film

Dedham, MA 08/05/2014 Phalaenopsis Orchids.Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Dedham, MA 08/05/2014
Phalaenopsis Orchids

A little over 2 weeks ago, I indulged a longing desire I’d been trying to repress for quite some time and bought a 4×5.  A big honkin’ view camera with bellows that move up down, left and right, geared knobs to manually focus with, and a piece of ground glass in the back to compose your image on — upside down and backwards, under a black cloth.  It’s finicky.  It’s moody.  It’s big, cumbersome, complicated, and every time you trip the shutter you just cost yourself money in the form of film and processing.

It’s the most rewarding photographic experience there is.

I’ve been messing around over the past couple of weeks getting everything up and running, and exercising the part of my brain that had been steadily atrophying since I graduated from The University of Texas some 11 years ago.  That was the last time I shot film.  I know for a fact that I was the last class in UT’s Photojournalism program to use the school’s 4×5 cameras (I think they were old busted Calumets).  It’s a damn shame.  Nobody that came after me ever got this experience — this frustrating, difficult, beautiful experience.  Honestly, when I shot this picture (this was the last of 6 frames), I was pretty sure I nailed it.  But it was 6:00 on Friday, and I had to carefully pack up my film holders, take everything home, and keep them in a safe place for the weekend.  Driving home I was so excited with nervous energy that it felt like I was about to go on a first date.

I dropped the film off at the lab yesterday (Colortek of Boston, highly recommended) and rushed back in the afternoon because I had to know.  Did I calculate the bellows extension factor correctly?  Did I load the film the right way?  Did the film holders leak?  Did the clouds move and screw my exposure?  Did I blow the entire frame by messing up the lens operation?  Did my combination of tilt, swing, and rise work?  Was it sharp?  WAS IT SHARP??

It was perfect.  There on the light table in front of me was a 4 inch by 5 inch chunk of undeniable truth, rendered in surreal vivid color by the almighty Fuji Velvia, one of the best color emulsions of all time.  My 3 dimensional plane of focus was intact.  My exposure settings, calculated with a formula given to mankind by Ansel Adams himself, were right on.  I gazed upon it like it was my own child.

I love photography again.

____

Postscript: my notes and a test polaroid from the shoot, which took me somewhere around 2 hours.  All I know is that I went through two separate LCD Soundsystem albums by the end of it.

Dedham, MA 08/05/2014 Fuji FP-100c instant test print Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com


Fuji FP-100c instant test print

Dedham, MA 08/01/2014 This is what composing a picture on a 4x5 looks like. Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

This is what composing a picture on a 4×5 looks like.

080514_Orchids_notes_1

080514_Orchids_notes_2

Swiss pastries

Dedham, MA 07/22/2014 MiniSwirls from swissbäkers, available at the Dedham Farmers Market Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Dedham, MA 07/22/2014
MiniSwirls from swissbäkers, available at the Dedham Farmers Market
Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

I couldn’t resist picking up a few pastries while I was at the farmers market, these MiniSwirls from swissbäkers in Allston just looked far too good.

Ever seen a fresh currant before?

Dedham, MA 07/18/2014 Fresh Currants. Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Dedham, MA 07/18/2014
Fresh Currants.
Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

I knew that red currant jelly was a thing, and I’ve seen them dried in baked goods, but until this week I had no idea how beautiful a box of fresh currants could be.  Like a bunch of little red pearls…

Heirloom Tomatoes

Dedham, MA 07/17/2014 Heirloom tomatoes and Basil from MacArthur Farm. Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Dedham, MA 07/17/2014
Heirloom tomatoes and Basil from MacArthur Farm.
Alex Jones / www.alexjonesphoto.com

Continuing the series from the Dedham Square Farmers Market this week: Heirloom tomatoes and a little bit (ok, a whole lot) of basil.