Head in the clouds

Head in the clouds

This picture is the result of many firsts for me. Although I’m not going to list them all, especially not the ones that involve some degree of cursing, a couple experiences stand out.

It’s the first shot I have ever made using a TLR (a Mamiya C330 Professional f, if you’re interested.) I’ve never used a camera with a waist level view finder before. There’s something really pleasing about seeing your soft, square image getting sharp on ground glass as you tweak the bakelite focus knob. The corresponding creak of the bellows really adds to the sense of bygone photographic times too.

Having the image reversed is a little tricky to deal with at first, but soon overcome. What is harder to adjust to is remembering that these sorts of cameras work nicely with the focal plane oriented vertically. Deviating significantly from that plane is … interesting. Attempting to snap something beneath you, such as when you look over a bridge for example, requires a certain amount of cunning. If you don’t know why, then I think I’ll leave that as a little exercise for the curious amongst you. Don’t worry, nobody gets hurt. It’s actually quite fun! Just remember to keep that camera strap around your neck!

I’ve learned a tremendous amount about image processing too. This paltry shot is the result of my first attempt at starting with a 2-1/4" x 2-1/4" colour negative, scanning it, and then grinding it through the Photoshop mill. What a lot of work that all turns out to be!

We now suspend this broadcast for a public service announcement from the Ministry of the Blatantly Obvious: Paging in and out from disc tries the patience after a while. Your computer really needs a lot of memory when dealing with medium format scans. Really. Like acres of the stuff. 1GB of RAM may sound like a lot when you think about all those zeros implied by the prefix giga-. That seemingly substantial swarm of teeny little bytes is, however, simply no where near enough for dealing with images with 10,000+ pixels of 24-bit colour in each dimension.

Scanning was much, much harder than I thought. All that meddling about with kamikaze dust, colour, and other variables that are just plain out to get you was definitely not as much fun as capturing the raw image in the first place! Why I was getting a red colour cast bewilders me still, but easy enough to fix with the Photographer’s Swiss Army knife.

Was it worth all the effort? I think so. I like the quirky composition, and all in all, it was a fun image that I enjoyed making. Even though I have a scan that could be blown up to fill my office wall, I think I’ll wait until I have something a bit more compelling before I do that 🙂

Anyway, I will get better … I will get faster … I will try to persuade Newspace to put an air line and lightbox in their digital lab 🙂

Posted by drizzlecombe on 2009-05-23 01:47:42

Tagged: , pdx , Mamiya , C330 , St Johns Bridge , Portra 400VC