Monday, September 15, 2014

What Disappoints - and the Hot Car

I am now having a permanent GAS attack - that's "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" as most people are now familiar with the term. My interest in film photography has grown real big this summer - it usually gets big every summer, but this time, it's gotten even more sizeable. I'll cover off all my gear in total perhaps in  the next post.

But what happens when one's favourite set of Gear ends up being disappointing? Let me explain - for many reasons, I favour my Canon EOS Elan-7 - it's super light, even with the battery grip attached, it handles superbly, all controls are very familiar to me, because they're in exactly the same positions as with EOS Digital cameras, it has the biggest, brightest and most accurate viewfinder of all, and as it goes without saying, I can interchange the Canon EF Series lenses between this film camera, and my two EOS Digital's.

The problem is, I'm constantly disappointed by the Elan-7's image quality, and I've only now realized what a struggle it is, although many previous Posts have certainly hinted that something might be wrong here. The thing is, I don't know why this would be the case. When using other film gear, I seem to get exactly what one would expect - for example, with the Yashica Lynx-14, I get absolutely superb photos on any film I try in it; with my FED-5 / Industar-61 combo, I get an "etchy" look that many people have adoringly spoken to in other Blogs referring to that particularly cheap piece of Russian glass, and with the Smena Symbol, I get exactly the Russian plastic LOMO look which people buy (and love) this camera for.

But with the Elan-7, I get results that are simply far worse than I'd expect, usually. Once in awhile, it pulls off a great looking shot, but generally speaking, there is a lack of detail that seems to be limited by exposure range - see the examples below:

Digital - EOS 5D, EF 28-105

Film - EOS Elan-7, EF-40mm, Kodak Ultramax 400

Digital - Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
^ See how even my little digital Panasonic pocket wonder outshines the Elan-7!

Film - EOS Elan-7, EF-40stm, Kodak Ultramax 400
Before saying "it must be the film", well consider this - as I said above, no matter what film I use in the Yashica Lynx-14, the results are always spectacular. What about the common denominator with all my film photos - my Epson Perfection v500 Scanner? Well, again - that scanner always gives me what I would expect from every camera I own - consistently I might add; in fact, it's the scanning of my own processed Negatives that keeps me hanging on with film as a major factor. There doesn't seem to be a "Epson v500 look" that comes out common for all cameras - each camera's individuality shines through the scanning to my own eyes at least.

But it occurs to me - the Elan-7 is actually my go-to camera for summer vacation which means it is actually the only film camera I have which spends a lot of time locked up inside a hot car! Extreme heat can rapidly age a roll of film, quickly making a brand new roll behave like an expired roll. This is why it is always a good idea to keep your film refrigerated, or even in the freezer - but film cameras and hot car interiors are a really bad mix. This may go a long way toward explaining what I'm experiencing.

I'll end this with a few more very recent shots from the Elan-7, with no digital camera comparison made:

Field of Soy (I Think)

Roma Inlet

Kathy's Mom Playing Soduku

Friday, September 12, 2014

Starlight Diner Revisited

Two Strangers, Sept. 2014 Panasonic DMC-LX5, DxO Film-Pack, Kodachrome 200 Emulation
It's hard to believe that three years have passed since we last toured Prince Edward Island. There is one "must eat" place that I cannot miss, and that's the Starlite Diner near Summerside. It is the most authentic retro-50's eatery that I know of, although I'm certainly not all that well travelled. The Starlite is done up with plenty of authentic 50's and 60's memorabilia, although it's not necessarily placed appropriately, I'll admit. But two things are important - 1) the food is made to match, and 2) it's a dream spot for retro-photography.

Three years ago, we went here for supper with a group of friends, and, as it was obvious that I was having some focus problems with some of the shots, I must've been using a Canon Digital Rebel with a manual lens - probably a Mir-1 Russian 37mm. This time, I was using my sweet little Panasonic DMC-LX5

Melody and Kim, Aug. 2011, Canon EOS 400D, Mir-1 Lens, No Film Emulation
There's no need to try making comparisons - I'm just showing the best-of this Diner from 2011 and 2014 - never mind the cameras I was using, unless you're really interested.

Kathy's Mom, age 100, Sept. 2014, Panasonic DMC-LX5, DxO FilmPack, Kodachrom 200 Emulation
Sept. 2014, DMC-LX5, DxO FilmPack Kodachrom 200 Emulation
Naturally, B&W goes well with the 50's period, as it was much more common. Only the wealthy were shooting colour slides back then.

Pam and Agnes, Aug. 2011, Canon EOS 400D, Mir-1 Lens, GIMP Ilford Delta 400 Emulation
Kathy & Mom, Sept. 2014, DMC-LX5, DXO FilmPack Ilford Delta 400 Emulation
Me, Aug. 2011, EOS 1000D (Kathy), GIMP Ilford Delta 400 Emulation

Delightful Artefacts, Sept. 2014, DMC-LX5, DxO FilmPack Kodak Tri-X Emulation

Aug. 2011 Outside the Joint (No Film Emulation)
Sept. 2014 Outside the Joint (With the KodaChrom 200 Emulation)
Photographs make memories - that's the most imporant part for me. Sometimes, I like to try different things, whether it's digital or real film, or film emulation, or by using ultra-cheap film cameras, to make my photos even more memorable.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Vacation time is rather different to one who is retired. It suddenly becomes more important to take a change of scenery than to take a break from work.

The Annapolis Valley Near Cheverie
This year, it was important to me to simply go to a place nearby that I haven't actually seen before, just for a few days. The choice was obvious - Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. It is a place of spectacular scenery, along with a great many  historic attractions. We really put a lot into three days, and having become accustomed to the various routes one can take for getting there, we will certainly do it again, and again. This time, we went as far as Aylesford, where they have a wonderful Zoo. When we make the trip again, we will go beyond that town, which is only just a bit more than halfway through, and there is so much more to see.

Zoo at Aylesford, NS

There is one attraction that's vital to the history of Photography - at Cheverie, NS, there is a full size Camera Obscura. I just had to see this:

The Camera Obscura at Cheverie, NS
The image projected inside of the Camera Obscura
Part of what the Camera Obscura is viewing
Kathy was not impressed and couldn't see the point, but I was very interested in seeing this most basic law of optics in action. Did you know that every photograph is actually upside down when it's focused within the camera? The camera's Firmware (for Digital) is what makes it right side up again on the camera's preview screen, and with film, the Negative is simply inverted while processing it into a print or slide. But what's really mysterious is - did you know that what we see with our eyes is actually upside down while on our eye's Retina due to this same principle? Our brains have a mysterious little thing called the "Pineal Gland" which, among other things, causes us to perceive what our eyes see right side up, even though our eyes are sending the signal to our brains upside down - just like a camera's Firmware!

We stayed both nights at Grand Pre, which has one Motel, one Restaurant, and one Garage:

Evangeline Motel Garden at Dusk
Roof of the Motel Restaurant at Dusk
Irving Garage, right after Sunset

Oh yes - it has one historic Protestant Church:

The Covenanter's Church Pulpit
The key attraction at Grand Pre is the Evangeline Acadie Landscape Historic Site, which features a very colourful Catholic Church:

Historic Site at Grand Pre - Evangeline Statue and Acadie Church
At this time of year, this entire valley is loaded with fruit of every sort, ready for picking:

Apple Tree at the Howard Dill Farm at Windsor

I did not talk about cameras at all this time - all I'll say is that I brought four cameras with me, and Kathy brought two, and between us, here are all of the photos we took - there are 246 pictures in all, and I still have to get one roll of film developed.