Polaroids at the beach

A couple of images taken with the Polaroid SX-70 at the beach.

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(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Plaubel Makina 67 with Kodak TMAX 100

Images taken with Plaubel Makina 67 using Kodak TMAX 100 film. Developed with R09 developer.

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©2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Cameras, megapixels and thoughts

Here’s a title that feels kinda strange coming from me. I’ve been a fan of high resolution since the beginning of my involvement with landscape photography. I don’t make images for the web but for prints. When I find a great landscape, my main concern is to make an image that can be printed as large as possible, taking of course in consideration the technical abilities of the camera I use.

This is why a few years ago when digital cameras were far beyond their current state (the era when a 10 megapixels cameras was considered high resolution), I turned to medium format film. 6×7 and 6×9 film cameras could produce scanned files that could be printed large and look spectacular. I also got the great tonal range which even today I consider it above most of the digital cameras (I am not including digital MF which costs tenths of thousands of euros and is out of most people financial ability).

I have made great 30×45 cm prints from the Leica M8 (10mp) and Nikon D700 (12mp), but I usually print my good images above 1 meter at the long edge. So, when the Nikon D800E arrived, I was able to reach those print sizes and at the same time shoot less frames of film, since every click costs money. With the D800E I was able to experiment more and get the images I wanted. I still shoot medium and large format film, especially black and white for the different look it provides (and that difference is more evident when looking at a 300dpi print) and will probably continue to do so, since I also enjoy the process of shooting an analog camera.

Since the D800E is not my favorite camera for everyday use due its size and weight, I usually take with me the NEX 5N or the Fuji X100. The Leica M8 has not been a first choice for me for some time done despite the fact that I love rangefinders. I almost exclusively use it for my infrared images these days. I am sure the new M240 produces stunning images, but so is the Sony A7R at half the price, and generally all the latest mirrorless cameras from a Fuji and Olympus. Things have dramatically changed during the last three years and I see more and more people following the mirrorless camera evolution.

One thing which is very important (and everyone knows that), is the lenses. I was able to produce great looking prints from the M8 because the lenses were spectacular. The same goes for my medium format film cameras (in large format the huge size of the “sensor” allows me to make stunning prints without having to use very expensive lenses).

The camera I use mostly these days is the wonderful Fuji X100. A superb lens matched exactly on the sensor and today i was blown away from the look of a 60×40 cm print take with this camera.

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You can see the image I am talking about above, and I have also a snapshot of the print with the Fuji on the background. All I can say is that the print is something completely different for what you see on the screen.

In theory, 36 megapixels would be required to print a 60×40 cm image at 300dpi. But the 12mp X100 produced a stunning looking print and even when looking it very very close the details are astonishing. This little camera never ceases to amaze me !

The image was taken using f/16 aperture (far into the diffraction zone) and with a B+W 110ND filter on the lens, still the details are there. Of course, when pushing the limits of camera, you must do it the right way. I used a heavy tripod with a sturdy tripod head, fired the shutter using a cable release, and the quality of the B+W ND filter is top notch. Every little detail matters when you are aiming at creating a good large print.

Today, most people do not print their photos at all, or are making very few prints, and even fewer are going to produce very large prints. The race of megapixels seems to calm down, and other aspects are given emphasis such a ISO performance and dynamic range. The latter I consider it to be the most important. A 12 or 16 megapixels camera with a good sensor and lens is sufficient for most people and you can do pretty much everything, form posting to web to make a beautiful large print that can decorate your wall.

I use my D800 in those cases where I am going to produce a huge print, and my MF and LF cameras for that special look when I require it, but for all other situations, a small and easy to carry camera like the X100 for example, is all I need !

(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Night Blur

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An abstract interpretation of sailing boats at night. This is a handheld two seconds exposure with the Fuji X100.

(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved

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Through Fields

A short video I made during an overcast day, driving through fields. This is more of a test video, experimenting with effects like Graduated filter and trying some color correction with Final Cut X.

Shot with a a Sony CX730E camcorder, which features an amazing lens stabilization system, allowing handheld shooting in difficult conditions. It’s not perfect of course, but much better than using a DSLR or my Sony NEX 5N.

I really liked some of the results, and at the same time learned a very important lesson: a clean windshield is a must, since dealing with spots in video is a nightmare !

(c)2013 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Seascape

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Taken with the Fuji X100 camera, this is is 5 seconds exposure during daylight with the help of B+W 110ND filter.

(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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End of Route II

In my previous post I uploaded images taken with Fuji X100 taken while visiting a trains station with old trains. Today, I am posting images with the Plaubel Makina 67 and Kodak Portra 400 film.

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First of all, I have to say I am really impressed by the Portra 400 which is by all means, a superb film. Wonderful color, minimum grain for a ISO 400 emulsion and a huge dynamic range. The latitude of this film is very impressive and it helps to get great results even in the most contrasty scenes. I shot it a box speed, and it’s probably the only film I consider safe to do that.

Until recently, I had decided to shoot only b&w film with my analog cameras, since with digital I get good color photos (slide film is a different story, but I haven’t used a slide film for a long time). But this film may change my opinion, I have a couple more left and if the results are equally rewarding then I will probably order some new Portra 400.

A ISO 400 film is very helpful when shooting a medium format camera, since I can use a smaller aperture and increase my depth of field. Scanned with my recently repaired Coolscan 9000, the results are simply at a different level than my flatbed Epson. At 4000 dpi, I was able to print a 40 inches wide print with great detail, and I could go larger if I needed to.

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You can easily spot the difference in color and tonality from the Fuji X100, and although on the screen the digital images can look more impressive in terms of contrast and sharpness, when printed the medium format photos have a very different look. The tonality is fantastic and the colors seem more natural. That has to do with the different transition from shadows to highlight that a film has (transition is smoother) and of course the different rendering of a 6×7 “sensor”. The Nikkor 80mm of the Plaubel, has a soft contrast and reveals tones beautifully, and of course you can add contrast and saturation if you want to.

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At the image above, a lens hood would be very helpful, still I was impressed with the image I got, I really expected it to be completely washed out given the lighting conditions.

Overall, I find Portra 400 to be a fantastic film for those who want to shoot color with a medium format camera. I have already loaded my Plaubel with a new film and I am expecting to use it during next weekend.

Enjoy the rest of the images.

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(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved

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End of Route

During my visit to a train station, I spotted some old trains, mostly locomotives, and that was a good chance of making some images. Rusty metal was dominant and a few plants had emerged, a very contrasty scene.

I had with me the Fuji X100 and the Plaubel Makina 67, on this post I am uploading photos from the Fuji.

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Rusty metal has a very specific look and i things its best to take photos during the golden hour. Actually, it was a couple of hours before, but still the images look pretty good. Once more I was impressed from the way the X100 renders a subject, great color and sharpness. Although this was a good opportunity to use the Velvia mode I preferred to stick with RAW files.

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In some situations I used macro in order to close as much as I could to the rusty surfaces. This is also a good way to create a narrow depth of field. In most cases, the X100 performed excellent, as it was expected.

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As a travel camera, the X100 has permanently replaced my Leica M8, which I am only using in cases I need a longer or shorter focal length than 35mm (and of course as an infrared camera). I have listed the reasons for that in a previous article.

Tomorrow, I am posting photos from the same location with the Plaubel Makina 67, which has a focal length close to the X100 (40mm equivalent) but the 6×7 negative creates a different look.

Enjoy the rest of the images with the Fuji.

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(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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Splash

Leaving home for a walk or or a short trip, is the way to get some good images, but even when you stay inside, there are also things you can photograph. A macro lens (or a camera with macro mode) is a good way to improvise and make some interesting images.

I placed the Nikon D800E on a tripod, mounted the Tamron 90mm macro lens and used a glass bottle to shoot some splashing water photos.

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Using 1/320 shutter speed and the built in camera flash I was able to freeze water motion and get these images. Now, I should have used my SB-900 flash for (probably) better results but surprisingly I didn’t have any spare batteries (!) and since it was more of a test photo shoot I didn’t mind using the camera’s flash (next time I will do that the right way).

The results can be very interesting and with some post process you can either get a good splash photo or even create an abstract looking image. It was a good way to take advantage of my macro lens since I don’t really shoot macro like flowers, insects etc.

I am repeating this experiment soon and will post some more photos.

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(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved

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Infrared

A few more infrared images taken with Leica M8, Voigtlander 21mm f/4 and B+W IR filter.

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(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved

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