11.08.2012

Reaching back thirty three years with my Epson V500 Scanner.


I don't know if everyone else thinks the same way but I find that I like to go back to stuff I did a long time ago and see how it compares to the stuff I'm doing now. In many instances I'm disappointed with what I'm doing now when I see the images I made when I was just 24 and very new to the field of photography.

This image shouldn't look as good as it does. I shot it in my first, tiny studio using just the light coming in from a smallish window. I used color negative film in a very old and beaten to shit Mamiya 220 that I bought already quite used. The lens on the front was a 135mm f5.6 of questionable repair. Sometimes the shutter would stick.  I had the camera stuck on the world's rickety-est tripod. It was the only one I could afford at the time and I found it on the "bargain" table of an ancient photography store on Congress Ave. that was in the process of going out of business.  As bad as it was that tripod made my hand me down meter look good.

Finally, I was given to believe two things that have turned out not to be true. One is that C-41 color negative film from the late 1970's would not keep. The pundits of the day estimated that it would fade over time and become thin and unusable. This negative is still lively and effulgent. The other thing I had been led to believe, throughout the last decade, is that decent film scans just could not (for many arcane, technical reasons) be created on cheap, consumer flatbed scanners.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, all these things I never expected to like the final image as much as I do. Of course, part of that appreciation of the image is just the habit of being in love and the critical blindness that ensues.

With no doubt, my favorite portrait. Would I have done better with the latest digital wunder-kamera? How would you measure "better"?







13 comments:

Unknown said...
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larry angier said...

As I constantly tell my colleagues and students, it ain't the equipment, it's what standing behind the camera that creates and crafts a great photo.

Jim said...

I've been revisiting old photos lately also and have decided that my work 30+ years ago is better than I thought at the time. It's not so much a matter of materials holding up though. I was shooting all B&W back then and never doubted that it would hold up. But there's something about film images, a quality that digital doesn't have even when you add pseudo grain. Maybe it is just nostalgia for the past, a memory that those who have never used film are immune to.

Caleb Courteau said...

You caught some wonderful expressiveness in her eyes, and the colors of her clothes and backdrop are so simple and harmonious. A similar thought occurred to me today when I looked at a wedding I'd shot four years ago. I'd only had my camera four months at that point, and my mind's eye hadn't been educated to death. The technical proficiency obviously wasn't there. It's particularly obvious I wasn't keeping an eye on my shutter speeds in the dim light, but the raw enthusiasm for my subjects was at least as intense as it is now, maybe more so. Ignorant enthusiasm can create its own special look.

Kirk Tuck said...

,,,,"a memory that those who have never used film are immune to." How to describe chocolate if you've never tasted it? Thanks for the reply. It made me think about access to things.

Corwin said...

http://pavelkosenko.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/4x5-kodachromes/

Reminded me this. :) 70 years old Kodachromes. Its sad that we lost Kodak..

Gene Baucom said...

I have to agree, the latest digital wunder-kamera can't make up for craftsmanship and love of the process. I think it's all about investment. And investment in time and effort is more important than investment in money or equipment. Should not come as a surprise that taking time to set up and light a subject you truly care about will beat 100 perfect exposures of a random subject every time.

saxon75 said...

I love how present you are in the pictures you show of your family. Whether it's your wife or your son, it's always very clear in the photos how much you love them.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Window light, standing in the shade of a porch or a tree and standing in the bright noon-day sun will all work. It doesn't matter if you are using a DSLR, mirrorless, P&S or a camera phone. Photography is all about thinking on your feet, not about gear.

c.d.embrey

Carlo Santin said...

I agree with you about the scanning. I've gotten some pretty wonderful scans and subsequent prints from the V500, and there are many people who will argue vehemently that a simple flatbed scanner cannot deliver the goods. I like the simple approach to lighting here as well. I'm not very interested in elaborate lighting setups, though I don't have a lot of lighting experience to properly judge. It's a nice, simple portrait.

Peter Rees said...

This one is all about the eyes. Just lovely.

RFS said...

I don't know if the shot would be better with a more modern camera, but you definitely could not make better use of the word "effulgent." Congrats.

Rob Grey said...

My V500 has been very good to me. It has its quirks, but it has paid for itself 10x over. I've gotten 24-inch square prints out of files it has produced and my customers and I have had no complaints.

Not bad for an $80 closeout deal.