Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pink Panther: Smile Pretty, Say Pink

Here's a fun Pink Panther cartoon from 1966 about photographing in a National Park. Lots of camera gags:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Holga Tests

I got my Holga negatives scanned over this past week from my mini getaway as part of my faculty grant 6 weeks ago. Part of the grant allowed me to shoot, process, and scan a few rolls of medium format film shot with my Holga (a plastic "crappy" camera that embraces light leaks, vignetting, and mistakes that we use for a quick film-based project in my Digital Photography II course at Hamline University). I was able to spend time (and film) figuring out what is actually captured on film vs. what the viewfinder shows, how close you can acceptably focus, and where different focus "icons" actually focus.

First, I started by setting up a shot with the Holga, and then photographing what the viewfinder showed me with my iPhone so I could compare them once the film was processed and scanned. I had to zoom in just a bit with my iPhone to have my digital image framed the same way as the Holga viewfinder. Here are a few pairs showing the Holga image first:

Outside my cabin with the Holga.

iPhone shot. I captured a little more (but not much) with the Holga.
A known issue. But surprisingly similar - I thought it'd be more dramatic.

Looking up the chimney of the other cabin on the property.

Again, just a bit of a wider shot with the Holga, but not dramatically different.

The driveway.

Much less sky, and much less foreground in this iPhone shot vs. the last Holga shot.

All of these were not nearly as different as I thought they could be. The Holga shots were a bit wider, but not by much.

The cabin I stayed in was in a heavily wooded area with a stream running through it (see this video I posted earlier this month to see what I mean), but just a mile away I found an open field to help illustrate the Holga's lens's depth of field at different focal points.

Focused to infinity. Note the sharp trees in the distance.

Focused as close as it goes. The foreground is just a bit sharper, but the background
is much less in focus. More dramatic in the background than in the foreground.

A GIF showing a bigger slice of each image overlaid. Watch the background go
IN and OUT of focus as the foreground (much more gently) goes OUT and INTO focus.

I created another helpful GIF to show what the HOLGA SHOOTS compared to what the HOLGA SEES compared to what my IPHONE SEES. Here's a Holga photograph I made looking up into a yet-to-be-fully-assemebled teepee on the grounds where I was staying:

I also made the same shot with my iPhone. And then I made a slightly zoomed-in shot on my iPhone that was cropped the way I saw it through the Holga viewfinder. The most helpful GIF I made is when I overlay these 3 images:

First rectangular shot was what my iPhone saw at the same spot where I held the Holga.
The second square image is what I saw through the viewfinder of my Holga.
The third (slightly skewed) image is the resulting Holga shot.

The biggest thing I take from these 3 images is that even though the Holga viewfinder ALWAYS shows less than what my iPhone sees, the final image captured on film appears to be very close to the focal length of my iPhone. (I have an iPhone SE for what it's worth. I have found the focal length to be equivalent to 29 mm. Newest iPhone models with 2 lenses have a wide angle around 26 mm and a telephoto around 52 mm.) That final square Holga image is just about as wide as the initial un-cropped iPhone image (if the top and bottom were cut off to make it a square). This is very helpful to me and to my students. It's a decent visual definition of what the Holga will actually capture: "about as wide as an unzoomed iPhone shot from the same vantage point, even though the viewfinder in the Holga is showing a tighter cropped version."

I shot the last roll once I was back home because the final morning of my stay in Wisconsin was a rainy one. I got out a tape measure and tested just how close I could be to my subject with it still being sharp. In case you're not familiar with a Holga, the lens has these 4 symbols to represent where to focus based on the distance to your subject:

Single person: 3 feet. Small group: 6 feet. Large group: 15-18 feet. Mountains: anything farther.

I measured a shot exactly 3 feet from the film plane while focusing as close as it goes:

Our front planter, 3' from the film plane. Sharp.

I framed it like this, with the flowers or planter being slightly cropped off on all 4 sides. The closer
you focus, the wider the "actual/captured" Holga image, despite what you see in the viewfinder.

Looking through our rose bush, with the closest flowers just 18" away. Too close. Too blurry.

Close-up of left side of that last image showing out-of-focus flowers on the right,
but flowers on the far left are far enough back to be back in focus (around 3').

One more from our front blvd garden where I had framed the light pole
on the very far right of the viewfinder. So no surprise it appeared to be
*near* the right edge, but not *at* the right edge as I had framed it in the viewfinder.

I have a few more Holga images I’ll get fixed up shortly to share, but these images in this post are the ones that I’ll be able to use in class to help my students work through some of these focus/framing issues with these fun plastic cameras. I have more examples as well, but what's posted here is a good start.

Click here to see my first post with a lot of images from my mini “photographic lighting camp” in a cabin in Wisconsin.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Trade River Retreat Video

When I was making photos in a northern WI cabin a few weeks ago, I would occasionally take some peaceful video clips of the Trade River behind the cabin with my phone. Here's 70 seconds of peace to help me remember my stay:

Direct Link: youtu.be/dibss5SC2ao

Here's more on my stay there, along with why the university where I teach funded it, as well as a lot of photos.

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