Photographer Allan Williams and his “wife, muse, and better half” in Allan Williams Photography, Susan, have posted about their recent experiments with Ilford Delta 3200 and a Mamiya 645ADF.
Williams, a self-confessed film grain junkie, was knocked out by the grain. His post explains, “I often used this film in the past when I need to get the shot in near dark conditions, but it occurred to me I have never intentionally used it for portraits in great lighting conditions just for its amazingly rich grain.”
The camera used was a Mamiya 645ADF, a Mamiya 150mm f/2.8 lens, and a Mamiya 80mm f/1.9 lens. Williams also writes, “Nothing can substitute for real film grain.”
Allan and Susan are located in Franklin, Tennessee. Check out more of their work on their site.
Atlanta, Georgia photographer Otto Kitchens is fascinated with the Japanese aesthetic known as wabi-sabi. According to Wikipedia, wabi-sabi celebrates beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,” among other qualities. Asymmetry and asperity also also reflect values in the aesthetic, and it seems Kitchens knows how to find these in abundance.
Kitchens has some beautiful examples of wabi-sabi and they were shot with his Mamiya 645 Super. Check out the way he captures the textures of Detroit’s finest in various stages of decay using medium format film goodness. He frequently relies on Kodak Portra 400 color film, and the muted light makes the forgotten and discarded look magical.
Cars aren’t the only thing Kitchens has captured. There’s a fascinating series on the Miller Theater in Augusta, Georgia, and lots of examples of decay in small rural towns of Georgia.
Wabi-sabi is indeed the finding of beauty and art in the ordinary. Kitchens does this regularly and is worth following. His site is a great photoblog, and breaks down his shots by the type of camera they were captured with. A great job all the way around!
Photography legend Mary Ellen Mark will be hosting a hands-on workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico from June 26 – July 6, 2011. The workflow is centered on black and white film photography. Each student will receive multiple reviews of their work, assignments, and individual conferences with Mark herself. A book will be put together containing the best images from the workshop, with three or four images from each student.
Mark’s site also contains PDFs optimized for Apple’s iPad which chronicle the Oaxaca workshop photographs from 2009 and 2010. Full details are available here.
Visit her site to view all details of the workshop, including logistics, requirements, travel and lodging information, applications, and an insightful statement from Mark herself on the workshop.
We previously profiled Mary Ellen Mark on the Mamiya blog in April of 2010, when she reported, “The work my students do in Oaxaca is very inspiring to me. I’m very proud of them. It’s great work.” She has run workshops in New York, and launched her beautiful new sitein February.
Ben Delaney of Spokane, Washington, is back where he started. A native of Spokane, Ben shot film before and during his apprenticeship under John Rizzo in Portland, Oregon. In 2001, Ben began to dabble in digital photography with growing interest. Eventually, despite the technological limitations of the time, he went all-digital, and continued to shoot everything from engagements and weddings to corporate clients.
In the winter of 2008-2009, Ben “hit a creative wall,” as he recounts the story. One day while pouring over old film with his six year old daughter, “I was showing her the film, and it dawned on me she had no idea what I was talking about. It was foreign and magical to her that there were little pictures you could see when held up to the light. I knew some of this magic had been lost in the digital world. Right then I knew I had to get back into film.” Ben got a Mamiya C330 Professional and “loves the purity of it. As far as Mamiya is concerned, I’ve always loved their cameras, and all the photographers I’ve worked with have shot them. There’s a nostalgic quality about them I love.”
Much of Ben’s portraiture work is close up. He achieves this through both cropping and physically getting near his subject. “I like to feel close enough to the subject. The beauty of film is there’s so much resolution and great texture and detail you can crop if you need to.” His choice of lenses is also critical. “The 135mm is luscious for shooting portraits. The 80mm is a little wider, but I still like it for portraits because it’s a little more natural.” When working with E6 film as a photo assistant, Ben’s appreciation for film continued to grow. “That inherent texture and grain is what I fell in love with. The way it renders the color spectrum and blacks look different on film… it adds up to something you can’t get digitally. I’ve actually tried to emulate it when shooting digitally. I’m truly one hair away from selling all my digital gear and working in film exclusively.”
Although extensively experienced with utilizing off-camera flash with PocketWizards, he currently shoots “about 90% with available light. That’s one of the great things about film. You can push it a stop or two, and it has that wonderful natural quality. Also, I don’t like carrying a lot of stuff,” he laughs.
About his journey from film to digital and back, he’s noticed something else about his selectivity. “It’s slower. I can shoot a thousand images with my digital Nikon and inundate myself with work afterwards, or I can shoot twelve or twenty-four exposures with film, and be much more happy with the quality.” As evidence of this, Ben cites a current project he’s working on with a client’s library of approximately 25,000 images. “As we were going through and scanning my client’s family archive, the moment at which they started shooting digitally the quality of the photographs diminished by about 75%. It was absolutely shocking. The percentage of good photos shot on film versus what they were doing digitally, well, there was no comparison. Eighty-five to ninety percent of the old photos shot on film were beautiful—keepers. Maybe five percent of the digital stuff was worth keeping, and those didn’t even look as good technically. I’m fast becoming a convert back to my roots.”
In a business where time is money, Ben feels film adds to his bottom line despite the processing costs. The results keep his clients coming back. “The film images have more character. To get the same quality digitally takes a lot of extra work and time. Film gets great results right out of the camera.” The quality-dollar ratio also has misconceptions surrounding the digital/film debate, says Ben. “To get the resolution and color depth of film digitally, well, you’re spending a ton of money. You can get there, but it’ll cost you tens of thousands of dollars. I spent a ton of money on a new Nikon system last year. Now I find myself using much cheaper film cameras and getting better results, and faster.” With less time behind the computer, Ben has time to research his next film venture. A Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID system or the Mamiya 7 II is next on his list. No matter what Mamiya he’ll be shooting with in the future, Ben’s feet are happily planted back in the world of film.
Victoria J.K. Lamburn, a young Brit shooter, admits to being “a self confessed geek” but, indeed, her outdoor interests belie that claim. She walks, she hikes, she climbs, and she reads Beat literature to boot! That is not geeky, Vicky. Neither is picking up an old Mamiya c330f and using — brace yourself, readers — film (hey, a lot of Mamiya cameras can shoot either film or digital)! All kidding aside, she makes some interesting points about MF format film vs. MF digital, especially in the pocketbook department. And her description of hiking the South Downs Way is both enchanting and instructional. Enjoy.