These past few months I've somehow found myself diving head-first into film photography. I've done a bit here and there in the past. I even wrote a blog about my latest 35mm film scans coming back from Indie Film Lab.
That was about the same time I traded in my Nikon D3 body that had been mostly collecting dust and picked up a medium-format film kit. Specifically, the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II.
(My friend Sy, whose images will appear in a future blog. This image shot with my iPhone 7 Plus and hastily edited for Instagram.)
I loaded it up and started shooting right away. But there's a problem. At the 6x7 format you only get 10 shots on a roll of 120 film. Every single frame needs to be worth it. For the first roll I could live with just burning it, I needed to get used to how the camera operated. This thing has bellows! (Needs to be said with a British accent, IMHO. "Bell-ows.")
When I sent my first rolls from the Mamiya in to be developed and scanned, I chose to use Richard Photo Lab this time as they have quite a great reputation and are recommended by Kirk Mastin of Mastin Labs digital film presets. And why not? I'm still learning about how I like my film and even which stocks to shoot, etc. Indie Film Lab did a great job, by the way and I was very pleased with their service and proof prints from Indie Print Co. as well.
The first five rolls I sent in were basically vacation photos shot on Ektar 100. But I want more. I want to shoot medium format portraits until I'm broke. (#staybrokeshootfilm)
Actually, I want to make film shooting part of my business. I'm calling myself a hybrid photographer now. Started another Instagram and e'rythang! (@ghostcodefilmroll). In order to do this, I need portfolio. So put out the word on Facebook to some friends and started doing mini photo sessions with a single roll of film. Ten frames for cost of film, developing, and processing, which works out to about $50. I'm also ordering prints of each roll shot to give to my clients and friends as mementos. I REALLY love this type of work.
This photo story is about that first film single-roll session with writer and director Scott Baisden on a rooftop in Grand Rapids, MI. The film used is Ilford Pan F Plus 50, shot at ISO 200 and pushed two stops by Richard Photo Lab in development. I did perform photoshop exposure corrections and edits to these images, so they should not be viewed as a straightforward representation of what Pan F Plus 50 looks like pushed two stops. I mostly added selective sharpening and contrast. The original film scans were much more flat, which I think is a good thing because I like to have editing control over all my images. Many film shooters seem to like the process of shooting and sending in their film to be processed a certain way and that's it. This is more of a collaboration between myself and the lab and I feel more in control. And also, since I've just started working with Richard Photo Lab and haven't necessarily chosen a go-to lab yet, I'll be continuing to learn and build that relationship. There are so many factors involved, but that's another post for another time.
What we ended up with here is a Jack Nicholson / Stanley Kubrick vibe that I couldn't be happier with. The size and quality of the Noritsu black and white scans is incredible. The grain is so soft and beautiful. The look of the medium format Mamiya blows me away. I used two lenses, the 90mm f/3.5 and the 50mm f/4.5. Both wonderful performers. Though many users of the Mamiya seem to be stuck on the 110 f/2.8, which I'm sure I'll pick up at some point, but I'm in no rush. In my research to find examples of other portrait photographers shooting the RZ67, I started a Pinterest board for myself and came across Nicklaus Walter's blog post about how he lights his portraits. In reading and viewing his examples, he uses a 140mm macro lens, which I just love the look of. I can't wait to pick one of those up.
Tonight I'm heading out to NYC with this bad boy of a camera. Can't wait to share the fruits... Until next time.