Precisely Imprecise

For the previous post, I had to dig out some of my old files from a brief 2014 affair with the original Leica Monochrom.

Here’s one of the shots I liked that were made with it, in this case on the streets of Miami. The artist here told me he was from elsewhere but I can’t recall his name or those details any more. Or maybe I’m just being misguided by the tee-shirt.

Photos can trick memory as much as assist it.

Contrast Curves for Leica Monochrom

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has supported Leica Monchrom files for most of the past decade, yet the support seems to have been pretty modest – a linear mapping of the grayscale-source DNG values. Setting your preferences for “Camera Matching” has essentially no effect - the contrast adjustments in the Monochrom are ignored.

The pic above shows three versions. On the left, what ACR will deliver directly from the sensor: a full range but with flat tones. The center is what the EVF showed, and is the in-camera JPG. The right image is something getting closer to my final edit, based on a higher-contrast version like that at the center: closer to the EVF view than what was delivered by ACR.

I couldn’t find any publicly-available curves or presets for Monochrom DNGs to match the contrast ranges you might see in the EVF or JPGs. So: I made some. You can find the link below:

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The End is Nearish

1970s Leica CL, Neopan 1600 in X-tol

Close to the last exposures on my 15-year-old spool of Neopan 1600, rated variously at ISOs 100 to 400 and attempted in Rodinal, D-76, and X-tol. I adored this film when it still had a rating of 1600 – but today, expired and degraded, there’s too much pain and grain for too little gain. The next sixteen rolls in the bulk loader are HP5, and Pan-F is on deck.

As a learning/relearning opportunity, sure. It’s been a surprise to realize how many of my old film skills remained, but also how many had been forgotten or erased by a decade and a half of digital shooting. The biggest challenge in relearning is trying to sort out what you know from what you think you know. Or thought you knew until the negative comes back thin and soft-focus as a cloud’s ghost.

Directions

Neopan, YashicaMat 124G

This $150 Yashica has been with me since high school – hokey meter, questionable low speeds, flare and all. I’ve scrounged-up most of the original accesories, one at a time. I even have the user manual, which contains banal sample holiday snaps, maybe made at Marine World. Only years later did I recognize the byline on those photos: Weegee. Wait, Weegee?

Truthfully, away from strong light directly into the lens and above ƒ/5.6, it’s hard to imagine wanting to replace this camera with anything fancier. Just be careful about the direction: don’t point it into the sun. Or a flash bulb, Weeg.

Apparently all of these more-recent celebrity portraits were also made with the same Yashica.

Film Photography for the Impatient

I’m not going to pay $2000 for a drying cabinet but $23 for a 9x12” USB-powered LED light panel seems okay. I’ve gotten into the habit of connecting it to a spare phone battery: I can then use it as handheld light source to preview wet negatives fresh out of the wash. Snap a view from my phone and flip it in Snapseed and boom, super-trashy, super-quick, scans.

Normally these would be for my personal quick-check, or on occasion a text message. This morning’s a bit different if only due to my excitement: there’s a little carnival set up in the fairgrounds parking lot, the first open public gathering I’ve seen in our town since March of last year.

Can’t wait to post a couple of snaps:

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