Happy New Year 2016

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First things first: I wish all of you a Happy New Year!

It’s 2016 now and like every year I wanted to give you the traditional new year’s post with pictures from the previous year. Although I had a difficult few months and there are still some 30+ rolls missing from the selection most of which haven’t even been developed yet, I still wanted to make a selection of pictures that reflects what I have been up to in 2015.

All pictures taken with: Leica M6, Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 and Rolleicord V, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Life and all the rest

In general 2015 was a very good year for me. After more than a year in Spain I’ve managed to settle in and even figured out when and where to shoot street around here – well, at least in the summer! I also finished an important bit of preparatory work for my PhD, improved my Spanish (by going to classes, watching 21 seasons of dubbed series  and reading 10 books in Spanish) and I even started learning Russian (which is a mad and difficult language). On top of all this I also shot 256 rolls (43 of which were in 120), had a group exhibition in Dresden and travelled a lot during the first half of the year.

Nevertheless, the last year actually ended on a slightly depressing note. By the end of the year my health made it impossible for us to travel and we had to postpone our second trip to Argentina that was planned for December. This most recent flare up is also the reason why the latest pictures in today’s post are from September. Since then I have barely shot 20 rolls, which is ridiculously little for me and most of them remain undeveloped. In all of December I just about managed to shoot 3 rolls instead of the 50+ rolls I had hoped for on the trip that didn’t happen. The most frustrating part of all this is, that I was actually doing exceptionally well at the beginning of last year only to have it snatched away from me again. As always my health is somewhat unpredictable and I will have to try to get better again now. But then, I’ve been ill for so many years that I’m actually used to these ups and downs by now.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

Colour

Instead of dwelling on the annoying parts of last year I would rather like to focus on the good parts though and there were many of those too. The highlight of last year was definitely the month that we spent in Buenos Aires. Going to Argentina had been a dream of mine for many years and it was actually better than I ever imagined. Appropriately I shot 53 rolls over there, most of which were in colour and we had a fantastic time. The trip to Argentina wasn’t the only trip last year either and I also took pictures in Barcelona, Düsseldorf, Dresden and Chemnitz. Of course I also made good use of the summer back home and I really pushed myself hard with the colour this time. On top of all the colour I shot in Argentina I also shot some on all of my other trips and took quite a number of pictures on the beach as well. Apart from copious amounts of drugstore C41 film – primarily the now discontinued dm Paradies 400 and its slightly more expensive and slower replacement Kodak Gold 200 – I also experimented with cine film like Kodak Vision3 250D, Kodak Vision3 50D, Fuji Eterna 250D and Cinestill 800T in the Leica, but also shot quite a number of E6 rolls (Velvia 100, Provia 100F, Rollei CR200) and a lot of Kodak Portra 400 in my Rolleicord.

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

Black and white

Apart from all the colour experimentation I also shot a wide variety of black and white films: RPX400, Kentmere 400, XP2, Tri-X, Double-X, T-Max 400, HP5+, Fomapan 400 and Argenti ARF+ 400. I’ve been testing all these emulsions to see which one would become my new favourite for street photography and actually shot 15-20 rolls each, developed in different developers. Of all the ones mentioned I was torn between Double-X and HP5+, but since Double-X is only affordable in 400ft rolls and not available in 120 I’ve decided to stick with HP5+ for now. I will still test more emulsions, but it’s unlikely that I’ll find anything better among the emulsions I have left to try. To come back to HP5+ is actually a little funny, since HP5+ used to be my favourite in the early days. I only ditched it because of the high price of single rolls and now shoot it from bulk rolls. Luckily I like to experiment or else I’d probably feel like I’ve wasted my time testing all these emulsions! The only emulsion I didn’t like at all at box speed was T-Max 400, although I might try to use it pushed if I somehow manage to tame all that nasty fog! The only new developer I tried last year was HC-110 and I have had some promising results in combination with my Jobo processor. Other than that Caffenol was my main developer.

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

New gear

Cameras

After investing in my Rolleicord V and my Leica M6 with the Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 in 2014, I decided not to buy any new 35mm or Medium Format cameras in 2015. For anyone who knows what a beast GAS is – gear acquisition syndrome – you probably didn’t believe I’d make it through January. However, I actually managed fine until the summer when I realised that I didn’t want to get sand into my wonderful Leica! So, the only camera I bought was a Canon Sureshot WP-1, which is a ridiculously cheap waterproof camera and served me well during our many walks on the beach.

But then, when I speak of buying I obviously didn’t mean to restrict the gear that comes to me through kind souls! For my birthday my husband gave me a fun little toy, a Fuji instax mini, which I have only played with a little bit so far. I was rather surprised by the good image quality, but I have struggled to integrate it into my workflow so far. With the always firing flash it’s not exactly a street camera and so I usually forget to take it along. Another camera that found its way into our house spontaneously was also the slightly broken and fungus infested Lubitel of my mum that she brought back from Ukraine. It will still need quite a bit of repair and care before it is usable again and I haven’t yet had the patience to figure out how to take apart the lens. However, a camera that has already found its way into my workflow and heart is a camera that was given to me by my friend Julia, a wonderful Mamiya C220 TLR with a 80mm f/2.8 lens. With bellows and interchangeable lenses it is a really versatile camera, although it is quite a bit too beastly for shooting street. I’m planning to shoot mostly static things with it and the quality of the lens is outstanding! So far I’ve only shot 4 rolls with it, but I’m sure many will follow!

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

Robots

Last year I also got hold of some robotic help for my film development. I shot an awful lot of film last year and needed some automation to make things a little less painful. In an effort to make developing colour film less annoying I built a little agitation robot for Paterson tanks, that in the end didn’t really serve its purpose too well, at least with colour film. However, although it failed miserably to provide even results with the Fuji Hunt C41 chemicals I had at the time, it actually does a great job taking the pain and misery out of agitating the fixer in black and white development. Thanks to this little helper I now don’t have to babysit black and white film at all anymore and I just need to change the chemicals. With the rather annoying Fuji Hunt C41 chemicals I still needed all the help I could get though and managed to find a reasonably priced Jobo CPE-2 processor to solve my development problems. Since my Jobo tank can take 5 rolls it also helped me immensely to cope with my rather excessive output over the summer. By now my two robotic friends have already helped develop more than 130 rolls of film!

Scanner

The only way to shoot as much film as I did last year is to make every part of the process as efficient and painless as possible. The development process can be annoying, but scanning can be even more time consuming. With my flatbed scanner 35mm was a huge problem for me, so I decided to invest in a Pakon f135+ which can scan a whole roll of 35mm film in 3-5 minutes and does a great job colour correcting consumer C41 film. Without the Pakon I probably wouldn’t have managed to shoot exclusively film last year!

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

100% film

Yes, you got that right, one of my goals for 2015 was to shoot only film for a year. The idea was to push myself to use film even for the most difficult shots and to try and get the picture even when I had little experience with the film or developer in question. I definitely felt inspired to shoot a lot last year and only the development occasionally gave me a headache. Sometimes it was difficult to keep up, especially during the summer when I was shooting a roll a day while also trying to develop the 50+ rolls I brought back from Argentina. Apart from that it was a rather valuable experience to rely solely on film and I learned a lot in the process. I developed a good and efficient film workflow, I mastered C41 processing, found a good developer combination for all the emulsions I tested and by now I also know how to handle my Leica and Zeiss lens in most situations.

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

“Goals” for 2016

For the last few years I always had a long list of goals that I wanted to accomplish. I usually did accomplish many of them, especially those that challenged me to to shoot every day for a year or to shoot a certain number of rolls when I had hardly any experience with film at all. Last year I wanted to shoot only film which was also a rather challenging goal because I knew that we would be travelling to Argentina. I certainly had to streamline my workflow a lot to make it possible to keep up with my shooting and I also found myself in a situation where I was shooting the whole Argentina trip on ISO 400 colour film without the ability to push. Every time I set myself a goal like that, I inevitably learn a lot in the process and I used these goals to push myself out of my comfort zone many times. However, after pushing myself hard for several years I believe it’s time to relax a little and see what happens when I just do whatever I feel like photographically.

There are of course certain areas of exploration that are more likely than others and they surround mainly the technical aspects that I have been exploring already. Last year I began testing ISO 400 black and white emulsions and I would like to finish this undertaking. Also, after mastering C41 development I want to continue with E6 and see whether I can integrate it better into my workflow. With this will probably come an exploration of filtering artificial lighting and measuring colour in an attempt to make colour night photography less dependent on expensive tungsten balanced cinefilm. Speaking of night photography: As of yesterday I have a new lens for my Leica, a Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1. I have wished for a faster lens many times last year and actually dreamed of a lens like this for a long time. I’m certain that it will come in handy in many situations! The 50mm focal length will probably change my perspective a little as well and push me out of my 35mm shooting from the hip comfort zone.It might be a good lens to combine also with low ISO films that I still rarely use in the Leica. Naturally I will need some time to get entirely comfortable with it, so I will integrate this new lens as much as possible into my workflow, along with my Mamiya and my instax of course.

As you can see, this year there won’t be any restrictions or requirements, no number of rolls to reach, no possibility will be excluded, but instead I would like to see whether I can get to a feeling of achievement without any clear plans or defined projects. The goal will be to play, explore and experiment as much as possible in whatever way I enjoy.

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

© Lilly Schwartz 2015

Comments

  • frohes neues jahr!

  • Julia McClelland

    Great to see you back! Plus a mention of the Mamiya and me thanks. I will have a proper look at these tomorrow. Your friend Julia.

  • Pavel P.

    like the photos

  • Ute

    Hi, schön wieder von dir zu lesen und zu sehen! Dir auch ein gutes neues Jahr, ich hoffe Du wirst bald wieder gesünder! Trotzdem sind die Bilder mal wieder der Hit in Tüten 😉 Vor allem dieser Hund mit der Jacke – absoluter Wahnsinn! VIele Drücker und alles Gute

  • G.A.

    Happy ney year. By the way you made the right choice when getting a Nokton VM. Enjoy

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