Christmas in the Basque Country – Part 1

I always plan on posting more and then life somehow gets in the way. This time the problem was that I’ve been having way too much fun with the courses I’m taking on coursera and with my newest photographic projects, 4×5 + toy cameras + pinholes. That’s not a bad problem to have, I’d say! I finished a couple of courses already and I’m planning to take more once I finish this current batch! The next one that is on top of the list is actually a course on 3D printing, because I have a rather simple and useful project in mind: I need a lens board for my Speed Graphic for a lens that doesn’t have a flange to mount it.

I’ve been having lots of fun with my Speed Graphic and carried it up the mountain and into the woods a few times already together with my Leica Hektor 150mm f/2.5 projection lens. I bought the lens already modified for the Speed Graphic. The seller had sawed off the mount for the projector to reduce vignetting and mounted it on a 3D printed board that is the right size for my Pacemaker Speed Graphic. It’s a bit of a tight fit and not as smooth as mounting a regular metal lens board, but it works just fine in practice as long as I’m careful that it’s properly mounted. The other day I was extremely lucky and scored a Leica Prado 500 projector with 2 lenses. One of the lenses isn’t really useful for me beyond use on the projector, but the second lens is another one of these cool Hektor lenses, a Leica Hektor 200mm f/2.5! The 150mm I already have barely covers 4×5, which means I get some funky Holga corners in the pictures. I really like the feel it gives the pictures though, so I don’t mind the coverage issue. However, it also means that there is absolutely no room for movements at all which is a real shame with such a shallow depth of field. The 200mm Hektor should cover 4×5 properly though and I hope there is at least a little bit of room for movements. So, the plan is to 3D print a lens board for this lens and maybe make a slightly better board for the 150mm Hektor as well so that it’s a little less tricky to attach to the camera.

By the way I’ve been thinking about getting a projector since I started on my slide film project a couple of years ago. That’s how they were meant to be viewed and I like it when I can have a fully analog workflow. However, projectors that can do medium format are quite hard to locate and usually really expensive. The Prado was one that I had been eyeing for a while which is also how I ended up thinking about using projection lenses on a 4×5 camera in the first place. Like it is the case with enlargers the medium format parts for projectors are usually hard to find, but I’m hoping that the one I got might have the right condenser already since it comes with a medium format lens. 3D printing will probably solve the issue with all other spare parts I might need, but I obviously can’t print a condenser! Even if it doesn’t come with the right condenser, I’m sure the right one will pop up eventually and I’ve been meaning to shoot more 35mm slide film anyway. And since the 200mm Hektor lens was already worth more than I paid for the entire projector I’m very happy with my purchase.

So, after barely a couple of months with my Speed Graphic I already have 3 lenses for it and it’s really having a great impact on my photography. When I finally decided to go for it I wasn’t really sure how it would fit into what I do. Right away I had the idea for a great new project and it fits so nicely with my other toy camera, pinhole and alternative process related experiments. I’m still figuring out the details, but even my first few sheets of 4×5 have already been enough to convince me that I’m on the right track. I’ve been really unhappy with my workflow for a long time because shooting street in this town is such a grind most of the time. I really needed something with more predictable results to balance things out. Now that I can at least know that my 4×5 results aren’t going to disappoint me I have been feeling more like going out to shoot street too. Double win!

Speaking of results: After a bit more research I’m also one step further with my DIY Graflarger back – turning my Speed Graphic into a 4×5 enlarger so that I can have a completely analog workflow with that format too. One part I’m going to have to build is a light box of the right size to attach to a film holder. The only part missing for the light box was something to diffuse the light and I’ve actually found a place that can cut the right type of plexiglass to the size I need! I can imagine that this project will also end up having some 3D printed parts, another lens board for the enlarger lens, but also negative holders since I would also like to use it to enlarge 6×9 negatives. My Durst M670 only goes up to 6×7 and my DIY Graflarger solution could definitely be a way of printing 120 film formats that are larger than that.

3D printing of course has gazillions of other potential uses in film photography, especially when you’re interested in pinhole cameras or cameras for unusual formats. I’m already dreaming of a 3D printed 6×17 camera that uses a large format lens! And did I mention that building a regular light box with a diffuser isn’t any different from building a UV box for alternative printing? This whole adventure is really the right kind of mix of geekery and experiment to keep me happy for a long time.

Enough talk though, I think it’s about time for some pictures! As always the pictures I’m going to share with you today have absolutely nothing to do with my ramblings. However, one advantage of being more than a year behind on posting pictures is that I can use the opportunity to post some Christmas pictures! Can you believe it, Christmas pictures for Christmas? It’s almost like in my good old digital days when I would post pictures on the same day as they were taken. The pictures I’m sharing today were actually shot a year ago though and they are the first pictures I share taken with my wonderful Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2 lens. That lens absolutely rocks and at least shares a rather narrow depth of field wide open with my 4×5 adventures with the projection lenses. Ah, there we go, I managed to connect my ramblings to the pictures after all!

But before I forget: Merry Christmas my dear friends! Get yourself some eggnog and enjoy!

All pictures taken with: Leica M6, Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2. Rolleicord V, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5.

M6 / HP5+ @800. And in case you’re wondering everything apart from the colour rolls was developed in HC-110, which is actually my only developer these days! Good versatile stuff and even quite useful for stand-development.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

San Sebastian was the European Capital of Culture in 2016 which meant that they splurged on all sorts of fancy events over the year. By the time it was Christmas they had probably run out of money, but this didn’t mean that they didn’t try to do fancy things anyway. Apparently some ingenious engineering students had come up with a way to have some fancy outdoor Christmas lighting the cheap way. The mayor said something about a minimal budget on the day when it was presented. I was there with my camera to see whether there was anything worth photographing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Crowded!

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I’m always surprised that local teenagers seem to be overly happy to dress up in the most ridiculous way to support their local traditions. If anyone had expected me to dress up like that I’d have said “Not even in your wildest dreams!”

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Traumatised for life I expect.

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The people who came up with the lighting setup!

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Perfect opportunity to shoot some Kodak Vision 3 800T.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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And there they are, the fancy lights.

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Shoe lights too!

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Totally acceptable to miss focus a tad at f/1.2.

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The children obviously loved it.

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A gazillion selfies were taken.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Fancy light ball.

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I was experimenting with remjet removal on the Kodak Vision 3 film and it didn’t always go according to plan. I think I’ll buy proper remjet removal bath next time instead of using washing soda. For some reason I like the effect in this one though.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Father Christmas about to be attacked by a shark.

HP5+ @800.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Bergger 400.

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More fancy lights.

FP4+.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Rollei Retro 400s.

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A bar at the train station. Is it me or are they universally depressing all over the world?

Bergger 400.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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They put up Christmas decorations at the square in front of regional government building too. They were a tad disturbing.

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Take a close look at the girl next to the dog. She has a dog head in her hands …!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I do love my Nokton 35mm f/1.2. It was still new to me at that point.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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FP4+.

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Another local tradition at Christmas is the fiesta de Santo Tomas when the whole town is transformed into one big famer’s market and the farmers from the surrounding region bring their products and livestock into the city. Surrounding this event there is of course lots of dressing up, drink and events connected to local traditions. One of them is the women’s wood chopping competition. Yep, you read that right, wood chopping is apparently a sport around here.

Rollei Retro 400s.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

These were the finals, so there were trophies to be given out!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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All the kids were dressed up and waiting for the competition to start.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

All three competitors in action with their axes. There was wood flying off in all directions and these women were wielding big sharp axes, so I kept my distance.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Technical discussions.

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We have a winner on the right!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Running around in circles with a shark balloon, is there anything better?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Even the dogs were dressed up.

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Modern life, eh?

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Don’t shoot the baby.

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Grandma took away the gun for her own picture.

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The children always have lots of fun at these events.

Rolleicord / Delta 400 @800.

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Private conversation among twins.

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Cute!

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Climbing around with a skirt is difficult business.

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Jumping, not a problem.

M6 / Rollei Retro 400s.

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Playing with the baby.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Last one!

Next time: Christmas Eve, Reyes Magos and the Cabalgata!

breaking the lines

Lately I’ve been in the mood for some more focused learning and I’ve been following some online courses, some photography related, some not, and it has been an enjoyable experience. Every few years I make an effort and use some of the amazing resources that are available nowadays and it’s always been worthwhile. In case you’re looking for photography related courses: There is an excellent coursera course on Photography by MoMA that was really very very helpful and interesting. I did it some time ago and I felt that it was one of the best online courses I had ever taken, so I’d definitely recommend it. The one I’m following right now is called The Camera Never Lies and is actually a history meets photojournalism course which is also very detailed and interesting. I’m really amazed at all the stuff that you can learn online. You might know that I’ve been teaching myself all sorts of film photography related things over the years and I pretty much learned it all from free sources on the internet. Stand-development, developing and printing in Caffenol, C41 and E6 development, splitgrade printing, how to dry fibre prints with and without a print dryer, scanning, lately how to use large format cameras and so on. It’s pretty much all described in articles, videos and helpful comments in film photography related forums and groups. You just have to know how to use a search machine and you can find all sorts of great information. Once I even came up with a detailed syllabus that follows the progression of an art history degree with courses that are all available online for free. As long as you’re not dependent on the qualification, you can do the same thing for any degree and acquire all sorts of knowledge in self-study. The only requirement is that you have access to a good library or the money to buy the books.

And since we’re talking about books: Today I would like to recommend an excellent book to you called The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. It’s a 700 page tome all dedicated to alternative printing and photography which compiles so much knowledge that it would probably take me years if I were to try to attempt every technique in the book. And the best thing: It’s actually an excellent book about the history of photography too and although I know quite a bit about the subject already there are always interesting details that I didn’t know about yet. Really, I can’t recommend this book enough, it’s just wonderful and full of inspiration for experiments! My latest experiments? I’ve been playing with my Diana F+ camera and the cable release bracket to take pinholes, since this is the first chapter in the alternative processes book. Not the sharpest pinhole design out there, but it definitely has a nice feel to it and doesn’t require any tinkering to get started.

The other thing that kept me busy this week was my pile of undeveloped rolls of film. Should I really admit that I still have 105 undeveloped rolls of film lying around? I’m not really pushing myself to develop them as quickly as possible, so it will probably still take a while until I’m finished with it. I might as well announce already that I will be a tad late with my New Year’s Post this time, since most of the rolls from this year haven’t been developed yet!

In any case, I better get to some pictures now since I’m also horribly behind on posting pictures. These pictures were actually taken in May 2016 during my low ISO challenge. At the time I was playing with my excellent Super Ikonta and these pictures remind me that I should really take it out for some more street shooting soon! The lens is simply superb!

Pictures taken with: Rolleicord V, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5. Zeiss Super Ikonta C 530/2.

Starting with: Rollei / Rollei Retro 80s / Rodinal.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Twins.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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This was pretty much an accident, but I really like how the girl is perfectly framed!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Woof!

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I don’t. Or do I?

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ISO 80 woes.

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Teach them young!

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I was obsessed with dust that month.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I love how everyone ignores what the little one is doing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Say hello!

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Love the light in this!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Did I mention recently that I love my Rollei? Well I do!

Ikonta / Retro 80s / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I walked into a random direction.

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He told me that he was a warrior.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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So, this is an 80 year old Zeiss lens. Isn’t it just amazing?

Retro 80s / Rodinal stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Just a moment too late. The Super Ikonta isn’t the most convenient camera to use.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Hiding.

Retro 80s / Rodinal.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Side street art.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Although I seriously love the Retro 80s, I had scratches on some rolls that were not caused by the camera.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Nose coincidence.

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Action shot.

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Beach spectators.

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Strange dancing. Her hands!!

Pan F+ 50 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Disappointed love.

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I may have scanned this with the ANR glass upside down.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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So cute!

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Assistance!

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I love all the lines in this one.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Teddy doesn’t get any love either. Last one!

Joy

Sometimes life gets in the way of updating my blog and I certainly had a couple of busy and exciting months. My health has been improving a lot thanks to the new treatment and this gave me the opportunity to go to Paris for the first time. It was a great trip and I’m really looking forward to our next visit to the city! Then at the beginning of this month I actually participated in a wetplate workshop which was really cool and super interesting. The timing of it was perfect, since just a few days later I finally got the opportunity to get my hands on a large format camera I’ve been investigating for a couple of years, a Pacemaker Speed Graphic from 1950! Yes, you read that right, after mastering 35mm and medium format I’m now getting into the large formats, starting out with 4×5! Wait, a street photographer shooting large format and wet plate? That sounds crazy! Well, it is crazy and borderline impossible in fact. At ISO 1-3 wetplate is pretty much entirely useless for street also because you need to process each shot within a very short time after preparing the plate. I’d need an assistant and a big flash to pull that one off, so that’s not happening anytime soon – or at all. Large format street photography on film is much more viable but to be honest, at the moment I don’t think I even want to shoot street with it!

I’m actually coming out of a bit of an artistic crisis right now. This year has been particularly tough for me and for quite a long time I’ve not really felt very inspired to take pictures at all. Part of it was of course my health, but beyond that I actually didn’t really feel like it. I’ve been shooting street for more than 3 years in this town and it’s a particularly challenging place. Always going to the same 5 street corners bores me to death and the range of behaviours in this place is really rather limited. I’ve been pushing really hard and I manage to get some shots out of this place despite these limitations, but my level of frustration is usually pretty high when I’m trying to wrestle pictures from this place.

Boredom is of course part of the artistic process, but I’m a person who tends to get bored even more easily than others. I tend to master a skill and then move on to the next thing, so it has always been challenging for me to stick to one thing over a long period of time. I always need to distract myself with other things to keep my long term pursuits fresh for me, especially if I have already mastered everything there is to know about it.

I can probably say that street photography won’t teach me any new tricks anymore. I’ve shot it in all sorts of lighting conditions, with digital and all sorts of film emulsions, in shutter priority mode with auto focus, with compact cameras, rangefinders and have settled on fully manual 35mm and medium format cameras. I have shot street during the day, at night, in many different big and small cities, in different countries and I can even wrestle pictures from really one-dimensional places too. The thing is though: I’m not actually bored with street photography itself. I’m bored with street photography here! In a bigger city I could just go to a different neighbourhood and I would find something worth photographing, a bit of visual variety, but around here most neighbourhoods are pretty much dead most of the time and everything depends entirely on timing. Figuring out the right timing for each neighbourhood is a tedious process that involves lots of disappointment, so I have been tackling one neighbourhood each year with limited success in some of them. And frankly I’m actually a little sick of having to fight so hard for each shot!

This is not to say that I will stop shooting street. The main reason why street photography is a genre flooded with bad pictures is not only because it’s challenging, but also because people tend to get bored and move on before they actually get really good at it. The road to mastery involves pushing through these challenges and continuing anyway, even if you’re bored or your feet are hurting from all the pointless hours of walking without results. I will continue! But then for my sanity I still need a bit of a distraction that depends less on serendipity, since it obviously isn’t very cooperative in small beach resorts full of boring rich people, their dogs and (grand)children! So, I will be playing with large format, as well as toy cameras, pinhole cameras and alternative processes like wetplates and salt prints!

I’ve been following the work of others with these kinds of tools and techniques for a long time – wetplate particulary – and have also been reading up on a lot of pinhole and toy cameras over the last couple of years. I got myself a Holga and a Diana F+, as well as an Agfa Clack and a bunch of cans that I will convert to pinhole cameras at some point. This alone couldn’t really get me started though, because it was just too far away from what I was doing before. I built a little matchbox pinhole camera and it was far from being a success, so this didn’t quite seem like a more cooperative distraction that would instantly make me happy. I can’t really see myself walking around with just a toy camera or pinhole hoping for good pictures when really the serendipity lies in a different part of the process with these kinds of tools. Yet, there is something there that I’d like to explore.

So, in the end I decided that large format would be the way to move forward for me. It was a bit of a risky move, since it was quite an investment for a camera that I won’t be using for street photography at all – the camera itself imported from the US, a barrel lens, the development tank, the film holders, a new tripod, the film -, but after the first 5 sheets I’m completely convinced that it was the right decision! I actually have two lenses for the Speed Graphic now, an Optar 135mm f/4.7, which is a pretty standard 4×5 lens, and a very funky Leica Hektor 150mm f/2.5 projection lens that doesn’t even have an aperture! The standard lens will be great for learning the limited movements of the camera and for some random large format landscape stuff. The Hektor lens is a completely different animal though. It has a very shallow depth of field and barely covers 4×5. Both the DOF and the lack of sharpness in the corners give it a really special character which fits very nicely with all the other experimental stuff I’m working on. At the same time it’s a lot more predictable in its nature to allow for successful shots without too much guesswork. I already see what I get on the ground glass, so there won’t be any disappointment involved at all, unless I mess up the shot somehow of course. And since toy and pinhole cameras tend to be light, I can just take one along while I’m out with the large format camera and the tripod anyway. After two outings like this I think I accidentally stumbled on the perfect workflow to keep experimenting and get predictable success at the same time. So, new, big things happening and eventually you’ll see some results trickle in on here too.

There has been more interesting stuff happening too. I’ve been printing in the darkroom and working more on my Progress through Demolition project, which has been very interesting – some pictures that I thought would be challenging to print in the darkroom actually turned out great! Still a lot to do, but it’s good to know that the project is finally progressing again. I’ve also been upgrading different bits and pieces of my gear – a plate / sheet film holder for the Rollei to shoot instax, a colour head for my enlarger, a better viewfinder magnifier for my Leica, a cable release bracket for the Diana, all the large format gear, some ND filters, and of course my shiny new tripod. And most excitingly, I even have a new photography related job! Well, let’s just say that not being in pain makes for exciting times!

But then, you’re probably not here to listen to me rambling all day! Let’s get to some pictures of some rich people, their dogs and (grand)children then! These particular pictures were taken in May last year when I challenged myself to only shoot low ISO film. It was difficult, but very cool and I love the results I got from the Nokton 1.1 and Rollei Retro 80s. Difficult to print, but the tones, the delicious contrast and complete lack of grain are well worth it!

Pictures taken with: Leica M6, Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1. Mamiya C220, Mamiya Sekor 80 f/2.8 S, Zeiss Super Ikonta C 530/2.

Starting with M6 / Nokton 1.1 / Rollei Retro 80s / Rodinal.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Fixing the window?

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Pre-jump.

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Flowery!

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Pre-gun violence.

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He’s got three dogs, probably in a tiny flat.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Stylish!

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Love the photobombing dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Got bored at the post office.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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These are not pipes.

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Blurred out mobile phones are sort of acceptable.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Acrobatics.

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Individuality is overrated.

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Slight framing failure.

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Last year’s trend.

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Getting some love!

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Look at that dangerous wolf!

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I think I was told never to run with lollipops.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Thirsty pup instalment 1.

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Thirsty pup instalment 2.

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Anonymous self-portrait.

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Practicing to become a spy.

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I just love this one!

Mamiya C220 / Rollei Retro 80s / HC-110 stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Ah, that Mamiya lens is just awesome!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Weird stuff.

Ikonta / Pan F+ 50 / HC-110 stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I was testing the Ikonta and stand-development in HC-110. Super nice! I need to repeat this one with some ND filter magic in 4×5!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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The Ikonta sometimes tricks me into accidental double exposures. This one I kinda liked though!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Retro 80s / Rodinal / orange filter.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Orange filter + Retro 80s is almost IR.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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That Zeiss lens is a stunner! Last one!

underground

The last few months have been rather difficult and strange for me. It’s been a bit of a battle with my health, and technology has not been kind to me lately either. But then there were also 3 exhibitions with my work included, two of them still running now, and by mere coincidence I have actually found something that has been simply amazing for my health!

If you’re reading my blog regularly, you probably know that I’m struggling with chronic health issues and that sometimes things get quite bad – so bad that I can’t really take pictures. I don’t talk about it much here, since this is a space for photography, but it becomes pretty obvious when I disappear for months on end. In any case, after my latest flare that kept me from doing any work this summer I was ready to try some new stuff to make things better. After another one of those endless searches on the internet and in all sorts of related health groups on Facebook, a friend finally pointed me in the right direction. It turns out that there actually was a solution out there all along that nobody feels like talking about too loudly! Of course, there are no magic pills and the new treatment hasn’t solved all my problems yet, but it has actually improved the worst symptom tremendously: I have basically been in constant pain for the last 8 years and this actually gets rid of a huge chunk of it without any side-effects! On some days I’m even completely pain free now, which is absolutely astonishing for me. And the cool thing is: There is still lots of scope for more improvement, so things might even get better when I fine-tune the treatment over time. In any case, I’m really glad that I’ve finally found something that works so well.

Not only my health was acting up in recent months though: I was also haunted by technical challenges and failures. My MacBook battery and charger died and the computer itself started crashing randomly, which eventually killed my main external hard drive. So much for the reliability of current Macs! Luckily no data was lost, but it is still hugely annoying and my hard drive failure also happened right when I wanted to prepare this post. I still haven’t managed to troubleshoot the crashes despite my efforts and frankly my prognosis for this machine doesn’t look too stellar. I’m really annoyed since it’s only a bit over 2 years old and there is a good chance that this is actually some sort of catastrophic hardware failure that can’t be repaired for anything less than what a new – obviously more reasonably priced – machine would cost.

The reason why I’ve been using macs has been reliability. I didn’t have to turn them off for months and most of my macs ran reliably until there was no current software for them anymore. There were of course minor glitches, a worn out cable or fan here and there, but nothing substantial in 13 years of using these machines. This reliability for me justified the higher price. Well, when you are trying to diagnose a misbehaving mac a quick look on the internet reveals that this is certainly not an isolated case – recent macs seem plagued with hardware failures and operating system glitches! The software has become much less reliable and with this most recent models I have had to restart a lot because the camera, microphone or speakers suddenly stop working out of nowhere. And now catastrophic hardware failure just 4 months after all warranty lapsed? What a coincidence! I guess I won’t be buying a mac again.

Even on the technology front I have some good news though! I’ve finally managed to fix the grid view on the blog which broke after I changed hosting providers. Without the grid view my very long posts become extremely difficult to navigate and posting very regularly without a good way of getting to older posts would have been a bit of a waste. For months I couldn’t find the right file that would have solved the problem – it was obviously one in thousands of files and all searches came up empty. Yesterday I finally figured out which file it was and fixed it within a couple of minutes! So, regular posting can finally commence again!

All of this technology mess has shown me one thing though: I need a better solution for backups! Don’t get me wrong, I actually have a really good system for my work: I have all my older digital pictures saved in several places and have built in backups for my film photography in the form of negatives + scans, so all my pictures are relatively safe automatically just by using film. Scanning takes time too though and I wouldn’t want to lose all that work when a hard drive dies! I used to have a backup for the scans too, but then not long ago my backup provider decided not to serve private customers anymore, which broke my backup solution entirely. Of course this happened right at the same time the technical issues started – notice a pattern? In any case, I need a backup solution that can’t be broken by some outside influence. I already have a plan now which will involve much geekery with one of these amazingly small and cheap Raspberry Pi machines running Linux. And since I’m setting up a Linux box anyway, I might as well check out whether I can migrate my photography workflow besides scanning to Linux while I’m on it. Better get ready for that time when my MacBook decides to give up its struggles for good.

But now, let’s get to the really important part: The pictures. This time on the menu are a bunch of rolls from May last year taken around here during my low ISO challenge. For one month I decided to only shoot film at ISO 100 or below. Not easy for someone who is used to zone-focussing at ISO 400+, but definitely a fun challenge!

All pictures taken with: Leica M6, Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1.

Rollei RPX 100 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Hi there!

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Multitasking.

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Floor magnetism.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Bursting bubble.

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Loitering.

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Worried?

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Sad pup?

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Tiny alien pretending to be a dog.

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Calling to the heavens.

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That surely went wrong!

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Outdoor concert.

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Strange beast with 3 heads.

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Heavy load.

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Yawn!

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Watching the outdoor concert from the inside.

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Cleaning supplies.

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I bet he had sweets.

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Siehe unten.

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Ready to jump.

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Strange self-portrait.

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Diabolic decoration.

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Down below.

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Dog running after a bike.

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Cigar!

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Another strange alien pretending to be a dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Why on earth?

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Double self-portrait.

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Apparently the huge furry thing is called Gustav.

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Slight accident.

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They were shooting a scene involving a fake ambulance.

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Don’t touch that!

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Another fur ball.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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For some reason I like to photograph wig shops.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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We all like our bears!

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Yes? No!

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Last one!

levitation for beginners

Not so long ago I switched back to my Zeiss lens and zone focussing for the summer. I didn’t realise how much I missed it to just be walking without looking through the viewfinder and caring too much about the framing, the focus. After half a year of shooting with only heavy lenses it is also quite liberating not to have that heavy weight around my neck. I’m really glad to have my wonderful fast lenses, but my Zeiss C-Biogon is still my favourite lens in the end. Maybe part of my frustration over the last few months was also that I always found it difficult to shoot freely with those heavy lenses.

The last few days have been incredibly hot and sunny. There was the first walk along the beach with the feet in the cool water, glaring sunshine, high temperatures and it will go on like that for a few days longer. Tomorrow we’ll be leaving for a short trip and I hope to shoot an awful lot for a couple of days. I definitely need some inspiration and some opportunity to recharge. And maybe I will finally feel like developing some film again when we return, which I haven’t done in months. I’m sure there are some interesting pictures waiting for me in the collected rolls in my drawer.

I’m still undecided about which film to shoot next. I’ve been going through some rolls of T-Max 100, Rollei Retro 400s and Neopan 400CN. I still have a fairly decent stash of different kinds of emulsions I could shoot, but I think I would like to continue with a simple and easy bout of ISO 400 film that I can just zone-focus without worrying much. I still have 10 more rolls of Ilford Pan 400 to get through and then I could shoot some more Bergger 400+ or some Fuji Neopan 400NC. I could also try some Bergger Pancro 400, JCH Streetpan or Orwo 400 film. Still some more emulsions to test!

Enough rambling, let’s get on with some pictures. This time I’m sharing some pictures taken in May last year after we returned from our trip to Buenos Aires. It took me a while to get back in the swing of things, but I used the time to play with a new camera, some slow emulsions and filters. In any case, grab an experimental drink and enjoy!

Pictures taken with: Zeiss Super Ikonta C. Mamiya C220 with Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/2.8S. Leica M6 with Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1.

Ikonta / HP5+ / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Has to wait outside.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Street musician was posing for me.

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They were playing Pelota.

Ikonta / Rollei Retro 80s / Rodinal 1:25.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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My husband at the beach.

Pan F+ 50 / HC-110 stand.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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The place where I take new cameras for test shots.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I was trying to fine tune the rangefinder alignment.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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So smooth! One definitely can’t complain about the looks of 6×9 and ISO 50.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Mamiya C220 / 80mm / Retro 80s / Hc-110 stand / orange filter.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Apparently I wasn’t in the mood for people.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I didn’t mind some furry friends though.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Discarded Metropolis.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Another furry friend.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Eyes.

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Trees.

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Strange sculptures.

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Rollei 80s with an orange filter almost shouts IR.

M6 / Nokton 1.1 / RPX 100 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Nevermind me, I’m just practicing my levitation skills.

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Slave, tie my shoes.

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I suppose he wanted something too!

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Hello there!

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I know, I know, slight obsession with dogs.

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You stepped on my foot!

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Almost lying on the street.

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Puppies.

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Make-up session!

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Guarding a bookshop.

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Outdoor computing.

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They sure had some funny expressions.

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Very patient dog.

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Last one!

goal

This last week was filled with developing some odds and ends left over after my film development marathon. Some Double-X, Orwo UN54 and some Retro 400s in 120, all developed at a leisurely pace. The last tank were actually 4 rolls of Retro 400s that caused a bit of a Jobo CPE-2 failure. After 340 rolls developed in my secondhand CPE-2 the motor side magnet came off and I had to do the fixer stage by hand. For now I have attempted to fix the problem with some superglue, but I’m a bit hesitant to test it out properly before I have industrial strength epoxy steel for backup. The Jobo failing during the development stage would be quite disastrous, so I’ll have to resort to other methods for now until I’m quite sure that the glue will hold. 340 rolls without a complaint though and now a minor failure that can be solved with glue, that’s not too bad! I’m sure my CPE-2 will still keep going for a while, which is rather good because it has become a really essential tool in my film workflow.

I also managed to shoot a few rolls over the last week and even shot in the rain one afternoon because I was eager to play with my new Nokton 35mm f/1.2 and some motion picture film – in this case Kodak Vision 3 500T. So far I’ve shot 10 rolls with the lens and have only seen two of them. Those were enough to make me fall in love with the lens though and I’m now testing it in all sorts of conditions, shooting it from the hip during the day like my Zeiss lens, shooting from eye-level in low light, with colour and black and white. Although a little heavy it’s certainly a versatile lens and I’m sure that I will use it a lot. With the weight it’s not really the best choice for an everyday kind of lens and 35mm is a bit wide for shooting from eye-level during the day, at least for my taste, but I believe that this is the perfect lens for winter evenings.

Not a very exciting week? Well, no, it’s getting quite wintery cold and rainy here – for local standards obviously – and bad weather tends to disrupt everything here. Last week we really had floods and floods of rain, which I always find exceptionally annoying. I don’t like shooting in the rain.

In any case, let’s get on with some photos now. This time I’m showing you pictures from the beginning of March mostly taken with my M6 and Biogon on APX 400, with a few Nokton f/1.1 exceptions here and there.

Pictures taken with: Leica M6 with Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 and Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1.

Starting with: M6 / Biogon / APX-400 @800 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Curious look.

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Care.

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Hipster galore.

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Fun with rubik’s cubes.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Umbrella gymnastics.

APX 400 / HC-110.

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Bored dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Showing off the baby.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Dog encounter.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Serious running.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Stealing taken to a new level.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Waiting.

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Don’t support the murder of books.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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“And then I slapped him like this …”

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Expectations.

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The window says: Dogs, cats and other fauna.

RPX 100 @400 / Rodinal. Accidentally loaded the wrong roll.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Future heartbreaker.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Cold.

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Siesta time.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Remind me not to push ISO 100 film again.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Who needs shadow detail anyway?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I do like how this one turned out.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Expectations.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Obligatory mirror self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I love this one!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Tourist joy?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Lots of empty glasses.

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Professional contortionist.

APX 400 @800 / HC-110.

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Attitude!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Random street corner.

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Sorry mate, no fish for you.

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Yum!

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Care.

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3 friends.

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More expectations.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Random guy in fur coat.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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APX 400 / HC-110.

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Only happy with my cuddly toy … well, almost.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Modern kids.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Accidental self-portrait with a dog who’s running out of time.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Forgetfulness.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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M6 / Nokton 1.1.

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This made me laugh so hard!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Friday afternoon.

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Happy dance.

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Sticks and skateboards.

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Expectations.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Another instalment of people pointing at things.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Twins.

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Russian band.

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Small enough to fit under the bench.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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When children attack …

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Unsafe.

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Expectations. He does have such a funny face too!

M6 / Biogon.

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Modern play.

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Outside the lingerie shop.

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Where is the ball?

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Sunglasses in any weather.

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Goal!

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Another near collision documented.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Dramatic gestures. Last one!

shared attention

After finishing my long development marathon I’m itching to get back into shooting again. For now the weather has been rather uncooperative though and it has been raining all the time. When my new lens (Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2 ASPH II) arrived on Monday I only managed a few test shots and decided to finish the roll on the next day. The next day turned out equally rainy and dismal though, which meant that I had to push myself and shoot 2 rolls in the rain. It was cold and uncomfortable, but I have to say that the results were definitely worth it. My first impression: It’s a great lens, even better than my 50mm Nokton! I’ll shoot only with this lens for a while to see how it handles in all sorts of situations and report back with some details. The gloomy weather will probably help a lot to get the most out of it.

Other than that I have been in the process of editing the gazillion rolls of film I developed. I still have about 60 rolls left to go through, so it’s quite the marathon as well, but this part is obviously much more enjoyable than all the developing. When I’m editing I just put on some podcasts or interviews and keep going. I don’t know how long it will take me to reach the end of this pile of pictures, but I bet I will finish before this rainy season finally gives me a some sunshine. The perfect kind of work when the weather is uncooperative.

Before I get on with my pictures for today I would like to thank all of you who supported our campaign to fund the first issue of our new She Shoots Film magazine. We’re not quite there yet, but getting closer and closer to our goal. Please continue to support us, pre-order the magazine if you haven’t done so yet and share the link to the campain: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/she-shoots-film-magazine-photography#/ With this you will support women photographers around the world by bringing them a new platform in which they can present their work and give us the opportunity to bring you some really wonderful new inspiration. We’re really excited about the magazine, thankful for all the support you have given us so far and personally I can’t wait to finally hold the magazine in my hands!

Now, let’s move on to some pictures though. This time you’ll get to see the first part of the pictures I took in February. Just like November the month of February usually treats us with incessant rain, so things tend to be a little difficult, but of course I keep pushing anyway. In any case, grab a cup of tea or some hot soup and enjoy!

Pictures taken with: Leica M6, Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 and Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1.

Starting with: M6 / Nokton / Delta 400 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Getting told off for playing in the middle of the street.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Not how you use a bench.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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How they managed to steal this boy’s shoe I don’t know.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Zone-focussing a 50mm lens in gloomy weather is not always successful for me, but I think this one works anyway.

Biogon.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Unexpected entrance into the underworld.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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It was February. Rainy season.

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Happy, as always.

Nokton / APX 400 / HC-110

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Shooting through bus windows full of raindrops because sharpness is overrated.

Biogon.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Look, bird!

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Anonymous self-portrait.

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Either everyone grew all of a sudden or I was just much closer than usually.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Cute!

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Flying!

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Uhm … I think I was zone-focussing at 1/60 or something and did not stop. I somehow like the movement. Not sure what it is.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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More cuteness!

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There are actually two dogs in this one.

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Purely visual interest.

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What an expression!

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Trying to deal with high contrast.

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Feathers everywhere.

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Take note of her bag.

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Facepaint!

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Bird action.

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Humans are overrated.

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f/11 for the win.

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They noticed me and started waving.

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Coats in shorts in the same picture.

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Swing.

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Rich old ladies who live in a summer resort. Do I have to say more?

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This is what it looks like when a swan crashes his bike.

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Welcome to the 50s.

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Nokton / RPX 100 / HC-110.

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More furs.

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I actually caught a low flying seagull at f/1.1.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Another round just for kicks.

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Another anonymous self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Typical tourists.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Another instalment of people pointing at things. This time including a white fur ball.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I was taking boring pictures of pigeons when this happened. The man apologised and I had to stop myself from thanking him enthusiastically.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Obviously it was a bit empty / boring, so I was taking random shots.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Warm day.

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Dog running wild.

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Harbour attractions.

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Winter water fun.

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Quite geometrical.

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Enjoying a bit of early sunshine.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Bit of an old town view from the edge of it.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Scooter fun.

APX 400 / HC-110.

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How to become a hunchback 101.

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Woof.

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Another white fur ball.

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Complete with f/1.1 glow. Gives it a strange dreamy quality.

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Dinosaurs.

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Boy brings dog a treat for waiting so patiently.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Boy watches dog eat the treat.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Busy chewing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

When you stop on the street to have a chat.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Back rub.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Silhouette. Last one.

imaginary tunes

In the last few weeks I have developed and scanned roughly 80 rolls of film. I only have 5 more rolls to go until I will have managed to catch up. It was quite a development marathon, which means that I didn’t have much time for shooting, but I still managed to shoot 9 rolls in my Rollei in October. The funny thing is that I basically shot only my Rollei last month. I already once tried to only shoot Rollei in August and struggled with it immensely. This time I had tremendous fun with it though and stuck with it quite by accident. As always, attitude matters.

In any case, today I’m sharing with you the last pictures from January. It was that time when I started falling in love both with my Nokton f/1.1 and with Delta 400. Surprisingly this perfect fine grain film with just plain awesome tonality plays very nicely with the quirky slightly flawed character of the Nokton wide open. I’ve since moved on from Delta 400 in 35mm – as always I keep experimenting with different emulsions -, but I know that when I finally settle on one ISO 400 bw film it might well be Delta 400. Settling down is difficult of course, because I really like several films very much. I haven’t finished testing all ISO 400 emulsions yet and can’t really say anything definitive. Of course, one of the emulsions left to test might surprise me in some unexpected way, but to be honest none of the emulsions that I have left seem very much like they fit my style. I can actually somewhat predict now that in the end my choice seems to come down to three very nice emulsions, none of them excessively cheap: Tri-X, HP5+ and Delta 400. More on that later though when I’ve finally finished all my tests.

For now my attention will probably stay with my E6 experiments though. There is a whole 100ft can of Rollei CN 200 which is waiting to be rolled and shot and it will definitely be a priority. These experiments will determine what I will do to develop the 5 rolls of E6 I brought back from Argentina and after 6 months it’s really about time. Also coming up, now that the sun is going down earlier (you see what I did there?) are finally some experiments with Kodak Vision 3 500T. I’ve been meaning to do this for the longest time and have already developed some other ECN2 films here and there in C41 and RA4, but I’m only getting serious about it now that I have the perfect lens for it on its way to me. Yes, a new lens!!! It’s going to be the other super wide aperture Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2 II, which is supposedly even better and much less quirky than the 50mm f/1.1. 35mm remains my favourite focal length, which means that I will have less trouble with the framing and can take certain shots for which I just wouldn’t have the space with the 50mm. At the same time the lens also adds a little more of a challenge because I will have to get closer while shooting from eye-level, which is still a little uncomfortable for me. With the 50mm I can stay a little further back and that works fine, but with 35mm I might still hesitate. Time to get bolder again! I think shooting 500T with this new lens will keep me happy this winter, which is normally a time when I find it particularly challenging to shoot.

But now let’s finally move on to the picture part of this post. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

Pictures taken with: Leica M6 with Zei