Christmas in the Basque Country – Part 2

Yesterday I returned from a trip to Germany where I was working on 3 different projects. It was cold and uncomfortable, there was a lot of long winded and annoying travel involved, but while I was there I had lots of fun anyway. I saw some excellent exhibitions, caught up with some friends and spent time with my family. I also shot 29 rolls in about 2 weeks and walked 71km! And all of it was possible thanks to my new medication: CBD, which is a form of medical cannabis. For 8 years I was in constant chronic pain and suddenly with this miracle plant I can travel and walk, even hike up mountains with a heavy large format camera! I’m still annoyed that I didn’t find this solution earlier! Why? Well, politics and capitalism. And in case you are wondering: No high with CBD and perfectly legal in the whole EU.

While I was in Germany I also continued working on my newest DIY project, which has exploded into quite a big endeavour. The plan was to build a DIY graflarger back, i.e. a light source that I can mount on my Speed Graphic to turn the camera into a 4×5 enlarger. From a hacked together contraption that was basically just a diffused light source of the right size that would be mounted with a bit of bungee cord I went to a design that will now involve RGB LEDs that I can use in 3 different modes – RGB colour correction like on the computer, RYB colour correction like regular colour enlargers and a multigrade mode that will work like the variocontrast light source on my Durst enlarger. It also won’t be mounted with bungee cord, but will get a proper 3D printed casing and a modular negative holder that will fit a standard international back and can print a whole lot of unusual formats. And since the RGB control needed a micro controller anyway, I might as well include a split grade f-stop timer with an analyser that will hopefully reduce the test strips I need to make and therefore save lots of time when printing.

So far I’ve got the RGB and RYB modes figured out and I have some notes for the VC mode. After that I will tackle the timer and as soon as some additional parts arrive I will set up the interface. It will actually have a display, a keypad and a few knobs to make it easy and comfortable to use. The last part will be the analyser, which probably won’t be entirely straight forward to do. However, there is some existing code that I can adapt for my purposes, like it is often the case when you’re trying to build something like this. There are usually lots of clever people out there who have already tried whatever it is you want to do and they are usually eager to share their experiences. I thought I would have to come up with my own RYB to RGB function, but as it turns out a clever person had already done it before and I only had to rewrite the code in a different programming language. Another clever person also developed an open source f-stop timer that I will adapt for my purposes and extend with functionality aimed at split grade printing. I could even make it possible to control this via a web interface on a smart phone.

This kind of spirit where people share their clever code and make their builds available for everyone to try is what I love about the maker community. If I wanted to buy a light source like the one that I’ve already started to program, I would easily pay 1100€ just for the light source, and every type of controller is sold separately – BW, colour or controlled with an app – for between 200-500€. An f-stop timer with an analyser would go for another 1000€. And it wouldn’t even handle like a proper enlarger head, neither colour nor vario contrast, since Heiland electronics who produce these light sources didn’t feel like figuring out how to have them produce magenta (red+blue) and yellow (red+green) or write an RGB to RYB conversion function. Strange for their kind of asking prices, especially since it’s not exactly rocket science! And besides, any (supervised) 10 year old could rebuild their basic light source design with the RGB colour controller by cobbling together a bunch of Arduino beginner tutorials for about 30€. All it needs is an RGB LED strip, any kind of cheap arduino clone – like the nano -, three transistors, some resistors, potentiometers, knobs and a cheap red LCD display. Soldering required, but that’s not rocket science either! That it’s so easy to hack together is exactly why the project keeps getting bigger. Adding one more function doesn’t seem like a big deal. In any case, I’m progressing bit by bit and I hope to be finished with all of it by April.

After returning from my trip, I will now also continue with my efforts to catch up on my film development and editing. I now have some 60 undeveloped rolls that I can tackle and after already developing a lot before I left I have about 120 rolls worth of scans to edit. I’m not be a big fan of the whole developing, scanning and editing business, so avoiding this part always feels like cutting a whole lot of boredom out of my workflow. However, it has to be done eventually and it’s even worse to do it all in one go. One of my resolutions for 2018 is trying to keep up with all the developing, scanning and editing, but for this to happen I actually have to catch up first. We’ll see whether I can manage before my next trip!

In any case, let’s finally move on to the pictures! It’s not Christmas anymore, but in the last post I promised you a second Christmas in the Basque Country post and here it is. Any leftover eggnog? Well, now is the time for it! Somehow things always get in the way and I don’t post as often as I should. Another thing to tackle in 2018.

Pictures taken with: Leica M6 with Voigtländer Nokton 35mm f/1.2 and Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1. Rolleicord V, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5.

M6 / 35mm Nokton / HP5+.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

On Christmas Eve we usually go for a walk in the morning. Around here Christmas Eve means people in traditional dresses.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

He has to wait outside even on Christmas Eve, poor little fella.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I’m afraid there is going to be singing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Lots of kids.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Adults too though!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

More interested in the toy car!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Singing for money, another Christmas Eve tradition. What baffles me is the willingness of teenagers to dress up in traditional dress. I never would have done anything so conformist!

Rollei Retro 400s.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I like that little girl in the doorway.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Reflection. The kids were looking at the display of a model railway. Not sure why that’s a Christmas thing here – for me it’s a train station thing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Obligatory dog picture.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

More singing.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

And gravity wins again! Unsurprising that kids don’t know how to ice skate in a place where it never snows.

Delta 3200 @1000.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

That’s the Christmas spirit.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

I have to say that Delta 3200 in 35mm isn’t very impressive, too much grain! Pushing slower film makes much more sense even though it sacrifices shadow detail. However, in medium format it has great tonality and looks good even at 3200.

M6 / 50mm Nokton / FP4+.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

In Spain the three holy kings or magi have their own celebration, los reyes magos. The kids stand in line to see the magi at the town hall in the morning and then there is a procession in the evening. And of course there are also presents involved. Around here it’s almost as important or even more important than Christmas Eve / Day.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Standing in line means that the kids are bored. However, usually figure out a way to entertain themselves. Photographically it would otherwise be an immensely dull event too.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

They found a new friend.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Rollei / Ilford XP2 (HC-110).

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Hand face synchronisation.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

I got a bit bored, but puppies are a good remedy for boredom!

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Oh so cute!

Leica M6 / Nokton 35mm / Ilford Pan 400 @1600.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

In the evening we went to see the procession. I’ve been trying to photograph that event a couple of times already. The first time I only had an f/2.8 lens and it was simply too dark for it. Well, gear matters sometimes! The second time we mixed up the days and when I accidentally ran into the procession I simply couldn’t get a good vantage point because of the crowds. This time we finally managed to get it right, found a good spot, I had a fast lens and film that pushes well.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

The girl in the middle doesn’t look too happy.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Metering with open fire in the frame is a challenge. Turned out alright though!

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

As always, kids in traditional dresses.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Traditional music.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Well, photographing a moving black something on a dark street is quite impossible even at f/1.2. Sheep dog? Black sheep?

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Farm animals are so Christmas … eh? I don’t know.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

And creepy big heads on a bus.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Child adult interaction.

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

© Lilly Schwartz 2017

Last one!

all new and shiny

After my most recent trip I’ve been feeling somewhat tired. The reason is probably that I filled every day of the trip to the brim with shooting, museum visits and catching up on my social life. Now I’m just digesting and in need of a bit of downtime so that I can begin to integrate all these wonderful new experiences.

Years ago when I was still in school I used to go on city trips with my mum each year. We visited all sorts of fabulous places like Vienna, Berlin and Florence. During those trips we would usually start arguing over our plans, since my mum tried to stuff all this activity into every day, while I just liked to sit in cafés and occasionally just do nothing much at all. I guess by now I’ve become more like my mum and I’m always painfully aware of how little time I have on such trips to do all the things that I would like to do and meet all the people I would like to see. There never is enough time to do it all at a reasonable pace.

So, this week after my return I’ve allowed myself some well deserved downtime and just developed a few black and white films in the meantime. I shot only a few rolls and spent the rest of the time relaxing, editing the pictures from May, watching movies and trying to get back to my usual calm self not bent on rushing around frantically.

Today I’m showing you the first longer set of pictures from this year. Included are a bunch of rolls shot with my new and shiny Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1. It’s a bit of a crazy lens, not suited for all subject matter or every photographer, but personally I really enjoy shooting with it. The lens is by no means perfect. Wide open it’s sharp enough in the centre, but boy does it glow! It also smears quite a bit in the corners. So, if you’re into really perfect lenses which are sharp from corner to corner even wide open, then it’s probably not for you. Also, if you don’t like heavy or big lenses, you should definitely skip it too. It’s a beast and weighs a ton, so it’s definitely not a good choice for a standard 50mm. If you like a bit of a classic look and shoot a lot in very low light or with low ISO film, it’s actually a good choice though!

What I like about it most is the flexibility. With this lens I don’t have to worry about loading low ISO film or about too much grain from pushing my film. I can just shoot whatever I want in all sorts of conditions. Interestingly I bought this lens to use primarily at night, but in the end I used it much more during the day with low ISO film. Before I got it, I didn’t really have much use for such film, since I was mostly zone-focussing from the hip. However, with this lens I need to focus properly anyway, so I might as well shoot film that is less grainy. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener I have to say and now I have a whole long list of low ISO films I would like to try. So far I’ve gone through a whole batch of RPX 100 and a bulk roll of Rollei Retro 80S in combination with this lens and it’s been fun. In total I have already used the lens for shots on 75 rolls of film and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

To sum it up, it’s a great lens if you like that sort of thing and can live with a few flaws. Best purchase this year by a long shot and I say this although I really love my Zeiss 6×9 folder too! You know what’s the most interesting part though? This lens got me thinking about a lighter standard 50mm lens. After years of shooting only 35mm lenses it’s more than a little strange to even consider something like that. Nevertheless, the 50mm perspective is growing on me and I wouldn’t be surprised if I would end up with a classic 50mm Summicron one day. Who would have thought? That said, it’s not a priority, so it probably won’t happen anytime soon!

Pictures taken with: Rolleicord V, Schneider- Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5Leica M6 with Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8 and Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f/1.1.

Starting with: M6 / Biogon / ARF+ 400 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Food and phones.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Daddy’s the best.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

The truth is out there.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Getting double attention from strangers.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Kids always know.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Pigeon with audio needs.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Reading at the beach.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Funky smile.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Sisters.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Waiting for the bus.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Waiting as well.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Shadows.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Door leading to another dimension perhaps.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Fun for the kids.

Rollei / HP5+ / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

They must be cold.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Trapped with sweets!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

M6 / Nokton f/1.1 / Pan F+ 50 / HC-110.

Finally some use for low ISO film!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

My husband sometimes also shoots film.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

FP4+ / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Amazing bladder capacity for such a small dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Sweet shop.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

This lens is huge and heavy!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Well worth it though!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Lost the trousers somewhere?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Slightly scary.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Cute little guy!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Sticking the tongue out to the camera.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Disturbed mannequin.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Super tight DOF.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

f/1.1!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Happy New Year …!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Barbershop display.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

A lot of potatoes.

M6 / Biogon / ARF+ 400 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Late.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Slight disarray.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Tricks.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Cold.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Sleepy.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

One-armed naked lady.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Nice facial expression.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

From here Nokton f/1.1.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Lost.

Delta 400 / HC-110.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Outdoor drawing in the cold.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Somewhat psychedelic umbrella.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Too cute!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Shopping boredom.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Got my BW spidey senses tingling.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Did I mention that I love this lens?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I like the dinosaur.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Winters here are very wet. And I hate shooting in the rain. However, sometimes pictures like this make it worthwhile.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Hairdresser’s window.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

I got this lens for this kind of stuff. I have rarely used it in this way, but loved it every time!