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

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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!

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?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Pre-jump.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Flowery!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Pre-gun violence.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Stylish!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Love the photobombing dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Got bored at the post office.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

These are not pipes.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Blurred out mobile phones are sort of acceptable.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Acrobatics.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Individuality is overrated.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Slight framing failure.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Last year’s trend.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Getting some love!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Look at that dangerous wolf!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I think I was told never to run with lollipops.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Thirsty pup instalment 1.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Thirsty pup instalment 2.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Anonymous self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Practicing to become a spy.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I just love this one!

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

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Ah, that Mamiya lens is just awesome!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Orange filter + Retro 80s is almost IR.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Hi there!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Multitasking.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Floor magnetism.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Bursting bubble.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Loitering.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Worried?

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Sad pup?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Tiny alien pretending to be a dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Calling to the heavens.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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That surely went wrong!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Outdoor concert.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Strange beast with 3 heads.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Heavy load.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Yawn!

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Watching the outdoor concert from the inside.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Cleaning supplies.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I bet he had sweets.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Siehe unten.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Ready to jump.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Strange self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Diabolic decoration.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Down below.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Dog running after a bike.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Cigar!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Another strange alien pretending to be a dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Why on earth?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Double self-portrait.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Apparently the huge furry thing is called Gustav.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Slight accident.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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They were shooting a scene involving a fake ambulance.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Don’t touch that!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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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!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Yes? No!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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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.

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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.

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My husband at the beach.

Pan F+ 50 / HC-110 stand.

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The place where I take new cameras for test shots.

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I was trying to fine tune the rangefinder alignment.

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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.

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I didn’t mind some furry friends though.

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Discarded Metropolis.

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Self-portrait.

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Another furry friend.

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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.

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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!

hands

The dreaded day has come: The last pictures from Argentina! It makes me a little sad, because having these pictures in my Quick Collection in Lightroom was somewhat reassuring. But well, don’t worry, there are still many pictures to be posted and it will be a long time before I run out, even though I’m not shooting much these days. After all, these Argentina pictures are already a year old and I have shot a lot more stuff since then.

Yes, it’s true, right now I’m not really in the mood. Shooting on the same 5 street corners simply becomes boring, especially when neither weather nor health are cooperating. And once I’m out of my daily photography routine it’s always a bit tough to get back in again. That said, it’s not the first time I have taken a break and it won’t be the last time either, so it’s simply a matter of time before I’ll be out there again shooting one roll after another. What’s reassuring to me is that I’m actually not an exception in this. Many other photographers go through similar phases and some photographers only shoot in summer or when they travel. I simply haven’t yet adapted to the ups and downs that seem to be connected to shooting in a place that is so seasonal. This is a tourist town after all! There are many dead periods here and even when something is happening, it actually repeats every year in the same fashion. There are only so many ways one can photograph a city that is so small and I simply get frustrated at times.

I won’t bore you with the typical existential crises connected to artistic work though. Let’s just get on with the fun part: The pictures! One last time we have pictures from Argentina and this time there are some special ones in the mix, not just street stuff. Get yourself a funky coloured fizzy drink and enjoy!

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

Starting with: M6 / Biogon / Kodak Gold 200.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

Exhibition of film posters in a cultural centre. We were there for something else and only took a quick look. Nothing special, but I liked that mad grin at the end of the corridor.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Who says ISO 200 and a f/2.8 lens can’t be used for night shots?

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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They were actually watching a football documentary, so I’m glad the screen blew out!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Now let’s get to the fun bit: We went there to see the show Fuerza Bruta. Very impressive, very visceral, very cool. And one would think not a place for ISO 200 and an f/2.8 lens.

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M6 / Nokton / Gold 200.

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Rollei / Portra 400.

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M6 / Nokton / Gold 200.

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Last one!

indoor football

Now that my blog is working again properly, I’m going to make an effort to post at least once a week until I have caught up a little. Right now I’m more than a year behind with posting pictures and it’s sort of disconcerting. We’ll see how long I can keep up my good intentions!

There was finally some acceptable weather this last week and I got to go out with my Rollei a bit. Of course the Rollei started a conversation, this time with a punk and his two dogs, and I ended up sitting in the sun, taking pictures of them. Definitely fun! I’m sure you’ll get to see the pictures in about 2 years at my current rate! Oh dear!

I haven’t really felt like developing any film lately. I definitely need to get back to it! I found the perfect trick to motivate me though: I shot some Ilford Pan F+ 50 which has bad image latency, so I have to develop it soon or the images will fade! Every job has annoying bits and film development / editing definitely annoys me, especially with colour. I can take pride in the fact that I can do it rather well now, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting.

I was just about getting back into the swing of things with shooting when of course it started to rain again. I don’t know what it is this year, but it feels like the longest spring ever. When is it finally time for summer?

And before I start getting cranky I better get on with some pictures, this time the penultimate post with pictures from Argentina. One more post and it’s back to Europe! I will miss having my Argentina pictures in the queue. In any case, grab a cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy!

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

Starting with: M6 / Biogon / Kodak Gold 200.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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They locked him in / out.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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La Boca is full of street dogs.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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And cats.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Kitty under the stairs.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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This was in one of the tourist traps.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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And another just for the photographer in the background.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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And of course the street dogs hang out next to the restaurants in the hopes of getting some leftovers.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Funny way of drinking.

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Rollei / Portra 400.

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M6 / Biogon / Gold 200.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Taken from the bus I believe.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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For some reason I really like this one.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Very martial.

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Looking down into a museum.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Obligatory mirror self-portrait.

Rollei / Portra 400.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Later that night, some long exposures with the Rollei from the balcony.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Sunrise the next morning! I love the view and the mist.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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My husband was also awake already.

M6 / Biogon / Gold 200.

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OK, I guess I wait here.

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Right outside the butchers.

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Foosball.

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Busy bird.

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At the butchers. You simply can’t imagine the meat over there! Best meat ever!

M6 / Nokton 1.1 / Gold 200.

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Up there …

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… were these guys.

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And then they got all excited.

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Buying tickets at the Lunapark.

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Very small man, very big truck.

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Oh surprise, we stopped at a bookstall!

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Flag in the wind.

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Plastic bag in the wind.

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Visiting the Casa Rosada.

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Welcome to my old hunting grounds, the subway!

M6 / Biogon / Gold 200.

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And on the bus. Buenos Aires is the city of endless trips on public transport.

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Still got my subway chops.

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Occasionally one sees people with books too, not just smart phones.

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It was dark and for some weird reason I took my 2.8 lens.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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I was so annoyed at myself about this picture, 2.8 lens and ISO 200 film at night. Yeah, right!

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Dancing tango in front of a book shop.

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Not too bad for daylight balanced ISO 200 film. Not too bad at all.

Last one!

dinosaur on the prowl

Wow, what a week I had! Friday last week our wonderful Women Who Shoot Film exhibition opened at Feed Arts & Cultural Center in Kankakee, Illinois. One of the pictures from this blog post is actually included in the exhibition along with two other pictures of mine. The show was even featured in a newspaper article! I’m really grateful to have my work included among such wonderful photographers and I’m very grateful to S.R. Robinson – the curator of this wonderful exhibition – for giving me the opportunity to participate! You should really check out this interview over on She Shoots Film that discusses S.R. Robinson’s super interesting work and also talks a little about the show. Also, check out this awesome 360° photo of the exhibition! Isn’t that super cool?

This wasn’t the only awesome thing happening though! I also found out that some of my work will appear shortly in Monochrome Magazine from Australia, which you can pre-order over on their website. And yes, it’s pretty cool to have my work in a magazine coming all the way from the other side of the world!

Sounds like an awesome week, right? Well, wait, I’m not even halfway done yet! When I thought that this week couldn’t possibly get any better I finally got a package with ????? ?????? tape and a whole bunch of stamps all over it. My newest Eastern European baby came to join me – no, not a mail order baby but a super rad Horizon 202. This one is a quirky and fun panoramic camera that has already proven itself to be just as temperamental as its Soviet sisters Zorki 3C, Zorki 4K and Lubitel. Imagine, it already shredded an expensive roll of Delta 3200! We did have an awful lot of fun together on the day of its arrival though, up until a truly massive wave caught us on the coast promenade. Oops! It had to happen one day with the winter storms over here. And of course I decided to call this baby Horizontka after this rather salty baptism ceremony.

So, is your head spinning already from all this awesomeness? Hold on, it gets even better! When I got home – still dripping with sea water of course – I saw that an interview with me had appeared over on Emulsive! Well, that’s just too much, my friends! I definitely had lots of fun answering Em’s question and I’m really grateful for the opportunity! If you don’t know Emulsive already, it’s actually a really great website with articles and interviews all relating to film photography. Emulsive is also a big part of the really lovely twitter film community. So, check out the interview and all the other lovely things on the Emulsive website and on twitter.

Phew, I’m a little out of breath now, but there is still one more thing: We’ve refreshed our She Shoots Film website and you can now pre-order the first issue with the topic Self-Portrait via the website. And even better: Our lovely new magazine was featured on The Phoblographer this week too, yay!

Boy, I think I can now take a holiday for the rest of the year after all this stuff happened in one week! But then, what would be the fun in that? Also, I think I may be forgetting something, it was such a full week! I finished off another litre of C41 chemicals, developed the first few rolls from our Madrid trip in January, studied quite a bit of Russian and yesterday we went to see an animatronics dinosaur thing in a part of town where I hadn’t been so far. Ah right, I was forgetting the dinosaurs!

Speaking of dinosaurs – instead of taking a holiday I’ll just get on with sharing some pictures with you, this time from a short trip to La Plata during our stay in Argentina last year. We were a bit unlucky with the weather, but used the opportunity to see a really wonderful Natural History Museum – definitely a bit more highbrow than what we saw yesterday. In any case get ready for dinosaur and stuffed animal goodness!

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

Starting with Kodak Farbwelt 400.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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View from the window of our holiday flat.

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Traditional elevator self portrait.

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Taking another while my husband is fighting with his camera. And boy is that lens big!

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Dog having fun.

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More fun!

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Comfortable!

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Not so comfortable.

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It was getting a tad dark for ISO 200.

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You’re using it wrong!

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Fur ball encounter.

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Dragon waiting to attack.

The next day it was raining a lot, so we decided to check out the local Natural History Museum. I love these kinds of places and this one was particularly beautiful. But see for yourself!

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I’ve seen another replica of this guy in Madrid recently.

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Scared of the evil monster?

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Definitely scared, oh yes!

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Such a beautiful place!

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And I sure love these old-fashioned displays.

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My absolute favourite! This guy is currently hanging in our Women Who Shoot Film exhibition in Illinois!

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Must be art.

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I love these display cases.

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Self-portrait with strange bird.

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Dad not interested.

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We stopped for a tea in the museum café.

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Proof that this was in Argentina, empanadas and medialunas! It’s killing me that I will never be able to try them!

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Then we had another look around.

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Haunted seal.

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These were huge! I couldn’t figure out whether they were actually ever that size. I surely hope not.

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It was dark, so I  was constantly at the f/1.1 limit. I think this lens is just the perfect choice for a place like this.

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Cruel displays as always.

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These horses were just leaning against the wall somewhere. Obviously they had run out of space and didn’t know where to put them.

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Love how this one turned out!

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Monkeys …

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I love the poses!

And well, I ran out of colour film! Luckily I found another roll of HP5+ hidden away somewhere in my bag.

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I would love to have a desk like that!

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He was so big, he didn’t fit into my frame …

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The building was really lovely and old.

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Another one of my favourites. Fingers and toes!

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Let’s put some children on display …

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Part of the anthropology section.

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Children are so good at posing these days!

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There is a dog in this picture.

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The Nokton can be such  a “dreamy” lens.

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Yay for old cars!

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Translation: Today the newspaper is lying.

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Awww, isn’t he cute?

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Inside a university building. Last one!

books always books

This last week has been spent with colour film development, language learning – my newest project is to learn Russian – and I also got around to shooting a couple of rolls. Since the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating these days I will continue to develop and scan mainly, and after I finish my current batch of C41 chemicals I hope to also have some time for the darkroom as well. Winter is always the best time to catch up on darkroom time. This is actually one of the reasons why I like shooting film – there is no reason to worry when there is nothing to shoot – there is always something to do and something new to try, even when it’s rainy outside.

And since we’re talking about winter projects, I might as well mention my newest attempt to learn Russian. I already tried to learn this horrifically complicated language a bit more than a year ago and failed quite miserably, because I focused too much on grammar. This time round I’m trying a new strategy I found when I was learning French last summer. With my French I didn’t practice any grammar apart from a gamified version on a website called Duolingo. Instead of learning grammar I followed an Assimil course, which is a very non-traditional course without any grammar drills. It’s really strange, but it works surprisingly well if done right. After a short time I also started reading intensively with a dictionary and after only 3 months I could watch series in French and read French literature without a dictionary, what a success! After lots of reading and watching I’m now even listening to audiobooks in French – notably Jules Verne at the moment. With Russian I’m now trying the same method and I’m curious to see whether it works equally well with such a complicated language. So far I’m progressing nicely and all the buried grammar is coming back easily. I even started reading simple graded readers already and so far it looks like I’m on the right track. Of course this might seem somewhat unrelated to photography, but believe me, I’m working up to a couple of projects in which my language skills will be very important. Watch this space!

Now let’s come to some pictures though, since this is what this blog is really about. This time I’m showing you more pictures from our last Argentina trip in April 2016. More colour, more fluff balls and of course book shops!

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 / Kodak Gold 200.

© Lilly Schwartz 2016

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Very golden indeed.

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While walking!

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Wrong country.

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Pigeon waiting for empanadas.

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Obligatory mirror self portrait.

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Mirror self portrait in a book shop. Husband browsing.

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I only remembered later that I had a colour correction filter.

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For fans of Argentinian Sci Fi.

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Accident, but I somehow like it.

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That’s what it was actually meant to look like.

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Revolutionary pigeons.

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Cat looking at the revolutionary pigeons suspiciously.

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For some reason I just love this one. Don’t ask me why, I can’t explain.

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Nokton.

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Super interesting building. Decided to change the lens to actually get anything in there with 200 film.

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A favourite of mine.

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Yep, that’s the place to be!

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Neon love!

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Invisible man closing up shop.

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Translation: Home – work – home – work. Yard – cell – yard – cell. We’re all prisoners.