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Yesterday I offered up a small mystery.  I revealed that I was doing or using something different in my most recent candid street photography images, namely Bus Stop No. 61, Bus Stop No. 62, and yesterday’s Crosswalk No. 63.  I had found it interesting that a pair of comments on Bus Stop 61 stated that there was something they couldn’t identify that made it special, even before I announced it, and yesterday I asked people to guess.  A few did, and sort of came near the mark, but did not hit it directly.

The big reveal?  Film.  All four of these latest images, including the one today, were shot with film.  And Jason Martini was right, there was a new camera body involved, because of course my digital cameras do not shoot film.  Here is the kit:

Camera – Minolta CLE
Lens – Minolta Rokkor 40mm f/2
Film – Kodak Portra 400VC

I had the images processed at B&H, and received a CD with 17mb tiff files.  I converted to black and white in Aperture, and in most of them I added contrast using the basic S-curve adjustment.

I have been wanting to play with film for several months, and finally started a few weeks ago.  I bought the plastic Diana F+ camera, which uses 120 medium format film.  Then about 2 weeks ago I bought 3 rolls each of the Kodak Portra 400VC 35mm color film and Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO 35mm black and white film.  I just finished a roll of the Ilford in the Minolta that is being processed now, and I have a roll of the color in an old Nikon 6006 film camera I bought around 1992.

For those who noted that the shots were in daytime, with less bokeh, etc, you were correct (although I have had some shots with those features previously).  It’s hard to shoot at night with ISO 400 film, and I used a small aperture to simplify focusing.  I will have more to say about the Minolta and my experience using it in future posts.  I learned something about focusing, basic stuff really, that I will write about soon.  For now I will just mention that it is a pseudo- Leica.  It takes at least some standard Leica M mount lenses and was built under a Leica license,  CLE stands for Compact Leica Electronic.  The Ken Rockwell article linked above gives a pretty thorough history of the camera and its capabilities.  It is by far the cheapest route to using Leica lenses in a fairly modern camera.  As Rockwell notes, it is roughly comparable to the Leica M7, Leica’s most current film camera, and it costs, used of course, about 1/7 the price of an M7, or less.  Plus, as long as it does not break down, I could probably sell it, if I ever get bored with it, for at least as much as I paid.  I did not use a Leica lens, but a Minolta  Rokkor.  If you search the web for information about the lens, you will find a lack of hard info.  It is old enough that all the original reviews and data are gone, and it is not important/beloved/collectible enough for people to have saved them or committed the information to memory, the way they would have, for example, with a true Leica.  Some people seem to think the lens was manufactured by Leica for Minolta under the Minolta brand, others note that there are 2 versions of the lens (I have the more modern edition) and think that maybe one was made by Leica but not the other.  Others claim that at least one version, although made by Minolta, is as good as a Leica, which of course causes some Leica fans to scoff.

I have no opinion on that.  I have never been able to identify “that certain something” about Leica images. I own this camera because it does a lot of thing I wanted to do.  But it is funny that some people did note in the first image I posted with it had “something” about it.  For all I know it had nothing to do with the camera, and hey were reacting to the energy of the people, or the composition, or maybe it was just – film, that they discerned.

In any event, I’m enjoying the new/old process.  I’m just about used to the lack of instant feedback, and enjoying the delight of looking at images for the first time days or even a week or two after I take them.  I’m certainly not switching, but I will keep mixing in film occasionally in the future.

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Garbowski, Oscar Navarro ?. Oscar Navarro ? said: From: @mgarbowski Crosswalk No. 64: Yesterday I offered up a small mystery.  I revealed th… #Photog #Photography [...]ReplyCancel

  • Jim DenhamNovember 3, 2010 - 9:20 am

    Mark, that is way cool! You gotta keep it fresh and I’m sure that’s a way to do it! Well done! The images look great!ReplyCancel

  • TimoNovember 3, 2010 - 12:23 pm

    I also shoot analog from time to time, and I must say it simply looks more “organic”.
    Even if you shoot high ISO films – IMHO the grain of film looks much nicer than noise in digital photos. “Back in the old days” grain was kind of a stylistic tool.

    Having said this, I also shoot mostly digital, but it is simply amazing to put a manual “nifty fifty” on an analog body and go on a photowalk.

    Enjoy your new toy! ;-) ReplyCancel

  • Jason MartiniNovember 3, 2010 - 3:30 pm

    Great shot here Mark! Love captures of hand gestures..
    Inspiring that you are working with film.. I found my love for photography on film 17 years ago buts its been about 12 years since I have shot it.. although I really love the darkroom, I have been wanting to try some film out again.ReplyCancel

Recently there has been something different about my Bus Stop and Crosswalk images.  It is not something I will switch to completely, but will mix in now and then.  The first two were  Bus Stop No. 61, and also No. 62 last week.  Today’s image is also an example, as will the crosswalk shot for tomorrow.

Interesting enough, 2 people left comments  on Bus Stop No. 61, stating that there was “something” they could not articulate that was interesting or different.  Whether it has anything to do with what I am obliquely discussing remains to be seen.  If you like, take a guess in the comments.  No matter what, I’ll announce what it is in with tomorrow’s post.

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  • Heath O'FeeNovember 2, 2010 - 9:50 am

    Daytime vs. Nighttime?ReplyCancel

  • Jim DenhamNovember 2, 2010 - 9:51 am

    OK, I’ll try. Looks like they’re being taken during the day rather at night. Also, the depth of field is quite larger, or at least it seems. The bokeh affect is not as noticeable. Otherwise, I don’t know! Looks great though.ReplyCancel

  • Mark GarbowskiNovember 2, 2010 - 9:53 am

    Thanks for the guesses so far. Those are correct, but not really what I’m thinking of. In fact, they are secondary effects of the primary change.ReplyCancel

  • Jason MartiniNovember 2, 2010 - 10:04 am

    You got a new job!ReplyCancel

  • Jason MartiniNovember 2, 2010 - 10:54 am

    new camera body?ReplyCancel

  • markNovember 2, 2010 - 12:26 pm

    Jasons’s getting closer. Like the first 2 comments, he is correct but not on point.ReplyCancel

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heath O'Fee and Jim Denham, Mark Garbowski. Mark Garbowski said: Can U guess what's new and different? Crosswalk No 63 #streettogs #bw #blackandwhite [...]ReplyCancel

  • Crosswalk No. 64 » Too Much GlassNovember 3, 2010 - 9:24 am

    [...] candid street photography images, namely Bus Stop No. 61, Bus Stop No. 62, and yesterday’s Crosswalk No. 63.  I had found it interesting that a pair of comments on Bus Stop 61 stated that there was [...]ReplyCancel

This is a look up Madison Avenue from the corner of 54th Street.  The light gold/cream/yellow building is the AT&T building completed in 1984.  Actually it is the Sony Building now, but I tend not to keep up with these changes.  When built, its style, including the pediment which you can sort of see in this shot, was somewhat controversial, signalling a return to somewhat more traditional post-modern style.  I never saw the big deal, I just liked it.  This is not the best way to show it off so I expect I will come back to it.  In fact, I took several sets of brackets from this corner, each just slightly different and I might even show more of them in the future.

I’d love to tell you how I processed this but I am afraid I forgot.  I know I tried several variations and did not love any of them, but when I came back to look at them I liked this one the best.  Unfortunately, by that time, I also lost track of what I did to each image.

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  • Viveca KohNovember 1, 2010 - 12:19 pm

    I like that tilt-shift effect, and the icy blue tones, works really well.ReplyCancel

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Wyden Kivowitz, Phil Cohen, Forget the Camera, VivecaKohPhotog, Jim Denham and others. Jim Denham said: RT @mgarbowski: today's #hdr Looking Up Madison Avenue (Literally) #photogs ^ Me like the tall buildings! [...]ReplyCancel

  • Heath O'FeeNovember 1, 2010 - 9:07 pm

    I absolutely love this shot, Mark. Very compelling composition with most of the buildings just leading out of the frame, and the focus on the one warmer building is fantastic. Love the play of warm and cold in this one.ReplyCancel

  • markNovember 1, 2010 - 9:58 pm

    Thank you both.ReplyCancel

  • PreetiNovember 2, 2010 - 11:09 am

    Some kind of tilt-shift effect? I really like it. It looks surreal.ReplyCancel

  • markNovember 2, 2010 - 12:29 pm

    Thanks Preeti. It is actual, real world tilt-shift. Made in the lens not in post. This was my first trip out with it and I was experimenting, but I liked the effect here. Besides the dreamy aspect you noted, it disguised, in a very practical fashion, some signs for Yoga class in the windows of the building in the lower left corner that I thought were distracting. I could have cropped, but I like the building’s look w/o the signs.ReplyCancel

  • PreetiNovember 5, 2010 - 12:04 pm

    Ahh, I see. I’m noticed the lights for the signs now that you mentioned it. Wow, a tilt-shift lens! So awesome. Did you rent it or buy one? Those are pretty expensive, aren’t they?ReplyCancel

    • markNovember 7, 2010 - 9:12 am

      Preeti, yes, they are a bit pricey, but photography is about the only thing I spend money on, and compared to other possible purchases, high quality lenses tend to hold their value. Unless I mistreat it, or something unexpected happens to the used lens market, I can probably sell this lens several years from now for only a few hundred less than what I paid for it (assuming I want to), making it arguably a better deal than renting it several times over the same period.ReplyCancel

Partially exposed graffiti on a wall in hipster central – Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  With part of the subject’s head missing, it is almost the closest thing I have to a Halloween image.

I actually had some other images lined up for today and for the lead up to Halloween, but chose not to use them.  Several weeks ago there was a vicious storm.  Where I live it manifested as a micro-burst with 150 mph winds.  It’s biggest effect was on the neighborhood trees.  My neighborhood also has a lot of cemeteries.  Combine both of those with my new infra-red camera and black-and-white conversions, and I had some strong Halloween images.  But I decided not to post them, at least for now, out of respect.  I’m not against cemetery images, and I don’t even necessarily think it’s inherently wrong to turn a cemetery scene into a Halloween image.  But right now, for me, it didn’t seem right.  There are people buried there, and in my images their names were easily discernable.  I could have smudged or blurred them but that wold have hurt the realism of the images and destroyed the very effect I was trying to create.  Maybe I will publish them in a different ime of year when the dopey Halloween theme is not so prominent.  I’m not sure. I’m not explaining this well.  I tried explaining it yesterday while chatting to Eric of Digital Silver Imaging, the company through which I obtained my infrared camera conversion, at PhotoPlus Expo, and I know I failed to explain it to him, also. But there it is, for better worse.

Let me tell you something else I did not do today which is a little odd.  I woke up early and drove into the city with the purpose of taking pictures, and did not take any.  I just didn’t feel like it.  I had looked forward to it since I started planning it around mid-week, but from shortly after I woke up I just didn’t want to do it.  I probably should have gone back to bed, but giving in to that temptation is very dangerous for future early morning excusions, because I always want to go back to bed in the morning. This was the first time ever that I got out “in the field,”, and decided to pack it in.  I’ve never felt this way before, and thought about pushing through and making myself take some shots.  There is a reasonable chance that once I got started I would have enjoyed the process.  But precisely because this feeling was so rare, I decided to go with it.  This is a hobby, that I love, and I do not ever want it to be a burden or chore.  I’m already looking forward to my next photo walk so I think I did the right thing.  Yes, I missed some shots today, but there are more to come.

So, finally, back to the shot above.  It was taken during the same photowalk as all of my previous Williamsburg images.  It was 5 exposures, hand held.  I processed mostly in OnOne Photo Tools, in honor of my meetup yesterday with OnOne’s newest employee Brian Matiash at the PhotoPlus expo.  Brian was working their booth, but took his lunch break when I came by along with Scott Wyden.  I added a cross processing filter to generate the odd color tones, which seem appropriate for Halloween.  I also added extra grain while in Photo Tools, and used a dark brush filter to darken the left side of the image.  Then, however, I still wanted the left side of the image to go even darker, and couldn’t make it happen in OnOne so I reverted to my old favorite Nik Color Efex to add a Neutral Density filter, positioned to come from the left, to achieve the last piece I wanted.  I bet OnOne can do  the same thing, but I haven’t yet figured out how.  Maybe I need to start watching Brian’s webinars.

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