Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Travelling Toy Camera Project and a Review of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim

The travelling toy camera project is a collaborative effort between various members of the forum. The idea is that a camera, in this case a Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, is passed around the various members of the group who each keep the camera for a week, shoot a few rolls before sending off to the next person in the chain.

The Vivitar UWS had already travelled through Canada, the US and Spain before arriving in that cradle of British Lomography, Broxbourne, a couple of weeks ago. At the time of writing the Vivitar has just arrived in Sweden and from then on who knows where the camera will end up.

The real star of the show is the Vivita Ultra Wide & Slim. A 35mm point and shoot with a wide 22mm lens, this camera takes the most amazing pictures. The camera is as basic as it gets. A slim plastic body, fixed aperture and shutter speed make this a very portable, easy to use camera.

On the down side the film winding mechanism looks abit fragile (only use 24 exposure films) and the counter is difficult to read, otherwise I can't fault it. The Vivitar UWS has been compared to the Lomo LCA and I have to say I prefer it to the Russian classic. It's more reliable than the Lomo and is smaller and lighter so it fits nicely in a pocket ready to be whipped out in a moment's notice.

The real evidence is in the pictures and the great thing about the Travelling Toy Camera Project is that the camera has been used by a variety of different people from different backgrounds and each one with their one style and perspective. To the camera's lasting credit it has produced great results in each case.

With my love of landscape photography I decided to see how the Vivitar UWS would cope with a few walks around Broxbourne and surrounding area - you can see the results below. I also took the camera out to Hoddesdon to see how it liked a classic example of 1960s British urban planning (ie arrange millions of cheap bricks and concrete into soulless cubes and call it a miracle of modern social engineering).

You can see the landscape photographs I took by clicking on the link and feel free to comment, link etc at your leisure. Also don't forget to check out the Travelling Toy Camera blog - it has some great images.

A National Speed Limit sign near Bayford.

The River Lea at Broxbourne.

Hoddesdon town centre.

The catholic church at Hoddesdon.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Landscape Photography of Tottenham Marshes

As part of my interest in landscape photography I have an ongoing project to photograph the Lee Valley Regional Park and these two photos are part of that series. Both were taken with my Kiev 60.

The first was taken with Ilford Delta 100. Not my favourite film at all but was given to me for free so I can't complain too much.

Not one of my best images but it's OK.

The second was shot with Ektachrome EPP 100, cross processed. This was the only shot of the roll to come out OK.

Again, this one won't knock St Ansel of his pedestal as greatest photo ever....but I quite like the bright colours.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Kiev 60 Macrophotography

In my last post I talked alittle about using the Holga macro lenses. I also tested my Kiev 60's macro credentials at the same time. The camera I bought came with two extension tubes (40mm and 20mm) and so I decided to see what this Soviet bruiser would make of some delicate flowers.

The results are below.

This was taken with Ektachrome EPP 100, xpro'd. The photos which followed were all taken with a negative film, Fuji Reala. What surprised me is the fact that the cross processed Ektachrome gave some quite subdued colours, where as the Reala gave some really wild colours. The photos were all taken in my kitchen on a white table with a largely white background so where the turquoise back ground came from is a mystery to me. Anyway I do like the results .
The images were taken using the 40mm extension tube only and I mounted the Kiev on a manfrotto tripod with a three way head. The light was natural, and I waited for a bright sunny morning when the sunlight comes into our kitchen. I didn't use a cable release, mainly because my capitalist cables don't fit this relic of Brezhnev's USSR.

Overall I like the images and I like the bokeh. The focusing is OK and the inbuilt light metre means the exposure is right.

Do I prefer it to the Holga as a macro camera? The answer is yes and no. The Holga is not an ideal camera for macrophotography to say the least - you can't frame the image because the view finder is no good and similarly the focusing depends on how well you guess the distance form the subject to the lens (unless you stick a ruler to the holga).

With the Kiev you can do this and let's face it Communist Russia built better glass lenses than Communist China built plastic lenses so the image quality is better.

But...I actually prefer to use the Holga in some ways. One of the Holga's greatest qualities in my opinion is it's simplicity. If I want to take a photo with the Holga, all I need to is pop on the macro lens, hold the camera at the correct distance and press the shutter.

I find having to carry a tripod and head very cumbersome and the Kiev 60 weighs as much as a T72 so framing a subject properly can be awkward. Maybe I'm too impatient but I like the Holga's easy operation.

The results from the Holga are good and I don't mind the fact that the focus is slightly off or the framing might be abit wonky - the images have an abstract feeling that I think compliments the form and colour of the flowers. I don't need pin sharp details and focusing that's accurate to the nearest nanometre - I' not trying to sell my shots to National Geographic (though I'd be quite happy to if they asked).

Would I use my Kiev plus extension tubes again? Yes - the Holga's biggest limitation is it's fixed shutter speed and aperture and I don't yet own any lights so in that respect the Kiev should give more consistent results. I've got to get some more expired Reala though. That was my last roll and I do like that turquoise.

Click on macrophotography to see the full gallery. Feel free to follow me, like me, swap links or send me money, food or clothing (male only) if you like this post. Nostrovia!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Holga Macrophotography

A few years back I got quite into macrophotography and bought some extension tubes for my Nikon F3, a ringflash etc., etc. As you can see from the link, some of the results weren't too bad. When I bought my digital SLR, I dabbled with that though the results were never too good - mainly because I need a proper flash or light unit.

Then Holga brought out their macro lenses and the thought of lo fi macrophotography was too good to resist. If ever there was an oxymoron then lo fi macrophotography is it especially when using the Holga!

Macrophotography, which is supposed to be about precise focusing, good lighting and using technology to capture minute details seems a million miles from the plastic camera with no controls other than (most important of all) the photographer's eye.

The holga macro lenses come in sets of two lenses with a focal distance of 30 and 60mm. Simply make sure the lens is set to infinity (the mountain), pop your macro lens on top of the Holga lens, point the camera at the nearest insect and voila, fine art meets a bee's bottom!

You obviously can't use the viewer to compose or focus the shot so what do you do? A ruler is useful here as you do need to be fairly precise in the focal distance. Some photographers have attached sticks with the correct focal distance to their holgas which seems to work well, I tend to use a tape measure. Once you have the distance simply hold the lens in front of the subject and shoot.

I have to admit that after abit of pracise I tend to revert to the "squint and guess" method of measuring distance so some of my shots were a little out of focus - but this actually made some of the images I captured. An example is below:

Another out of focus image that I quite like is this snowdrop. Shot with Ilford Delta 3200, pushed to 25000, I managed to get the stem in focus whilst the flower itself is blurred. No matter - for me the photo has a delicate quality that would be lost with a sharp focus.

Finally, here is a shot that came out alright. All these shots were taken in natural light and so this last one could probably have benefited from some flash - my next task is to tape my Tamron ring flash onto my Holga to see how that works.

Click on macrophotography to see the full gallery which also includes some macro work with my Kiev 60. My next post will be about the results taken with my Kiev 60.

In the meantime leave a comment, link to me, "like it" on facebook, send me money or whatever

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Pictures of Budapest

These three pictures of Budapest during a visit in Easter. I took my Holga and Demekin Superheadz (I've yet to develop that film).

You can see the full gallery by clicking on Pictures of Budapest.

In the meantime here's a taste of the full gallery: