Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Experience with CineStill 50D

For a while now, I have been interested in this film and thought I would try out a couple of rolls.

CineStill film is 35mm film used in motion pictures.  I believe the original film used is Kodak 5203.  To make it useable in a still film camera and to be developed in the generic C41 chemical, CineStill have removed the Rem-Jet backing off the original film.

The Rem-Jet backing on motion picture film is a black layer that prevents the light reflecting off the back of the film and spreading back through the film which causes halation (a false halo of light around some subjects).  It protects the film as it moves through projectors and scanners etc from scratches and also prevents static build up that can lead to fogging of the film.

After seeing some of the results on line for this film, I was pretty excited to get it.  It took me 3 months to finish the roll of 36 exposures.  I am fairly conservative with my film photography; I don't like to waste it.  It's not like digital where you can happily snap off 50 shots to pick out the best 2 for nothing; film photography costs money!  One of these rolls of CineStill 50D cost me AUD$16 and then about AUD$17 for development and scanning. Anyway, imagine my disappointment when I got the roll back and found some very odd marks on the scans.

The marks resembled what I call 'fish scales' (they also remind me of the marks left after a bubble has burst on a smooth surface) and black dots.  One of the exposures had severe halation on it.  I had been warned about this film when I handed it in at the lab for processing.  The assistant there (who uses film professionally as a wedding photographer) had also tried it and had odd discoloured blotches and some halation on a few of her personal photos.  Once I got my film back and saw the result, I jumped on line to see if anyone else had had the same problem.  I found a few blogs and entries on differing film forums indicating the same problems; reddish colour blotches, 'fish scale marks' and black spots (although I did not experience the red colour blotches). This is not a lab processing problem; I have seen other photos on line with the same issues.

Note the patchy marks. Unedited, straight from scan.  Click on the photo to view larger.

Black Spots and the 'fish scale' marks on bottom right. (that's my dogs toy floating through the air!)
Unedited, straight from scan.  Click on the photo to view larger.

'Fish Scale' marks on top of photo.  Unedited, straight from scan.  Click on the photo to view larger.
Note the halation in this photo - around the table top and flowers and vase and on the umbrella on the far right.
Unedited, straight from the scan.  Click on the photo to view larger.

These marks appeared through other frames as well although, some frames had very minimal or no marks on them.

Now, I know that sometimes film can just not work out due to one reason or another, and I decided to email my supplier (Walkens House of Film) and advise them of the outcome with this roll; if it was from a 'bad batch' then perhaps they may receive calls from other customers.  I also attached files of the worst affected frames and a good one.  They were very helpful and contacted CineStill on my behalf and forwarded my email plus attached files.

CineStill replied and said that it appeared that the problems were caused by a light leak.  They didn't exactly specify where this light leak may have come from.  They did mention that this film is extremely sensitive and even letting the film canister sit in bright light may cause light leaks near to the end of the roll to 'go rather far into the roll'.  They suggested that leaving the film for 3 months in my camera could have been the cause; stray light piping in through the light seals!  I have used this camera before (Minolta X-700) and it doesn't have any light leaks.  They then proceeded to instruct on how to load a film in subdued light (very basic information for any film photographer) and when the roll is finished to put it straight into the black plastic container which should not be opened until in the dark room.

Looking at my photos, I am not 100%  convinced that the problem is from light leaks, irrespective of how sensitive the film may be, because not all of the photos were affected as one would expect from a light leak in a camera.  In their reply to my supplier, CineStill provided a link to a blog page of theirs entitled 'films worst enemies (7 common film issues)'.  The second photo on that blog post has exactly the same 'fish scale' or 'burst bubble' pattern as I have on my film under the title "Enemy 1 - Old Age".

This is a little odd because, on another page on their website (the product page for CineStill 50D) they make the following disclaimer that 'if your film does not have an expiration date, it is from an early production and is likely age fogged'. 

The film I used was marked 'use by May 2018' but, it shows the signs of aging as appears on their blog page 'Films Worst Enemies'.  I also read an entry from 2017 in a Flickr CineStill discussion group where Cinestill attributed this exact problem to aged film!

If this is from aged film (and not a light leak), then I wonder how old the Kodak 5203 film they use is, before applying the Rem-Jet removal processes?  

The object of this blog post is to record my experience with CineStill 50D, and some of the issues I had with it.  It is also to prepare anyone purchasing film that has been put through a changing process that not all results may be as originally expected.  

On a very positive note, CineStill re-credited my supplier for the rolls I purchased and that has been passed onto me as a credit on my account! 

I don't know if I am in the minority experiencing problems like this with an innovative film such as CineStill 50D; I certainly hope I am.  A lot of the photos I have seen on line taken with this film look fantastic!

Anyway, take a look at some of the other photos off that roll.  Some are minimally affected and some are not affected at all; and they look good!  I have only adjusted the contrast slightly from the scanned negative result.  the colour and sharpness are great, and the grain is lovely and soft.

The photos on this blog post and corresponding Google+ page are 
©Life with Jordy Photography, All Rights Reserved
and may not be used without permission.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Surf action inside Newcastle Harbour

Who would've thought?  Surfing inside a harbour?  Well 2 weeks ago that is just what the local Newcastle Surfers were doing!

We'd had a few days of slightly stormy weather and the resultant gale force winds that stuck around for a few days created a large swell up and down the local coast and drove the surf off the beaches wild.  It was too messy to surf off the beaches but the swell coming into Newcastle Harbour  and bouncing off Nobbys Breakwall was creating a right hand break that lasted for about 50-100 metres.  At times the waves would form a perfect barrel.

At least 30 surfers enjoyed the result of the largest swells of the summer.  Mind you, the waves may have been great but I'm lead to believe that underneath that maelstrom of crashing water lie some old WW2 tank traps and a few car wrecks; it's not really a place to take a big fall!

A small crowd lined the walk along the breakwall to watch the surfers take on the waves in the calmer waters of the harbour whilst some were there to catch the huge wave action smashing off  the end of the breakwall (see my previous post to catch that action!).

Surfing the waves off the breakwall when conditions are right has become more popular over the years.  In 2013 as a result of stormy weather, gale force winds and torrential rain, the organisers of Surfest moved the competition on the Saturday from Merewether Beach into Newcastle Harbour where the right handed break kept the competition going until the weather cleared and they returned to Merewether. The harbour was closed to shipping on that day apparently and they had the place to themselves!

There is a science to having a breakwall on a river entrance.  If you're interested you can read some interesting facts here.  

The photos on this Blog Post and on the corresponding Google + page are 
©Life with Jordy Photography, All Rights Reserved 
and may not be used without permission.

If you do see yourself in these photos and want a copy, contact me and I will be happy to 
email you a high res file.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ocean Swells and Nobbys Breakwall - Newcastle, Australia

During the past few weeks, the temperature has ranged from over 40° C (that's 104° F) down to 16° C (60.8° F) and back up again.  The changes in between have been heralded by thunderstorms and very windy conditions.  These conditions and the resulting windy days have resulted in large ocean swells battering the east coast of NSW.  Of course, this has made for some great photography opportunities.

On this Tuesday afternoon just gone, I visited Merewether Ocean Baths and Nobbys Breakwall to catch some of this big action.  

The Merewether Ocean Baths were a little difficult to navigate.  The winds were whipping up sand from the beach into tiny missiles that quickly got into eyes and ears.  I was extremely careful with my camera trying to protect it from those damaging little particles.  Not only that but, the big waves crashing on the rocks was creating that green, foul smelling foam that was getting blown everywhere.  Some of it blew onto my face and glasses.  I wiped my face with my shirt sleeve but nothing I had could clean that gunk off my glasses!

Anyway, I persevered and got some shots in.  I mounted the Canon onto a small tripod to try and get some low down shots.  This is where a moveable LCD Screen comes in very handy.  Anyway, I had the shot lined up as I sat on one of the benches. A large wave broke over the side of the ocean baths and sent a swell through the pool.  It hit the side near to where I was sitting.  I quickly picked up camera and bag out of the waters reach and as I stood up the water hit the bench and sprayed up soaking me from the waist down!  The wind quickly dried my shorts but I squelched around in soaked, sand filled shoes for the rest of the afternoon!

After I left Merewether I drove up to Nobbys Beach.  The beach was closed to the public due to the large swells.  I walked up the breakwall, past the Lighthouse and Meteorology Station to the end  where the swell breaking against the breakwall rock was creating some huge action.  I had my 55-250mm zoom with me because I figured I could stand back away from the action and simply zoom in to the end of the breakwall to catch it all.  Unfortunately, half of the town had the idea of visiting the breakwall to catch the action too; so many people walking into shot and in front of me quickly ruined any opportunity.  So, I figured I had to move closer.  This got me and the camera little wetter but for a while it was totally worth it.  Luckily I had a cleaning cloth in my camera bag to wipe off the sea spray from the camera and keep the lens clear.

To get a photo of these enormous waves as they hit the breakwall and shattered into huge explosions of water spray, I had to hold the camera up all the time and get the shot as the action happened.  I was in such a position when I heard a woman speaking to me...'scuse me but are you taking photos?'  Because I was busy snapping away, it was a few seconds before I looked at her.  'Are you taking photos?' she asked again.  I looked at her incredulously, held up a camera and said half laughing, 'Seriously?  What do you think?'  She and her friend didn't say anything so I turned and lined up another shot.  They both then walked straight in front of me into the shot, stopped, and started taking photos with...... their phones.....Sigh.....

Nobbys Breakwall and the Stockton Breakwall form the entrance into Newcastle Harbour.  Until the other day, I never knew that this is a popular spot for surfers due to the waves forming off the breakwalls as they roll into the harbour entrance.  So, while I waited for the people to clear the scene, I was able to check out the surfers who were taking advantage of the great waves and subsequent pipeline provided by the ocean swell running into the harbour.  Those photos to come later though.

I am very happy with this series of photos.  The amazing shapes to come out of the water after they were smashed to pieces on the rocks was fantastic.  I have learned something though.  Next time this phenomenon occurs, I have to get down there as the tide is coming in; much bigger waves!  Also, get some shots from the southern side of the breakwall as that will show the size of the waves as they crash over the breakwall.

Part of my workflow when editing is to look at photos in black & white.  Sometimes a photo looks heaps better in black & white than it does in colour, as it did with these photos.  The colour photos in this post were edited in Lightroom initially (straightened, sharpened) and then exported to Nik Collections Colour Efex programme.  In that software I used the Detail Extractor tool and the Kodak Ektachrome 64 preset, which really made the colours pop!  Once I had saved them back to Lightroom, I opened some for a black & white edit into the Nik Collection Silver Efex PRO plugin.  This is a really fantastic programme for black & white editing!  I used the 'Film Noir' preset there and  made some of my own adjustments to that template before saving that back into Lightroom.  From there I exported into Photoshop where I made some edits on both black & white and colour photos with the Dodge and Burn tools, adjusting individual midtones and highlights before saving the final edit.

So, here they are.  Click on the photos to view them larger for a better experience.  Enjoy!

The photos on this post and corresponding Google+ page are
© Life with Jordy Photography, All Rights Reserved and may 
not be used without permission.

If you are interested in a purchase, contact me!

I had to put this photo up as the first because then it will show up on the thumbnail when I share the page link through on my other social media pages.  Below is the colour version and although the colour looks great, I much prefer the black & white version.

Some of the Merewether Ocean Baths action.

Merewether Ocean Baths - Newcastle, Australia.  These waves look big here
 but not half as big as what was happening up on the breakwall further north.

It was still relatively calm enough in the baths to take a swim, even with all of
the action occurring in the background!

Here you can see a couple of surfers making their way down the rocks of the breakwall
to jump off into the water.  I have some great photos of the surfing
that afternoon also; keep watching for the next post!

Bronica ETRSi and 35MM N Film Back

You may recall that I wrote in an earlier article  (Jan 2019) about some difficulties I was having with a 35mm N  Film Back on my Bronica ...