3 days in Havana - Part II

Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera w/ 50mm f.4  lens & Kodak Ektachrome 100VS

Just a recap, presenting the rest of Peter’s wonderful pano-collage series!

"3 days in Havana" is my documentation of everyday life in Havana, Cuba from this summer.  I just walked around and saw things and shot, and met people and shot some more.  I shoot medium format 6x6 and I like the square images, but I wanted to portray street scenes as they are, with distinct little pieces of life, so came upon the idea of putting them together in panoramas, like what some phone apps do.  But instead of digitally smoothed stitching, I just overlapped the squares.  They don’t align perfectly but I like that.

Peter Brian Schafer  

For Part I of this inspiring series go here.

As always if you want to share some of your creative juices with us here at CGSF, write to us!!

3 days in Havana

Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera w/ 50mm f.4  lens & Kodak Ektachrome 100VS

"3 days in Havana" is my documentation of everyday life in Havana, Cuba from this summer.  I just walked around and saw things and shot, and met people and shot some more.  I shoot medium format 6x6 and I like the square images, but I wanted to portray street scenes as they are, with distinct little pieces of life, so came upon the idea of putting them together in panoramas, like what some phone apps do.  But instead of digitally smoothed stitching, I just overlapped the squares.  They don’t align perfectly but I like that.

I’m an American, so I’m not really supposed to go to Cuba because of the American embargo – that relic of the Cold War.  Cuba is unlike any place I’ve ever been, a very different kind of society, both by design and, I think, a result of the embargo.  I felt that I landed in a different time, a mix of the past and some vision of the future, an alternate parallel world.  Add to that the isolation from no internet, no phone service, and no way to get more money (because American bank cards and credit cards don’t work there), and I got a taste of the isolation Cubans live with each day, ending up at the end of my brief stay broke and hungry like many of the people I met.

I look forward to returning, visiting other parts of the country, and to celebrating the end of the embargo.

Peter Brian Schafer  

CGSF: If you can’t get enough of these amazing shots and presentation, fret not, as we have more to share with you in a second installment of this series. Do visit Peter’s website for more awe-inspiring pano-collages.

As always if you want to share some of your creative juices with us here at CGSF, write to us!!

Why I Shoot Film

Fuji GX617 w/ various film


I was asked “Why do I use film?” and I can say that I’ve used film all my adult life since 1975 , professionally, for family, for my fine art and still grab my camera and film even though the rest of the family uses Cellphones and occasionally a G10.

I have to scan my color for printing because nobody has a 8X10 enlarger in town but the beauty is that I can scan it any size I want because it’s film. Recently I scanned a 2.4Gb file for an image 28 ft. long. Looked great, try that with a D800.

The other reason is because I fell more intuitive with film and we all know the best photography comes from that not from photoshop. It after all is just a box with something light sensitive in it. From my work with pinholes to my panoramas I don’t use the incredibly over optioned Japanese cameras. My Fuji GX617 is just a single focal length lens that has one view. If I want to change my view I zoom with my feet. My storage can’t be erased or corrupted.

I have a 500sq.ft darkroom that we’ve developed into a coop since all the wet darkrooms in town have gone away. I have started to soup B&W film for people in town and out of town and I can certainly do it for anyone else at a reasonable rate and time. Either email me: chrisfaust@studio210.com or PM me on Facebook.

—Chris Faust

So tell us, why do YOU shoot film? Email us. Wanna know more about the panoramic beast Fuji GX617? Click here.

Edit: To those of you living near MInneapolis, Chris has been conducting a photography workshop. Check out the Highway 12 Road Trip Photography Workshop facebook page for more info.

R&B’s Southside Diner, in Coffee

Yashica Mat 124 w/ Arista Edu 100

As an avid coffee drinker myself, when I was first introduced to the process known as caffenol (using instant coffee and washing soda to develop film), I was captivated —if a little dubious. Firstly, I love the idea that of a household developing and printing agent that can be used without buying any darkroom chemicals. Secondly, I love the idea of marrying process and content so I decided to extend my experimentation to a series on a local diner in Mt. Vernon, OH which offers, in typical diner fashion, free coffee re-fills with all breakfast meals. 

All the photos in this series were first developed and then printed in caffenol using a mixture of washing soda, water, and instant coffee. I like the sepia-toned, often cloudy results (both the film and the prints came out this way) that reminds one of the coffee they were made in. And although the process was often frustratingly unpredictable and variable (I wound up making a new batch of coffee developer for every print because of the quick exhaustion), I think that the range of tones, the softness, and the imperfection of the images adds to the effect. 

—Anna Watts

Can’t say that we have much experience with caffenol but we’ve done a couple of successful shots with BWs developed in Tea & Vitamin C! Wanna share your alternate processing methods with us? Send them to us here

Edit: Here are 3 really good sources on Caffenol processing. Do check them out.

  1. http://www.caffenol.org/
  2. http://www.caffenol-cookbook.com/ (You can download their extensive caffenol recipe cookbook for free!)
  3. http://www.digitaltruth.com/data/caffenol.php

Good luck!

HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, San Francisco HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, San Francisco HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, San Francisco HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, San Francisco HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, Denver HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, Denver HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, Denver HolgaMod 120S w/ Shanghai GP3 Film, Denver

An Unconventional Fancy

Holgamod 120S, Shanghai GP3, home-dev in Ultrafin Plus 1+9


Those who are familiar with our work here at CGSF know that we are big fans of this cheap black and white film, often garnering the No.#1 spot on the “Worst film I ever tried!!” list. Sure it is not the most reliable or resilient to different shooting conditions or developing temperatures, but the uncompromising properties of this film is why we (delusiana and myself) love it so much. 

The fact that we do not shoot photos for money or in hopes of selling our prints (at this point at least), helps us appreciate the imperfections in our experiments to this day. To some this may sound like an excuse for what may appear to just be “plain old bad photos”, but not to me because there is no particular expectation I have when it comes to what I hope to achieve with my shutter clicks. Do I want to find my photo-calling? Absolutely. I just am not going  about looking for it, I am going to let it come to me and reveal itself in all its glory. 


For other Shanghai GP3 shots on our blog, simply click here.

Happy 2014! 

Ensign Ful-Vue Box Camera, Lomochrome Purple 100-400 XR


Wow, so it’s been a month since our last update and yes, I chose the Lomochrome Purple film again as I wasn’t very pleased with my first experience with it. I guess I should have tested this film in a proper medium format camera but I’ve delegated that task to eleanorrigby236 who will shoot it in her Hassy so stay tuned for that. 

So these were one of my last shots for 2013 and may I say I’m quite happy with how they turned out…although my framing could have been better. I blame that on failing to check the exact focusing distance of my Ensign Ful-Vue. 

So far I’ve learned 2 things with this film:

  1. It works best in bright sunlight and colorful subjects
  2. Doesn’t work really well with human subjects as the skin tone becomes reddish
  3. Easily underexposed so you gotta be careful when shooting in shadowy or shady areas

How did you start off your 2014? We hope it was a blast. Of course our resolution is to shoot and update this blog more regularly (haha) but for now, you can be sure to have more new materials and posts coming up so keep those submissions coming. To our precious contributors and readers, thank you for supporting us.


Purple is the new Pink

Holgamod Holga 120N, Lomochrome Purple 100-400 XR


Remember when Lomography first introduced this film that claims to emulate the long defunct Kodak Aerochrome film? Of course their site stated that this film is in fact not an infrared film but a specially made color negative film that predominantly converts green to purple and does not need any filter.

Now, I really don’t know what to make of my first test roll. Sure the leaves are mostly purple but the whole roll seems to be purple too! Bear in mind I shot this roll at the so-called magic hour, which in my opinion is not an ideal lighting situation for this particular film. I had this roll developed and scanned at a professional lab but some photos turned out murky and muddy looking so I rescanned them again at home. 

All in all, my curiosity is piqued and I can’t wait to test this film again with another camera and of course under bright sunlight. I wish I have the 35mm ones so as to be able to test them at different ISO settings but alas they were completely sold out and I had to make do with 120mm. (I don’t own a proper medium format camera, poor me).


No Where To Go

Kiev 88, Fuji Velvia 100 cross-processed


I always say this when I post slide film results, I am NOT a fan of cross-processed positive film. I think they always end up overly saturated, and one toned. But that is just a personal taste, some people love the color pop and stark contrast, it’s just not for me. This roll was from a time when I had no access to E6 development (now I can do it in my own bathroom!!) but I have to admit that for this particular shoot, cross-processing the film was the ultimate way to go to bring out the grunge and grittiness of the location. The abandoned house was already menacing to the eye without the effects of this film, but with the color shift, the place appears to be even more forbidding than it actually was. So this time I say, bottoms up to cross-processing.


A little something about the Belair

Prior to getting my hands on the Belair X 6-12, I have never used any medium format cameras before. In fact I have never seen what a 120mm film roll looks like outside of its wrapper. So what you’re reading here is purely the views of a total newbie ;)
What drew me to the Belair was actually the bellows because it really reminded me of the old bellow cameras from the 20’s or 30’s.

Here’s what I like about the Belair:
1) It’s light and it doesn’t take up much space (especially with the viewfinder and lens removed from the body).
2) It has a really eye-catching design that sparks the curiosity of people around you. I’ve had strangers coming up to me asking me what it is I’m holding in my hands. So if you’re single or you wanna make some new friends, just lug the Belair around. It’s a terrific conversation starter. Lol! ;)
3) You can take photos in 3 different formats - 6x6, 6x9 and 6x12.
4) You can take multi-exposure shots.

Now, here’s what bummed me out about the Belair. Out of the 7 rolls I shot on the Belair during my Cambodia trip with eleanorrigby236, 3 of them were FAT ROLLS! Which makes me think that the Belair is pretty prone to getting fat rolls. Being the newbie that I am, I wouldn’t know what to do with a fat roll or how to prevent it from happening again, but luckily I had an experienced film shooter with me on my trip ;) So a handy tip when it comes to inserting a fresh roll of film into the Belair: hold down the roll on the left as you’re spooling it on the right.

6x12 shot taken on Fuji Velvia 100, which was from my fat roll

The Belair comes with 2 lenses; the 58mm and 90mm, and both these lenses has its own respective viewfinder. But if you ask me, the viewfinder is pretty useless regardless of whether if it’s for the 58mm or the 90mm. Looking through the viewfinder gives you a general picture of what you’re shooting.

How the Belair works is that, you set the ISO on the camera according to the film that you use. You “guess” your focus by setting the distance between you and the subject with the closest being 1m and the furthest being infinity. (Now, I say “guess” because the viewfinder is useless as it isn’t coupled to the lens). As for aperture setting, well the Belair only has 2 settings: f/8 for cloudy and f/16 for brightly lit places. Once you’ve “done the math” and adjust your settings, you then press the shutter button.

But even if you don’t get the settings quite right, sometimes the results can surprise you, for instance this rather artsy looking shot which was taken on a redscale film:

Belair 6x6 shot on Lomography Redscale film

Despite the quirks & what I feel is a rather hefty price tag for a toy camera, I still find myself having fun with the Belair. It can produce some nice shots that might just surprise you.

Belair 6x6 shot on Kodak Ektar 100

—La Petite Feérie

Taking in more with the Widelux

Widelux F7


One of my fascinations with film cameras is their variety of formats and capture styles. Even within the panoramic format, there are examples of at least three methods - the Kodak Circut (rotating body), the Horizon 202 (the lens rotates), and the Hasselblad XPAN (wide lens on wide frame). It had been some time since I acquired a camera, and as my lust for gear was waning, I happened to come across the Widelux in my reading.

This camera’s unique features inspired me to obsess about it for months. I ended up buying a copy of Jeff Bridges’ book, “Pictures”, crawling through forums for information, and keeping an eye on the classifieds. One day, an F7 appeared with a surprisingly low price on Analog Photography Users’ Group (apug.org) so I pulled the trigger and bought it.

The camera itself is quite showy, with its array of chrome knobs on the top and the curious lettering and almost Art-Deco lines on the front. W I D E L U X. On my body, the spacing of the letters is uneven, suggesting that the casting was carved by hand. The original box was a velvety-red material with gold lettering, and the brown leather case had chromed trim and a red interior.

When you look through the fixed viewfinder, you’re presented with an unusually wide view. It’s not that its view is wider than your own vision, but in the resulting still image you can explore the image by panning your eye’s focus - something you can’t do while seeing directly with your eyes (without moving them). I think this is the subtle magic behind the panoramic image.

After shooting several rolls to study the camera, it became clear to me that this format has two main things to learn. The first is the camera’s relative angle to the horizon. If you’re not careful, the world will curl up around you if you’re off kilter. The second is the compression or expansion of objects that move during exposure, depending on their movement with respect to the lens movement. For example, if a person is moving in the opposite direction of the lens movement, they’ll be compressed horizontally. Another unique result from having a moving lens is its flare around light sources - you get a horizontal halo that looks like a lighthouse beam. Since the lens focus is fixed, you really only need to set the aperture and then ponder these two variables (or not!) before you press the shutter button. I find myself considering the framing first, then tilting the camera a bit more if I want to make the image more dramatic. If I’m shooting further subjects, then I tend to worry more about the camera angle first and then the framing

The aperture stops down to f/11, where I try to keep it to keep Sunny-16 calculations simple. There are three “speeds” on the F7, which are really lens turret rotational speeds. The 1/125 and 1/250 speeds are two positions on a single gear box. The 1/15 speed is a separate gear box, but very prone to skipping as the gear teeth wear down (causing vertical banding in the frame). It’s a shame, since that slow rotation produces the most unique look from the camera.

I would not call this a “carry around every day” sort of camera, but it has proven to be great for hikes, street fairs, and crowds - situations where the light is relatively stable. The aspect ratio gives a cinematic quality to some photos. I’ve taken shots where people stepped back to get out view, only to remain in the frame and look straight into the lens. Aside from framing the immediate subjects, the rest of the image is difficult to imagine or control. The challenge with a camera like this is to come up with images that have more going on than their obvious “Widelux look”. Its personality shines through too easily sometimes. To me, that’s one of the fun things about trying a new camera. Getting to know it, and learning to work together.

—Jason Schlachet, San Francisco.

***from top to bottom,

#1 Easter Sunday - Ilford Pan F+ 50, Rodinal 1+50.
#2 Holding Hands - Kodak Tri-X at 3200, Rodinal 1+50.
#3 Chinatown - Kodak Tri-X at 1600. Rodinal 1+50.
#4 Half Dome - Arista Premium 400 at 6400, Rodinal 1+50.
#5 Indian Wedding - Kodak Portra 160VC +1 1/2, lab developed
#6 BART - Kodak Ektar 100, f/15, lab developed

Abandoned Tin Dredge

Kodak T-Max 400 on Holga GCFN


These pictures are from one of the first few rolls I shot on my Holga GCFN, the Holga that captured my heart from that very first roll I shot on it. I probably have said this a thousand times, but I love looking into my Holga to marvel at the simplicity of the build and machanism of this plastic camera that many call a toy camera. I love the dreamy images produced with a plastic lens on the Holga, but I absolutely adore the extra pinch of sharpness the glass lens offers. The only secret to getting amazing film photos on the Holga is to shoot it under the perfect light when on N-mode (shutter speed at about 1/100, aperture f/8 or f/11) or with a tripod on Bulb mode.

The pictures above were shot at an old tin dredge in Batu Gajah, Perak in Malaysia, which was in operation from 1938-1982.

From the goTaiping.com website,

The dredge would run on diesel generated electricity 24 hours a day, in two shifts with approximately 20 workers per shift. The conveyor buckets would dig the tin-bearing soil and transport it upwards, emptying the contents into an oscillating drum. The tin would then be extracted through a system of jigs and screens, leaving the excess material to e disposed of via a system of chutes at the back of the dredge. (which you can see in the third image above!)



Banteay Srei, the red temple for Shiva

Fuji Provia 400X on Hasselblad 500CM w/ 80mm Planar lens


This lone temple is located a little away from the city of Angkor and I would have missed it if not for our tuk tuk driver who told us it was one of the most beautiful temples built by the women of Angkor for the Hindu God Shiva. Banteay Srei, or the Citadel of Women, was given the name for the intricate carvings found around the temple, that the locals say can only be the fruit of the more skilled lady fingers! But of course! *wink wink* If you ever find yourself in Siem Reap, be sure to traverse the extra mile and make the trip to Banteay Srei. It will be worth it. Just the fact that the temple is made out of red stone is a breather after looking at the temples in the city of Angkor, which after 6 or 7, start to look the same. They are all magnificent in their own ways, but this citadel, though a little small in size, reek of the most mystery and charm. 

I took my Hassy with its 80mm lens out with me here, and lacked a wide angle lens to really capture the moat surrounding the temple, which was a shame as that is one of the highlights of Banteay Srei. I am glad I loaded the camera with a roll of Provia 400X as it captured the colors pretty close to reality, even cross-processed. It is not called the smoothest, sharpest 400 ISO color film in the world for no reason. It is definitely a versatile film with a very wide latitude, so I can actually really trust myself when guessing the exposure when shooting with this film :)



Happy Worldwide Pinhole Day 2013! May the Force be with you!

Zero Image 2000 w/ Ilford FP4+ 125ISO

(self-dev: Ilford Ilfotec HC 1+31, 8mins, Epson V700)


To commemorate this special day I decided to unearth my one and only pinhole camera, the wooden handmade Zero Image 2000 which I bought sometime early last year but never got to use it because I’m lazy like that.

This is my first time using it and I must say that I like it a lot. This lot however is my 2nd roll on it today, as I totally botched the first roll by following the instructions that came with the box. The images were all overexposed, much to my disappointment but luckily eleanorrigby236 who is currently vacationing in Cambodia came to my rescue by instructing me to use the pinhole exposure chart that can be found at Mr Pinhole.com.

The weather wasn’t so great with gloomy overcast sky so I grabbed my boyfriend’s Star Wars figurines to simulate a battle in a galaxy not too far away :)

What do you plan to shoot for the Worldwide Pinhole Day? Don’t hesitate to share your results with us! Write us at strictlyfilm@gmail.com.


Light Speaks

Kodak Portra 160 w/ Mamiya 6 & 50m 4.0 lens

My name is Nikkia Margaret Hall. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1989 and have just moved back. I have been shooting analog for over a decade now, and while my pocket can barely handle it, I am intently dedicated to the medium because of its overwhelmingly unique and gorgeous qualities. My photographs revolve around the essence of light, and focus on it’s intimate beauty. My most recent project, Father Sun Mother Earth, speaks to these themes through crisp yet delicate images.

—Nikkia Margaret

[img from top: Kale from Gary [2012], My New Favourite Shirt [2012], Sean’s Hendrick’s [2012] ]

Click here to find out how you too can share your photos and story with CGSF!!