This post is going to be out of order. I wanted to start with a general overview post about Zao, Yamagata, but I am working on my photos at the same time and the pinhole work a is little more compelling at the moment.
In January I did some pinhole experiments using a Minolta SR-7 (1964?) that I bought for 500 yen. I brought it along on my trip to Zao. I wanted to photograph the ice monsters, the juhyou, but I wasn’t sure about snowshoeing for the first time with nice cameras. The regret potential, it was just too huge.
In order to avoid the tripod (though I just bought a nice Photo Clam which I should figure out how to trick out for deep, deep snow) I used high speed film. Ilford 3200 BW, Kodak Portra 800 and Lomo Purple 400. Hand held shooting all the way, baby. Mostly at 1/2 second so my expectations were low. But hope springs eternal right? But because I also like “trust but verify” I only got the film developed and didn’t ask for prints. I’d scan them and then see.
My scanner has some weird white dot and dust going on that I can not physically remove. It also gives me some weird color cast and Holy Film Grain, Photoman! (No photos. I can’t bear the mess. I cloned stamped them out)
I totally abused the Lomo by exposing as 800 ISO then pushing the development 1 stop (Thank you National Photo. I couldn’t get that done without you.) The Purple is supposed to have a purple tone (shocker) but if you over expose it, you get an indigo color. Perhaps. But I think Lomo Purple and snow scenes are not ideal matches. The purple needs some color to make it sing. Snow scenes are too monochromatic. I did get some shots I like but I’ll have to compare to my digital shots to see what was going on.
For a 1500 yen roll of film, Kodak Portra 800 is not thrilling me. I’ll keep in mind that my scanner picks up every bit of film grain, but… blechy! What is this green cast? This is unedited and it was a misty part of the day. I’ll hold off judgement until I see a developed print. Ach… I’m hoping.
Ilford Delta 3200, why do I try other things when you are so reliable. Yes, you are a grainy beast, but your grain looks like a deliberate aesthetic instead of a hot mess. And you are so hand-holdably good. You’re my reliable best friend while I try out all these other flash films but you know I always come back to you. I promise to expose you better in the future. (wait… that sounds weird now. The personification stops now)
These images were hand-held at 1/2-1/8 second while standing on snowshoes on the top of the mountain? I could have been a surgeon! (Not)
The Minolta SLR-7 is a workhorse! I had it outside, in my hand, at temperatures ranging from 2 to -3 degrees C for 5 hours and that camera worked like a charm. I planned to use a cable release to reduce shake but it gave up in the first roll. I have another 50 year old camera, christened Grampa Petri because it’s a Petri 1.9 that stops working if it even gets chilly. The SR-7 was produced between 1962 and 1966 so this camera is not much older than Grampa Petri. Maybe it’s just happy to be rescued from the junk bin. The meter doesn’t work (because the battery is that old scary kind they don’t sell anymore) but I use a hand-held light meter anyway. I feel like this camera deserves a second life, so I went and bought a 24mm 2.8 lens for it. We’ll see how it goes.
So far, sorting out the work from the Zao trip is interesting but I can see it’s going to take me a while.