Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lomography Sprocket Rocket is Groovy

Ever wanted to do something different with film? Want to shoot sprockets? There are many ways of hacking a medium format camera or several DIY methods to get sprockets. Or, you can go easy and buy a Lomography Sprocket Rocket!

The Sprocket Rocket is a classic "toy" camera that is super simple to use. It's basically a point & shoot camera. Here it is:

There are plenty of technical reviews & how-to-load videos and write-ups so I won't go into this on blog. However, once you get the hang of it (which takes about 10 seconds) it's super easy.  I find the edges of the images are soft and there tends to be vignetting on some images...which is actually very cool and toy camera-like. 

Each image is a panorama exposing the entire piece of film. Therefore, the sprocket holes show up on the picture as black rectangles.  Each image on the negative is just over 3" about equivalent to approximately 2 normal 35mm frames. Therefore, a 24-count roll of 35mm film will give you approximately 12 images. I've found you get less than 1/2 of the number of images because the leader is a bit longer than with a normal 35mm camera.

There is a simple sunny / cloudy switch on the bottom of the lens, 2 distances to focus (0.6-1m & 1m-infinity). There is a switch for N (1/100 second) & B (bulb).  Once you get the hang of using the film advance indicator on top you are good to go. That's it. Like I said, point & shoot.  Oh yes, there is a hotshoe on the camera, but I've never used mine.

I use 100 speed film on bright days and 400 speed film on overcast.  That's the only variable I introduce.  

One tip, if possible develop & scan the film yourself if you have this flexibility.  Just makes things easier. I have NOT sent sprocket film out for developing at a lab, so honestly I don't know how well they do it. I'm sure you need to be very specific with the lab that it's panorama & with sprockets.

So if you've wanted to try sprockets, play with a toy camera, or do something different give a Sprocket Rocket a try.  I bought mine at the NYC Lomography store location while doing a street photography shoot. They cost about $90. They are also available online.

Here are some shots from mine.

Model Madeline with Kodak Portra 160

Red Building with Kodak Ektar 100

Downtown Indianapolis with Kodak Ektar 100

Indiana Corn with Kodak Ektar 100

Model Kristen with Film Ferrania P30

Monday, August 7, 2017

Picking A Film Stock - Decisions, Decisions

A decision has been made!

I jumped back into film photography about 3 years ago after focusing almost exclusively on digital for ... well, since digital took over. I don't recall the exact reason I jumped back in but it now sits comfortably next to my digital photography work. I like to say digital professionally, but film for fun. Today most of my casual photography and probably 75% of my street photography is film. However, 100% of my professional studio work remains digital.

After jumping back in I was shooting just about any film stock I could find.  Didn't matter if it was Kodak, Fujifilm, Ektar, HP5, XP2, super expired, fresh, purchased online, found in a expired film bin...no matter, I shot it. I would shoot, send it out - rinse and repeat.

One variable changed over the past year.  I started developing and scanning my own film, so I could lower the cost, increase my flexibility and speed my workflow. I'm starting to take film photography more seriously.

One thing became obvious.  The different film stocks and ages meant I had no consistency or reliability in my work.  Some films fit the mood, some didn't.  Some worked great, some were a disaster. Some curled so bad when drying I couldn't use it, some were flat as glass. One roll had rich colors some were flat.

Therefore, I've decided once I work my way through my current stock I'm limiting my film selection for most of my work.  4 film stocks will be "go to".  My decision is not based on deep study or sound technical review. It may not be a final decision. Many will disagree, but for me it's a start. Here is what I'll use.
  • B&W - Ilford HP5+ 400, rolled from bulk - primarily street photography film
  • B&W - Ilford XP2 Super 400, rolled from bulk - when I want deeper blacks and want to use C-41 chemistry
  • Color - Kodak Portra 400 - everyday use and street photography when color is needed
  • Color - Kodak Ektar 100 - studio work when I use my studio strobes and bright days when I want punchy colors

These are my planned go to films.  I am using all 4 today, but they are mixed in with other stocks.

However, I'll still shoot other film stocks for creative or special uses.  For lower light situations where color is needed I'll use Kodak Portra 800 (box speed or pushed).  Ilford Delta 3200 for B&W low light situations.  When the creative urge kicks in I'll use REVOLOG specialty films, CineStill, and some of the Lomography colored films. 

One note, I'm testing a couple of B&W films, JCH Street Pan 400, Bergger Pancro 400 &Arista EDU. Based on the results I might add it to the list or replace XP2 on the list.

An upside to this decision should be more consistent processing & scanning and more confidence in the end results.  

Let's see if I can stick to this plan, or slip back into my film "look a squirrel" mode that I'm currently enjoying. Time & results will tell!