Black and White Photography with the Sprocket Rocket Camera

After trying a couple of different colour films in my Lomography Sprocket Rocket Camera, I decided to try a black and white film since I had been pleased and surprised at the quality of the colour images taken on this camera.

As the camera has limited control on exposure and distance etc, I knew it was best to stick to a 400 ISO film which Lomography recommend for this camera.

In the end I decided to try out the Kentmere 400 Black and White film since it wasn’t too expensive (£3.85) plus I wasn’t sure how the pictures would turn out.

I also needed to remember that the Kentmere film only has 24 exposures and since the Sprocket Rocket takes landscape photos, it uses two frames at a time which means I would only have 12 exposures to use in this camera.

I got the film developed at my local camera lab and scanned the negatives myself using my Epson V600 scanner. Here are some of the results:

Overall I was really happy with the images. I love the detail and depth of shade in the photos. I took the photos on a bright sunny day in Brighton.

I certainly do still love this camera and thankfully haven’t regretted my purchase (considering how expensive it was) as I’m getting a lot of use from the camera since it’s really lightweight so I can just put in my bag and take out with me and easily take photos. I now want to try some other black and white films in this camera (still with a 400 ISO) so will blog about these when I do.

Capture the night: a Lomography workshop

There is currently a photo exhibition at the Museum of London that I wanted to visit called London Nights.

London Nights Exhibition shows photos of the capital at night. There are over 200 works displayed by 60 photographers which range from the late 19th century to the present day (with some photos never seen before).

I have lots of fond memories of many nights out to London over the years so I knew I’d find this exhibition very interesting.

Whilst planning my visit, I noticed that Lomography were holding a workshop there on Friday 13th July called ‘Capture the night: a Lomography workshop’ which was tied in with the London Nights photo exhibition. I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate this workshop into my visit, since I’m recently knew to learning about the Lomography cameras so I booked two tickets for my husband and myself.

The cost of the workshop was £45 each (including access to the London Nights exhibition and use of a disposable lomography camera) and started at 6pm which lasted for 4 hours. The first hour was spent looking at the London Nights exhibition by ourselves (unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any photos inside the exhibition).

I did enjoy the exhibition and enjoyed reading about each photo. The photos taken at the early part of the 20th century were really interesting and some of them almost looked like paintings. I also enjoyed looking at some fashion negatives which had been taken in the 1920’s and wished I could have taken those home with me to frame on my wall.

After we had finished looking at the exhibition we were told to head to a conference room in the museum at 7pm to meet the Lomography workshop organisers.

Once we met them we were given a goody bag each which consisted of a Simple Use camera, a lomography Fish Eye 2 camera keyring, an information card about the lomo lab and 3 x greeting cards where I can add my own photos before giving them to somebody.

The Simple Use camera is a disposable camera (but we were told by the organisers we would be able to load it with further film if we wanted to once we had used up the current film). It is pre-loaded with 36 frames of 400 ISO colour film.

The camera has three different Colour Gel Flash filters (Yellow, Cyan and Magenta) which can be mixed and matched to tint the shots with different colours. I especially loved the Magenta and Cyan combo which produces a purple tint to the flash. There is a battery built into the camera which enables the flash to work.

fullsizeoutput_1374

The camera also came with helpful instructions on the back:

fullsizeoutput_1377

In the workshop we were given a brief overview of the Lomography company and how it all began. We were also shown how to use the Simple Use camera.

It’s been years since I’ve used a disposable camera…..I used to use them a lot during the late 90s on nights out with friends and also the odd wedding when they were put on the table (although photo booths have become quite popular at weddings recently).

We were then told to head out around London and take some photos and meet back at the conference room at 9pm.

We weren’t made to go around together as a group but to go off by ourselves. Most people in the group had come with either a friend or their partner so we all naturally went off with whoever we had come to the workshop with.

When we initially headed outside it was still quite light and the purpose of this workshop  was to take photos at night using the coloured flashes on the camera so we had to wait for it to get a bit darker. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to get dark so we wondered around near the museum and took some photos. It unfortunately began to rain by 8pm and we were beginning to get a bit hungry so decided to pop to a sushi restaurant to get a bite to eat.

We used up the remainder of our film and headed back to our meeting place at 9pm. Our organiser kindly unloaded the film for us and told us that as part of the workshop package, Lomography would process the film for us free of charge and email the shots to us in a week’s time. She also asked us if we had any further questions or wanted any further advice regarding the Lomography products as the workshop didn’t technically finish until 10pm. By this point my husband and I were quite exhausted (we had been at work since 7:30am and had rushed up to London in the afternoon) and we both knew we had the inevitable train journey back to Brighton so were keen to be gone before 10pm as my husband had to work Saturday morning.

After a week of waiting I hadn’t received the emailed photos that I was expecting so I phoned the Lomography store in London where I discovered the organiser had taken my email address down incorrectly (good job I checked!) so then I instantly got the photos emailed over to me and here are some of them:

 

I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t have high expectations of using this camera since it was a disposable one and like I previously said, I had used them a lot years ago so was fully aware of the quality of photos they produce.

I therefore did find the photo quality pretty average and not always great. The flash only works at close range so a lot of our photos taken of buildings were dark and underexposed.

I think these cameras are fine if you’re on a night out with friends and are taking close up shots and having fun with the flash. I wouldn’t recommend it for architectural shots!

If I was to go around London at night taking photos again, I would take my Pentax K1000 loaded with Cinestill 800 film and a flash as well.

Overall, I’m glad I got to see the photo exhibition and do the workshop as it was something a little different rather than just going to London for the night and sitting in a bar all evening.

Since I didn’t have high expectations from using this camera, I wasn’t disappointed with the results. My only disappointment was that I didn’t prepare in advance more and bring along my Pentax K1000 as I reckon I would have got some really nice shots. At least this gives me an excuse to visit London one evening again and take more photos so that’s good.

For anybody interested in attending the workshop, it is on again in October and here is a link:

Capture the night: a Lomography workshop

Also for anyone interested in purchasing the disposable camera, they can be purchased here:

Simple Use Film Camera

 

Diana F+ Camera

After several months of shooting with 35mm cameras I decided I was ready to try out a different format of film.

I was intrigued by the 120mm format cameras and the square style of photo they produce.

I originally looked at purchasing a vintage 120mm camera but to me, they seemed so much more expensive than the majority of vintage 35mm cameras. I also didn’t really like the style of many of these cameras.

The only vintage medium format camera I did really like is the Pentax 6×7 but they seem to sell for over £300 right up to £1,000 for a mint condition one.

Since I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy shooting in medium format it made much more sense to buy a Lomography Medium Format camera which is a fraction of the price of the Pentax.

I know there are the Diana F+ and Holga plastic camera’s that Lomography produce.

After much research and watching various youtube videos comparing them, I decided that overall I preferred the picture style of the Diana F+.

This camera’s come up regularly for sale on eBay, which a majority of them have either been hardly used or never used.

I found one for sale on eBay which had only been used once and came with it’s original box and booklets and I won it for £10 in a bid auction.

Once I received the camera, I wasn’t disappointed as it was in immaculate condition and I could tell it had hardly been used.

I purchased some Lomography 120mm Color 400 film from my local camera shop and loaded the camera up to test it worked correctly since I hadn’t bought it brand new from Lomography.

There are three x different picture formats that can be taken with this camera:

  1. 12 Large Square Shots: (5.2×5.2cm) / no frame mask / 12-shot setting
  2. 16 Small Square Shots: (4.2×4.2cm) / small frame mask / 16-shot setting
  3. Endless Panorama: (4.6×4.6cm) / small frame mask / 16-shot setting.

I knew that I wanted to use this camera with the 12 Large Square Shots format.

Loading a camera with 120mm film was completely new to me and I had to watch a youtube video to make sure I loaded it correctly as I was initially confused by the spool placement as it was on the left hand side of the camera and should have been on the right hand side. I then realised that 120mm film is different to 35mm film in the fact that it isn’t wound back into the film canister after all photos have been taken. It remains on the other side completely wound and you just remove the whole thing, including the spool, leaving a spool on the left hand side which would have been originally on the film just used. Since this camera had been used once before, it then made sense why the spool was on the left hand side. All I had to do was move the spool from the left hand side to the right hand side of the camera (carefully as the plastic is quite flimsy so could easily be snapped).

The lenses are interchangeable on the camera and I currently have the standard 75mm focal length lens which can be adjusted to 1-2 meters, 2-4 meters and 4 meters to infinity.

There is normal and bulb mode. The aperture is measured as per weather conditions (sun, partial clouds, full clouds) and there is also a Pinhole shot option where you would move the lens completely to take these style of photos.

I found the camera very easy to use but had to do my constant checks of making sure I had the right aperture, had moved film on to the next number and that it was in N mode since I was taking photos in the daytime.

I also quite liked the fact I could use up 12 shots quite quickly as sometimes my other camera’s with more shots available can be left up to a week or two before I use it again to finish off the roll of film whereas the Diana I could literally use a whole film up within an hour or less if wandering about taking photos.

Here are some of the pictures I took on my first roll of 120mm film:

fullsizeoutput_1360fullsizeoutput_1356fullsizeoutput_1352fullsizeoutput_1343fullsizeoutput_1348fullsizeoutput_1362fullsizeoutput_134efullsizeoutput_1359

The Diana is well known for it’s ‘dream like’ photos and heavy vignetting which is what I liked about the camera.

The last shot was taken indoors and it shows that I definitely would require a flash if I wanted to take more indoor photos as the exposure wasn’t correct and it ended up too dark.

I’ll definitely be using this camera a lot as I like the square format photos and its really light and transportable. I also love how I can use up the film quite quickly.

Half Frame Club

I’m finding from my journey into film photography this year that I’m developing a real passion for half frame photography.

In previous blogs I’ve spoken about a couple of the Olympus Half Frame Camera’s I own and the results of the photos I’ve taken with them.

Through Instagram, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only person with a love of half frame photography and it was great to see so many other people also loving half frame cameras and seeing what photo’s they’ve taken.

It was via Instagram that I stumbled upon a website called #HalfFrameClub – Half Frame Camera and Photography Club.

I’ve got to admit it was a website I wish I had invented but since I’ve only recently discovered half frame photography it was understandable that somebody would have thought of this idea first and I’m really happy to see they came up with a website dedicated to it.

It’s an online community for half frame 35mm film photography and cameras which is curated by @danmar_photos. The website ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’s a community for half frame camera enthusiasts to discover and look at photos taken by half frame cameras.

On instagram myself and other people are able to tag #halfframeclub onto our photos that were taken with a half frame 35mm camera and the curator will feature various ones on a daily basis, which is great to see. There are also themes such as ‘Monochrome Monday’.

The website itself is concise and clear and really easy to navigate. On the home page you are greeted with photos taken on half frame cameras and if you click on each photo, it will take you to a link in instagram where you can find out more about the person who took the photo and look at their other work.

This website and their instagram page certainly does provide a lot of inspiration for people who like to take photos with 35mm half frame camera’s.

The website releases a Zine every season and will ask for submissions for this from the half frame community. They’re currently looking for submissions for their Summer Zine until August 15th.

I love the fact that you can easily click onto the submission page and a theme is brought up for the type of photos they would like submitted for that particular zine issue which is great and gets the photographer to have more thought into the type of photos they would like to submit (and possibly inspire them to go out and take further photos to meet the theme).

The website also has a section for reviews of cameras and film. The curator encourages fellow members of the half frame community to contribute to this which is great.

Lastly there are links to websites for General Photography and another one specifically for Half Frame Photography and the types of Half Frame Cameras which is very informative.

Here is the link to the website which I encourage all half frame photography enthusiasts to check out:

www.halfframeclub.com

 

Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera

As a newbie to film photography this year (please see the first blog I wrote for more information on this), I’ve only recently discovered the Lomography company and the ‘toy camera’s’ they do so have been buying and trying them as you can pick some of them up quite cheaply (either never used or hardly used second hand).

I had seen photos on Flickr and Instagram that had sprocket holes on them which I think looked really cool. I knew that some of the sprocket hole effects were achieved by just scanning the whole negative but I was fascinated by how some of them had the whole picture over the sprocket hole.

Once I had discovered the Lomography company I found that they produced a camera called the Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera which has been specially developed to take pictures with the sprocket holes on them.

As with most of the Lomography camera’s they are very lightweight because they are made out of plastic.

It has a 30mm lens and produces a standard image size of 72 x 33mm (panoramic images including sprocket holes).  There is an optional frame insert that can be put into the camera that produce 72 x 24mm (”ordinary” panoramic images) but personally I think that defeats the whole object of this camera as I would want the sprocket holes to be shown.

The focusing on the camera is 0.6m to infinity which you focus on front of the lens by estimating how far you are standing away from the image you want to take since the viewfinder isn’t linked to the lens. There are 2 x shutter speeds (1/100, Bulb). There are 2 x aperture options (f/10.8, f/16). It takes 35mm film and is best suited to an ISO speed of 400. Another feature that I really love about the camera is that it has a white dot film stopping mechanism to enable you to take multiple exposures.

I initially was hoping to find a second hand one of these cameras as they retail at £69 for the black one and £79 if you wanted a different colour one. Thankfully I actually prefer the black colour.

Whilst looking for a second hand one, I found that not many of them seem to come up for sale like some of the other Lomography cameras and when I recently found a second hand used one for sale without its original box or instruction pamphlets, it ended up selling on eBay  in a bid only auction for over £50 (not including postage). I decided at that point that I’d sooner just pay the full retail price and buy a brand new one directly from the Lomography shop.

Thankfully at the time on deciding this I was actually going to London for the day for a Lomography workshop (blog to follow about this) so I was able to find some time to pop into the Lomography shop in Soho and buy one.

I was also lucky enough to buy the last few rolls the shop had of the LomoChrome Purple film as I wanted to see how this would look on the camera.

Once I took a closer look at the camera when I got it home, I discovered that it’s design was based on the vintage Dick Tracy Camera of the Seymore Products Co in Chicago circa 1947 combined with Lomography’s own design.

I loved how simple it was to load the 35mm film and the fact that it really does encourage multiple exposures as it has a simple operating system of 2 x winding knobs at each end of the camera at the top for moving the film forward and backwards. The white dot stopping mechanism window at the top of the camera enables you to see if you’ve wound on the film to the right spot so multiple exposures match on the same frame.

This camera also does the opposite of the half frame camera in the fact that if you have a 36 exposure 35mm film, you will only get 18 super-wide angle shots on this camera so this means in the long run you would use a lot more film.

On the bottom of the camera is a tripod strap screw which can be removed to enable you to place the camera on a tripod to take long exposed shots in bulb mode.

The shutter button is actually on the side of the lens rather than on the top of the camera and you have to be careful when the camera is in your bag etc not to accidentally knock the shutter button as you could take an unwanted photo!

There is a plastic lens cap included with this camera which you have to remember to move because the viewfinder is not linked to the lens so you could end up happily snapping away and find all your pictures come out black.

The aperture lever is underneath the lens and you can move it to the ‘sunny’ (f/16) or ‘cloudy’ (f/10.8) option.

My first impression of this camera is that it felt cheap and plastic and I wondered how the price could be justified for something that quite frankly didn’t feel like it had any quality to it. I also worried about it melting if I had it out on a hot sunny day!

However, from my research, I couldn’t find any quality vintage camera that could produce the same effect with the sprocket holes so I had to accept the price for what it was if I wanted to produce that type of photograph.

I’ll be completely honest, since I’ve been quite spoilt with my decent quality camera collection where I have the choice of interchangeable lenses and hard metal casing with a variety of apertures and shutter speeds to choose from, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the camera and in some ways was ‘dreading’ if I had completely wasted my money on this purchase and the photos would be rubbish as I wouldn’t be able to focus the picture how I wanted etc.

I know with lomography cameras that the photo’s aren’t about perfection as quite frankly you wouldn’t be using them if that’s the style of photo what you wanted.

I decided that for my first roll of film I shot, I would get it developed at the Lomography lab (which was around £17 for development and scanned copies only plus postage of the film recorded delivery to Lomography in London).

Here are some of the results:

fullsizeoutput_1116fullsizeoutput_11ebfullsizeoutput_11eafullsizeoutput_1131fullsizeoutput_111bfullsizeoutput_11e9fullsizeoutput_1117fullsizeoutput_1132

I also decided to experiment with the multiple exposure option on this camera because it was so easy to do and here are the results:

fullsizeoutput_112afullsizeoutput_1127fullsizeoutput_1115fullsizeoutput_1112fullsizeoutput_1111fullsizeoutput_1110fullsizeoutput_11e8

One particular shot I wasn’t happy with was where the sprocket holes go directly across the top of my husband’s head which I didn’t like so I now know for future reference I will need to bear this in mind when taking photographs and change the angle of the shot slightly to take this into consideration:

fullsizeoutput_110f.jpeg

Overall, I was really happy with the results. I managed to produce images with this camera that I wanted to achieve and I love the colour the purple chrome film produces. I definitely love the artistic/experimental photos I can create by using this camera.

The main drawback is the cost of getting the photos developed every time which could end up being very expensive due to only having the 18 shots on the film and you would question how regularly you could afford to use it.

However, because I’m taking so many photos with different cameras right now, I’ve been able to justify purchasing my own film scanner (which I’m currently awaiting delivery of) so in the long run I will save money. Plus I get to have more control of the quality/colour/shade etc of the image that I’m scanning from the negative.

I’ve since taken some normal colour photos with this camera which I got developed at my local photo lab for £5 (and will be scanning them in myself once I receive my scanner).

In view of this, I will definitely be taking a lot more pictures using this camera and feel that the purchase for me and the use I will get out of the camera is worth every penny.

I’m going to be loading this camera with 400 ISO black and white film next as I’m really interested to see how the sprocket hole effect will look in monochrome.

UPDATE: I’ve since discovered that this camera has now sold out on the Lomography website (and they only had a couple in the shop when I bought mine) so I’m really happy I managed to get one when I did. Fingers crossed for anybody else out there looking to buy one that Lomography will hopefully get new stock of it soon.

What I learnt from taking pictures yesterday with my Olympus Pen FT camera…

From my previous posts on my blog you’ll see that I absolutely love this half frame camera with it’s decent quality interchangeable lenses.

I was fortunate enough to recently acquire a 25mm wide angle lens for it and knew I wanted to go out today to take some architectural type shots using the CineStill black and white film.

I’ve only owned the camera for a few months but I can instantly tell if something isn’t quite right when taking a picture and yesterday was one of those days.

As I was stepping outside my front door with the camera in my hand I suddenly realised I hadn’t set the ISO for the film I was using (not that I would have known this while taking photos but thankfully I remembered). I quickly stepped back indoors to double check the ISO rating of the film and saw it could be 250 on a sunny day or 200 with Tungsten lighting. I set it to 250 as I was shooting outdoors on a sunny day.

When I took my first picture I noticed the shutter sounding with a ‘clunk’ and knew it didn’t sound right to me. After inspection I realised the shutter speed was at 1/30 which was too slow and no doubt my picture would have probably blurred. I then set the shutter speed to a higher 1/250. The next picture I took had the normal click sound I was familiar with so I knew I had now corrected that issue.

I also knew why the shutter speed was so low….this was because the shutter speed and ISO are on the same dial. Every time I adjust the ISO, I inevitably move the dial round so I can see the ISO before I lift the dial to adjust this. By moving the dial round I end up changing the shutter speed but normally remember to change it back.

I was confused when reading my light meter and couldn’t figure out why my lens wouldn’t go down to number 1 or 2 as per the meter reading. I then realised I was using a lens that was new to me and that I was reading the aperture numbers on the lens instead of the meter numbers which were on the under side of the lens. All I had to do was move the numbers round to my personal preference so the numbers matching the light meter were now on top of the lens and easy to read.

I estimate I perhaps messed up 2-3 photos which I think will be blurry and not exposed right due to the above mistakes.

However I’m thankful this camera has 72 images rather than 36 so to me, it doesn’t feel like a massive waste of film.

Hopefully as time progresses with me taking photos with this much loved camera, these mistakes will be avoided altogether.

Olympus Pen EE

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a few days off work and on one of the days we decided to have a walk around the lanes in Brighton with our dog.

I needed to pop to one of our local shops, Zoing Image in Sydney Street as I was after some Cinestill 800 film to practice some night time shots using my Pentax K1000 (blog to follow on this).

As well as the unusual film selection that Zoing Image stock, they also sell a selection of second hand cameras. Every time I visit, there are always a new selection of secondhand cameras to choose from so I love to browse.

Whilst my husband isn’t really into photography, he always takes a keen interest in any camera I buy and was extremely fascinated by my Olympus Pen FT half frame camera and the quality of images it produces.

I think this is what led him to noticing the Olympus Pen EE Camera in the cabinet for sale.

He told me he was instantly drawn to the size and grey colour of the camera. Once I explained to him it was an automatic half frame camera he wanted to have a look at it in more detail. He absolutely loved the tiny viewfinder window and the feel of it in his hands so we bought it along with some Kodak Colour Plus 200 35mm film and loaded it in the shop there and then so we could take some photos of our day around Brighton.

In some ways, this camera is similar to the Olympus Trip where a red flasher will pop up in the viewfinder if the image is too bright or dull and won’t expose correctly. This took some getting use to for my husband as he tried to take several shots where this happened.

The film number counts back from 72 to 0. The lens is a D Zuiko f/3.5 (4 element) with a focal length of 28mm.

I already knew the lens would be of good quality from my experience of using Zuiko lenses on my Olympus Pen FT.

A great edition to this camera in the shop was the fact it also came with a UV lens which screwed into the middle of the camera:

The shutter was quite small so could be hard find by feel when taking a picture:

I solved this problem when I got home by adding a metal shutter button which definitely made taking pictures easier:

The camera also came with an Olympus lens cap although I don’t think it’s the original as I think they have EE written on them.

The camera unfortunately didn’t come with the original case or wrist strap but the shop were kind enough to provide me with a small black case which was in great condition. Also I know that the original olympus cases for this camera can deteriorate over time as the plastic outer coating of the case tends to flake off. Thankfully I had a grey wrist strap at home which had originally been for my Panasonic TZ70 digital camera which I’d never used as I prefer to use a leather neck strap with that particular camera. Personally, I would never use a neck strap with the Olympus Pen EE due to it being so lightweight (12.5 ounces).

I’ve also since purchased a skylight filter for the camera which I picked up for a couple of pounds on eBay.

I was surprised how quickly my husband and I were able to get through 72 frames over two days but with a point and shoot style camera I don’t really think so much about the image since it’s automatically focused (unlike my Olympus Pen FT where I spend much more time thinking about the image I’m taking and what lens to use etc).

Here is a little selection of pictures we took:

I got the film developed at Moorfields Photographic in Liverpool as they have the half frame developing equipment which means that each image is exposed correctly rather than a compromise of exposure between two images as would occur at a normal lab with standard 35mm equipment.

Overall I was happy with the quality of the images and was what I expected from the Zuiko lens. I also liked the vintage feel of the photos. The sharpness was a little hit and miss at times since it’s automatic with only one lens type.

I will always prefer my Olympus Pen FT because of the gorgeous crispness I get with that camera along with the variety of lenses I can use for a particular shot.

However, if out and about in a rush and if I’ve only got a little handbag on me during the daytime then I would happily put this little camera in my bag and use it for the day.

It’s also handy for my husband to use when we’re out and about as he’s not so keen on all the time that can be spent perfecting a shot using a heavier SLR Camera 📷