Travel


Not Quite Open, Not Quite Closed

After a herculean yet ultimately futile effort to get to Seoul’s Chungmuro district, where all the vintage camera stores are, before closing time, I made a mad dash to Hongik University, where Seoul’s Lomography store was located. The cabbie dropped me off in front of the school, which sits in the middle of a hip and happening area, full of restaurants, bars, galleries and boutique stores. I asked some students to direct me to the Lomography store and after some gesticulating and stabbing at my iPad, we all came to an understanding. They’d walk in the general direction and I’d follow them. Thanks, guys!

I reached the store almost half an hour after closing time but was lucky enough to find them still open (not closed, would be more accurate). They let me in and I was able to see and touch, for the very first time, Lomography’s Lomokino and metal La Sardina cameras. Tasty.

Bought a few packs of T64 (see previous post) but had to bug out quickly as the night was getting long in the tooth and the clerks looked like they needed to get on home. Farewells and smiles all around.

Lomokino, Lomokinis

Tin Can Cameras

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Lomography's Color x Tungsten 64

So a couple of weeks ago, I was able to pick up several rolls of Lomography’s Tungsten 64 slide film at the Lomography store in Seoul. While I’d shot slide before, this would be my first time to shoot using film that wasn’t daylight balanced. As the name suggests, Tungsten 64 is film with chemistry that compensates for the yellowish cast of tungsten light. If you’ve played around with a digital camera’s white balance settings, you probably know what this means.

I didn’t really have specific test shots in mind to showcase the quirks of the film under daylight of fluorescent light. I was on vacation, after all, so I just took my normal holiday shots, using a Fujifilm Silvi f/2.8 point-and-shoot.

Flash forward a week. I was back in Manila, waiting for my roll to come back from the lab. The technician hands me the envelope. I open it excitedly and see that the negatives have a green hue to them. Cool. Then I look at the index print: it’s all green, too! I’m thinking, there must be something wrong (but wonderfully wrong) because I expected the shots to come out with a pink hue. Turns out this was the first time the lab had ever come across tungsten film (in a few years at least), and the technicians didn’t know what to make of it. They scanned the negatives as a positive, giving the shots that cool radioactive green glow.

It wasn’t a problem at all. A simple color invert using Photoshop and I’d have the shots as they should have come out, all pinky and rose. That green glow kept nagging my senses, though, and I couldn’t let it go. I just had to use those original scans.

The solution was, to create diptychs that displayed both negative and positive, side by side, to show contrast and to make some clever statements. I know this might be anathema to many film buffs who disdain Photoshop, but I’ve always been a Machiavellian the-end-justifies-the-means kinda guy. If you can do all sorts of old school tricks in a traditional wet darkroom, then you should also be allowed some manipulation using a digital workspace. Just don’t go crazy HDR overboard, ya know what I’m saying?

So, here are the results. Let me know what you think.

Between Two Buses, Between Two Worlds

Crossing Over Dimensions

North Korea, South Korea

This Corner of the Universe

Travelomo omolevarT

Galaxy Express Bus

Travelers of the Multiverse

Bumping into Yourself

Palindrome

I’d been putting off shooting with slide film and having the rolls cross-processed, mainly because slide film is both a) expensive, and b) hard to find, but I was able to score a couple of cheap expired Ektachromes from an online retailer so I ran out of excuses.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, cross-processing (aka XPRO) is a developing technique where the developing agent used for slide film and the developing agent used for negative film are swapped: the most popular being slide film getting processed in C41 instead of E6.* This typically results in photos with deeper color saturation and an off-kilter color balance, depending on the type of film and chemical used, of course.

Here are a few shots I took in Nasugbu, Batangas a few weeks ago.

Marketplace Chess Match

Tricyclola

Sidewalk Shoe Doctor

Jowa before Jesus

Church Child

All shots were taken with a Yashica Electro, I don’t remember if it was the Electro GL or the Electro GS. I’m thinking the GL because I’m not seeing the light leaks that my GS gets.

I must say, I never thought I’d enjoy seeing an unnatural blue cast to my shots, but these are pleasant. Will explore slide film and XPRO further.

*There are other combinations in cross processing, as Wikipedia will tell you.

Walk On

No trip to Beijing is complete without a visit to the Forbidden City, which truly deserves a day or two (more even) in your itinerary. Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to walk through the site’s vast grounds. Better than nothing, of course, and I took the opportunity to practice street photography, which candidly frames human subjects within their environmental context.  It’s quite the challenge for me, a natural introvert, to take photos of strangers in public but I manned up and just did it.

The best advice from experienced street photographers I’ve put to practice is to smile while you’re taking photos. A natural smile, mind you, never creepy. Meter for ambient light and set your camera’s aperture and shutter speed well in advance, so you don’t waste time fiddling with your dials just when you see a shot coming together. When you find a backdrop you really like, compose the shot in advance, pre-focus on a sweet spot and just wait for a subject to walk into the frame. You can also keep your aperture as narrow as possible for maximum depth of field to keep things in sharp focus.

For these shots I used my vintage Olympus PEN S.  It’s small and discreet, and hardly makes a sound.  Its 30mm lens is wide enough to capture huge chunks of scenery and gives great depth of field. Perfect for street photography.

Fashion Rampage

(Okay, for this shot above I cheated: these aren’t strangers.)

Forbidden Walk

Open Window

Courtyard

I’ve yet to figure out if WordPress has a Readmore function, so I’ll cap this at five shots. If you want to see more from this set, feel free to view the collection at my Flickr account. Add me as a contact and I’ll add you back. Good night!

Among the cameras I brought to Beijing was a Nishika N9000, one of two 3D lenticular toy cameras I currently own. For the most part, the Nishika stayed in the hotel room as I opted to take only two cameras (out of five) at a time during our daily forays, and I had a hard time giving up my Oly rangefinder and PEN S. For our trip up the Great Wallof China, however, the Nishika was a definite must.

Like the Nishika N8000, the N9000 takes four half frame photographs simultaneously. You can take those frames and  process them in Photoshop and Stereophotomaker to produce 3D photos, either anaglyph or stereo pair. I managed to find time today in the middle of my workday to process a couple. It took me a while because I haven’t done this in so long, I kind of forgot my workflow. For shame.

Anyway, here’s a couple of shots in both anaglyph and stereo pair. I’ll add more as I process them.  Still have several rolls of film to go through, so expect a few more chapters from this Beijing trip.

So last week I was in China, my wife and I piggybacking on the company trip of the Gallardo & Associates ad agency. Four days in Beijing was the perfect break from this October’s killer schedule at work, and even though most of the time we found ourselves at the mandatory tourist sights, it was still a blast. When traveling with crazy creative people there are hardly any dull moments; even on long boring bus rides you can still find something to do, like taking advantage of people sleeping.

That was shot on the second day, on the road to the Great Wall of China. Here are some photos, taken with a vintage Olympus 35UC rangefinder with Lucky 200 color film:

More photos on my Flickr set Barbarians at the Great Wall.

When I need to get around Manila quick, I usually leave the car at home and take one of the city’s three light railway lines. The system is nowhere near as complicated as New York City’s subway or the London Underground, so traveling via these (mostly) elevated trains is painless, except during rush hour when the queues are long and the cars are packed. Quitting time is the worst because everyone doesn’t smell as nice anymore.

The stations are also a good place to people watch, as you’ve got folks from many walks of life using this method of commute, but I do like it during the dead hours when few passengers are on the platform.

Here are a few shots taken with the Ricoh Auto Half E with Kodak BW 400CN.

More photos at my Flickr.

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