CMCs go to Yosemite

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by craigd, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. This past May, I spent a bit less than 72 hours (Monday afternoon through Thursday morning) in and around Yosemite as part of a "photography tour" group led by Dave Wyman, William Hartshorn, and Internet photography enfant terrible Ken Rockwell (who, despite his reputation, is actually a really nice guy). As a film shooter, I was a solitary island in a sea of digital cameras -- mostly DSLRs, though Ken was shooting a Leica M9 and a couple of other guys had high-end point-and-shoots.
    The weather was not as cooperative this year as it was in 2010; mostly overcast, with a bit of drizzling now and again. As I drove into the park on Highway 120 Monday afternoon, there was snow piled by the side of the road, and in some higher-altitude areas the trees looked like it was still Christmastime. It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that we got any real sunlight. But overcast light, by softening shadows and highlights, and giving texture to the sky, can be good for landscape work.
    I dithered over what to take on this trip. I have too many cameras I didn't own last year. I knew I wanted one medium format camera (after all, if you own one, you can't leave it at home when you go landscape shooting!), but I was torn between my Pentax 67 and one of my recent acquisitions, a Mamiyaflex C2 with a waist-level finder and a Mamiya-Sekor 80mm f/2.8 lens. The TLR won out. I also wanted to take a Nikon F2 so I could use my PC-Nikkor 35mm shift lens; and I took my plain-prism Nikon F both as a backup and to shoot a roll of infrared film. Lastly, for casual snapshots, I also took one Modern Film Camera: my pocket Olympus XA, which performed well beyond expectations. All four cameras did well, but the XA surprised me by delivering results that are nearly on par with the Nikons despite its small size.
    Next time, I think I'll take fewer cameras.
    I haven't done much infrared film photography before (and it shows in my tendency toward underexposure; 1/2 sec. at f/16 was at least a stop low), but fortunately I did remember that many lenses produce ugly hot spots in the center of IR images. I owe thanks to PN member Bjorn Rorslett for his very helpful Nikon lens evaluations, which helped me to select the Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 for my IR shooting. It performed excellently. (Note that the halos around bright objects in the IR images is not the fault of the lens, but an intentional property of the IR film used, which lacks an anti-halation backing.)
    The films I used were Ilford HP5+ for B&W (Mamiyaflex, Nikon F2), Efke IR820 Aura infrared (Nikon F with a Hoya R72 filter), and Fuji Provia 100 for color (Olympus XA, also a roll or two in the F2 toward the end of the tour). I made heavy use of contrast filters for the B&W shooting: yellow-green and red-orange with the Mamiyaflex; orange, red, and green with the F2. I also, I think, used an 81A warming filter for some of the color shots taken with the F2.
    My whole gallery is available at SmugMug, but here are a few samples...
    1. Yosemite Valley from Highway 120 near the Foresta Road (Mamiyaflex C2)
    2. The Yosemite Falls (Olympus XA)
    3. At the base of the Yosemite Falls (Nikon F, infrared)
    4. Tour leader Dave Wyman (Olympus XA)
    5. Tunnel View (Olympus XA)
    6. Bridalveil Fall and the Three Brothers (Mamiyaflex C2)
    7. Loan among the dogwoods (Nikon F2, PC-Nikkor-S 35mm f/2.8, green filter)
    8. Bill and Brian behind the Ahwahnee Hotel (Nikon F2, PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8)
    9. Portal (Nikon F2, Nikkor-Q 135mm f/2.8)
    10. Inverted reflection in water (Nikon F2, Nikkor-S 50mm f/2)
    11. Morning rainbow at the base of the Yosemite Falls (Olympus XA)
  2. Craig there are all great since you used CMC cameras, the first one is great in my eyes, thanks
    for reminding us what some of these old cameras can do :
  3. Some marvelous shots Craig, especially of the falls, tunnelvision and the reflection one.
    Thanks for sharing.
  4. Looks like a great trip! Bridalveil Falls has a nice quality to it and The Valley shot has nice depth. The XA did quite well, too. Good work, Craig!
  5. Wow .. I too ma very impressed and like you mostly by the great results from the XA. I really like the first shot on the c2 and the other is also excellent in B&W. That reflection came off really cool too! Looks like a really great trip!
  6. What's a "CMC?"
  7. What's a "CMC?"
    Classic Manual Camera?
  8. Can you describe your processing, both wet and digital?
  9. Great photos. My one and only visit to Yosemite was in June, 1996, when I spent the night at Camp Curry. I remember driving in the South entrance to the park, and stopping at the valley viewpoint where every photographer has to take a photo. I saw Hasselblads, 4x5 view cameras, and a slew of 35mm SLRs. What a lot of people don't know, is that the viewpoint that Ansel Adams photographed from, is a short hike from the current one, up a trail. It's less than 5 minutes to hike up to the old viewpoint, connected to the old road into the park, which was replaced when the new highway was built. When I got up there, I could see the old parking lot, and the old narrow road. I photographed from up there, imagining Ansel Adams once standing where I stood. I also visited the Ansel Adams Gallery at Yosemite, and bought a couple books and a poster. Such a beautiful place. I shot slides with my Nikon FE2 and black and white with my Rolleiflex.
  10. Thanks to everyone for their comments.
    Marc: The undeveloped film went to my local camera shop. They do their own traditional B&W developing and printing. I had them make contact sheets for each roll, and then I hand-picked frames for larger prints. The 35mm film became 5x7" prints, and the 6x6 film was printed at 8x8". I then scanned the prints at 1200 dpi using a cheap flatbed scanner that wasn't really designed for photos (I really should replace it; even an inexpensive Epson 4490 would surely do better) and then adjusted and downsampled them on the computer to recover, as much as possible, the beauty of the original prints.
    The shop sends color film out to another company for processing. The resulting mounted slides were rephotographed using a Canon 5D Mark II mounted on a copy stand, with the slides on a light box. (I've tried using the cheap scanner for slides and negatives. It doesn't work.) The 5D2 produced RAW images which I then processed to get as close as I could to the appearance of the original slides under neutral light.
    Neither the cheap scanner nor the expensive DSLR are really ideal solutions for this sort of work, but it's adequate for online display and I don't have access to a film scanner (yet).
  11. How come I overlooked this post? Fine work, Craig, even if I am a little late to the party. I really enjoy these sorts of Photo Safaris, especially since it gives one an opportunity to meet with and enjoy the company of kindred souls. You have some great shots there, and I particularly like the last three. "Portal" is a classic composition. I'm also impressed by your stamina in carting all that gear...Thanks for a great post.
  12. Thanks, Rick. Actually the load wasn't too bad; the XA slips into a pocket and you can forget it's there, and the F was in a small shoulder bag barely big enough for itself and the 35mm f/2 lens on it, thus also quite light. The Mamiya and the F2 (which was in a shoulder bag along with a few other lenses and my contrast filters) were the only really noticeable weights, and the two together were probably no worse than dragging my Pentax 67 around.

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