Ilford HP5+ B&W Film: The 12×12 Choice of 2012!

Posted by on August 6, 2012 at 7:06 am.

Nervous about shooting Black and White film come marathon day? Don’t be! As 2-time 12×12 marathoner Aaron Macfarlane shows in this post, Ilford’s HP5+ film is a very adaptive and forgiving medium to play with. It also happens to be the film for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon on August 18th, 2012!

But first, here’s a little teaser ;o)

Ilford HP5+ Film
By Aaron Macfarlane

Re-posted with permission. Click here for the original post.

Let me tell you about my experience with HP5+ and B&W film in general.

First off, I am not married to one brand or style of film. I like to try them all out because they are fun and, like photography, is a learning experience. Ilford’s HP5+ film is one I enjoy using on a regular basis.

One thing about shooting B&W is that you need to psychologically eliminate the colour while you are composing with your camera because there will be no colour recognition when the film is displayed after it is developed and printed. B&W for me relies very much on composition.

A good tip that I can suggest is to get a yellow or orange filter for your lens. This way, if you are unable to disconnect colour from composition, the filter will help eliminate most of the colours while you are composing. BUT if you are using a rangefinder camera, this tip will not help you as you are not looking through the lens to compose your photograph.

Note: Filters generally take away some of the light, so if you do happen to try out a yellow or orange filter and you are using a hand-held light meter, you have to compensate for the lost light. Typically it is 1 to 2 stops of light lost.

Click here for more information on factoring filters.

Another tip is if you have a digital camera, I suggest taking it out for a day or two and change it to B&W mode to help yourself get used to ‘seeing’ in black and white.

HP5+ film is a good general use film. It does perform very well in many types of situations. I’ve used it for street, portrait, landscape, macro, and most any type of photography.

It is a mid contrast film so it can produce good information in the shadows as well as the highlights. I wouldn’t say there are many limitations to this film, really. Some people like film that produces more contrast, such as Kodak’s Tri-X film.

Anyway, enough boring talk. Here are some examples of photos I’ve taken over the years using 135 format HP5+ film.

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Strong light, but shadows still show information

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Sharpness up close and at a distance thanks to the grain

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Lower contrast makes for less drama but more details

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

A longer exposure at night (5 sec). That’s ’11 marathoner Andrew Topalov there with his Canon P rangefinder!

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

HP5+ holds up well in foggy and snowy weather too

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Using a rangefinder from 1943 made for an interesting scene at IKEA

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

With proper exposure, there is still great detail and sharpness in shadowy places

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Shallow depth test shot on a rainy day

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

No flash needed. HP5+ performs indoors with ease

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Also, not related to the 12×12, but you can even create a colour image from three B&W photographs. Here I used Red, Blue, and Green filters and HP5+ film to create a trichromie image

All in all, you don’t need to worry too much about using B&W film. Chances are you have already used this film or have shot with B&W already.

If not, stop by Beau Photo and pick up a roll or two of HP5+ film. Test out your camera and try out the film beforehand. You’ll find you might get hooked on B&W film photography.

Good luck and see you on August 18th for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon!

Aaron MacfarlaneAbout Aaron Macfarlane: “Okay I like photography; I talk about photography ALL DAY at work, then I come home and I take photos and/or process film and/or scan photos and/or go on the internet and look at photos and/or talk about photos on forums.

And I like snuggling. And I also like vinyl records.”

Aaron is a 2-time 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathoner.

Six by Syx: Tip #6 Think of EVERYthing

Posted by on August 5, 2011 at 11:32 am.

To help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

Your camera is clean
Your bags are packed
You’ve read over the tips one last time (seriously, go read them over – they are fun and informative!)
You’re ready for this marathon
SO…what are you forgetting?


Start with your camera bag. This is essential for the day. Make sure you have things like:

  • Your camera
  • Your lenses
  • Your flash
  • Your reflector
  • Maybe a light meter (if you don’t trust the one in your camera). Maybe pack a grey card to help with exposure
  • I’m not usually without my iPhone, and that is an assistant that is always needed. There is a ton of reference and help out there, much like this blog; you just need to search it out. Also for the meter and the grey card, there’s an app for that
  • Tripod – no app will replace that

Now that you are packed, unpacked and repacked. Take out all unnecessary items that will weigh you down as the 12 hour day drags on. Try to pack light, but not too light; you don’t want to leave anything important behind.

Plastic bags, oh yeah, don’t forget those. They are great for protecting your camera from the expected intermittent rain showers in Vancouver. Even in August…you never know. They are also great if you find yourself in a sketchy place where you need to kneel down or lay your shoulder on the ground. Sometimes great photographs come from different angles. Think outside of the box and think ahead.

Once you’ve packed your camera gear, then it’s time to think about yourself. This is where you need to concentrate. Seriously, for some of you (Morten), not having your morning coffee will ruin a day, so plan accordingly.

  • Shoes – your feet are going to be doing a lot of walking, make sure you have comfortable footwear. I’m not sure that flip-flops qualify, no matter how hot it is
  • Hat – protect yourself from the sun and the heat
  • Sunscreen – because summer finally arrived!
  • Dress in layers – there is a chance of it cooling down into the evening. You will be tired and hungry, don’t add cold to the mix
  • Music / audio book – it’s gonna be a long long day, you might as well be in your own little world. This is one of those things that is easily left behind, and it can really change your shooting mood!
  • Food / snacks / water – last time I checked, we all needed these to survive. Make sure you have $ in you pocket and plan your feedings. It’s a proven fact that hunger is the cause stupidity*. You’ll need to stay sharp if you plan on winning. This year, the organizers have set up the home base at Urban Rush Cafe which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options in addition to the usual coffee shop fare so that you can concentrate on your shots and not where to get some grub. Check in often to fuel up and chat with everyone. You might just get your brilliant idea for the perfect shot after a creative pow-wow with your fellow marathoners

Above all, you all will most definitely need to bring:

  • A sense of humour
  • A sense of adventure
  • A sense of direction. Don’t get lost – there’s an app for that

The themes are released every hour on the hour. Don’t miss a theme. Don’t miss a frame. Don’t shoot out of order.

I wish you all the best of luck tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing all the images with the other judges!

*Not proven by anyone that I can reference online, but I know that at some point in my life my mother told me this was fact. “Come in from playing and eat, you stupid kids,” she’d say.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Six by Syx: 6 Essential 12×12 Survival Tips. If you have a question or comment, leave us a note below!

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Six by Syx: Tip #5 Tripods, Low Light Shooting & Fun with Your Flash

Posted by on August 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm.

To help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

This year, you will be faced with a later start time; therefore a later end time. As the sun goes down on the marathon, the doors open up to 2 hours of later shooting than the previous 12×12 cycles, and the fact is, you need to know how to handle less light to avoid blowing your other 10 exposures.


During this year’s 12×12, you’ll be using 400 ISO film and this is locked in. Unlike DSLRs, if you are in need of exposure, ISO is not an option unless you change your film. Therefore, this is not an option to you. There are only two other tools available to you in order to ‘get light.’

1. APERTURE – and again, these values are functions of the lens. If you have a lens in your arsenal that opens up to 1.8 or better yet 1.4, this will offer you hand-held shooting options in lower light levels.

2. SHUTTER SPEED – the longer the duration of the exposure, the more exposure you will get, therefore the brighter the final image. If you are not able to gain light via the aperture of the lens, then you may need to slow the shutter speed down. The slower the shutter, the more chance there is for nasty camera shake to ruin your picture. Now, considering you’ll all be hanging out in a coffee shop all day long during the marathon, steady hands will not be on your side. The general rule of thumb to avoid camera shake while hand holding: 1/focal length of the lens (i.e. 1/100 for a 100mm, 1/50 for a 50mm). It is also suggested that you never dip below 1/30th of a second. Anything slower than this and camera shake is a guarantee.

If you have reached your limit in both of these areas, then there are a few tools that you may need to pack to help you out. One is a TRIPOD. Long exposures are reasonably easy to achieve with the aid of a tripod. We need to steady the camera so that it can shoot for longer periods than we can hand hold. Calculating the actual exposure values may seem a bit difficult, as the meter will not help when you are shooting in bulb mode. Click here for an online calculator that can help you to predict some of your exposure values.

You can get great effects just by using a longer shutter speed and a tripod. There are a lot of moving lights and people downtown. Don’t forget, the 12×12 falls on the finale of the Celebration of Lights. Point your camera toward moving traffic through the legs of pedestrians. Watch the lights around you and think about how they move. Thinking of your frame in terms of ‘seconds’ and not fractions of a second requires a different creative process. Think about how movement of things will be recorded by the camera, how the moving lights will draw lines in your frame. If this is the type of low light shooting you do, then consider how these lines affect your composition and the reading of your image.

You can also set you camera for a long shutter speed, 30 sec, a higher aperture, and run around with a flash light and create photos like the one that you see on the far left.

Go against the grain, hold the camera to intentionally give your photographs movement. This concept can be fun on its own, but can also be the foundation for another great low light technique. Move your camera and paint with the existing lights.

SLOW SHUTTER SYNC or SHUTTER DRAG is an effect that I really enjoy in my own photos. Mixing a flash with a slower shutter, allowing the ambient light to balance the exposure creates more pleasing low-light photographs. In fact, if you find yourself shooting inside anytime throughout the day, this tip may also apply to these situations. This technique requires some understanding of how to handle your specific flash. In fact, the more you know about your flash the better. FLASH EXPOSURE COMPENSATION is also useful, but its a bit beyond this blog entry.

During a shutter drag, the burst of light from the flash will freeze the motion of the subject it illuminates while the ambient light in the background of the image reveals the movement of the camera. This has a nice effect and is a great low light technique.

Have a question or comment? Leave us a note below.
I hope that one or more of this week’s tips will help you in the low-light portion of the 12×12. Stay tuned for the final tip this Friday!

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Six by Syx: Tip #4 Exposure Compensation, Fill Flash & ND Filters

Posted by on July 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm.

To help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

Coming to a ‘correct’ exposure may not always be easy. However, if you follow last week’s tip, then you should at least end up with a photo. It may not be the prettiest photo you’ve ever created, but it’ll be something.

Creating a final photograph that is similar to what you envision in your mind’s eye is dependent on your exposure values. Finalizing these values requires an understanding of how these numbers effect your exposure, as well as how they affect the artistic properties of the photo.

In fact, we need to know them well enough to bully and push them around to get what we want via the exposure compensation button, and if that falls short, we may need a little extra help.


Film has a bit more latitude than our digital sensors. Therefore, having an exposure that is slightly on the ‘+’ side of ‘0’ or neutral isn’t bad. It essentially burns more information into the film. Some cameras may have an EXPOSURE COMPENSATION button, some don’t. If a button does exists, then you are able to lock in + or – values that apply to your meter and affect the exposure level of your photograph. Riding the line and/or slightly pushing your exposure can yield some great detail in your prints.

No matter how much exposure compensation or corrections we try to make in the camera, we cannot fix for the contrast in a scene without help from some form of bounce or an artificial light source. Essentially we need to fill in some of the shadows to reduce the contrast of the scene. This is known as FILL FLASH. Due to the great number of different camera types and flash types that are being used during this marathon, it is difficult to address any one specific system. However, the concept is the same from point-and-shoot to SLR. If the flash is attached to the camera and as long as it reads TTL -Through The Lens (thyristor flashes will also work), then the flash will emit only the intensity of light that the camera is asking for. Basically a TTL flash will output power based upon the camera Aperture setting. So popping my flash up will give me less contrast by filling in the darker area of the exposure. For more advanced flashes and cameras, you may also have a Flash Compensation Button that will decrease the flash by a few stops in order to leave some of the character of the shadow in the photograph.

If we decide to use flashes then we’ll have to understand a little about sync speeds. Sync speeds refer to the maximum shutter speed that you can use your camera when also using a flash. Most cameras drop the shutter speed to 1/200th of a second or so. Some sync at 1/60th of a second. These sync speeds are going to be a limiting factor when calculating exposure while using a flash. If you make the decision to use a flash to fill in the shadows of a scene, you need to be aware that the shift of your shutter speed may cause gross over-exposure. With the shutter speed slowing to allow for the flash to occur, the ambient light – bright sunlight, burns out the photograph.

A higher aperture would need to be used to balance this movement out, which then calls into question the power of your flash and the distance of your subject. Basically, things get quite a bit more difficult throwing your flash up on bright sunny days if you want to use lower aperture values or your subject is too far away.

This brings us to the last part of this tip which is NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS. These are filters that can be purchased to ‘subtract’ the amount of light entering the camera. The filters can be purchased in different increments from -1 stop to -10 stops. The use of these can help you control the bright sun coming into your camera, which in turn can offer you wider apertures for shallower DOF or longer shutter speeds to capture movement.

This week’s 3-part tip involves shooting in bright sunlight and some of the problems that we might face. Next week we’ll deal with low light and fun flash tricks.

Have a question or comment? Leave us a note below.
Click back next week when Syx shares Tip #5 & 6, the final tips before marathon day!!!

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Six by Syx: Tip #3 Exposure 101

Posted by on July 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm.

To help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

This is the third in our series, and this week we are going to talk about exposure. Exposure is the foundation from which any great photograph is constructed.

Once we have locked in the ISO of the film that we are using, the only two exposure tools available to us are the Aperture and the Shutter Speed. Let’s chat a little about each tool.


APERTURE refers to the size of the opening inside the lens. It controls the intensity of light that enters the camera. Technically, we can use this to help control the exposure values. By using a smaller hole in the lens we will need a longer shutter speed; the larger the hole in the lens, the shorter the shutter speed we need. Creatively speaking, aperture controls our Depth of Field. Depth of Field (DOF), relates to how much of the image is in focus from foreground to background. The lower the F-number, the larger the hole in the lens, therefore the shallower the DOF.

SHUTTER SPEED refers to how quickly the curtains open and close – how long the film is exposed to light. Based upon the ISO, the aperture and shutter speed are balanced to make a correct exposure. Shutter speed creatively controls motion in our picture. If the shutter speed moves fast it can stop motion, but this will require the correct aperture value to make a correct exposure. If the shutter moves slowly, the aperture can be ‘closed down’ (the F-number moved up) to correct the exposure.

When you are shooting your camera on a Program or Automatic mode, the camera is basing the exposure on the reflected light in the scene. It comes to the ‘best’ exposure value based upon an average grey to ensure the photograph is not over or under-exposed.

Our job is to balance the aperture and the shutter speed to get the picture we want, both in exposure value and in creative outcome. As long as we balance the numbers so that we can see a ‘0’ or ‘neutral’ exposure within the viewfinder, then we should have the correct exposure. However, we need to be aware of the combination of numbers that we are using to ensure that our photos are creatively successful. Again remember that a correct exposure is based upon an 18% grey. So as long as your scene contains both light and dark values, the camera should be judging the scene correctly. Look for this in your view finder:

By adjusting the aperture and the shutter speed, we will eventually come to a middle ground where the exposure should be correct.

So try this (you don’t even need to shoot the camera): Just move the camera around a scene from dark tones to light tones and watch your meter move. Then try to balance out the aperture and the shutter speed numbers so that the meter in your view finder is at ‘0.’ Then mentally trip your shutter. That should be a correctly exposed photograph.

Next time we will discuss a more advanced way of thinking about your exposure, but practice up, cause Tip #4 requires complete understanding of this one. See you next week.

Have a question or comment? Leave us a note below.
Click back next week when Syx shares Tip #4. You won’t wanna miss it! 

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Six by Syx: Tip #2 Load It and Leave It

Posted by on July 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm.

To help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

Welcome to the second tip installment of Six by Syx. I assume since last week you’ve all checked your batteries and/or gone and bought some new ones, so now let’s take the next logical step.

With DSLRs, workflow is different than with film. We charge the battery, empty the card, put it back into the camera and away we go. We know that the camera will be shooting to the card as long as there’s room on it. There’s no way for the card to be inserted into the camera incorrectly. However, with film this isn’t the case. Loading the film incorrectly will cause you to miss the ‘lead’ and result in a roll full of black frames, essentially a whole un-exposed roll of film. Loading the film properly is paramount to you having any pictures at all.

Once the film is loaded properly into the camera we need to tell the camera what ISO that roll of film is so that the meter reads correctly. In the film world you cannot change your ISO from shot to shot. Once your film is loaded, you are locked at that ISO for the whole roll of film. The only exposure tools available to you would be your Aperture and your Shutter Speed. So this tip is:


When you open the back of your film camera, your unexposed roll of film is usually loaded on the left side with the uptake spool on the right. Usually there is a little coloured line or mark of some kind to let you know how far you should pull the lead or ‘tail’ of the film and where is should be placed. Some cameras want you to manually feed the lead into the spool; other more automatic style SLRs will complete this process by itself given that you have placed the lead of the film in the correct spot.

Unfortunately there is no visual confirmation that your film is loaded properly unless you are actually loading it manually and you can see that it’s done correctly. You need to be careful and maybe even load in a test roll or two to make sure that you are doing it properly. We have a few weeks yet until the 12×12, so why not put a few rolls through the old camera. Test things out. Practice.

HINT HINT – you will be shooting Kodak Ultramax ISO 400 speed film. You may even be able to practice with the same film!

Have a question or comment? Leave us a note below.
Click back next week when Syx shares Tip #3. It’s gonna be a good one! 

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Six by Syx: Tip #1 Check Your Battery

Posted by on July 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm.

To kick off the one month countdown to this year’s cycle and to help prepare you for the marathon, Vancouver Photo Workshops instructor and 2011 12×12 judge Syx Langemann offers up a 6-part series of tips and tricks to get you through Saturday August 6th.

So you’re excited. You’re dusting off the old film camera, cleaning the lenses and packing your bag with the essentials you’ll need to compete in this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon (#12x12yvr for all the geek folks). Then consider this series of posts your film photo check list.

This will be a series of tips & tricks you’ll need to shoot your 12 exposure roll of film with confidence and not end up with 12 blank frames that will put your philosophy degree to work trying to convince the judges that it was a conceptual decision.

So first let’s start off with something very basic. Seriously, so basic that you’re going to read this and say…”That’s not a tip.” But if you don’t start here, you’ll be stopped short of completing anything.


The last thing you want to do is start a hike on a hot day without water, and this is just as important for your camera.

Let’s be honest, most of us haven’t been shooting film that much since the last 12×12. In fact, some of us may be shooting this camera for the first time in order just to compete in the competition. Either way, batteries lose their charge even when they are not being used. Batteries can lose their charge on the shelf, that’s why they have ‘best before dates’ on them.

The battery in the camera will allow you to turn the camera on, it will assist the shutter & mirror, and if you have a motor drive or a display of any sort, the battery will be used to power these.

You need these in order to shoot, so please check you battery. Maybe even treat your camera to a fresh new battery to ensure that things are working properly.

Have a question or comment? Leave us a note below.
Click back next week when Syx shares Tip #2! 

Known for his Classically Twisted Nudes that push the viewer to discover new views of beauty, Syx Langemann has been photographing his own unique world since 1993 and can be found at Vancouver Photo Workshops teaching students how to capture theirs.

Syx is also one of the judges of the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon.

Walking in Marathoners’ Shoes

Posted by on July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm.

I’ve always known that no matter how many 12×12 marathoners I spoke to, I’d never truly understand what it was like to walk a mile (or two or three!) in their shoes. That was why a week after last year’s cycle, I decided to tackle the challenge myself. My good friend & Zufaller Valerie McTavish had just recently gifted me her pristine Pentax K1000 and I couldn’t wait to snap my first shot. I announced my little adventure on Twitter, invited everyone to send me themes, and I had the most amazing fun with Morten in tow.

After a grueling day on the streets of downtown Vancouver, I had what I thought were 12 beautifully captured interpretations of the first 12 themes that were sent to me that morning. Beaming with pride, I pranced over to the London Drugs PhotoLab at Granville & Georgia with an excited anticipation I had not experienced in quite some time. But I fell off my cloud with a painful thud when I started winding back the film and felt no tension whatsoever. I could feel the blood drain from my face when I came to the realization that something had gone horribly wrong. I still clutched at a nugget of hope as I handed my roll of film to Shirley behind the counter but lost my grip when we soon found out that the roll had never even advanced to its first frame. I blinked. In that second I saw my entire day fast-backward as if it had never happened. It didn’t matter that my brain had turned to mush from brainstorming or that my feet had grown two sizes from pounding the pavement all day because I had nothing to show for it. Someone had brutally punched ‘Delete’ and everything was gone. I blinked again.

Now nearly a year later I can still feel the invisible scar left by that deterring first experience. No one will ever accuse me of not knowing what it’s like because those memories are seared into my brain. The thrilling highs and the horrible lows. Oh yes, I was seasoned and if you lent me your ear you’d probably never get it back.

The Canon A-1 in use circa 1981

I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to commit myself to another full-day challenge. But then a couple of weeks ago I got an email from Christine Rondeau who had a gorgeous Canon A-1 kit to donate to 12×12 and I felt the pilot light ignite again. Look at this camera! Who could say no to this?! Its original owner (and Christine’s father) was kind enough to share a photo of himself at Belgium’s La Citadelle de Dinant circa 1981 with this historical gem, which has travelled all over Europe, South America, Australia, and on many, many camping trips. I was smitten.

On Canada Day, I loaded up all the gear and with great determination made my way back downtown for Round 2. Was I setting myself up for another KO? I put another call-out on Twitter, booted all my apprehensions to the curb and waited for another set of 12 themes. I hope you find some enjoyment in the results below!

Disclaimer: I am not by any means a photographer. Even in the old film days I just pointed and shot. You could aperture me and shutter speed me to death and my eyes would still be glazed over. I welcome any feedback or tips that you may have so feel free to start a discussion in the comments section!

If you want to experience the 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon yourself, make sure you are in front of a computer by 8pm THIS Wednesday July 6th. ONLY 60 tickets will be released and you’ll need fast fingers if you want to secure your spot in this year’s marathon.

I look forward to meeting everyone on Saturday August 6th, 2011!

Theme 01: Snarky assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 02: Monkeys assigned by @penguinstorm via Twitter

Theme 03: Racy assigned by @jonah_lewis via Twitter

Theme 04: Patriotic assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 05: Ouch assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 06: Red, White & Purple assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 07: Something Old assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 08: White Taxi Driver assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 09: Oh Hai assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 10: Urban Jungle assigned by @jrphotographybc via Twitter

Theme 11: Soft assigned by @365photos2011 via Twitter

Theme 12: Irreversible assigned by @AnnyChih via Twitter

Captured with the bonus frame on my 12EXP roll of film: Self Portrait

Keeping Them on a Hard Drive is Not the Answer

Posted by on September 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm.

12×12 committee member Lesley Tetlow Stefanski shares a story of her love for photography in this post. Do you want to share your story with the world? Drop us a line and we’ll feature it right here.

The shiny perforated waste basket seemed to glare at me from its shaded corner, as if it knew what I was about to toss into it. I tried to keep my eyes and mind on the task at hand but I couldn’t help but frequently glance at its silver mouth, hoping it wouldn’t suddenly come to life and gobble up my hand when I would eventually let go of the contents that I was gathering.

I sat on the floor surrounded by black wooden frames, faded by the sun and with nicks in different places from being used over time. I purchased the frames at different thrift stores to use as decor in my studio. Wanting a eclectic look, I sourced different styles and sizes to achieve the effect. But in the process I had found myself with a collection of photographs that I had removed from the frames beside me that I didn’t quite know what to do with.

The photos were all different – some black and white of girls in knee length skirts and high ponytails, a beautiful landscape of a barren desert, a couple sitting close together at a BBQ laughing into the lens. They were all beautiful and froze a piece of time that I wanted to jump into and experience myself.

Once my eyes and my imagination had had its fill of looking through the photographs, I quickly gathered them up and walked over to the corner concealed by the side table and let the photographs flitter into the bottom of the waste basket, quietly thanking whomever had left them in the frames for letting me have a peak into their world. It broke my heart a little to be tossing out the photographs, but I didn’t know what else to do with them.

The newly refinished frames are currently hanging in my studio space, now filled with images I’ve taken of my clients. I always smile at them whenever I pass, because I’m excited that I’ve captured a place in time of my clients happy and enjoying life and I hope someday, someone else will be wanting used frames and will pick mine and enjoy looking back into what life was like.

You can read more of Lesley’s musings and see more of her photos on her blog.

What is your favourite 35mm camera?

Posted by on December 2, 2009 at 9:53 pm.

eos1Next to guitarists I think photographers are the most gear-obsessed group of professionals in the world. Not so much because they always want the newest and greatest stuff (though that’s also true) but because they become inexplicably attached to gear that for any layman can appear old, broken and more akin to junk. And I’m not ashamed to admit I’m one of those crazy gear junkies.

I own 5 professional cameras, only one of which I regularly use and three of which are of the old school film variety – two 35mm and one medium format. Asked why I hang on to these antiquated relics I answer either that I might need them at some point or that they have some immesurable intrinsic value that makes them worth keeping. The truth is I hang on to them out of nostaligia more than anything. This is especially true of my massive Canon EOS-1.

The camera that went to war

eos1DetailJust so it’s clear right off the top: I never went to war myself. But my EOS-1 did. And it has the scars to prove it. Back in 1997 I was working at a photo store in Oslo, Norway and quickly becoming addicted to taking photos of pretty much everything. Back then working in a photo store with a developer was a bit like having your very own dark room. This was pre-digital days and normal people couldn’t go out and blast off a couple of hundred shots just to see how they would trun out. But I could. And I did. So much in fact that the shutter in my first real SLR – an EOS-600 (marketed in Canada as the original EOS Rebel I believe) – broke.

At the time I was totally obsessed with getting that perfect shot of a duck coming off a lake. Not an easy task at the best of times but a real challenge when you have a camera with a slow motor drive. So I decided I’d upgrade to something much faster. Hours of research led me to the Canon EOS-1 with the extra motor drive. A massive hunk of a camera but blazing fast at 9 frames per second. There were other options like the EOS-1N but they were way too expensive.I wanted something used.

For months I trawled the want ads in papers looking for an EOS-1 for sale with no luck. Then one day a friend told me that he’d seen an ad on the internet. It was for a “badly damaged EOS-1 with new backpiece straight from Canon” at a more than reasonable price. I immediately called the guy for an appointment.

Badly damaged is a relative term

The seller turned out to be a professional war photographer who had done a stint in Yugoslavia during the worst of the fighting there. At one point he had come under fire and, doing what any sane person would, thrown himself to the ground. Unfortunately his trusted EOS-1 came between his flac jacket and the pavement and took the brunt of the force of his fall. The lens was crushed and the backpiece broken. When his stint was over he brought the wrecked camera home and forgot about it. Then about a year later he needed funds for a new camera and decided to get the old one fixed. “It’s actually good as new” he said. “It’s been 100% overhauled by Canon. Lens rign realigned, new backpiece and all. It just looks like crap is all.” He pulled the camera out of his desk and I was immediately drawn to it. Not only was it the camera I wanted, but it had so many scars and scrapes on it telling its history. Needless to say I had to have it and bough it on the spot.

My heavy companion

For the next 8 years the smashed up Canon EOS-1 was my trusted companion pretty much any time I left the house. I must have shot well over 2000 frames on it in that period of time. My parents have cases of pictures in their loft right outside Oslo to prove it. I took it to Greece, Ireland, Scottland, Denmark and everywhere in between. It was heavy, hard to pack and left bruises on my hip. But the shots were amazing. Something about the heaviness made it easier to hold stable and I could do longer exposures without a tripod. And the super fast motor drive made rapid shooting a blast and film unloading and reloading a 30 second process.

But in 2004 the romance was over. I started shooting concerts in Vancouver and realized that film was an expensive and dying technology. Reluctantly I bought an EOS-10D to replace it – a camera that for all its technological advancements had none of the charm of my EOS-1. I actually tried to sell the old clunker at one point but my price – for sentimental reasons I later realized – was way too high and I had no buyers.

Today I’m happy we never parted ways.

What’s your favourite 35mm (or any other for that matter) camera? Do you have a story to tell? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send us your story via the contact page.