Roll 5

Always take the lens cap off…



My hike around Pu’u Huluhulu continued and was followed up with a trip to the visitor center area on near by Mauna Kea. With the clouds intermittently covering the valley floor I was worried that there would be no visibility up higher. Fortunately I was able to get just high enough to be above the clouds for the most part.

I encountered a problem while shooting this roll that I never had before when using an SLR, I left the lens cap on when I shot the first picture. With the Fujica GSW690ii once the shutter release has been pressed you have to advance the film before you can press the shutter release again. Because of this I may have lost the first picture of the roll.

This roll was taken on Fomapan Action 400 film.

Roll 5 Frame 1
Frame 1

The smooth paved road traveling through the rougher lava rock seemed like an interesting idea at the time. Looking at it now however, this picture doesn’t come together into anything really compelling.

Roll 5 Frame 2
Frame 2

I came across this small shrine as I was hiking. It was down a side trail that I had not gone down before. I made sure not to disturb anything, and I didn’t stay long. I took one picture and offered a few coins into the small jar that had a few coins already in it. I like the subject of this image, but if anything this image comes into the classic, “if the picture isn’t interesting enough you are not close enough.”

Roll 5 Frame 3
Frame 3

This is the first photo from up on Mauna Kea proper, up above 9,000 feet (2750 meters) and above the clouds that got in my earlier photos. The sun is bright and harsh up there, and the air is thinner. Some of these images, like this one, feel almost like pictures taken by a NASA rover on Mars.

Roll 5 Frame 4
Frame 4

I tried to wait for some clouds to come in here to make a more interesting background. Taking images on a slope like this always makes me think that I held the camera at an angle, but I’m pretty sure that this is actually level.

Roll 5 Frame 5
Frame 5

These photo’s have almost a Day for Night kind of feel to them. I think this image has a decent relationship between the foreground and background. It would have been nice if the trail on the far hill came a little closer toward the viewer.

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Frame 6

The clouds moved in and out the whole time I was up there. Clouds are surprisingly cold when they pass over you. I like this picture overall, though I would like to see it larger. There seems to be a good deal of detail here that would be interesting to see up close. The shadows on the hills are good and the clouds moving over the larger hill make an attractive element.

This was the first time I’ve used Fomapan film, and it will probably be the last time I buy it for this project. The Foma film is a good price, but it seems that there is slightly less film on the roll. Either that or when it’s loaded into my camera it doesn’t line up quite right and gets cut off before all 8 frames can fit. Whatever the case, I only got 6 frames on this roll. Even considering that I may have lost a frame when I left the lens cap on for the first picture I took that is still one image short. An upcoming roll that was also shot on Fomapan film also came out to only 6 images.

The more I look at these landscapes in black and white, the more I think that I should be using color.


Roll 4

A little black and white adventure.

This roll was taken up on Mauna Kea at about 6,500 feet (1,980 meters) above sea level on the Pu’u Huluhulu hiking trail. Pu’u Huluhulu is an old cinder cone, a remnant of Mauna Kea’s volcanic past, that rises up a few hundred feet above the valley floor between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The best feature of the hill is normally it’s views of both of those mountains, but the clouds rolled in and I had to look for other subjects.

For this roll I chose to use Kodak T-Max 400, an old favorite of mine.

Roll 4 Frame 1
Frame 1

Pu’u Huluhulu (meaning: hairy hill in Hawaiian) is mostly covered with native trees. This is in stark contrast to the land around it which is almost completely barren lava rock with the occasional tree and a little yellow grass.

The T-Max film has more contrast to it than I remember, but I enjoy the effect. The sky is a little blown out here, I may have metered the wrong area. I’m still getting used to using a light meter* that isn’t built in to the camera.

*By “light meter” I mean the free app I downloaded to my phone.

Roll 4 Frame 2
Frame 2

Cliff faces often look good in black and white. This bit of the exposed edge of the hill has some really nice contours and I’m glad the overcast day allowed me to see it like this. There are still some bits of the image that have a washed out gray look. I may need more practice in post processing to work on that. Or maybe the negative is too thin.

Roll 4 Frame 3
Frame 3

Normally this would be a nice view of Mauna Kea, but the clouds were sticking to the valley floor and blocking the shot. I do think the one clump of trees across the valley is a decent element however.

Roll 4 Frame 4
Frame 4

This image is too similar to the last one. It can be so tempting to “try to get it just right” as it were. Once in a while I suppose it works, but when you are shooting 6×9 there really isn’t the film for it. I want to have more discipline when taking my photos in this respect. That being said, I do find this image slightly more compelling than Frame 3.

Roll 4 Frame 5
Frame 5

I like how in this shot the distant landscape is free of low hanging clouds, it was nice to have a hard horizon line. The area up here is very dry and desolate, and I like how the highway seems small as it moves through the old cinder cone hills. This is the first frame on this roll where a real sense of space comes through.

Roll 4 Frame 6
Frame 6

I like the silhouette of the tree against the clouds, but that is about the only element that really works for me in this image. It might be more interesting if I were to crop out some of the foreground.

Roll 4 Frame 7
Frame 7

The branches do a good job of framing the landscape in this image. I am a sucker for natural framing, even when there isn’t anything in particular being “framed” like here. There is a lot of detail in the branches and I wish I could see it more clearly. Unfortunately at a small size there is only so much that can be done.

Roll 4 Frame 8
Frame 8

The more I look at Frame 8 the more I like it. The complex detail of the trees and plants at the bottom of the image gives way to the calm sky in the upper third of the image. The one tree that is clearly outlined against the sky has a sort of a bonsai tree feel to it. I am not sure how I feel about the small group of leaves sticking into the upper left corner.

I wonder if some of these images would look better if printed out at a larger size. I think that there is a lot of small detail in the trees here that would benefit from being larger and easier to see. It could be that this is a real detriment to getting the lowest scanning option done. For now it will have to stay that way, higher quality scans are too expensive for me at the moment. Someday I will go through this project and have the better images scanned at a higher resolution and print them out.


Roll 3

Down the street again.

After Roll 1 didn’t quite come off the way I had hoped I tried shooting in town again, only this time much earlier. I didn’t realize just how harsh the light was by 9:30am last time, so  this time I started about half an hour after dawn when the town was still more or less empty. I like to be able to take photos with out too many cars parked in the way, and this morning was a perfect time to work.

This roll was shot on Fujicolor Pro 400H film.

Roll 3 Frame 1
Frame 1

I like this picture. I like the way the eye is drawn into the background by both the angle of the street and it’s buildings and also the natural vignetting from the low angle of the sun. The bike against the telephone pole is a nice element in the middle-ground as well. The depth of color in this image is what I imagine when I am taking pictures here, I really like how it came out on this film. This is probably my favorite image on this roll, a strong start.

Roll 3 Frame 2
Frame 2

I seem to have held the camera ever so slightly askew here. It’s a habit I’ve noticed I have fallen into from time to time. One of my hopes for this project is that by working more slowly and deliberately my in camera framing will improve.

Roll 3 Frame 3
Frame 3

Is the house crooked or is the street on a hill in this image? I don’t believe the street is anything but flat here, but I’ve never noticed that building to be at any strange angle either. I also wish I had not clipped of the very end of the corner of the roof. I do like that the ramp and the telephone pole on the right were wholly included. Chopping off items at the edge of the frame is another aspect of composition to work on.

Roll 3 Frame 4
Frame 4

I’ve wanted to try a few images in a more close-up fashion. The GSW690ii has a minimum focusing distance of about 1 meter, so micro photography is out. But this image was taken at about 1.5 meters and the foreground is perfectly sharp. There are a lot of interesting varieties of bananas in Hawai’i and I’m not sure what kind these are. They were tasty however.

I am glad that the camera is able to work this close to the subject. I bought it with the intent to use it for more landscape and architectural work, but it’s nice to have some flexibility. Some day I’ll have to try portraits.

Roll 3 Frame 5
Frame 5

The Theatre (I know how it’s spelled, read it on the building for yourself) is the main landmark in town. I like the look of the building, and it often has very dramatic lighting. This morning wasn’t quite the best, but I wanted to give it a try. Because of the position of the sun just out of the right side of the frame things here are a little washed out. What I really want to do is to take a picture of the building at night with a little fog and the front lights on. I’ll need a better tripod for that.

Roll 3 Frame 6
Frame 6

I like that this image has a sense of motion to it, despite everything in it being static. The power lines and the cross walk (if you continue the line) meet up in the upper right corner and expand outwards. I also like how the cross walk leads straight up to the pay phone. Honoka’a is kind of an old-time town, and pay phones are still a going thing here, phone book and all.

Roll 3 Frame 7
Frame 7

In this photo I wanted the foreground element of the sign to bring the viewer into the photo. On the one hand the photo works because the sign’s arrow points into the interior of the picture and everything is still in focus. The problem is that there isn’t all that much happening farther into the image. Still, I am glad to be able to experiment with the technical capabilities of the camera.

Roll 3 Frame 8
Frame 8

This was a little later in the day, up at Pu’u Huluhulu just off the Saddle road. The clouds moved in while I was up there and stuck around all afternoon. It’s not what I expected, but sometimes you just make the best of things. No dramatic images of Mauna Kea to be found that day. More of this area to come in the next post!

I really like how the color came out in this roll. The Fujicolor Action 400H isn’t a film I have used before but it did such a great job here that I will defiantly be ordering some more. There are so many aspects of Hawai’i that need to be in color, and finding a good film to use is one of my priorities. This film is a strong contender. Having the flexibility of the 400 ISO was also very helpful.

I think for now I have taken enough photos here in Honoka’a Town, and that in the future I will probably be moving out around the island more. The last image on this roll was taken up on the slopes of Mauna Kea, and the next few rolls will be form that hike. More coming soon.


Roll 2

Eight Frames from along Rt. 250 in Kohala.

This roll was taken along Rt. 250 in the north of Hawai’i Island. This is one of my favorite drives on the island, especially in the late afternoon. As the sun starts to set everything in the Kohala hills becomes covered in golden light. It’s like a dream land, like an endless summer. The one problem is that there are often no places to stop a car and take pictures. Some day when I get a bike I’ll ride over this way and take several rolls of film all at once. (But after I work-out some first, they are some serious hills for a novice biker.)

This roll was Kodak Portra 400. I had forgotten just how slow 100 speed film can be on all but the sunniest days, and even though this is a sunny place most days I’ll have to be careful when choosing to use slower film. 400 ISO film seems like a reasonable step up. With such large negatives the larger grain shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Roll 2 Frame 1
Frame 1

I finally found some places to safely pull over and work. The first image on this roll isn’t quite what I was hoping for however. The sun at this time of day can make some very dramatic landscapes, but it didn’t come through here. The land appears mostly flat despite the grass blowing in the wind, and the sky is not super engaging.

Roll 2 Frame 2
Frame 2

At the time when I took this image the road seemed like it would be an interesting element. I thought that it would help lead the viewers eyes into the distance toward the hills on the horizon. I suppose it does, but there are whole sections of this image that are dull and boring. The pieces do not add up to a whole.

Roll 2 Frame 3
Frame 3

The angle of the sun and the time of day in relation to the direction of this picture make it seem flat and uninteresting. I have to remember that the camera sees differently than my eyes.

Roll 2 Frame 4
Frame 4

Now this image has some more of the dramatic afternoon light that the Kohala hills so often exude. There is a little more shadow and highlight interplay and a better sense of depth.

Roll 2 Frame 5
Frame 5

Out of focus. It’s not a great picture, and being out of focus only detracts further. Using a rangefinder clearly takes practice. Also, standing in the middle of the road isn’t usually a great idea anyways.

Roll 2 Frame 6
Frame 6

Here we are getting somewhere. Hawai’i offers some beautiful huge sky some days. Being up in the mountains gives a new perspective on clouds by putting them directly in front of you, and the land here is so saturated with color if you get just the right sun.

Roll 2 Frame 7
Frame 7

I actually kind of like the road in this image. It manages to add to the composition with out overpowering it as happened in some of the earlier images on this roll. Even the power lines kind of work. They both draw your eye into the image. The tilted stop sign is a nice touch too.

Roll 2 Frame 8
Frame 8

The deep rich colors here make this my favorite image on this roll. The composition is pretty basic, but it works here I think. The atmospheric distortion is somewhat enhanced by the vog (volcanic fog, it’s a whole thing) but not too badly.

Not a bad roll over all, I can feel that color is going to be important in my work here. Hawai’i often just needs to be in color. When I lived in New York City I almost never used color, black & white just worked there. Also the color on this roll was over all better than on Roll 1. That roll had some “storage discrepancies” that probably effected it’s end result.

I also feel that using the 400 ISO film helped give me more options here. I’ll be trying various ISO’s in the future, plus I’ll have to get a new tripod. The $50.00 tripod that I have now just isn’t going to be able to support a camera of this size.

I think frame’s 7 & 8 are the best on this roll. They were also the latest images taken that day, so perhaps I need to wait for the sun to move into a more dramatic position before I begin shooting. When shooting film on a camera like this, patience is a virtue.


Roll 1

The first roll of film from the Eight Frames project.

The first roll to come out of a new camera is always very exciting. I was a little nervous about it, this is after all a camera that is over 25 years old and traveled across the ocean to get to me. Would it function properly? Will the images be in focus? Will I be paralyzed with the fear of making bad photos? But it seems that everything is working fine. Now that my first couple rolls of film have been processed and scanned I can start this project in earnest.

This first roll is Kodak Ektar 100, one of my favorite color films. I have to confess that this particular roll was not stored properly before use, and that in fact I had left it in the side pouch of a camera bag that I then left in the trunk of my car for several weeks. It gets rather hot and sunny here in Hawai’i, and it’s possible that the quality of this roll was thrown off just a bit. Overall though the colors don’t seem all that bad.

Roll 1 Frame 1
Frame 1

Seeing this image first made me worried that the heat had messed up my film more that I thought it would, but it was probably just the strong morning light coming in my direction.

Roll 1 Frame 2
Frame 2

The flooded skate park caught my eye as an interesting subject, but I chose too low of a shutter speed and got a blurry image. Also I noticed the white truck in the background too late…

Roll 1 Frame 3
Frame 3

So I broke my rule about not taking the same photo twice. They are only guidelines anyway. This image came out in focus and with out the truck driving by, so over all I am happier with it. There may have been better, more interesting, ways to photograph this subject however.

It rains quite a lot here, so I am sure I’ll get another chance at it if I really want to.

Roll 1 Frame 4
Frame 4

I like the effect that the wet road has in this image. I was a little worried that the trees and foreground would be completely blacked out, but I like the little detail that showed up on the film. I’m not sure why there is a black bar at the top of the image, maybe it was a scanning error? I haven’t seen it show up in any other images so far, I’ll just have to keep an eye out in the future.

Roll 1 Frame 5
Frame 5

This seemed like a good idea at the time, now it really doesn’t.

Roll 1 Frame 6
Frame 6

This is a good example of when a scene in front of you as a photographer seems like it would make a wonderful picture, but turns out not at all how you imagined it. It can be hard to remember that a camera doesn’t see the world in the same way your eye does, but in very bright or very dark situations it’s important to think about. By this point it was getting late in the morning and the sun was quite strong.

The small grave yards in the area where I live are very interesting subjects, but I want to make sure that I am not being disrespectful when I photograph them.

Roll 1 Frame 7
Frame 7

This small building is Seventh Day Adventist Church building. There are a lot of small churches scattered around Hawai’i Island, and I think that many would be good photographic subjects. They could be a coffee table book all on their own. Now that I am looking at this image, I wish I had gotten the door to be more in the center of the steps and porch.

Roll 1 Frame 8
Frame 8

Power lines are something that I feel detract from an image about 90% of the time, but here they might be OK. I wasn’t really thinking about the power lines when I made this image, I was just looking at the store fronts across the street. That is often the problem with power lines, you forget they are there until well after the you’ve clicked the shutter button. Oh well, it’s just something to try to be aware of in the future.

Over all I am happy with this roll. There aren’t any really stand out images, but this was something of a test roll. Now that I know the camera is in good working order and that the light meter app on my phone is at least in the ball park on it’s readings I can start photographing with more confidence. I’ve got several more rolls waiting to ship out today, and my second roll just needs a little Photoshop touch-up to be ready for posting.


In the beginning…

I may have borrowed that from somewhere.

Before I start posting my photos for this project I just wanted to write a short post explaining what this project is.

The Eight Frames project is my effort to become a better photographer through film photography. I have chosen to use a film camera because it forces me to slow down my process and to carefully consider everything I do. When I shoot digital I often move so fast that half the time I don’t even know what I am doing. My hope by using my new eBay purchase of a Fujica GSW690 120mm camera I will be able to analyse my shooting abilities and grow as an image maker.

Just to clarify, a Fujica GSW690 is a mechanical camera that takes rolls of 120mm film. It has a fixed 65mm lens that gives a nice wide angle image. This camera makes large negatives, 6x9cm, and therefor only fits 8 pictures per roll. That’s where the name of the project came form.

For this project I have set up a few rules to help confine my work a little and to push me in the direction I want to go.

  1. As much as possible, each roll of film will be shot in the same photo session with out spreading the eight frames out over several days.
  2. The rolls will be numbered in order, starting at 1 and counting up.
  3. Every roll will be shown in full and in order on the blog.
  4. Every image on the blog will be accompanied by some comment about that image.
  5. Each roll will also be commented on as a whole.
  6. There will only be one roll per post, new rolls will be posted as fast as is reasonably possible.
  7. The subject matter of the images is open.
  8. The same picture will not be taken twice in a row.
  9. These rules are best viewed as guidelines.