TIME MACHINES

TIME MACHINES



I may give more details here about my process of film scanning.


To be honest, I was not convinced at all of the efficiency of using a digital camera to scan films and negatives. As a former employee as drum scanner in a photo laboratory, I could not imagine that any other solution out of a proper scanner existed or would give qualitative results enough. If you ever used a Heidelberg Tango scanner, you might know what I’m talking about. The details, the sharpness and the dynamic range are truly amazing.


But, of course that kind of tool is over expensive and demanding, in terms of time, place and consumables.


So I was thinking to purchase a film dedicated scanner. But I was not convinced by the reviews I could read. Moreover, most of them were dedicated for 135 films. And I have a lot of 6x6 films, as it’s my favourite format.


So, I thought that I might give a try to the use of on of my digital cameras. It required only a small place and few investment. 


I started with my 135 films. I then purchased the Nikon ES-2, and an old 60mm AF-D macro. I mounted all this on and my old reliable D700. For a stable source of light, I have purchased a LED light tablet usually used for drawing.

It quite handy and easy to use, although the light seems a bit weak sometimes, depending on how my negatives/films are exposed.


For my medium format images, I have cut an opening in a thick black paper, in both 6x6 and 4,5x6 sizes, to avoid light leaks, and taped one side on the light table. I covered the whole with a small piece of glass, to prevent any film curve.


Equipped with a dust blower, I was ready to start my journey towards the past.


With a sense of order that would give Marie Kondo a heart attack, and after a recent moving, my films were a bit scattered in different cupboards, with or without contact sheets, in sleeves or in slides, positives, negatives, color, black and white… An archival nightmare. I was a bit too impatient to start and use my images, that I postponed any real sorting, classification or tidy-up.


To be totally honest, I was a bit disappointed with the first results. Mostly with the slides. But I could easily charge my crappy lenses of the time for the poor results (and I won’t give names !). But I regain some hope with my black and white 135 films.


As I had tethered my Nikon to Capture One Pro, I could control the outcome quite easily. I found it important not to use too much sharpness.


Things changed when I started to “scan” my medium format films. A slide of this size (I use 4,5x6 or 6x6) always gives me a sense of depth, of three dimensions, a very different feeling than with a 135 film. 

And shooting them did them justice. I rediscovered my images again. Sometimes I got disappointed to unveil some of their defects (a bad focusing most of the time). But, thanks to the Carl Zeiss lenses I used on my Rollei SL66, the grain was visible, even when using some 100 isos films (mostly the Fuji Provia 100), and it gives some organic matter that only analog photography can provide.


So, to conclude, I had a great pleasure to use this method, and it gave me the hope I needed to continue to use my analog cameras again.


So, my next move will be to buy more films, and get out to use them, when times are better !


TIME TRAVELING

TIME TRAVELING


Time traveling exists. It’s called photography.

I experienced this while, making the most of the confinement time, I decided to scan some of my old and sometimes forgotten negatives and slides… without a scanner.

I might come back with the technical details in another blog post. But, for now, I’d like to discuss about the impressions I felt.

I was suddenly propelled in the middle of the 90s, when I started to dive into photography more seriously than before. At that moment, in parallel to my literature studies, I started to work for a small newspaper (another subject I might develop later).

After the university, I could attend a prestigious photo school in Paris and then was hired by a photo lab where I worked at night.

So, I had the day for me. And I took profit of this time to shoot Paris.

And, boy, what a ride.

The city was much different then than when I left it 3 years ago.

And the photos I started to dig up showed this period. Or, to be more precise, it showed the way I saw it.

I consider myself as both an artist and an artisan, without ranking these two status, neither bragging about it. It’s just the way I feel it.

And if uncovering my old films revealed the frenzy I experienced at that time –I was shooting everything : portraits, architecture, events, demonstrations– a kind of artistic process and a pattern of thought appeared in the chaos.

I must say that my present me is very disappointed of how bad sometimes my photos were then, driving me in a state of despair about my skills as a photographer.

But, among all the trash appeared sometimes a long lost jewel. And in the process of choosing which image to scan, I started to gather one by one some raw gems almost unknown to myself.

It’s a very strange experience, almost like searching in the past of someone else.

But then I realized this person was me, and I did that. I took these shots. I was there, facing these people, jumping, crouching, running to get the best angle.

And all came back. The good and the ugly. The joys and the dark times.

We are all made of that. But we rarely have the opportunity to look back and travel in time to measure the distance traveled.

And photography allows just that.

Analog times are precious for this. No need to switch on any computer, smartphone, and dig in files and folders. It’s just there, under your eyes, on paper, on gelatin films.

People long time gone, younger versions of you and family, friends, strangers, everybody is there, looking at you.

If your memory is like mine, unable to remember why I just went to the kitchen, but able to recite without missing a beat a song of an advertisement of the 80s, this is priceless.

Time has no price. 

And you can time travel.

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