My cat Tofu captured on 2 1/4 TriX with a Hasselblad 80mm lens. This is really overkill but my cats are all very special to me. So nothing but the best! They are family, after all.

Is Film Dead?

Pigeons rats with wings---Buffalo, New York. This photo was made when I was the summer intern in the photo dept at the Buffalo News, Western NY largest newspaper. The lines are telephone lines against a giant grain silo. I watched with fascination how the shadows on the curved surface resembled sheet music. As I got impatient for the birds to do something, I decided to clap loudly. Violá

Pigeons rats with wings—Buffalo, New York. This photo was made when I was the summer intern in the photo dept at the Buffalo News, Western NY largest newspaper. The lines are telephone lines against a giant grain silo. I watched with fascination how the shadows on the curved surface resembled sheet music. As I got impatient for the birds to do something, I decided to clap loudly. Violá!

I recently received a challenge from a FB buddy, Sehlem Sebik, whom I’ve never met, to post 5 black and white pictures, one-a-day.

I decided I’d dig out some old BW negatives instead of just converting what I have in my digital archives into grayscale.

This was a worthwhile challenge.

Mr. Lee a gregarious cobbler smiles at me in his narrow alleyway in Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tri X ISO 400 Canon F-1. 28mm lens.

Mr. Lee a gregarious cobbler smiles at me in his narrow alleyway in Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tri X ISO 400 Canon F-1. 28mm lens.

It gave me an opportunity to take stock of what I pointed my cameras at when I started my formal education at Kent State University.

If it isn’t obvious to you, I didn’t pay as close attention to lighting as I do now.

That’s only natural because back then I was strictly an available light photographer.

My cat Tofu captured on 2 1/4 TriX with a Hasselblad 80mm lens. This is really overkill but my cats are all very special to me. So nothing but the best! They are family, after all.

My cat Tofu captured on 2 1/4 TriX with a Hasselblad 80mm lens. This is really overkill but my cats are all very special to me. So nothing but the best! They are family, after all.

Not knowing how to light meant I couldn’t visualize a scene any other way.

Now that I know how to light, I can visualize my scene exactly how I want it because I decide where the highlights and shadows will be.

Exactly how hard or soft the shadows are, I decide by my light placement or the light modifiers I use.

Is Shooting Film Necessary?

Trek to Havasupai Indian Reservation--The mule train which carries campers gear to the campgrounds passed us by about 1/2 way through our 4 hour hike. Canon F-1 20 mm lens

Trek to Havasupai Indian Reservation–The mule train which carries campers gear to the campgrounds passed us by about 1/2 way through our 4 hour hike. Canon F-1 20 mm lens

To become a better photographer, is it necessary to shoot film?

I have no real easy answer to this other than to base my response on my own experience.

I believe it helps to shoot film at some point in a beginner’s learning curve.

The one major reason is the cost per frame of film.

The Hare Krishna temple in New Vrindaban in the early hours of the morning in West Virginia.

The Hare Krishna temple in New Vrindaban in the early hours of the morning in West Virginia.


Except for those instances when you expose the same frame multiple times intentionally, you have a finite number of shots you can make in a roll–36, 24 or 12.

This forces you to be more selective and thoughtful before you push the shutter button.

You don’t mindlessly fire away.

You take a moment to check your meter, your ISO, shutter speed and aperture settings then study each corner of your viewfinder before pushing the shutter button.

Also, because you’re never entirely sure you have the shot, you learn very quickly those specific instances when you have to shoot a lot.

You become very good at anticipating potentially problematic situations which you have little or no control so that you actually will shoot many, many frames or exposures during those critical times.

Analog-film

[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2120.jpg]550
The print development area left to right: wash, fixer, stop bath, paper developer. You work right to left towards the big washing basin which has running water (that's why a wet darkroom is expensive)
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2121.jpg]540
A timer which controls the time an enlarger stays on
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2122.jpg]540
A grain focuser. This allows you to peer right down to the grain of the film and focus the enlarger.
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2129.jpg]530
Another type of enlarger for timing film or paper development
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2132.jpg]500
Plastic envelopes for storing all your hard work your precious negatives.
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2157.jpg]480
A steel reel to load your exposed film for development. You shouldn't be able to see this at all. LOL because this step of loading film on the reels is done in complete darkness
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2160.jpg]480
After your exposed film is loaded in total darkness on the reel, it goes into this special tank which is light tight. You then pour in your chemistry, agitate and time
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_2166.jpg]480
The negative carrier houses your dry developed film in the enlarger
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_3265.jpg]470
Filters under the enlarging lens help you control the contrast you choose for your prints
[img src=http://peterphun.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/analog-film/thumbs/thumbs_img_3275.jpg]470
A changing bag which is light tight for loading your film on to the reels and then placing it into the light tight tank. This stage is always done in total darkness but by placing your exposed film, tank and reels inside, those afraid of the dark can work in daylight.

Peter Phun Photography

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Help save my favorite coffee house Back to the Grind

Professional belly dancer Hadia Habibi posing for pictures with me during a break in the basement of Back to the Grind coffee house.

Professional belly dancer Hadia Habibi posing for pictures with me during a break in the basement of Back to the Grind coffee house.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time taking my students on field trips around the city but nowhere do I feel most at home than at my friend Darren Conkerite’s  coffee house, Back to the Grind.

Hadia Habibi dances with a torch in the basement of Back to the Grind for this picture. I lit her with 2 Speedlites during this 10 second-exposure

Hadia Habibi dances with a torch in the basement of Back to the Grind for this picture. I lit her with 2 Speedlites during this 10 second-exposure

He’s been very generous to me. Continue reading

This 36" x 24" print fetched $400 at a silent auction during this year Mayor's Celebration of the Arts. I donate a piece of photography every year to help the Riverside Arts Council raise funds.

Advice to aspiring photographers

This 36" x 24" print fetched $400 at a silent auction during this year Mayor's Celebration of the Arts. I donate a piece of photography every year to help the Riverside Arts Council raise funds.

This 36″ x 24″ print fetched $400 at a silent auction during this past weekend Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts. I donate a piece of photography every year to help the Riverside Arts Council raise funds. Truly what is a piece of art worth? I feel my donation to this organization is important because it generates funding but it also gives me a good gauge pricing my work.

Recently I met with a graduate with a Visual Arts degree in Painting and Museum studies  from a local university.

She wanted to meet to discuss her photography.

Continue reading

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Belly dancer portraits at “Shimmy for Critters 2014″

Nancy, Brenda and Mary pose with "Burrito" during the Shimmy for Critters fundraiser at the Riverside Animal Shelter.

Nancy, Brenda and Mary pose with “Burrito” during the Shimmy for Critters fundraiser at the Riverside Animal Shelter.

A common mistake when selecting a photoshoot location is not accounting for 3 dimensions around your subjects.

If all you are photographing is one person for a headshot and not their full body, then you won’t need a lot of room.

But when you take on  3 or more people in a photo, then you will encounter all kinds of headaches. Continue reading

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Photo tips from a creative Southern California photographer