Kent Meister & Leica in the Southeast: Part 1

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours.” - Richard Bach

Kent Meister shot on Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 with Leica M7 using a Profoto B10 to light in Piedmond, AL.

Kent Meister shot on Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 with Leica M7 using a Profoto B10 to light in Piedmond, AL.

INTRO: As photographers, we’re charged to capture the real in the fading reality of life. With media telling us what is real and what is not, who’s to believe one over the other? Who are we in humanity if we can’t just say “fu*k it all” and explore America with unbiased eyes and appreciate the existence of a community as successful and beautiful as it sits?

STORY: Kent Meister and I explored several towns throughout Alabama and Georgia (little intro on that here). We originally meet during a John Keatly workshop in Seattle last year and have stayed in touch ever since. Both being fans of Leica rangefinders we instantly connected and chatted about street & portrait photography. My exploration of the southeast took off the tail end of ‘18 and into ‘19 as you can tell from my Instagram portfolio. Kent got in-touch with me a few weeks into the new year letting me know he would be in Atlanta for a show that he is in and would love to take a day to explore some rural Alabama / Georgia towns with me. I responded with an instant yes and a few weeks later, here we are!

There aren’t a lot of people in this world that I don’t have to work at engaging with. Kent’s demeanor is very similar to mine and an easy win to explore with. We build off of each others creative energy and was very refreshing.

Each one of these photos has a larger story to tell, especially the set of Kyler and his Vape below captured on Kodak Portra 400 in Centre, AL. Kyler is a bus boy in a Mexican restaurant. Kent and I got hungry late afternoon and saw this place. Questioning if we should eat Mexican in rural Alabama, we look at each other then evaluate how many cars are in the parking lot. It’s pretty full so we take the chance. More on that story below.

Here is Kent’s photo set from the exploration session. All photos in this set were captured on Leica M6 using Kodak Trix 400 & Kodak Portra 400 in, around, and between Rome, GA and Piedmont, AL.

The Story of Kyler

We just placed our order and Kyler comes up to us and asks if we’re photographers. We both respond “yes” and Kyler begins to get very interested and excited about that. He asks “Is there money in that? What’s the best way to make money at that? Portraits or landscapes?”. Kent and I look at each other thinking how to answer this. We answer with “Yes. It really depends on what you want to create.” But really in the back of our minds we’re thinking… we’re still figuring that out ourselves kid.

Kyler goes on to asking a few more questions and then Kent says “Well, when do you get off? If you’re free I’ll take a picture of you.” Kyler’s eyes light up!! He get’s pumped and says he goes on break in 10 minutes then goes back to work excited. I look at Kent and say “good call man. I never would have thought to ask for a portrait in this type scenario.” Kent responds with “well if he’s going to pick my brain and eat up my time I might as well get something out of it too.” Pure genius! And led to some amazing shots of Kyler smoking his vape in the back of the restaurant. “Whatcha got in their Kyler” Kent asks. “A little cookies and cream, dez nuts, and vanilla” Kyler responded. I’m literally holding back from busting out laughing. Kyler stated this vape concoction with so much confidence without a care in the world. I loved every minute of it.

Make sure to go check out Kent’s work on his site as well as Instagram. He has two grams I recommend you follow for a different perspective on both sides of his professional and personal work.


Kent Meister

Intagram

Website

When The Moment Presents Itself

Always at the Ready

It’s not everyday I get the chance to explore smaller corners of the Southeast, especially with pal Kent Meister.

Kent reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if I would be down to explore some small town’s in Alabama / Georgia while he was in town for a show in Atlanta… Um… yes please! Sometimes is a fun time exploring on your own, meditative and relaxing, but sometimes I want to experience these random occurrences with a pal. Pretty normal I believe and we did just that. Spent upwards of 12 hours traveling and shooting. More on that in future blog posts.

Onto this shot.

Kent and I were slow walking through Piedmont, AL. Nothing at the time was standing out, but we kept turning a few corners in the hope the photo of day would happen.

Wait… let me back up… Kent and I are both Leica fans and although Kent has both a baller M6 and M10 while I only have and M7 (I say “only” with pride ;) we shot primarily all film on this trip. It was great talking to Kent about my passion for film and how it’s made me into the photographer I am; as well as hearing his stories and life up in Brooklyn, NY.

Ok… onto the story. So we’re in Piedmont and this older man is following after what appears to be his grandson. They were pretty close but I really wanted the boy to hurry up ahead so I could capture this older gentlemen dressed in a style I couldn’t get enough of. I knew it when I saw him, this had to be captured.

Kent and I stand out pretty easily in the smaller town… two guys with cameras and suspiciously eyeballing the corners of sleeper town populace. This guy gave us no notice at all even though we were about 15 feet from him. His “grandson” takes off, Kent is talking to me about something that I can barely hold onto. I’m trying to anticipate if I can speed up just enough without making it obvious and get a frame. I speed up, so does Kent “hold up a sec” I whisper, frame the shot… “click” and walk away smiling. I felt it. This was going to be the shot of the day. And it is a favorite for sure, but when two photographers get together with the purpose of making every shot the shot of the day… each roll tends to present some great work.

Thanks for reading along. More to come on this days several adventures and I process them myself.

Portraits With Comedian Nate Bargatze

Sink or Swim

My two goals in 2018 were to be nationally recognized for a fine art photograph and to take a portrait of someone that’s nationally recognized. Kodak reached out last year and promoted this photograph to their community… checked that box. But I couldn’t close the deal on a portrait session with a celebrity or public figure.

Nate Bargatze has been a favorite comedian of mine for a few years now. I approached him last year during one of his trips to Huntsville, AL for a show at Stand Up Live. All seemed like it would work out for a quick portrait session in ‘18 but busy people stay busy and it fell through.

This year Nate just so happen to be rolling back through Stand Up Live around my wife’s birthday. Easy win to see Nate and nab a solid date night. I wasn’t even going to bring it up but I have people in my life that want me to be successful. My wife and her best friend set up a 4 way communication between me and Nate and before I knew it Nate and I were meeting for a quick photo session.

I have less than 24 hours to figure out how to pull this off that would be respectful of Nate’s time and give me the shots I wanted. I have Kodak Ektachrome loaded in the Lecia but did not want to shoot portraits with that. I wasn’t use to it yet and had only developed one roll prior. I wasn’t confident using that film stock for a portrait, yet. So instead of winding the roll early, I would just use the Canon ELAN for the portraits and load it up with Ilford HP5. I call my pal Kyle on the drive to the shoot and tell him my struggle and not wanting to waste the Ektachrome. Kyle immediately said “NO, you have a Leica. Shoot with the DAMN Leica”! So, I did just that! I shot a few portraits with the Ektachrome (which I love) and then loaded the HP5.

Behind the scenes captured by  Morgan Knight .

Behind the scenes captured by Morgan Knight.

I couldn’t be more amped on the results with the short amount of planning. The morning started out so freaking cold and I had no indoor location to shoot. I called the Hotel Nate was staying at to see if I could use a small section of a downstairs room for less than an hour… zero response, which wasn’t shocking but I had to try. So… next best option… the parking garage outside of the complex. Not creepy at all right… LOL! I accepted the challenge and since this was a completely personal shoot I went with it.

I get to the location about 45 minute early to set up and ask my pal Morgan Knight if she could make it out to assist. I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off is she wasn’t there. BIG round of applause for her being randomly available.

We get the light set then I walk over to the hotel to meet Nate. He’s super chill and understanding of the location situation. We walk back to the second level of the parking deck and start the session.

Checked my light settings for the iso100 Ektachrome and click away. I pull off about 4 frames then decide that was enough… time for HP5. Wind up the Ektachrome, hand that roll off to Morgan, she hands me the HP5. I load it quickly then change my light setting to match the iso400 change. All is set, I get Nate back into position, frame and CLICK… nothing coming out of the lights. I change my transmitter, reset the lights, then get Nate back into position… CLICK… NOTHING AGAIN! Nate’s now awkwardly silent and I’m going through my mental check list on what could be happening. Fortunately Morgan picks up on this and starts some simple dialog that helps break the tension (life saver!!). All appears to be working perfectly on the transmitter, my battery is fine on the Leica… then I look down at my shutter dial… it’s at 1/500, not the 1/50 it needs to be at…

Ok… back to shooting. I only click a total of 28 frames and do my best to make this experience as fun and quick as possible. I finish up and let Nate know he killed it; “That’s it? Wow, thanks for making that easy”, which made me feel proud that I accomplished what I set out to do.

All in all it was a great experience and made me exercise all my knowledge to date on portrait photography. I’m in love with the results but also feel like there’s more I could have captured. But I guess that’s the drive that keeps me going.

Thanks for following along. Make sure to check out Nate Bargatze’s new Netflix Special. Guaranteed laughs will happen.

Malibu SS on Ilford HP5

Roadside Attraction

I’m driving early in the morning. Sipping my coffee and on a backroad to Scottsboro, AL. It’s a bit foggy, my brain is a bit foggy, I look to my right and see this beautiful vehicle calling for me to stop and take photographs of it. My brain isn’t quite on yet and I pass shaking my head. I think to myself, this will be my afternoon snack.

I start my drive back to Huntsville, AL fingers crossed that this beauty is still stranded calling my name like a Siren to a Sailor. IT IS!!!

I pull off about a 100 yards down the road and slowly approach. Here is what I saw.

Malibu SS / Matt Pittman / Ilford HP5 / Leica M7 / North Alabama

Stephens Gap with Jeff Rose on Kodak Portra 400

Capturing the depths of Alabama on Kodak Portra 400

My pal Brenton Little introduced me to his long time friend Jeff Rose on Thursday Nov. 29th, three days before he would be passing through Woodville, AL and exploring Stephens Gap Cave. The cave is pretty treacherous and requires a waver to be signed and requests that no one visits alone. As you can see from the photos, the cave is absolutely stunning, but is wet and has a very deep hole that invites anyone to become a permanent member.

Jeff is an amazing landscape photographer and embarked on a road trip from Arkansas to Florida. He’d heard a bunch about what Alabama had to offer for landscapes and hit up quite a few amazing places, such as: Fall Creek Falls / Natural Bridge / Bankhead National Forest / Stephens Gap / Cloudland Canyon (GA) / High Falls / and more I don’t recall at the moment.

Fortunately for me, I got to tag along on the Stephens Gap section. I’ve only been there once before and shot it all digital. It was an amazing experience but when I heard Jeff needed a wingman I was all over it with my Canon ELAN 7 / 17mm-40mm lens / Kodak Portra 400 / Feisol Tournament Tripod.

It had rained for several days before the hike and I was super pumped to see the cave with a heavy waterfall. I was not disappointed. The waterfall created a fine mist that glistened like snow. It wasn’t enough to get use wet but enough to create an amazing scene to capture.

Matt Pittman / Jeff Rose / Stephens Gap Cave / Kodak Portra 400

Knights Inn / Kodak Ektachrome

Kodak Ektachrome and Home E6 Development

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I’m heading down to Seaside, FL for a few days at the beach to relax. It’s time to get some gas around Prattville, AL so I pull off at the next convenient pit stop. I’m pumping my gas when I look up and see a Knights Inn sign above the trees, then I catch a corner of the motel and see it looks like it’s been blow up. Normally a place like this would have a fence around it with no trespassing signs highly visible. This wasn’t the case at all.

I finish pumping my gas and drive over to find the Knights Inn open to walk right in.

I had my son with me and couldn’t really explore this destructed facility with him nor could I leave him in the car. Solution, drive around and pop out where I can to get a shot. Not ideal but a solid compromise to retain my good dad card.

The black and white shots are Ilford HP5 and captured in about a 5 minute window. Knowing I didn’t have much time, I set a location beacon on my phone to revisit this spot on the way back north.

The family vacation is finished and all three of us head back to Alabama. I preface the start of the trip with my wife, letting her know this spot is a must stop for me AND I have a fresh roll of Kodak Ektachrome to capture the scene with. She’s more than happy to give me 10 minutes. I laugh and prepare myself to shoot curiously and effectively. Well, my little pregame metal pep talk didn’t work. I slow walk the property in awe of it’s destructive state and wonder what the heck happened. I click less frames then when I had even less time the first round but soaked it in nonetheless.

Side Note: This is only the 3rd roll of slide film I’ve ever shot and I couldn’t be more pleased. It is, on the other hand, the first time I’ve home developed E6, and guess what… IT’S CAKE! Why on earth labs charge an exorbitant amount of money to develop E6 is beyond me. Film Photography Project hooked me up with the E6 chemistry, I mixed it, and started developing shortly after. It was magical, as all home developing is.

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Matt Pittman / Prattville, AL / Kodak Ektachrome / Ilford HP5 / Leica M7 / Zeiss ZM 35mm

Mexican Sunrise

Hot Bath in The Desert

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It was the last day on the trip and we were all exhausted from the long days in the hot desert heat and miles upon miles hiked. Kyle mentioned going to a hot springs in Big Bend and to be honest, I wasn’t interested in soaking in hot desert water; but fun fact about the success of our 20+ year relationship, it’s not all about me, fortunately.

Kyle, Brent and I get up early, yet again, and head out to the far corner of Big Bend. We stayed in Terlingua, TX which created about an hour or so drive to get anywhere in Big Bend. I believe this was the longest drive in which made the idea even less appetizing.

We’re up and on the road. The sun is starting to crest the vast landscape and beautiful morning light hits our face. Windows down and the dry desert air blowing through the car. The sense of nothingness is always present in the desert. It’s beautiful. Little to no cell service, only 35mm film to capture memories by, and great friends.

Soaking in the the landscape halfway in a meditative state we approach the hot springs. We grab our bags and hike in about a quarter of a mile. It was as if we went back in time. There’s little to no structure to the bath but it was built up at one time, like in 1909 by J.O. Langford. It really was like the original infinity pool/hot tub combo. Right outside of the hot bath is the Rio Grande and Mexico. The Rio Grande was shallow enough were we could’ve just walked right over and Brent and I actually tried, until we realized our feet were already beat up from our Santa Elena Canyon hike so we turned around pretty quick to soak in the VERY relaxing hot spring.

After soaking for a while all my exhausted attitude drifted away. It was refreshing and the perfect end to the trip. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything and it made me think… what else am I missing by giving into bad attitude? Just a little question I asked myself. I don’t know the answer but I do know that there are a lot of things in life I can not control, but I can control who I am in mind, body, and spirit. I should hold onto that fact more.

Can I Take Your Portrait?

Take & Give

There are a lot of amazing cameras out there to explore the streets with, but nothing comes close to shooting with a Leica rangefinder. Ever since I picked up my Leica M7 I’ve felt empowered to do what I’ve wanted to do for many years, take better street portraits. I’ve done this in the past with other cameras, but nothing as bold as I have since shooting with the M7.

As I was developing this batch of Kodak Portra 400, I was thinking about what’s changed in me; and the only thing I can come up with is using the right tool for the job. I believe that I am a better photographer because of the M7.

Now, before you judge me and label me as a fanboy, let’s break this down for a minute. What’s stealthier with the functional range of a Leica M7 for street? Nothing. I believe that fact paired with the general knowledge from the public of the brand and it’s value, along with the long history of amazing photographers that have used this tool has opened me up to be the photographer I want to be and capture the photos I want to capture instead of going home empty handed wishing I would have taken the shot.

I saw this very pale tattooed person in the alley behind the hustle of sidewalk traffic on Broadway in Nashville, TN. I passed him twice as I was going up and down the sidewalk looking for subjects. On my second pass I stopped after I passed him and said to myself “quit being a chump”. I turned around through the crowd and the conversation went like this:

Me: I like your work (pulling my hand across my face). Can I take your portrait?

Tattoo: Nodding gesture as he puffed out smoke from his cigarette.

Me: ‘Click’… (repositioned) One more ‘click’ (I smile) Thank you.

Looking back at it, I felt bad. The entire impromptu relationship was one sided. I approached him for approval and offered absolutely nothing in return whereas he offered everything. Is this how it is? I just take and give nothing back? This person will never see these portraits to enjoy or hate. I feel bad about that. I approached him, he deserves something in return.

“Matt, you take photos of people all the time without asking.”

Very true, and in that I feel like we are even in value, the unknowing know nothing and I take from a scene, not a person. For that I don’t feel bad, but for asking someone to specifically be open to me interrupting their day and be vulnerable is something completely different.

“Why are you telling us this?”

Great questions. I believe in balance and when things are unbalanced I’m thrown off. I’m probably not unique in that and want to share my story with you so you can be better prepared if/when similar scenarios come up in your life.

This is my story. I hope you enjoyed following along.

Matt Pittman / Leica M7 / Zeiss ZM 35mm 2.8 / Kodak Portra 400 / Nashville, TN

Analog Talk Podcast Photowalk / Nashville, TN

Rain or Shine… I’m All In.

The weather was on the verge of having the sky fall out all day and everyone was wondering if the Analog Talk Photowalk was still on. I’m pretty close to Nashville (where the photowalk was held & where Timothy Ditzler, 1/2 of Analog Talk Podcast, is located) and thought that if the walk was going to be with Timothy only then he’d probably reschedule. As soon as I saw that Chris (the other half) was flying out from L.A. then I knew it was on.

Borrowed raincoat in tow, I packed up my bag and head out to the meet up. I got there a little early to do some street lurking. I found a couple frames but nothing to write home about. About 5 minutes to 2pm (when it started) I walk back to the pedestrian bridge to see Timothy and Chris at the top looking around to meet everyone in the real world for the first time. Fun fact… this was actually the first time that Timothy and Chris had meet in person as well. I don’t know the back story on this collaboration yet, but I’m eager to find out more as I’m sure I’ll connect with Timothy again soon to lurk the streets on a day that’s not so filled with camera killing weather. I mean… I’ll die for a good photo, but don’t kill my camera.

OK… so I walk up and can feel the energy of excitement and the “I hope people show” nerves. Although Timothy and I had never meet… I felt right at home geeking out about camera shenanigans right off the bat. Chris was as sweet as she could be and had two baller Contax cameras swinging around like no big deal. She had a Contax G1 and T2. I’ve never shot either but they look like amazing compact machines.

We all hang out for about 45 minutes due to a location error, but it was good! We all chat and got acquainted with one another. AND then the coolest thing happened… Timothy and Chris started throwing Kodak film at us! I felt like a dog catching a frisbee. They gave out 3 rolls a piece: Kodak Trix 400 / Portra 400 / Ektar 100. NAILED IT!! Oh, and some Analog Talk pins.

Alright… the rain is picking up so we start moving through the street to a pub down the way. I forget the name. I honestly couldn’t care less about the Nashville scene minus the people. I love the people. Street for days. Actually, if I lived in Nashville I’d probably spend a good amount of time going up and down Broadway documenting “Old People That Look Lost”. That would entertain me for months.

We get to the pub, everyone gets settled in, chats a bit more, and then the raffle kicks off! I forget the exact things that were raffled off, but there were three rounds of some really fun stuff. I do remember a Polaroid camera and film, can’t remember the rest but it was good.

I captured the vibe as best as I could with my Leica M7, Zeiss ZM 35mm 2.8 & Rollei Flash, then had to head out, sadly.

If you haven’t checked out Analog Talk Podcast, I recommend you do! They have some great shows that will sure to inspire / entertain.

Thanks for reading along. Film shot: Ilford HP5 / Develper: Ilford Ilfotec HC

Matt Pittman / Analog Talk Podcast Photowalk / Nashville, TN / Leica M7 / Zeiss ZM 35mm / Ilford HP5 / Timothy Ditzler / Chris Bartolucci

The Comet / Ilford PanF 50

Intergalactic

I spend hours wondering the streets through neighborhoods, cities, country, etc. I don’t always end up with a great subject to spend a few frames on, most of the time I just get a good exercise in; but on this day in Nashville, TN I found a beautiful classic, the Mercury Comet.

I hope you enjoy.

Matt Pittman / Nashville, TN / Leica M7 / Zeiss 35mm / Ilford PanF 50

Exhausted

Take a Moment

Matt Pittman / Ilford Panf 50 / Fomapan 400 / Leica M7 / Nashville, TN / Huntsville, AL

Gene & His 1962 Chevrolet Impala

Always Be Ready

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When opportunities present themselves like rolling up on a Red Ace gas station in the back hills of the Alabama / Georgia border only to find an immaculate 1962 Chevy Impala with driver to match… you stop and make an effort to capture it well.

This is Mr. Gene Hickson. He bought this beautiful classic off the sales room floor back in ‘62. But let’s back up a moment…

Samuel Johnson and I had just finished shooting an elopement at a near by waterfall. It was stunning but took quite a bit out of the both of us as we had to dive into the canyon with gear in tow to capture this brilliantly personal moment of two people dedicating their lives to one another.

“Wait, Matt… you shoot weddings?!”

Nope. But this was a unique combo that I couldn’t say no too.

(back to the story)

On the drive out of Georgia back to BAMA, we’re both dehydrated and in need of some aqua. Passing all of the mainstream gas stations, I didn’t think I would be able to stop and get a drink but low and behold… we come over a small hill to find the Red Ace. Not only did we spot a fun looking gas station, we see this BALLER classic car that demanded us to stop.

We roll up, park, I grab my Leica, and hop out of the car like it’s Christmas morning. Samuel heads into the station, I approach Mr. Hickson and compliment his car in my most sincere tone. Gene says thank you and gets to pumping gas. Not letting it go I ask if I can take some photos of his beautiful car. Gene responds with, “sure, go for it”. After a few frames I ask Gene if I can take a photo of him standing next to his Impala. Gene responds with “Well heck, sure, what do I care”. It’s the best version of that answer and I still can’t believe how everything is playing out. Gene not only gets in front of his beautiful machine, he poses like he’s done this a million times. At this point I’m feeling the weight of his presence as if I’m now a part of this car and Gene’s story dating back to 1962. Gene looks slightly off camera… ‘click’. Gene didn’t ask what to do or sheepishly state “where do you want me? Do I look at you?”, he just stood there with a regal demeanor about him and waited for me to do my job. It was brilliant.

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Leica M7 | Zeiss ZM 35mm f2.8 | Kodak Portra 400 | Georgia

Fashion & Kodak Portra 400

Fashion With Mamiya m645 & Kodak Portra 400

Mamiya m645 / Kodak Portra 400 / Gucci

Mamiya m645 / Kodak Portra 400 / Puma Fenty

Mamiya m645 / Kodak Portra 400 / Gucci

Mamiya m645 / Kodak Portra 400 / Puma Fenty

Pushing limits with the Mamiya m645 1000s in direct sunlight with Kodak Portra 400. I couldn't be more in love with the results. I haven't had the best luck using Kodak Portra in the past but since I've picked up processing C-41 in house I gave it another go. It didn't let me down.

What Even Is 120?

It's big. It's detailed. I love it!

I recently picked up 15 rolls of 120 film for $30. Unexpired and some amazing film stock. Ten rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400 and five of Kodak Portra 400. I don't own a medium format camera but couldn't pass up this killer deal. Through the power of social media, I was able to acquire (on loan) a Mamiya m645 1000s with 80mm lens. In. LOVE!

After cleaning the camera thoroughly and hooking up a battery, away I went to shooting. The focus is a bit odd as in you have to eyeball it. I missed out on a couple properly focused portraits but 90% of everything worked out just dreamy. As you can see in the second image, there is a slight light leak that only effected two of the 30 frames I shot. Here are some of my top shots with Ms. Mattea Swegles.  

P.S. I've been a 35mm shooter for years. To shoot medium format in 6x4.5 is mesmerizing. The detail is out of this world.

click to enlarge

Meta:

  • Mamiya m645 1000s
  • Mamiya 80mm f/2.8
  • Kodak Tri-X 400
  • Processed by Archival Dev

Head In The Clouds With Kodak

"It's not about creating something that will make you money. It's about creating something people can't ignore." - John Keatley 

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400

Words I've taken to heart since last year during a portfolio review with John Keatley. Today this photo was chosen and featured by Kodak. Although I love all types of film, I hold no brand higher than Kodak. To have them reach out and recognize my work is a proud moment.

"Why do we care?"

Great question. I share this to hopefully encourage you to keep consistent and progressive. It's not in vain and nothing great is created without success and failure. Own your process and think outside Instagram. What have you printed lately? What are you creating for you? 

Story Behind The Shot:

This shot was taken on my flight out to Dallas, TX from Huntsville, AL to meet up with Kyle Steed and Brenton Clarke. It was the beginning of our desert get away that we all desperately needed as well vested husbands and fathers. It was time to get out of reach for a week. Well my adventure started with a hour and a half delay in my flight. Flying out of Huntsville is always a piece of cake. Never any security lines and the airport is international, surprisingly.  For those that are in the know, any small airport just means a connection flight about hour flight away, normally. Well, Dallas is only about an hour and fourth five minutes so sometimes I get lucky and nab a direct flight into Dallas, this round I did.

Brenton had gotten to Dallas from Arkansas earlier that morning so Kyle and Brent had the day to start the relaxation process while I was starving in the airport wishing I was already in the air. The plan was to meet up for dinner and celebrate the beginning of what was sure to be a memorable trip. No such luck. Little did I know that the delay in my flight was going to put me at the perfect time of day to capture some absolutely stunning cloud shots. But before we get to that...

Ok, the flight is delayed a few times, I'm ready to be in Dallas already, it's time to finally board, and away I go to my seat. I have a window seat on a plan that is not full. Most everyone is on board and right before the door shuts, a passenger from the back of the plane comes up and sits next to me saying that "he had a tight connection and needed to sit closer to the front of the plane". No problem on my end but the guy was somewhat of a douchebag. That's to be expected if he's super anxious and has another flight to get to his final destination. I'm sure I'd be a bit short too. 

The plane is small and Mr. D for short, is sitting nice and tight taking up the full arm rest. The plane doors shut and I look over to a seat one up and one over that has nobody in either seat. I look at Mr. D, then the seats, and shake my head. I have my Bessa R2a with Zeiss ZM 35mm in my lap loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400. I'm crunched next to the window and take in the landscape as it gets smaller and smaller. As we get to altitude the scenery gets quite dreamy. The clouds turn to cotton and the sun is cutting across them like a nicely lit portrait. Although Mr. D is still dominating MY row and I have to slightly maneuver my body to the left, elbows in with lens almost touching the window, I manage to not give an eff about Mr. D and soak in the heavenly scene that was itching for a frame. Camera up, focus dialed, soak it in... 'click'.

Knowing this shot was going to be something kept me satisfied the rest of the flight. What I didn't know at the time was that it was going to turn out this gorgeous. When I developed this roll and scanned it in, I saw this frame and audibly said "damn...", then onto the next frame.

As I shoot more film and know what frames are going to be next level and others that are just going to great memories, I've begun to accept that if only one frame comes out of a photo session then that session was more than worth it. Fortunately the majority of each roll I shoot turns out great, from my perspective, and why I keep coming back for more amazing analog shots. 

To sum this all up, I couldn't be more proud to have captured this special moment with Kodak Tri-X 400 in a time I desperately needed a break from civilization. To read more about one of the sections of the desert get away, head over to Desert Salvation. I hope you enjoy. 

Portraits on Lomography Color 100

More portraits. More new film stock. 

I've kept hearing about how good Lomography Color 100 and 400 are but never had the right project to work with them on. I pulled the trigger for some content I'm creating for Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, AL and couldn't be more pleased! This was all shot with Lomo Color 100 but I'm super eager to shoot Lomo Color 400 at 100 and process normally. I hear good things will come. Stay tuned for that.

The Film

Pros: It has a feel to it that fit perfectly with the vibe of the model (Ms. Chloe). Grain is great. Skin tones, amazing. Cost of the film AMAZINGER ($12.90 for 3 36 exposure rolls). 

Cons: Not really any. You'll see tonal changes image to image, but that's because those were shot outside on a somewhat cloudy day, so light changed. I also have Samuel Johnson assisting and would defuse a few shots. 

I've never really payed Lomography much attention becuase of the cheap plastic cameras they make. I figured the film they stocked was more for fun than professional work. I was wrong and have now used their color and black and white (Lady Grey 400). I'm hooked!

Meta:

  • Leica M7
  • Zeiss ZM 35mm
  • Lomography Color 100
  • Paul C. Buff Lighting
  • Scottsboro, AL

P.S. Home development for both B&W film and C-41 color film is absolutely a piece of cake to do. It is well worth your investment of the chemistry and scanner to start processing yourself. You have a blast doing it and be more proud of your work, owning the process from roll to scan. My next steps... enlarging. I can't wait.

Go to The Film Photography Project and start shopping around for all the items you need to get started! 

In the even't you just want to shoot and turn your film over to a new Huntsville, AL local lab for processing, look no further than Archival Dev. We'll take care of you. 

American Legion / Post 106

New film. New Places. 

I love moments when I'm driving and see a spot that demands my attention. This is American Legion | Post 106 in Georgia. I don't recall what backroad I took to find it on my way back from Chattanooga, TN, but it was an easy decision to stop and explore. I'd also recently decided to try out Lomography's Lady Grey 400. I'm definitely impressed with the film and will revisit using it down the road.  

Insider Scoop:

This was developed with Ilford's Ilfosol 3. "Matt, why would you use that crap"? Well, I'm still relatively new to the film developing game in house, and this was the most easily accessible developer to start with. It's extremely easy to use and give varying results. It works well with some BW film, not so much with others. If you're going to us Ilfosol 3, make sure to use slower films. I find that it doesn't have much room for higher grain films and the film will come out super grainy. Although I do love me some grain, I do not love me all the grain. 

Solution:

After researching some other developers like Kodak's HC-110 and Ilfords Ilfotec HC, I went with the Ilfotec HC. Matt Day recommended this developer with Ilfords HP5 I haven't shot HP5 in many moons so will see what I like and dislike about using this combo and will develop with Ilfotec HC on several other film stocks to see how it handles it. From what I can tell, Ilfotec HC and Kodak HC-110 are pretty similar. More on that as I develop more. 

Meta:

  • Leica M7
  • Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2.8
  • Lomography Lady Grey 
  • American Legion | Post 106

Portraits on Fuji Superia 400

Let's start out by celebrating in the fact that I've unlocked the power of color film development IN. HOME!! I can't be more excited about it and for the life of me understand what took me so damn long to do it. It's actually easier than black and white development in that I don't have to worry about development times. Development times are all the same for C-41 processing assuming I shoot the film at box speed. Big THANK YOU to the Film Photography Project for hosting a bad ass podcast and making home development so accessible. Much thanks!

Next step will be E-6, but let me celebrate C-41 for about 4 weeks and then tackle that. 

Ok... why are these portraits a big deal? I'll tell you. This is the first round of me using my newly acquired Leica M7 in studio. No, the M7 is not really a great studio camera since it only syncs at a staggery slow 1/50 of a second, BUT... for portraits it get the job done well. Is it my go to for film studio portraits? Ehh, not really, but I am in love with the results and working with the Leica name. It does feel dreamy for sure. 

As you can tell in these portraits, the color tone changes just a touch from one to the next. Not sure yet why that is. Could be the film, my developing, or something else I can't think of. It's not a bad change, just not consistent. If I really wanted too, I could color correct it a bit in post processing, but I'm in the film game to do that as little as possible. 

I hope you enjoy Ms. Lauren Cantrell's portrait set. I enjoyed taking them and developing AT HOME that very day.

Cheers to progression.

META:

  • Film: Fuji Superia 400
  • Camera: Leica M7
  • Lens: Zeiss ZM 35mm f2.8
  • Lighting: Paul C. Buff