Creative Collective 009: 36 Frames – Fujifilm X100V – Kodachrome 64 Recipe – All Manual

Red Freightliner – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Kodachrome 64 – Frame 05

Back in the film days, most of the cameras I had were fully manual. No auto or semi-auto modes. No autofocus. Manual everything. In the digital age, modern cameras are pretty good at taking care of some tasks for you. You can afford to be a little lazy and still get the shot with ease. It’s a marvel of modern camera technology!

Nowadays I mostly shoot in Aperture-Priority (with Shutter and ISO set to A), or occasionally Shutter-Priority (with Aperture and ISO set to A). Only on rare occasions do I manually select shutter, aperture, and ISO. It’s not uncommon that I manually focus, especially if I’m using a vintage lens, but most of the time I’m allowing the camera to autofocus for me. It’s just easier. But sometimes easier isn’t better. It’s good to stay in photographic shape, and to challenge yourself from time-to-time.

I decided to challenge myself yesterday to this: shoot 36 frames (like a roll of film) with the same film simulation recipe, using manual everything. Manual aperture. Manual shutter. Manual ISO. Manual focus. The camera I chose was the Fujifilm X100V, and I loaded it with my Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe. I headed out right at sunrise.

This was my experience.

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Creative Collective 005: Are You A Better Photographer Than A Middle Schooler? — Photography Challenge

Jonathan capturing pictures for his middle school art project.

Do you remember the television gameshow hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy called Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? If not, the premise was pretty simple: answer questions from elementary school textbooks, with the most difficult questions taken from the fifth grade. Actual fifth grade students were on hand to offer help if the contestants should need it (and they always did). It turns out that most adults don’t remember the things they learned in elementary school—only two people ever won the million dollar grand prize. Those who lost had to admit on camera that they were not smarter than a fifth grader.

My 12-year-old son, Jon, is taking an art class in school, and one unit of this class is on photography. A project that he had to complete for this was to capture 10 photographs, each using a different and specific element of art. I let Jon use my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens attached. I did this same project right along side him, and I used a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached. Were my pictures going to be better than a middle schooler’s? How about you—are your pictures better than a middle schooler’s?

Let’s do this challenge together! There’s no prize, but it will be fun.

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The Ray Manley Photo Challenge

In 1939, Ray Manley, who was at the time a broke college student in northern Arizona, made a decision that would change the course of his life. Ray decided that he wanted to be published in Arizona Highways magazine, so he purchased 10 frames of Kodachrome. During that era, Kodachrome was not cheap, and Ray could barely afford those 10 frames. He had some prior experience shooting black-and-white film, but not much. Color photography was completely new to him, and he’d never used Kodachrome before. Still, Ray was determined, and he set out to make the most of those 10 exposures. Three of those Kodachromes would be printed on the cover of Arizona Highways during the 1940’s. And it was those three pictures that helped Ray launch a successful photography career, which included publication in National GeographicSaturday Evening PostPopular Science, as well as several books that featured his pictures.

The Ray Manley Challenge is to capture 10 exposures and only 10 exposures, attempting to get a minimum of three good pictures out of it. The intention of this is to train yourself to slow down and really think about what you are doing. It’s about being very deliberate and making every exposure count. Ray had only 10 exposures because that’s all he could afford, and it’s incredible what he did with it. You have unlimited exposures, yet, I know for myself, meaningful pictures are only captured sparingly. This photo challenge is a good way to refine your photography skills, and increase the odds of capturing something good.

I had considered using my Vintage Kodachrome recipe to really mimic what Ray was up against, but decided instead to use any settings that I felt would best fit the scene. I might try this again and use only Vintage Kodachrome, although I’m not really sure right now if I’ll do that. You can choose to do so for an added challenge, or use whatever settings you feel is best. It’s really up to you how you want to tackle this challenge, as the only real rule is that once you’ve made 10 exposures, you are done.

Here are my results:

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Frame 1: Mt Wolverine Reflected In Silver Lake – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.7 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 2: Flowing Creek – Brighton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.4 Seconds, f/11, ISO 320

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Frame 4: Big Cottonwood Creek – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 1/5, f/13, ISO 160

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Frame 5: Flowing River Monochrome – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 0.3 Seconds, f/11, ISO 160

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Frame 10: Hidden Falls – Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm f/2 – 2 Seconds, f/13, ISO 160

How did I do? I would say mediocre.

In the first exposure there’s that bright stump on the top-left that I really didn’t want to include in the frame. Unfortunately, there was a bridal photo shoot going on just out of the right side of the frame, and I had to pick between including people in the shot or the stump. I chose the stump. Otherwise, I like that picture. I felt like I did a good job of taking my time and creating the best picture that I could with what was there, and I think this is my second favorite frame from this challenge.

The second frame is a well executed photo of a rather bland scene. I feel that there probably wasn’t a better picture that I could have created at that spot, but perhaps I shouldn’t have made an image at all, and saved the exposure for a different location.

Frame three was identical to frame four other than I didn’t get one setting right, so I made another exposure. If I had taken my time just a little more I wouldn’t have made that mistake. Frame four is a good picture and probably my third favorite from this challenge.

The fifth frame is alright. I don’t think I composed it particularly well. I put the tripod with the camera on it in the river, which was a risk. At this point the light that I wanted was quickly disappearing, and I wasn’t taking my time like I should have been.

Exposures six, seven, eight and nine were all failures. I was going too fast. I should have stopped and really soaked in the scene and worried less about the disappearing good light and saved those frames for another time. This was the lesson that I needed to learn.

For the final frame, I made sure that I got it right. I slowed myself down and really thought about how I wanted the picture to look. I moved the tripod a couple of times to refine the composition. This is my favorite exposure of the 10 that I made.

On the drive home, just a little ways down the road from where I exposed the 10th frame, I saw what I thought would have been a great picture. I stopped the car and looked at the scene, but I left the camera in the bag. If I hadn’t wasted several of my exposures, I could have captured this place. I got back on the road and stuck with my restriction.

This project didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, but it was a great photographic exercise that proved to be valuable. I learned much. I intend to do it again soon, and I invite you to join me in completing the Ray Manley Photo Challenge.

The Film Simulation Challenge

 

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#filmsimulationchallenge

Back in the analog days, I would load film into the camera, and I was stuck with whatever was in the camera until the very last frame was exposed. The most common options were 12, 24 or 36 exposures, and frequently the roll of film that I loaded was either 24 or 36 exposures. Once the film was fully exposed, I could then change to another film if I wanted, or load another roll of the same. What I appreciate about this is that you know what you’re going to get, the strengths and weaknesses of the film, and your photographic vision is tuned into that. You look for picture opportunities that best fit what the film is good at.

With digital photography, it’s easy to make the exposure first and think about the end result later. If you don’t like how it looks one way, it’s simple to change it to another look. You might even post-process one frame to have several different aesthetics and decide later which version you like best. There’s nothing wrong with this technique, but I personally find it better to consider in advance the finished photograph, and do what you can to get as close as you can to that finished picture in-camera.

One way that you can practice this using your Fujifilm X camera is to load it with “film” and force yourself to capture a predetermined number of frames with that film before changing. The film in this case is a film simulation recipe, programming into your camera in advance the one that you want to use. You tell yourself that you’ll capture 24 or 36 exposures with those settings, then, when you’re done with those frames, consider if you want to use another “film” or shoot a second “roll” of the first one. I call this the Film Simulation Challenge.

Back when I shot a lot of film, I would consider three to five good pictures from one roll of film to be average. If I got more than five good pictures from 36 exposures, that was a good day for me. If I had less than three, it wasn’t a good day, unless one of those frames was especially good. The idea with the Film Simulation Challenge is that from each “roll” of “film” that you capture, you share three to five (or more if you had a good day) of your best photos from that roll. Share it on your blog, share it Facebook, share it on Instagram, share it somewhere. You can use the hashtag #filmsimulationchallenge if you’d like. You can link to Fuji X Weekly if you want (you certainly don’t have to), or post a link to it in the comments. The purpose of this is to practice photographic vision in a fun way, while also sharing the joy of shooting with Fujifilm X cameras.

You can consider yourself officially challenged. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do, which films you choose and the pictures that you create. Best of luck in this challenge! I’ll be doing the Film Simulation Challenge, too, and I’ll share the results periodically on this blog.