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Tuesday, December 16

An old-fashioned look - but how?

The vintage look, which I've written about before here, can be quite elusive. Sometimes even the classic lenses with a traditional film, a yellow filter and appropriate processing still deliver an image that looks distinctly modern.

Then you get a shot like this taken with TMax 400 and a 35mm f2 AF-D lens on the Nikon F100 - all "modern" equipment/materials - and end up with something that I think has the olde world air about it. Strange.

I took it to finish the roll when I was on my way home the other day. I'm a sucker for wet fields, reflections and heavy skies. The wrapped bales looked a bit sad amongst the gloom - and the cows didn't look much happier, to be honest. Not quite as miserable as in the shot below I took about 20 years ago, mind you.

But back to the new pic. I think it shows that subject matter and lighting have probably the greatest say in the particular look of a photograph, whether it has the vintage vibe or not.

If you like that look then that's both good and bad. Good in that you can get it with any equipment but bad in so far as you have to wait for the right subject matter and weather and that's much harder than splashing the cash on an old Sonnar or whatever takes your fancy.


John Carter said...

I agree with your comments. One experiment that I did and still use; was to make a lens in LTM from an Instamatic 210. It is plastic and has that fifties Brownie look.

David M said...

A great image, but it won't do anything for the tourist trade. In fact I like both although I greatly prefer the printing of the top one.
I suspect that old-fashioned pictures were taken with old-fashioned film and this might have had more effect than the lenses. Lens design was already pretty good in the forties and fifties, and only anti-reflection coating is really new.
Within living memory, film had a much greater response to blue and a reduced response to red and yellow, so perhaps instead of a yellow filter, you should be using a blue one, to mimic the older film's response. It might work. They printed very much softer, to our eyes, in those days, too.

Herman Sheephouse said...

I think David is right in Grade choice Bruce - try printing some things at Grade 1 or even 0 and see what happens. I've found it to open up the greys nicely . . with a normally processed negative this can look very flat, but a combination of slightly underexposed/slightly more overdeveloped negative and printing on a soft grade yields a very nice vintage look.
Of course you can opt for uncoated lenses too, with a bit of strength in the development, that gives a vintage yet slightly modern look.
You're the Master Of Gloom btw!

Keith Tapscott said...

I have never understood the phrase 'Classic Look'. It mean nothing to me whatsoever.

It has more to do with the choice of paper than film type. By all means, experiment with different films like Foma, Adox, etc and even stock replenished ID11/D76 developers, but don't expect miracles, because the 'CLASSIC' look is very difficult to define and I get tired of reading about it.