So, first things first, let's answer the questions. I can't look at the questions while I'm writing this because of the unique way blogger is designed. So...
Anonymous asks - 'is it just me or do you not get the contrast with film?'
Ok by no means am I an expert, but I feel like the mess of post-production tools available to most people nowadays essentially means that contrast is taken to extremes. Basically, people find the contrast slider and before they do anything else, they push that to the maximum setting. The result is that every single black and white image now has an incredible contrast, basically ranging from the whitest a screen can display through to the deepest blacks. We've been spoiled by the incredible ability to create drama in an image that didn't originally have any.
Having said that, the images that came out most contrasty with the film camera were the ones that were perfectly exposed, so I think there is a lot of light metering and/or good guesswork involved to ensuring the best images.
You absolutely can get extremely rich, extremely contrasty images with film, but you can't move a slider to make it happen so I think it's a lot rarer and based more upon the circumstances and photographer.
It's worth pointing out that I got them on the PC by using a 600dpi scanner attached to an all in one home office solution - as such, these scans are what can only be described as garbage. The only one that comes close to representing the images I hold in my hand, is the woman standing behind the robo-parrot. Even that one is roughly a nautical mile away from showing the clarity of the actual image. The scanner shows up imaginary scratches and blots that aren't present in the actual images; more frustratingly it made some of the images sepia! What in the what?
Anyway, onto the last question: The colour one is actually a picture I took in Japan to show that George Lucas sold out thirty years ago, and continues to sell out now. Yoda selling curry! Ol' George has made me use two exclamation marks in two paragraphs, but I feel it quite necessary. Yoda selling curry!
Ok so mum lent me her film camera (Ricoh Sr-10? It's a Ricoh something) while I was in England, and I started off with some colour film that grandad had storing in the fridge. Considering the film was a decade old, the pictures that came out were pretty darned good (quality, if not content wise). This got me wondering about shooting using black and white film, so I ordered 5 rolls off tinternet.
3 weeks (3 weeks, what the hell. No wonder this crap went out of fashion) later it arrived and I started yomping around with my film and digital SLR's in tow.
I immediately binned the first roll of film because I'm a complete moron - that left me with four rolls. I took the first around the geek convention with me, and a couple around the RSPB show along with Fowlmere. This one is from the show, and just nudges past my quality control limits in the sharpness department. I was clearly focussing on some distant unseeable gnat in the next county, but having a narrow aperture meant it came out kind of okay.
This one is from Fowlmere and I was interested to see if standard landscape photography is viable with black and white. You see cityscapes depicted in black and white all the time (the lack of colour gives the image, for lack of a better word, 'gritty,' realism) but rarely natural landscapes (past the advent of colour, anyway). If you look really carefully at the picture, there are a number of interesting lines moving from the left towards the middle - regarding the question about contrast I think this would have looked better were that central flowing line more pronounced.
That brighter line in the middle is actually a break in the clouds. As an image it's entirely unexceptional, but it really makes you think about how light will be represented with black and white because the result was entirely unexpected (for me).
At the geek convention there was a hall of steampunk, and this converted radio thing was one of the items for sale. It turns out that polished brass comes out rather nicely in black and white as the reflections work really well. I love the detail of the lightning power conductor/battery thing. The whole point of these things seems to be pointless excess, I'm pretty sure only two of those switches work, one to turn it (whatever it actually is) on, and one to change a parameter (maybe volume, maybe station, maybe something else?).
This is one of the pictures that I really like. The scan makes it looks like I dragged this negative through a thorn bush, had it X-rayed (which it was) and then cleaned the kitchen with it, but when you see the image in person it's actually very clean. There's way less hipstermatic noise and very little in the way of scratching. The only real blemish is on the neck, where those white blotches are apparent. I have no idea why the scanner picks all this nonsense up, but it did.
This is a copy of the digital one I took from before. I wanted to compare the digital to the analog. This picture is far less sharp and the ISO 400 film I used shows some grain (in the physical copy it's noticeable, if barely, in the digital image it looks like it was printed using a 4 foot brush and operated by a toddler). It's interesting that I like both images, but the subtle differences in sharpness and contrast really give a different 'feel,' (technical term) to the image. One is more inviting, whereas the other tends to be more matter-of-fact.
Yeah I don't really know what that means either, but it made sense in my head before I typed it out.
It made this picture sepia for some reason. Yeah I don't know why.
Argh I got too close! I swore to myself I wouldn't do it again. I was trying to get the back half in focus but instead managed to get only the salmon sashimi. Damnit. This was the sushi restaurant in London. The best Salmon sushi I've tasted to date, but also the worst tuna. You win some, you lose some.
This is probably my favourite picture. The woman in the background absolutely makes it.
It made this one sepia too. I had to shoot this one with a really slow shutter speed so it's not particularly sharp, but I like the effect even down to the hint of business you can see through the back window.
This was actually taken in the sushi restaurant. This scan is utter dogpants, but the physical image is really nice. The image is extremely simple and, wait for it, the contrast between the light top right quarter and the rest of the image along with the shape of the circular thingy, really make the image stand out.
I really like this one.
This is another one I particularly enjoy. It was an experiment to see whether you can successfully get entirely black and entirely white in one image with film. The answer is probably, but it turns out that having a light area entirely engulfed in dark areas makes for some quite interesting pictures.
This one is all about shapes. I just plopped mums camera on the floor, pointed it upwards and took a picture. That's also how I got the pictures of the mushrooms from before. Focus is absolutely critical with this one, because if the shapes aren't apparent, if they aren't crisp, the picture fails.
This is also one I really like just because this is a small park area for kids to play in. They always look melancholic at 1AM, which is a good time to go out and take pictures. Just keep an eye out for drug addicts.
These are onions. Just lots and lots of onions. If I were to shoot it again I'd turn them ninety degrees so that the onion bodies were the foreground, and that heap of stems/stalks would subsequently be in the background. I think it'd balance the image a bit better.
I absolutely love rain, but it's damned difficult to take a picture of. This was an experiment to see what raindrops look like in b/w. It turns out they show up really nicely on dark leaves, so the only question left is - how can I exploit that in another image?
It's a crying shame that this one didn't come out. What's happened is that I've under or over exposed this picture dramatically, meaning the people at the shop have had to either push it or pull it to make the image. In essence, I messed up and they tried to fix it, causing all the grain to stand out massively. It looks worse in this scan, but it is really bad in person too.
This is another one of my favourites because it came out so contrasty. I like how the lizard is blending in with the shadow, because that's what lizards do. The grain in the wood is also exceptionally fine, showing that the quality of the materials at my disposal was top-notch.
This is the ropes course in black and white. The sky is rather featureless, but the trees in the background at a bit of interest outside the obvious.
The climbing wall. This came out a bit dull in the scan, but there is more detail in the original. Apparently 600dpi isn't enough.
This was Jackies first car apparently. We came across it in a garden centre, so I took the rather typical shot of it looking along the length from the rear tail light.
This is a view from the farm, looking down towards one of the big lakes. It's all rather wonky and when I look at the level of the horizon it makes me feel a bit seasick.
This is one of those classic nothing shots. The flowers are kind of nice, but fully 2/3 of the frame is an indistinguishable mass of leaves that have no definite shape. I'm convinced there's a picture in there somewhere, I just haven't found it yet.
This is another one of that car (I forget what kind it is, a ford cortina something or other). Originally I tried to hint at the fact it was being restored, with the covering rags only being glimpsed at - but now I think the opposite tack would have made the pictures more interesting. By tucking it away and only showing a glimpse of the care, it might have been a more interesting shot. Then again the owner might have been pissed off if he'd have walked into the greenhouse and I was messing around with his car.
This enormous dragonfly was hovering around patrolling his territory. It's a shame you can barely see a blip in the picture, let alone detect the shape of a dragonfly. What I like about this picture is the background however, as it's a really nice fallen leag pattern. The leaves are under water, so they sit rather lightly on each other to give a depth you don't see when they're sitting on the ground. I've tried taking pictures of lots of small leaves layered on top of the each other, but it looks incredibly flat. Doing the same through water gives an interesting effect, I think.
This is another sepia one for no apparent reason. Apparently Jackie is quite hard to take pcitures of without her pulling a face, but here she is.
This one is all about reflections. Again, I really like the shapes but I do wonder if this picture, in colour, would stand out more.
This is really annoying because I hate dogs, and this dog is pretty stupid as they go. But the picture came out well, and as begrudging as I am, it can't be helped.
This one reminded me of those school pictures you get where one eye is half open and the other is half closed, with a sticker on it saying 'quality control.' Those pictures look awful, but this one still look like grandad is laughing.
You never see wildlife in black and white. Wildlife is all about colours and spectacle, but what happens when the wildlife you're observing is dull, like this particular bird. The only colour it sported was brown, and dull was the byword during its evolution. So why not black and white?
This is another quality control one. I only included it because of the face Ray is pulling. D'awww, cheeky chappy.
Grace flexing her biceps, looking stern.
Simon, probably looking at the stupid dog. Wilcoxes tend to take decent pictures. Good job guys!
Another sepia one. I honestly have no idea why.
It's not a duck. But in profile, it's pretty hard for me to guess what kind of bird it is. It probably flies.
There was obviously a tense conversation happening when I took these, as everyone (even Grace) had serious face syndrome.
And finally the last one! Wow.
I shot three rolls of film because I binned one before I started, then the camera packed up before I could use the last roll. In all, that was 108 pictures, of which you just looked at around 30. Of those 30 I would say around 20 are worthwhile.
Just under a 20% success rate! Not bad for a first foray into black and white, and a second into film.