2-Bath PMK Pyro: My Go-To B&W Developer

I have been developing my own films since 2004, B&W, E-6, C-41, I do them all. I started with a Job CPE-2 rotary processor and upgraded to a CPP-2 when I started shooting 4×5. Now I even develop my own 8×10 using Jobo Expert Drums. Since the developer is agitated continuously in a rotary processor, not all B&W developers are suitable to be used in such a setup. Also, a negative developed in a Jobo tends to have a higher contrast so some compensation methods must be used. The general recommendations when using a rotary processor are Use the developer’s […]

The Not Quite Indestructible Leica M9

While I was cleaning whatever is left of the camera, I made up fictional sales descriptions: “My conservative rating for this camera is near mint. A CLA will make this back into a formidable shooting machine.” “This M9 has slight sensor corrosion, but Leica should be able to replace it for free.” “The Summilux 35mm produces lovely images with great bokeh. Slight coating damage but that adds dreamy signatures to your images.” “The shutter curtain is rated for 200,000 actuations and is as precise as when it left the factory 12 years ago.” … Oh, so what happened? The long […]

Pinkham & Smith VQ IV vs. Cooke Portrait lens

If you find a 100 photographers on the street and shake them and ask: “What is the most famous portrait lens?”, they would probably call the police and charge you with not abiding by safe COVID protocols. There is that one person though, especially if you are in Tonopah, NV, and happen to meet one Jim Galli, he might say “Come on over to my truck”, and pull out half a dozen 100 years old portrait lenses under the front seat. { Disclaimer: I have never met Mr. Galli, but if I do, I full expect this scenario to play […]

Cooke Series II Lens

Note: this was originally published at Medium on Sept 1, 2018. I have since gotten, um, even more soft focus lens, see https://richardman.photo/2021/01/the-mother-of-all-portrait-lens-13-cooke-series-ii/ and https://richardman.photo/2020/04/ps-visual-quality-vs-ps945/ Dennis Taylor patented the first triplet in 1893 for the company “T. Cooke and Sons”. Its design eliminated most of the optical aberrations using just three elements. The patents eventually went to Taylor Taylor Hobson (no relation to Mr. Dennis Taylor). TTH, or Taylor Hobson Cooke lens, created some of the most beloved images from the 1920s to 1950s through the expert hands of Alfred Stieglitz and other studio photographers. The Cooke Triplet design lens […]

The (late-)Mother of All Portrait Lens, 13″ Cooke Series II

Earlier in 2020, before the Pandemic put us in a lock down, I came upon a rare soft focus portrait lens, the Pinkham & Smith Visual Quality IV Series 2. Made in the 1920s, these lenses are highly praised for the soft focus images they produce. The images are smooth, like butter, with glowing highlights: The P&S is a lens that I didn’t expect to ever come across, so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to find this lens. Well, imagine my even greater surprise when I come across this: This is the Cooke 13″ Series II soft […]

The Refined 8×10 Gibellini ACN810

A few years ago, I used the tagline “The Art of Engineering” and blogged about the Gibellini ACN45 4×5. Since then, I have purchased a lighter Gibellini TCN45 for when I need the portability. Gibellini also overhauled my ACN45, making it a practically new camera. Recently I took delivery of an ACN810 from Gibellini. This is their mid-range 8×10 model, sitting between the mostly 3-D printed Bellatrix 810 and their GP810 professional model. While nominally not their “pro” model, I was assured by Alessandro Gibellini that it will be able to handle my large barrel lens, including the 3+ lbs […]

Hong Kong, Chinese New Year 2014

These are some photos I took during my trip to Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year in 2014. Because I grew up in Hong Kong, I wasn’t looking for the tourist-attracting glitz or cyberpunk-type city celebrated in Blade Runner, or Pacific Rim. My deeply-buried memories of small religious temples and the narrow paths situated between worn houses came rushing back to me as I walked the streets that echoed with familiarity. Seeing people who try to make a living any way they can, and of course, all the food. Dried fish maw, marinated cuttlefish, roasted ducks hanging here and […]

Scanning ~400 rolls of XPan Films

The Hasselblad XPan continues to be a cult favorite. I love my Fuji TX-2 (XPan II) since gotten it in late 2000s. With its wide aspect ratio (a negative size of 24mmx64mm), one issue is that it’s not easy to make darkroom prints or make digital scans of the images. In fact, one might say that my scanner purchases had been to get the best out of this ridiculously good film format and camera. After settling on the Pakon F335 fast 35mm scanner and the Flextight 848 high quality scanner for the bulk of my work, plus an Epson V700 […]

Black Lives Matter Art Actions in SF Chinatown…

Asian Americans are generally not known to be political active. However, the growing Black Lives Matter movement is getting support even from this normally apolitical segment of our society. On June 23, 2020, the San Francisco Chinatown Art Center sponsored an “art actions” event. They provided paints and other materials, and a number of people showed up drawing murals on the ground of the Portsmouth Square. People of all races and ages came together and did some amazing arts. Almost everyone wore masks and observed physical distancing. Here’s a few more from the iPhone

The Art of Engineering, Part II

I wrote a post in October 2018 (originally written in 2016 on Medium site) on the Gibellini ACN45 4×5 large format camera. My ACN45 was one of the first cameras made by Alessandro Gibellini. It’s solid, works great, and just beautiful to look at and to use. It’s a bit heavy so when I was traveling, I usually took the lighter weight Chamonix F1 4×5. About a year and half ago, as the Chamonix F1 had some difficulties handling the large Cooke PS945 lens (which is the lens I use the most), I decided to sell the Chamonix and bought […]