Brett: Caffenol 2

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My good friends from graduate school, Brett and Eric, were in town recently for a reunion of sorts. This was another opportunity to work with my Coffee With Friends project. Now that I got the whole washing soda/Borax issue worked out, I was hoping to get some nicer prints. Well, yes and no.

First of all,  due to timing, I couldn’t get Eric to sit for me. I’ll have to get him next time he’s around. Second of all, with the days being short and trying to pack a lot in (Brett insisted on getting a cheesesteak at Pat’s) I decided to try having him sit inside rather than outside.

The Harman Direct Positive paper is very low ISO. It’s also blue sensitive so you can handle it under a red safelight. What that also means is that it’s much harder to shoot under regular indoor lights.

I had Brett sit on the couch and set the camera up with one key light to his left. This was a homemade setup using a simple clamp light fixture from the local hardware store and a compact fluorescent bulb. He had a window to his right, which wasn’t letting in a lot of light. I also had overhead LED lights and a standard bulb in a table lamp to the front and right of him. So he was pretty much bathed in light. Even so, it was a long exposure.

I had read online that the paper was roughly ISO 3. Using my iPhone meter app, the suggested exposure was 6 seconds wide open at f6.8 for ISO 3. I did two exposures at that time and Brett was a real trooper at holding still. Then I shot one exposure at 9 seconds and one at 12 seconds. Can’t believe he managed to sit still for those. The guy is a professional.

The 2 prints at 6 seconds came out way too dark. The 9-second print was better, but not great. The 12-second print looked good, but there was another issue. The camera had moved on the tripod. The viewfinder was off because it’s not calibrated to this lens.

Lessons learned:

  • Get better lights
  • Don’t let the camera move on the tripod
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Meter the face

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