My dear friend Colin Campbell’s incredible theater piece GRIEF: A ONE MAN SHITSHOW opens TOMORROW in NYC. Deeply moving show about terrible loss and grief that’s alternately devastating and hilarious. Can’t recommend it more highly. Please do check it out and buy tickets today if you’re so inclined. griefaonemanshitshow.com/
Macro photography using vintage C-mount lenses and a Nikon FM
As a grad film student in the 1990s, I acquired a small collection of beautiful Kern-Paillard C-mount lenses, typically used on 16mm and 8mm Bolex cameras. I’ve held onto those lenses for almost 30 years in hopes of using them again some day, so I was thrilled to discover last month that Fotodiox makes an adapter to attach C-mount lenses to Nikon 35mm film cameras.
Since c-mount lenses were designed for a much smaller film gauge, they generally can’t focus to infinity on 35mm film cameras. In fact, my 10mm and 16mm C-mount lenses won’t focus on anything at all when attached to 35mm camera.
But on my Nikon FM, my 36mm and 75mm C-mount lenses have a narrow range in which they can focus on subjects just inches from front of the lens, which makes them perfect for specific kinds of macro photography.
I took the photo of the nickel below on Kodak TMax 400 film using a Nikon FM and a Kern-Paillard Macro-Switar H8 RX 36mm f1.4. The set up has limitations — as you can see, the center of the frame is sharp, but the edges go out of focus, and there’s some shadowy vignetting. But for this photo, I love that look. The vignetting and the focus fall-off give the photo a sense of movement that really appeals to me. I was also able to get incredibly close to the subject, close to a 1:1 ratio, meaning the size of the nickel on the actual film negative is almost the size of an actual nickel.
I also tested the lenses by attaching them to a Canon EOS Rebel T3i digital SLR — using the Fotodiox C-mount lens to Nikon adapter and a Nikon lens to Canon EF adapter. Again, the 16mm and 10mm lenses wouldn’t focus on anything. But the 36mm and 75mm made lovely macro pictures.
The first tree bud image below was taken with the Kern-Paillard Macro-Switar H8 RX 36mm f1.4. As with the nickel above, you can see the focus falling off as you move to the edges of the frame. But the effect is lovely and dreamy, and we’re incredibly close to the tree bud, almost a 1:1 ratio.
And here’s the same subject, but shot with a Kern-Paillard Yvar 75mm f2.8 C-mount lens.
The 75mm lens doesn’t magnify as much as the 36mm lens and doesn’t have the same focus fall-off issues. This feels like a much more standard macro photo look. It’s absolutely lovely, but it has a bit less quirky character than the 36mm lens.
I’ve had great results with more traditional macro photography tools for 35mm film, like the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 lens or a Hoya +4 filter attached to a standard 50mm f1.4 lens. But it’s a thrill to get beautiful images from these much older C-mount lenses that have no real business being attached to a 35mm camera in the first place. I can see myself continuing to use the 36mm lens in particular for certain kinds of images because its “flaws” produce such evocative, dreamy effects.
Made jook last night
Made jook last night. Incredibly soothing Korean rice porridge made with just seven ingredients – chicken, garlic, salt, rice, water, green onion, and a little crumbled kim.
Made everything a little better.
Wanna learn how to make it yourself? Grab the PDF of my cook book memoir COOKING WILL BREAK YOUR HEART!
2023-03-22 – DARTH VADER #32 in stores today!
DARTH VADER #32 hits comic book shops today, featuring writing by yours truly, interior line art by Ibraim Roberson, colors by Federico Blee, and letters by Joe Caramagna.
Here’s the official solicit:
HANDMAIDEN NO MORE? Few bonds in the galaxy are as strong as the sisterhood of the former handmaidens of Padmé Amidala. But all that was threatened when Sabé entered the service of Darth Vader, the man the handmaidens always believed was responsible for Padmé’s death. Now Dormé, Saché, Rabé and Eirtaé are determined to save Sabé—or stop her, no matter what. But the influence of the Dark Lord is strong and dangerous—and not just to Sabé. What path will the handmaidens choose? And how does all this play into Darth Vader’s true plans?
Check out the preview pages here and ask your local comics shop to hold a copy for you today!
Missed the three year anniversary of my COVID lockdown, which was March 13, 2020.
But today’s the three year anniversary of the day I started feeling COVID symptoms. I ended up having what passed for a mild case, but it was at the beginning of that first wave in New York City, and it was quietly terrifying every step of the way.
All the best and huge hearts to everyone who went through something similar or much worse. May we all stay healthy and safe.
2023-04-20 – Greg Pak at the Rhodes House Scholars’ Library online event – FREE!
I’m excited to report that I’ll be doing a live, FREE, virtual event for the Rhodes House’s Scholars’ Library Series on Thursday, April 20, at 12 noon ET, 5 pm BST.
We’ll be talking about comics and comics writing and it’ll be a blast.
Photo of the Day: Empire State Building and Bird
Minolta XE-7, Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f1.4, Kodak Tri-X 400, Arista Liquid Premium Film Developer.
This picture just makes me happy. I love the light gleaming on the Empire State and the more subtle light patterns on the building on the bottom right. I love the stark angles of the buildings and the awning in the foreground and the way they seem to guide the pigeon’s trajectory. I love the fact that I nailed the exposure and got the rich black of the awning on the upper left as well as the subtle textures of the cloudy sky.
I took several photos in a row from this general angle as a few pigeons circled in the sky. This was the keeper – the position of the bird made all the angles in the image make sense. I’m constantly dazzled by how much a single bird can improve a photograph in New York City. Thanks, pigeon!
This was my first time shooting a cheap, used Minolta XE-7 that I picked up recently from an auction site. I never shot Minoltas back in the day — I was an insufferable Canon snob who was very happy with an FTb and New F-1. But since I’ve gotten back into film photography over the last year, I’ve had a ton of fun trying out cheap, used cameras from other manufacturers.
The Minolta XE-7 is a big, solid camera that handles beautifully — the film advance in particular has a lovely, smooth feel. It’s a camera that’s just fun to hold. But it’s as heavy as my Canon New F-1 with a 50mm lens attached — which is a bit too heavy for a casual carry-everywhere-all-the-time camera. And I’m not quite sold on the manual metering system — a needle on the right of the viewfinder points to the recommended shutter speed while windows at the top of the viewfinder show the actual shutter speed and F-stop. So you have to move your eye from the needle to the window at the top to take note of the numbers and adjust the shutter speed. That’s better than cameras like the Canon EF and AE-1 that make you lower the camera from your eye to set the aperture. But it’s more confusing than match needle or LED systems that let you set your exposure quickly while looking at just one part of your viewfinder. The viewfinder is also noticeably darker than many of my other cameras — including the Minolta X-370.
Despite these drawbacks, I had fun with the XE-7 and love the photos I took with it. I’m sure a big part of that has to do with the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f1.4 lens I was testing. I’d heard great things about this lens and it’s living up to the hype, delivering sharp, punchy images and allowing for focusing as close as 1.5 feet.
I did have a brief issue with the mirror of the XE-7 getting stuck in the up position for a few frames. That may be due to weak batteries — the manual says “If the shutter is released when voltage is too low, no exposure will be made on the film, and the mirror will remain up to prevent viewing.” Or it may be due to old lubricant in the camera getting gummed up. I’ll have to get fresh batteries and see what I see.
2023-02-22 – AGENT STOKER Season Two debuts today – with episodes directed by Greg Pak!
I was lucky enough to direct the first three episodes of the second season of the paranormal thriller podcast AGENT STOKER, created by Brian Nelson and Chris Conner and co-produced and sound designed by Patrick Hogan — and I’m thrilled to report that it goes live today!
Please do check it out when it’s available at bleav.com/shows/agent-stoker/ or anywhere you download podcasts.
2023-02-22 – PLANET HULK WORLDBREAKER #4 in stores today!
PLANET HULK WORLDBREAKER #1 hits comic book stores today, written by Greg Pak with interior art by Manuel Garcia, colors by Chris Sotomayor, letters by Joe Caramagna, and cover by Carlo Pagulayan.
Here’s the solicit:
For hundreds of years, when cataclysm strikes, the people of Sakaar have desperately sought the help of the Green Scar. But what happens when you ask the Worldbreaker to help you unbreak the world? Our young heroine Tala is about to find out – and the answer strikes deep into the heart of Bruce Banner and the monster he still believes lies within.
Check out the lettered preview at MajorSpoilers and ask your local comics shop to hold a copy for you today!
DARTH VADER VOL 5 hits the NPD BookScan bestselling graphic novels list for January!
According to NPD BookScan, DARTH VADER VOL 5 was the 4th bestselling superhero graphic novel in January!
Huge love to interior artists Raffaele Ienco & Marco Castiello; colorist Carlos Lopez; letter Joe Caramagna; cover artists Paul Renaud & Rahzzah, editors Mark Paniccia, Mikey Basso, & Danny Khazem — and thanks so much to everyone who keeps buying this book! Means so much.