I’ve wanted to recreate Blade Runner replicant eyes for a few years and have finally got around to it. I half-heartedly tried a couple of times in the past, buying the wrong things and setting up wrong. It turns out it was easier than I was thinking and I had the necessary materials lying around.
Although the original inspiration is a movie, my aim was to shoot photographs on film.
When we lived in Sydney I bought 3 Canon EOS film cameras for about £25. I still use the EOS 50E, I gave one to a photography assistant there and the last one I gave Becky to use. I gave her a roll of cheap film and a lend of ones of my lenses (probably the nifty fifty) and she shot a roll when we met up with my parents in Koh Samui, Thailand.
We both forgot all about it when we got back – and seeing as she hadn’t used the camera since – the roll was left in the camera, undeveloped. I finally found it when I was looking at the camera when going through equipment for a shoot.
With my home darkroom, it’s so easy to chuck an extra roll in with the rest and here are some of the results. I developed, scanned and coloured these, but Becky took them!
We visited Bangkok for a few days and then spent the majority of our time on Koh Samui. Thailand was a weird trip and I’m not in any rush to go back, but have some fond memories and glad I got to visit when we were living not too far away.
I took some photographs when we were there too, I posted one a while back.
I’ve been wanting to find a cheap, easy and fast way to capture (digitise) footage from my VHS and Hi-8 cameras into MacOS, so I could use them on projects. I found this generic video USB adapter that cost £7 and I’m actually pretty happy with it so far. Maybe there are more reliable or better quality options, but – for the price – this does exactly what I want.
At first I spent some time looking for drivers and software (it’s bundled with a CD but I don’t have a disc drive) but eventually found out that it’s plug and play and works fine – I just needed to know how to capture.
Quick Guide to Video Capture USB on MacOS
Turns out you can use Quicktime Player (other software will work too). If you open up QP and then hit Cancel (you don’t want to open other media just now). Then hit File > New Movie Recording.
After that, hit the down-arrow beside the record button and make sure to select USB 2.0 PC CAMERA and USB 2.0 MIC. On my first try I missed the audio and it recorded through my Macbook Pro mic. I spent a while fixing it in Final Cut before realising my error.
Once that’s done, hit the red record button (then play on your camera to capture something pre-recorded. Or go to record mode in your camera to film something live).
Finally, when you’re done recording, hit stop and make sure to save the video.
There’s lots of these available online – on eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and so on. Maybe others work differently, but I read that a lot of them use the same video capture chip.
I’m looking forward to more video making soon and will leave you with the first test I shot. The blue screen is a camera issue that I fixed after this shot but errors and issues are things I love to embrace and work with:
Feel free to leave comments or questions below and I’ll be happy to help out.
And now some life updates…
I had a great time in Belfast for Becky’s cousin’s wedding but I didn’t really take pictures. I stayed up late on the converted school we stayed in, looking at the stars. In the pitch dark, silent, middle-of-nowhere and listened to lots of Radiohead in preparation for Anima.
If you’ve not yet watched it, I’d recommend the PT Anderson-directed ANIMA on Netflix.
Becky and I went to Clissold Park to drink gin and soak up the sun at the weekend. Hopefully we’ll get to do that more this summer and have a BBQ with some of the fab veg from the local shop, like we did last year.
We’re off to Edinburgh this weekend for another wedding – our loves Adrienne and Eoin – hopefully I’ll take some pictures this time!
Since the demise and rebirth of Polaroid, one thing that has become increasingly difficult is the ability to test medium format film shots instantly on shoot. I’ve begun thinking about experimenting with shooting instant film on medium format cameras.
Lots of medium format cameras had Polaroid backs allowing you to swap from colour negative film to polaroid/instant, to show the client etc. the shot instantly.
The majority of these used peel-apart style film (Type 100). This is what I used when I first had a medium format camera with a Polaroid back. Not long after, the Polaroid version of this film was discontinued but fortunately Fuji were making their own version, the FP-100C. However, this was also discontinued a few years back and the second-hand supply is running low (and expensive) on eBay and elsewhere.
The solution for many photographers (other than having stocked up or paying through the nose for FP-100C now) is to use a tethered digital camera to test the shot, something I’ve done often.
However, I prefer the instant film solution as I am more fond of practical and tactile workflows. I think the digital often doesn’t do film results justice (in some situations it does, don’t get me wrong). And I also prefer to have something I can stick into my ongoing scrapbooks.
With all that said, I’ve been toying with ideas and researching interesting camera engineers and hobbyists, looking for practical solutions. I’m still a complete amateur and this is purely for my own interest and enjoyment, but I plan to record the results and post them up here as I make progress.
I hope to make solutions for shooting instant film on medium format cafor my Pentax cameras and possibly some more original instant contraptions – likely utilising Instax due to its low price and ubiquity.
Here are some interesting links and projects I’ve come across on the subject: