Pushing TMax 100

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Dena & Gabriel (Perth, Australia) F3 Tmax100 pushed 2 stops to ISO 400.

It was bound to happen and it finally did.  I picked up my Nikon F3 after a few months of shooting with my Leica and I loaded some TMax 100 but forgot to check the camera which was set for ISO 400.  That is a full two stops difference between the rated film ISO and how it was exposed.

I went to the internet for help in order to determine how best to push the film.  I was unable to change my developer which was ID-11 (at a 1:1 dilution).  This is what I had and I wanted to see if I could make it work.  I went to the Kodak site and saw that TMax100 could be pushed up to three stops but obviously, they only gave processing information for their own developer.  I looked at the difference between the development time for a properly exposed roll versus the processing time for a two stop push.

Sabrina Perth Australia 1024x683 Pushing TMax 100

Sabrina (Perth, Australia) F3 TMax100 pushed to ISO 400.

I then went to my iPhone and used the Massive Dev chart to see that the ordinary processing was recommended at 9min 30 sec.  By increasing it by the same percentage of the Kodak chart I developed it for 12min 30 sec.

The final product had about 20% more grain than normal but much better contrast.  All the images came out just fine including some macro shots that I took.

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Bark (Perth, Australia) F3 Tmax100: Pushed 2 stops to ISO 400.

So for those with a similar issue please see my development below.

  •   TMax 100 ISO accidentally exposed at ISO 400.
  •   To push two stops using ID-11 at a 1:1 dilution ratio (one part water one part developer)
  •   Processed at 12 minutes 30 seconds.  I added one extra minute of fixer time as well.

Individual milage may vary however this worked out to my liking.  In fact, I have decided to develop my TMax 100 for an extra 30seconds to increase the contrast a bit.  I just finished shooting another roll, at the right ISO this time, and will see how it comes out.


Film in a Digital Age

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Analog photography anyone?

As my film hobby grows I must face an interesting challenge which is how should we approach film in a digital age?

Before the 1990’s, when digital began being considered a viable alternative to film, anyone enjoying photography had a single choice…film.  This meant buying film, taking it to be processed or developing at home.  When you made a print it was either at the development shop or at home using your own darkroom.

This was a great time as we were all capturing images using chemistry, developing and printing using chemistry!  It was hands on, completely interactive and time consuming.  The Darkroom had mystical qualities and the equipment was expensive.  You could take classes, lease darkroom space and get all kinds of reading material to help perfect your craft.

People enjoyed getting their pictures taken and there was value in getting a beautiful print.  Capturing your memories on film, developing and making a print was an effort of love.  It was a recognizable gift that people would cherish for as long as they lived.  Pictures hung on walls to show off one’s family and friends.  People would stop, look at the pictures and comment on how small “Joey” was and what a great memory to have of his youth.

In todays world we use Facebook to share pictures that we take ourselves on a timeline.  Every cell phone has a camera and every computer has the capability to do more processing on an image than the most sophisticated of darkrooms.  Heck, even my iPhone can do more processing than any darkroom ever could.  I can add filters, crop and work out white balance, color and tint.

Can Analog work in the Digital Age?

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Can film work in a digital world?

So how to we enjoy film in a digital age?  Is there room for a darkroom in todays world of instant sharing?  The short answer is no.  The darkroom of old has become a niche hobby for those inclined to slow down and enjoy the analog process and really has no room in todays digital existence.  Gone are the days of hanging a gelatin print of a loved one on a wall.  Today we do not print pictures we just capture them in digital 1 and 0’s to upload and share them.

For those who believe this is a sad state of affairs I would have to disagree.  This is progress and we can either like it or not however it is impossible to stop.  The fact that I can share a picture of my kids taken 10 seconds before and share it with their grandparents a world away is PRICELESS.  I would not trade it for anything in the world.

But, for those who enjoy the “craft” of film it is possible to enjoy it in a digital world.  The obvious way is to completely divorce the film process from the digital world.  This means build a darkroom to make prints and hang them on your walls for your close friends to see.  Stay away from Facebook and all the benefits it brings you.  Sooner or later you will run out of wall space or friends.  What do you do then?

Hybrid Model:

Screen Shot 2015 08 30 at 11.12.06 AM Film in a Digital Age

I would suggest that the answer lays in a hybrid view of photography.  Film photography is fun, developing film is easy and making a print can be very rewarding.  All of this can link up very well with the digital age using a little imagination.  This is how I do it.

I shoot on 35mm, 6x6cm and (recently) 4x5in negatives.  I develop the film myself at home.  I use a Paterson development tank for the 35mm and 6x6cm and I am using trays to develop the 4x5in (waiting on some BTZS tubes which will help with this).  Once developed I scan them in using a cheap 35mm scanner (small files but VERY fast and simple) which allows me to scan an entire 36exposure roll in 5 minutes.  I can then do some minimal adjustments using lightroom (the small files do not give you the depth of data to do extreme work) and then post them on this site or on Facebook.

With this process I get the enjoyment of film but the file transfer simplicity of digital.  Great this works for 35mm how about 6x6cm?  Well here I do something a bit different in that I use my Nikon D800 to take a macro shot of the negative.  This is time consuming as a roll of 12 shots will take me about 15 minutes to “scan” properly.  This allows me to take a much larger file (with plenty of data depth to do fairly advanced processing) and edit it to my hearts content and then share digitally with friends and family.

You can also pick up a negative scanner which can get you the great quality scans needed for a true digital workflow.  I would suggest the Epson V700 or V800 as great choices.  I will be looking to pick one of these up by the end of the year to help alleviate the complication of setting up my Nikon D800 as well as simplifying the 4x5in negative capture.

Alright so in the above process I use a chemical process for picture taking and development but then switch to a digital workflow where the “darkroom” is on my laptop.  Easy, clean and fairly efficient.  The drawback is that I do not make a print.  Again, files are shared digitally and I never create an actual print.

Hybrid with Prints:

In comes my Epson R3000 which allows me to make some beautiful prints.  Sure the printer is expensive and the ink is even more so but I have control and have done some astonishing prints in very large formats.  If you look to the cost benefit of doing your own printing most people will be very disappointed.  This is not a cost savings exercise but rather a way to control the final output of your photography.

Oldschool Analog: 

 Film in a Digital Age

LPL Enlarger

I am also building my own analog darkroom.  I have been looking for something at the right price.  Buying new is cost prohibitive however the used market is a relative junk yard of crap mixed in with some nice gems.  Since people have been using darkrooms since the 1930’s you can find some real antiques which are no longer supported.  So the buyer must know what they are looking for before purchasing.

I suggest the following site for those of you working on this process James Ollinger’s website found HERE.  In it you will find a step by step explanation of each piece of equipment.  Read this site before buying anything as it will walk you through what is needed, recommended and has some great suggestions.

After some searching I managed to find someone wanting to sell off their darkroom very close to home.  It is an LPL 66 SII available in WA.  It appears to be in great shape and the right price and being a mere 20 minutes from home I save on postage.  In terms of cost I got it for under USD 100.  But I have been looking for six months to see what I could buy.  The disadvantage of eBay is that due to the size the postage can often times be more than the purchase price of an enlarger.

I will still need a few more things to complete the darkroom but this enlarger is coming with negative holders for 35mm and 6x6cm, a 50mm lens, a darkroom light, an easel and a baseboard.  So 85% of what I need at the right price.  With a little luck I will be able to purchase the remaining items at a good price.

Over time I will go into more detail in terms of how I make all this work.  My goal is to enjoy my digital photography just as much as my analog photography.  I will continue to work and develop my digital darkroom skills but I will also learn how to use a real darkroom.  I will fill my walls with hand made prints, as well as images out of my Epson printer.  I will also keep updating Facebook with images I captured on my cell phone.  What a wonderful time to be a photographer!


Port of Call: Budapest

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Budapesti (Budapest, Hungary): D800 24-70mm

A few weeks ago we returned from a three week trip to Budapest and Vienna.  It was a great opportunity to learn a little more about Europe and we took full advantage of it.  Unfortunately, there was a massive heat wave going across the continent which made it all but unbearable.  We discovered the public transportation system which reduced our walking a great deal, and this simple step alone helped make the vacation enjoyable.

As usual for my family, we spent a great deal of time trying the local food and I must admit that we were very impressed.  Not a single bad meal in three weeks!  Great for our vacation but awful for our waistline and wallet.  While expensive I believe it is impossible to get to know a country without understanding the food they like to eat!

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Budapest from Buda Pano (Budapest, Hungary)

On this vacation I kept my gear very simple with my Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.  It was a great deal to carry and I ended up buying a backpack to help carry it all in.  The heat was so intense that after a few minutes of carrying my messenger bag I was drenched in sweat.  With the backpack I was able to carry it a bit further without becoming soaked.

 Port of Call: Budapest

Gabriel Close Up (Budapest, Hungary); D800 24-70mm ISO 5000

The image above of Gabriel was captured inside a museum at ISO5000.  This trip I decided to use Auto-ISO a bit more.  This gives the camera the control over the ISO while I set the aperture.  It then tries to keep the shutter speed above a minimum to avoid camera shake.  I usually refrain from using it as it gives up too much control over the camera however I found it very useful in museums with varied lighting.  Instead of altering ISO constantly I could relax and pick my DOF and take the shot.

Overall this is a camera function I will use more often when the lighting changes often.  While the overall quality of the image might drop a little what I gain in terms of enjoyment makes up for it.




Go Large or Go Home

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Crown Graphic (Perth, Australia)

Film is a new hobby of mine which keeps growing.  My plan was to do a little 35mm photography just to get the hang of it.  Sort of an analog commercial in the middle of a digital movie.  35mm suddenly opened my eyes to the amazing cameras that are available which then took me to my love affair with my Hasselblad 6cm x 6cm.  I had this enormous negative which gave me the opportunity to capture all kinds of amazing detail.

Now I have just finished my first four shots out of my next adventure…large format photography!  I broke down and bought a Graflex Crown Grafic 4×5 camera.  That is 4 inches by 5 inches of detail capturing negative!  Oh the possibilities.

This camera got me thinking about film in general and how digital photographers approach it.  I am used to thinking, that the true geniuses of photography shot in film and that they were able to capture an amazing amount of detail using it.  As I got into 35mm film photography I began wondering why the grain on my pictures were so much more pronounced than the masters were able to create.  When I went to 6×6 (120 film) I realized that my grain was much smaller.  The obvious then hit me…the grain was the same size but the negative was so much larger that it helped make the grain look finer.

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Gabriel Out of Pool (Perth, Australia) F3, HP5+

So it was an issue of Go Large or Go Home!  The masters did not shoot 35mm (aside from war corespondents and street photographers which were known for their grainy images) they shot 8x10in or 4x5in and some even went down to 6x6cm.  The masters knew that they needed to capture detail and the larger the negative the more detail they could capture.

Hence, Ansel Adams climbed the Sierras carrying a monster of a camera and a few negatives to expose.  He emphasized the need to “visualize” the image…it is a necessity when you only have a few sheets of film to expose.  With the quick 35mm you can shoot a scene from different angles or exposures to make sure you had a keeper.

If you look at some of the masters talk of their work you can immediately see those that shot on 35mm and how their approach to photography completely differed from the “visualization” mantra.  Just look at the YouTube clip below.  Robert Doisneau walks you through his contact sheet.  You can see the number of images he shot in order to capture the image he really wanted.  This is not too dissimilar from todays digital photographer who shoots hundreds of shots to find the right one to post in Facebook.

0 Go Large or Go Home

This was not the “visualization” that Ansel so cherished.  But Ansel was carrying 30 lbs worth of camera gear up and down mountains.  He needed to make sure that each negative that was exposed would be something worth taking home.

To be clear I am not taking anything away from Robert Doisneau as he was a true master of his craft.  I am just highlighting that different equipment requires different approaches to photography.  The amazing detail of Ansel’s landscapes cannot possibly be captured on 35mm negatives so his approach had to adapt to his reality.

While this might seem obvious to many of you it is a new discovery for me.  Enjoy your weekend!

“So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams…

I left my pride and stepped inside a bar.” – Kris Kristofferson

 So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams...

Ice Cream (Budapest, Hungary): D800 24-70mm shot at 55mm, f/2.8, 1/200sec & ISO 450.

It has been a long while since I last posted. To be honest I needed a bit of a break, some perspective and a chance to chase some other interests.  I left photography go for a little while in order to refocus my energies and decide what I wanted to do next. Since discovering photography for myself in 2009 I have spent the vast majority of my “off” time studying and practicing nothing buy photography.  The problem is that I began asking myself “why”…

You see, my photography has always been a hobby and one which I derived great pleasure from however I understand my limitations and have no pretense of making it a profession.  The problem is that without a learning curve to overcome hobbies can become monotonous.  Photography was becoming a bit monotonous.  Sure there is plenty more to learn however it would take me into parts of photography I have little interest in.  For example complex digital manipulations using Photoshop is something I could learn but I have no interest in doing.  And so, in the depths of a rut filled with boredom, I decided to walk away from everything and decide what would be next.

After some time away I did indeed gain some perspective and I did try a few different interests and what I found was a need to balance.  It is possible to become so focused on a particular interest that other things fall to the wayside, ignored and un-pursued.  The artistic side of us suffers as we begin to lose balance.  So I have re-discovered past interests and in so doing, I have re-discovered my interest in photography.

So I will be posting again.  The picture above was from the latest family vacation to Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava.  All I took was my Nikon D800 for a much more simplified trip.  But I will expand on it over the next few posts….I will say that I learned some interesting photography hacks that I will gladly share…one of them is ideally suited to any trip to Europe.  I have also been playing with a new software package called Tonality Pro which I will be sharing with you soon.

 So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams...

Nestroyplatz (Vienna, Austria): D800 24-70mm shot at 24mm, f/2.8, 1/90sec & ISO 1600.

So remember it is all about perspective.


Camera Lenses Low Price Top Quality

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Leica M6 and Zeiss lens that was purchased on Ebay.

My adventures into the world of USED…

Film photographers have little choice these days but to dive into the used market.  Few companies make film cameras anymore and even those that do seem to be relying on brand recognition to drive their sales.  As I began discovering the joys of film I was forced to look into the used market to pick up the cameras I dreamed of owning.  The good news is that I found plenty to pick from but the bad news is that there is no second hand photography store anywhere near me.  And so it is that I was introduced into the world of Ebay.

Ebay is a scary place for those who are uninitiated.  We are taught to look to the internet with fear and trepidation.  We are not to share any information, we should question every piece of information we get from it and most importantly….we are to trust NO ONE! So how is it that we are expected to hand over personal information, organize payment for items that we cannot see based solely on the word of a faceless individual who is selling it?

To be fair it is not just Ebay or even the internet that causes us such concerns.  For how long has the phrase “buyer beware” been floating around…long before the internet that is for sure. You see we trust new items because the manufacturer stands behind it.  When it comes to used items we have no control over how it was used prior to arriving to our door.  And so we are indeed wary of everything we buy and everyone we buy it from.

People who deal in used goods work in the shadows of our society…consider the used car salesman, a profession who has seen more jokes written about it than any other aside from being a lawyer. So the used market and anyone who deals in it should remain a cautionary tale, unless it is the only way to purchase items for your hobby.

And so I carefully created an Ebay alias and put in my account information.  I began searching for a camera to buy and quickly found a nice Olympus OM-2.  The camera was interesting as I already owned my father’s OM-1 but the real reason the listing caught my eye is that it came with four wonderful lenses!  All this for a very respectable price and so I took the plunge and after a short bidding war was able to acquire my OM-2 with four lenses.

Then the package arrived I was surprised at how dusty the box was. Everything smelled of dust but fortunately it was a dry dust and not a scent of humidity.  The lenses, while dusty, appeared to be very clean.  No inside dust, fungus or scratches (called “cleaning marks” in the used camera world).  The camera seemed to be in great shape until I loaded film and then noticed that the exposure counter was not working.

I was disappointed, hurt and felt a little foolish. The seller had assured me it was in mint condition and from the outside appeared to be the case. I contacted the seller knowing full well that no returns were accepted and asked if he knew about this issue.  He replied, a small miracle in itself, and told me he did not and to enjoy my purchase…so long better luck next time.

And so I sat looking at my purchase with a heavy heart.  I went to bed thinking that this was the end of my Ebay purchase days. The next morning I wanted to catalog my failure and so I sat with everything I purchased, the partially working camera, the four lenses, the lens adapter (for Pen cameras) and the motorized winder. Just as I was beginning to get upset again I looked at the price I had paid…just over USD 200!

Forget the camera, adapter and winder the four excellent lenses were a bargain at USD 200! Zuiko glass is of amazing quality and the images I could capture with them would be fantastic! This began to make me feel a little better.  Enough to try my hand at Ebay for another purchase.

And so it was that a few weeks later I ordered a almost “mint” Nikon F3 but this time I made sure that there was a 14 day return policy.  Again I spent around USD 250 for a body only. When it came in I was shocked that it looked so new. Yes there was a little rub here or there but if I had pulled this from a box I would have sworn it was new.  I put it through the paces very quickly but amazingly found it to be…well….perfect.

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Nikon F3 purchased on Ebay (without the lens).

I then went on to my most ambitious purchase which was a Leica M6. Originally the seller would not take returns so I asked him if he was sure about this.  He indicated that if there was anything wrong with the camera he would take it back. He lived in a city that I often travel for work so I thought it was a safe bet.  If there was a problem I would be able to give him a visit.

The M6 came in and it was brand new.  Not a rub, scratch or wear pattern anywhere.  A couple of days later the lens arrived in the same phenomenal shape.  I quickly ran a roll of film through it and everything worked perfectly.  I tried different apertures, and shutter speeds and really tested the light meter.  All 36 images came our perfectly.  The little camera was working like a brand new swiss clock!

And so I have learned to read all the postings carefully, contact the sellers and inspect carefully upon receipt of the item but so far I have not been disappointed.  All this built up my confidence enough to try to attain the holy grail of photography…excellent glass for a low price.  But that is left for another post.

Hasselblad Style Shooting

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Taking Picture with a Hasselblad: Copyrights purchased from RF123. Photographed by “Cottonfioc”

A few posts ago I shared a realization that my Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) has a direct impact on my photography.  I shared a quote I had come across;

If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.

— Nobuyoshi Araki

The more I play with different cameras the more I come to realize the truth in these words.  I decided to pick up my Hasselblad 500CM yesterday as I had a half roll of film through it already from when I went to shoot the Perth Skyline at night.  I was excited to see what those frames held and I had been wanting to try this camera out with some flowers.

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Perth by Night (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 8omm shot with Tmax400

The Hasselblad 500CM is a medium format film camera which is rather large.  It was not really designed for field carry, although it is built like a tank.  No, the Hasselblad’s were made for studio shooting and the quality of the 6cm x 6cm negative is absolutely mind blowing.  After shooting with 35mm film the change over to 120 is shocking.  It is like my Nikon D800 in terms of detail pick up.

The size of the camera and the 12 exposures you get per roll means that every shot is carefully contemplated.  This is not a “pull out and fire” camera.  It is about as far from point and shoot as you can get before reaching the 4 x 5 monsters.  The sound of the shutter, which is the siren that first called me to this camera, is loud and forceful.

You cannot focus much closer than about a meter away.  It was built for some amazing portrait photography and with an 80mm lens it just cries out to be used for that purpose.  I have a picture of my son which I shot with this camera and I have printed it on A3 paper so it is massive.  The detail of every hair, gesture and shadow is brilliantly represented.

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Silver Flowers (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 80mm shot with Tmax400: D-76 developer.

So I pulled out the camera and with my six remaining exposures I went into our backyard to see about those flowers I had seen.  I love the symmetry of flowers and feel that, if properly captured, can be perfect on film.  The “Silver Flowers” picture above is a good example of what I am talking about.  There is a silver nature of the tonal range that is impossible to get any other way.  For some reason the larger format seems to capture it better than the 35mm I usually shoot with.

Another great thing about these shots is that I am very happy with how they were developed.  Getting 120 film into the development reels has been a headache for me and this is the first time that I did not lose any exposures in the process.  The development time was accidentally altered a little and I am thrilled with the results.

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Five Petal (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 80mm shot with Tmax400 and D-76 Developer.

I had looked up the development time and did not realize that I had looked up the 35mm times.  The difference is about 1 minute which means that these images were underdeveloped a little bit.  The result is MUCH smoother grain than I was expecting and reduced contrast.  The reduced contrast would be an issue if I was making my own darkroom prints but since I can bring these images into Photoshop I was able to increase the contrast a little getting the best of both worlds, smooth grain and good contrast.



A New Take on the Selfie

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Selfie (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

The selfie has become the epitome of self absorption.  Society laughs at it, cries over it and criticizes it.  But selfies have been around for a very long time.  You can see the self portraits of the master painters such as Rafael.  Are these self portraits not a selfie?

Should we look at selfies as an act of selfishness or is it a way for us to say to a busy world that we are here?  We matter.  We did something and here is proof!

A blog that I frequent was asking if we should take another look at the selfie.  Take something that matters just as the self portraits of the masters.  I decided to give this a try but think as I might the important things in my life are the people around me.  And that would not classify as a selfie.

So I decided to take my standard self portrait with my hobby…photography.  It was fun to shoot as it always is and as an added benefit the camera hides a bit of my face.  Photographers are never comfortable in front of a camera.  We belong behind it.  But that is not to say that selfies are bad.  Maybe we should start calling them self portraits.

A Common Perspective

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Gestures (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

There are common scenes that we see everyday.  We walk past something so many times that we no longer take notice.  Perhaps it is the way people interact with social technology, or the way people wait at the bus stop.

The common gesture that is repeated so many times that we no longer pause to contemplate.  There may be beauty in that gesture.  Grace.  Love.

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Clock (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

Or maybe it has nothing to do with people at all.  Maybe it is an object.  A chair, clock or statue.  It is there everyday and we really no longer notice it.  One day if it disappears we might notice it is gone.  We may think back at how much we liked it.  We will then continue our walk and think of it no more.

Maybe it is time to revisit those gestures, those objects that make our place our own.  A quick picture can keep it close to you even if it is no longer there.

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Take a Knee (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

Every Saturday I take my eldest son to play basketball at a local club a few minutes from our house.  He has grown to like the kids he plays with and has taught him some important lessons about sacrificing for your team.

At this weeks game I took my Leica and managed to capture some shots.  I must admit that the action, in game shots are not really the ones I liked.  I like the ones where you can see the team coming together, with the coach trying to keep them in the game.

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Mother’s Pain (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

The shot of the mother holding a bag of ice on her sons arm after he fell on it.  The kid really wanted to get back in the game but the pain did not let him.  I am not sure if the ice was really helping him or if it was the mothers understanding of his desire to continue playing.

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Coach Chat (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

It is a simple club basketball game but the emotions, friendships and exhaustion is just as real as any professional sport.