Paco Romero: Blog en-us (C) Paco Romero (Paco Romero) Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:47:00 GMT Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:47:00 GMT Paco Romero: Blog 106 120 Portraits with the Rolleiflex Last weekend I took the Rolleiflex, loaded with a roll of Ilford HP5 film, and rode the motorcycle to downtown McKinney, a favorite place to see people and make portraits.  I wanted to use only one roll of 12 exposures, and I was to photograph people around the main square, as well as some architecture and other things that caught my eye.  Here I share four portraits from this outing.


David and his kittyDavid and kitty Portrait of MartinMartin, a worker at the seed and feed store in McKinney TrumperThis Trump supporter will not give it up Social media isolationSocial media isolation  

(Paco Romero) Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:46:48 GMT
Portrait with my Rolleiflex 11/14/20 This afternoon I put the old Rolleiflex on a tripod and pointed it at myself.  It is rare that I have my self-portrait made, as I usually point my camera to others, but there is something intimate and special about doing a self-portrait.  It is that introspection, that search for what we want others to see in us that has fascinated artists for centuries.  Most painters have made self-portraits, and we are all familiar with famous ones from Rembrandt,  Durer, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and so many others.  I don't aspire to be in such wonderful company of artists, but here is a portrait of myself reading a book by the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, in a favorite corner by a window.  


Self-portrait in November 2020Self-portrait in November 2020Self-portrait in November 2020

(Paco Romero) Sun, 15 Nov 2020 04:18:03 GMT
Work on film over the summer My last entry in this blog was back in May and it is now mid November.  The good news is that I have photographed quite a bit over the last six months, but I haven't share here.  I was busy taking a couple of Photography and Cinema classes at Collin College, and then in October I started a new job and my time for photography decreased significantly.  Nevertheless, I feel good about images created over the last few months,  using both digital and film.

This post is about film.  I have used my three film camera, the Voigtlander, the Rolleiflex and my father's Olympus OM-1.  The Rollei was with Mark Hansen for service for most of the period and I only got it back last month.  I photographed mostly with the old folding Voigtlander Bessa.  I love the entire process of capturing on film and then processing the negatives using chemicals.  I need to be judicious with my shooting because I only have 8 exposures per roll (12 on the Rolleiflex) and I have to also be careful with my developing process.  It takes a lot of effort to bring 8 photos to life using the old folding camera, but it is very worth it.  Here are some images from the summer, including photos of the cameras I am using.



(Paco Romero) Thu, 12 Nov 2020 05:02:38 GMT
Motorcycling with a small camera I really enjoy strolling in a new place, approaching people, getting to know a little about them by asking questions and listening and then taking their portrait. More often than not people are happy to let me make their portrait. Today I rode my motorcycle to Denton in the beautiful sunny afternoon and made three portraits there.  I also took a few other pictures of the place.  The combination of riding the motorcycle and photographing is perfect for me, as it combines two of my passions.  This is something I plan to continue to do for as long as a I can.   Here is a gallery with images from this walk.



(Paco Romero) Tue, 19 May 2020 01:25:08 GMT
Greenville, Texas It gives me great pleasure to mix my love for photography with my love for motorcycling by going on a ride to an interesting place with my camera.  On May 11th I took my trusty Yamaha wr250r dual-sport motorcycle on the farm roads of North Texas to Greenville, a town that was big in the past and today remains as just a shadow of its former glorious self.  While there was absolutely nothing going on in this town on that afternoon, I had a wonderful time talking to a few people and photographing scenes from the streets.   In fact, I liked it so much that I plan to go back and photograph the town in more depth, including more portraits.  I took pictures with the Fuji XT-3 digital camera with the 35mm f2 lens and also the Voitgländer Bessa RF that I acquired recently.  The Fuji did a wonderful job using the Acros film simulation.  The film camera did great as well, but I failed to focus properly when taking portraits - more my fault than the camera's.  While this old camera has an excellent coupled rangefinder, it is still difficult to focus and even compose through the tiny rangefinder and viewfinder windows.  Oh well, I think it is a good idea to carry both the digital camera and the film camera to make sure the image is created, one way or another.   At the end of the day what really matters is the image.


(Paco Romero) Thu, 14 May 2020 15:14:37 GMT
Visual exploration Today I received a lens from Keh Camera, a $41 Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm f/3.5 macro in "Ugly" condition. The only thing ugly about the lens is that it came without caps and without the original case. Other than that, the lens is in great condition! Since I no longer have macro lenses I wanted one that I could use with my OM-1 film camera and also with the Fuji XT-3. This evening I tested the lens doing a visual exploration of a nautilus shell. Here is my work. The lens is fine and I just wanted to have it for very occasional use, as I am not much into macro photography. Happy with it! I created 15 images and then I created their negatives and put them all together.  I learned early in my photographic journey the importance of devoting time to visually exploring a subject, from different angles, possibly with different lighting, from different camera positions, etc.  This sample of 15 images of the same subject is an example of how visual exploration can yield significant visual richness from a subject.

(Paco Romero) Thu, 14 May 2020 14:57:00 GMT
Why I enjoy film and meaningful photography Today I photographed simple images at home with the new (to me) Voitglander Bessa.  I get a special delight out of using this old piece of mechanical machinery that someone, probably no longer living, used 70+ years ago.  It is all manual, clunky, unforgiving, with none of the sophistication and amazing image quality of modern digital camera.  It requires the photographer to pay attention as it only captures 8 images per roll of film, the film needs to be positioned from one frame to the next manually and precisely, the focus is through a tiny viewfinder by making two overlapping images overlap completely in a tiny window.  I will not go on.  It's old and difficult and beautiful.  And what I like the most about it is that it makes each photograph into a discovery - the camera doesn't gratify you with the instant feedback of the image on an LCD - it keeps it dark and unknown until the magic of developing the film brings the latent images to life.  It's all a bit alchemy and a bit mysterious.  It forces me to work slowly, with full attention and devotion, and it creates this feeling of expectation that doesn't let go until the film is finally out of the developing tank.  It's a truly enjoyable process with very imperfect results.   See a few of the images from today here below.


Voitglander Bessa RF camera for home images during the coronavirus crisis Voitglander Bessa RF camera for home images during the coronavirus crisis Voitglander Bessa RF camera for home images during the coronavirus crisis Voitglander Bessa RF camera for home images during the coronavirus crisis

And there is another observation I'd like to make.  I enjoy making pictures that are meaningful to me - of people, places and situations I enjoy and can relate to.  I have never been much into macro photography, birds,  infrared and other branches of photography that do not directly connect with my soul and my interests.  And the older I get the more I photograph for my own pleasure. 

(Paco Romero) Mon, 04 May 2020 03:17:54 GMT
Accidental art Accidental Art - today I exposed and developed an old roll of Fuji Acros 100 film that I found in a drawer. It turns out that the film had already been exposed about 10 years ago and never developed. So I now have random double exposures across frames, coming from film expired over 10 years ago. I am happy with the results, or let's say I know how to make lemonade with my lemons. Complete set here:

(Paco Romero) Tue, 28 Apr 2020 02:37:42 GMT
The Olympus OM-1 as my escape from isolation These are difficult times.  Staying home all day protecting ourselves and others from an invisible threat that kills brings about doubts, fears, depression.  It also takes away the desire and motivation to create new images.  While I am staying connected to photography by reading photography books, watching videos and documentaries and writing ideas, the act of making new images is really hard now.  The other day I ventured out of the home on my motorcycle with my father's 1973 Olympus OM-1 and a single roll of T-max 100 film.  I rode to historic downtown McKinney, a small town north of here, and then continued on East to the tiny town of Blue Ridge and its biker-friendly Cattleman's Cafe.  It was a wonderful feeling to be riding on a beautiful Spring day, pretending for a couple of hours that life was normal, even though everything was deserted and I didn't have any human contact.  Still, just being out helped me feel good - and that continued as I spent some time developing the film and scanning the negatives.  I plan to do it again so that I can keep my sanity.


(Paco Romero) Sat, 18 Apr 2020 14:54:52 GMT
In praise of the small camera Cameras range in price, capabilities, technology, manufacturer and several other factors.  The one I want to praise today is small size and portability.   For years now I have traveled with a small Fuji camera.  The model has changed over the years; I started with the original Fuji x100 camera, followed by the x100t, skipping one generation, and not I have the x100f.  I gave my x100t to my son Pablo when he went to school, after he took it to Japan on a trip.  Carrying a small camera when I travel is what works best for me.

I remember once when I took my big backpack with a big DSLR camera and several lenses on a trip - not only was it so heavy that carrying it around was impossible, but it constantly required me to choose the lens to be mounted on the camera body.  The experience was miserable.  Carrying a small but high quality compact APS-C camera completely changes my approach to travel photography.  I don't worry about images that I cannot capture because I don't have a 200mm focal length.  I simply accept the limitations of a fixed 35 mm equivalent focal length and make the best out of it.  I take good photos and never have to worry about changing lenses, dropping them or getting dust on the sensor.  The bag I use to carry the camera is tiny, with a pocket for a couple of extra batteries and SD cards and nothing more.

Furthermore, this small camera is beautiful with mechanical controls, sort of at the other end of the spectrum when compared to a cellphone camera. It has a tactile feel and a mechanical character that makes me want to pause and make photographs.  It comes with film simulations I love, like the legendary Fuji Acros black and white film.  Or Velvia, or Chrome.  It creates beautiful images!

A new model, the x100v, with a few good new features was announced recently and many Fuji x100 users are selling perfectly good x100t or x100f cameras to fund the purchase of the latest and greatest.  I took advantage of this opportunity to purchase by pre-owned x100f, with very little use and in great condition.  I am very happy with it, especially given that I paid less than half the price of a brand new x100v.   I will be posting images as I start using it regularly. 
Fujifilm x100f compact cameraFujifilm x100f compact camera

(Paco Romero) Sat, 29 Feb 2020 06:14:12 GMT
Meadows Museum with my Fuji x100f Fuji recently announced a replacement for the wonderful x100f compact camera.  This replacement, the x100v, promises sharper images and it comes with a tilting screen and an aluminum body.  There is a lot of excitment about this newly-announced camera, which will be available at stores at the end of February 2020 for the silver model and late in March for an all-black model.  And, as you may anticipate, the price for a used x100f is dropping fast, as photographers look for ways to fund their new x100v, which can be pre-ordered now.   It turns out that I gave my older x100t to my son when he left for college, and I really miss it.  I picked up a near-mint used x100f for less than half the price of a new x100v and I am happy.  Here are some pictures I took with it, using the Across b&w film simulation at the SMU Meadows Museum.  Love this little camera!


(Paco Romero) Tue, 18 Feb 2020 19:56:44 GMT
James McGinnis As part of my Sunday walk around downtown Grapevine I stopped by the old blacksmith shop by the railroad, which was closed.  But I saw someone working outside the shop, painting some pieces of wood.  Artist Jim McGinnis was working on this beautiful day and he was kind enough to let me make his portrait.  I picked the flag as the background, in an area of the dark shop illuminated with window light coming from camera left.  I took a couple of frames with the Rolleiflex and some shots with the x100f.  I like this one best because of his expression and how he is holding of the old camera.  Thank you, Jim!


Jim McGinnisJim McGinnis

(Paco Romero) Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:32:20 GMT
Walking around with the Rolleiflex Last Sunday I rode my motorcycle to the town of Grapevine, which is part of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  Grapevine has a quaint and historic downtown area with a train depot, some wineries and places to eat, and an active Main St on weekends, especially when the weather is nice.  I took my Rolleiflex with a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ASA and also my x100f digital camera.  The purpose of the trip was to get better acquainted with the Rolleiflex and shoot in full sun to make sure small exposures work correctly.  After I scanned the negatives I was blown away by the quality and detail of the images! I ordered five rolls of Ilford FP4 125 ASA film to try with a fine grain emulsion.  Here are some of the images from this outing.

(Paco Romero) Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:16:29 GMT
Cyanotypes Today at Prof. Fritzel-Shows' class of "Expressive Photography" I had my first ever exposure (pardon the pun :-)) to cyanotypes, produced by coating paper with a solution of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. This coating is sensitive to UV light and can be used to create a contact print with a negative. I used 4x6 "negatives" created on an Epson printer from digital files. These cyanotypes required exposures of more than 10 minutes. I enhanced the blue a little on the computer as a couple of then could have used a longer exposure. This is a lot of fun, as it is "wet" and experimental.


(Paco Romero) Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:34:44 GMT
My Rolleiflex and my father 1257781_frontMy 1954 Rolleiflex Automat K4

My father loved photography and passed that love to me early, when I would go into the bathroom, turned into darkroom, to witness the magic of images surfacing in the bath of developer.  He submitted a really incredible image of his to a competition and won a prize - a very nice Rolleiflex - in 1958.   This was the camera that he used to take my baby pictures - and I still have the negatives of those baby pictures... beautiful 6x6 negatives, mostly in excellent condition. 

scan047_webMy father with his Rolleiflex taking a selfie. My mother here was 20 and was pregnant with me This is the image my father won a prize with and how he received a Rolleiflex

Late last year I took a course on Film Photography and used the camera my father had when he did in 2002, which is now mine.  This 35mm Olympus OM-1 is gorgeous and the Zuiko lenses are wonderful, but I still had the lust of possessing a Rolleiflex.  Ebay offered me an array of choices and I picked up a circa-1954 Rolleiflex Automat in great condition! I replaced the mirror and the glass focusing glass and the camera works perfectly.  It even works with remote flashes.  I am happy with it and I plan to use it for special projects this year.  

Lexie photographed with my Rolleflex and studio flashes Lexie photographed with my Rolleflex and studio flashes

(Paco Romero) Tue, 04 Feb 2020 03:09:12 GMT