It took longer than I anticipated, but my darkroom upgrade is nearly complete and I can start printing again.
I replaced my compact enlarger because of its limitations with medium format: small print size, enforced cropping, and needing to cut negatives into strips of three.
I picked up a couple of enlargers for cheap on eBay and combined the working parts of both into this Omega D5-XL with a Super Chromega Dichroic II head and a 220 V Chromegatrol power supply/timer. I’ve blacked out a 6×9 negative holder with gaffer tape until I find a real 6×6 holder. It also has diffusion boxes for medium and large format and is capable up to 4×5. I need to work a bit on alignment and light sealing, but it’s a huge improvement.
This thing is a beast and incredibly solid. I had to lower my working table to fit it under the ceiling, shown here next to a Leica V35 (which isn’t that small) for comparison. There’s a 105 mm lens mounted, which is a little longer than the standard 80 mm for 6×6, but there’s so much room to go up that the longer focal length doesn’t seem to be an issue.
On to the reason for putting all this together:
This week’s subject is Burg Pfalzgrafenstein. It is a castle in the middle of the Rhine built in 1326-1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. It collected tolls from passing ships until 1867, making them stop by pulling up a huge chain in the river. “The Pfalz” was never conquered or destroyed.
Ignore the first three frames. (I’m still developing time testing; I need to increase by at least 25%.) There was some nice textured fog on the Rhine earlier in the morning, but unfortunately it was overcast at the castle so I got pretty flat skies.
I started off trying to get a river barge next to the castle to give it some scale and make it more dynamic, but the barges were so big that I couldn’t separate them properly. (I could have backed up some more, but then I’d be looking down into the Rolleiflex chimney while standing in the middle of the highway…)
I can see what I was trying to do with the boat tie-off in the foreground in frames 9 and 10, but for some reason I didn’t put the foreground in the obvious right place. I have no idea why I wasn’t paying attention to that.
So, I’ve gone with your basic “here’s a castle in the water”. I think a combination of a lower sun and better weather would have been better, but I like the reflection on the water. The print looks great in terms of detail for its size, but I really need to nail down my developing time and printing exposure to maximize the contrast silver halide is capable of.
Thanks for looking.