The over/under exposure and push/pull/XPRO theme covered in my first update of 2016 continues unabated and I must say, it’s been quite refreshing. I’ve found myself experimenting more than I usually do, and with the recent acquisition of some more Fomapan R100 black and white slide film and a 2x teleconverter, things are looking on the up and up in that respect.
Naturally, one can’t experiment all the time and I have to get back to some”proper” shooting at some point. With the tentative onset of Spring in my neck of the woods, I hope that this will start in the form of shooting some cherry blossom.
But! This post isn’t about the future, nor is it about new toys. I’m here to share a few frames from the rolls that made up weeks 06 to 09 of my 52 Rolls.
Here goes nothin’…
Week 06 2016 – Kodak Portra 400VC (120) – EI320
I spent much of 2015 rooting around eBay, Yahoo Auctions Japan and various dark corners of the Internet for a reasonably-priced source of this film stock and struck gold with half a dozen cold-stored rolls towards the end of the year. As is always the case with these things, I also managed to swap a roll or two as part of my ongoing #FILMSWAP concept at the same time.
Here are the results of my (second?) roll of the Portra 400VC in 120 format, which was shot at EI 320 on my Mamiya C330F TLR and late model Sekor 80/2.8 lens, then processed normally. I love the look of this film, especially its contrast and the way blues and greens are rendered.
It’s worth noting that the Mamiya C-series TLRs do a great job when used for macro/close-focus work. They have a bellow focus system matched only in length by the Rollei SL66 and thus don’t require the photographer to carry around extra bellows, or extension tubes. As a rule of thumb <80mm lenses need no parallax correction down to about 70-90cm from the subject but closer than that, the difference in the location/field of view between the viewing (top) and taking (bottom) lenses becomes an issue. Close-focusing at distances shorter than ~80cm also affects exposure due to the extension factor of the bellows. Parallax correction and exposure compensation…two problems for the price of one!
The C-series cleverly solves these issues through the use of a needle mounted on the underside of the focus screen. As you focus below the ~80cm mark, the needle appears at the top of the screen and moves down to show you where the top of the captured frame will be relative to the distance from the subject. Keep getting closer and it keeps moving down. At the same time, the needle also points to an exposure compensation factor engraved into the screen itself. This gives you values to multiply the exposure by – GENIUS! It is also possible to add an extra guide screen to the various waist-level and eye-level finders available for the series, which shows alternate compensation information for 55mm and 65mm lenses.
When shooting macro, all one need do is multiply the previously metered exposure values with the values shown on the focus screen — x1.5, x2, etc. — and then raise the camera vertically until the needle sits at the desired point for the top of the frame. Tripod attachments, which raise the height of their TLR respective to the location of the needle are available (Mamiya paramender) but can expensive, slow and fiddly.
For non-critical work (i.e. fun), I do it by hand. As long as a relatively small aperture is being used, the results are perfectly acceptable 90% of the time. You can see the third image below for an example shot at f/8 and 1/60 sec.
On to the images:
I hadn’t expected the sky to come out a mixture of pink and blue but I love the look. The blue areas were patches of lighter cloud.
Handheld close-focus shot of some spring flowers. I was positioned approximately 20cm from the buds and (as described above), composed, focused, altered my exposure, recomposed, lifted the camera and shot. Lovely subject separation and bokeh, even at f/8.
I’ll be honest, the background of this shot didn’t seem as bright to me when I took this shot but it came out a lovely shade of jade through scanning. I can see why so many people were sad to see this film go.
The final shot of the roll and one of my favorites. I’m drawn to run-down, crumbling and dank/dirty urban environments and happened to snap this shot of the rear of a storage shed which was no longer in possession of it’s front-facing wall.
Week 07 2016 –Ilford FP4+ (120) – EI200
On to week seven and it was time to take advantage of some much needed sunshine. The weather has been terrible of late, so it was nice to feel some sunlight on my skin, as opposed to simply trying to remember what it felt like.
This roll was Ilford FP4+, which I decided to push 2/3 of a stop to EI 200. I like pushed FP4+…a lot. It has a lovely grain to it and giving it a little push, or over development brings out beautiful contrast. The roll was shot on a 2000 series Hasselblad and Planar F 80/2.8 lens – by far the most used hunk of glass in my collection.
On to the images:
With the main building behind me (a small abandoned workshop), I captured an alternate and utterly pointless second entrance to the property — the main entrance is just out of frame to the right. As far as I could work out, there may have originally been another property next door but if so, it was rather expertly removed some decades ago.
I always find myself shooting up and into the light and it can make for difficult exposures. The method doesn’t always work but when it does (as I’d like to think so here), the results can be beautiful. It’s a great way to show off a film’s latitude – or lack of it.
This shot was taken towards the end of week 07, whereas the rest of the roll was shot at the beginning. What you see below is the result of a forgetful photographer thinking he was shooting slide film. I wanted to capture the yellow-orange buds and deep red-black stems of this shrub and whilst I was a little disappointed when I realised I had been shooting on a black and white film, I’m also incredibly pleased with the result. The Planar F lens really excels close up and wide open.
Still thinking I was shooting some pushed slide film, here’s a rather uncomfortably close perspective of a knobbly palm trunk.
Week 08 2016 – Agfa Precisa CT 100 (35mm) – EI100 + XPRO
Ah…Agfa Precisa. I love this film and I’m rather troubled to say that I’ve never had it developed normally. I cross processed my first roll and haven’t looked back. I love its gold and green tones, as well as the fact that it remains relatively sharp even when abused in E6 chemistry.
On to the images:
I Was shooting an area to the right of the frame when my better half got my attention and told me to look up. Apparently, this kitten had been staring at me inquisitively for a few moments, so I swung my camera up, made some cooing noises and snapped off two frames. I love how it’s markings mirror the tones of the scene behind it.
Unfortunately, the park in the shot below was closed for access but my trusty 90mm Tele-Elmarit didn’t let me down. Each of the frosted glass jars contained a tea light candle and people had written prayers and messages of hope on the outside. The entire park was filled with trees adorned with these jars as part of a public exhibition about love, unity and peace. A beautiful sight, especially at night. Sadly, I had to move on.
Walking through some back alleys, I spotted a ramshackle cat cafe – those places where you can sit down and have a drink, or bite to eat whilst being inundated with cats wanting your attention. It had sadly closed for business but I could still feel my allergies rising…
This final shot from the roll is the latest in a long line of experiments with isolation using slide film. Subjects are nearly always weathered poles, supports, or struts and mostly made of wood or metal. The older, flakier and rusty-er, the better!
Week 09 2016 – Kodak Tri-X 400 (35mm) – EI1600
I started ongoing and consistent experiments with combining overexposure and overdevelopment on black and white film last year and nearly every roll shot for the past six months has featured some variation on the theme. For this roll, I decided to go with something on the more vanilla side of the spectrum; a simple two stop push.
I’ve said it many times before, nothing pushes quite like Tri-X. Don’t get me wrong, I love pushing HP5+ and other ISO400 films but Tri-X takes this abuse and gives back dirty, contrasty goodness. I simply adore it (sorry, @andrewtonnphoto).
On to the images:
I thought this rusty old chain would provide a nice high contrast scene and would be perfect for the results of pushing this film. There’s almost no detail in the chain links and the light grey paint of the wall, along with its texture make for a frame I want to reach out and touch.
Spring is in the air and countless plants and trees are budding leaf and bloom. Considering how desolate the winter has felt this year, seeing fresh growth like this is a welcome reminder of the extended warmth that will hopefully be arriving in the coming months.
On to my favourite shot of the roll. I was framing something else when the young boy caught my eye in the edge of my viewfinder (one of the advantages of shooting a long-ish lens on a rangefinder. I quickly refocused and snapped off a single frame just as the truck was going by. I love the way the movement of the vehicle frames the child and his mother, and would like to think that he’s looking grumpy because he’d rather be going as fast as the truck behind him, rather than having a photo taken by a strange man.
I chose this final image for the contrasting tones, textures and glowing highlights. I’d switched to my Canon 50/1.5, an old Sonnar lens from the early 1950’s. Shot wide open, as it was in the image below, highlights and pretty much everything else, display a glowing, ethereal quality.
I’d take it over a Summi-something any day of the week.
And there we have it. Thanks for letting me share and thanks for taking the time to have a look through. This article was also cross posted over on EMULSIVE. Head on over to find a world of film photographer interviews, photography and strangely unnecessary film experiments.
As ever, keep shooting, folks.