It’s Octoberfest again

It’s Octoberfest again and so far I could avoid coming even close to Theresian Wiese. Next Saturday I’ll go in with a couple of friends, shoot some rolls of film and have a beer. Yes, only one.

Last year I went twice, took two cameras and all kind of film with me. The monochrome images were all taken with a Hassleblad 500C/M on Ilford HP5+ and Delta 400. All the color images were taken with a Pentax 645 starting with a Fuji NPH 400 followed by cross-processed Fuji Provia 400 and finally a roll cross-processed Kodak VS100.

Fuji NPH 400:

FUJI Provia 400:

Kodak VS100:


Fog and cows

The plan was to go to Spitzingsee, near Schliersee to hike up a little mountain, have some beer on top and make it back down. Saturday was supposed to be a sunny autumn day with temperature up to 20C. All I found were fog and rain. I shot a couple of frames with the cows as my models. One of the smaller cows licked my hand and I touched its smooth fury nose.

I walked a little bit around the lake. The rain stopped for a little while and came back again. I shot a couple of more frames catching the lake, the mountains with the fog hanging heavily in them. Back in Schliersee the sky cleared up a bit and I walked a bit more. around the lake here finishing the trip with a cup of coffee.

I developed the film, an Ilford HP5+, the next day by letting it sit in Caffenol C-L for 90min. As it turns out, HP5+ isn’t as boring as its reputation.The film base took on a brownish coffee stain but the contrast and sharpness are just fine. Maybe 80min developing time is also fine.

Here is the recipe for 1l water: washing soda 16g, Vitamin C 10g, Salt 1-2g, Instant coffee 40g


A different kind of decay

The Stalin statue in Budapest was erected in 1951 as a “present” of the Hungarian people for the soviet leaders seventieth birthday. But the life of the monument happened to be quite short: During the of the Hungarian October Revolution in 1956, the massive bronze statue was torn down and cut into pieces. The protest was suppressed by he soviet army but the statue was never re-erected since Stalin was dead and his policies were pretty much out of favor

Yet, you can still see Stalin’s feet at the Szobor “Memento” Park just outside Budapest.


However there is more to see at Budapest’s Memento Park. It’s a quite wide and open terrain with a collection of statues and monuments of Hungary’s socialist era. Here are some of the unknown soviet soldier who came with the Red Army to fight the Nazis and their allies which included the conservative regime in Hungary. No wonder the soldier statues of the socialist realism always portrait them as winners of history which is quite humoring looking at the course of history.



There were also the statues of Bela Kun and Muennich Ferenc, two Hungarian politicians from the same era with different fate. Bela Kun was a communist and revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic after the end of WWI and the fall of the Austrian-Hungarian empire in 1919. I didn’t even know that Hungary was the second Communist state following the Soviet Union. The power of Bela Kun didn’t last long since Romania invaded Hungary and handed the power to the Social Democrats. Bela left Hungary and become an important operative of the comintern (the communist international) serving Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Finally he lived permanently in Moscow where he was accused of Trotskyism  and disappeared during Stalin’s great purge in 1937. He was rehabilitated in 1956 as part of the de-Stalinization but it was only known in 1989 that he was actually executed in a Siberian gulag in 1938.


Muennich Ferenc was also member of the government of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. He fought as a member of the International Brigade against General Franco in Spain. After WWII he returned to Hungary and became a police superintendent in Budapest. During the uprising of the people against communism he became interior minister in the Imre Nagy government but defected to Moscow to return after the revolution was put down. Later he had several minister posts under Janos Kadar and was Hungarian prime minister between 1958 and 1961.


All images were taken with a Hasselblad 500CM on Adox CHS 100. I used a strong orange filter to enhance the blue sky. The film was developed in Spuersinn HCDnew, a fine grain, two step developer.


Caffenol workshop wrap-up

Here is the complete album of images taken during the Caffenol workshop weekend in Salzburg. I shot 3 films with my Praktica MTL5b. Unfortunately the camera had some issues with film transport. I guess I got to try and check what’s wrong with it

Anyway i had a fun weekend, met nice people and shot some cool frames. I know it’s a bit nerdy to test three films. I haven’t really found my favorite combinations yet. You might think I have a structured approach. Believe me, I don’t … I use whatever film is in the fridge and whatever I feel like.


Here again the links to the organizers: Dirk Essl and Marco Spalluto with lots of images and info about developing film in coffee. Many thanks to Lisa from the Leica Galerie Salzburg as well. They do have an Elliott Erwitt exhibition which is worthwhile a visit until the 12th of October.

About the results: I like the Fomapan 400 for the smooth grain. I guess it only works for motives that have not much fine and sharp detail and open up into some blur. Contrast isn’t really high but pleasant in my opinion. I know people who say it’s a bit flat but maybe our eyes are trained to see digital photos. The Kodak TMAX 100 is quite the opposite: strong in contrast, no visible grain and still enough sharpness in the details. However, lots of the tonality in the middle of the gray scale is lost. The Delta 400 is somewhere in between: nice grain, good sharpness and good contrast.

Ilford Delta 400:

Kodak TMAX 100:

Fomapan 400:


How I met Isabelle Huppert and other surprises

So, last weekend I went to a workshop how to develop photographic film in coffee in Salzburg. On Saturday we walked around in the city center to have some material to practice our darkroom skills. We saw that the Ropac Gallery just opened an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe curated by the French actress Isabelle Huppert. We walked in and at least I was shocked of how dressed up everybody was or better how dressed down I felt.

I was standing in the middle of the entrance hall and Isabelle Huppert and the owner of the gallery walked down the stairs and came to stop right in front of me. A whole bunch of press photographers were suddenly around me, hundreds of flash' went off and I was standing there with a 30 year old Praktica MTL5b loaded with a Kodak TMAX 100 film and couldn't do much. Anyway, I felt pretty stupid but I tried. Guessing the foucs, using 1/30 and aperture wide open I pointed the camera towards the actress and shot: "glong", wind the film and another "glong". 

Later when we developed the film I realized that something was wrong with the camera and the film was only transported half a frame. Here is the result. In the left half the focus is more on Thaddaeus Ropac but gives Isabelle a nice glow (all un-indented) and she autopraphed some images of her on the right side.


Some words about the exhibition. Isabelle Huppert chose a little bit more than 100 images. Of course she selected some of the well known themes of flowers and human bodies. However, the exhibition also includes some less known images like earlier work with polaroids and even some landscapes. My personal favorites are the portraits. They speak very much a Mapplethorpe language of tender truth. The exhibition mixes them all. This might be confusing but standing in front of a wall with several pictures, they make sense, the virtually vibrate from the wall. There were too many people and too much hectic around to enjoy the images but the exhibition is open until the end of October and I can go again. 





My images are all taken with a Praktica MTL 5b on Kodak TMAX 100 and developed in caffenol with the Delta recipe here.


Some useful links:

Dirk Essl's Caffenol blog:

Marco Spalluto's blog:

Reinhold's Caffenol blog: