Category Archives: film talk

The return of contrast – film talk

I guess my plans to write a blog post every week is an illusion. However, I’ll try harder (lol). My Lightroom library is full with edited and unedited photos. I still have a couple of undeveloped films waiting to be soaked. At least I can keep up better with the scanning. Maybe I post some of the images under the “places” category with less text. Also, I enjoy writing these … but it’s all about time.

Today, I share some images I took recently. A couple of years ago I purchased ten rolls of Rollei RPX 25 at a very much discounted price on macodirect.de. I admit I didn’t know what to do with them. I’m not a shooter of slow film. Sometimes, I shoot a roll of Ilford PanF just to realize that I should shoot it more often but then I seldom find the right moment. 

Finally, the right developer got me to take out the RPX 25 out of the fridge. Spur Speed Major allows me to shoot from box speed up to ISO 200. The first two rolls I shot at ISO 100 expecting some pretty high contrast, loss of detail in the shadows and missing mid tones. To my surprise the contrast is punchy while neither the mid tones nor shadow detail go away which isn’t common for pushing two stops. 

The ISO 25 film has pretty much no grain which isn’t helping for the “digitally felt” sharpness. However, I would assume a darkroom print would look quite fine as usual I didn’t sharpen the scanned image anyway. The images were taken with my 6×6 work horse, the Hasselblad 500c/m with the 80mm/2.8 standard lens. 

I’m usual looking for “anti-contrast” and the rich greys. High contrast as seen in all these pseudo street pics annoys me incredibly. But here it perfectly works. Blacks are deep and whites are shinning but all the tones in between are present as well which makes the film and developer a perfect couple.

 

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Fomapan 100 is the new Acros

After ranting about the digital camera manufactures and their pixel dreams of growth, i’m going to talk about …

Baumkuchen

Thinking about it there isn’t a cake being more German than Baumkuchen. Somehow it’s complicated to make since it’s built later by layer with some filling in between. It might come with chocolate or other frosting. But most importantly the pride of German baking tradition tastes mostly dry. If there wasn’t the Japanese. I found a Japanese bakery in the takashimaya department store in Singapore that makes the most delicious Baumkuchen on earth. I quickly got addicted to the Kuchen and the long queues told me I wasn’t alone.

So, what’s the point?

There was someone Japanese who took on this dull German thing and made it a modern and great tasting desert. It’s still the same old thing conceptionally but at the same time it’s something brand new and exciting attracting new customers and markets

Let’s talk about Fuji Acros

I think Fuji did a similar thing with developing Fuji Acros 100. Technically, it’s a black&white film. It even has the feel and touch of one. However, looking at the scanned image it doesn’t look like analog anymore. However, it doesn’t look like a digital picture either. The dynamic range is way bigger than a digital sensor could handle but the absence of grain let’s one wonder. The film handles underexposure quite well. The contrast is rather high but shadows are still beautifully detailed. To make it short, the film is perfect just like the Baumkuchen I was talking about. And while I liked the Baumkuchen a lot, I never shot a roll of Acros in my life. It is interesting to observe that the ingredients that make the perfect desert don’t interest me in a photographic film. While the perfect taste seems to be an achievable goal, the perfect look is not and needs to be placed one step ahead, permanently.

Now that Fuji Acros won’t be around much longer

many are trying to build a little stock. Prices for the remaining material in the market are going up already. Here in Germany the medium format seems already sold out. I admit I also got some rolls right after Fuji’s announcement to discontinue the film. Finally, I can try knowing all perfection has an ending. I also haven’t eaten the Japanese Baumkuchen for over five years now. However, I’m glad to find Juchheim’s Baumkuchen still around. The company was founded by the German Karl Juchheim in Tsingtao, China in 1909. Later the company moved to Japan and after WWII the Japanese employees took over the company and have run it since. 

In the meantime …

I ordered lots of Fomapan 100 for the summer. Developed in the correct chemicals the film can deliver awesome results. The grain is subtile, contrast is high, the image is sharp and shadow detail is there as well. So, it’s just like Acros at a fraction of the price. Although, this was kind of unexpected. Before I developed most ISO 100 films in Rodinal and results were ok. However, I’m always looking to find the perfect match of film and chemistry. I already decided that Fomapan 100 isn’t my cup of tea but I found the roll in the fridge and needed some slow film to go with sun and snow. I also just acquired a bottle of Spur SLD high speed developer and gave it a trial. The developer allows to shoot at nominal speed or even faster. Also an additive was developed to achieve even higher speeds and still keep the contrast increase and loss of shadow details under control. I’ve been trying quite some film and speed combinations and the developer has not let me down yet. My favorites are Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 800-1600 and the Fomapan 100 at boxspeed. Getting to high sensitivities isn’t the only advantage of the developer. For some film contrast can be controlled by one or two stops. That’s pretty cool considering a very moderate loss in the shadow areas as it’s often the case for push developers.

Let the results speak for themselves …

Some links … the Juchheim company making the amazing Baumkuchen … Spur SLD developerFomapan website

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Pulling HP5+ and some thoughts about trying new things

I’m an engineer and I spent most of my time making things faster, smaller und cheaper for the sole purpose of increasing the share holder value of the company I work for. How are investors kept happy? One thing is making enough money to pay a hefty dividend. Another, increasing the market capitalization and again another reducing cost while making more money. But the most important is to tell the investors that the company has a vision how to grow in the future. 

It seems that the digital camera industry just works the same way and the best story seems to be the number of megapixel. Nikon seems to lead the dSLRrace with the 45MPixel D850. The Sony alpha a99 follows with 42MPixels. There is even a mirror less Sony a7r that features 42MPixels as well. Sorry, but this is just crazy. When I got out of the digital race, my pro dSLR had just sixteen lousy MPs. At the time of purchase that Nikon flagship cost me about $4000 (body only) and when I sold it a couple of years later it wasn’t worth much.

I also participated in the mirror less race quite a bit since I liked the concept but never liked the results. It all started with the first digital Olympus Pen. Nice Retro looking piece but the images just “to cry for”. I had to edit every frame heavily and the absence of an unsharp region drove me nuts. Later I tried a Fuji X100 with the fixed 35mm pancake lens. Also, I loved the looks of it and actually the results were quite ok but it wasn’t quite versatile. Much later when I already switched back to analog, I tried a highly appraised Olympus OM-D since the Hasselblad died due to a little bit of ice cream jamming the mirror. That was the last resort. I’m sticking to film and I rather stop shooting than going back to serious digital photography. 

I like to be slow and focus with my own hands. I enjoy looking at 12 frames instead of 200 at the end of a day. I think about film, developer, speed and contrast before I go shooting. I’m crazy about collecting all these weird ass cameras and only spend little money on them. For me it’s all about the experiment and the unknown results trying new film stock or chemistry. Messing things up and starting all over again is part of this game. And when I tried it all, I hope there will be Ilford HP5+ which is in the end all one needs to take great photos.

 That’s why here some frames on Ilford HP5+ pulled to ISO200 and developed in my last stock of Spuersinn’s HCDnew. The images were taken with my more than bitchy Rolleiflex 6008. I still don’t know what to do with this camera. 

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Film talk – the arrival of Silberra Pan 200

I was sitting on this one for a while but now I finally started to write the post about my first experience with Silberra Pan 200. First of all, kudos to the guys at Silberra for having the chutzpah to bring new films to a market that seems to have a comeback but that will never rebounce to where it once was. Kudos for the bravery to take on mission impossible. Film is dead. Long live film. 

I got two rolls of the 200 speed film as part of Silberra’s indiegogo campaign and soon after the arrival I took the first roll out for a stroll with my Horizon, a Russian panoramic camera. Unfortunately, the day was pretty dull and the light wasn’t really great. I guess it’s not nice to blame the bad light on the film but I could have used a poor man’s zone system for the entire roll. It also turned out that the camera showed some pretty annoying light leaks again. 

To get it out of the way, here some film facts: grain is pleasant when developed in Rodinal, therefore sharpness is also good for a 35mm film, shadow detail is good, contrast is high, there is always a range of values missing at the bright end of the histogram (but that might be attributed to the bad light and Rodinal). I don’t think Rodinal the way I used it (1+20, 20C, 8min) does the film good. The images come out a bit dullish. The dark values    are dense pulling the images down and as said before there is a range of bright values missing. Maybe a semi stand development would work better. I think it’s still too much effort to order der Silberra chemicals with the film.

Now I’m waiting for the two rolls of 120 orthochromatic films to arrive. Also, I wouldn’t mind to test other 120 slow speed films by Silberra. I don’t think i will get more of their 35mm stock anytime soon. I’m more of a medium format shooter and when I shoot 35mm, I’m kind off hooked to two or three film favorites. Silberra’s Pan200 doesn’t make it to this list since I prefer films that I can use in a wider ISO range (Delta400) or have some “special” character (Rollei Retro 400s). Sometime significantly cheaper (Foma400) can also play a decisive role. 

Please send the medium format rolls as soon as you’re ready and get more stock on your webpage. I’m very keen to try your films in 120 format. I promise I shoot the second roll on a sunny day and try the sem stand.

until then, enjoy …

 

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Film talk – HP5+ pulled to ISO100

It seems that in our digital age the concept of b&w photography is taken literally by the absence of grey tones in many monochrome images. To make matters worse a lot of the analog community also seems to love that “crunchy” look. Some “reinvented” film stock hit the market in the past year that just gathers to this market while I wonder whether these people would be better off using a mirrorless digital cam. I suppose running no around with a Leica Mx loaded with Ferrania P30 is a real hipster thing today. I wonder what was hip in my days and the only thing I can come up with is a stonewashed pair of jeans. You know what I’m trying to say? Yes, in a couple of years these guys will look like a sad bunch of losers. Like the guys who still wear stonewashed jeans.

Anyway, I guess I’m mostly kidding so far. But when it comes to gray and richness of tonality, I’m getting dead serious. I know what Ansel Adam is teaching us and I believe his book “the negative” is essential to film photography and processing. I might not be a big fan of his most famous images of NP Yosemite but I highly value his zone system theory. It’s still just a model with its limitation in the just impossibly high number of photographic situations but I think it just does fine in almost all situations.

Here is how it works for me and not just for sheet film but medium format. Let’s say you want to shoot a role on a sunny late autumn day with long deep shadows. I would guesstimate the range from the highlights to the darkest shadows to be seven stops. The film can maybe take five stops or a bit more. Now the decision needs to be made whether to have details in the shadows and burn out the highlights or have no detail in the shadows left. Or, you can compress the seven stops into the available range of five by exposing for the shadow detail and developing for the lights.

Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 100 instead of its nominal speed of 400 and developing it for -2 stops drops even three stops in tonal range. I should easily be able to compress all seven stops onto the film. And as the images show, it worked quiet well. There is literally no dark shadow without detail and the highlights are far from being blown out. The tonal range is used without emphasizing on backs and white filling the images with lovely grays. The images show a nice range I‘m surprised the detail contrast is still quite good and that grain has almost disappeared. Also the images are still quite sharp.

I shot another roll on a similar day with the first snow at ISO 200 looking forward to share it here. This will also continue the Rolleiflex 6008 nightmare. In the meantime I’ll work on some images taken with the finally fully repaired Horizon, an old Russian panorama camera, and another “the last roll post since I sold my Mamiya 645 stuff.

stay tuned …

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Film talk – Adox Colour Implosion

When I shopped for films last summer, I came acros an experimental film that is only available for a limited time by Adox. The name of the film sounded intriguing “Adox Colour Implosion”. Yeah, what do you make out of this?

Adox itself writes about the following about the film:

“Did your parents drop off a roll of film in the 70ies in a one dollar shop for cheap development and you just found it on your attic? In this case your images might look like if they were taken on color implosion. Colour implosion fears the grain of an 800 ISO film combined with the effective speed of a 100 ASA film. On top we pre-treated it so the color coupling system partially collapsed. With this grain and these light desaturated colors no one will think that you are still shooting digital.” 

Wow, sounds weird and quite a bit hipster-ish. I tried anyway, got a role, left it in the fridge for a while and shot it a couple of weeks ago to catch some imploded autumn colors using the Contax RTSII, a 50mm/1.8 and a 55mm/4 macro. 

My first thought when I saw the blue-magenta vase color was, am I going to be able to scan that beast? However, it scanned surprisingly well. It seems the Silverfast software can handle a wide range of base colors. I played a bit with the film profiles and ended up with Fuji NPH. I tried to set a grey point where I had one but didn’t bother too much. The colors weren’t “real” anyway and I did the final adjustment according to my liking in Lightroom. 

At the time I scanned the film, I haven’t read the Adox info about the film yet. I looked at the grain and I went “Wow, this is an ISO100 film. How can that be?  The grain looks more like an ISO800.” Ok, the Adox intro explains it. It’s supposed to be this way. Honestly speaking it works for me. There is a lot of grain but one could almost call it fine and subtile. The grain is also responsible for this incredible detail in the focus areas.

I’ve seen lots of images online with a yellow-greenish colorcast and really flat colors. However, I didn’t really experience any of these. For sure, the colors aren’t as saturated as a normal color film. And yes, if the reds are correct, the blue of the sky might end up wrong. I followed my personal taste and hardly modified anything in Lightroom.

Enjoy the images! Feedback is very much appreciated. There is quite a number of great photos shot on Adox Colour Implosion in this Flickr group.

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Umbrellas and reflection

Hey, it’s raining today. Let’s take the umbrella, load the hasselblad with fast film and play in the puddles outside. You don’t have to ask twice, your kids and most of the photographers will always follow the first call. My good friends from Tel Alviv, Victor and Sergio Bezrukov, accompanied me on this rainy September day to explore a different look of Munich. By the way, both make excellent  models as well.

A couple of hours in the city are always a good reason to get out the bulky and heavy 40mm distagon for the hasselblad. I also left the back with the TriX pushed to ISO 1600 on the camera to gain some freedom in exposure but also for the increased contrast by means of extended development. While TriX pushes well, the film starts to lose details in the shadows pushed to ISO 1600 adding to the already strong high “contrasty” feeling.

Next time you get out in the rain, find umbrellas that add pattern and shape to your images. Don’t forget to look out for the reflections in the puddles of rain water. 

Check out Victor Bezrukov’s images here. These were taken with a Fuji GA645 and Bergger Pancro pushed to ISO 800.

 

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Film talk: Rollei Retro 400s

After reading about the film on Martin Zimelka’s website I got a couple of rolls and tried it out. The film is a super-panchromatic film with extended sensitivity into the infrared range. For it’s relatively high speed the film has very small but visible grain resulting in the visual experience of extreme sharpness. Zooming in the scanned imaged reveals the sharpest image I’ve ever seen from an analog photo before. However, some might say that the sharpness comes from the excellent Nikon lenses manufactured for the early Bronica 6×6 systems. I guess both, the lens and the film, play their parts leading to unrivaled sharpness.

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Just as the slower brother, the Retro 80s, the film has a clear film base which makes it easy to scan. Right now I have no experience printing the film in the wet lab. The Retro 400s has intrinsically a very high contrast and taming it is a good idea to get richer tones in the middle of the spectrum.

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I set the meter to ISO 200 with the plan to increase agitation during development from 1min to 2min as well. The day was also very bright and sunny putting a lot of contrast into the images as well. I used Rodinal and a dilution of 1:50 to develop the film. I used the same development time of 22min as for a speed setting of 400 but I reduced the agitation as mentioned before hoping to get a bit more of that compensation effect.

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The results are speaking for themselves. The images are super sharp with good contrast while retaining all the mid tones as well. Skin tones (no example shown) come out quite bright and a bit unnatural due to the film’s sensitivity to red. I can see this kind of sharpness and grain being used for portrait photography but not for every subject. In my opinion the film is more suited for architectural, urban landscape and detail photography. Although, breaking with the “rules” always Now I’m curious how the film performs with a red or even infrared filter. … I will update you soon …

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Camera: Bronica C

Film: Rollei Retro 400s

Development: Rodinal 1:50, 20°C, 22min, 30sec constant agitation and every 2min thereafter.

Please tell me about your experience and copy links to your images taken on Rollei Retro 400s

 

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Orwo NC19 in C41 – the expired film page

In late summer 2014 I shot a long expired ORWO NC19 color film in my Lomo Belair. The film was sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of month waiting for development. When I had a couple of color films for the lab, I finally had it developed and cut just to forget about the film again. There was something on the film however not “hot” enough to care right away.

Just recently I scanned the roll, didn’t edit at all and just stamped the dust and the usual cat hair in PS. I started wondering why the guy in the lab had asked me if I wanted the film developed in C41. At the time there wasn’t an alternative and I didn’t know any better anyways. After uploading the images to my flickr, I started googling “orwo nc19 developed in C41 process”. The first hit I got was a wordpress blog entry with the title “Don’t develop ORWOcolor in C-41”. Oops, I just did it. The blog talks a lot about expired films as well as processes to develop them. However, the last entry seemed to be in February of 2014. In the archives I found an article how to develop the NC19 the right way.

Some posts online give more details about the ORWO 5166/5166K process which was apparently similar to the old Agfa Color process. Anyhow, I’m not going to do it myself. I also found a site that specializes in processing old films (Film Rescue International) and might try them for the 2nd roll of NC19.

Of course people on lomography.com also got something to report about the ORWO NC19. “Frauspatzi” seemed to have burnt most of the emulsion away but really got the “crazy color” she mentioned in her post. The picture search on lomography.com returned 319 images taken on NC19.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and the experience with expired films as well as the Lomo Belair camera feels very different compared to my Hasselblad workhorse. It is also difficult for me to comprehend the imperfection and unpredictability of the results. Be it the plastic feeling of a lomo belair or hopelessly expired film, I still try it again in the search for new challenges and the unique image.

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A good night out

It’s been a long time since i posted anything on my blog. Many things go through my head but the time’s always running out.

So, I got this new toy recently, a Mamiya 645Pro with a 45mm/2.8 lens, and I went to try it out. I loaded some Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO 1250 with the plan to shoot at a outdoor concert in the evening. Last but not least, I wanted to try the new Spur Ultraspeed Vario which sounds promising for pushing and pulling film as well.

Not yet totally dark I started shooting trying out the fast shutter speed of the Mamiya 645Pro.

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When KaLi a pretty cool rock band based in Regensburg came on to the stage, the real fun started and the audience finally had a chance to warm up. And yes, focusing was still OK.

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Afterwards Sahara hit the stage. I wanted to see them since Nick Woodlands is part of the band. I’ve seen him before and liked his Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers style. It turned out that Sahara played a very different tune and I didn’t like it very much. I ended up taking some more images having difficulties focusing in the dark and walking off before they even finished playing. The audience, mostly old folk who’s been following Sahara for the past 40 years, seemed to enjoy it, though.

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The Mamiya 645Pro is fun to use. I’ve used other 645 format cameras but like this one the most, by far. A Pentax 645N with autofocus and all the goodies died on me and I don’t want to pay for revitalizing measures. I also got a Fuji GS645 but don’t really enjoy the handling. The Mamiya 645Pro gives me the right feeling and releasing the shutter feels good. It’s not easy to focus when it’s dark. maybe I can find a different screen for more focusing convenience.

Maybe some words about the Spur Ultraspeed Vario. It seems to do its job for pushing Delta 400 to 1250. I’m not totally sure how to meter a scene like this. It’s certainly dark and some details in the shadows can be sacrificed. Yet, I find it quite confusing, taking the readings, setting the camera and taking the picture.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro

Lens: Mamiya 45mm/2.8

Film: Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO1250

Developer: Spur Ultraspeed Vario (two component developer, datasheet)

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