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One roll, one topic – autumn mood in b&w

All you need to catch the mood during fall is a film camera, some black and white film and a little bit of determination to find the spirit of autumn beyond the warm colors. Yes, you’ve heard right: black and white film and I’ll explain why.

There is more to autumn than its warm, yellow, red and brown colors. There is the low sun and the long shadows, the decay of last summer’s flowers, bushes and trees, the muddy smell in the woods. There are so many aspects b&w film can capture with exception of the smell of course. And I didn’t catch any fog yet which certainly belongs to autumn as well. 

What made me choose Ilford PanF+? The easy answer is: I still had a roll in the fridge, winter is coming and I better use it before the really dark days come. I seldom shoot ISO 50 and when I do I ask myself afterwards why don’t I use it more often. I love shooting with a wide open aperture getting that limited DoF that makes images so much more exciting and I’m not yet talking about the lovely bokeh an open lens produces. At least the 80mm/2.8 Planar on my Hasselblad gives pleasing pentagonal shapes. In addition PanF+ performs excellently renditioning grey tones and the contrast is very pleasing. The grain is hardly visible which makes the film the perfect choice for nature shots and details.

The low ISO of the PanF+ as well as the high contrast call for a balanced development and I think a semi-stand in Rodinal works best. I developed the film for one hour in a highly diluted (1:100) solution. I usually agitate medium format film two times after the initial one minute of agitation after ten and thirty minutes. 

You might wonder why there are only eight frames instead of twelve here. The calculation is quite easy. Two images are of private nature since I never post images of family, friends or myself with the exception of having acquired a permission to do so. One frame I shot twice since I wasn’t sure about the framing. And last but not least, frame number twelve was never shot. That makes it eight frames you can see here.

Enjoy and don’t hesitate to comment. In my next post I’ll show some colorful fall images taken with a Rolleiflex 6008. However, it’s less about the colors but reasoning whether to keep the camera or sell it.


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the old factory

Old abundant factories always make a good target for photography. Most of them are locked up and access is really prohibited due to an increased risk of accidents. The gate of the old factory for photo chemicals and film in Berlin Koepenick was wide open just inviting me to step inside and have a look. I took some shots of the two buildings left and right but didn’t like the outcome with houses on each side and the big nothing in the center. To be honest, I do struggle with images of architecture and a wide angle lens on the camera.

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I took the much better shots inside even though I find it quite icky. I don’t like the feeling of garbage, broken glass and the rubble under my feet. However, the view from inside is worth the minor suffering. I walked about around on the first floor and got stuck on the stairways where I shot the rest of the role. I used an ISO 100 film and was a bit concerned about the low light. I just set the camera on aperture 4 and 1/60 speed … even though the meter was measuring at least one stop more in the darker areas.

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A relatively new warehouse behind the older building turned out to be a greenhouse. It’s amazing how fast nature takes over its old terrain again. The factory was just closed about 2 years ago and trees already started to grow inside the place.

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All images were taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M on Adox CHS 100. The film was developed in Agfa Rodinal.

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Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 4

I promise the fourth part will be the last part and it will be short. My last destination is the area around the Xi Men subway station. There is a good reason to stay away from this play on a Saturday afternoon: It’s really crowded. On the other hand that’s also a good reason to come here on a Saturday. There is always people and things to capture. Another good target here is the Red House crafts and artists market selling so many original things made in Taiwan.Last but not least, there are a lot of local snacks to be purchased and tasted here as well. After so much walking the little hunger needs to be treated. My choice is usually the spicy fried chicken and a bubble milk tea. Of course there are plenty of other choices and the Taiwanese are masters in walking, eating, talking and all at the same time. I rather look for a place to sit and enjoy the tasty food.

After the snack and some more shots, it’s time to go back to the hotel. Previously, I used to stop in some of the camera stores on Po Ai Street. These stores are now pretty boring just selling the same digital cameras and all that fancy lenses and equipment. I just walk by there to get the subway back to the hotel where it always begins until the next time … Or maybe it’s time to do something different next time.

All images are taken with a Mamiya 645Pro on Shanghai GP3. I developed the film in Agfa Rodinal.

 

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Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 3

The first time I came to Liberty Square was in October or November 2002 to watch the annual free show of Cloude Gate, Taiwan’s well known dance theater company lead by Lin Hwai Min. Together with thousands of Taiwanese I watched “Rice” inspired by the landscape and story of Chihshang in Taiwan’s East Rift Valley. I was just taken away by Lin’s powerful language telling about soil, sun, water, wind and fire. The tale about the village Chihshang producing “emperor’s rice” by adopting traditional means bridges centuries of confucian life, buddhism and human struggle with the elements to the presence. With “Rice” Cloud Gates simply portraits Asia and differences to Western culture become obvious which is most visible in the almost “communal” choreography. Check out Cloud Gate’s schedule to see when they come your way.

Ok, let me get back to today’s walk through Taipei and get back to Liberty square that is bounded by the Chiang Kai Shek memorial and the Gate of Integrity to the East and West, and by the National Theater and the National Concert Hall to the North and the South. The square became the place for public events and gatherings shortly after opening to the public in 1975. The square become a hub of the pro democracy movement in the 80s and 90s. The Wild Lily Student movement of 1990 became the most influential leading to deep-reaching political reforms, the first popular election of the parliament in 1992 and the first presidential election in 1996. The square received today’s name in remembrance of the struggle on the way to democracy after almost four decades (1949 – 1987) of martial law in 2007.

The recent Sunflower movement even shows that democracy is not just achieved but an ongoing dialogue between the few people in power and the common folk practicing their right to challenge them. In March 2014 hundreds of thousand Taiwanese protested against president Ma’s deals with China which many Taiwanese believe will open the gates to the mainland’s economic hegemony across the Taiwan Straits. The event was never covered by international media since it mostly reported about the still missing Malaysian airplane and the Crimea crisis.

However, Liberty Square isn’t only important for Taiwan’s democracy but as a place of public life. Everybody meets here. People practice tai chi under the roof of the concert hall. Teenagers trying out their moves for a dance performance. A band plays music and marches along their choreography. On the big stage a theater group rehearses some kind of rock musicals. And in between all this Taiwanese families, Germans taking their Birkenstocks out for a walk, and groups of yapping mainland tourists stroll along creating a unique, dynamic and unmatched atmosphere.

Honestly, Liberty Square in the heart of Taipei is my favorite place. Its history gives me goosebumps. In spite of being dedicated to Chiang Kai Shek who ruled Taiwan with martial law and an iron fist up to his death in 1975, it has become a symbol of Taiwan’s people and their wish for liberty. The square, I visit almost every year, is alive. It’s complex and complicated looking at its symbolic involvement in Taiwan-PRC (people’s republic of china) relations. And finally, the square is simply part of Taipei’s public life and a great tourist attraction.

All images were taken with a Mamiya 645Pro on Shanghai GP3. I developed the film in Agfa Rodinal.

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Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 2

Usually I walk down to Zhong Xiao Road. There are more people, more stores, simply more motifs to take photos of. This time I decide to stroll down Ren Ai Road with it’s shadowy tree lined lanes. Maybe I tried to avoid walking through the Da An area with its cafes, restaurants, boutique shops and interesting residential houses. Yet, I realize there is no way around Da An and I end up checking out some of the lanes anyway. I find the store of the painter again who always has different paintings standing outside. There is Le Suites, a boutique hotel I stayed once quite some years ago and the cafe where I had waffles and coffee last year.

I walk back to Ren Ai Road to continue my way to the Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall. I walk by the huge Taipei flower and jade markets. I’ve never been in either of them. Something keeps me out of there. Maybe it’s just the fact that a market is a market is just a market. It’s on my list of places to visit but not today.

After crossing Xing Shen Road I see a cute lane of older houses and deviate a second time from the plan. I find a cute looking cafe called Rie X Kobe and decide to sit for a while and have a tea. The cafe is full of stuffed animals, used things and books. It’s too dark in there to take pictures. I still try my luck with one: Patrick Star having tea with my friend Nico with even two Hello Kitties watching. Isn’t that authentic?

The lane leads to a little local market. Most stalls are closed since it’s the late afternoon already. However, I will have the chance to visit the market next morning. Though, this is part of another story. I just cross another big street and finally get to the Chiang Kai Shek memorial.

Read on …

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Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 1

When in Taipei, I always staying at the Grand Hyatt located close to the city’s highest building Taipei 101. Not that it is the fanciest and newest hotel and the hotel isn’t the cheapest either. I suppose what brings me always back here is some kind of habit and intimacy. Or maybe it’s the untold stories the hotel keeps in a safe place for me.

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I come for business to Taiwan two or three times every year. Once a year I try to spend a couple of days in Taipei. It’s routine to get here: taking the high speed rail to Taipei Station, switching to the Bannan Line MRT in the direction of Nangang Exhibition Center, getting off at City Hall Station, walking through the station mall and the basement level of a department store towards city hall and finally crossing Song Shou Road to enter the familiar site.

Usually I arrive during rush hour after a busy day of meetings and phone calls. After checking in, I take a shower and relax a bit. If I’m not too late, I have dinner at Irodori, a Japanese restaurant right inside the Hyatt. The restaurant serves ‘all you can eat’ and always fresh sashimi, sushi, seafood, tempura, yakitori and so much more. Could I find a newer and better place close by? Perhaps. But again, it’s all about allowing the past creeping in the vacant crevices of the present.

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The same applies to the last stop of the evening to have a good night drink: The Brown Sugar, a restaurant and bar with a live band playing jazzy and bluesy tunes. I’m aware of the hip folk lining the way to Brown Sugar. But I choose to ignore them and the bars and clubs they hanging out in front as well. Even though the names of the places do sound familiar, they ain’t the places of my past.

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The next morning starts with a breakfast and getting the camera ready for a long walk which seems to be the repetition of last night: Recapturing the steps I did before. To a certain extend it is, indeed, just that and more by finding new things amidst the well known. So, I step out into the street crossing the same Song Shou Road again to take a look at the square in front of City Hall.

There is always something going here. It’s a place for public events and often demonstrations of the Taipei citizens. This time not even a handful of workers were dismantling a stage. Just across the square starts the area around the Sun Yat Sen memorial hall. I’ve never been inside during the 14 years of visiting Taipei. Just walking around the square and the little park gives me the opportunity to take some images. In the past years the square was always full of tourists from Mainland China. DR. Sun is highly regarded as the father of the Chinese Revolution and his early death certainly helped his name during the Communist years. On this warm Saturday in April I find a little local event. Just don’t ask me what it is about. The little red stools aren’t inviting. I still sit on one afraid it might fall apart under my weight just to be level with my photographic subjects. Looking at the images now, I always wonder why a 2m guy with a huge medium format camera goes practically unnoticed when taking pictures in Taiwan.

Read on …

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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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Another Orwo NP27 expired a long time ago – the expired film page

I tried another long expired Orwo NP27. It doesn’t look pretty. The emulsion got tons of defects and it seems that the beginning and the end of the film behave worse compared to the middle. In general I observe that faster films age much worse compared to an ISO50-100. These film which I got with a bunch of others films on ebay expired in 1980. Oh my, the film expired 34 years ago. Isn’t that vintage?

I developed the film in Kodak HC110 diluted 1+119 for eighteen minutes with one rotation every three minutes. I don’t think the process has much impact on the outcome. The results are and remain more or less horse shit.

However, it’s fun experimenting. Enjoy the mess.

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Wandering around the Confucius temple in Tainan

I visited Tainan for the first time in 2012. I even had a guided tour back then explaining me all the sights. The place that I remember most is the Confucius temple in the middle of the city. It’s not a place of worship but a place of learning. It was built in the 17th century to educate the officials to the court in the spirit of the great teacher Confucius.

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When I returned now in November 2014, i found a quite busy place. A lot of visitors seem to be interested in the place. Entire group of school kids and Taiwanese tours were frequenting the place during my visit making it a very difference place to the one I visited 12 years ago.

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However, it’s interesting to observe the change in the past twelve years. In the past, Taiwanese were less interested in their own history but in foreign culture and this place was quiet and empty. I think it was a kind of catching up with the rest of the world and absorbing and consuming as much as possible from the outside. What happens now is a return to their own history and values of which Taiwan has so much. Even though i was looking for the quiet and peaceful place I found twelve years ago, I was happy to find a place busy with people looking at what their ancestors had created.

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All images were shot with a Mamiya 645pro on Shanghai GP3 and developed in Spuersinn Joe.

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Halle Silberhoehe and Rudy Burckhardt

A picture of a fire hydrant, the zoom in of the perpendicular walls of a house, the blurry legs of pedestrians walking across the street, images that seem random when being isolated but connected by the city of New York, these are images of an exhibition of the work of film maker and photographer Rudy Burckhardt currently shown by the Fotostiftung Winterthur.

Of course the exhibition shows more than these images by Burckhardt, but while walking through, one quickly realizes the importance of “image assembly” as there is a choreography of all the pictures and they do a kind of dance on the wall. You might look at an individual image and think “what the f…” yet they make sense together.

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Switching the topic, I went to my parents place the other day, walked around on a gray Saturday morning and shot a film of Nik & Trick’s ft12 which is similar to a Eastman SO331. I know Halle ain’t being New York but the town has got its (scary) places.

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I tried to focus on things and details easily missed, graffiti on the wall, a metal pole, a bench, a flower pot. I tried to keep things quite shallow in focus to keep the attention.

The question is, do the images work for you in this order?

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the specs: Contax RTSII with a Zeiss 50mm/1.7 shot on ft12 and developed in Agfa Rodinal

 

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