Tag Archives: fomapan 400

Praktica history – chapter four – the Praktica FX2

In my first post a about the history of praktica cameras, I wrote about the very first praktica manufactured by Kamera Werkstaette Niederselitz near the Saxonian city Dresden. The target was to make an effortable camera for the people who had an increased desire to take pictures of their lives after WWII. In 1952 the original camera was replaced by the praktica fx. The big new thing were the flash synchronisation ports for fast syncing bulbs (F) and electronic flashes (X). Otherwise the camera stayed pretty much the same with waiste level finder and the fact that the aperture wasn’t automatically set when hitting the shutter but needed to be pre-set. 

In 1955 a new model was introduced, the praktica III or FX2 or FX3. The model I got was made in 1956 and was one of the last without automatic aperture setting. However, my camera came with an insert to change the waiste level finder into a nice and bright prismn finder. Also, the camera was sold with a Carl Zeiss Biotar 58mm/f2 lens which i desperately wanted to have. There aren’t many differences between the FX versions optically. Aperantly the finder of the FX2 is improved to be brighter. Also later versions come with the automatic aperture setting which improves focusing a lot. For me one of the most painful things of my FX2 is the focusing: open up aperture, then focus and then back to the target aperture. It makes me want to shoot fully open all the time.

In general the FX2 handles quite intuitive. Focusing takes time but works well especially with the prismn finder. The release in front needs a bit of getting used to but it’s smooth and makes a nice dull sound. Yeah, dull and deep, not as annoyingly high pitched as a Leica. These old cameras often have problems with the film transport. This one does as well. I can never get the film tightly wrapped around the empty reel which makes it harder and harder to advance the film and leads to horrible scratches and half winded frames towards the end. That’s and the fact that I took quite a number of personal photos is the reason that there are only three images coming from two rolls of film here. I have an idea how I can insert the film a bit better and make sure it’s tight. I’ll lose a couple of frames but still better than losing many later.

At this point I wanted to say a couple of things about the lens on my FX2: the Biotar 58mm/f2. However, I think the lens is worth to have its own post but to get there I have to shoot some more rolls. In the first picture below taken on Fomapan 400, it can already be seen how incredibly sharp the lens is. I didn’t have a chance to check the bokeh yet which is the other outstanding feature of the lens. 

The other two images are taken on Fomapan Retro 320, a low contrast, high grain film with anti-halation layer that gives the last image a certain gloominess. I like the grain and I think the film is good for contrast scenes without many small details. 

Coming back to the camera for the summary: in 1956 the FX2 was everything one needed to have a great tool to take pictures. I certainly don’t need all the fancy things dSLRs have nowadays but I really look forward to the introduction of the automatic preset of the aperture in one of the next Praktika I’ll get. Focusing will be so much more convenient and efficient.

In my next posts I’ll write some more about the Rolleiflex 6008 nightmare and pushing and pulling of Ilford’s HP5+. 

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Praktica history – chapter three – the BX20s and the 135/2.8 tele lens

I acquired a Prakticar 135/2.8 with the Praktica BX20s. I haven’t used a tele lens for at least five years and shooting with it was feeling strange. Everything seemed so close looking through the finder and instead of moving closer to the subject, I suddenly had to move backward. Also the 2m minimum focus distance is more than different from what I’m used to.

Anyway, looking at the images, there are two very nice things to observe: the pronounced separation of subject from for- and background and the nice bokeh. I don’t think the 135mm/2.8 will become my favorite lens now but I might take it out of the cabinet every once in a while. 

The images are taken on Fomapan 400 and developed in Kodak HC110.

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Some more images with the Yashica ML Macro 55mm 1:4

Here is a quick follow up to my last entry about the Yashica 55mm/4 macro lens. This time I was shooting Fomapan 400 with a bit of grain. The film was developed in Kodak HC110 at 24C to shorten the developing time. As for the previous post, no extra sharpening was applied to the images after scanning. I adjusted contrast, highlights and shadows only.

I can still not believe how sharp the lens is. These images are taken with a wide open aperture and are still spot on. I also like the angle covered by the 55mm lens. I used to have a Nikkor 90/2.8 and I always found the view to tight and restricted.

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my first experiments with the sabatier effect

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When I scanned the roll of fomapan 400 I shot at cannon beach in oregon, I thought about trying something different in the dark room: the sabatier technique. the process calls for an additional exposure to a constant light source half through the development and finishing the development afterwards. It’s best to stop the development process in water, dry to paper and put it back under the enlarger using a grey filter to expose the frame equally. the effect doesn’t have much impact on the dark parts of the print  but darkens the lighter parts significantly. a halo around the edges of light and shadow should be visible as well as a result of chemical exhaustion caused by the darker parts of the image. therefore the image is not to be agitated during the second half of the development. working with a high contrast paper will give stronger effects.

Man Ray was a master of this technique in the early twentieth century. He used the effect by producing paper negatives for doing another print reversing the lighter halo to a dark edge around the subjects.

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I chose a different approach. I only wanted the effect applied to parts of the photograph and also avoid the mess with putting the wet print back into the paper holder. Since my developing time is two minutes, I took the prints out after about eighty seconds into the first development. doing it earlier didn’t result to any effect while doing it earlier left me with a dark mess. I also forgot not to agitate during the second stage of development.

After eighty seconds I stopped the development in water and applied some local exposure with my mobile phone. Yes, it’s right. I used the screen of my phone as light source counting to four and circling around in about twenty centimeter above the image. afterwards I developed the print for the remaining forty seconds. all together I printed four version and the original that night. Each of the versions is unique and is very different in expression. The two images posted in the blog are my favorites.

Even though I didn’t follow the sabatier technique religiously and tried my own version of it, I succeeded in getting a unique effect changing the look of a rather common imagine into something different. The two images show that I was able to produce a bit of halo around the dark areas as well as a reversal effect in the brighter parts. My next steps with the technique is to go a step backwards again and practice a more controlled approach.

The original photo can be found here. the prints were done on bergger prestige fiber paper.

 

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India – the urban and the rural life

This is supposed to be the last entry of my India trip and I wanted to keep a set of images that show the urban and rural life. Interesting is that the pictures don’t look so different. It seems to me urbanization happened extremely fast and people just brought the village with all its inhabitants into the cities.

Enjoy!

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India – the places – the rest – 2 of 2

I just post a couple of images today showing some more places I visited in India. You can find the other blog posts about my trip here:

Shri Kolayat

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Gadi Sagar Lake

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Chatris Sunset Point

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Jodhpur Jaswant Thada

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India – the people – part 2

It is most certainly the people that make India such an interesting country to travel. I hardly found someone who doesn’t like her or his picture taken. Most people are a bit shy in front of the camera and go into some kind of open eyed coma. Often I waited to get a shot with a little action or stay unnoticed while shooting. Often I was asked for some money after taking the shot which is a bit of an annoyance if it happens again and again.

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_006-EditSadu at the karna mata temple

201508_India_MF21_RPX100_014-Edityoung sikhs, Dehli

201508_India_MF20_Delta400_002-Editplaying, itimad ud daulah

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_010-Editmonkey prayers, hanuman temple, jaipur

201508_India_MF14_Delta400_013-Editvisitor, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF14_Delta400_010-Editstudents, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF22_Portra160_004-Edit muslim kids, taj mahal, agra

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_015-Editsightseeing, udaipur palace

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_012-Editwaiting, udaipur palace

201506_India_MF2_Delta400_Mamiya645_004-Editkid, mandawa

201506_India_MF2_Delta400_Mamiya645_001-Editold man, Churi Ajitgarh

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_015-Editin white, delhi fort

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_014-Editin line, delhi fort

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_022-Edittatoo, india gate, delhi

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_012-Editrickshaw driver, delhi

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_009-Editbus driver, jaipur

201508_India_KB5_APX100_018-Editman and elephant, udaipur

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_020-Editgoing to work, chandelao garh

201508_India_KB3_APX100_024-Editjust girls

201508_India_KB3_APX100_010-Editjust curious, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_005-Edithanging out, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_022-Editbumpi

201508_India_MF21_RPX100_012-Editin the mosque, delhi

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_008-Editwelcome song, jaisalmer

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India – the places – the rest – 1 of 2

I have a lot of images and still some memories to write down. I’ll split up the places further and add another entry with just faces. Should this be the first post you’re reading, check the others as well:

Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur

The fort was built as retreat overlooking the city of Jaipur. The guards are happy to show you around and explain a couple of things for one hundred rupees. The living rooms of the maharajah are on the one side of the palace while the seven of the eight wives lived along the several hallways leading to the opposite side of the palace where the maharajah’s favorite wife recited.

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Jaipur old city

Jaipur is the biggest city of Rajasthan and it seems the bigger the cities become the messier they are. I started my trip in smaller places enjoying them more. I would the people made the biggest difference which were much less daring in the smaller places. I liked the area behind the city palace. It was a bit quieter and without the busy stores of the main streets. I’m not going to show you the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds). I know it’s the most photographed building in entire India. And yes, I took some pictures of it as well. I’m just not going to post it here.

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Phalodi city

Not many tourists visit the small town on the road from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. However, the Jain temple and a couple of beautiful havelis are worth a look. Here I made the purchase of a colorfully painted window which isn’t anything very old but apparently collected from an old house. Although, the salesman was a jain and it’s said that followers of the jain religion never lie, I believe the window is brand new since I saw similar windows in many tourist traps later on. I still like it and when I look at it, I smile remembering the conversation with the Kanooga brothers.

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Udaipur

I guess the city of Udaipur should have made it in the top 10. The old city with the havelis and hotels lining up at the lake side as well as the roof top restaurants and cafes and of course the palace watching over all this from an elevated position seems like a still uncut gem in Rajasthan. A stroll through the many little streets and narrow paths appears almost enjoyable while still not being comparable with a Sunday afternoon walk in an European metropolis.

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Pushkar

The day I visited Pushkar, hell came down in shape of heavy monsoon rain to this holy place. Pilgrims come to Pushkar to wash in the sacred lake and visit one of the few temples worshiping god Brahma. The lake is surrounded by 52 stone steps down to the lake which are used for sacred bathing as well as religious rituals. Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed into the lake here as well, Unfortunately, the ghats are also used to extract coin from travelers. The thing starts as a harmless introduction to the ritual to the point being ask for quite large amounts of cash and even credit cards. The argument, that also gods have to eat and that inflation really drives up the prices, didn’t really impress me. I did give some, still far off the requested amount, but seemingly enough to make the heavy rain stop.

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The Agra fort

The Agra fort is more a  walled city than a fort. The current structures were built under the Mughals but the fort goes back to the eleventh century. During my visit I had two film backs, one loaded with color film and the other supposedly with black&white. However, after shooting twelve frames, I realized it was empty. And that was much later in the day with no chance to return to the fort. Now I only have left three images of one of the amazing courts. Dark clouds started to come up in the sky giving the colors a special hue. I’m still mad that the images I took of the marble structures in black&white are lost but I guess that’s karma. Actually, the view from the castle down Yamuna river to the Taj Mahal is just amazing ….

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India – the people

Again, it’s been difficult to select some images out of so many. Also, what’s a good number to give a wide spectrum of the impressions. Let me start with about 25 images in color as well as black & white, not sorted by any kind of  timeline or importance. Every image has a title as well as they location of capture. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to feedback …

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_006-Editthe model, nahargarh fort, jaipur

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_006man and donkey, mandawa

201508_India_MF7_Portra160_009-Editthe brahman, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_001-Editneighbors, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF10_Portra160_014-Editguides, junagarh fort, bikaner

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_024-Editbubbles, india gate, new delhi

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_012-Editstone maker, close to kolayat

201508_India_KB1_Foma400_021-Editbig smile, bikaner

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_001-Editsheep herder, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_008meeting, mandawa

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_012-Editboys, chandelao garh

201508_India_KB5_APX100_020-Editin the bus, udaipur

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_012-Editdesert, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_030-Editold city, udaipur

201508_India_MF3_Portra160_004-Editwaiting, jhunjhunu

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_007-Editwaiting for a customer, jaipur

201508_India_KB2_Portra160_018-Editscared, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_028-Edittalking, udaipur

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_026-Editworking, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF18_Delta400_005-Editcurious, abhaneri

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_003-Editspice trader, jodphur

201508_India_MF13_Delta400_015-Editbathing, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_011-Editjust kids, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_009-Editrickshaw driver, jaipur

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_006-Editguide, jodphur

201508_India_MF20_Delta400_004-Editmonsoon, agra

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India – the first roll

I came back from my trip to India with twenty two medium format and seven 35mm rolls of film shot with a Mamiya 645Pro and a Contax RTS. These are a maximum of five hundred eighty two images to scan, edit and select for presentation. I guess that doesn’t mean much when shooting digital but it’s a hell of a lot using film. Since the moment I touched down back home I’ve been thinking how to sort, condense and write about all the impressions I collected as images as well as thoughts during the sixteen days of my visit to Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_002-Edita mughal time well in a village close to jhunjhunu, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

The straight forward approach had seemed to do a couple of chronological blog entries with the places I visited as titles. I decided against it since it doesn’t really help to focus on the quintessence. I visited so many places, met so many people and took so many shots that there is more confusion than clearness in my thoughts. In addition, India’s stark differences don’t make traveling always easy for the stomach as well as one’s patience.

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_003-Edit30m deep mertani baori (stepwell) in jhunjhunu built in 1783, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

Here is the plan. I’ll do four blog entries trying to concentrate or even just to find my message:

  1. the first roll – introduction and some the images from the very first roll
  2. the places – two images and two sentences with my personal impression in order of my preference
  3. the people – top ten portraits
  4. the urban and rural life – in the end I’m not sure if there was a difference

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_006-Editwalking through churi ajitghar village, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

I’m in the middle of showing the images of the first roll already. The images were shot on the way from Delhi to Mandawa and in Churi Ajitghar village during the first two days of my visit. It wasn’t easy to shoot the first film as it isn’t easy to start this series of blog entries.

I find my first images rather dull and mediocre, a forced trial to find a way inside. Some images were out of focus and it took some frames getting used to the Mamiya’s waist level finder. I did miss my Hasselblad and the square frame. The gray sky of the first days didn’t encourage to take a lot of photos, either. The weather got better and worse again and somehow I think my photography took the same route.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_007-Editjohnny in churi ajitghar village, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

During my trip I shot ten medium format and two 35mm rolls of Kodak Portra 160 for the film’s natural color, eight medium format  rolls of Ilford Delta 400 for its versatile ISO range as well as the rich gray, tones, four medium format Rollei RPX100 as my favorite ISO100 film right now, three 35mm rolls of Fomapan 400 and two 35mm rolls Agfa APX100.

I’ll start working now in parallel on the three (maybe four) remaining entries. From here on it’s all about choosing the right images …

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