Tag Archives: Ilford

Camera talk – an affordable panorama camera

Let me put one thing straight right at the beginning. What I really want is a Fuji 6×17 or maybe a medium format Widelux. On a good day I might settle for a MF Noblex. However, these are pretty much out of reach right now. So I settled for an older Russian Horizont made in the years of 1972 and 1973. The younger “plastic” version Horizont 202 can also be found on eBay and lomography even sells a range of new Horizon cameras.

Soon after my camera arrived, I shot the first roll on top of Saentis mountain in Switzerland. After developing the roll, I found lots of light leaks. Also some the shutter speeds were pretty off. All images seemed to be out of focus due to camera shakes. I got the problems fixed, shot the next film and found some more light leaks while the speed issues were resolved. The camera went back to the clinic. I shot another roll when I got it back and all frames were just a little bit out of focus. Oh well, I thought, and put the camera into the shelve to spend the rest of its days there. When I picked up another camera from the repair shot, I gave it a try and ask the guy to take a look again and he found out that the lens was a bit lose changing focus a tiny bit. I went to the nearest store selling film, got a roll of Ilford FP4+ with twenty four exposures to have another test run. I didn’t have high hopes but tried anyway.

I strolled along Munich’s Christmasmarket and up Kaufinger Straße to Stachus. People seem to look at this strange apparatus but don’t seem to get its function. An American guy asked me what that thing is and I showed him how the camera worked with its rotating lens. Then I had a cup of hot punch, shot one more frame and the film was done.

Since it was a dark and wet December day, I shot the film at ISO400. I developed in Rodinal (1+25, 20min) and when I scanned the film, I was happy to see all was good and well focused. To be honest, I was surprised how sharp these images were and also how well FP4+ behaved being pushed about two stops. The contrast is as expected a bit higher and the shadow detail is suffering a bit but all things considered the images look quite good. The sharpness is excellent and the detail free grain in the dark areas isn’t annoying at all.

There is not much thrill handling the camera. It has shutter speeds from 1/30 down to 1/250 of a second and aperture from 2.8 to 16. The lens is a 2.8/28mm lens. The depth of field depends on the chosen aperture, for example at 2.8 it starts at about 5m to infinity while it’s just 1m for aperture 16. Inserting the film can be tricky but YouTube features some how to do it videos. The most difficult thing is not to get a finger in the way of the lens. Shooting becomes a bit “inconvenient” since holding the camera, as I normally do, would certainly be visible on the negs. The new versions like the 202 have a special grip while you just need to be careful with the older releases.

The entire process from buying to having a functioning camera took me about a year. Now I have a working panorama camera that gives excellent output (as long as it lasts). The It doesn’t really replace the wish of having a Fuji 6×17 but it helps that craving to shoot wide for a while.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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 …

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Ilford HP5+ – the expired film page

The other day I rushed out of my place, grabbed the Konica Hexar AF for the AF and the ‘ease of use’, took a roll of HP5+ and thought that this would serve my intend. I set the ISO to 800 with the believe that HP5+ pushes with some ‘grace’.  I developed the film in Kodak HC110, dilution B, 21C for 7min.

When I looked at the finished film, I realized that it might have been a roll that expired long ago. I checked the canister and it gave an experation date of 1993. Damn, that thing has been expired for 24 years and I treated it as just coming out of the factory. 

What do the years of unknown storage conditions do to a roll of HP5+? First thing I noticed is the totally foggy film base which really doesn’t help the details in the shadows: they are pretty much gone. In the lights you can still find quite some separation and the scan gets this perculiar semi high contrast look of having separation up to the middle of the tonal scale and falling off right after. Some time ago I observed the same with expired UP400 by Maco. The emulsion is apparaently the same as HP5+. So no surprises here.

What I should have done knowing about the film being expired is to rate the film at ISO 100 or 200 and do a semistand development with 1g of potassium bromide added to avoid extensive fogging. However, it’s obviously too late now. I can try the 2nd roll I still keep in the fridge. Or, I might just get rid of it. Sometimes, if the results look like this, using expired film isn’t fun at all.

My cat Maya served as the model of the example images posted here. The rest of the film is far from usable. Images I imagined to be quite well composed were extremely underexposed. 

THIS AIN’T FUN. SAD.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_003-Edit

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_005-Edit

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_004-Edit

 

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.

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_006-Edit

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_003-Edit

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_002-Edit

 

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.

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_014-Edit

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_015-Edit

 

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.

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_005-Edit

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_002-Edit

201508_India_KB5_APX100_022-Edit

 

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.

201508_India_KB6_Foma400_016-Edit

201508_India_KB6_Foma400_023-Edit

201508_India_KB6_Foma400_024-Edit

 

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 ….

201508_India_MF19_Portra160_001-Edit

201508_India_MF19_Portra160_002-Edit

201508_India_MF19_Portra160_003-Edit

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_004-Edit

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

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_005-Edit

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 …

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

First look: Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus

Going on a trip always means seeing new things, meeting different people, eating less known food but also taking lots of new films with you and trying to figure out how to develop them to achieve the wanted look. Of course there is a risk to it: it might not come out the way you imaged it or it could be totally messed up. People tend to do these kind of experiments with shots somewhere around home and easily accessible. But isn’t that kind of boring looking at motives you’ve seen and taken pictures of for so many times? And what’s the worst case scenario messing up completely? You got to go back. Is that really that bad?

On my last trip, I took three films to develop it in the new Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus which is marketed a a fine grain developer for t-grain and conventional films with slow and average speed. Here are the films:

  1. Kodak TriX which I usually don’t like for it’s high contrast which needs to be tamed.
  2. Fomapan 400 which I like especially developed in Caffenol, Kodak HC110 and Spuersinn HCDnew.
  3. Fomapan 100 which is a bit flat and not really sharp.

The Ultrafin T-Plus (datasheet here) comes in 500ml bottles and costs 15€ here in Germany. According to the datasheet, thirty 135 or 120 films can be developed with one bottle which makes the developer quite economical with 0.50€ per film. The opened bottle can be stored for about six month and the working solution is good for about 2 month. Ultrafin T-Plus is not a one shot developer.

The list of films and the corresponding development times published by Tetenal is rather short and I didn’t find any recipes on FilmDev.org or the Massive Dev Chart.

Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200, developed for 5:30min

16048564708_1c9bda2952_o

The working solution. First I prepared the working solution by using one part developer and four parts water. 200ml developer and 800ml are needed for 1l solution which can be used to develop 12 rolls of film. The temperature should be around 20°C.

Watering the film. I know there is some people having arguments that pre-soaking the film isn’t really necessary. However, I usually do it anyway since it doesn’t seem to hurt.

Developing the film. Sometimes it needs to be a little bit of calculation to get the correct developing time. I like to push or pull films to get the best out of the situation.

  1. Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200: 8:15min – 20% for pulling 1 stop – 1min for developer 22°C = 5:30min
  2. Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200: 7:30min – 15% for pulling 1 stop – 30sec for developer at 21°C = 6min
  3. Fompan 100 rated at ISO 100: 4:30min

The tank needs to be agitated for the first 30sec and afterwards 2x every 30sec.

Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200, developed for 6min

16235256532_d8d15864b1_o

Stop bath and fixing. I usually just stop with water. Sometimes, when the developing time is short, I also use stop bath. I don’t think it really matters. The fixer I use is standard and I usually give it 5min with 30sec agitation right at the beginning and 10x after 2:30min.

Watering. I agitated 10x, 20x and finally 30x in fresh water. Afterwards I used a washing aid diluted 1+500 for 5min and hang the film up for drying afterwards.

Fomapan 100 developed for 4:30min.

16047136447_1853dd15ef_o

The result. I think all three films deliver good results. The TriX and the Fomapan 400 are excellent. They show good contrast, sharpness and a nice grain. The TriX was used in difficult light right into the lens and film/developer did a great job. The Fomapan 400 is super sharp and the grain is perfect for a 400 speed film. Both films are pretty good to be pulled and I’m going to use the combination of films and developer again. The Fomapan 100 shows a lot of little white spots in the brighter areas of the film. Contrast and sharpness are extremely good for a 100 ISO film. However, the white spots are annoying.

The next steps. I will post the results of a Fomapan 100 I used with a red filter and I shot an Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 200 which I plan to develop in Ultrafin T-Plus as well.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a place of superlatives. Coming from Dubai driving towards Abu Dhabi, I could spot the large structure easily. It’s the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest in the world. The construction of the mosque which tries to unite the cultural diversity of Islam took 11 years using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates.

This wikipedia article and the official home page of the mosque will give you more inside and detailed information.

Visiting the mosque is perfectly organized which is a blessing considering the masses of visitors. However, it’s also a pain in the neck since security and restrictions are present at any moment of your visit. I would certainly suggest an official tour of the mosque. You get to know so much more about the place, its construction and the meaning of many details. Also, you get into the part of the mosque that’s closed to the general visitor. Bring some time and a camera for your visit here. It’s a great place for architectural photography as well as amazing indoor and detail shots.

The photos here are from two different cameras (Hasselbad 500CM and the Lomo Belair, a 6×12 panoramic camera) taken on three different films (Ilford’s Pan F+ and Delta 400 as well as Rollei Retro 80s). The Pan F+ and the Retro 80s were developed in Kodak HC110 while I always use Spuersinn HCDnew for a Delta 400. I know I’m missing some color images here. It’s a good plan for next time to shoot color only.

Hasselblad 500CM  taken on Ilford Pan F (some with red filter):

201404_UAE_PanF_HC110_005-Edit

201404_UAE_PanF_HC110_003-Edit

201404_UAE_PanF_HC110_001-Edit

201404_UAE_PanF_HC110_003-Edit

Lomo Belair 6×12 taken on Ilford Delta 400:

201404_UAE_Delta400_HCDnew_023-Edit

201404_UAE_Delta400_HCDnew_022-Edit

 

201404_UAE_Delta400_HCDnew_026-Edit

201404_UAE_Delta400_HCDnew_024-Edit

201404_UAE_Delta400_HCDnew_021-Edit

Hasselblad 500CM taken on Rollei Retro 80s (some with red filter):

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_002-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_003-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_005-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_006-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_007-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_008-Edit

201404_UAE_Retro80s_HC110_013-Edit

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Camera Talk -The Pentax 645N

Back in 2002, I got my first Pentax 645NII. Even though digital photography was certainly winning more and more ground, I decided to give it a shot. I was shooting mostly color slides and a bit of b&w film back than and I just recently sold a Contax G2 to get my first digital SLR, a Fujifilm S2.

I think I used the camera for about a year on trips to Cambodia, Japan, Germany, China and in Taiwan where I recited at the time. I even have some framed prints left from these rolls but mostly scanned the slides which are sitting somewhere on my hard disk now.

I sold the piece at the B&H store in New York and got a Voigtlaender Bessa R.

Just a year ago when still living in Singapore, I saw a good deal for a Pentax 645N with a 45-85mm, 1:4.5 lens on ebay. I got it even though my memories were mixed.

First of all that thing is heavy. It ways about 2kg with lens and still 1.2kg without. It’s a real pain to haul around. Yet, it works like a 35mm SLR. The autofocus is fast and reliable. The camera got spot, center weighted and matrix exposure measurement and you can adjust the exposure by +/-3 stops in 1/3 steps. You even can bracket your shots. Maybe someone uses it for “film” HDR. But it did come handy when shooting slides.

Here are a couple of slides I shot 2003 in Cambodia

The Pentax 645N was released in 1997. Autofocus was added to the 645 and a new series of autofocus lenses was released as well. It seems to me that the 45-85mm zoom lens I got isn’t the sharpest. I was looking around online but only found good reviews. I guess it doesn’t help to scan and zoom in to 200%. It is film after all.

Apparently, the 645 series was developed for amateur wedding photographers. Today, the camera is bargain for landscape and fine art photography. Even though, Hasselblad and Mamiya 7 lenses are going to beat the Pentax lenses but what you get is more speed and fun shooting.

Here are a couple of images I shot recently on Ilford FP4+ and HP5+:

Ilford HP5+ developed in Spuersinn HCD

Ilford FP4+ developed in SPUR Acurol

Ilford HP5+ developed Spuersinn HCD

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail