Tag Archives: rodinal

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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The last roll – I sold the Mamiya 645Pro

My first post in 2017 shows some old pictures I took on a trip to India in 2015. I also showed some of the images here before. These here are the last images taken with a Mamiya 645Pro that I sold a couple of weeks ago on eBay. Next to the 80mm standard lens, I also had a 45mm/2.8 wide and 150mm/4 long lens. While I never used the long lens, the 45mm was a great choice for traveling. I also had two film magazines and a metered prismn finder for the camera, which I also didn’t use much. I really preferred the waistlevel finder and a small handheld light meter hanging around my neck looking extremely nerdy. Honestly, the set, excluding the prism finder and the 150mm lens, was pretty perfect for traveling. The camera is reliable and not too heavy. The electronic shutter needs a battery that lasts quite long at least. I’m not a big fan of electronic shutters but I’m able to tolerate as long as the camera works. The lenses are good but not great though. They would lose the direct comparison to Zeiss lenses for Hasselblad or old Nikkor lenses for the Bronica S. But they are good when compared to Pentax or the later Bronica Zensanon.  

I guess it’s a valid question why I decided to sell the entire system in the end.  Before Christmas I decided to simplify my camera collection and decided to let go of the Mamiya 645Pro and kept the Mamiya 645AF which seem to have a couple of advantages. Admittedly, the AF isn’t as compact but lenses are good, the auto focus is fast for a medium format camera and the meter works just fine. 

Enjoy the photos I took in Agra and Delhi in 2015. 

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A walk along the river Elbe with a Hasselblad, Rollei Retro 400s and a red filter

One of the largest man made park landscapes in Europe can be found close to Dessau in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt. The area is great for hiking and cycling since it’s loaded with parks and their noble residences. Also 1919 The Bauhaus art and design school settled in Dessau and many typical Bauhaus landmarks can be found here. In my last post I wrote about the “Meisterhaeuser”, the houses of the Bauhaus masters. In my new post you can find some images of the Kornhaus designed and built by the Bauhaus architect Carl Fieger as an restaurant and event complex in 1930. In 2012 the restaurant was re-opened and I certainly enjoyed having lunch on the terrace. 

Ok, let me write about the photography now. The format 6×6: that’s something that was hard for me when I started taking images with the Hasselblad. However, soon enough I realized that the square is a great format and it doesn’t have the limitations of other “cuts”. The subject can as well be centered as off center. All that matters that the extra space is “filled” with something interesting compared to a portrait or landscape shot. 

The film Rollei Retro 400s: usually I’d use it for urban subjects but not for landscapes. The fine grain, the high contrast and the excellent sharpness work well for architectural  photos. I’m positively surprised that the film also has a wide range of grey tones and that the contrast can be tamed. 

The red filter: in short it darkens the blues, lightens the reds. A nice effect is the brighter greens as well. Although, it’s not that strong in summer compared with the fresh greens in spring time. I like how white clouds and bright buildings get this natural glow against the darker blue sky. The effect can certainly be driven to an extreme as  it’s done in infrared photography. Here I appreciate the filter’s subtleness. My favorite is the last image. The sun was setting against a cloudy sky. The llight green of the trees and all these nice grey tones work harmonically together. I didn’t know the red filter would work this well in the evening.

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One roll, one topic – the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau

I think I tried several times to take decent images of the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau and I’m not sure I succeeded this time. The three double houses for the Bauhaus masters and the single house for the director were built in a small pine forest between 1925 and 1926. The architect Walter Gropius assembled cubic shapes of different sizes and envisioned an industrial Lego to build the houses. The houses have spacious patios and balconies as well as large windows on the sides illuminating the stairways. The    street side of the houses are mostly shaped by the large atelier windows. 

Now let me talk about the challenges of shooting these houses. There is trees allover the place. They are everywhere and really ruin the light as well as an unblocked view. On the other hand, these tall parallel pine trees somehow underline the cubic architecture and sometimes a tree cleverly breaks the parallelism. I guess I was rather luck with the light and the sun even broke through the clouds. I took this as a chance to use a dark red filter and together with the Rollei Retro 400s film it lightened the greens which looks quite fresh compared to the expected heavy dark above the white buildings.

Another quite annoying issue is that the space is very limited. Regardless of the lens used, lines will be falling and nothing is worse trying to portrait a design based on parallel lines and 90deg angles. Sometimes it seems beneficial to make the falling lines even stronger by using a wide angle lens or a low point of view but except using a large format camera or a tiltshift lens, we need to live with it. 

None of the images show the street side views of the houses. I tried one out of twelve and didn’t find it worthy to be shown here. The issues with the trees, the light and the falling lines just seem to be worse. However, maybe a good reason to return and focus on the street facing side.

Last but not least, I want to make some comments about the choice of film. Rollei Retro 400s is a fine grain emulsion that is also very sharp as well as high contrast. I think it’s a good pick to shoot architecture. However, I usually tame the contrast a bit by shooting at ISO 200 and reducing agitation during development. 

The last image doesn’t show one of the original houses. The homes of the directors were destroyed during the last days of WWII. In 2014 new houses were built but they do not resemble the originals. These two houses are new interpretations of the old without being the old.

i will continue with a bit more Bauhaus in a couple of days. Until then, enjoy.

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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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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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Ammendorfer Plast Werke or the returning past

I grew up next to a chemical plant on the outskirts of Halle once a center of the cemical industry in Germany. The smell of chlorine was more familiar to me than the smell of flowers. The factory started in the 30s with manufacturing poison gas s-lost (senfgas) and was Germany's 2nd biggest factory for chemical weapons. As kids we played in the bunker entrances of the former Orgacid GmbH. Rumors went around that there is still poison gas inside but the Russians had destroyed most of the bunker area. Apperantly, poison was found inside the place as well as in the well underneath in the 90s. An expensive redevelopment was started and all you see today is a fenced in area of greens.Some details in German can be found here.

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After the war the factory started making different things made of poly vinyl chloride such as plastic flooring, washable wall paper using a PVC paste rasin which is still in production today as ATF Ammendorfer Plastisole. In the 80s they tried making synthetic rubber since East Germany had little natural resources. But the realization from concept to production failed and the engineer who developed the process left the country.

I want to talk a little more about the history of the chemical industry in East Germany and especially about Buna which was the mother company of the Ammendorfer Plastwerke. Buna is the synonym for a synthetic rubber made of butadiene and styrene. The Nazi goverment wanted to be independent from natural rubber and opened Buna as a daughter of I.G. Farben in 1936. The pre-war production of natural rubber was barely reached and the planned factory in Auschwitz using forced labor never started production.

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After the war production was continued under Russian command until 1954 when the Buna become a state-owned company. Polyvinyl chloride was the second important product manufactured here using the calcium carbide route. Making calcium carbide needs a lot of water and a lot of energy which was readily available using the brown coal from the open cast mining nearby. But that also meant the step by step destruction of the environment which was totally neglected until the 80s when the situation was already quite desolate.

In the 60s the factory also started an oil based production line. However, the non-petrochemical production was inreased and modernized in the 80s since the Russian oil deliveries declined. 18000 people worked here until the re-unification in 1990 when the state-owned industry broke apart. Satellite cities like Halle-Neustadt and Silberhoehe were built to house the increasing need of human force. I believe the interesting part was the attempt to run a chemical industry mostly independent on natural resources like rubber and oil replacing them with unlimited usage of humans and nature.

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My parents worked in the Ammendorf factory for many years. They started working there before I was born in 1969 and still did in early 1990. Even I spent summer breaks there to make some money. Most of the place broke apart in the early 90s. Only small parts survived the re-unification and the sell-out of East Germany. Most chemical plants were victims of over-employment, high cost due to outdated technology and huge environmental problems. My mother lost her job as a chemical lab assistant quite early and re-trained to be a nurse in an retirement home. My father stayed on for many years to be the safety engineer for the split off wall paper factory which finally closed doors in 2011.

What's mainly left today are traces of the past, streets but almost none of the former buildings left. Looking closer, I could find pieces of tiles and porcelain plates as small broken tokens of the past …

The images were taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M on Rollei RPX100 and developed in Rodinal.

 

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A modern yet retro film – Rollei Retro 80s

When shopping online for film the other day, I decided to try the Rollei Retro 80s and the RPX 100. The lower prices compared to Ilford and Kodak also seemed attractive. First I put a RPX100 in the Hasselblad but either I or the camera messed up. First, the paper ripped and then I inserted the film the wrong way with the result to find the film empty after developement. So, I tried the Retro 80s next and made sure I did it right. I went into the center of Munich, walked around, shot some frames in the Hofgarten, got a beer, shot and walked some more and got Thai food and developed the film the same night.

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I gave it 14min in 1+50 Rodinal at 20C and thought for sure I did something wrong during development. The film base is so transparent and the contrasts are so rich that I thought for sure I overdeveloped. However, next day I scanned the film and I quite liked it. It was easy to scan with good contrasts and no visible grain. I read online that the film looses details in the shadows easily. However, I didn't think it is any worse than HP5+ developed in Rodinal. 

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Another thing that makes the film atractive, is the low sensitivity to blue light which works great with blue skies. It comes out nice and dark and fluffy clouds will brightly light the sky. I can only image using an orange or red filter. The lights are amazing, the gray tones are ok and the shadows aren't as bad as I thought. Even shooting against the low evening sun seemed to lead to decent results. It's a modern film with an old emulsion. I have no idea how it would print in the darkroom but it works well for the semi digital workflow I've adopted. 

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Compared to Ilford, Fuji and Kodak the film is relatively inexpensive here in Germany and www.fotoimpex.de is a good source to get some. However, the film gives me the feeling of a "cheap" make compared to other brands. I would recommend to handle with extra care since it just feels a bit flimsy.

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Maybe some words about the development. I think Rodinal is a good choice since it compensates the high contrasts a little bit. Too get started I selcted a recipe on filmdev.org and check massive dev chart as well. I started with Rodinal 1+50 at 20C for 14min. I haven't tried stand developing yet but I can imagine that it would work as well for compensation. The film seems to behave like an ISO 80 but I'm not so scientific about metering. I'm sure the film can be easily pulled to 40 but haven't tried it. I found info somewhere that the film can be pushed to ISO 160 but also haven't tried it either and not sure if i will.

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Some more interesting info here: http://www.martinzimelka.com/pages/Rollei_Retro80s.html

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