Here is the complete album of images taken during the Caffenol workshop weekend in Salzburg. I shot 3 films with my Praktica MTL5b. Unfortunately the camera had some issues with film transport. I guess I got to try and check what’s wrong with it
Anyway i had a fun weekend, met nice people and shot some cool frames. I know it’s a bit nerdy to test three films. I haven’t really found my favorite combinations yet. You might think I have a structured approach. Believe me, I don’t … I use whatever film is in the fridge and whatever I feel like.
Here again the links to the organizers: Dirk Essl and Marco Spalluto with lots of images and info about developing film in coffee. Many thanks to Lisa from the Leica Galerie Salzburg as well. They do have an Elliott Erwitt exhibition which is worthwhile a visit until the 12th of October.
About the results: I like the Fomapan 400 for the smooth grain. I guess it only works for motives that have not much fine and sharp detail and open up into some blur. Contrast isn’t really high but pleasant in my opinion. I know people who say it’s a bit flat but maybe our eyes are trained to see digital photos. The Kodak TMAX 100 is quite the opposite: strong in contrast, no visible grain and still enough sharpness in the details. However, lots of the tonality in the middle of the gray scale is lost. The Delta 400 is somewhere in between: nice grain, good sharpness and good contrast.
Ilford Delta 400:
Kodak TMAX 100:
So, last weekend I went to a workshop how to develop photographic film in coffee in Salzburg. On Saturday we walked around in the city center to have some material to practice our darkroom skills. We saw that the Ropac Gallery just opened an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe curated by the French actress Isabelle Huppert. We walked in and at least I was shocked of how dressed up everybody was or better how dressed down I felt.
I was standing in the middle of the entrance hall and Isabelle Huppert and the owner of the gallery walked down the stairs and came to stop right in front of me. A whole bunch of press photographers were suddenly around me, hundreds of flash' went off and I was standing there with a 30 year old Praktica MTL5b loaded with a Kodak TMAX 100 film and couldn't do much. Anyway, I felt pretty stupid but I tried. Guessing the foucs, using 1/30 and aperture wide open I pointed the camera towards the actress and shot: "glong", wind the film and another "glong".
Later when we developed the film I realized that something was wrong with the camera and the film was only transported half a frame. Here is the result. In the left half the focus is more on Thaddaeus Ropac but gives Isabelle a nice glow (all un-indented) and she autopraphed some images of her on the right side.
Some words about the exhibition. Isabelle Huppert chose a little bit more than 100 images. Of course she selected some of the well known themes of flowers and human bodies. However, the exhibition also includes some less known images like earlier work with polaroids and even some landscapes. My personal favorites are the portraits. They speak very much a Mapplethorpe language of tender truth. The exhibition mixes them all. This might be confusing but standing in front of a wall with several pictures, they make sense, the virtually vibrate from the wall. There were too many people and too much hectic around to enjoy the images but the exhibition is open until the end of October and I can go again.
My images are all taken with a Praktica MTL 5b on Kodak TMAX 100 and developed in caffenol with the Delta recipe here.
Some useful links:
Dirk Essl's Caffenol blog: http://www.caffenol.org
Marco Spalluto's blog: http://www.spalluto.de
Reinhold's Caffenol blog: http://caffenol.blogspot.de/
Hey, you know what I'm talking about? Do you know a camera that doesn't have dozens of functions and you don't need to click through layers of menus. You don't even need to wait for the autofocus to over-sharpen your image because it just can't. You know what I'm talking about? Yes, a simple point and shoot roll film camera in bakelite housing: The VEB Rheinmetall Perfekta.
The camera doesn't have much controls. It's got a fixed focus and a shutter speed of about 1/30sec and a bulb mode. The release needs be cocked by the film transport wheel on top of the camera. And last but not least, the finder are two funny frames which can be flipped in and out. Aiming the camera at anything between 5 and 10m will get you something in focus. Any object nearer will be just blurry while anything further away is just not totally sharp. You need to hold the camera steady. The about 80mm lens and the fixed shutter speed can lead to blurred images. There are no other controls on this camera. It's really up to you what kind of photography you do with it. I think it's best when you take it out to your neighborhood and see what you can find.
The body was made of bakelite and still has this funny plastic smell to it. The controls are cream colored which gives the camera a fancy look. Around 1 million pieces of this modern streamline design box cameras were made between 1953 and 1957 and it looks very much the same as the Druopta Efekta which is difficult to find already. I also found a nice Perfekta II on ebay. But about about that baby later.
I took the bakelite wonder on a trip to Salzburg. It was a sunny day but still decided to got for my favorite film: Ilford HP5+. Even though a very nwell behaving film, I like the over all look of contrast, grey tones and grain. I guessed the exposure and set 7.7 in shady spaces, 11or 16 when it was sunnier. As usual with the uncertainty of the exposure, I stand developed in highly diluted Rodinal (1+100 for 1h) leading to the effect to develop stronger in the shadows compared to the lights and making edges of higher contrast a bit sharper having the low quality of the lens in mind.
Here are some results which are actually quite OK. Sharpness drops quickly from the center to the edge but the lens does have a beautiful and subtle darker and out of focus vignette.