Tag Archives: spuersinn hcdnew

Pulling HP5+ and some thoughts about trying new things

I’m an engineer and I spent most of my time making things faster, smaller und cheaper for the sole purpose of increasing the share holder value of the company I work for. How are investors kept happy? One thing is making enough money to pay a hefty dividend. Another, increasing the market capitalization and again another reducing cost while making more money. But the most important is to tell the investors that the company has a vision how to grow in the future. 

It seems that the digital camera industry just works the same way and the best story seems to be the number of megapixel. Nikon seems to lead the dSLRrace with the 45MPixel D850. The Sony alpha a99 follows with 42MPixels. There is even a mirror less Sony a7r that features 42MPixels as well. Sorry, but this is just crazy. When I got out of the digital race, my pro dSLR had just sixteen lousy MPs. At the time of purchase that Nikon flagship cost me about $4000 (body only) and when I sold it a couple of years later it wasn’t worth much.

I also participated in the mirror less race quite a bit since I liked the concept but never liked the results. It all started with the first digital Olympus Pen. Nice Retro looking piece but the images just “to cry for”. I had to edit every frame heavily and the absence of an unsharp region drove me nuts. Later I tried a Fuji X100 with the fixed 35mm pancake lens. Also, I loved the looks of it and actually the results were quite ok but it wasn’t quite versatile. Much later when I already switched back to analog, I tried a highly appraised Olympus OM-D since the Hasselblad died due to a little bit of ice cream jamming the mirror. That was the last resort. I’m sticking to film and I rather stop shooting than going back to serious digital photography. 

I like to be slow and focus with my own hands. I enjoy looking at 12 frames instead of 200 at the end of a day. I think about film, developer, speed and contrast before I go shooting. I’m crazy about collecting all these weird ass cameras and only spend little money on them. For me it’s all about the experiment and the unknown results trying new film stock or chemistry. Messing things up and starting all over again is part of this game. And when I tried it all, I hope there will be Ilford HP5+ which is in the end all one needs to take great photos.

 That’s why here some frames on Ilford HP5+ pulled to ISO200 and developed in my last stock of Spuersinn’s HCDnew. The images were taken with my more than bitchy Rolleiflex 6008. I still don’t know what to do with this camera. 

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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 …

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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 places – top ten

I’m gonna post three images of my top five places for each and two for sixth to tenth place. I know this is highly subjective and other people might choose differently. Also, it’s difficult to come up with a ranking. There are so many incredible things to see and to experience in India.

1. Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal was certainly the highlight of the trip. In spite of the many people visiting the place, I enjoyed every moment there. I know all the photos taken are just pale copies of shots done a million times before. I didn’t  visit Taj Mahal to take pictures. I wanted to stand in front of it and see if I can feel the amazement of this one of a kind structure. And i did.

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2. Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke – the temple of rats

I’ve been afraid of rats since I was a small boy. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the way it is. And the rat temple has been on a never existing list of places to visit for quite a while. It’s not only that there are rats allover the place but that one has to conquer the temple barefooted. If this isn’t a way to get rid of one’s fear, what else is? In the end I just stopped contemplating, took off my shoes and stepped in the land of cute little rats. I even mastered to see one of the very rare white rats which propels one into god like status already. I guessed there will be other places during my journey where a “god like status”  is a good thing.

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3. Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh fort was a recommendation by an Indian co-worker of mine. She comes from the south of India and has done a Rajasthan trip just a couple of years ago. The place wasn’t on the original itinerary but i managed to convince the driver that this is a “must do”. The old fort, that hosted the capital of the Mewar rulers until Udai Singh II left it and founded Udaipur in 1567,  is one of the largest and grandest in Rajasthan. Among the many different places to visit within the walls of the fort, these are my recommendations: the gaumukh reservoir, the ruins of the rana kuhmba palace as well as the almost romantic padmini palace.

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4. Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur

Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur already greats you with its former power from a far distance. The fort certainly keeps its promises once you step through several gates walking through several courtyards serving as official parts of the palace, as living space for the maharajah or his wifes. The museum is very professional run by a trust established by the former maharajah Gaj Singh in 1972. The audio guide included in the entrance fee is just amazing. The guided tour is well planned and there is so much extra information included, even maharajah Gay Singh contributes a couple of words. The views from the fort down to the “blue city” are also worth climbing up there.

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5. Thar desert

The desert is the desert is the desert. It’s sand, dunes and the sky just disturbed by some people and camels. I enjoyed just walking up the dunes and feel the sand under my slippers. I didn’t participate in the many activities offered for tourists such as camel rides, dinner in the desert, folklore performances or even sleeping in the desert. I just walked over the dunes and took some photos.

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6. Jaisalmer fort and old city

The jaisalmer fort is palace and old city within impressive walls. Looking from the edges of the wall down into the new city as well as the endless desert behind isn’t tiring at all. Walking around in the narrow streets of the old city can be a bit confusing. However, you’ll hit a wall quickly while strolling around. People here might invite you into their houses or show you the view from their roofs. Some will ask you for a little money and twenty rupees are usually enough and definitely worth to get a little look inside the life here.

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7. Amber Fort in Jaipur

What an amazing early morning landscape: the amber fort just outside of jaipur. At the time of the trip I visited jaipur I was already a bit tired of visiting another fort and my brain wasn’t willing to take more information in. So, I don’t know much about the place and I also didn’t like most of the images I took there. However, the fort and its surroundings are very unique.

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8. Jain temple in Ranakpur

A temple that just lives up to its destination, a place of worship, a place where gods live, built with an uncountable number of pillars giving one the illusion of something floating. The temple is located in the aravalli mountains with lush green sub tropical vegetation.

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9. Havelis in Mandawa

The Havelis in Mandawa were just built for the purpose of extravaganza showing off the wealth of the traders along the old silk road. They are just lined up in Mandawa, one behind another and all of them are witnesses of a long gone time. Even though many Havelis are not really taken care of, they still exhibit their former beauty. I also loved about Mandawa that there were hardly any western tourists around. Walking through the busiest street wasn’t a race between people asking for money or trying to sell something. It was just a walk through a busy street, people minding their own business. I really enjoyed taking pictures here in Mandawa and I won’t state this about some of the bigger places I visited.

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10. Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, founded in 1569 and built during the next fifteen years by the mughal emperor akbar, is one of the best preserved examples of mughal architecture in India. Visiting the place in the late afternoon with its low lights and long shadows is a nice experience. The few visitors get easily lost in the large terrain. Just the area around the jama masjid mosque and the tomb of salim chisti was a bit busier. Now I’m slightly mad that I didn’t take more pictures here. Although this gives me a reason to come back to this place.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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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taking the hasselblad to a concert

A hasselblad isn’t really known for its use during a concert. Actually the camera isn’t known to be very versatile outside a photo studio. Although I like to take my hasselblad anywhere but the studio and I started to enjoy the results of images taken in low light. A film that is very versatile and push-able to the extreme is Kodak’s TriX. I’ve used the film at ISO 6400 and beyond developed in Spuersinn HCDnew.

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I have discussed the camera as well as the film. The next question is about the best lens. My thinking for a concert and low light is going wide. Focusing is a bit easier since the depth of field is increased and I have a better chance hitting the focus in dim lighting.

I also think I’m able to get interesting angles and a bit more drama using a wide lens. But this brings me to the next problem: location. Shooting wide means I gotta get close to the stage and that might be a problem in a tiny  crowded place.

Finally, I chose the 40mm/4 Distagon this time. I just got the lens on ebay and was really keen to try it out. I set it on f4 and 1/30 at and started shooting. I also measured and saw that I need a stop more to develop at ISO 6400. Anyway, the setting was the lowest anyway and I started shooting. Maybe I could get away with 1/15s with a 40mm lens but I didn’t want to risk it knowing the hasselblad doesn’t do really well with long shutter speeds.

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The concert took place in a small bar called Gabanyi, a cosy place with a long bar and a few tables while the stuff runs around in white aprons, the kind that people wear in labs. There was a little stage with the piano just lid by two old fashioned lamps on the wall.

The bar was getting pretty crowded. There were some tables right in front of the stage with all seats taken. When the concert started, I quickly finished my beer and squeezed myself between two tables standing right in front of the stage. I realized that the camera plus the lens are quite big and it needs a bit of juggling in a narrow space. I also needed to be careful where to put the camera when not shooting. A small digital point-and-shoot might be more practical. I just wonder if I even would look at the results. Part of the fun is the challenge to master all weird circumstances: the big medium format camera plus the monster 40mm lens, the narrow space, the low light and the film chosen for the task, the shooting location. Considering all this and a bit of luck will lead to some interesting images for sure. I always try to find a good balance between shooting and thinking before clicking. Shooting with film means every time you click the shutter you also use a frame of film. Thinking too much means you never get a full film.

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Finding a balance especially while shooting a band is important. Some out of focus frames will be lost as well as some due to unexpected movements. I tried to limit myself to one film since changing the film or back might have been too much trouble.

Observing the images I see that most are done from a low point of view. That can be explained with the usage of the hasselblad’s waistlevel finder which makes it easier to choose a low view point than a high one. I’ve tried over the head and upside down but I seldom hit the right focus. I also tried during this shoot and it was a wasted frame. Sometimes I get the finder very close to my face and try to stand on my toes to raise the camera as much as possible. Yet, a view from above is only possible from a raised position. These are the things you don’t even realize while shooting but when looking at the results much later.

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I think I need to say some words about the band as well. Hey, they were the real heroes of the evening. “The Capitols” is a young band based in Munich, Germany which usually plays good and solid rock. In the relatively small Gabanyi Bar they tried to go “unplugged”. I think even the band wasn’t sure if this is going to work but it did. The acoustic versions of “Inhale/Exhale” and “Neon Ghetto” totally worked for me. There are three songs promoted on their webpage.

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A bit of history

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There is one single material in the periodic table of elements that is incredibly important to today’s cyber lifestyle. This element is silicon. It basically exists in huge volume like sand on the beach because it is in the sand on the beach. It has its own native oxide and therefor it can be easily structured into different devices which built the final circuitry. We found ways to shrink the devices and design more and more functions onto the same area of silicon. At the same time we increased the diameter of the silicon wafer getting more and more dies out of one wafer and therefor make the product cheap and attractive for mass production.

The only problem: silicon doesn’t exist in its metallurgic state but as silicon dioxide in sand. And once you obtained silicon by a carbothermic reduction of silicon dioxide, it’s not clean and monocrystalline.

Semiconductor research began with selenium. First simple diodes were built and the rectifying junction was done with a metal plated contact on the selenium. I can still remember the look of selenium rectifiers in old vacuum tube TVs or radios.

A selenium rectifier here.

The Bell labs in the US developed the first germanium transistor in 1947. For the first time a semiconductor device was shown that had a larger output signal compared to its input. The semiconductor amplifier was born.

The first transistor here.

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Back to the silicon: Selenium had a rather high resistance when switched on, a relatively low voltage capability when being off and a bad reliability over lifetime. Germanium basically turns into a metal when heated above 70°C. So, a group of German scientists around Walter Schottky and Eberhard Spenke, which had left Berlin during the last month of WWII, settled down in a small village with the name of Markt Pretzfeld in Franconia, north of Nuremberg and Erlangen,  and started to look into silicon as the base material for the making of semiconductor devices. While manufacturing selenium rectifiers in the former kitchen of a castle, they invented a method, known as the “Siemens Verfahren”, to obtain extremely clean and polycrystalline metallurgic silicon in the stalls of the former manor house. In the next step they were able to get monocrystalline silicon tubes to be used for manufacturing. In the mid-fifties the first silicon rectifiers manufactured there demonstrated the wide ranging benefit of silicon. At the time Siemens held all major patents for the manufacturing of semiconductor grade silicon and they were all born in Pretzfeld’s castle.

Today, the majority of silicon is still produced with the Siemens Verfahren and many new developments have taken place, like MOS transistor (metal on semiconductor) and the DRAM memory cell (dynamic random access memory) to name two of the biggest inventions. However, what happened in the barns, the kitchen and the bedrooms of the castle in Pretzfeld is unique and undoubly the beginning of our digital world.

In the nineties, I spent some time as an intern in Pretzfeld when Siemens was still producing diodes and thyristors for high voltage applications there and I took a little bit of that spirit of the silicon pioneers with me. I’m glad that I still had the opportunity to meet the second generation of researchers after Schottky and Spenke. In 2002 manufacturing now under Eupec (a 100% subsidiary of Infineon, formerly Siemens Semiconductor) finally ceased and the manor house returned to civil use.

Not much reminds the visitor of the castle of the research past now. There are apartments where the workshop and the device testing was done and the people living there just heard about what happened here before. A street named after Walter Schottky is the only sign of the history that was written here.

Some more links:

in German by Martin Schottky.

in English by Peter Voss, who I worked with in the past.

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Images are taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M on Ilford PanF+ and developed in Spuersinn HCDnew.

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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):

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Lomo Belair 6×12 taken on Ilford Delta 400:

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

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