Fitchburg Rides, 2014

In what promises to be the first of many years of this event, I recently attended Fitchburg Rides on June 21st. It featured a vintage bicycle exhibit at the Fitchburg Historical Society, which hosted a similar event last year. There was a bike swap, a display of BMX stunts, even a competition up Fitchburg’s steepest hill, near the old Fitchburg High. This was indeed a very packed day. I packed the Hasselblad, Nikon F3, and Nikon D300. Here are some Hasselblad shots taken with the 150mm, and Ilford Delta 100. Semi-stand developed in 1:100 Rodinal for one hour.

Fully restored Mini-Twinn Schwinn.

Fully restored Mini-Twinn Schwinn.

Another restored classic, the Schwinn Lime-Picker.

Another restored classic, the Schwinn Lime-Picker.

Schwinns were everywhere!

Schwinns were everywhere!

Other bikes really did have that vintage look.

Other bikes really did have that vintage look.

Sharing stories.

Sharing stories.

Colon Cycles

Colon Cycles

Master Schwinn bicycle restorer, Pedro, is interviewed by Fitchburg Access TV.

Master Schwinn bicycle restorer, Pedro, is interviewed by Fitchburg Access TV.

I plan to post more about Pedro when I get up my 35mm negatives He truly is a craftsman.

St. Spyridion- Another Roll, Another Developer

Inside the cathedral, at a much higher speed! ISO400, instead of 100.

Inside the cathedral, at a much higher speed! ISO400, instead of 100.

Ok, now it was time to load up a second roll into another magazine. While I was somewhat confident of good frames with Delta 100, it was simply too slow for the light I was reading. A roll of yellow wrapped Kodak legend was in the bag. Tri-X to the rescue!

img204

Stained Glass

This roll captures the interior shadowing and textures in a way that I remember from the day. There was such a gray overcast outside that there is no way that any decent light could have helped being able to use 100 speed film inside the cathedral. I decided to develop this roll with good old standby D-76. Yes, I could have used a different dilution of Rodinal, and done traditional developing. But I had no experience with the developer other than semi-stand, and with Tri-X, semi-stand is likely best saved for shooting Tri-X at one or two stops faster. If I had used Rodinal and developed traditionally, I’d encounter different grain structure. So, I went with what I know.

img205

Ceiling

By the time I had got back outdoors, the sky was clearing. Tri-X at ISO400, with now bright skies? Stop down, stop all the way down! Not a bad thing to do with a Hasselblad…

img207

The beautiful dome of St. Spyridion.

img208

This roll represented somewhat of a first.

Of note- this represents the first time I have developed any film in a stainless steel developing tank. While I liked cleaning the tank after development, I will admit, loading the tank takes a lot of getting used to. After several practice runs with a dummy roll, it was into the darkroom. Getting the film under the spring-loaded clip is tricky. And, as you can see in the lower left of this last frame, I ran into some uneven development due to a loading issue. It may call for going back to the Paterson tanks, with some changes. But shooting, developing, and scanning these rolls represented pure joy.

Baklava

Some more shots from last month’s Grecian Festival. Yes, the Hasselblad is heavy, but well worth the workout. Lesson learned- next time, come with just the body, one lens, and magazines and film in cargo shorts pockets, or a vest, as opposed to a kittled out Hasselblad bag. The lighter the better when walking through large crowds.

Little Greek Tavern

Little Greek Tavern

 

img184

Placing an order.

img187

Greek and American flags, flying high.

100 speed film under the tents of the festival did indeed prove to be a challenge. with a little patience, and some good metering thanks to the Gossen Luna Pro F, I was able to pull it off. Really happy that the semi-stand development captured the light streaks bouncing off the tent ceiling as I remember it.  But I did also notice faint streaks from the stand development (lower left). I may try a longer presoak, and see if that serves as a remedy.

“Get Him To The Greek”

Beautiful ceiling inside St. Spyridon.

Beautiful ceiling inside St. Spyridon.

Every summer, Worcester’s historic Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox Cathedral hosts their annual Grecian Festival. This was the first year I’ve been. Assuming an outdoor event was in the works maybe behind the church, I arrived with the Hasselblad and a magazine loaded up with Ilford Delta 100. After about a week of pounding rain, the weather cleared out nicely. I did also pack some TriX. Oops!

The event was mainly held indoors, in a massive tent behind the church, and inside the cathedral itself. Thankfully, I had my trusty Vivitar flash, and a flash sync cable fitted with a Hasselblad connection. This would have to rescue me inside the church. It did, as did Rodinal semi-stand development after the fact.

The Altar

The Altar

The Vivitar has a great little sensing window that does distance calculation, and returns the information back to the flash, essentially telling it how much light to burst. I think it worked amazingly well. After taking a few shots inside, it was time to venture out into the tent, and some natural light.

Preparing food.

Preparing food for the festival.

I think I took the above shot with the 80mm, based on the bokeh of the wide open aperture. I do remember using both that and the 150 on that day. It was great fun. Indoors and out.

Stand And Deliver – First Attempt At Rodinal Semi-Stand Developing

Rodinal has always been that “scary” developer to me. How do I use it? How do I dilute it? what does it do to film grain? Why, if it is Rodinal, is it referred to as cryptic brand names like “Adonal”, and “Compard R09 One Shot”? Well, I decided to order a bottle from Freestyle (http://www.freestylephoto.biz/12054-Adox-Adonal-Agfa-Rodinal-Formula-Film-Developer-500ml to find out. After about a week, the bottle arrived. Ironically, the copyright  battle in the US involving Adox (the original formula, I believe, was made by Agfa), has seemingly been resolved, and Freestyle now ships the formula in the US as, Rodinal! I have only worked with Kodak D-76 and HC110 developers, so this is a big step.

Anyways, to the chemistry. It is essentially a compound, 4-Aminophenol. It is one of the longest lasting film development formulas still in use today. It is very versatile, and known for super sharp negatives. For stand, or semi-stand development, it is best used for low to medium speed films. Unlike the Kodak developers I mentioned, it is not known as a fine grain developer. What it does provide is high edge sharpness.  I decided to use it with the beautiful Ilford Delta 100. I settled on semi-stand methodology. There are, of course, a million ways to do this, and ask a thousand film photographers, you might get 1000 workflows. But here is the approach I went with:

  •  1 min presoak in distilled water
  • 1:100 Rodinal to H2O (temperature in this methodology does not matter
  • 30 secs initial agitation
  • 30 minutes stand
  • 5 gentle agitations
  • 30 minutes stand
  • dump
  • stop, fix,  hypo clear, wash, all followed normally

The results? I love them. Great contrast, more shadow detail, smooth tones, less wonky anomalies, like white blobs of undissolved D-76 powder, or syrupy HC-110. Those are chemicals I will likely still always work with, but, this Rodinal stuff? Well, it’s really special. After years of fighting it, well, this film photographer is drinking the Kool-Aid.

On the way through the park to a Greek Festival, I saw this group practicing in the park. What sport, if any, they were practicing, I do not have a clue. Co-ed football, maybe. Taken with the Hasselblad and 80mm Zeiss-

Not practicing their film developing skills.

Not practicing their film developing skills.

A couple things that I noticed right away upon reviewing the dried negatives. The shadow detail is amazing. I am guessing, for example, that the towel in the shadows in the lower left of the frame, might be darker, or completely unseen, if the film had been developed in D-76, maybe not as much so with HC-110. The grain is there, but it is beautiful. Smooth, not blocky.  The image is almost too sharp, individual blades of grass clearly defined.  The contrast, beautiful, definitive and well-defined. It has its own “look”.

A myth shattered here- Rodinal CAN indeed be used with higher speed film, such as Kodak Tri-X, or Ilford HP5 Plus. Stand or semi stand is not recommended. There are several dilutions available on The Massive Dev Chart, and corresponding temperatures should be observed.

That's a UHaul truck way in the background- clear, and sharp.

That’s a UHaul truck way in the background- clear, and sharp.

Not only is semi-stand with Rodinal a lot of fun, it can yield some beautiful results. Off to the Greek Festival.

Leaving Lowell- Last Frames

Potted Flora

Potted Flora

Ironically, these last three frames from the roll do not have much in common thematically, other than having been taken in Lowell, with the Hasselblad. As I begin to (slowly) move back towards Nikon 35mm photography, in hindsight, I might have really tried to physically push the Hasselblad towards its limit. It really is not a street photography camera at all, although I have seen outstanding examples online of Hasselblad urban frames. As much as I love 35mm, though, this really was a fun afternoon, with a workout as a bonus.

Walking the cobblestone.

Walking the cobblestone.

Nothing like closing out the roll of Pan F Plus with a little “art”….

Art Crime

Art Crime

How can art be thought of as a crime in this beautiful city? I must return here, soon. After the next projects. Soon, exploring a new developer for the first time, and refurbishing an old friend.

Some Of The Architecture Of Lowell

Coming to the completion of my photowalk in Lowell, the buildings and architecture are just about irresistible. The 80mm Planar was a great choice, as its virtually distortion-free optics made for some nice straight lineage.

Historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Kirk Street

Historic St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Kirk Street

The inconvenience of going to the Merrimack Company’s school house twice a Sunday led to the building of “the big Sunday School” in 1830 on the property where the French house now stands. The cost was $568.84 raised mostly by subscription. By 1837 the number of pupils increased to 335 and the was enlarged. Two years later the number had risen to 556 and a second school house was built on the Church property between the Church and the Rectory approximately where the Chapel now stands. By 1842 there were 694 pupils and then over the following years as other denominations organized and established their own places of worship, the number of pupils at St. Anne’s Sunday School declined to 250.-St Anne’s Website

img160

Parrish House of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church

The Parrish House of St. Anne’s might be one of Lowell’s most beautiful structures. One venue of the Lowell Folk Festival takes place on these grounds. Moving downtown…

Bon Marché

Bon Marché

For generations, the Bon Marché offered six floors of wares to Downtown Lowell.  Below ground, on its basement level, the store sold kitchenware, groceries, and electrical household equipment.  Walk in from the street and you would find  hosiery, gloves, and shoes on its first floor.  One floor up, dresses, coats, and corsets were sold.  The third floor featured the gift shop, mirrors, and dinnerware.  Music was the theme on the fourth floor, where radios, Victrolas, and records could be found.  The top floor included the beauty shop, barber shop, and the store’s executive offices.  The Bon Marché offered it all. -ForgottenNewEngland.com

To say that walking these streets with the Hasselblad is fun might be a serious understatement. It is medium format photography nirvana.