Medium Contrast?

Fence

Fence

I really have to rethink this Kodak “Quick Spec” in their iPhone app. Medium contrast? The above shot really makes me think otherwise. Have I been, all along, shooting in low contrast with Tri-X, Y-Max, FP4, HP5, even with 20% additions to development times to increase contrast? The think I am loving about BW400CN is that you can get this kind of contrast, with virtually no grain. And amazing tonality. Once again, the Nikon F2S, and 35mm f/2.8 Ai lens, with a UV filter.

Inside Lobby At St. Vincent's Hospital

Inside Lobby At St. Vincent’s Hospital

I did not think the above shot, in the lobby area at St. Vincent’s, would have enough light. And, I did struggle a bit with the F2’s light meter, as it wanted to meter for the windows behind the stones. I overrode the calculations, and exposed for the darker part of the frame. Happy that I did.

Good As Gold Coffee, Green Street

Good As Gold Coffee, Green Street

I think this little coffee shop, with the massive sign, on Green Street, is out of business still open.

The Answer Is Downtown

The Answer Is Downtown

Where is the answer? Why is the contrast so high and stunning? Any answers?

Front of Smokestack Urban Barbecue on Green Street.

Front of Smokestack Urban Barbecue on Green Street.

Now, this shot really baffled me after development. So much so that I literally had to check the front of my 35mm Nikkor lens, and make sure I did not, in fact, have either a red or a yellow filter on it. In fact, there was only the UV filter I had left on since the last time I shot with it, and in fact, that was some Portra film. So, not sure if a UV filter has any impact at all on the exposure. But, as this was, in fact, before 9AM on a clear day, and the sun was not pounding like it does on mid day, looks like I simply lucked out. The metering pattern of the F2S’s DP-2 Photomic head is a heavily center weighted pattern, which looks as though it really nailed this exposure calculation.

Chromogenic – Shooting Kodak BW400CN Professional For The First Time

Apartment Building Downtown, As Seen From The Library Walkway.

Apartment Building Downtown, As Seen From The Library Walkway. This is my favorite shot from the morning. The portal in the library walkway forms a virtual matted vignette.

I’ve always wanted to shoot Kodak BW400CN. It is Kodak’s C-41 black and white offering. Yes, you can bring it down to your CVS, Walgreens, or Costco, and have it developed just like you would Portra, or FujiColor. A lot of B&W purists over the years since Kodak’s introduction of chromogenic black and white films that can be processed at the lab have looked down on the film. Why, I don’t know. Choices are great for the film photographer- and choices are something we have less and less of these days, with Fuji discontinuing films every day, Kodak itself teetering towards economic ruin, and Ilford having its own problems over in Europe. To me, I am thankful this film is still around.

I won this roll from The Film Photography Podcast/Project, in a great film giveaway. Thank you, Mike Raso! You continue to be my source of inspiration in shooting film. This film is indeed available for purchase at http://filmphotographyproject.com/store It can also be found at your local CVS, in a pinch.

So, what’s it all about? With a box speed of ISO400, Kodak claims it to be the finest grain chromogenic film on the planet. This is likely the truth, as Kodachrome is no longer with us. Yes, Kodachrome also used the chromogenic process. Would it ever take the place of Tri-X, T-Max, Delta 100, FP4/HP5, and home developing of black and white? For me, no. However, the film has amazing contrast and tonality, and yes, is almost too sharp. Want your shadows and blacks as dark as can be? Want that Life Magazine look? You’ve got it. A few more examples-

The side of The Smokestack Urban Barbacue.

The side of The Smokestack Urban Barbecue.

The Lucky Dog Music Hall.

The Lucky Dog Music Hall.

The tonal range is mind blowing, Daddy-O!

The tonal range is mind-blowing, Daddy-O!

What does the Kodak Film iPhone app have to say about BW400CN? I’d say this is fairly accurate, with maybe the exception of the Quick Specs’ Contrast categorization. Medium?

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From the Kodak Film iPhone app.

Of special note here- the camera used was the Nikon F2S, completely manual exposure, with the film shot at box speed. I rarely get out to shoot in the morning, but I pretty much finished the roll by 9AM. The lens was the 35mm f/2.8 Ai Nikkor. And, I used a simple UV filter. I did read online that some people shoot it with a yellow filter, although I’d guess this can also easily be rendered with yellow photo filter options in Adobe Photoshop. I used that for the grayscale conversion.

Wow. Another film to absolutely love. More choices, more looks. Fill up the fridge. box_bw400cn

Another Ride On The Schwinn

It has been a long time since a film emulsion, black and white or color, has been as thrilling to develop as my first roll Ilford Delta 100. My only regret is that I waited almost a year to develop it after shooting it. This film just has the “look” that I love. Of course, Tri-X, the discontinued Plus-X, T-Max, and Ilford’s HP5 and FP4 are also gorgeous films. I think it is the tonality and grain structure that really make it stand out. Yes, it is a “slower’ film, at ASA100. But, give it some light, and it really shines. Later this week, I will post some shots that I took indoors. Once again, the Nikon Fe-2, and Nikkor 35mm Ai-

Hard to say when this Schwinn Suburban was made, but safe to say that Sears sold a ton of them.

Hard to say when this Schwinn Suburban was made, but safe to say that Sears sold a ton of them.

I could not remember if the bike was for sake, or simply parked in front of the consignment. But not until I scanned this shot did I remember that it was parked with another vintage Schwinn-

Twin Schwinn's.

Twin Schwinn’s.

I scooped up two more rolls of Delta 100 this weekend. In the fridge, burning a hole in my pocket to shoot. Can’t wait!

A Vintage Schwinn Bicycle, And Ilford Delta 100 Professional

Handlebars, And Speedometer/Odometer.

Handlebars, And Speedometer/Odometer.

 

For sharpness and freedom from grain, ILFORD DELTA 100 PROFESSIONAL is simply the best in its class – offering the photographer exceptionally fine grain and a level of sharpness rarely seen, resulting in outstanding clarity of detail and the most precise image rendition. -IlfordPhoto.com

I shot this roll of Delta 100 a year ago this September (9/3/12), in downtown Fitchburg. It sat in the refrigerator, unprocessed, all this time. Why I waited a year to develop it, I will never know. All I know is, I want some more. Lots and lots more. Here, a vintage Schwinn bicycle that I came across, parked in front of a vintage consignment shop. The rust and corrosion on the handlebars, brake levers, and the chrome of the speedometer/odometer are all exactly as I remember them. The shadow detail, and the texture, border on perfection.

The film is unlike any B&W wilm. and in 35mm format, looks like large format in the sharpness, detail, and clarity. It takes advantage of the newer tabular grain structures. Photographers online grumble about the contrast, but I think it is superb. I developed in D-76, 1:1, 11 minutes at 68 degrees F. Like all film, play. Myself? I can’t see me making any changes in time or temperature.

The camera used here was the Nikon FE-2, and the lens the 35mm AI Nikkor.

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Front end, showing Schwinn nameplate and reflector.

This film is optimized to be shot at ISO100, as metered here. But can also be shot up to ISO200. But, with grain this fine, not sure why anyone would want to. Could be a fun experiment.

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This would be fantastic fine art film, or for natural light portraiture. Or, for maybe, any subject. It is that beautiful. I love Tri-X, and Kodak’s T-Max films. But, this may be my new “go-to” film, certainly for outdoors. Like any film, it certainly is not perfect. But, pretty close. When I opened the tank, I knew I came across magic. This past weekend, I tried in vain to find any flaws.

Ilford 100 Delta Professional is the world’s sharpest ISO 100 speed black-and-white camera film. This exceptional film uses the unique Ilford core-shell crystal technology. 100 Delta Professional’s emulsion allows levels of enlargement never before possible without loss of fine detail. -bhphotovideo.com

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But some. Buy lots.

America’s First Motorcycle Company

A local motorcycle dealer organized a rally/show of vintage, and modern, Indian Motorcycles. One of the organizers explained to me that Indian more or less went in and out of business several times, eventually becoming acquired by Polaris, the ATV and snowmobile manufacturer. They started in the early 1900’s, in Springfield, MA. Indian made a pop culture resurgence a few years back, with Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of motorcycle legend Burt Munro in “The World’s Fastest Indian”.

I had no idea this event was taking place. Bikes are really not my thing. But they are beautiful to look at, with their chrome and bright colors, and colorful paint schemes. I drove by the dealer, after having some lab work done at the doctors. As it was close, I continued home, grabbed the Canonet and one roll of Portra 160, and started shooting. The participants are shown here receiving information, before getting on their bikes-

Planning the ride.

Planning the ride.

Old and new were both on display, and taken to the road.

Old and new were both on display, and taken to the road. This was the only orange Indian Motorcycle that I saw in attendance.

Front wheel detail, complete with wooden Indian.

Front wheel detail, complete with wooden Indian.

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Comparing Rides.

Red seemed to be the most popular color.

Red seemed to be the most popular color.

Hitting The Open Road.

Hitting The Open Road.

Lots of red, and lots of polished chrome.

Lots of red, and lots of polished chrome.

By 9:30 or so in the morning, the New England summer sun was starting to get harsh. The sky color temperature, bluish. And, the photographer was on his last few frames. This event was so much fun to capture. Almost too much to take in all at once.

Art In The Park

Elm Park in Worcester, late summer, through the fall, features artwork from area artists. Some years are definitely better than others. The artists do try to craft works that “blend in” with the scenery. This year it is particularly challenging, as the park is being extensively revitalized and restored. So, there is a lot less space for work to be displayed. My son and I had a blast taking this year’s artwork in. I shot these frames with the Canonet, and a roll of FujiColor 200.

Near one of the bridges, this piece attracts a lot of interest.

Near one of the bridges, this piece attracts a lot of interest.

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Playing with selective focus and depth of field.

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This one is huge, dwarfing the footbridge in the background.

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There is a lot of steel and bronze being used this year.

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Much larger than it looks in photo.

The midday sun really made for some brutal lighting conditions. Harsh, bluish. The 200 speed may have not been the best choice in such conditions, but, not bad, all things considered. FujiColor really does have a greenish tinge to it.

Even More Expired

I recently shot this roll of very expired C-41 Kodak Royal Gold 200. Kodak stopped making it in 2004, so it was at least that old, maybe older. The film lab technician asked me when I dropped it off if I was sure I wanted to have it developed, as it was likely “bad”, and she hadn’t seen this film in years. Of course! Once again, the camera of choice was the Canonet.

When I picked up the negatives, she said that they came out, but did look quite dark. Of course, I should have compensated, and overexposed the film. But, I really don’t have a lot of experience with expired film, as noted with my AGFA Vista 10 exposure roll experiment a few articles back. And, not knowing the expiration date, I really didn’t know how many stops I should have compensated by. After reading a bit about this film online, I found out that it was very much the Portra 400 of its day, with a wide exposure latitude. Not as wide of a latitude, as Portra 400 can easily be underexposed up to ISO1600 without any pushing. I think from what I saw, that Kodak had specked out a range of ISO25-800. Quite good for that era. While not as fine of a grain, for old color film, still quite pleasant. These shot in and around the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Main Entrance

Main Entrance

This might be my favorite shot from the roll. There was likely enough light for decent exposure:

Footbridge

Footbridge

A sundial from 1910. Too bad I didn’t have enough sun here for exposure:

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Sundial

Was actually able to achieve some shallow depth of field with the following shot, something that has pretty much eluded me so far with the Canonet. A very cool looking bike parking rack:

Bike Parking Rack

Bike Parking Rack

It’s too bad that the Canonet shutter did not have more blades, because otherwise, the bokeh is quite pleasing:

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Fraternity Trident

Benches are so hard for me to resist photographing:

Another Bench

Another Bench

The remaining expired stock I have has all been cold stored, including some 120 medium format Portra VC and NC. But not knowing how this material was previously stored, I’d say the key is to either give it lots of light, or meter accordingly by a few stops.

Widescreen

I have never photographed in 35mm film with a lens wider than 28mm. in digital/Nikon DX format, I use the 17-55 f/2.8 quite a bit. Factoring in the 1 1/2 crop factor of the APS-C sensor, that nets out to about a 25.5mm focal length. Wide,  but, like most zooms, there will be quite a bit of barrel distortion at that length. And, there is. As I have claimed before, a zoom is like a Swiss Army Knife. Sure, it can do a lot. But, it can’t open bottle tops as well as a dedicated opener. Nor is its corkscrew as effective as the real thing. Handy in a pinch, but if there is the need to shoot wide, a dedicated wide prime is the best way to shoot. With the least amount of linear distortion.

So, how is, say, a 24mm? Tremendous fun. This Canon FD mount 24mm f/2.8 really shines close up. Here on the AE-1-

Nearby road work. Mid day, with Portra 400.

Nearby road work. Mid day, with Portra 400.

Not only can distant landscapes be captured beautifully, but brush and flora along the roadside can be brought into view, as its own micro world.

The lens has gorgeous color and contrast, not to mention, razor sharpness.

The lens has gorgeous color and contrast, not to mention, razor sharpness.

One technique I really try to work on with wide-angle glass is the counterintuitive instinct to shoot vertical. I find that prefocusing with the split range microprism , using it to focus horizontally, and then putting the orientation into portrait works extremely well.

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A timeless message, rendered vertically.

Because of the virtually distortion free glass of this lens, it is also quite handy for architecture. Gone are the pincushion-like bowing straight lines I remember my 17-55 Nikkor glass showing at the wide end. Also handy is the ability to get very close to the subject, while still being able to achieve proper focus.

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Brick lines are rendered as truly straight, without optically distorted bending. Perfect for architecture.

As the widest prime in my kit so far, it continues to impress. A great reason too to buy into the Canon FD system. A comparable Nikkor 24mm is indeed much more expensive. The 28mm Nikkor is my widest, but the 35mm optically is my favorite Nikkor prime. This may be my new Canon FD favorite. The results have blown me away so far. Canon FD glass is still very affordable. The trend of hobbyists retro fitting them to mirrorless and Micro 4/3rd digital cameras is a great one, as they are discovering the beauty of these classic manual focus lenses. This has driven some prices back up. But there are indeed lots of them out there.

Green Machines

I photographed these two automobiles, once again, at the Block Party in Fitchburg. I’ve read a lot online about how Kodak Portra 400 renders the color green. Personally, I think it does a fantastic job. The Plymouth Road Runner appeared a few blog entries back, well, it’s hood did, anyways.

Wile E. Coyote, and The Road Runner.

Wile E. Coyote, and The Road Runner.

This custom hot rod, which you can see behind the Road Runner above, had a much more colorful, brighter green. Still rendered beautifully by Portra. The chrome of the engine just popped so nicely. The automobile looked just like a vintage Hot Wheels car from the 1960’s.

Hot Rod

Hot Rod

I don’t think either Portra, or FujiColor, are particularly accurate films. FujiColor would have likely exaggerated the greens either more than Portra. But, they are both gorgeous looking films. Really is hard to go wrong with either one. But Portra really worked out nicely here.

Symphonic

“The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra is Worcester’s premiere resident orchestra and was founded in 1947. It regularly performs at its home, Tuckerman Hall, as well as at Worcester’s Mechanics  Hall and Hanover Theatre. During the summer, the Orchestra performs  a highly popular series of free, outdoor concerts in Worcester’s Institute and East Parks before tens of thousands of  concert-goers.  The Orchestra has accompanied world-class touring shows such as Mannheim Steamroller and such artists as Andrea Bocelli and the late Luciano Pavarotti  at Worcester’s DCU Center.” –WorcesterMass.org

As in previous years, I arrived early. This was the annual family concert performance at Institute Park, at WPI. I think the best time to photograph, and get close to the shell, is during sound check and rehearsal. This year’s family concert was moved back a day, due to weather concerns. A warm, humid evening, but otherwise, perfect conditions. As has long been my inspiration, the great Robert Capa, “if your photographs are not good enough, you’re not close enough.” I brought my QL17 G-III, and my Nikon D300, with the 70-200 f/2.8. I soon put the Nikon back into the trunk, as it really is brutal to carry. So, the Canonet came with me right up to the performance stage. Yes, a 40mm lens. Not quite wide, not quite normal. But it really proved to be a handy focal length up close, taking just enough in.

Conductor Myron Romanul gets sound checks with audio crew.

Conductor Myron Romanul gets sound checks with audio crew.

Warming up the strings.

Warming up the strings.

Sharing some laughs during rehearsal.

Sharing some laughs during rehearsal.

Vocal soloists were Jane Shivick and Richard Monroe.

Vocal soloists were Jane Shivick and Richard Monroe.

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Strings tuned, ready to go.

Some Technical Notes:

QL17 G-III mounted with the rare Canonet 5 street photography hood.

QL17 G-III mounted with the rare Canonet 5 street photography hood.

After a bit of a search online, I was able to locate an excellent condition Canonet Hood #5. This very nicely designed hood has a tension screw for mounting onto the front of the 40mm lens, and has a flat top and bottom. I find using it helps to focus the yellow target range of the rangefinder. It very discreetly obstructs the viewfinder, and was designed as such. If it really does cut down on flare or not is somewhat debatable, as the coating on the lens is great. It also supposedly does not influence exposure measured by the electric eye, when shooting in shutter priority mode. But it does look cool, and will be handy in street photography. This concert was my first time using the hood.