The Mills And Architecture Of Lowell- Community, Commerce, Creativity

Old buildings downtown, converted into apartments/condos.

Old buildings downtown, converted into apartments/condos.

There were some very tricky conditions on this day in Lowell. While the Gossen Luna Pro F light meter is accurate and reliable, there are conditions and contrasty ambient light that can make metering more of a decision-making process, as opposed to a “dial it in” choice. I didn’t have my digital gear with me, so I had to trust it, and make some compensations as needed. The Hasselblad only does what the photographer “tells’ it to do.

The Lowell Manufacturing Company was a leading producer of carpets. A product of the mills.

The Lowell Manufacturing Company was a leading producer of carpets. A product of the mills.

“THIS PLANAR LENS is characterized by an extremely uniform edge-to-edge sharpness at all apertures, resulting from the excellent correction of all lens aberrations. As indicated by its name, the astigmatic flatness of the image field is outstanding.” –Hasselblad promotional description of the Zeiss 80mm f/2.8 T* Planar Lens

In other words? Lines are straight! There really is no barrel distortion.

"Community Commerce Creativity"-  George L. Duncan Park

“Community Commerce Creativity”- George L. Duncan Park

This park was dedicated to George L. Duncan. He founded Enterprise Bank and Trust Company, Inc., in 1988, and serves as its Chairman of the Board. Mr. Duncan served as the Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise BanCorp. Inc. and its subsidiary Enterprise Bank and Trust Company, Inc. until January 2007. Duncan has been an Executive Chairman and Director of Enterprise BanCorp. Inc. since 1988. He serves as a trustee of Lowell General Hospital.

Plaque at the park reads-

Lowell was founded upon the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers to become a nineteenth-century textile manufacturing empire. The city later faced urban decline when industry left the region. On January 3, 1989, George L. Duncan, a community banker and entrepreneur, founded Enterprise Bank here in the heart of downtown Lowell marking a rebirth of commerce and community involvement. This park, designed by George’s daughter, Alison C. Duncan, Landscape Architect, celebrates the many expressions of water and industry that have shaped Lowell’s history and represents its renewed energy and hopes for the future. Dedicated on June 18, 2013.

Pan F Plus Revisited – Historic Lowell, Massachusetts

A crop from a frame- open window in one of the historic mill buildings.

A crop from a frame- open window in one of the historic mill buildings.

 

I shot Ilford Pan F Plus a while ago in 35mm. I may have even blogged about it. While I liked it, I developed it in HC-110, probably not the best developer for it. The film has insanely fine grain, and is maybe the last of the slower speed B&W films out there (ISO50). While I have yet to explore some of the more exotic developers and techniques, such as Rodinal and stand developing, this was certainly another job for trusty ol’ D-76. Took a couple of rolls of this gorgeous film, along with the Hasselblad kit, into historic downtown Lowell, MA, this holiday weekend. I shot exclusively with the 80mm CF Zeiss, back from a CLA at David Odess’ shop. The glass and its built-in shutter performed magnificently.

Vintage and thrift clothing abound in the various shops, walking from the Textile Museum into downtown.

Vintage and thrift clothing abound in the various shops, walking from the Textile Museum into downtown.

Rarely do I use filters with the Hasselblad. But, as the Heliopan  yellow and warming filters that I have are now permanently stuck on the dreaded 67mm to Bay 60 ring adaptors, I decided to use the yellow, as a change of pace. Really happy that I did.

A historin Lowell landmark- locally distributed Haffner's Gasoline. I think this is the first one- the sign has been there forever, and I have always wanted to make a good photograph of it.

A historic Lowell landmark- locally distributed Haffner’s Gasoline. I think this is the first one- the sign has been there forever, and I have always wanted to make a good photograph of it.

I’m going to be featuring the shots from this photowalk in the articles to come. There is so much to see and take in, even within a few blocks. The Hasselblad continues to amaze.

NOTE: About David Odess- a lot of Hasselblad folks grumble online that he is “expensive”. While I think having a Zeiss serviced by him every year might represent overkill, I think every 3-5 years makes good sense. As justification, not only are you getting glass serviced, essentially you are getting a shutter serviced as well, as the Compur shutter is built right into your Zeiss lens. And yes, it’s a lot of money to have him service your gear. But it is relative, when once considers that he is highly skilled, has the parts if needed (I had him replace the main spring, as part of the CLA), and is factory trained and certified by Hasselblad. While the folks at KEH do indeed service Hasselblad gear, they also service just about every brand they sell. Hasselblad is Mr. Odess’ specialty. He is great to deal with, and explains things extremely well. Cannot recommend him enough if you shoot Hasselblad. http://david-odess.com/

Memorial Day

Statue that commemorates the battle at the North Bridge, inscribed with verse from Ralph Emerson's Concord Hymn.

Minuteman by Daniel Chester French- statue that commemorates the battle at the North Bridge, inscribed with a verse from Ralph Emerson’s Concord Hymn.

I brought a second roll of film on the recent visit to Concord, a roll of Tri-X. Unfortunately, this roll was a major struggle in the darkroom to load into the tank, with multiple jam ups with the Patterson reel. But I am very happy with two of the surviving shots, timely for this upcoming great American holiday. Once again, the 500c/m, and 150mm Zeiss Sonnar-

Old North Bridge replica that was built in 1956, based on drawings of the bridge built in the 1760s. It was then restored in 2005.

Old North Bridge replica that was built in 1956, based on drawings of the original bridge from the 1760’s. It was then restored in 2005.

 

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.” Concord Hymn, Emerson

 

Enjoy this Memorial Day.

More From Concord

Walden Friends Of The Performing Arts

Walden Friends Of The Performing Arts

This town has big history, as well as little, quaint scenes. It really is Hasselblad heaven. Walking around with the camera downtown, it really does not seem to draw as much attention, questions, from other pedestrians. Which made it much easier to find nice shots, focus, and compose. Once again, the nifty 150, and Delta 100.

 

Beautiful windows can be found everywhere in the architecture downtown.

Beautiful windows can be found everywhere in the architecture downtown.

This next shot really surprised me, as my 150 has the Carl Zeiss T* coating, and I use a lens hoot. Despite that, lens flare can still happen-

Flare in the lower right of frame.

Come on up….We’re really nice! Flare in the lower right of frame.

That could also be uneven developing. Still, a cool shot. The amount of detail in the rope and tag is incredible.

Really Great Things!

Really Great Things! Stairway to an antique/gift shop in Concord.

Really Great Things! Stairway to an antique/gift shop in Concord.

This was just too cool of a shot to resist. The amazing thing about walking around downtown Concord with the Hasselblad in this configuration was that the 150mm really is not that much larger, or longer, than the 80mm. It’s not like walking with a D300 and 70-200mm. It was surprisingly compact. And, long enough, yet not insanely so. From the same roll of Delta 100, developed in D-76, 1:1.

Concord architecture is beautiful and timeless. Guessing this does not look that much different than it did in the 1700's.

Concord architecture is beautiful and timeless. Guessing this does not look that much different than it did in the 1700’s.

My window display and reflection obsession always gets in the way-

Deed-Rooted Wisdom

Deep-Rooted Wisdom

There truly are some Really Great Things in Concord!

Concord

Concord is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 17,668. The United States Census Bureau considers Concord part of Greater Boston. Concord is notable for playing a significant role in American history and literature. – travel.yahoo.com

Concord, Massachusetts is historic, having been founded in 1635, the oldest European-settled town in New England beyond tidewater. – http://www.newenglandtravelplanner.com

I shot some Polaroid in Concord a few years ago. This past weekend, I took the Hasselblad into the historic town, one of the birthplaces of America. As my 80mm is being CLA’d, the 150mm was put to very good use here. Ilford Delta 100 is so silky smooth. Developed in D-76.

This woman does not seem to see me or the Hasselblad, but at the same time, does not seem to be very happy, at all-

Hasselblad Street Photography- not easy, but it can be done.

Hasselblad Street Photography- not easy, but it can be done.

Shooting wide open allowed for a nice window view of S. (San) Pellegrino bottles. Medium format allows for crazy, insane shallow depth of field-

S.Pellegrino is the Italian water preferred by top chefs and fine dining lovers all around the world.

S.Pellegrino is the Italian water preferred by top chefs and fine dining lovers all around the world.

Clothes and artisans were everywhere. These stylish hats were irresistible-

Vintage Style Hats

Vintage Style Hats

I also took a roll of Tri-X, which gave me a wrestling match in the darkroom. But this roll of Delta was a complete success. Much more to come. And, the struggle with my Patterson-style tanks have prompted a purchase of some new kit for development of medium format. More on that to come.

Carousel

“Well, technology is a glittering lure. But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product. My first job, I was in-house at a fur company, with this old pro copywriter. Greek, named Teddy. And Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new”. Creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of… calamine lotion. But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product: nostalgia. It’s delicate… but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means, “the pain from an old wound”. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the Wheel. It’s called a Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around, and back home again… to a place where we know we are loved.” -Don Draper, pitching the name of the Carousel slide projector to Kodak executives, Season 1 of Mad Men

Extachrome Slide from August, 1970, marked "Tower, Britain".

Extachrome Slide from Aug. 1970, marked “Tower, Britain”.

I bought a Kodak Carousel Transvue 80 Slide Tray at a Savers thrift shop for $1.99 this past weekend. Not because I have a slide projector, although someday, I may pick one up, but because when I opened the box, inside I saw this tantalizing Kodak Extachrome slide, shot in the UK in August, 1970. Who is the guard? Who are the tourists? Who was the photographer? What camera/lens combo did he/she use? What is the “tower”?

I blogged before on found film, but this is my first found slide. The colors are crisp, vibrant, the image sharp. Particularly for an almost 44-year-old image.

Who took this transparency, and what is the story behind it?

Ektar On The Street

These girls asked me to take their photograph when I told them the Hasselblad was a film camera. they had never had their photograph taken with film before.

These girls asked me to take their photograph when I told them the Hasselblad was a film camera. they had never had their photograph taken with film before.

While certainly not my first choice for film to be loaded into the Hasselblad while walking around looking for street shots, well, you use what you have. and once again, Kodak Ektar did not disappoint. I have used it in 35mm format, and in 120, well, it is a truly spectacular film. Crazy sharp, gorgeous colors, and it loves light. Ektar does not have the wide latitude of, say, Portra 400, or the natural looking colors of Portra 160. But it does have such a fine, fine grain, almost like slide film. Highly doubtful that Kodak will produce any new emulsions, and if anything, will keep discontinuing more. But their color offerings in medium format, while limited, are close to perfection. These were taken with the 80mm Zeiss.

The mailbox, a dying breed.

The mailbox, a dying breed.

I am amazed that I still see blog posts from people grumbling that Ektar is difficult to scan. I think it scans beautifully. I do not use any color correction, but many photographers and bloggers still do insist on Photoshopping their film shots to a pulp. You see more soft, dreamy colors online than ever. These films have color that pops, not pastels. If you can get great shots out of the camera, aside from cleaning up dust, and scanning artifacts, well, I see little need to do so.

Even the 80mm created amazing depth of field and gorgeous bokeh.

Even the 80mm is capable of amazing depth of field and gorgeous bokeh.

I think Ektar scans beautifully. And Personally, I see little need to pound pixels with Photoshop with Ektar. but your aesthetics may vary.

Two More Hasselroids

Trees Near My Office

Trees near the office.

Finished up the pack of Fuji FP-100C with the Hasselblad while walking around at lunchtime, on a sunny Spring day. Shot with the 150mm Carl Zeiss Sonnar. Maybe my favorite Hasselroid prints, nonetheless, maybe the last I take. It was a brief experiment that really did not yield the results I would have liked. Maybe 70mm, or 35mm? The idea of a digital back had unbelievable appeal, until I read today that there is, yikes, a crop factor with the CVF-50! 1.5X. Really? On a Hasselblad? An 80mm would be a 120mm. Or, a 50, a 75, closer to a normal than a wide angle. A 50 megapixel back now sounds much less attractive. Like Hasselroids, it sounded good at first. Can’t someone, anyone, develop a practical, yet affordable, digital back for these gorgeous instruments? Something less than $17,500 US?  And, one without a goofy crop factor? I digress.

Maybe the last Hasselroid for a while.

Maybe the last Hasselroid for a while.

This truly was, at times, a fun pack to shoot. At times, mostly during scanning, a frustrating one. Mixed blessings, for sure. But photographic experiments can be that way. Back to roll film, what the Hasselblad was made to do. And, for Polaroid? The Land Camera Models 230, 240, and 450 all have a lot more packs to shoot. Maybe the Big Shot does as well, with the pack of Magicubes that were given to me at Photographica. I have always been a strong proponent of the “best tools for the best use” mantra of photography. I love both Hasselblad and Polaroid as fun to shoot, iconic film formats. Still uncertain as to if they mix nicely.

Hasselroid

I really do wish it was this fun.

I really do wish it was this fun. Notice how hard it is to see the actual small exposure on the sheets of pack film. Cover of a vintage Hasselblad guide. Darkslide is in the right retaining area.

 

The good news? It can be done. When I bought my Hasselblad 500c/m kit four years ago, I was thrilled that it came with the Hasselblad Polaroid 100 magazine back. Able to load “crack and peel” packfilm, this was used back in the day by professional photographers, before the days of digital, to check their exposures. After the recent demise of Fuji FP-3000B B&W instant, the only formula left is Fuji FP-100C. A 100 speed film, it’s perfect for outdoor exposures, flash exposures, and checking your 100 speed roll film exposure calculations. 3.25 X 4.25. Not using 100 speed film in your roll film magazine? Well, you can make the right stop calculations.

The not so good news? It really makes little sense. If you insist on trying it, make sure the glass lens on the Polaroid back is spotless, and clean it with a rocket blower, some compressed air, and a soft cloth. And stuff on the magazine’s glass will show on the exposure. What they usually don’t tell you, not even in most dedicated YouTube videos on the subject, you are limited to the 2 1/4 X 2 1/4 square that normally fills your negative. This is the major drawback, and the one that takes most of the wind out of the sails. So, on your Fuji instant 3.25 X 4.25 sheet, you have a smaller square with the exposure, and the remaining part of the sheet, well, black. I guess what I am saying here is, well, the concept sounds more exciting than the actual execution. Here is a test shot, with flash-

Carl Zeiss Hasselblad lens meets Polaroid Model 100, still the best way to exploit instant pack film.

Carl Zeiss Hasselblad lens meets Polaroid Model 100, still the best way to exploit instant pack film. On top of the 1980’s vintage bag I use to house my Hasselblad system. Padded, with individual sections for body, lens, backs, accessories.

After wasting a few sheets indoors to get close to the right flash exposure, it was time to get the system outside, to use natural light. I had a much easier go at it. And, was still able to play with that legendary Hasselblad depth of field.

Lake Quinsigamond

Lake Quinsigamond

The most challenging part of the shot above? Scanning, and clone stamping the dust out. The funny thing I see a lot online is people who have these soft, dreamy, pastel looks. How they achieve it with Fuji color instant film, well, I’d love to know. My guess is Photoshop. Here
is a much lighter exposure-

Leaf, captured by a leaf shutter.

Leaf, captured by a leaf shutter.

Then again, anyone besides this guy, who enjoys Hasselroid photography, please, let me know. I am going back to Hasselblad photography, and Polaroid photography. Not sure they are the right marriage.

If he uses the chimney finder regularly, she should divorce him. Hasselblad gear is normally so elegant.

If he uses the chimney finder regularly, she should divorce him. Hasselblad gear is normally so elegant-but I have yet to see a good looking chimney finder. And, where is his dark slide?