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



Placing an order.


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.

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 ( 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


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.

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


The Canals Of Lowell

“The Lowell Canal system evolved steadily from 1821, when the Boston Associates purchased the old Pawtucket transportation canal in East Chelmsford (which later became Lowell). They initially used the Pawtucket as a feeder canal to channel water into new power canals. Just above Swamp Locks, the Merrimack, Western, and Hamilton canals branched off, taking water to the Merrimack, Lowell, Tremont, Suffolk, Lawrence, Hamilton, and Appleton mills. Only the Merrimack Company used the full 30-foot drop of water; for other mills the drop was 13 or 17 feet.

In 1847 the construction of the Northern Canal increased waterpower generation by the canal system by 50 percent. By mid-century the canal system we see in Lowell today was in place. Including almost 6 miles of canals and operating on two levels, this system powered 10 major mill complexes employing more than 10,000 workers.”

-Lowell National Historical Park Handbook 140

Building along side the canal, at the end of Dutton Street, dated 1848.

Building along side the canal, at the end of Dutton Street, dated 1848.

I remember the light on this day as beautiful, yet challenging to meter. I would take multiple readings, and have the needle on the Luna Pro F be all over the place. Sometimes, caution has to be thrown to the wind. I do know this, that if I had the time and the patience to truly learn and master the Zone System, maybe I would get shots I love, or, maybe I would lose shots I may otherwise not get if the time was spent trying to master the meter readings, and exposure. Maybe this comes out of that digital mind set, where reliance on a pretty accurate metering system is today, commonplace. It might be a fun project someday to learn Zone, and do an A-B comparison, with a great light meter, such as the one in the Nikon F3, goes side by side with Zone. But, very happy with these results in the canals of Lowell.

Looking down the canal.

Looking down the canal.

Why do I love this area? Aside from growing up near it, it takes me to another era, and conjures up images of Jack Kerouac, Wang Laboratories, and some of the legendary sights that seem almost frozen in time. I love this area. It also lends itself beautifully to B&W, and, reflections.


View towards Dutton Street, off of the canal path. The 1848 canal building is in the background.

The city has been cleaned up, undergone a transformation, and is a beautiful mix of old and new. What’s there not to love?

The Steets, The Rails, Of Lowell

View of the Boston and Maine train from behind the trees.

View of the Boston and Maine train from behind the trees.

Walking up and down Lowell’s historic Dutton Street was almost photographic sensory overload. There truly was a lot to see. And, this despite being a damp, quiet day. There were torrential downpours before, and after, I managed to fire off two magazines of film. Even managed to capture some nice light along the way.

View from the gate.

View from the gate.

On this day, I was not really worried so much about overexposing the frames. I had the Gossen Luna Pro F around my neck, and ISO50 film, on a day where the sun was not exactly blazing. Still, there were indeed some tricky scenes to meter. Not sure if I really nailed this one, but I like how it came out. A Hasselblad out on the streets? It can be done.

Takin' it to the streets. That's a tour trolley car.

Takin’ it to the streets. That’s a tour trolley car, and a great restaurant, Cobblestones, behind it.

Ilford Pan F Plus, to my eyes, is magical.  I really enjoyed shooting with this film, and knowing that the usually fear and hesitancy that can come with shooting with a higher speed film on a day such as this really was not an issue. I did have a roll of Tri-X in the bag, just in case. But, for a different look, it really is a blast to mix things up.

Changing Rolls In Lowell

Centro- one of the last frames from the first roll.

Centro- one of the last frames from the first roll.

Switching magazines, and changing rolls with the Hasselblad while out in the streets is not as easy as one might think. Particularly carrying a bag the size of a small safe. Nonetheless, I was able to spool a second roll of Pan F Plus, and keep moving! I loves the look of Centro, with an entrance that lends itself so nicely to the square format.

Fuse Bistro

Fuse Bistro

The shot above I was not at all crazy about. I was metering for the entire scene, and hoping that I did not blow out highlights in the sky. Then again, with ISO50 film, might have been hard to do. And, while I did indeed want to show that there were people dining outside, I did not necessarily want to show them. So that part of the shot worked. Also, ideally, I would have had my tripod with me, and used the bubble leveler, and maybe the cable release. They aren’t all supposed to be perfect. This street is a popular dining and socializing venue during the Lowell Folk Festival, which is coming up next month.

New England Quilt Museum on Shattuck Street.

New England Quilt Museum on Shattuck Street.

The New England Quilt Museum is the only such institution in the Northeast dedicated to the art and history of quilt making. I thought it had closed, but is indeed apparently still up and running.

On to the second A-12 magazine….

Textiles And Trains

A few more photographs from my day in Lowell. I actually ended up parking at The American Textile History Museum. Located on historic Dutton Street, it is located in this gorgeous brick structure. As are offices of The Lowell Sun, the city’s newspaper, and, Luxury Lofts-

Guided tours are available at The American Textile History Museum -

Guided tours are available at The American Textile History Museum –

Walking down Dutton Street, these gorgeous Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M) trains are along the canal, in beautiful display-

B&M Locomotive

Vintage B&M Locomotive

The light metering, in terms of wanting to meter properly for the whole scene, well, I could not be happier with the accuracy of the Gossen Luna Pro F. Spot on! Unlike the current day Photoshop aesthetics, not all shadows need to be opened up. Shadows and contrast can make for great shots.

Inspected 2/99- still "track-worthy"?

Inspected 7/99- still “track-worthy”?


The Boston and Lowell Railroad is a historic railroad that operated in Massachusetts. It was one of the first railroads in North America and the first major one in the state. The line later operated as part of theBoston and Maine Railroad‘s Southern Division. -Wikipedia


As a reader might be able to tell, I love visiting this city. Lowell is about 25 miles northwest of Boston, and is the 4th largest city in the Commonwealth. As I grew up near it, there are sights that are familiar, some that are new. Limited to 24 exposures (2 rolls of Ilford Pan F Plus), it was great in terms of forcing me to slow down, work on composition and exposure, and focus points. And, take these beautiful sights in.

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.