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Testing waters with BW film

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
I must be going crazy, I just picked up a pack of Ilford HP5+ 35mm 400ISO BW film the other week. It has been quite some years since I have shot BW film but something Mike said to me about shooting BW film again has been bugging me. Just silly nostalgia I guess. Well, for starters my EOS 3 refused to work, so I had to go back to my good old Nikon F601 body with the ordinary Tamron 28-200mm zoom lens on it. Loaded one roll of film and hit the streets. Tried to find something interesting to shoot but did not have much luck. Once the roll was exposed, I had to send it to a lab for development and wait for 5 days to get it back. Popped into my Canon FS4000US film scanner and did a quick scan @2000dpi. The scans were, as expected, not very lively and full of grain. I did some quick adjustments in LR to see if they could be made acceptable. Well, at least for web sizes this seemed to be possible. I am not gushing with enthusiasm right now, have I been had by the false feelings of nostalgia, again? I will shoot the other 2 rolls first before coming to a conclusion. Here are some pictures from this batch.














 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Cem,

My immediate reaction is one of great appreciation. I've chosen HP5 too for my own work.

This work is most appealing and the tonalities are really used well. I also like the subjects.

Asher
 

Jim Galli

Member
Simply wonderful Cem. Why don't we have more sidewalk tables in America? The last time I sat outdoors and sipped good coffee was with Domenic Foschi in Whittier 3 years ago. Too long.

I think we need these little prods to go walking and 'see what we can see'. If it hadn't been for the self assignment because of the film, these would have been missed, and that, a measurable loss.
 

Jerome Marot

Active member
Why don't we have more sidewalk tables in America?
Probably because it is not permitted to serve alcoholic drinks outside. It makes a large part of the revenues of cafes and bars in Europe and is therefore an incentive for them to lobby their city council to be able to rent spots on the pavement.
 
I like the second one especially.

The figures semi-sillouetted in the ancient doorway. The interplay between the old and the new. ... And then I start to wonder what is in the shops across the way....

Whether that has anything to do with film as a medium or the different contemplative process of taking an image, I have no idea.
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
I like the second one especially.

The figures semi-sillouetted in the ancient doorway. The interplay between the old and the new. ... And then I start to wonder what is in the shops across the way....

Whether that has anything to do with film as a medium or the different contemplative process of taking an image, I have no idea.
Thanks Murray, I like that one among others for the reasons you have stated. It is funny really, because I also have a version without people in it. I have shown both versions to my wife and daughter (who are my best advisers) and they chose the one without people in it. To them, the people were a distraction. In this instance I have disagreed with them (which does not happen often, lol). I really like how the women form two major attention points in the picture, helping our eye make the transition from the foreground to the background. The body positions and gestures are just perfect for that. I think that they definitely add value to the picture.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Off topic, but fun!


Probably because it is not permitted to serve alcoholic drinks outside. It makes a large part of the revenues of cafes and bars in Europe and is therefore an incentive for them to lobby their city council to be able to rent spots on the pavement.

Yesterday, sitting outside Le Pain Quotidien, after finishing my gazpacho, ready to sign my bill, the waiter courteously asked if there was anything else I'd like before I paid. I quipped, thinking about your post, "How about a beer?" Not missing a beat, he came back with "Stella or something else? "Stella Artois!" was my fun choice for an imaginary drink. To my surprise he reappeared with an open beer, mist coming out of it, and started to pour, "Stella Artois!!"

Asher
 
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Mark Hampton

New member
Off topic, but fun!





Yesterday, sitting outside Le Pain Quotidien, after finishing my gazpacho, ready to sign my bill, the waiter courteously asked if there was anything else I'd like before I paid. I quipped, thinking about your post, "How about a beer?" Not missing a beat, he came back with "Stella or something else? "Stella Artois!" was my fun choice for an imaginary drink. To my surprise he reappeared with an open beer, mist coming out of it, and started to pour, "Stella Artois!!"

Asher

ahhh next time ask for a whisky !
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jerome Marot

Active member
Off topic, but fun!

Yesterday, sitting outside Le Pain Quotidien, after finishing my gazpacho, ready to sign my bill, the waiter courteously asked if there was anything else I'd like before I paid. I quipped, thinking about your post, "How about a beer?" Not missing a beat, he came back with "Stella or something else? "Stella Artois!" was my fun choice for an imaginary drink. To my surprise he reappeared with an open bear, mist coming out of it, and started to pour, "Stella Artois!!"
If it really was an open bear, mist coming out of it, and not an open beer, I think I would have ran away as fast as I could.

Stella Artois on wikipedia
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
Cem

Sorry to have led you astray:) I'l keep quiet about Leica's then...

The first and third are fine, and I've taken many such pictures and nly printed a few that really struck me afterwards.

I like the second and agree that this needs the two ladies to avoid being lifeless - that's the subject and not the film/digital discussion.

The fourth is, for me the pick of the bunch. The subject complementing the grayscale nicely.

I shoot a reasonable amount of HP5 and develop in xtol diluted at 1+1. It's quite coarse grained compared to something like TMax 400, but has lovely tonality. FWIW, I don't really like FP4 for scanning (best in rodinal 1:25, but still often a bit uncomfortable) and would use Tmax 100 for a slow film.

Asher, at 8 by 10 inches, you won't have issues with grain!

Mike
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I must be going crazy, I just picked up a pack of Ilford HP5+ 35mm 400ISO BW film the other week. It has been quite some years since I have shot BW film but something Mike said to me about shooting BW film again has been bugging me. Just silly nostalgia I guess. Well, for starters my EOS 3 refused to work, so I had to go back to my good old Nikon F601 body with the ordinary Tamron 28-200mm zoom lens on it. Loaded one roll of film and hit the streets. Tried to find something interesting to shoot but did not have much luck

Cem,

Each of your selections are indeed interesting. But why aren't they all winners then or at least more acceptable to you?

These images are all worthy shots. What's lacking is not in tonalities but rather, where we depend on some "life force", there's simply not enough of it or else investment in post-processing.

Here are some pictures from this batch.


This is a great idea but the center of life interest, the cat, does not work any magic for us. That let you down, not the film which served you magnificently IMHO! Also, the lighting was not there for you. Notice how there's little drawing of detail in the deterioration of the wall. For that one needs angled light. Furthermore, that spider web has long ago ceased to serve any purpose and is not impressive enough even as decay. So let's not blame the film, the "messenger" of your shot!




This picture is a classic shaded tunnel leading to a lit street. Inside, we might see an old man, a stray dog or some determined weed that has flowered. In this case, there are two women, one snapping a picture of the other. However, there timing of their interaction did not quite get to magic, at least in the current presentation. I have a feeling that these figures are richer than shown and could act their part. Also the street has not been worked to recover the bright and mid tones to build detail. In digital, we'd have bracketed for the background and painted in the detail. what's to stop us doing the same with film if otherwise we can't grab that range? So once again film did not fail you but delivered, just within the tunnel, a rich range of dark to light tones. I'd be very pleased to have that.


I'll comment on the next two below.


Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Another Portal, Perhaps?

This next one, is a still life a picture of mood and a place for contemplation, made with shapes, texture and lighting.



I find the view to the delicate plant appealing. The light has not blown out with this film, but rather piled up to an interesting glow. With digital, I bet you'd have worked in Photoshop to locally enhance the objects on the window sill, just enough to appreciate them. My guess is that the stone wall would be sharpened to contrast with the soft window dreamy appearance and the light-bathed plant. Still, what a great use of film. In digital, this might well have taken at least two pictures!

Asher
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
Hi Asher,

Thanks for the comments. Reading your reaction, I get the impression that you think I am dissing film because these particular pictures did not turn out to be good enough. I certainly don't think that film is bad and I had no illusions about the value of these pictures. I am experienced enough to know that one cannot prop some film into the camera, go out on a random shoot and come back home with winners. The only reason I have shown these is to provide the end results of my experiment, not because they are pictures I am proud of and I want to have c&c from the readers. So let's not waste time on them. However, if anybody enjoys them who am I to dispute? :)

The experience is not complete yet, I still have two rolls to shoot. I am even considering the famous 1-year Leica challenge of Mike Johnston ;)
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Now to the man on the sidewalk. This Cem, has a lot of potential. It just needs work.



The picture is just a skeleton for you to flesh out. What's needed, IMHO, is the investment of effort to design ranking of the elements of the picture. Everything is lit equally well all the way to the periphery. What special attention have you given to the man and then to the table? Compare this to the effort you invest in multishot digital pictures that go through SNS-HDR and perhaps even stitching!

I cannot believe this presentation has, as yet, been done justice to your photograph. There's a lot more to do. Probably it needed more contrast development of the print and some dodging and burning. However, given that you are a wizard in Photoshop, this picture still has a good future for itself, for you and hopefully for us too.

I appreciate so much what you have shown and hope you don't mind my dissection of your work. I believe the working with digital and with film provides synergy. All our work benefits. Certainly I get a lot out if studying where your pictures work and why.


..............I will shoot the other 2 rolls first before coming to a conclusion........................
Well get some more through your camera! :) I can't wait!!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi Asher,

Thanks for the comments. Reading your reaction, I get the impression that you think I am dissing film because these particular pictures did not turn out to be good enough. I certainly don't think that film is bad and I had no illusions about the value of these pictures. I am experienced enoguh to know that one cannot prop some film into the camera, go out on a random shoot and come back home with winners. The only reason I have shown these is to provide the end results of my experiment, not because they are pictures I am proud of and I want to have c&c from the readers. So let's not waste time on them.
These pictures should not be dismissed. There's value in each of them. I wish I had taken the picture of the man sitting outside! Don't under-value these images. I for one appreciate so much learning a lot from your work, even with any shortcomings.

With the kindest thoughts and encouragement. I can't emphasize how important it is to shoot in different media and so challenge ourselves.

Asher :)
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
What I say now is purely subjective. Idiotic even. But here goes...

My choice of the bunch is #4. I would not photograph this moment with anything but film, if given

the choice. Why?

Film, outside cafes, contemplation and bw are made for each other.

Regards.
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
Hi Fahim,

What I say now is purely subjective. Idiotic even. But here goes...

My choice of the bunch is #4. I would not photograph this moment with anything but film, if given

the choice. Why?

Film, outside cafes, contemplation and bw are made for each other.

Regards.
Thanks for your valuable thoughts on this. #4 was a spontaneous capture, I saw the old man sitting there and took the picture immediately. It would be even better if I had used a RF camera? ;)
 

Ivan Garcia

New member
I really like the old man image Cem.
I can imagine him wanting some quite time alone... away from wife, the grand children.. Just him, his cigarettes and his coffee. Wonderful.
 
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