I’ve shot a lot of film since discovering during the summer that my nearby CVS still has a one-hour processing lab. They return processed negatives and a CD of scans for an astonishingly inexpensive $6! But I’ve been hankering to shoot black and white lately. Normal black-and-white film is processed differently from color film, and one-hour labs aren’t set up for it. Kodak produces one black-and-white film, BW400CN, that is processed in the same way as color film. CVS sells it, so I bought a roll and loaded it into my Olympus OM-1 (with the 50 mm f/1.8 lens attached) one recent Saturday.
I think it’s great fun to burn through a 24-exposure roll of film in an afternoon, and that’s just what I did. I first visited Fountain Square, an Indianapolis neighborhood just southeast of Downtown. Except for the cars, this could be 1942 or 1922.
These images turned out all right after more post-processing in Photoshop Elements than I’m used to or even like to do. They all had a purplish caste to them, which wasn’t hard to get rid of. But then I had to seriously jack with the brightness and contrast to breathe some life into them as they all seemed flat to me. I also darkened all the skies in these Fountain Square shots to make the clouds show up, which probably wouldn’t have been necessary had I attached my yellow filter before heading out.
But hey, at least I got to spend some time in Fountain Square. The more I go down there, the more I like it. It’s architecture reminds me of a small town’s downtown, except it’s part of the big city. I’m sure these storefronts once hosted merchants the neighborhood needed, but today they’re filled with galleries, night clubs, restaurants, and the odd antique shop.
I love Fountain Square at night as it’s brightly lit. One of these nights I’ll go down there and shoot all the glowing neon. I did shoot the lights under the Fountain Square Theatre marquee on this afternoon trip, though.
It’s called Fountain Square because of the fountain, of course.
Later I drove the short distance to Downtown to shoot at Monument Circle. Even though this shot is a little busy, I liked the contrast I ended up getting from it.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is at the heart of Indianapolis. For decades after its 1901 completion it was the tallest structure in town. For this shot, the sky had so much contrast that no darkening was necessary.
My enjoyment of shooting this roll of film and getting it processed on the same day was blunted by all the work I had to do to liven up these images. Part of me still just wants whatever I get back from the processor to be good enough! But I’m coming to see that post-processing is just part of this game. All the same, I’m sure I would have needed to do less work with these images had I shot them using regular black-and white film such as Kodak T-Max or Fujifilm Neopan Acros.
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.
Last updated on 15 March 2020 by Jim Grey