single frame: Physical plant

Physical plant

Physical plant
Ilford Pan-F Plus

In my book, Square Photographs, I include a couple images I made at the Central State Hospital for the Insane. One of those photos is a detail of this building, which I entitled “I Wonder What This Could Be?” It was so named for the boarded-up window I photographed, onto which someone painted those words next to a little girl holding her arms out to the sky.

I said in the book that the building was in sad condition, and that an extensive renovation would be needed to make it usable again. This photo shows you what I mean. I didn’t share this in the book because I’d already selected two images from Central State and I needed to move on to other subjects.

I made this on Ilford Pan-F Plus, an ISO 50 film. I bought a five-pack of this stuff hoping it would be a good film for my box cameras. But it turns out it lacks the exposure latitude of Ilford’s FP4 Plus and wasn’t a great choice for my old boxes. I burned this roll in the Yashica-12 and sent my last roll to a blogging friend to try. As you can see, it performed beautifully in this camera that has an onboard meter for precise exposure.

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12 responses to “single frame: Physical plant”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Ilford Pan-F is very similar to Kodak Panatomic X, both films that are beautiful and fine grained under controlled lighting situations, but really no ability to record a “long scale” like a sunny day outside. Alas, where is our Verichrome Pan?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s exactly what I find with Pan F. It’s why I gave my last roll away, and won’t buy more — it doesn’t suit my shooting style.

      1. P Avatar

        Nice photo, Jim. Do you have any idea when this building was originally constructed? I’m a big fan of Pan F, but it is a very high contrast film with little tolerance for exposure error. On a bright, sunny day, with hard light, it probably does best shot at EI 25 and pulled in development to tame the contrast. Nonetheless, this photo and the others from this roll turned out quite well.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          This building probably was built in the late 1800s.

          The poor tolerance for exposure error is why I don’t shoot more of this film. I really rely on that with my films, especially with old cameras I’ve never had CLA’d.

  2. ronian42 Avatar

    Ilford Pan F Plus is a great film Jim, although it is an old formulation. With a metered or auto exposure camera the results are very good. I did hear somewhere on this internet thingy of someone who rates it between ISO 50 and ISO 500, I’ve never tried pushing it at all, but I have used it at box speed (even in Scotland!). If you search pan f or pan f plus in my Flickr feed you should should be able to see the results from My Olympus XA, 35RC and Yashicamat 124G. Having just left this comment, I am surprised that I haven’t used this film in one of my SLR’s yet. (Note to self, order some more and feed an SLR!).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve only ever used Pan F in 120. Perhaps it would work well in 35mm in one of my trusted SLRs. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I will say this about both Panatomic X and Pan F. I did some 35mjm portraits back in the early 80’s in studio, with strobe lighting and highly controlled lighting ratios.I processed both films in their respective manufacturers developer of Perceptol and Microdol-X. I have never been able to replicate the beautul “creaminess” of the prints with any other film/developer combination; and still look back on the prints today with amazement. I moved aways from both films as being way too “tweaky” for general use in the studio.

    I will also say in photo-college in the early 70’s, the instructors warned us away from both those developers because they got their fine grain results by “eating away” edges of the grain, thereby lowering accutance to give the illusion of grainlessness. This, however, never seemed to be a problem with Pan F or Panatomic-X because of the lack of grain to begin with.

    I think Pan F probably favors the very careful worker using very specific developers they’ve tested for effect!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is a great perspective. I’m curious to try Pan F in 35mm to see how it behaves, but really, everything I ever need to shoot is handled well by FP4 and HP5.

  4. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    This is a great example of where Pan-F shines, and I like urban decay scenes like this. Well done. Sadly, Panatomic-X has been gone since 1978, but it’s great that Pan-F is still with us.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Pan F really did work out great in these scenes from Central State.

  5. J P Avatar

    I have long been mystified by the common term “physical plant”. Of course it’s physical. Otherwise it would be an imaginary plant. And it clearly is not that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh I know. First time I heard that phrase as a kid I was all like “?”

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