My photographic motto should be, “What happens if I try this?”
I haven’t been happy with my images on Kodak T-Max P3200 the last few times I’ve shot it. But those times I developed it myself. I got pleasing results when I sent that film to a lab for processing and scanning, but not so much with my home dev-scan workflow. So I decided I’d shoot another roll and send it off to a lab to confirm that I’m missing the boat somewhere in my home developing. I used Fulltone Photo to develop this roll.
You’d think I would have chosen my Nikon F3, or some other camera I’ve shot this film in before, so I would be sure of my gear. Oh no, I didn’t do that. Instead, I said to myself, “What happens if I shoot it in my Olympus Stylus? It supports films up to ISO 3,200!” Is this old camera’s meter up to the task? Let’s find out.
Of course, that makes this a two-variable experiment, and thus harder to discern what is generating my results — the camera or the lab.
At least I shot a familiar subject with this film: Chicago at night. Margaret and I made a quick weekend getaway trip up there the weekend before Christmas. We hit Christkindlmarkt in the morning and saw The Nutcracker in the evening. This year that ballet was at the Civic Opera. Here’s a long external corridor at the Civic Opera that leads to the main doors.
While we waited for the ballet to begin, I made a few images inside the theater. Here’s the orchestra pit, musicians getting ready.
I looked up at the balconies to make this image. I made several other images inside the Civic Opera, but most of them were underexposed enough that I couldn’t salvage them.
The negatives are super thin. Either the camera is underexposing, or the lab underdeveloped. The lab’s scanners did a much better job pulling images off the negatives on about the first 1/3 of the roll than on the rest of the roll. I boosted contrast and blacks in Photoshop to make something out of most them, although a few images were unsalvageable.
Images on the first third of the roll looked a lot better. We began at Macy’s on State Street, where I photographed this window decorated for the holidays. This is the only shot on the roll that looks properly exposed to me.
Here’s State Street in front of Macy’s. There’s a lot going on in this image. I think the lights are the subject here.
I also brought the camera inside Macy’s and made a couple images. I’m pretty sure this panel is above an elevator.
I think this is the third time I’ve photographed down State Street from this corner. I like the scene at night.
The Stylus was a wonderful camera to carry on a cold Chicago evening. It slipped into my coat pocket, out of the frigid air, and was stealthy wherever I used it inside.
I can’t say for sure whether this is underexposure or underdevelopment. I’ll shoot my next roll of P3200 in a known-good camera like my Nikon F3. I’m going to do some research into others’ experience developing this film to see if there’s anything I can learn, especially with HC-110, my developer of choice. I want this film to work for me. I can always shoot Ilford HP5 Plus at 1600, but as someone pointed out to me separately, P3200 will give better detail in the shadows if I can only expose and develop it right.
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.