Thorntown Library

Thorntown Library
Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor
GAF 125 Versapan x/7-72 @ EI 80
2021

I made a few photos on the expired GAF 125 film in Thorntown, a small town here in Boone County, Indiana. This is Thorntown’s library. This is the original building, one of the hundreds of libraries industrialist Andrew Carnegie build around the country. I documented several other Indiana Carnegie libraries here.

I’ve now shared the best of my photos on this roll of very expired film.

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Photographs, Preservation

single frame: Thorntown Library

The library in Thorntown, Indiana, on film expired since 1972.

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Photographs

Indianapolis’s Pyramids on expired GAF 125 film

While I had that 1972 GAF 125 (Ansco Versapan) film in the Nikon N90s, I visited the Pyramids, office buildings in northwest Indianapolis, to make some photos. I had the 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens attached. The Pyramids are so large, and the 50mm is narrow enough, that I struggled to fit all of the Pyramids in the frame. I wished I had mounted a 35mm lens! But when you’re out photographing, you make the most of the gear you have on you. I filled the frame with Pyramids, and walked a good distance back from them in their office park for some across-the-retention-pond photos. These images show some streaking, which isn’t surprising for film that’s pushing 50 years old. I did my best to clean dust and debris off these scans but they’re not perfectly clean.

The Pyramids
The Pyramids
The Pyramids
The Pyramids
The Pyramids

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Film Photography

Shooting GAF 125 (Ansco Versapan) black-and-white film

GAF 125 film

Well-known film photo blogger Andrew Morang (Kodachromeguy) sent me one of his last rolls of GAF 125 film to try. This film is the same stuff as Ansco Versapan (Ansco rebranded as GAF in 1967). My roll expired in June, 1972. Dig that red film canister!

Little information is available online about Versapan. I turned to my secret research weapon, Google Books, where I found a Nov., 1963 issue of Popular Science. There I found a single paragraph this then-new film. It said that the film features a “tight” grain pattern, and contrast increases with development time.

Nikon N90s

I shot this roll in my trusty Nikon N90s with my 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens attached. Andrew advised shooting it at EI 80 or even 64; I went with 80.

Where Andrew sent his rolls out to be professionally developed (see his results here), I developed mine myself. Because so very little info was available online, and the data sheet in the film box specified only Ansco developers no longer made, I used the Mike Eckman Method: HC-110, Dilution B (1+31), for 6 minutes. Any film Mike’s not sure about, that’s how he develops it. He gets great results almost every time.

Developed, the GAF 125 suffered from moderate base fog. You expect that from film this old. The images themselves have good density.

I figured my scanner (Minolta ScanDual II) could cut through the base fog to get usable images, and I was right. It was challenging to load the negatives into the holder, however, because after 50 years tight in the canister they curl like crazy.

At snapshot size, these images look surprisingly good. Grain ranges from smooth to slight, and there’s a good range of tones, but the dark areas are very dark. At 100%, the grain really pops out and you see a distinct loss of shadow detail.

I got a ton of dust on these; spotting the negatives in Photoshop took forever. A few were so bad that I gave up. But beyond that and a little sharpening, these scans needed very little post-processing.

I brought the N90s with me when I made a trip along the old Brookville Road in southeastern Indiana. That road is US 52 today. I stopped in the small town of Morristown and photographed its main street in the full sun. Here are several of the photos. Among them are photos of the Kopper Kettle restaurant, which I visited and reviewed as part of the Indiana Fried Chicken Tour many years ago; read that review here.

Morristown, IN
Morristown, IN
Morristown, IN
Morristown, IN
Read Box
Bluebird, Morristown
Morristown, IN
Kopper Kettle
Kopper Kettle

This was a successful roll overall, and I’ll share more photos from it in upcoming posts.

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