Ann Dancing Pentax IQZoom 170 SL Kentmere 400 HC-110 B 2022
Recommended Reading will be back next week.
This is Ann Dancing, an animated electronic sculpture that you’ll find at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Alabama Street, and Vermont Street in Downtown Indianapolis.
Artist Julian Ope created this artwork, which was installed here in 2007. Unfortunately, time was not kind to Ann, which developed a reputation for shorting out in bad weather.
In 2019, a crowdfunding campaign was kicked off to fund Ann’s restoration. It collected more than $200,000 in four weeks! That was enough to rebuild Ann from scratch. She’s not only more robustly built now, but she uses much more up-to-date technology than was available in 2007.
Stephen Dowling, the man behind Kosmo Foto, is a friend of this blog. When he launched his Kickstarter for an ISO 400 black-and-white film, of course I immediately invested. The new film was to be called Agent Shadow, and it was promised to be pushable to at least ISO 3200. I’ve come to enjoy pushing black-and-white films and so was eager to give this film a try.
Stephen makes no bones about it: the Kosmo Foto films are existing films repackaged. But what fun packaging he creates! The packaging for his previous film, Mono, invoked the Russian space program, and the Agent Shadow box has a film-noir aesthetic.
My investment netted me a brick of Agent Shadow upon its release. I gave away six rolls to film-shooting friends to try and kept four for myself. I shot my first roll at box speed in my Pentax ME SE with my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens mounted.
I started the roll at the gorgeous Second Presbyterian Church on the Northside of Indianapolis. Then I brought the camera to work with me Downtown and shot the rest of the roll on mid-afternoon walks.
The sun was fully out every day I had Agent Shadow in my camera. Normally I turn to ISO 100 films on bright days. At ISO 400 I knew I’d get small apertures, leading to everything being in focus. This faster film also let me confidently shoot in shadowy situations such as under this enormous railroad underpass.
I developed this roll in HC-110, Dilution B. The development chart Kosmo Foto provides for Agent Shadow says to develop five to six minutes at 20° C. The upstairs bathroom where I develop my film is warm in the summer despite our central air, and my distilled water checked in at 23.6°. A proper time conversion for six minutes at that temperature led to a development time of 4:28. The conventional wisdom is to avoid development times of less than five minutes with HC-110. I shrugged my shoulders and developed this roll for five minutes. It worked out: the negatives looked great coming out of the tank.
The negatives scanned easily on my Plustek 8200i. They didn’t attract much dust while drying, either, which made for a lot less work in post-processing. I boosted contrast and reduced highlights on these negatives, and of course applied a little unsharp masking, but needed to do little else to make the images look good.
Agent Shadow offers good tonality across the gray spectrum with obvious but pleasing grain. This is all in good order for a good cubic-grained ISO 400 black-and-white film!
The light areas on these images were quite white straight off the scanner, I’m sure thanks to the blazing sun bearing down on my subjects. But as I fiddled with the images in Photoshop I found that those areas weren’t blown out. There was plenty of information in the scan that let me bring out the nuance.
I was also pleased to get good blacks from Agent Shadow. Dark areas didn’t respond wonderfully to my attempts in Photoshop to pull details out, however.
Shot at ISO 400, Agent Shadow looks to be a good, versatile black-and-white film. I look forward to pushing it on my next roll, however. I’ll try ISO 1600 next, and make candids of my family around the house.
Diamond Chain Company Pentax IQZoom 170SL Kentmere 400 HC-110 B 2022
Recommended Reading is taking a two-week break. I’m consumed with some other things right now and need the time back that I usually give my weekly blog-post roundup.
Steel roller chain was key to the Industrial Revolution because gear teeth could grip it and the chain could withstand the forces of high RPMs in industrial machines. could In 1898, the company that became Diamond Chain created an improved steel roller chain by adding a tiny bush bearing on every roller. Henry Ford’s Model T assembly line ran on Diamond Chain! You can also find this kind of chain on your bicycle.
Diamond Chain’s factory stood at 402 Kentucky Avenue in Downtown Indianapolis. The company sold to Ohio-based The Timken Company last year. Timken quickly began relocating operations to a plant it owned in Illinois, and announced that it would close the longtime Indianapolis facility.
The owner of the Indy Eleven soccer team has purchased the property and will redevelop it, building a soccer stadium, apartments, a hotel, office buildings and retail space.
Kentmere 400 is a budget black-and-white film from Harman Technologies, whick makes Ilford films. It’s available only in 35mm, as 24- or 36-exposure cartridges or in 100-foot rolls. At the time I’m publishing this article, you can buy a 36-exposure roll for about five bucks. That makes Kentmere 400 the least expensive ISO 400 black-and-white film commonly available today.
Fomapan 400 is another budget-friendly option, but it’s a dollar or two more expensive. My favorite ISO 400 black-and-white films are Ilford HP5 Plus and Kodak T-Max 400, but they cost up to twice as much as Kentmere 400. I’m happy to pay it when I’m shooting something serious where the output matters. But when I’m testing a new-to-me old camera or just shooting for pleasure, it’s nice to have less-expensive film options.
That’s why I bought a couple rolls of Kentmere 400 not long ago when I also ordered a brick of HP5 Plus. I loaded a roll into my terrific compact Pentax IQZoom 170SL in June and took it to my Downtown Indianapolis office. I often take short afternoon walks when I’m there, and it’s nice to have a small camera in my hand when I go.
As you can see, I shot a lot of architectural subjects on this roll. I developed the film in HC-110, Dilution B, and scanned the negatives on my Plustek 8200i scanner. Several of my film-photography friends get best results from this film when they develop it a little longer than what the Massive Dev Chart says, so I gave it about an extra minute. The negatives were appropriately dense when they came out of the tank.
The film dried fairly flat and scanned easily. I thought the scans looked pretty good right out of the scanner, but I boosted contrast on them all in Photoshop anyway.
I’ve shot black-and-white in the IQZoom 170SL only one other time, and that was a roll of T-Max 400 which I developed in Rodinal. Check out those images here. I think those images are a little smoother and offer better sharpness than these Kentmere 400 images. I suppose that’s an apples-to-dump-trucks comparison, however; not only did I use a different developer, but a different scanner, on that film. Regardless, these Kentmere 400 images are perfectly acceptable.
I hereby pronounce Kentmere 400 to be Perfectly Fine. I’d buy it again.
Some of my film-photography friends have gotten reasonable results pushing this film as far as EI 3200, which makes Kentmere 400 extra versatile. Check out one photographer’s results here.
In the bottom of a box that contained my father-in-law’s photo gear was one forgotten roll of old Kodak Plus-X.
Based on the graphic design on the film canister, I think this film is from the 1970s. I knew nothing about how it had been stored except that it hadn’t been kept in the fridge or freezer. Who knows what environmental horrors were visited upon this hapless roll of film during the last half century?
I loaded it into my Olympus XA, which I set to EI 25, the slowest speed on the camera. I figured this long-expired ISO 125 film would benefit from a lot of overexposure. I shot the whole roll on a short walk on the south end of Downtown Indianapolis. Then I developed it in HC-110, Dilution B, for six minutes. The Massive Dev Chart called for five minutes at 20° C, but that’s for fresh film. I figured a little overdevelopment would do this roll good.
When you shoot very expired film of unknown provenance, you have to prepare for unpredictable results. Several images on the roll showed heavy deterioration of the film.
Other images were well exposed and clean, almost as if the film were fresh.
Here are my favorite images from the rest of the roll.
I really enjoy just shooting whatever subjects catch my fancy. It doesn’t make for Fine Art Photography™, but it does make for fun. When I shoot fresh film, which gets more expensive all the time, I find myself being more choosy about what I photograph. Shooting with abandon feels like wasting money. That wasn’t so with this free roll of very expired film. I just relaxed and photographed what I wanted.
A couple years ago, the late Richard Simpson wrote about what was once a street in Downtown Indianapolis that was, as far as anyone knows, the last place in the city that still shows the granite pavers that were common in the city in the late 19th century. Read its story on Richard’s blog here.
This is Sand Street. You’ll find it in the southwest corner of Downtown Indianapolis, right by the White River, connecting McCarty Street to Kentucky Avenue. See it on Google Maps here. Since 2009 this street has been private property and is gated closed on either end.
I trespassed — something I almost never do. But when I saw how little of this granite paving remained on Sand Street, I decided that it was important that I document it before it all disappeared. I moved quickly and left no trace that I had been there.
The Indianapolis News shared a photograph of Sand Street as it was in 1979. If you have a subscription to newspapers.com, you can read the article here. But here’s the relevant photo. In 1979, industrial buildings lined Sand Street — but the pavers were still intact. Notice the fan pattern in which they were laid.
These pavers were laid after 1887, as the 1887 Sanborn fire map shows Sand Street following an earlier alignment slightly to the east. The 1898 Sanborn map shows Sand Street on its current alignment. (You can find both of these maps at the MapIndy site, here.) It seems clear to me that the city laid these pavers when they realigned Sand Street. (The maps also show that the city changed the names of a number of streets in this area between those years. I’d love to know why.)
Since then, the street has been almost entirely covered in gravel. I assume the old pavers deteriorated to rough condition, and adding a layer of gravel smoothed the road. I found only three small remaining patches of the granite pavers.
Clearing away the gravel might reveal much more of this granite pavement. I might have been able to dig down with my foot to find more granite pavers, but like I said earlier, I moved quickly and left no trace that I’d been there.
Today, this property is used for paid parking when nearby Lucas Oil Stadium has an event. Sand Street provides entry and exit to the parking.