Film Photography, Travel

Shooting Film Washi D

Wabash St.

When it comes to black-and-white photography, I hew to the classics. Lately I’ve enjoyed Ilford’s FP4 Plus for its rich tones. When I want something faster, it’s a tossup between Kodak T-Max 400 and Ilford HP5 Plus. But I am also a deeply curious man. When I heard about Film Washi, a one-man film company from France, I wanted to try its films.

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I’ve already shot a roll of Film Washi S, and here I’ve shot a roll of Film Washi D. Analogue Wonderland sent me both rolls in exchange for these mentions. Their Film Washi stocks vary with time; check here to see what they have available now. Or choose from any of the over 200 other films they keep in stock.

I loaded the Film Washi D into my Olympus XA and brought it on a weekend trip to Chicago with my wife. It was early January, cold and gloomy. Who knows whether this was the best light to test this ISO 500 film, but that’s what I threw at it.

Cafe view

Like so many boutique films, Film Washi D loves contrasty scenes. I knew this going in, because I read up about it on Film Washi’s site first. I learned my lesson after not doing that with the roll of Film Washi S I shot last year. Turns out this film was originally used for aerial surveillance and cartography. Strong contrast is likely useful in that application.

Vans

I had a devil-may-care attitude as I shot this roll. “I wonder if this film can handle this light,” I kept wondering. It kept saying yes. I’m especially pleased with how it captured the iconic sign of the Berghoff Restaurant.

The Berghoff, Chicago

We had tickets to see the new production of The Phantom of the Opera; this was the marquee. (I’d never seen the show in any form before. The production was first rate, but I was surprised to find I don’t like the story.)

Phantom of the Opera at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

There was a dull muddiness to all of these photos as scanned. I shouldn’t be surprised — the negatives were incredibly thin. I shot at the box speed of 500, but I wonder now if I should have shot at half that. Or perhaps my lab didn’t know what to do with this film and underdeveloped it. I opened these images in Photoshop’s RAW editor and used the Black and Dehaze sliders to tame the muddiness. Sometimes it wouldn’t be fully tamed without losing all the shadow detail. I had to stop short of that in the photo below.

The Loop, Chicago

Skies were overcast all weekend, creating diffuse, even light. But there wasn’t always enough light for Film Washi D to pull detail out of the shadows.

Umbrella Men

Not knowing this about the film yet, I lucked into using it to good effect here.

Shadowy Tower

But give Film Washi D some blacks and some whites to play with, and it brings them home with aplomb.

Painted rhino

If I had this roll to shoot over again, I would have shot nothing but street with it. I made exactly one street image, this one, shot from my hip. I thought there was something interesting in this lone woman at the end of this line of chairs, and I was right. The Film Washi D captured a reasonable range of tones.

Seated

The woman spied me with my camera, even though it was at my hip, and shouted obscenities at me. She was most unhappy about being my subject. So here you go, lady: you’re immortalized on the Internet.

Many thanks to Analogue Wonderland for the chance to try Film Washi D and give it this one-roll review.

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Film Photography

Downtown Indianapolis on Ilford HP5 Plus

Nada

I work in Downtown Indianapolis. Yes, it’s capital-D Downtown here. My favorite way to take a work break is to grab whatever film camera I have with me and take a walk around capital D. For a few weeks recently, that was my little Olympus Stylus, into which I’d loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus.

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The generous people at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of Ilford HP5 Plus so I’d write about the experience and drop their name. You can buy HP5 Plus from them here. But do explore their site — they offer over 200 other films! Click the logo to see.

Contrasting Doors

Last time I shot HP5 I used my big semi-pro Nikon N90s SLR. I wanted to see what kind of results I got from a different class of 35mm camera, hence the Stylus. Answer: every bit as impressive. I got excellent detail and balanced contrast shot after shot. As a traditionally grained film, you will absolutely see grain on HP5. But it looks natural and doesn’t detract from sharpness or detail.

Central Christian

I shot this roll little by little in December and January, two of Indiana’s gloomiest months every year. At ISO 400, HP5 Plus had the speed to cope with the poor light and give me big depth of field.

Leon's

Even on a day with some sun, the HP5 Plus delivered good balance between the bright and shadowy areas.

View from the 12th Floor Window

I walked around on idle lunch hours with the Stylus, photographing anything I thought might look good in black and white.

Cups Coffee

There are plenty of lovely older buildings Downtown with interesting details to study. HP5 Plus did a great job navigating the natural contrasts.

Inland Bldg.

Even though Indianapolis is Indiana’s largest city by far, it’s not large like Chicago or Dallas. The core of Downtown is about one mile square, beyond which the tall buildings give way fast to shorter office and apartment buildings and then neighborhoods full of older homes. Roberts Camera is just beyond that mile square. They process 35mm color film at a reasonable price. They also happen to be the US distributor of Ilford products.

Roberts

While I’ve never used them, there are a few auto mechanics just outside Downtown’s mile square. Convenient!

Firestone

HP5 Plus is a great film for everyday photography. If you’d like to try Ilford HP5 Plus for yourself, you can order it from Analogue Wonderland here. They provided me this roll of film in exchange for this mention.

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Film Photography

Another go with Kodak ColorPlus

Jesus Saves

So many film-photography bloggers I follow get such nice results from ColorPlus, Kodak’s low-priced ISO 200 color film, that I couldn’t reconcile the meh results I got from my first roll. I shot it in my Olympus Trip 35; see some of the images here.

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So I tried again, thanks to the largesse of Analogue Wonderland, who sent me another roll in exchange for this review and this mention. Get your ColorPlus from them here. I put this roll into my black Olympus OM-1 and mounted a 50mm f/1.8 Olympus F.Zuiko lens.

Then I took this camera to work, in Downtown Indianapolis, and brought it out at lunch or after hours to make some images around the center of the city. I work around the corner from the City-County Building, the seat of the combined government of Indianapolis and Marion County.

City-County Building

You’ll find the old City Hall a couple blocks away. It’s currently vacant. The orange seats are for people waiting on a bus. They came out of one of the stadiums we used to have here that was demolished to make way for bigger and better stadiums.

Bleacher seats at City Hall

I looked specifically for colorful subjects among the beiges and grays of Downtown’s buildings. ColorPlus looks mighty good to me in these images, far better than what I got from it in the Trip 35. It’s a mystery to me, as the Trip usually does lovely work. But I discovered long ago that some lenses love certain films and not others.

Bank of Indianapolis

It was a bit of a risk to shoot ISO 200 film past dusk, but I managed to hold the camera steady enough for the long exposure. These evening colors look mighty pleasing to me!

Downtown at night

I made this shot while sitting outside at a restaurant with my brother. I liked the juxtaposition of all the lines. Keen eyes will spot Kurt Vonnegut painted onto the side of a building.

Hedge Row

Lesson learned: it’s not fair to pan a film based on one roll shot. These colors are lovely.

Green car at Qdoba

Kodak ColorPlus is a good consumer-grade color film, rendering realistic tones through my F.Zuiko lens. If you’d like to try ColorPlus, order it from Analogue Wonderland here.

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Film Photography

Shooting Film Washi S

Federal Courthouse

Let me say right off that I’m frustrated with myself. These photographs don’t capture the best that Film Washi S can do. It wasn’t until after I shot most of the roll that I read over at EMULSIVE that you’re supposed to shoot this film in dull, diffuse lighting. I shot every single frame in blistering, blazing summer sunshine.

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And so I’m considerably embarrassed to admit that this post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, who sent me a roll of this film to try in exchange for this mention. My humblest apologies to the very good people at Analogue Wonderland that I bungled this so badly. Click here to buy some Film Washi S of your own from them. But don’t be a doofus like me — shoot it in the right light.

Firestone

Not that the roll was a total bust. With a little light Photoshoppery I was able to get usable images from almost every frame. The contrast is mighty high, is all. In full sun, you get your black, you get your white, but you get very little in between. On a few photographs it was mighty appealing. But not on the one below. It shows the film at its contrastiest.

City Market

Film Washi S is actually sound recording film — bright purple! — spooled into 35mm cartridges. On a film print of a movie, the soundtrack is imprinted optically onto the film, and is then transferred to the final movie print.

Apartments

I loaded the Film Washi S into my Pentax ME and mounted my 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens. That light little SLR and that widish lens are a great kit for making photographs in Downtown Indianapolis, as I did.

Circle Tower

Whenever the sun was not directly behind me, the frame tended to fog a little.

Mass Ave corner

I can’t see any grain on any of these images. I’m not surprised, as this is an ISO 50 film. Check out all the great detail the film captured on this ornate theater building.

Indiana Repertory Theater

It is a shame, however, that so much is lost in the shadows. This is why with specialty films it pays to read everything you can before you go off shooting. (That’s a note to self.)

Doorway

Despite my challenging choice of lighting for this film, it did lovely work in a few cases. Like this one. So silvery! So sharp!

Lacy

Shooting specialty films is great fun under any circumstances. But it is even more fun when you read up on it first and know the conditions in which it delivers its best results. So let me be clear: shoot Film Washi S on an overcast day. Don’t be a doofus like me.

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Film Photography

Shooting Kosmo Foto Mono in 120

I often like the medium-format version of a film better than its 35mm counterpart. The larger negative opens up the film and shows you what it can really do. This goes for the new 120 Mono film from Kosmo Foto.

Flowers

When friend-of-the-blog Stephen Dowling, the man behind Kosmo Foto, announced this new film, I preordered immediately. My order arrived in due course, but it took me a couple months to find a day to spool a roll into my Yashica-D. I took both on a walk up and down the lovely Main Street in Zionsville.

One Nine Five

Dowling makes no bones about it: this is an existing film, repackaged for Kosmo Foto. This classic emulsion features strong contrast and managed grain, much like black-and-white films of old. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced. If you’re curious, get yours here.

Bus

It was a full-sun summer day as I strolled Zionsville’s charming brick Main Street. A lot of classic emulsions struggle to keep highlights in check on days like this; no so Mono.

Brick street

Moving in close, as close as my TLR would let me anyway, Mono shows good resolving power.

Chickens on the wall

I don’t mind doing a little work in Photoshop to make my photos more presentable, but it sure is nice when I can use them right off the scanner. Such was largely the case with these images. The only thing I did consistently was rotate them slightly so the verticals were vertical and the horizontals were horizontal; I do struggle to hold a TLR level.

Winery

It’s not a photowalk in Zionsville unless I photograph the great Black Dog Books sign.

Black Dog Books

Rich blacks, reasonable midtones, good contrast, barely detectable grain. What’s not to like about Kosmo Foto Mono in 120?

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Film Photography

Shooting Ilford HP5 Plus

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This post is brought to you by Analogue Wonderland, who offer dozens of fun films for you to try. Click the logo to see!

Why did I wait so long to start shooting Ilford?

Market Street towards the Statehouse

I actually know why: so many fine childhood photographic memories that involve little yellow boxes. It leads me to reach for Kodak first. But I’ve been missing out.

The Lacy Building

Ilford HP5 Plus is a fast (ISO 400) black-and-white film with a traditional grain structure. As you can see, it delivers plenty of lovely grays evenly at every level between white and black. No “chalk and soot” here, no sir.

Lime scooters

The only thing I did with any of these photos in Photoshop was boost contrast and exposure a little to suit my tastes. But truly, I could have used these images without any post-processing. I almost never get that outcome with film. Oh Ilford, I’m sorry I waited so long!

The table is set

I shot this roll in my Nikon N90s with my 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor lens attached. I have to think this camera’s advanced (for its time) matrix metering helped get even exposures on this blindingly bright day.

Artsgarden

These scenes are all from Downtown Indianapolis, where I work now. It’s lovely to take a camera on a lunchtime photowalk. The sun directly overhead typically provides the harshest light; conventional wisdom is to go earlier or later. But noon’s when I can get out, and Ilford HP5 Plus is just the film for it.

Bus terminal

There’s so much to photograph Downtown now! I last worked Downtown in 1996, and revitalization had only just begun. I wish I had made lunchtime photowalks then for then-and-now comparisons!

Nicky Blaine's

If you’d like to try Ilford HP5 Plus for yourself, you can order it from Analogue Wonderland here. They provided me this roll of film in exchange for this mention.

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