Film Photography

Ilford FP4 Plus in my Nikon F2A

It was wonderful to use my Nikon F2A again after Sover Wong overhauled it. Everything was as good as new.

I shot Ilford FP4 Plus in it, which I developed in LegacyPro L110, Dilution B. I’m still working out the development time that works best for me with this film. The Massive Dev Chart frustratingly gives a range of seven to nine minutes at 20° C. I tried eight minutes and got good results.

Propane heater

Most photos were properly exposed and developed. My scanner had no trouble pulling information off the negatives.

Coffee cup

I made these first two photos when I visited my mom. I bought her a propane tank and an inexpensive tank-top heater meant for construction projects. It puts out a prodigious amount of heat, which lets us sit on her patio on chilly afternoons.

Bathroom mirror selfie

The haziness in the lower left of this image is certainly due to my finger being in front of the lens. D’oh!

Yashica-12

This being a test roll, I just shot whatever felt good. I had my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens mounted. It’s a fine all-around performer. Many Nikon fans use the 50/1.8 or the 50/1.4, which cost a heck of a lot more than my 50/2 did. I’m perfectly happy with this lens and don’t see myself buying a faster 50.

Leaves

I took the F2A on a number of walks around my neighborhood. I’ve made a ton of photos of this suburban vinyl village this year, toward an idea I have for a book that shows the beauty and banality of this place.

Willow pond

I’m very happy with these photos, as they show a Nikon F2A in perfect working condition. Sover’s service was mighty expensive, but it was thorough and precise. If I care for this camera, it will outlast me.

6516

I shot subjects I’ve shot many times before. Why not? The act of making a photograph is enough of a pleasure, who cares if I come back to the same subjects over and over?

Blinds

This shot in my living room was a lark: what happens if I shoot handheld in dim indoor light? I love the mood in this image, but I had no idea what I’d get when I pressed the shutter button.

Basketball goals

When I shot these basketball hoops, I had a 4×5 crop in mind. I came upon them at the perfect time of day for this composition.

Pumpkin

If you own a Nikon F2, save your nickels so that you can send it to Sover Wong for an overhaul. You’ll get back a like-new F2 that will serve you well for many years.

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Suburban scene

The backs of houses
Nikon F2A, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Ilford FP4 Plus
LegacyPro L110, Dilution B
2020

In this neighborhood I live in, it’s remarkable to me how many backs of houses I see as I walk on its streets.

A wide main road makes a semi-circle through the neighborhood and all of the sub-neighborhoods branch off it. Because of the curved, cul-de-sac nature of the sub-neighborhoods’ streets, the backs of many houses face the main road. A fence and some trees make a thin attempt to block the view, but they don’t really work.

The pipelines and high-voltage electrical transmission lines that cut through create gaps between houses, making the backs of many houses more visible. Also, the backs of all of the corner houses are visible just by their nature. Finally, some houses back up to a retention pond, and for whatever reason roads pass right by a lot of them here.

Moreover, it’s against the rules here to build a privacy fence. Three feet is all the taller a fence can be.

The upstart is that a private back yard is hard to come by here.

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Film Photography

single frame: The backs of houses

Why you see the backs of so many houses in my neighborhood.

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Film Photography

Ilford FP4 Plus in LegacyPro L110

I recently got decent results developing 120 Ilford FP4 Plus in LegacyPro L110, Dilution B (1+31). The more I use this Kodak HC-110 developer clone, the more I like it. Meet my colleague Ishank.

Ishank

And this is Trent. We met for lunch Downtown on a warm autumn day. A particular cheeseburger joint has plenty of outdoor seating.

Trent

We met for lunch on Indianapolis’s popular Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Ave,” we all call it). We met on the block in the photo below thinking we’d hit the fried chicken place, but we learned that during COVID they’re not serving lunch. So we walked up the street and found the cheeseburger place open.

Stout's on Mass

In many shots, blacks went to 100% and there was no detail available to retrieve in Photoshop. Areas of Ishank’s hair, beard, and T-shirt came out fully black. In the photo below, note especially the side of the truck in the foreground, and the slacks of the woman in the mural.

Mass Ave

I probably underexposed those photos. I should have metered for the shadows, especially in the photo above where the light is so mixed. Instead, I started the meter app on my iPhone, aimed it at the middle of the scene, and set the Yashica-D to whatever it said. I would do well to be more disciplined in my metering technique. Fortunately, my hasty technique worked fine in even lighting, as in the scene below.

1915 Room

I shot these in my Yashica-D. I use my Yashica-12 more often because of its built-in meter and easy crank winding. But the D is still a lovely camera. Its Yashikor lens, a triplet, gives a lovely swirly bokeh (see the portraits above) that the 12’s Yashinon lens, a Tessar clone, can’t match. People in the photo forums decry the Yashikor’s softness compared to the Yashinon, but I find the Yashikor to be plenty sharp.

Prayer Request

Speaking of sharpness, I continue to learn so much from your comments. On my recent post about Kodak Panatomic-X film, Ted Marcus recommended deconvolution sharpening over unsharp masking. I searched the Internet for more info and learned that you can do it natively in Photoshop’s RAW editor. This article explains. I like the effect better than unsharp masking. The real test will come when I try it on 35mm scans.

Mowed down cornfield

I took the Yashica-D on a drive one chilly lunch hour and stopped in some familiar places. If I had known that fellow was going to bike into my frame, I would have waited a second or two longer so he would have appeared in a more interesting spot!

Wrecks, Inc.

I like shooting 12-exposure rolls of film when I’m shooting aimlessly like this. One good photo walk, or two or three short photo walks, and its into the developing tank with the roll. It also reminds me of my early days making photos in my little Kodak Brownie Starmite II and later in my crappy Imperial Magimatic X50. I had no choice but 12 exposures in the Brownie on 127 film. I could buy 20- (and later 24-) exposure 126 cartridges for the Magimatic, but often bought 12-exposure cartridges because they were less expensive. I had so little money then. I hadn’t worked out yet that it was more economical per frame to buy the 20-exposure cartridges, especially when you factored in developing and printing.

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Mail Station

Mail station
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Panatomic-X (expired)
LegacyPro L110 Dilution B (1+31)

When I was a kid, the mailbox was attached to the house next to the front door. On summer days, when the windows were open, we could hear the mailman open and close its lid as he delivered our letters.

As a young adult with my first house the mailbox was on a post by the curb. I didn’t much enjoy needing boots and a coat to get my mail on winter days.

Now I live in a new subdivision, and all mail is delivered to a locked box in this building. We walk or drive over to it; it’s ¾ mile away. I know this is a first-world problem, but I hate it. I want a mailbox next to my front door again.

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Film Photography

single frame: Mail station

The central mail station in my subdivision, on expired Kodak Panatomic-X.

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Film Photography

Shooting Kodak Panatomic-X

Kodak Panatomic-X film has developed almost a cult following since it was discontinued in 1987. Look around the forums and the blogs: people call this the best black-and-white film ever made. It’s a fine-grained but slow film at ISO 32.

Mike Eckman of mike eckman dot com sent me two short rolls he bulk loaded, just to try this film. “Shoot it at ISO 20 or 25,” he said, “and develop it in HC-110 Dilution B for 6½ minutes.” I asked him what temperature. He said that it didn’t matter, 6½ minutes just always works. And so it did.

Light

I knew I’d want a fast lens for this slow film, and the fastest lenses I own say SMC Pentax-M on them. So I got out my Pentax ME, set it at EI 25, mounted my 50mm f/1.7, and loaded the first roll of Panatomic-X.

Cameron Fence

I shot indiscriminately around my yard and within a few minutes’ walk of my home.

Sprinkling

For the kind of shooting I do — handheld, outdoors — slow films need great light. I went out with my ME only on full-sun days and I still got shallow depth of field. But if you know that going in, you can work with it.

On the Deck

Mike told me that this stock is at least 30 years old. Yet look how it performs!

Bat

This fits Panatomic-X’s reputation: no matter how old, almost no matter how stored, this film performs well. These photos bear it out — they look very good, with creamy middle grays and solid blacks.

XOX

My scanner is the weak link in my workflow, as it delivers soft scans in 35mm. Even after heavy unsharp masking, the images still aren’t truly sharp. These negatives scanned as sharp as my tools can manage, and required only moderate unsharp masking.

Neighbor's Dog

To wrap up, here’s a shot of my neighbor’s dog, who came out to have a bark at me. I think he wants to be my pal, but his innate skittishness makes him back away whenever I go over to say hello. So I immortalized him on expired Kodak Panatomic-X.

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Spotted chair

Spotted chair
Pentax IQZoom 60
Kodak T-Max 400
LegacyPro L110 H (1+63)

I wonder if I’ve been wrong about L110, which is a Kodak HC-110 developer clone — at least as pertains to Kodak T-Max 400.

I’ve panned L110 for delivering soft results that sometimes defy sharpening via Photoshop’s unsharp mask command. But this image looks plenty sharp. And for having been scanned on my flatbed scanner, it’s pretty smooth.

I think my scanner is the weak link in my process for sharing images with you. It’s probably as good as a flatbed scanner can be.

At any rate, T-Max 400 in L110 1+63 appears to be a winning combination.

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Film Photography

single frame: Spotted chair

The famous spotted chair in Broad Ripple.

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