Film Photography

Comparing developing and scanning from several labs on the same film stock

Earlier this year I bought five rolls of Kroger 200 color negative film, an expired Ferrania emulsion, from Photo Warehouse. Ferrania stopped making color film sometime between 2008 and 2010, so this film is no newer than that. I don’t know how it was stored, but I presume the whole lot Photo Warehouse had for sale was stored the same way.

I’ve shot four rolls of this stuff now in various cameras. I shot the first roll in a fixed-exposure camera and wasn’t wowed by the color shifts and grain. I shot the other rolls at EI 100, which helped a lot. Yet each roll came back looking different.

Lots of factors play in how images look. The light meters on my old film cameras might not be consistent with each other. The quality of the light varies from subject to subject. Different lenses impart different qualities. But I think the biggest factors are processing and scanning. I sent each of these three rolls to different labs.

Just for grins, I’ll show you a couple images from the first roll I shot. I think Roberts Camera developed and scanned the roll — I didn’t keep a record as I usually do, but the scan dimensions are the ones I get from Roberts. I shot the roll in my Reto Ultra Wide and Slim. The whole roll was underexposed. I remedied that as best I could in Photoshop, to find intrusive grain but reasonable color fidelity.

Little blue house
Yellow box truck on a green wall

I shot the next and all subsequent rolls at EI 100. I sent the first of these to Old School Photo Lab. I wouldn’t normally send them a roll of expired film containing non-critical images, as OSPL is by far the most expensive consumer lab I know of. But I had a few critical rolls to send them, and I just dropped this roll into the envelope, too. I shot my Nikon F3 with the 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens on it. Here are a couple images. These look really good to me, with excellent color fidelity and smooth grain. The purple in the first image is just spot on.

Purple flower
Granddaughter

I sent the next roll to Dwayne’s Photo. This time I shot my Nikon FA with a 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor. The results were mixed. Images I made at a farmers market had good color fidelity and noticeable, but pleasing, grain. Images I made of old houses in Bloomington, Indiana, looked a little dingy and brown. I was able to remedy that in Photoshop to some extent.

Produce
On Bloomington's Brick Streets

Roberts Camera here in Indianapolis developed and scanned the fourth roll. Here I shot a Pentax Spotmatic SP II with a 50mm f/1.4 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar lens. That lens’s wonderful qualities really shone through on these images, but these all had a brown caste that I had to remove in Photoshop. Colors looked more muted than in real life. Grain is managed and looks much like what I experienced in the images Dwayne’s processed.

In Lockerbie
Michigan Road in Burlington

To my eye, Old School Photo Lab wins. The images from that roll look like fresh film to me. But ay yi yi are they expensive, at almost $20 to develop and scan a roll of 35mm color negative film.

I’ll try to make it a point to send my one remaining roll of this film to Fulltone Photo, a lab I use a lot because they do good work for noticeably less than any of the other labs I use.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Photographs, Preservation

On Bloomington’s brick streets

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

In Bloomington, Indiana, just north of the Indiana University campus, you’ll find nine blocks where the interior streets are paved in brick. Bounded by 7th Street on the south, 10th Street on the north, Indiana Avenue on the west, and Woodlawn Avenue on the east, these streets are lined with lovely older homes.

I was in Bloomington in late July to have lunch with my son. My Nikon FA was with me, its 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens mounted. I was shooting some expired Kroger-branded, Ferrania-made ISO 200 color film I had picked up cheap. I overexposed the film by a stop to reduce the color shifts I was likely to get at box speed.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

Brick’s heyday as a primary paving material was the 1910s and 1920s. I don’t know when these bricks were laid, but I’d be surprised if it were much earlier or later than those two decades. The occasional brick street or road was laid after then, but more for aesthetic reasons than practical ones. Concrete and then asphalt came to rule the roads.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

These streets have been maintained, but never restored. While I’m sure these bricks were in perfect rows when they were first laid, they’ve shifted in the century or so since and look uneven now. You’ll find patches where newer bricks were laid, probably to repair deteriorated sections or to replace bricks removed to access buried utilities. Here and there, concrete was used to replace removed brick.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

The real stars of this neighborhood’s show are the gorgeous older homes that line these brick streets. The university owns many of them and uses them as offices. The rest appear to be private residences. The rest of this post are the houses I liked best of those I photographed.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Film Photography

Giving my Nikon FA some exercise

I said goodbye to my Nikon FA in Operation Thin the Herd. Almost immediately, someone gave me another Nikon FA. I took it as a sign from the universe that I was meant to own a Nikon FA.

Nikon FA
My first Nikon FA. I’ve never photographed the second FA.

That first FA looked nearly new while this second FA shows signs of heavy use. But it still works fine. Not long ago I mounted my 35-70mm f/3.3-5.6 Zoom Nikkor lens and loaded a roll of expired Kroger 200 color film. That film was made by Ferrania, which exited the film business in 2008. So this film is at least that old. I’ve shot enough of this film now to know that it looks best when I overexpose it. I set the FA to EI 100.

Margaret and I have been going to farmers markets on Saturday mornings this summer. I brought the FA to one.

Produce

I like this 35-70mm zoom lens for lazy photography, as it lets me move in or out a little without me having to physically move. It also offers a macro mode. My 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor is by far an optically superior lens useful for normal and macro photography, but it doesn’t let me be this lazy.

Hanging Flowers

On this Saturday we visited the Broad Ripple Farmers Market in Indianapolis. I used to go to it sometimes when I still lived in Indianapolis. It was in a large empty lot behind Broad Ripple High School. Since then it’s grown to be a vastly larger affair. It outgrew its space and now operates out of the huge parking lot at Second Presbyterian Church, which isn’t in Broad Ripple.

Farmers market booths

Cloud cover diffused the light all morning. Shooting at EI 100 in that light, the large apertures I needed made it easy to limit the in-focus patch.

Eggplant

Margaret and I seldom spend more than ten dollars at a farmers market. We go to spend time together and take advantage of the many interesting photographic subjects the setting presents. If you follow me on Flickr, that’s why you’ve seen so many vegetable photographs this summer!

Produce

My goal for thinning my camera herd a few years ago was to keep a collection of gear small enough that every camera could get some use every year or two. That’s the photographic life I’m living now! It was good to enjoy my FA’s turn.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Film Photography

The mixed results I get from Kodak T-Max P3200 are putting me off this film

When I first shot Kodak T-Max P3200, I was blown away by the great results. I shot the film in my Nikon F3 with my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens attached. I don’t remember for sure who I had develop and scan the film, but it was probably Old School Photo Lab.

A pilgrimage to Central Camera
Chicago
Open late
State Street at night

Unfortunately, I’ve had mixed results using other labs, and developing and scanning this film myself. I shot these two images with my Nikon FA, the first with my 50mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor and my second with my 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor. I developed them in HC-110, Dilution B, and scanned them with my Plustek OpticFilm 8200i. I find the grain to be obtrusive and not pleasing on these.

Belleek
7th & Wabash, Terre Haute

On my recent trip to Chicago I shot a roll of this film in a Minolta Maxxum 5 with a 35-70mm f/4 Maxxum AF Zoom lens. I had Dwayne’s Photo develop and scan the roll. If this had been my first experience with this film, I would never have bought it again.

Blue Chicago sign
Chicago River at night

I believe my cameras all to be in good working condition with accurate meters. Perhaps this film requires great care in developing and scanning. If that’s true, I clearly haven’t found the touch yet. Perhaps this film looks better in developers other than HC-110. I suppose I could always send this film to Old School Photo Lab, as I get the best results from this film when I use them for processing. But I want films that I can develop and scan at home and get consistently good results. With my home development, I’ve had great luck pushing HP5 Plus to 1600. I think the next time I’m up for some night photography, that’s what I’ll try.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Photographs

Still lifes on Kodak T-Max P3200

I’ve been experimenting with Kodak’s ultra-fast T-Max P3200 black-and-white film. I know it’s great for handheld night shots (here are some), and I’ve had some luck using it for candid family photos indoors. But does it work as a general-purpose film? I mounted my 50mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor macro lens to my Nikon FA, screwed it onto a tripod, and photographed some household objects on a table. I developed these in HC-110, Dilution B.

Pot
60 Chev model
Belleek
Mug
Olympus Trip 35

The P3200’s heavy grain creates a certain creaminess to these images, and it’s an interesting look. I’m glad I tried it. But I think I prefer a smoother look. Because I had the Nikon FA on a tripod, I could have used a much slower film and accepted the slower shutter speeds I would have gotten.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Photographs

A visit to Terre Haute on Kodak T-Max P3200

After Rana died, my company gave me some time off to grieve. Believe it or not, I wavered on whether I’d take it. I worked straight through after my dad died and it was a wonderful distraction. But Dad’s death was expected, and I was as ready as anyone could be. Rana’s death was a deep shock, and it knocked the stuffing out of me. I wasn’t able to focus on anything. So I took the time off. (I go back to work Tuesday, after the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.)

My old friend Michael reached out just so I could talk. Michael and I go way back, to 1985, and he and I attended the church where I met my first wife and Rana. He knows the whole story of my first marriage, including how both of us contributed to its destruction. He mentioned he was off work the next day, and I asked if I could drive out to see him. Both the drive and the company would do me good. We had lunch at a favorite place near his home, and lingered.

I had a roll of Kodak T-Max P3200 in my Nikon FA, which I’d brought along. I’d always used this film for night photography and inside available-light work. But there I was on a cold, sunny day shooting this fast film at tiny apertures.

I stopped by Headstone Friends first, and was sad to find them closed on a long New Year’s break. Headstone’s is a music shop, a throwback to a long-ago era. I was shocked to see the condition of their sign and mural. It’s long overdue for a repaint. Check out this post to see what it looked like in 2017 and 2008.

Headstone's

I’m sure I’ve seen Headstone’s door closed before, but I can’t remember the last time. They’re open Monday through Saturday noon to 8. Those have been their hours since before my first visit there in 1985! Headstone’s was founded in 1970 — it’s still 1970 when you step inside.

Headstone's

Headstone’s has always tacked notices of new releases to this bulletin board. I was surprised to find that Neil Young, Santana, and the Doobie Brothers all have recent releases! Visiting Headstone’s really is like stepping into a time machine!

New Releases

Since Rana’s death, I’ve slept a lot. I’m not normally a great sleeper, but I’ve easily slept nine or ten hours a night since she died, and sometimes have needed a nap in the afternoon. I felt a little sleepy after Headstone’s, so I went downtown looking for a coffee shop. I found one right at the Crossroads of America, 7th Street (former US 41) and Wabash Avenue (former US 40 and the National Road).

7th & Wabash, Terre Haute

I was a little sad to see Federal here, as it displaced the Crossroads Cafe, a favorite spot of mine from long ago. Sadly, the Crossroads Cafe didn’t survive the pandemic. The good black coffee and gluten-free blueberry muffin went a long way to soothe my disappointment, however.

Muffin and coffee

Across the street from Federal is this historic marker. Old timers in Terre Haute can tell you: this intersection used to be constantly choked with traffic. US 40 connected the west and east coasts, and US 41 connected the top of Michigan with the southern tip of Florida. Before the Interstates opened, these highways were critical.

7th & Wabash, Terre Haute

I had just a few more frames left on the roll, so I walked a little to shoot familiar scenes. I’ve always liked the entrance to the old Terre Haute First National Bank building.

Terre Haute First

The old Indiana Theater is a block south on 7th Street. When I lived in Terre Haute it showed second-run movies for a dollar. I saw a whole bunch of movies in here!

Indiana Theater

Now that I’ve shot T-Max P3200 on a sunny day, I never need to again. As you can see, it works; I got usable images. But as I suspected, the grain is obtrusive. It’s obtrusive for the night and indoor photography I normally use it for, too, but that’s a reasonable tradeoff for the ability to get those shots at all. I developed this film in HC-110, Dilution B — I’ve seen other developers, namely T-Max and Xtol, get far less grain from this film. But I don’t use those developers and don’t intend to start. There’s no reason to accept this kind of grain when smooth T-Max 100 would have worked just fine on this full-sun day. I have 10 rolls of that stuff in the freezer.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard