Film Photography

Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11

Kilroy's

I tried developing Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11 recently.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

I had shot a roll of film in my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, an early-1960s viewfinder camera with a coupled light meter. I enjoy using this camera for its big, bright viewfinder and smooth controls that all fall right to hand.

Its one fault is that rewinding can be challenging, and I’ve torn two rolls of film now, including this one. I’m sure this isn’t endemic to the camera line; it must be something wrong with mine specifically.

Union Station doors

I had mixed results from this combo. I can’t tell whether the Contessa is overexposing, or I underdeveloped. The negatives have good density. And an old selenium meter tends to grow weaker with age, leading to underexposure.

The Slippery Noodle

There are so many variables in getting an image. When one doesn’t turn out, I can hardly tell what went wrong. It’s kind of frustrating. My Contessa isn’t getting any younger and may be showing signs of failure. Or I could have miscalculated the development time given that my developer was 22.4° Celsius thanks to the ambient temperature of my warm master bathroom.

On South Meridian Street

I got okay tonality and sharpness with this film in ID-11. After I dialed in my development techniques, I got more pleasing results from HC-110. I like how HC-110 keeps for a good long time, and how little of the concentrate you need to develop a roll.

Window

ID-11, and its Kodak analog D-76, is the developer most people start with and stay with, however. I can see why. Let’s say I left these in the developer for a little too little time. I still got images I could use. HC-110 and Rodinal have much shorter development times, which means it’s much more important to get the time right.

Harry & Izzy's

I bought a 1L packet of ID-11 and I’m burning through it quickly. I haven’t had enough time with this developer to evaluate it well. But I have fresh bottles of HC-110 and Rodinal waiting their turns. I have enough ID-11 to develop about one more roll, and after that it’s back to those other two developers.

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Fire escape

Fire escape
Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK
Arista Premium 100
LegacyPro L110 Dilution H (1+63)
2020

I’m always amused by fire escape chutes like this one. They make you kind of hope there’s a fire just so you can use it!

Except that when a building is burning, these can get skin-burningly hot.

Also, those blocks holding up the chute look rather sketchy.

So maybe it’s best to leave this one alone.

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Film Photography

single frame: Fire escape

Looking up the business end of a fire escape chute.

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Neighborhood and power lines

Power lines towering overhead
Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK
Arista Premium 100
LegacyPro L110, Dilution H (1+63)
2020

I’m still working on my project to document my vinyl-village neighborhood, with an eye toward publishing a book with the photos.

I think this photo will make a perfect cover for the book! It says a great deal about this neighborhood.

High-voltage power lines cut through the neighborhood. I’ve made a lot of photos involving those lines and their towers lately, trying to show how in some parts of this neighborhood they dominate the view.

In other parts of the neighborhood, such as the part I live in, what dominates is the constant drone of vehicles on nearby I-65.

This neighborhood is a middle-class enclave in what is otherwise a wealthy town. These homes sell for well below Zionsville’s median home price. I suppose detractors such as these power lines and the Interstate is part of the reason why.

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Film Photography

single frame: Power lines towering overhead

A power-line tower dominates this neighborhood scene.

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Film Photography

Arista Premium 100 in the Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

Hunt Club Road

In thanks for a favor, reader Christopher May sent me a roll of Arista Premium 100 black-and-white film to shoot. This film is widely thought to be rebranded Kodak Plus-X, which went out of production in 2011. After that, Arista stopped offering its Premium 100 film as soon as stock ran out. This roll expired in 2011, but had been stored frozen.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

I loaded the film into my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, a terrific little viewfinder camera with a coupled selenium light meter. I hadn’t used it in some time and it deserved some exercise. But also, its lens is put-your-eye-out sharp and I looked forward to what it would do with this film.

I shot most of the roll on a bike ride over to the cemetery next to a little country church not far from my home. I developed the film in LegacyPro L110, Dilution H (1+63), and scanned it with VueScan and my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II.

Road

Things didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Every time I pick up a viewfinder camera I forget to focus a couple photos early in the roll, and this time was no exception. It’s as if not seeing a rangefinder patch or split-image circle in the viewfinder makes me think the image must already be in focus, or something. I also misfocused a couple photos because I’m not the greatest guesser of distance.

Cemetery entrance

But even then, almost all of these images were soft. Several were hazy, as well. I was able to Photoshop most of the haze out, but I was only able to improve sharpness only so much. The photos I’m sharing here all look sharp enough at blog size. The softness comes out at full scan size. If you’re curious, click any photo to view it on Flickr, and once there click the photo to expand it.

Angel

The photos above and below are the sharpest on the roll. They give a good sense of what this camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar lens can do.

Military grave

I had a lovely time with the Contessa LK, at any rate. I left its ever-ready case on and slung it over my shoulder and across my torso for this bike ride. The leather strap was still solid and strong despite the case showing heavy use.

Marker

I finished the roll on a walk with Margaret through the Garfield Park neighborhood in southeast Indianapolis. We’re starting to dream again of where we want to live next, and I’m drawn to some of Indianapolis’s old neighborhoods.

Garfield Park neighborhood

Houses on two streets overlook stunning Garfield Park with its sunken garden and conservatory. Garfield Park is a real hidden gem in Indianapolis.

Garfield Park neighborhood

Despite everything, it’s good to see the signature even tonality and smoothness of Plus-X again. Yes, I believe that’s what Arista Premium 100 is, just as I believe that the also discontinued Arista Premium 400 was rebranded Kodak Tri-X.

I think I need to give the Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK another spin soon, and see if I can improve on these results.

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Collecting Cameras

Here are two more reviews of film cameras from my collection, revised and improved.

The first is of my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, a wonderful viewfinder camera with a built-in exposure meter. It’s a great camera to use, and its lens is wonderful. Read the review here.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

Next up is my Nikon F2A, the F2 with the match-needle A viewfinder head. Mine needs its meter fixed; it works but is jumpy. But it’s a solid camera nevertheless. See the review here.

Nikon F2

Updated reviews: Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK and Nikon F2A

Aside
Film Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

The North Meridian Street Historic District in Inianapolis: “One of America’s Great Streets”

One of America's Great Streets

I’ll never forget the first time I came to Indianapolis. It was 1976. My dad’s best friend knew the director of the about-to-open Children’s Museum and had arranged us a preview tour. We had the museum and its exhibits all to ourselves. That’s memorable enough — but my other great memory of that day is entering town on US 31, Meridian Street, and having my breath taken away by the stunning homes that line it.

More than forty years hence I still love to drive along Meridian Street to see its wonderful homes. Many of the most expansive and expensive homes are within the North Meridian Street Historic District, which runs from 40th St. north about a mile and  a half to Westfield Blvd.

The District’s homes were built between the two World Wars in classical styles. All are large, detailed, and well kept. Here now, a brief tour from a walk I took from 40th St. up to about 46th St.

On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
On Meridian Street
The Booth Tarkington House

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, Ultrafine Extreme 100

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