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Wednesday, January 2

Tenement project rethink

Reciprocity! What a word - and what a bloody nuisance! After mulling over the film/developer combinations for shooting this project and deciding to kick it off with Fomapan 100 souped in Barry Thornton's two-bath (it's what I already have at home), I'm going to have to reconsider.

I wanted to make a start and found myself in Dundee with half an hour to spare so nipped along to a block of 19th century flats in Baxter Park Terrace that looked promising. It was a dull day but, even so, the one minute indicated exposure at f11 on my Sekonic meter with the film rated at 50 ISO took me by surprise. The light didn't seem that dim but my meter is reliable so I accepted it for what it was - a very dark indoor space. I actually metered under a flight of stairs and the meter wasn't recording anything and it measures down to -6 EV

An Edinburgh stairwell captured on a Pentax MZ5n, 40mm DA lens and Tri X rated
at 1250 ISO and developed in Diafine. A film/dev contender?

I was toting the SL66E fitted with the 40mm Distagon (about 24mm equivalent on 35mm format) and set everything up on the tripod, set the f-stop and shutter speed and then thought, "what about reciprocity?" I went to look up the relevant info for Fomapan on my phone but wasn't getting a 3G signal. I've never needed to know how much allowance to make for Fomapan as I've never shot it at long exposures but I decided to add another stop as I reckoned the one minute was going to be on the generous side anyway.

It might look bright enough but this was a 20 second exposure
on 100 ISO film. Rodinal 1+50 did a good compensating job.

I took a couple of shots just to test how the film and developer partnership would work out (haven't finished the roll yet but I'm pretty sure there will not be a lot to see of the tenement close). When I got home I looked up Fomapan 100's reciprocity figures and it was then I discovered that it needs an extra four stops at 1 min. FOUR STOPS! That's got to be a record of some sort. Fuji Acros doesn't need anything extra up to a measured exposure of a couple of minutes and many other films need just a stop or two.

That's why I need to rethink things. One minute plus four stops is 16 mins! Three shots in a tenement close would see me tied up for the best part of an hour, most of it staring into (dim) space. I'm prepared to suffer for my art but not that much - especially not at this time of year and without thermal underwear...

Another very dark scene but this time not too many problems as far as contrast
goes. This stairwell is the same as the one below. 

Can't make up my mind whether this is a letter "e"
or the £ sign.

So I'm back pondering what film/dev to use. My local cyber pal Phil Rogers is promoting Pan F Plus in HC110 dilution G so strongly that I'm sure he must have some undeclared financial interest. The bad news for Phil and his pension fund, though, is that Pan F Plus isn't that much better than Fomapan in the reciprocity stakes. I reckon a one minute measured exposure would need nine or ten minutes. I'll definitely try the Pan F Plus/HC110 partnership at some point as Phil's highlights are very nice - and I'm not speaking about the ones his hairdresser gives him  :-)

I could use a faster film like HP5 Plus which would give me an eight second measured exposure and a reciprocity-adjusted exposure of about 25 seconds which isn't too bad. Or I could buy some Acros and have no reciprocity problems at all. I'm sorely tempted to use the Fuji film and develop it in Barry's two-bath but at £4 a roll it's not cheap and I don't know how the film would record the murkiness of the tenements. AND I've always thought Acros was a bit clinical, almost digital in the way it looks and I want to avoid that.

So what about Tri X in Diafine, the combination I used for the pic, taken a few years ago, posted above? Fast enough for reasonable exposure times (around five seconds adjusted), a little bit of grain on the 120 negative, nice, meaty tones and some compensation in the two-bath Diafine. Sounds like a pretty good combination to me.

* Apart from the very first shot which was taken a few years back, the rest of the pics on this post were shot just a a few days ago on 35mm using Agfa APX 100 developed in Rodinal 1+50. I want to photograph the tenement project on medium format but this was a chance to see how Rodinal performs as a compensating developer in scenes likes this - and it did pretty well.

21 comments :

Nasir Hamid said...

Give TMAX 400 @ 1600 a try if you're in low light situations. Process in HC110 (B) and it looks lovely. That will get you past your reciprocity problems :-)

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Interesting Nasir. Got any examples on your website you can point me to? What's shadow detail like?

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Just found some examples on your website, Nasir. Looks pretty good to me.
Check them out here: http://tinyurl.com/bxjaulo

Eric the Snapper said...

Thanks for the link to Nazir's blog Bruce. There's a lot of good stuff there and good to see another photographer using film and writing about it like you.

Nasir Hamid said...

Hey Bruce, these shots of mine on TMAX 400 @ 1600 were the ones that really impressed me: http://www.simplyoxford.com/ashmolean/oxford-backstage-during-oxford-fashion-week-2012

Mathias said...

Hi Bruce,
Really enjoying your blog and love the handson details related to chemical photography (I'm 100% film, but nothing but a dabbler). Anyway, your pal Phil Rogers, does he have a web site?

Thanks
Mathias

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Hi Mathias,

Sorry for the delay in replying. Phil has a website which is different from most others. There's usually some photographic content mixed in with some tear-jerking nostalgia. I find may of Phil's posts to be very poignant. It's well worth a read and I'm sure he won't mind if I tell you where to find it:
http://fogblog-hermansheephouse.blogspot.co.uk/

Herman Sheephouse said...

Hi all - how do you know I have blonde highlights and a mighty Noel Edmonds style quiff too?!
Actually you know, by all accounts TMX 100 gets faster than Tri-X in the reciprocity stakes. It also works well with BT 2-bath.
I tend to err on the side of plenty of exposure and let the developer deal with the highlights. In this weeks blog (Rum, Sodomy & The Lash) the picture 'Woods' is Pan F in Dilution G - it wasn't an overly long exposure, but the combo worked well.
As for your close exploits Bruce - I hope you have some form of weaponry handy - some of the Baxter Park closes are pretty dodgy. it certainly isn't the area it once was.
And yes, I am being serious.
Phil

Herman Sheephouse said...

Oh and think yourself lucky you're not using a 5x4 and calculating bellows factor onto reciprocity in twilight conditions in the middle of a wood!
In cases like that guesswork tends to take over for me . . .
P

morris 1800 said...

That shot in tri-x dev in diafine looks superb Bruce.In the seventies in my college days you either shot plus x and hp5 or fp4 and tri-x.These days I try, when finance allows any film any and every developer currently available. But Tri-x is still a favourite whatever developer I use and in 35mm /medium and large format.Hope we don't lose it!!

Anonymous said...

I have found Howard Bond's reciprocity tables good for Kodak films. You can find it easily on the net.

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Who knows with the state Kodak is in? If there was only one black and white film left standing then Tri X would be most people's choice I'd imagine.

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Thanks for that Anon. i'll check them out.

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Thankfully, nothing unpleasant happened, Phil. I am a bit concerned, however, that I left the SL66 on a tripod in the close when I went back to the car to get my exposure meter. Don't think I'll be doing that again. Haha!

Omar Özenir hakkında said...

Thanks so much for introducing FogBlog and Phil (or is it Herman)....listening to Bruce Cockburn's High Winds, White Sky as I write...

Herman Sheephouse said...

You're lucky it was there when you came back. Actually it is a strange place - used to be lots of people wanted to live there . . and they still sort of do, but then you have social problems from Stobbie to deal with . . . Anyway, better to be prepared than not! I actually have a large Gitzo monopod for handheld MF stuff, and it works great as a teenager poker . . honest . . tried it on my son ';0)
And hello to Omar too . . hope you found Bruce enjoyable!
Phil (Herman)

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be Anonymous how do you use your name here?

Bruce Robbins said...

Below the comments box there's a drop down menu to the right of "Comment as". If you click on the wee down arrow you get a list of options for your identity, one of which is "Name/URL". Select that option and just enter your name (no URL required:purely optional) then hit "Continue" and then "Publish".

John Carter said...

Thanks!

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Hi John. It worked then. Thank God for that!

Al Denholm said...

Enjoying your tenement photos Bruce,nice work.. have to get myself out to take some pics of these nice old stairwells here in Edinburgh.