A few weeks ago we spent a nice evening walking around Como Park taking photos as a family. My wife wanted to learn to use our Fuji X-T1, and my son was carrying my old Canon DSLR, so I went old-school and carried my Rolleicord. After our picnic dinner on the lawn, I loaded a roll of Fuji Acros 100 black and white film, and we set off for the Conservatory. We intended to go inside the conservatory and back out to the beautiful Japanese garden, but found that both were closed for the evening, so we just walked around the park. With all of us taking photos, I enjoyed for once not being the one slowing down the rest of the family. I had no trouble finding subjects for my 12 images on my roll of film, and enjoyed the slow process — if I would have been shooting digital I probably would have taken a hundred shots and ended up with about the same number that I liked.
I developed the film myself the night before last, which was quick and easy since I had chemicals premixed and ready to go. This is the first time I’ve developed 120 film, and it’s even easier than 35mm because you don’t have to mess around with opening the film canister — you just unroll the film right off the spool (inside a dark-bag) and onto the developing tank reel. I let the film hang to dry in an unused room where it’d be unlikely that much dust would be flying around in the air, then last night I “scanned” the images. I say “scanned” in quotes because I actually shot photos of the negs using my X-T1 with an old Micro-Nikkor 55mm manual-focus macro lens. The process was quick and easy, and the results are stunning. I’ll be writing a post soon about my process.
Camera: Rolleicord III
Film: Fuji Acros 100
Processing: Arista Premium Liquid Developer, mixed 1:9, 7 min. @ approx. 68 degrees F.
Arista Indicator Stop Bath; Arista Premium Liquid Fixer; Kodak Hypo Clear; Water wash; a couple drops Arista Flow wetting agent; hang to dry with no wiping.
Scan: Fuji X-T1; Nikon Micro-NIKKOR-P.C Auto 1:3.5 f=55mm (at f/8); Logan 4×5 light pad.
These were shot with the Polaroid 180, considered to be the top-end Polaroid instant camera, with it’s impressive Tominon 114mm lens, Zeiss viewfinder/rangefinder, and fully manual operation. I haven’t used this camera nearly as much as I should. It’s fun to use, and the results are impressive.
These were shot on Fuji FP-3000B instant black & white film, and scanned on my flatbed Epson V-500. I boosted the contrast a little in Lightroom and removed a few dust specs from the scanning.
I’ve been considering selling this camera, since it’s quite valuable and I haven’t been using it much, but I’m gonna put at least one more pack of film through it first. Maybe by then I’ll be hooked and won’t want to part with it though.
p.s. – Back when I first started this blog I did a little experimenting and found that when WordPress scales images down to fit the blog post, they get a little bit softer looking than if I exported the images from Lightroom at the exact size that they would display. I’ve decided that despite this, I’m going to start uploading my photos at a larger size so you can click on them to see them larger. I did that with these, so you can click to zoom.
OK, blog – I’m back.
Shot on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film with the Rolleicord III.
You’ll recognize this location if you’ve read this blog before. It’s an area in NE Minneapolis where I sometimes have a little time to walk around while my son is in a class. For me this is an unbeatable location for looking for interesting shapes and compositions. A perfect way to spend an hour on a nice evening is to load up a medium format camera and walk around slowly looking for those twelve exposures to strike my eye. Having a full hour to shoot twelve exposures is a fantastic exercise in constraint, patience and focus – though when it comes to shooting film that can actually seem like a lot of shots to allow yourself in an hour.
If I’m in the mood for shooting sharp images with a camera I’m fully comfortable with, I usually find myself reaching for the Rolleicord. Of the cameras I own, it can’t be beat for reliability, sharp optics, solid feel – it’s a camera that builds confidence.
Developed and scanned by Precision Camera and Video in Austin, TX. This is the first time I’ve tried Precision, and I’m pleased with the results of the scans. The black and white scans are extremely sharp, though there are a lot of dust spots to clean up (I actually think this is good though, because I think some other shops use dust removal software that results in softer images – in many cases I’d rather do some dust spotting in Lightroom or Photoshop in exchange for the sharpest possible scan where you can really see the film grain when you zoom in). I also had them do a couple rolls of color and my initial reaction is that they’re a great value for high resolution scans. I’ve had some experience now with several labs for developing and scanning, and I think I’ll write a little post soon about my experiences and a bit of a comparison.
Looking through some old images tonight, I came across these from a roll of black & white Fuji Acros 100 that I shot in my Rolleicord III while on a camping trip last fall in southeastern Minnesota. The original scans that Dwayne’s Photo did were a little low in contrast for my taste (though they’re great scans for the price — these are the basic $2.99 per roll photo CD scans), so I just had to do a little adjusting to the contrast and exposure to create the more dramatic look that I wanted. Not much more than I would have done in the darkroom in the old days, but a lot faster. I’m really liking the lines in that image above. As I was walking on this trail cut in to the steep hillside, I noticed the low sun coming through an opening in the trees and making that row of light colored leaves glow against the dark background. I wasn’t sure how well it would translate on black and white film, but I like the result.
I like this detail shot below, as well. Composing a close-up image like this can be challenging with a twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera because the ‘taking’ lens is a couple inches below the ‘viewing’ lens. So what you see in the viewfinder isn’t exactly what will be exposed on the film. For distant shots, it doesn’t really matter, but for a closeup it can make a big difference. The focusing mechanism in this particular camera (as well as most other higher-end TLRs) compensates for parallax by angling the view of the viewing lens downward as you focus closer (I believe it’s actually just moving the mirror that reflects the image up to the viewfinder), but it still doesn’t give you exactly the same view as what you’re going to capture.
I’d like to try making some large prints of the first two photos above, but now I’m faced with a cheapskate’s dilemma. When I’m sending in a bunch of film for developing, I have a hard time spending several more dollars per roll to get high resolution scans (such as the really great $11.95 per roll ‘enhanced scans’ from north coast photo). So I usually opt instead for the lower-priced – and lower-resolution – economy scans. But then when I get an image that I’d like to make a big print of, I don’t have the resolution I need. I could probably make a good 8×8 or maybe 10×10-inch print of this, but I’d like to go larger. So maybe I’ll try scanning the 120 neg on my Epson V500 and see how that turns out. If that doesn’t work well, I’ll have to send the neg somewhere for a higher-res scan. Hmmm.