Photoessay: Cars and film

From a recent roll shot with the Nikon F2 Titan, Zeiss 2/28 Distagon and Nikon 58/1.2 Noct on Ilford XP2-400 – somehow, a good number of the images turned out to be of cars, even though they were shot a quite different times. Even more curiously there are quite a few BMWs in there…

Note: Ilford XP2-400 is a C41 process black and white film, which means it’ll give monochrome (if in my experience, slightly toned due to the development chemistry) images through a normal minilab process. However, what isn’t so well known is that the film is also developable in regular black and white chemistry; I used DDX 4:1 at 26C for five minutes, and it worked out just fine – as you can see here. Contrast needed a bit of a boost after digital copying (with my usual D800E and macro lens setup), though, and dynamic range appears to be a bit limited compared to normal black and white negative film. Still, I’m quite pleased with the results. Enjoy! MT

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Wonderful Pictures Ming!

    “somehow, a good number of the images turned out to be of cars … Even more curiously there are quite a few BMWs in there… “

    Too Funny! I wonder how that happened. J

    Best Wishes – Eric

  2. I have the same shots (almost) of the BMW but they are in digital format and dont quite look the same (compared to bw film).

    • And that’s one of the reasons why we shoot film – for the tonality…

      • Faruk Senoglu says:

        There is a beautiful silkiness in the images, especially to be seen on the surface of the cars, the second image for example. Is that also from the paper you are using or is it an inherent result of the analogue b&w processing? Wouldn’t it be possible to simulate this with a digital take, printed on silky paper and scanned?

        • Thank you. No paper involved – it’s a direct ‘scan’ of the negative with a D800E and then converted, so there’s definitely some digital involvement – but I tried to keep the process as transparent as possible to retain what I’m seeing with a loupe directly in the negative on a lightbox.

      • Steve Jones says:

        Yes, the tonality. Picture 6, Wow! A pleasure to look at.

  3. I really like those images as I often (moren than often) have a walk through the BMW World and the BMW Museum in Munich (I’m living only a few kilometers away from those places). What I like is the fact that you have to deal with the provided or available light in that places, you can’t move any light source. Thanks for showing us what film is still available, how much realism real film adds to a scene. I did my last test with the Nokia 808 … was a real challenge, compared to my Nikon equipment, but I (hope) I learned a lot.
    Here you can see the results: http://mechagozillasblog.blogspot.de/2012/11/weekly-retrospective-25-serial-exposing.html
    Thanks for your blog, it’s always a soource for inspiration and information!

    Best

    Martin

  4. I love the images with all the “abstract-ish” details of the cars, especially the lamps: they look gorgeous!

    I didn’t know that you can develop the Ilford XP2-400 with regular B&W processing. is that also possible with the Kodak professional BW400CN? That would be awesome!

    And could you describe the process you use to digitize negatives in a bit more detail, as those pictures look a lot better then most negative scans I could accomplish.

    Best wishes,
    Stefan

    • Thank you! Concept cars are great to shoot because the mixture of textures from the different materials used is first class. Yes, you can develop any C41 process film with regular B&W chemicals – the thing is that there’s usually a color cast, and it’ll be in monochrome (of course). Developing time varies. I have no idea how long BW400CN would take; I just guesstimated with the first roll from regular Delta 400; seems that XP4 takes a bit longer (5min in DDX 4:1 at 26C, instead of 5:30).

      I’m still tweaking my scanning process, but it will be the subject of a future article…

  5. GREGORIO Donikian says:

    I must Go to Malasya and Also to Múnich !! Both are very far from Argentina

    Greg

  6. I cannot speak for cross processing it, but in C41, XP-2 is self-masking. If you have a high contrast scene, you can increase the exposure to capture the shadows and the highlights self-mask. Since it is dye, and not silver, they do not block but just get more creamy. Give it a try, you might like it..

    • Interesting – I’ll give it a try, thanks for the tip. It would also explain why the developed negs seem to be semi-opaque in places…I was going mad thinking it was my developer or fixer (which worked fine for a couple of rolls of Delta 100 afterwards.)

  7. Jorge Balarin says:

    It is a pleasure to see your photos. A visual pleasure.

  8. Jorge Balarin says:

    Dear Ming,
    When you post-process a photo to be printed, do you do something different than when you are processing a photo for the web ? I mean, it is not the same to see a photo on a screen, and to see the same photo printed. I think that perhaps when I post-process a photo thinking on printing I must add more light than when a photo is only for the internet. What disturbs me is that your photos look great in every screen, but my photos look good only on my screen. In other screens usually my photos look washed up, like if I exagerated pumping up the “shadows”. My screen is not calibrated. Obviously I need to buy a good screen and calibrate it, but my question is still valid: Do you process on the same way photos for printing and the ones that are for the net ? Greetings, Jorge.

    • Sounds like it’s a monitor calibration issue. I do the same processing for print and internet, but will apply different final sharpening depending on the output size. Color and tone are identical, though.

  9. Well, after having seen this I got a bit sentimental and did the following:

    1. Held my first Nikon F2AS of ’78 in my hands I worked so many years with. Along with my F2 Titan which ist still in mint condition.
    2. Took my D800 + 2.8/14-24 and went today to BMW World which is just around the corner (although I drive a Mercedes-Benz ;-))

    Thanks, Ming.

    PS: Maybe those mechanical bodies will get back to life and resurrect: http://nikonrumors.com/2012/12/17/nikon-patents-a-digital-back-for-35mm-film-slr-cameras.aspx/

  10. Tooppy says:

    Ming,
    How do you explain these Newton rings on pictures 6 & 9 ?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] From a recent roll shot with the Nikon F2 Titan, Zeiss 2/28 Distagon and Nikon 58/1.2 Noct on Ilford XP2-400 – somehow, a good number of the images turned out to be of cars, even though they were shot a quite different times. Even more curiously there are quite a few BMWs in there…  [...]

  2. [...] From a recent roll shot with the Nikon F2 Titan, Zeiss 2/28 Distagon and Nikon 58/1.2 Noct on Ilford XP2-400 – somehow, a good number of the images turned out to be of cars, even though they were shot a quite different times. Even more curiously there are quite a few BMWs in there…  [...]

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