Sometimes, you can’t help but feel that the mood of a particular event or evening fits a particular camera; some time back I was invited out to a casual evening jazz concert/ jam session. There is something about black and white film and jazz; I don’t know what it is exactly, but I think the two compliment each other perfectly. Perhaps it’s the way the smooth richness of the brass instruments is the auditory compliment to the rich 3/4 tones of film*; or perhaps it’s because the whole affair invokes another, earlier, era. That said, the relatively low light was challenging due to the inherent sensitivity limitations of film, traded off against image quality – the tonal look I prefer for film requires mid tones, which tend to be pretty thin with faster emulsions. Not to mention the challenge of focusing under such low light – fortunately, I had the F2 Titan, whose focusing screen is really quite excellent – snappy, and easy to discriminate the focus transition even with very fast lenses. I hadn’t used that camera in so long, I’d forgotten how transparent a photographic experience it was; your view of the world is reduced to what’s inside the large finder, and your fingers are only the three controls – focus, aperture and shutter, with a thumb cocked around the winding lever to help secure the right-sized body, and nothing more. It’s what the Df should have been.
*A discourse on the relationship and similarities between photography and music is something I’ve been meaning to write for some time, but I’m still trying to learn enough about music to have enough descriptive language to adequately convey the concepts. Increasingly I’m starting to feel that the written/ spoken language really is inadequate for the description and explanation of visual ideas; perhaps that too is another article for another time.
Coupled with a few rolls of Ilford Delta 400 (shot at 400), the 58/1.2 Noct-Nikkor and Zeiss 2/135 APO, I certainly enjoyed my evening. On the developing front, these rolls were a bit of an experiment – stand development in DDX, to see if the longer development time would reduce grain or improve tonality. I couldn’t find any recipes for this online, so I guesstimated based on the parameters that I found worked for Acros, scaled to match the difference in normal developing times for 1+4 dilution. I ran a 1:60 dilution for 1h20min with a prewash and 10min fix; subjectively, tones seemed a bit smoother and dynamic range a bit wider than with 1+4, but there was no change in grain, and a few other parameters suffered – base fog was significantly higher than normal, to the point that even the unexposed areas film itself were somewhat clouded/ dark, there was bromide drag visible from the sprocket holes despite inversions every 20min, and a distinct colour cast from top to bottom of the negative. Finally, there seemed to be a lot more dust on the negatives than usual; this is particularly puzzling as nothing else in the process was changed. Fortunately, neither the colour cast nor bromide drag seemed to be much of an issue for the final conversion following the scan; however I can’t help but feel if I could find a way to remove the base fog, the overall tonality would be even better still. In any case, more experimentation is required – which of course means more images; not that I really need an excuse to use the Titan. Enjoy! MT
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