Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shameless Plug

I'm talking about the stuff I use, that helps me do what I do, at least when it comes to photography.  Hence, I'm going to plug (shamelessly) some products, with the only authority I have, which is that I own them. 

First, my cameras.  But then, if you're reading this post, you're in the choir and there's no need to convert you. 

Second, my film.

I used (and still use what's left of it) Agfa stuff.  I liked it because I found the tonal range quite satisfactory, the grain was extremely fine, and it allowed me to push it even three stops (and I did this a few times).  When Agfa folded, then I bought the Arista II stuff, which was supposed to be leftovers from the big red-and-blue German A.  But all good things had to come to an end, and Agfa-Arista flew off the shelves...  That was bad...

So, I switched back to the manufacturer that got me started: Ilford.  Since I was looking for a fast type, I picked HP5 to try.  It wasn't bad...  Comparable to the Agfa-Arista in my eyes, just a tad less... something (like less contrasty, but then, developing also has to do with that).  I chose to stick to it, given that APX was history.  

That was fun, I'll say.  Shortly after all the lamentations and regrets were old news, I found something out: my idol of silver emulsion has feet of clay because it curves like an art nouveau design.  By that I mean that after developing, while drying, it won't remain flat, it picks a very curvy profile.  I remember having scanned some negs years ago, with an HP scanner I used to have, and got some very nice photographs that were simply unprintable because of all the Newton rings on them.  Now, after being forced to choose the home developing route, I wasn't feeling like dealing with more of those nasty things again...  But what to do then?

Find out...

So, I scanned a small batch of Arista-Agfa that I had developed some time ago.  Not even after being in the negative storage leaves had they learned the lesson... They were just as curved as... as curves.  However, I followed the directions in my Epson V500 (yes, I know, old model) and, voilà!  There we are: nice scans, without Newton rings.

So, here's where I finish plugging my (unavailable) film, to promote my scanner.  Sure, it's old, and according to the ScanDig site, a relatively modest machine.  But this humble scanner worked on my curvy negs and gave me nice images in return, so, praise the Lord and thank him for Epson film scanners, even if they're old!

But in the end, the film story takes an unexpected turn.  Remember how my favorite film had this undesired curve profile?  And how afraid I was about scanning because it would give me artifacts?  Guess what about the replacement stuff, the HP5?

It won't curve...

I checked and double checked some 24 hours ago.  The sleeved negatives in Agfa-Arista look like they were molded that way, while the ones from Ilford stock aren't that bent.  In fact, some are nicely flat.  Well, to me those are good news, and that also means that Ilford films deserve a nice plug here, there and everywhere.  What else can I expect?  They're not terribly grainy, and they have a nice range... and, it seems to me, they can be push-processed also...  Heck, looks to me I'm going to stock fairly nice amounts of HP5. 

Also, since I'd like to use a lens that would allow my fast glass to show some OOF areas under daytime light, I'll see to pick some FP4, ISO 125 film.  I know it won't curve, and it'll be nice to scan it in my V500. 

So, right now, I'm a happy guy, ready to continue developing and scanning film.  There's a huge backlog, but now I know there's an end to it. 

PS.  All the photographs above were made, like the ones in the previous post, with my M4-2, a Zeiss Biogon lens, and finally curved Arista II film.  The meter I used was a Sekonic L-208.  Location?  Sure: Madison, WI, on early October 2014.  

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