I recently received permission to shoot in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal with my Eastman 8×10 View Camera. The application for a permit was lengthy. In it, I had to specify how long I would be shooting. I had asked for an hour to shoot thinking that would be enough time. It wasn’t. On an advanced scouting trip, I realized that getting the shots I wanted using such complicated equipment with so many distractions would be cutting it extremely close. The night before, I loaded a mixture of Kodak Tri-X 320 and Fuji HR-T X-Ray film into three film holders and packed my gear. Still fretting about anticipated interruptions, I had told Kate that I was just going to ignore people asking questions or tell them that I was too busy to talk about the camera. . (She suggested I pretend not to know English.) After an extremely pleasant, older businessman type stopped to ask me questions my planned aloofness disappeared. People are curious and I want to be a good ambassador for film photography, so I was nice to everyone and answered each question.
If you’ve ever shot large format, you know just how many steps it takes to get everything in order. It helps to concentrate and double check your workflow if you do become distracted. I’m happy to report that I didn’t mess up once while engaging in almost constant conversation with people who stopped to chat. In the end I did feel rushed to get my shots in, and as a result a few of them are not perfectly aligned. I am happy with the results though and the experience was a lot of fun.
Grand Central Terminal, NYC, Ticket Windows, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Film
If I’m nitpicking, there are a few things I’d do differently with this one. First of all, there were too many elements to center it properly. And after developing I could tell that I didn’t take enough care to make sure the top was straight and that the sides included everything I wanted. Without a dark cloth to cover my head and the ground glass while shooting, I can’t see the sides of the film very well and it’s difficult to see the top and bottom of the ground glass. I’ve even cropped this one a bit, but it’s still askew.
Grand Central Terminal, Tunnel Passage, 8×10 Kodak Tri-X 320 Film
This is another slightly flawed shot. I couldn’t get rid of the light flare at the top and keep the entire chandelier in the frame. While shooting, I could tell that there was a little flare at the top, but hoped it wouldn’t show up on the negative. But of course it did.
I developed the Kodak Tri-X 320 film in trays with Kodak HC-110 Solution H at 20C for five minutes and 20 seconds using brush agitation. For the Fuji HR-T X-Ray film, I used Rodinal 1:100 at 20C in trays for 6 minutes. After lining the tray bottoms with a sheet of smooth glass, I was able to cut down on the scratches. However, you still have to handle the double-sided X-ray film with great care.