Tag Archives: Pushed
When Kate and I got in line at the Guggenheim Monday morning at 10am I had my Nikon FM2n and 6 shots left on a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400. Luckily I had rated that roll at 1250 ISO for overcast winter days and early nightfalls. I find you can push Tri-X to 1600 or even 3200 and get usable images, but for 35mm I try to keep at 1250 or under. The grain is pronounced at 1250, but not quite overwhelming in a Xtol developer. Of course, if you used something like Rodinal, it would be grain city even at 800.
I hadn’t planned on taking any shots inside of the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit, just a shot of the Guggenheim facade.
That plan changed when I got inside. The exhibit is whimsical, and thanks to the unique design of the Guggenheim, totally engaging. As you climb or descend (we took the stairs to the top and went down) the view of the exhibit, which hangs from the ceiling into the atrium, is constantly changing. You see pieces from above, then at eye level, then from below. It wasn’t long before I joined the camera snapping hordes. The Guggenheim has a no photography policy, but guards and staff did not prevent people from taking pictures. Camera flashes, despite the total inability to light up something that far away, fired almost constantly. I was able to take these shots, sans flash of course, at f4 and 1/60th of a second. I think I was able to use 1/125th of a second on one of them and had to use f2.8 on another. Still I’m happy with how they turned out. I could have easily shot a roll or two of film to capture this exhibit, but I liked knowing that I had to be selective.
This was my favorite piece of the exhibit, but also the hardest to photograph. I knew I only had two exposures left and I wanted to save one for the facade on the way out. How do you expose for a huge, dark mass of soil against a white background? Very carefully… I love the bunnies on the grass.
All images developed in Xtol 1+1 solution at 68F for 11.5 minutes.
It’s rare for Kate and I venture up to Midtown. The combination of the crowds, nondescript buildings, traffic, and chain restaurants makes for my least favorite NYC experience. If I only knew Midtown and Times Square, I would never choose to visit or live here. There are exceptions though. Maybe two or three times a year, something will push us north of 23rd Street. Probably my favorite exception is the Bergorf Goodman holiday windows. Sure, you will find gorgeous, imaginative windows at Bloomingdales or Saks, but for an absolute knock-your- socks-off, gasp-inducing session of window gazing, park yourself in front of Bergdorf’s. I know their team must work year-round on these windows and I can’t even imagine the budget. I don’t even want to know.
On Wednesday night, Kate and I met in Midtown, she with her Nikon D90 and me with my Hasselblad and two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400. For stunning, full-color pictures visit her blog Embarrassment of Riches. Her pictures truly do the displays justice. Mine, however… Let’s just say that a hulking medium format, manual-focus, non-metered camera with B&W 400 speed film is not the proper tool for shooting windows in Midtown during an evening rush hour. But I made the best of it.
Since it was dark, I set my handy pocket light meter to 1600 ISO and decided to push both rolls of Kodak Tri-X to 1600. This allowed me to shoot at a reasonable aperture of f5.6 or f8 with a decent speed of 1/125th a second or 1/60th of a second. Not ideal settings, but not horrible either. The challenge came when I had to stop an average of 23.5 times an exposure while someone popped up in front of me with an iPhone to take their own pictures. I say pictures, not picture, because each person took approximately 47 photos as I waited to take my one shot.
I consider the evening a success, though, because I didn’t yell at, shove, or punch anyone. I did gently nudge one particularly prolific iPhone shooter out of my way once.
These pictures are okay. If I cared to go back, I would go later in the evening with a tripod and a few rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100. The shots would be well-framed, longer exposures, of course – a huge improvement over these. But did I mention that it’s in midtown? I’m not going back until next year.
All pictures were taken with Hasselblad 501cm, a Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens, on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600 and developed in a stock solution of Kodak Xtol developer for 8.75 minutes.
When I started thinking about what film to take for our trip, I immediately thought about my standard B&W film – Kodak Tri-X 400. I knew exactly what it would look like at night and I wanted those strong, ink-black images. Maybe I was looking at too much Brassai or something.
The weird thing is that I shot mostly color on this trip. We were blessed with perfect weather all four days and Paris really seemed better in color. I used Portra 160 NC or Portra 400 depending on the brightness and time of day. On two nights though, I loaded B&W film into the Nikon FM2n and took several pictures. Then I’d wake up the next morning with a bright sky and a yearning to shoot color. And of course there was still B&W Tri-X 400 rated at 1600 ISO in my camera. I probably should have taken a second Nikon body, but I didn’t want to drag around three cameras. What I ended up doing was quickly firing off some random shots on the way to our destination to use up the rest of the B&W and then popped in a color roll. I don’t normally do this, but we only had a long weekend.
That’s one of the limitations of film, you’re stuck with shooting what you have in your camera at the time. Digital does makes it so much easier, but then again digital will never look like this.
A Dark Corner, Paris
Series of Arched Doorways, Paris
A Waiter Smoking on Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres
I was really more interested in the corner of the building in the light than the waiter, but he wouldn’t leave.
Saint-Germain-des-Pres Metro Sign at Night, Paris
The Seine River at Night, Paris
Paris Street at Dusk
Busy Sidewalk and Paris Metro Sign at Night
I took a lot of pictures of Metro signs. I mean a lot. What the hell was I thinking?
All images were developed at home in Kodak Xtol Developer for 9.5 minutes.
Growing up and shooting film, I was always frustrated by taking pictures at night. At the time I was stuck with consumer level point and shoot film cameras with maybe an 800 ISO color film. I didn’t know about pushing film or developing. Now as an adult with real equipment and pushable B&W film that I develop myself, shooting at night is a breeze.
To begin with, I rarely worry about my light meter readings at night, since the meter will usually try to compensate for the low light, always aiming (as it should) for a well exposed scene. There is one exception: if you are using a tripod, then the light meter will be your friend. You can trust that it will give you a nicely exposed scene and you won’t have to worry about a shutter speed that’s too low for a handheld shot.
If you are shooting handheld then the meter at night will usually suggest a shutter speed that you can’t physically hold still enough to avoid blur or shake. I do try to stick with the rule of keep your shutter speed equal to or greater than the focal length of the lens you are using. For example, don’t try to use a shutter speed of 1/30 for a 50mm lens. If you are using a 28mm lens though, you can get away with a 1/30 of a second exposure.
Couple at Night Walking Down Freeman’s Alley, Lower East Side
This was one of those instances where a light meter would be pretty useless. It would try to give you a fairly well lit scene and ask you to use a ridiculously low (for handheld anyway) shutter speed of like 1/8 of a second. I set the FM2n at 1/125 to account for the movement of the couple (1/60 would have been better, but they were walking) and used the fastest lens aperture of f1.4. I also wanted an inky black mass on the right hand side, rather than a weakly lit wall. If I would have used 1/60 or pushed it and tried to use 1/30 then that inky black would have been lighter and wouldn’t provide such a contrast to the couple walking towards the light.
Schillers Bar Sign, Lower East Side
There were people milling about in front of Schillers and I didn’t want to highlight them. I deliberately underexposed this shot, knowing it would cast the people in dark shadow while giving the neon sign more contrast and definition.
Kate Waiting to Cross Second Avenue, East Village
I used the widest aperture of the 50mm f1.4 Ai lens here to get nice bokeh from the traffic lights in the background. The shutter speed was 1/60 since Kate was standing still.
Kate Easting Chikalicious, East Village
Same settings here as the previous picture.
Alias Restaurant Facade, Lower East Side
In this one, I had to use a slower aperture of f2.8 to retain some detail at a distance. In order to compensate for the low light, I used a (probably too slow) slow shutter speed of 1/30, which breaks the shutter speed/focal length rule. It’s not tack sharp, but then again tack sharp is sometimes boring.
Man Reading Newspaper, Chinatown
The light here was very gentle and I intentionally underexposed the negative to give it a soft, diffused quality.
Kate in the Glow of Coke Machine, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Didn’t even pay attention to my light meter here. It would have given me a negative with a much too bright light from the coke machine. I just set the aperture to f1.8 and the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second, which is perfect for a 50mm lens.
All images were taken with a Nikon FM2n and a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Ai lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film exposed and developed at 1250 ISO in Xtol Developer for 8.5 minutes.
Today at lunch I meandered the few blocks to the Ground Zero/WTC site to see what the mood was like. I didn’t really plan on taking a lot of pictures, but grabbed my camera bag anyway. I had nine exposures left on a color roll in my Nikon F3 and four left on a black and white roll in my Nikon FM2n.
As a contrast to the party atmosphere last night, the mood was subdued. WTC workers still competed with tourists for lunchtime real estate. Sellers were hawking WTC wares. There were a lot of photographers and news crews. I took out my camera and shot the rest of my color roll first, then my black and white roll. This was what I ended up with. I offer these pictures without excess comment or judgement. It was a weird day.
Color film is the new Kodak Portra 400 in Nikon F3 with a 50mm f1.4 Ai lens
Family Holding Newspaper with Bin Laden Death Headline Across from WTC Site
WTC Construction Worker Resting by Statue
Man Selling WTC Programs
NYFD Leather Vest
Men holding up Papers with Bin Laden Headlines
Photographer Chimping Instead of Paying Attention
Business as Usual for these WTC Workers
Freedom Tower Rising
NYPD Hat and Flag
Black and white pictures are Nikon Fm2n and Nikkor 28mm f2.8 Ai-S lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 1250 and developed in Xtol developer for 8.5 minutes
Young Guys Celebrating Across from WTC Site
Man with Bible and a Warning Across from WTC Site
Man Waving Flag from Mercedes Moon Roof
Men Exchanging Information Across from WTC Site
Between periodic bouts of sunshine, NYC has been enshrouded in fog most days the last two weeks. This set, shot with the Nikon FM2n and a 28mm lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film, is from a recent trip to Central Park. The film was pushed to 1200 and developed for 9 minutes in Kodak Xtol Developer.
Building disappearing into fog, Midtown Manhattan
Gnarled Tree in Central Park
Essex House and Trees from Central Park, Midtown Manhattan
Reflections of trees on water in Central Park
Reflections and Fog in Central Park
Buildings in Fog from Central Park
Buildings and Ice Rink in Fog from Central Park
Columbus Circle in Fog from Central Park South
Since I rarely used my Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens or my Nikon D90, I decided to trade it in for something I had been lusting for…
It’s a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 lens for the Leica M mount camera. I’m kind of a sucker for fast lenses, since I shoot in low light and hate to use flash. On the surface it gives you exactly what you would ask for – slightly more than an extra stop over an f2 lens. But it also gives you incredible bulk and weight on a camera system that’s supposed to be light and nimble.
All of these images are shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 film pushed to 1600 ISO and developed at home in Kodak D-76 (stock solution) for 9.5 minutes. The Nokton allowed me to use a little faster shutter speed than an f2 or f1.4 lens, but not really enough to justify the extra bulk. Most of these images are fine.
Jim Campbell’s “Scattered Lights” in Madison Square Park
Empire State Building from 17th and Broadway
Empire State Building and Tree
Night Foosball in Herald Square
Victoria Secret Window
Paying for Water
Ultimately, here’s why I decided to part with this lens. Sure, it’s heavy and bulky, but I absolutely hated the distorted lights in the corners. I know it’s a lot to ask of a lens not to give you these seagull looking lights in the corners, but I noticed these on two night time rolls with this lens.
There’s a happy ending though, the Voigtlander got traded in for a 1982 Nikon FM2n SLR with a Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens. Pics from that coming soon.
I normally don’t use film at night, but recent successes with pushing Tri X 400 to ISO 1250 convinced me that it would be the perfect film pushed to 1600 in low light. I hopped off the bus in the Lower East Side Sunday night and walked around until I ended up in the East Village.
Cakeshop in Lower East Side, NYC, shot with Leica M6
Thought this pole with manga images was kind of cool. Still in Lower East Side, shot with Leica M6
Creepy face inside ATM on the sidewalk, Lower East Side, NYC, shot with Leica M6
Mattress on Delancey, Lower East Side, NYC, shot with Leica M6
This is my favorite image from the roll. The second guy looks almost like a ghost… I think this was along Allen Street, shot with Leica M6
No. 107, East Village, NYC, shot with Leica M6
Looking at menus, lit by lanterns on St. Marks Avenue in East Village, NYC, Shot with Leica M6
Couple Peering, Second Avenue, East Village, NYC, Shot with Leica M6
Until this roll, I haven’t been that pleased with Kodak Tri X 400. I used it several times at 400 and have developed it in both Ilford DD-X and Rodinal, but until I read up on people pushing it to 1600 with good results I hadn’t thought of pushing it. First of all it already seemed plenty grainy. I liked that. But it was also flat and not very contrasty. So yesterday I loaded a roll into the Leica M6 and set the ISO at 1250 (well 1200 on the Leica, which has a dodgy ISO setting if you ask me). I also developed it in Kodak stalwart D-76 instead of Rodinal.
These are the results. Very contrasty. Normally I would adjust the contrast up a bit with Tri-X, but didn’t need to touch it. Just scanned them in.
The Dynamic Duo? Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6
Sword Licker, Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6
Kirby Chirbie, Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6
Shopping Cart and Stairs, Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6
Flash Life, Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6
Side view on Spring Street, Shot on the corner of the Bowery, NYC with Leica M6