Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The second film

My second roll of film since returning from sea was a black and white. This was not the traditional silver-halide emulsion, but rather a color dye film that can be processed by your local one hour photo-lab. While toying with the idea of returning to developing my own film, I just didn't like it back in school, and I doubt that I will like it now, so for now, I just shoot this stuff, which comes in ISO 400 speed.

I typically shoot B&W film in my older manual cameras or my Leica Rangefinder. In this case, I chose the later, a Leica M7. I shot the roll in four different outings, and with only two different focal lengths, but with three lenses.

The first outing was to a country store located at a farm in the town of Dallas in NE Pennsylvania called Shadyrill. Brooke remembers fondly when the "store" was one part of a barn used mostly for equipment storage and had no refinements. Recently they have finished the interior somewhat, but still has that rough-hewn edge to it. Still it was clean, and they have a nice little cafe and various food and craft items from local suppliers and artisans.

My favorite photo of this outing was of the bags of apples they had for sale on a rough-plank of a table. being that it was late Fall, the low sun angled through the front door windows and cast the apples in a chiaroscuro mixture of light and shadow that offered wonderful pattern and texture, which is ideal for black and white.

The second outing for this roll of film was for reportage at a more serious photoshoot at the Greek Orthodox cathedral in Springfield, Ma. I was meeting a Master Photographer named Xenophon Beake and my mentor Fred Bird. Xenophon was to photograph the interior of the church which was going to take a lot of light. The church was built in a Gothic style with moderately high arches and illuminated mostly by stained glass windows. We had to light the whole place with strobes, and considering we were using a fisheye lens, the lights had to be carefully placed to hide them from the all-seeing eye of the camera. The photography took about five minutes, but the setup took three hours and the breakdown took about an hour.

While I wasn't running around dealing with lights, I took a few shots of Xenophon and Fred working as well as a few artsy shots. Due to the very low light levels in the church, I was using my fastest lens, a Voightlander 35mm f1.2 lens wide open with about a 1/15th second shutter speed. No camera but the Leica could have done this with ISO 400 film. My favorite shot of the day was of the baptismal font in the front of the church. the light came through a side window and shone on the wooden font while leaving the rest of the scene in shadows.

The next outing was a walk around downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA. I sometimes go wandering from Brooke's apartment to take random pictures, mostly of cityscape's. During this outing, I found a faded sign in an alley behind the F.M. Kirby center pointing to what was once the McManus Cafe. The McManus Clan has a large presence at the campground that Brooke's family is active in, so of course i am wondering if they are somehow related. Given the "small town" nature of this area, it would not surprise me in the least.

I finally finished this roll of film as we decorated for Christmas. I recorded the decorating of the tree and finished off by changing lenses to my 90mm for a few close ups of the ornaments.

My favorite shot was certainly the font picture, but I enjoy shooting black and white film because it forces me to look at things a bit differently. I must admit however, that I do not shoot it enough, and need to put a few more rolls of it through my cameras to hone my skills a bit more.

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