Making the Most of the Rain

In October, I had had just three days in Vienna and the only time I saw the sun was on the plane as we breached the clouds on the flight back to Dublin.

My first morning dawned dark, windy and wet. I’d used most of my last roll of black & white film in the Czech Republic and was largely getting by with digital photography. Perhaps on a later date I’ll present some of those results.

While taking a spin on the number 2 tram in Josefstadt, I spotted a traditional camera shop with rows of old Leicas in the window.

Times have changed; finding film isn’t as simple as it was once. I called into the shop and they had just one suitable roll of film for sale; Ilford FP4. It came with an apology regarding supply.

Loading my Canon EOS-3, I set out making rainy-day photos.

The real trick is in my exposure and processing. FP4 is notionally rated at IS0 125. But I ignored the camera meter, and ritually overexposed by about half a stop.

 

Processing was more unusual. I returned to my older process using Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be mistake for the similar sounding Agfa Rodinal). This is a highly active a fine-grained developer that produces a rich black.

The recommended working dilution is 1 part developer to 15 parts water. But this tends to over-process the highlights, which is not what I wanted for a dull day. Instead I mixed it 1 to 30, and cut the time to about 3 minutes 15 seconds. Process temperature was 68F.

However BEFORE my main development, I soaked the film in a water bath with a trace of HC110 and a tiny bit of my main developer. This helps activate the process while letting the film swell before the shock of the primary developer.

After fixing, washing, hypo-clear, and more washing, I then toned the negatives in a selenium solution. This allows met to put an edge on the highlights that I’ve deliberately under-processed.

The end results are some very thin appearing negatives but with great amounts detail in shadows and highlights, which provides rich dark tones without excessive contrast. For me this arrangement suited the dark wet Vienna day.

I wonder if this image sample will translate for presentation in the digital world?

Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
S-Bahn. Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
S-Bahn. Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Window with a view: Exposed with a Canon 100mm telephoto lens.
Window with a view: Exposed with a Canon 100mm telephoto lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.
Exposed with a Canon 40mm pancake lens.

Tracking the Light posts Daily.

 

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