Wien Hauptbahnhof (Vienna Main Station) is a shining example of modern railway architecture: Spacious, multi-modal, multi-tiered and iridescent.
I made this view on Ilford HP5 using my Canon EOS 3 fitted with a 40mm pancake lens. I processed the film in Ilford ID11 mixed 1:1 with water at 70F and scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
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?
Denis McCabe, Stephen Hirsch and I were on a week-long exploration of central Austria in January 2012. I made this view through the windscreen of our hired car as we drove through a long Alpine tunnel.
Arctic Conditions in Central Europe Made for Great Light and Cold Fingers.
It was my last full day of a week-long visit to Austria in winter 2006. I was changing trains at Wörgl, having spent the better part of the day making photos in the snow. Using my last roll of Fujichrome 400F, I exposed a series of sunset photos from the platform.
Wörgl is a busy place where lines converge on their way west through the Inn valley towards Innsbruck. Every few minutes something would pass over the mainline, and there was an electric switcher working the yard.
Thinking about the photography: working in low winter light the 400 ISO slide film had two advantages. Its faster film speed made it easier to work hand held and helped stop the action. While the warmer color balance favored the snowy sunset scene by accentuating the reds and yellows in the sky.
It was painful to be outside, and as the sun set it got even colder. But soon, I was gliding eastward on an InterCity train to Salzburg ensconced in the warm dining car. I’d enjoyed a hot ‘scheinsbratten mit sauerkraut’ and a tall glass of Schneiderweiss for dinner. The frosty landscape fading from blue to black as the train rolled into the night.
Villach is in southern Austria near the Slovenia-border. Here the Tauern and Semmering routes converge; there’s several yards, a handsome old passenger station, some stunning scenery. To the south, lines again divide, with one route heading southwest toward Italy, and another south into Slovenia.
There’s no shortage of trains.
This is a good thing, because while standing out on a freezing January 2006 morning, I was beginning to question the wisdom of making railway photographs.
After several hours in the cold, I noticed the Austrian equivalent of a convenience store near tracks and this seemed inviting. Inside it was immaculately clean, warm, nicely decorated, and (most importantly) it was serving piping hot cups of chocolate and freshly baked pastries. Hooray!
There was plenty of time to witness and photograph the Austrian Federal Railways after a thaw.