Tag Archives: #Black & white processing

Dresden Tram-Two Versions

This is another view from Dresden, Germany exposed with my Rolleiflex Model T in June 2001. It was on the same roll of Fuji Neopan 400 that I described last week on Tracking the Light.

I’m at street level, with the Dresden Neustadt station behind me.

In the first interpretation, I made no alterations to the reversal scan of the original negative.

In the second (below), I’ve made significant adjustments to exposure and contrast.

Tech data:

Exposed using Rolleiflex Model T with Carl Zeiss 75mm lens. 120-size Fuji Neopan 400 roll film. Processed in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with Agfa Rodinal) mixed 1-32 for 3 min 45 seconds. Scanned with a Epson V600 flatbed scanner, digital processing with Adobe Lightroom.

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Wheels at Whitehead.

On August 23, 2003, I made these studies of steam locomotive drivers at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Whitehead shops in Northern Ireland.

I was working with a vintage Rolleiflex Model T with Zeiss 75mm lens and loaded with Kodak 120 size Tri-X.

I processed the film in my old Dublin apartment on Synge Street using the following recipe:

Ilfotec HC mixed to a dilute ratio, stop bath , two fixer baths, long rinse, perm awash, the toned in Selenium 1-9 for 9 minute, second rinse.

The Selenium provides better highlight definition and superior contrast.

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Ballast at Tipperary

In August 2003, I exposed this photo of an Irish Rail ballast train at Tipperary that was in the passing loop.

At the time I was working with a Rolleiflex Model T that used 120 size roll film.

I was using Kodak Tri-X (400 ISO) that I processed in Ilfotec HC and toned in Selenium to improve the highlights. I scanned the photo last night using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

There is an amazing amount of detail in this photo. I’ve enlarged one small section of it as an example.

At the time Irish Rail class 141 number 169 was one of the last locomotives operating with the old ‘IR’ logo, a herald remarkably similar to the Portuguese Railways logo.

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St. Lawrence & Atlantic crossing at Mechanic Falls, Maine—A lesson in Ilford HP5.

In June, Kris Sabbatino and I inspected the former Grand Trunk line at Mechanic Falls, Maine.

For some viewers the details of the process may seem like minutia, for me it is integral to my Black & white photography. Being in control of the process gives me the ability to make better photographs—Distinctive images that stick in the mind and resonate. 

For this photograph, I exposed Ilford HP5 using a Nikon F3. I processed the film using customized split development, starting first with Kodak HC110 diluted 1-300 with water for 6 minutes, followed by Ilford ID11 mixed 1-1 with water warmed to 70F for 7 minutes, followed by stop bath, dual fixing baths, first rinse, Permawash, and a 10-12 minute final wash, then final rinse in distilled water.

I first used Ilford HP5 in 1982, on the advice of my photo instructor Mark Bistline. Over the last 38 years I’ve slowly refined my process to get nearly the ideal tonality for the images I expose with it. Why ‘nearly’?, because I’m always tweaking my recipe.

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Fairfield, Connecticut 1986

This morning I was sifting through a file on a hard-drive titled ‘Misc 120 B&W negatives’.

This contains a group of 120-size negatives that I exposed with my father’s old Rollei Model T in late 1986 and early 1987.

Unfortunately these were unlabeled because at the time, because I’d fouled up the processing and deemed the negatives ‘unprintable’.

There were multiple failures on my part during development;

1) I was using stainless steel tanks, which had the unfortunate characteristic of leading to an edge effect when the room temperature was substantially different than the developer temperature. In this case, the darkroom at college was too warm, and so the short-edges received more processing than the center of the image area.

2) I had my developer mix wrong and too cool, so the overall result was under processed leading to these negatives appearing very thin (light).

3) The combination of ineffective agitation and relatively cool developer combined with the warm tank sides resulted in streaking and low contrast.

Because I was dissatisfied with my results and at the time I felt the subject matter was ‘common’, I simply put the negatives away. (But I didn’t throw them away.)

While I have detailed notes from the trip, those notes are stored in Massachusetts. I am in New Hampshire.

If I recall correctly, this was late December 1986 (Dec 28?) and I was traveling with Norman Yellin and John Peters: we had photographed at Conrail’s Cedar Hill Yard, Amtrak’s engine facility in New Haven, before proceeding west along the North East Corridor. Late in the day, we paused at Fairfield, where I made these images along with some 35mm color slides.

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Conway Scenic 7470 Switching in the North Yard—four photos.

At the end of June 2019, I exposed a few frames of Ilford HP5 using an old Nikkormat FTN with 105mm Nikkor Lens of Conway Scenic’s 0-6-0 7470 working the North Yard at North Conway, New Hampshire.

Following my normal presoak procedure; I processed the film using Ilford ID-11 mixed 1-1 with water for 6 minutes 15 secs at 70F.

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Cork’s train shed in black & white—plus travel notice.

Tracking the Light will be on autopilot for a week while Brian is traveling. New material will continue to post everyday, but notices will be delayed. See the Tracking the Light home page at: http://briansolomon.com/trackingthelight.

Kent Station Cork:

For me there’s something about a Victorian train-shed that begs for black & white. I made this photo on my most recent trip to Kent Station in Cork on Kodak Tri-X using a Leica IIIA with 35mm Nikkor lens.

Kodak Tri-X processed in Agfa Rodinal Special (not to be confused with ordinary Ordinal) mixed 1:30 with water, 68 degrees F, at 3 minutes 15 seconds with 2 minute pre-soak (with a trace quantity of developer). After initial processing (dev, stop, 1st fix, 2nd fix, hypo clear, 10 minute wash), negatives were treated with Selenium toner for 7 minutes, then carefully rewashed in running water for 15 minutes). Scanned using Epson V500 flatbed scanner, and digitally processed using Lightroom.

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Eagle Bridge, New York—120-size Views in January 2017.

The little town of Eagle Bridge is a eerily fascinating place.

Here the old Boston & Maine station survives as a relic, complete with the mast for the old train order signal.

At Eagle Bridge the Battenkill Railroad’s former Delaware & Hudson line connects with Pan Am Southern’s Boston & Maine route via a steeply graded junction. The old station sits between the tracks.

I made these views the other day using my Rollei Model T (with Zeiss Tessar lens) loaded with Fomapan Classic (ISO 100).

I processed the film with a Jobo processing machine and Kodak D76 (mixed 1 to 1 with water) as my primary developer. For added shadow detail, presoaked the film in water-bath mixed with a drop of Kodak HC110.

This was the first time I tried Fomapan 100 in the 120 size format (the Rollei makes 2 1/4 inch square images). These negatives demonstrate great detail, but they needed some nominal adjustment in post processing using Lightroom to manipulate contrast/exposure.

All things being equal I like my chemical process to yield negatives that don’t require post–processing adjustments. However, that level of refinement usually requires a bit of experimentation when using an unfamiliar emulsion type.

Pan Am Southern/Norfolk Southern empty auto rack train 287 was parked at Eagle Bridge. In the lead is Norfolk Souther’s Virginian Heritage locomotive.

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Would you believe it was only $17.20?

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an old Zeiss Ikomat folding camera for just $17.20 at a local antique market. The camera was in full working order, although I needed to sort out a couple of light leaks.

What makes this camera special is its f4.5 Zeiss Tessar lens. This is an exceptional piece of glass. Also important was the camera uses 120 film, rather than some variety of roll film that’s no longer commercially available.

I exposed this view at Gilbertville, Massachusetts on Sunday using Ilford Delta 100. I processed the film using a Jobo semi-automated processing machine with Kodak HC110.

My process includes a two-bath developer beginning with a very dilute water bath and a drop of HC110 at 74F, followed by HC110 mixed 1-32 for 4 minutes 45 seconds at 69F.

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Monochrome at Iconic Breakneck Ridge Vista.

More than 30 years ago I admired New York Central System’s company photographs made by Ed Nowak from the elevated location above the Breakneck Ridge tunnels.

Over the years I’ve made many images from Breakneck Ridge. A couple of weeks ago, I made this view using my old Leica 3A with 35mm Nikkor lens.

There’s something about black & white film that has a timeless quality: Old, but new; traditional, reliable and comforting. Use of an antique camera-lens combination contributes to the nostalgic view point.

A Metro-North train for Poughkeepsie approaches the tunnels at Breakneck Ridge, New York. To the right are the glinting waters of the Hudson River.
A Metro-North train for Poughkeepsie approaches the tunnels at Breakneck Ridge, New York. To the right are the glinting waters of the Hudson River.

This frame was exposed on Ilford HP5, then processed in Kodak D76 (stock solution mixed 1-1 with water) for 9 minutes at 68F. Key to the tonality of the image is my ‘secret step’—a presoak water bath with a drop of Kodak HC110 in it.

The idea behind the water bath with a drop of developer in it is this: presoaking the film allows the gelatin to swell before encountering developer at full strength, while the very dilute amount of developer allows the chemical reaction to begin working before the primary development cycle. Since the developer is extremely dilute (and thus rapidly exhausted) the shadow areas receive proportionally greater development than highlight regions during this phase.

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Reflecting on reflections-Selenium dip.

I noted this scene the other evening while walking by the Dublin Bus Conyngham Road bus depot.

Historically this facility was a tram depot for the Dublin & Lucan tramway.

What caught my eye were the reflections in the bus windows that make for array of abstract patterns.

An impressive line-up of road vehicles at the old Conyngham Road Depot in Dublin. The premises of the Irish Railway Record Society is located just beyond the buses on the south side of the River Liffey near Heuston Station.
An impressive line-up of road vehicles at the old Conyngham Road Depot in Dublin. The premises of the Irish Railway Record Society is located just beyond the buses on the south side of the River Liffey near Heuston Station.

I exposed this view on Ilford HP5 using my Nikon F3 with an f2.0 135mm lens. My processing was a bit complicated. After a three minute water bath with a very small amount of HC110 to start the processing, I used a dilute developer solution (HC110 1 to 64 with water) at 68 degrees F for 4 minutes.

After a full fix, hypoclear, and wash cycle, I then toned the negatives in selenium at a ratio of 1 to 9 with water for 8.5 minutes with regular agitation. (Please note: selenium solution is poisonous and exceptional care should be considered when working with it.)

The effect of the selenium toning is to accentuate the brightest highlights which produces a silvery glow. A secondary effect is greater longevity: the selenium solution produces an ion exchange with a portion of the silver in the film and selenium offers great stability long term.

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Tracking the light will be on ‘Autopilot’ for the next couple of days, but will continue to display new material every morning.