Lomapan is a Czech film that’s been around for a long time. Until my recent trip to the Czech Republic, I’d never tried it before, so it was in effect new to me.
These days finding any kind of film can be a challenge. But having the opportunity to try a completely different type of film is a rare treat for me.
I bought several 35mm rolls of Lomapan at Fotoskoda in Prague.
These are a sampling from one roll of Lomapan Classic (ISO100) exposed at the station in Drahotuse, Czech Republic with my Canon EOS-3
My visit there was on a misty afternoon, which made for an ideal setting to expose a few black & white images. I gave the digital cameras a work out as well, but I’ll save those images for another occasion.
I processed the film in Dublin using Ilford ID11 stock solution mixed one to one with water. Overall I’m impressed with the film’s tonality. I scanned the negatives using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner.
As the light fades, conventional daylight photographic techniques begin to fail to yield satisfactory results.
In other words, you’ll end up with dark and/or blurry photos using standard settings.
One solution is the pan photo. I’ve described this previously, but I’ll reiterate because I’m often asked how this is accomplished.
Manually select a comparatively slow shutter speed. For novice pan photographers, I’d suggest working at between 1/30th and 1/60th of a second. This is what I’ll call a ‘short pan’. A long pan is more difficult to execute and can be accomplished with speeds up to about 1 second.
One of the most effective types of pan is where the front of the subject is sharp, but the rest of the scene is offset by a sea of blur.
Pick a point in your frame where you’ll place the front of the subject and as the subject passes keep it at that point, all the while moving your camera with the subject. Release the shutter while the camera is moving.
A common problem occurs when the photographer stops moving as the shutter is released, which tends to result in a messy unsophisticated blur. Keep panning even after you release the shutter.
Remember to pan with your whole body in a uniform smooth motion.
Don’t hit the shutter button aggressively as that will result in an up-down blur that diminishes the overall effect.
Often when I seek places to photograph, variety is a goal. In other words, I’m not just looking for a steady parade, but also lots of different kinds of trains.
Railways in Czech Republic offer great variety. One of my favorite lines is the route that connects Děčín (in the northern part of the country near the German frontier) with Kolin (an important junction 60 kilometers east of Prague).
This secondary route bypasses the Czech capital and serves as a reasonably busy freight corridor. I’d photographed this line at various locations in 2009 using color slide film
On 14 October 2016, Denis McCabe and I re-visited the line and spent an hour and half at the rural station in Stará Boleslav, located in the Labe River Vallay across from Brandys nab Labem.
The building was a tired but classic structure with lots of character. In addition to mainline action we were entertained by a man unloading some coal wagons for local delivery.
We arrived by local passenger train and departed with the next scheduled eastward local.
Below is a selection of images I exposed digitally with my FujiFilm X-T1 and processed with Lightroom to improve contrast, color balance and color saturation.
Czech Republic is an amazing place to watch, experience and photograph railways in action.
The mix of traditional architecture, a great variety of trains combined with heavy traffic made for lots of visual opportunities. Over the coming weeks I’ll present samples of my most recent Czech photos on Tracking the Light
On 14 October 2016, Denis McCabe and I visited the station at Rostoky, located northwest of Prague.
Among the attractions of this location is that it is a termini for some electric suburban services that still use the classic streamlined Ceski Drahi (Czech Railways) class 451 electric multiple units.
Unfortunately, one of the arriving 451s had been unofficially decorated which marred its classic lines. Undaunted, I made my photographs none-the-less.
I made these images with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with 18-135mm lens.
In 1919, Prague main station was renamed Wilsonova Nádrazi in honor of American president Woodrow Wilson. The name was dropped after German annexation and occupation during World War II, and appears to have been forgotten during the postwar period of Soviet influence that prevailed until the Czech Velvet Revolution in November 1989. The name change was the least of the station’s problems. During this dark period of Czech history, the station was allowed to deteriorate and by the mid-1990s was a dismal shadow of its former glory.
You know you’re having a photographically productive trip when you have a week’s worth of keepers after the first evening out.
Prague, Czech Republic is among the world’s great tram cities.
It’s hard to beat for its variety of cars and paint liveries, combined with stunning urban scenery, a large of number of routes and extensive route mileage (kilometerage?), plus intensive frequency of operation.
I’ve visited before, but I’m still stunned by observing the incredible number of trams gliding through the streets. This is among the most interesting urban railways, anywhere.
Here’s just a few photos from my Lumix LX7 exposed on a rainy evening in Prague.
In January 2009, Tim Doherty, Denis McCabe and I made photos at a suburban branch station called Praha-Ruzyne, situated west of Prague’s historic center and near the Vaclav Havel (international) Airport. A wire operated semaphore caught my interest.
This scene presents a lesson in composition. It was a visually interesting but stark environment to make photographs.
The Czech capital is a fascinating city with some of Europe’s finest architecture. Unfortunately, none of this is present at Praha-Ruzyne, which is characterized by urban development stemming from the country’s austere period of Soviet-influence.
I opted to work in silhouette and exposed this color slide for the highlight areas of the sky while allowing shadow areas to go black and be virtually free from distracting detail.
My challenge was placing the semaphore mast and blade in a position that makes it most prominent. I’ve balanced the composition by putting this signal diagonally opposite from the diesel railcar at lower right. The red lights on the back of the railcar immediately attract the eye, while the semaphore draws it back again.
In the middle is a lone figure crossing the line which both adds a prominent human element that offers a sense of scale, while imposing a poetic element of; ‘man versus his environment’.
The trackage arrangement makes for a complex pattern that reflects the light of the morning sky . On the hill above the train is a large building that hints at the greater urbanity of the scene. Without it, the image might be mistaken for a photo of a rural village.
Two specially difficulties were the array of vertical lighting masts which distract from the semaphore, and the railing along the line that visually interferes with the trackage, but adds a layer of depth.
The trees in the distance beyond the tracks are slightly diffused by morning haze and contribute to sense of depth—an especially important element in this silhouetted view, which would otherwise be flattened by the minimalism imposed by my choice of exposure.
How might this image compare with one at the same location exposed on a bright summer afternoon?
Olomouc—known as Olmütz in the day of the old Hapsburg Empire when it was the capital of Moravia—is an ancient city dating back to Roman times. I found it an exceptionally photogenic small city.
In January 2009, Denis McCabe and Tim Doherty visited Olomouc on a week-long photographic trip to central Europe. On the evening of our arrival from Prague, a heavy fog had settled across the city, making its eclectic architecture, Soviet Era trams, and well worn cobblestone street even more evocative.
We spent several hours walking around in the mist.
I spent several days exploring Prague in Spring 2000. Unlike many cities in Western Europe, Prague escaped widespread damage during World War II and much of the historic city center has retained its classic architecture.
Prague also has an extensive public transport network, including an underground metro, suburban and long distance heavy rail services, and one of Europe’s largest tram systems.
The combination of great architecture in a scenic setting along the Vlatva River and well-maintained Tatra trams allowed for many photographic opportunities. The trams also afforded me convenient transport.
I quickly discovered that although beer in the city center was cheap by western standards, it could be obtained for about a third the price and in greater varieties in the suburbs. I also found the Czech’s very personable and so spent several great days wandering around in good company.
I exposed these images with my Nikon F3T on Fujichrome Sensia. I calculated exposure manually using my Sekonic Studio Deluxe hand-held photo cell.
Before boarding the eastward České Dráhy train IC540 Hutnik at Olomouc for Prague, I bought a few bottles of famous Czech beer to improve my passage. Unlike amply fitted passenger carriages in the Ukraine, CD appears to expect their passengers will supply their own bottle openers. I improvised. Near Kolin I made this image with my Canon EOS-3 and 24mm lens. I focused and exposed manually, using my Minolta Mark IV handheld light meter. Fuji Provia 100F was the media for recording. Since my bottle of Gambrinus was the topic of the moment, I opted for select focus. Not all railway images need to center on trains.
Olomouc is a moderately-sized city off the beaten path in today’s Czech Republic. Historically it was the capital of Moravia in the old Hapsburg Empire and shares an architectural heritage with the Czech capital, Prague. Yet, it is a more compact, digestible version of Prague. The tourists haven’t ‘discovered’ Olomouc, and it has all those old-world central European qualities that I find fascinating and exciting to photograph, including a classic tram system. I’ve visited several times and this image was made shortly after sunrise on a September 2008 trip. Cobblestones make for a classic foreground as a Tatra T3 tram grinds its way from the railway station toward the city center. Olomouc has several tram routes and service is very frequent.