Tag Archives: #HP5

Irish Rail’s Wicklow Cabin—Armstrong Levers at Work.

In the summer of 1998, Denis McCabe and I paid a visit to Wicklow Cabin on the Dublin & South Eastern route.

Working with Ilford HP5 35mm film loaded in a Nikon, I exposed this photograph of the signalman working the old mechnical frame. I don’t recall his name, but he was friendly and enjoyed having his photo made.

I processed the film in Ilford ID11, and many years later scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

Over my many years photographing Irish Rail, I exposed hundreds of black & white photos in signal cabins to preserve on film these icons of antique signaling that were still in daily use.

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Icon of the Erie: Starrucca House

The Erie Railroad’s Starrucca House was built at Susquehanna, Pennsylvania in the 1850s. This had been a station, railroad restaurant, and division point on the Erie’s main line.

The 19th century Gothic building had been only recently restored when I made this black & white photo in October 2001.

Exposed on Ilford HP5.

Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, October 2001

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Lancaster, New Hampshire.

In late July 2020, Kris Sabbatino and I were returning from a wander around far northern Vermont, when we paused at Lancaster, New Hampshire.

This was shortly before sunset. I had HP5 loaded into a Nikkormat FTN.

I made these images using ambient light, then processed the film using a custom tailored two stage development recipe:

Before primary processing, I presoaked the film in HC110 diluted 1-300 for 6 minutes; then for primary development I used Ilford ID11 1-1 at 70F for 7 minutes, followed by ‘stop’, ‘first fix’ ‘2nd fix,’ 1st rinse, Permawash, 2nd rinse and final wash.

I scanned these negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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Black & White on the Bog.

On Friday, 15 February 2019, during my visit with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe to Bord na Mona’s operations at Lanesborough, I worked with three cameras to document operations.

My FujiFilm XT1 and Lumix LX7 were for exposing colour digital photos, while I employed a Nikon F3 to make classic 35mm black & white images.

I processed the film yesterday using custom tailored formulas.

The first roll was Ilford HP5 that I’d bought a couple of days earlier at John Gunn’s Camera on Wexford Street in Dublin. I processed this using a two stage development, starting with an extremely dilute solution of Kodak HC110 (roughly 1 part developer to 250 parts water) which used as presoak. The weak developer helps activate the chemical reaction and improves shadow detail without overdeveloping highlight areas.

The second stage of development involved Ilford Perceptol mixed 1-1 with water and heated to 71F. Based on past experience, I left the film in the developer for 12 minutes, then stop bath, 1stfixer, 2ndfixer, pre-wash, hypoclear, main wash (10 minutes) and final rinse in distilled water.

After drying, I scanned the negatives with an Epson V500 flatbed scanner and touched up the scans using Lightroom.

Stay tuned for more photos from the Bord na Mona!

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Philadelphia on Film

New Years Day I exposed two rolls of Ilford HP5 (400 ISO) using a Nikon F3 with f1.8 105mm lens.

In my wanders in Philadelphia to capture the festive splendor of the annual Mummers parade, I also made images of the city’s architecture and neighborhoods.

Philadelphia is a city of contrasts, and my aim was to produce stark and revealing photographs. Urban textures are enhanced by the silvery selenium enhanced highlight, inky black shadows.

By intent there’s a foreboding darkness to these images.

Granularity and shallow depth of field are characteristics my choice of lens and film and make for distinctive photos. These are distinctly different than digital images I made during the same outing.

My chemical process is non-standard: in addition to split processing the film (using two stage development), I selenium-toned my finished negatives to alter contrast.

I scanned the negatives using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner, then made very slight adjustments in post processing.

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Northfield, Massachusetts: New England Central Timeless Monochrome?

Last week on a trip along the Connecticut River Valley with fellow photographer Mike Gardner, I exposed this view of New England Central job 611 at Northfield, Massachusetts.

Exposed on Ilford HP5 using a Nikon F3 with a Nikkor f1.8 50mm lens. Film scanned using an Epson V500 flatbed scanner. Negatives adjusted using Lightroom.

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Ware? June 15, 2017.

It’s a town with a funny name.

Massachusetts Central serves Ware on a mix of former Boston & Albany and Boston & Maine lines.

For the last few years the railroad has stored two of its antique locomotives in the Ware yard, including its unusual former Southern Railway EMD NW5 number 2100.

I have many images of this locomotive in various paint schemes over the years; hauling freight, switching the yard, and working excursion trains.

I made these photos the other day with a Nikon F3 fitted with an old school (non-AI) Nikkor 24mm lens (a favorite tool of mine for making unusual and dramatic images).

24mm view in the afternoon.

A vertical engine photo with a wide-angle lens, and I clipped the pilot. The travesty of it all!

My process was also unusual. Working with Ilford HP5 rated at ISO 320 (instead of 400), in the dark room I allowed the film to get a very small degree of base fog to thus raise the detail in the shadow areas, while under-processing the film in Kodak D-76 (stock solution mixed 1-1 with water) by nearly 40 percent. Instead of an 11 minute time as recommended, I cut my time to just over 7 minutes, but raised the temperature to 73 degrees F for increased activity. This also boosts the grain a little but that adds to the texture of the photos and clearly distinguishes them from digital images produced by modern cameras.


As you might guess, I’m not opposed to visual characteristics in a photo that hint at the process that created them.


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611 on the Fly.

Sorry, not the N&W J.

The other day when photographer Mike Gardner and I were in hot pursuit of New England Central freight 611, and we saw this scene unfolding as we approached the Vermont-Massachusetts state line.

The locomotives were catching the light against a dramatic sky in a wide-open landscape.

Wonderful, but we were sorely out of position.

This 112-car freight had been making better progress than I anticipated.

Rather than bemoan the loss of a cosmic shot, I rolled down window and popped off a few frames with my old Leica IIIA.

Running and gunning old school: multitasking, I guessed the exposure (f11 1/500 with HP5 rated at 320) and fixed the rangefinder to infinity. Click.


When you see a true photograph, act decisively—no regrets.

I wish I this clever in other areas.

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Cleveland Circle-A Moment in Time.

In March 1982, I exposed these photographs of MBTA Green Line PCCs taking the corner at Boston’s Cleveland Circle.

The relative proximity of three Green Line trolley routes at Cleveland Circle made this an ideal place to photograph streetcars since there was lots of trackage and variety of action.

The streetcars pictured had just finished their run and were turning into the storage/staging area at the end of Green Line’s ‘C’ route.

By this time MBTA’s old PCC cars were nearing the end of their regular service on Green Line routes, which made them an added attraction for me. The cars were tired and battered from decades of hard service yet soldiered on.

A tired old Presidents’ Conference Committee car has just finished its outbound run.

Check out the ad at the back of the trolley.

Today, it’s the period signs that make the photos interesting. Look at the ad for ‘Peoples Express’ on the back of one of the streetcars. Also, the cinema is advertising ‘Chariots of Fire’ among other films from 35 years ago.

Here’s an enlargement of the above photo that better shows the cinema sign.

I exposed these images on Ilford HP5 using my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar. Unfortunately, I processed the film in Kodak Microdol-X. This developer offered very fine grain, but at the expense of tonality. It was tricky to get the timing right, and in this case I left the film in the developer too long. The result is that negatives display excessive contrast and blocked up highlights.

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