Saturday, August 01, 2020

Slow Speed Serendipity

If you have been following Random Camera Blog over the years, you'll konw that I have been experimenting with low-iso films for quite a while.  If you haven't yet purchased a copy of Monochrome Mania Number 1, which is all about low-iso film, I still have some available for purchase and see the link in the sidebar.  
More than 4 years ago, Mike Raso gave me a short roll of what was then the Svema Blue-Sensitive Film at ISO 1.5.  It sat around in the open in a translucent container, in and out of camera bags, and one day in late July, I finally decided to use it while shooting along the French Broad River near Asheville, NC.  I knew that the slow film would enable me to get some nice long exposures of the swift current.With exposures running from 4 to 8 seconds, I hoped that they would have a real smooth appearance to them. Also of note, the film is Blue-sensitive (Orthochromatic) and doesn't see red, so the tonality of the image would be quite different than what you would get with a full-spectrum panchromatic film, such as Ilford Pan-F.

Sometimes I find that my results didn't meet my expectations, and instead of saying "ugh," I take a different tact and see what I can do with the negative.  The film was developed in POTA developer at 24°C for 13 minutes.  Turns out that this roll of Blue-Sensitive film is a victim of light-piping, as the PET film base transmits light like an optical fiber.  With no anti-halation layer, and a clear plastic storage canister, it only compounded the problem, as the film was fogged.  I didn't expect much from the scans. However, I realized that with the fog, imperfections, and long-exposure (ca. ISO 2), they looked like something from a wet-plate collodion negative. 

I'll try this stuff again, as I like the look of the film, but next time I'll get some fresh from the FPP! The newer version of the FPP Blue-Sensitive is at ISO 6, which will still give me the look that I am after.  

Compare the last image with this one, taken with my iPhone XR, to get an idea of how the Orthochromatic film captures the tones.

1 comment:

John Steve said...

Nice approach.Complaining is not always the solution. Getting things done in a different way is what is required most of the times. Thanks a lot for sharing this perspective.