11. mai 2015

Monobath-processing with Kodak HC-110 :)


First a disclaimer: This is in no way, shape or form an attempt to be a scientific report, I am simply going to tell you what I did and how I interpreted the results. For accurate, scientific results, one should use the proper material and processes. (which I don't do at all ;) )

I recently saw a video by Ted Forbes, where he did a review on R3 monobath.

What is a monobath?

Well, for those old enough, it's the same process that makes polaroid-photos develop, stop and fix themselves after shooting. For those that are too young for this...it's magic! :)

It's a liquid that will develop, stop and fix your film in one go.

For black and white processing it means: A single bath that covers the three stages of black and white development (dev - stop - fix). It really doesn't stop anything, it fixes as it developes....... ^^

This has been researched for decades in the past, with interesting results.
Truth be told though, a magic bullet has never been found, because they experienced speed-loss, development artifacts, grain issues and many other things along the way.

Also, the liquid gets REALLY muddy after just 2-3 runs, as the fixer rinse out the silver and whatnot, I suppose it may or may not affect the shots after a while.

Also, as one know, if you are using black and white film, and you use several different films in the same developer, they have different times at which they are developed. Thus a developer react differently with various films.

The same is true for a monobath, thus, you must tailor the monobath to the particular film you are using and from that follows, that monobaths, although successful with one film, may not be usable with another film.
- Modern T-grain films may also have issues with monobaths.

......So it was never a commercial success.

Anyway, the R3 process is tailored to suit Kodak Tri-X, and it seem to do that pretty well.

In Ted's vlog on youtube, he mentioned that you can make it yourself, and one Mr. Donald Qualls posted an interesting find over at photo.net in 2004, where he had made a monobath with ammonia, which developed Tri-X pretty well.

He also posted the recipe ^^

Orginal at 75F to make 256ml, by Donald Qualls Oct. 2004
50ml household clear ammonia
15 ml of HC-110 syrup Dilution A (1:15)
10 ml Ilford Rapid Fixer concentrate
ca 180ml Water to make up 256 ml  

I wanted to make 1500ml, to fit in a large bottle of Coke that I have, so I multiplied up the amounts and used:

300 ml household clear ammonia 
90 ml of HC-110 syrup straight from the bottle.
60 ml Ilford Rapid fixer concentrate
Water to 1500ml

My bottle of ammonia is a no-name brand called "First price" and says 5-10% on it.
I read somewhere it means "5% of solution", "10% of weight". 

Anyway, the original recipe state to use 5% household ammonia and you can usually find it in the cleaning section in your general grocery-store.
I mixed the developer and ammonia first, then I put the fixer in and then water, just to make everything more easy for myself, as I didn't want to stir around with too many bottles and cups.

Use a well-ventilated room OR as I did, mix the stuff on the stove below the fan that normally suck cooking-fumes out, the fumes from the ammonia will make you gag for sure and it can hurt your skin, eyes and lungs, so avoid breathing this stuff :)

In the analog geeks group at Facebook, people have already tried out Tri-X and it works as advertised.
But I am a Acros-shooter for the most part and for 400 ISO I use Neopan 400 (and more often these days, Tri-X), so I wanted to see how this monobath would work with Acros and Neopan.

After all, both Neopan and Acros have roughly the same develop-times in HC-110 (you can put both films in the tank and develop them together).

Both also have a very short development time when you look at dilution B.
For the monobath, you effectively use dilution A, which means half the time of B, which again means a development time of around 2 minutes 30 seconds for those films, very similar to the Tri-X times.

I will not get into the details surrounding Neopan 400 here, except to say that with a development time of 15 minutes, the negatives were thin (looked underdeveloped, edge-markings barely visible) and the base-fog on the film was present, but didn't play a great part in scanning. But I would not use this particular recipe for Neopan 400.

- Scanning did work well, but it was clear that the monobath would have have to be adjusted to suit Neopan 400, which isn't viable, considering the film is no longer produced by Fuji.

For Acros however, it was "wow time".
- And that is kind of funny, since I read somewhere that it is a t-grain/cubic hybrid sort of film.

I did a few test-shots around my apartment windows (because it was getting late in the evening), used my Hasselblad 503CW, mirror lockup and remote release (shutter was around 1/30's at F4) and snapped away.

Some shots were +1 over measured exposure, to see how overexposure would look like, didn't have much effect on the final outcome, maybe a little.

The development data was 15 minutes at 25 degrees Celsius. 30 seconds initial agitation (I used the stick in the tank, not inversions of the whole tank, to avoid spillage), then 4-5 rounds with the stick every 5 minutes.

I have not tested the minimum time for development and fix/clear, others can do that, I did 15 minutes to be sure it was clear


Negatives were CLEAR....really clear indeed. Where the Neopan 400 showed a good amount of base-fog, the Acros came out clear as it normally does in conventional developers.

The negatives themselves looked GREAT (although the negative area looked more brown than the typical black).

Here the strip is hanging in the shower to dry:

Here is how the initial scan looks, I have scanned the sheets to preserve shadows and highlights, so anyone can download them and adjust the levels, to see how the edge-markings and base are, compared to the rest of the negative's shadows and highlights. (I always seem to get leaks in the edges of the negatives, no matter what camera and no matter how damn careful I am :/ )

- You can initially click the photos, then right-click and select "view image" in Firefox to see the full resolution example and then right-click again and select "save image" to get it to your computer, if you like. You can also do the same with the single-photos below, they are large exports from Lightroom and should provide a good way to check out details.

The scanner I use is a Epson v750, all negatives are scanned trough clear plastic sleeves, placed directly on the glass in the scanner, at 1200 DPI.

In all honesty, the negatives themselves are very usable and I would guess that they are a breeze to print too (I've worked with some narly negs in my short time in the darkroom, and these look pretty darn good to my eyes).

Grain is nicely controlled too, nothing to worry about, compared to a normal HC-110 development.
Shadow detail IS pretty good, got good control over that when scanning. If anything, the negatives seem to have gotten increased contrast (S-shaped tone-curve) with a slightly rougher look. I think they look quite similar to Acros souped in Rodinal 1:50.

Here are some of the shots, large scans, adjusted with the curves tool. Mostly just set the black and white point to where the base is just visible, no need to bend the curves here.

Worked like a charm this! :)

I would be happy to try it again sometime.

Acros, being a fine-grained, "best-reciprocity-master", all-round goodie 100 ISO film, is a film I use A LOT, probably others too, so good to know that Acros is a happy camper in this recipe.

Neat to know you can finish the film in 10-15 minutes, wash and hang to dry. ^^

My 1500ml bottle is now pretty muddy (after three trial-runs), but it don't seem to affect the quality of the negatives just yet, activity also seems to be good, so I'll keep shooting it and see when it starts to "die" on me. :)

Have fun and feel free to try it out and share your own results ^^

1. februar 2015

FSU cameras, the Moskva-5

During the fall-months of 2014, I bought a very nice camera while I was in Prague.

The store I bought it in, is called Foto optika video Jan Pazdera (http://www.fotopazdera.cz/)
If ever in Prague, go visit, it is just 1 block further from Fotoskoda and they have all kinds of old cameras, binoculars, microscopes etc, a real gem of a store.

The camera in question, was a Moskva-5, made in the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the 50's.
This is a medium format 6*9 rangefinder camera, originally made as a copy of the Super Ikonta C, later it was....."refined"....and "Sovietified" (cruder, heavier, more solid, easier to produce in large quantities).

The camera is dual format, which means that you can slip a mask inside the camera, switch a knob and shoot 6*6 if you so prefer.

Selector between 6*6 and 6*9 and the button to open the front-end of the camera

Film type reminder (if you can understand Cyrillic) and the shutter-release button

Mine did not come with the mask (many don't).
In fact, the camera-store in Prague, had secured the back of the camera and glued/locked it to 6*9 (the camera is known for light-leaks trough the red windows).
Red windows and sliders to alter between 6*6 and 6*9

I was ok with that, I have other 6*6 cameras and was planning to use this for 6*9 exclusively.
- I may go onto eBay and see if I can get hold of another one, with mask and proper CLA's/working bellows and back, they aren't really expensive cameras. :)

Front view, using the little kick-stand on the cover, so it stands on it's own

After some initial shooting, - where you operate most things backwards, I found the focus to be off. (back-focus)
Back-focus close up (close focusing distance anyway) example, focus was on the larger piece of the fence, sharpest point was about 10-15cm behind it.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Focus was set on the statue, it's apparent that the focus is really behind the statue
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Bottom of the camera, showing the tripod mount. This mount is different from modern mounts, but you can get converters for them

After some Googling I found this very helpful resource over at Rick Oleson, illustration and explanation, showing how to properly adjust the focus on a rangerfinder.

How to measure up your rangefinder

I measured the distance as shown in the illustration, then put the "+" and the "x" on a piece of paper with the same distance between them. Then I set my camera to infinity and checked.
- Sure, mine was off, as suspected.
The beauty of this method, is that you can check your infinity on a target which is at any distance starting from the close focusing distance, so this can be done in-house, the marks should form a star when you have your camera at infinity -at any distance from the initial close focusing distance.

I adjusted my Moskva-5 by loosening the screw, holding the rangefinder-coupling. When you do this, you can remove the black part around it, and you expose two small screws below.

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

These two screws must then be LOOSENED (NOT taken off, or you will be in a world of hurt!).

Turn each screw around 1 turn and check if you can loosen the coupling to the lens focusing gear mechanism.
After LOOSENING the two screws a little, you should be able to gently lift the coupling up from the lens focusing gears.

In this position, the rangefinder and the lens focus operate independently

Make sure your lens is at infinity, then adjust the loosened rangefinder with the normal focusing knob on it, until the "+" and the "x" on the paper form a star "*" shape in the focusing window of your Moskva-5. After that, gently push the rangefinder coupling back into it's place, making sure that the gears take on the lens focus and that the rangefinder is engaged well.

Fasten the two screws and then put the black lid back on and securing it with the final, single screw.

My Moskva-5, lens detail

After this adjustment, the camera was spot on. The optics on mine isn't sickeningly sharp, but I suppose there are variances in the production-line.

It's a funny camera over all, you do everything "backwards" while operating it. For example, pulling the film from the right to the left, your shots will come out "upside down" on the film as well and finally, you need to press the left button and not the right one to take the photo. ^^

Example after rangefinder adjustment, focus is spot on.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, far away subject
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, corner sharpness and film-flatness test.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

All in all, I really like the Moskva-5, it's solid, the negatives are huge and it's also pretty fun to walk around with. It's not super heavy and it is also impressively compact when folded, you can slip it into a coat-pocket of the larger kind with no big problems. :)

- Never advance the film, before you are actually going to take a photo. If you advance the film after a shot, close the camera, walk around and open it, the film may have developed slack, the suction-effect from the bellows opening up can also cause slack on the film. So always advance, then take the shot. ^^

- Never use the self-timer with speeds faster than 1/100s, the shutter on this thing is very strong and it's not recommended to use the self-timer with the faster speeds due to the great tension in the mechanism.

- Set your shutter-speed before you wind up the shutter.
I am not sure if you will ruin the camera, but you will strain the shutter if you change your speed after winding up the shutter.

You can read more about the Moskva-5 and the previous versions here:
Alfreds camera page
Matt's classic cameras

17. desember 2014

Pin-up massacre!

Finally, I had a solo-shoot with miss Marion Massacre!

We've sort of orbited around each other in the photographer-model community for a few years and on earlier occasions sent some messages back and fourth, relating to shoot-ideas and concepts, never actually ending up having a shoot :D

Some of this can be related to life-events for miss Marion (child, among other things), so it's understandable, most of it can be related to me, not following up the contact good enough =D
Though, really, no pressure/stress either, we had time to do this whenever everything fell into place.

In the end, I met Marion during the Tursday-workshop initiative, where the theme for a particular week, was pin-up, then she sort of just popped in and we had a shoot, together with miss Nicky Namnam.

As mentioned in that blog-entry, it was a fun time and we agreed to hook up a little later for a solo-shoot.

In this particular shoot, miss Marion had a leopard style lingerie-outfit and even cat-ears, haha, loved that detail, gloves were also present, very stylish ^^

'Meoooww' :)

Burlesque show

Low angle "stage shot"

We did a variety of settings during the shoot, here she is even posing with my old-school Rolleiflex Automat from the 50's, very fitting. ^^

Vintage style

Here's a shot I did, using my own Rolleiflex 2.8F and Fuji Neopan 400, came out really great!

Rolleiflex 2.8F with Fuji Neopan 400
The bin was a lovely prop ^^

The lying-down poses were done in a couch. I always have problems "seeing" how I am supposed to place the lights on lying down poses and lying on the back towards the camera poses, but I somehow managed to find the right angles  ^^


The final settings were her being very cat-like, having a bowl of milk, as cats tend to do ;-)

Milk break

Very cool to shoot with Marion in a solo-setting, chatting about this and that and generally just having a good time, would definitely be cool to do something again at a later time ^^

This lovely entry, rounds off 2014, a year filled with lots of photography-fun, cool shoots and great inspiration.

I wish the people I've worked with trough the year a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year, the same goes to you, who read and follow this blog ^^

See you all in 2015 \o/

17. november 2014

Fia in the rain

Fia Rouge....wow, the name sounds like it comes from an action/adventure movie or a Bond-movie with a female villain running the show ^^

Though, Fia is a very calm, friendly 19 year old, with a very unique style ^^

I had messaged with Fia back and fourth a little on Modelmayhem in June, but due to messy planning on my part, I kind of fumbled and never got round to actually book a shoot-date before holiday-time struck the country.

- So the summer more or less went, before we finally hooked up. ^^

In the end though, we managed to do a meet-and-greet-shoot in Frognerparken in Oslo at the very end of August.

- I like to start there, or in a public setting with models that I have no previous experience with. It's just less pressure and a better setting to relax for both parts in, I think.

Cute pose

We started with some poses while the sun was shining, the warmth caused me to sweat too much for my own liking, as usual! =D

Long-haired vamp

I tried to vary the setting as much as possible and used various bushes and paths in the park for effect and mood.

Park-trail catwalk

Stopped pose

Stockings and look

Then, as we got to the great monolith monument, the northern sky turned pitch black, a wall of rain was heading our way, and fast!
Lingering storm

Luckily I had my umbrella with me, and I also had a few plastic bags in my kit (hey, I like to be prepared for anything).

So, I covered up most of my gear, gave Fia the umbrella and stripped my setup to the very basic (camera, the Canon 70-200 and a mounted Speedlight 580EX II, all weather-sealed).

I put a clear bag, meant for bread over my 70-200, strapped the end around my camera, opened the end at the tip of the lens, and secured that with my lens-shade for extra protection.

Just in time, the downpour started just as we got everything safely covered.

I did some extra processing on these, to create vintage and slightly cross-processed/tinted look to the shots, to add to the atmosphere.

Sweet downpour


I ended up ditching my 580EX II after a while, because I quickly saw that the flash was accentuating the rain too much, and continued to use natural light only (knew I had to adjust the shots in post anyway, the only addition without the flash. would be adding some fill-light).

Here are two really in-control poses and scenes that I really liked a lot from this shoot.

Much better-looking rain without the flash, the flash tend to freeze the drops, as well as being reflected back in an unnatural way.

The intensity of the downpour changed almost from second to second, from super-saturated showers, to lighter rain and back to drenching showers again. ^^

The cool thing about this incident, was that the park got completely deserted, people ran like mad chickens. (If I didn't know better, I'd say that there was pure acid coming down, based on the panic in the park lol).

I myself, got soaked, but didn't mind.

The next two shots are a bit more romantic in the mood, striking eyes in the second shot.

It was worth it and the rain was pretty warm anyway, and I was too heated from the ongoing shoot, so the rain was simply just nice. =)

I think Fia escaped quite dry and not too cold, she did a really bang-up job, looking relaxed, sexy and collected while the whole world was falling down form the sky, the shots came out great!

These final two shots, are processed, to create a quite dramatic '300' kind of look, very punchy skies, check out how the rain was really hammering the ground on the first shot, almost creating a mist on the ground.

Who's the boss?

After the rain had subsided, I decided to call it quits. The camera and lens, even though it was pretty well protected, did get some water and I didn't want to push my luck too far...!

- Even though my camera and lens is supposed to handle a bit of water, you're not supposed to keep going with wet equipment. It's sealed so you may quickly wrap up a shoot, get into cover or not loose your equipment due an accidental splash or two.

I hope to shoot with Fia again, perhaps in a dry and warm studio-setting?

Possibly working on a interesting concept together, while she is still in Norway ^_ ^

You can visit Fia on these links, both on facebook and modelmayhem.com :)

7. november 2014

Beach shoots, recap and technical

My last two entries, have been about my two model-shoots at Hvaler, which is located at the south-eastern tip of Norway. This area is known for a multitude of beaches, and a rock-sloped archipelago landscape.

Hvaler archipelago, satelite view

My equipment decisions for the beach-shoots:


Paul C Buff, Alien Bees 1600
I decided to bring with me my strongest flash, the Alien Bees 1600, because it can overpower the sun. There are more powerful options available though, but I have this one, the AB1600, which is 640 watt-seconds.

The vagabond mini battery pack
With the increasingly added confidence and comfort of the super-strong, light-weight Paul C buff Vagabond mini battery pack, based on other shoots on location mentioned in this blog, I had good confidence that one battery would be sufficient for a single shoot, but I charged the extra battery as well.
The whole pack weigh maybe 2 - 3 pounds and clamps onto the flash-tripod.

Paul C Buff beautydish with and without the sock

The modifier I planned to use, was a beauty-dish, mounted on a weighted boom. This rig with the weighted boom is seriously heavy, but I thought it would be a good choice to battle the ever present and never-ending wind at the coast.

The choice of using the beauty-dish, was twofold:
1) It's a 'directional hard/soft light source' (contrasty, soft light source? ^^), which I felt would fit the bill and light the models perfectly in relation to the scene.
2) The construction is much more sturdy and not affected by deformations due to wind.
- and that proved to be a sound choice.

My particular dish is a large Paul C Buff white beauty-dish, and I also brought with me the 'sock' for the dish, should it be necessary to cover the dish itself, if the wind was so strong that it grabbed the dish and pushed the heavy boom out of position.

- also proved to be a sound choice on Kristin's shoot, as the wind was tougher and more gusty.

General observations 

I had to try and plan the shoots, so that the two separate results would be different, but still retain some of the same style. So, some of the setups were very similar and overlapping, while others were unique to the particular session. (it's important that the models don't feel that they ended up with the exact same result).

The reason for the similar setups, was that I needed more location-experience with this rig, and by running similar settings under slightly different lighting-conditions, I could learn a whole heap of things to put in my experience-bag.

- Also, by gaining good shots while shooting a certain way, I made sure that both models would end up with good shots, not just experimental, weird ones. ^^

Conclusion and lessons learned 


Some of Kristin's shots
Things to be aware of:

I find that the 1/200s sync-speed of the Canon 5D mk III to be annoying/constricting. (Nikon is much better in this regard, providing 1/500s).  1/200s is the max-speed this camera will sync properly with a studio-fhash. The 1ds and 1dx series isn't much better, with their 1/250s sync speed. 

The problem arise when you try to freeze movement, or shoot with longer lenses, both which can cause blurry photo's. I was already aware of this, off course, but it was more of a struggle on these shoots, due to the models having hair and cloth, moving in a fresh breeze. I also had to shoot with the stabilizer ON on my 70-200, which drains the batteries in the camera faster.

Flash-recharge time with the battery was impressive. Still, one need to reduce the number of shots and the number of shots per second(!) to one shot per 2-3 seconds (which is more the burst-norm for me on model shoots anyway), or one will end up with shots having a variance in exposure.
In other words let the flash charge.
Also, be aware that the charging-time will be more and more affected as the battery reach between 1/2 to 1/4'th of it's capacity, then you need to wait 3-4-5 seconds to have a fully charged AB1600 flash.

Some of Nicky's shots

Positive suprises and experience-points

The Vagabond battery really proved to be a impressive and powerful pack. I changed the battery on the very end of Nicky's shoot, just as we reached the final setting of the day, by then it was at 1/4 (or lower).
The shoots, respectively, produced
Kristin: 302 shots, 1 battery
Nicky: 366 shots, battery 1 was changed at 298 shots.
 - most of the shots were done using close to full power on my AB1600 flash-unit!

Pretty sick for a 3 pound pack I must say! Paul C Buff, I bow do thee! o_O

Recycle-time, as mentioned, did not suffer much, until the battery was down to 1/4 of full capacity, also very impressive. On Kristin's shoot, I simply turned down the power, as the light was already fading, so I could wrap up the whole shoot on one battery. The recycle-time was normal when I used my flash on 1/2 power and below, so I basically didn't notice much difference and just kept on shooting.On Nicky's shoot, I started to notice longer recycle times more and decided to swap the battery for the final scene, just to avoid any pauses as the light was changing quickly.

The beauty-dish proved to have just the right qualities, to create natural-looking flash for a model on the beach. A softbox would have been too soft (I think) and an umbrella too spread out and soft as well, a smaller lightsource would be too hard and contrasty (from my experience with 580EX-flashes anyway). The dish was cumbersome to carry, but is sturdy and really gives nice light.

Got even more experience in placing the sun, in conjunction to the flash, balancing the exposure and shooting with a sea-background.

A few other secrets as well, that I noticed and put on my experience-list for future shoots.  :)