Monochrome

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This piece was originally written for the website 35mmc. If you haven’t visited Hamish’s site yet, do it.

This is a camera that I would guess everyone is familiar with. It’s not a complicated piece of machinery and millions were made in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Made famous in the UK by various tv commercials, it is simple to use with range focusing, an internal battery powered by the selenium cell around the fixed lens, and a cunning way of preventing you taking pictures when there’s insufficient light. It raises (literally) a red flag and locks the shutter release. It’s not foolproof, however, as I have managed to prove once or twice.

The 5 images were taken during a recent trip to Manhattan. We were visiting a cousin in NJ and I wanted to go to B&H in New York. I considered what camera I should take, I had a Fuji X-E2s, a Nikon F90x with colour film loaded, and my Trip with JCH Street Pan 400 black and white. New York? Black and white. No question. I hadn’t tried this film before but I have a preference for contrasty black and white and had seen other results on Flickr and various Facebook groups. It was a sunny day so it was an easy choice. I’ll be shooting some Ferrania P30 soon and that has a similar feel from what I’ve seen so far.

The roll was developed in Blazinal, which I believe is the trade name used in Canada for Rodinal. Blazinal is, again, a developer that brings out lots of contrast without having to make any adjustments to the standard developing time, so gave me the look I wanted with minimal effort. A win-win. So presented below are 5 of the results of that trip, images of 2017 Manhattan given a classic feel by a 1970’s camera.

Manhattan 2017
Inside the Oculus – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The Naked Cowboy – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
NYPD – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The Runner – JCH Street Pan 400

Manhattan 2017
The 9/11 Memorial – JCH Street Pan 400

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Mention the words ‘still life’ to most, me included, and the first thought that comes to mind is the Renaissance masters, the Dutch school, Veritas and the classical, sidelit, muted tones of those wonderful 16th century masterpieces. Today the likes of Sergei Sogokon can reproduce those with cameras and lights, and for a while I tried to do the same with long exposures and painting with flashlights. I might well go back to that at some point, but today I decided to produce something simpler, something more immediate and which required less setup. It’s surprising what you can do with stuff that’s just lying around at home, and as evidence, I give you a hacksaw, an awl, a wrench and a paintbrush! Not the most inspiring of objects I admit, but I think that it just goes to show that given the right incentive, you can make a shot out of anything. This is something that I’d had in mind for a while and I could see these as prints on a workroom wall.

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