So that’s it after 14 years in Asia I am moving back to Europe, UK to be precise. I have now been 6 weeks on the old continent, and a first post is long overdue. While all my stuff is in transit, I have carried in my hand luggage the M6 and the M262 with 3 summicrons, the 28, 35 and 50.
I have finished my first roll of expired Fuji Across 100 and had it process at the first shot I could find for the whooping price of 16 GBP. I could hardly believe it, but I will be back to Cafenol soon so this is a one off. It seems however that prices of film are a bit higher that in Singapore.
Shooting in a new country is both exhilarating and inhibiting : I can see so many new things to capture but also I am a bit camera shy these days, and don’t really know how people will react to the camera. I have engaged a couple of photographers in the street and they assured me there was no problem with this, but I have to get into the mood.
Strange enough, I don’t see many people with cameras in the street and I am yet to meet a Leica shooter, but I am keeping my eyes open.
The shots were scanned by the shop (Snappy Snap), it seems they did an ok job at it.
I hope you’ll enjoy the reading, my second roll is nearly done and I start having a backlog of digital, so get ready for more posts. All shots Leia M6 + summicron 28 Asph v1
So after Roll15, here is Roll14. This one is a bit late as I had to bring it to the lab and it took me the whole week to do it. Well so here is a beautiful roll of Kodak Ektar, processed and scanned by Whampoa color. The roll was shot with the Hasselblad 500CM with the kit lens (Planar 80mmF2.8), as last Sunday I stick to the rule, one camera one lens.
So these are 12 shots done when I met Ez in Joo Chiat, you can see him in one of the shots.
It was a beautiful morning, with a lot of light (and very hot), I shot the Ektar at 100 measure with the Sekonic 308x. As usual there was not a single AA battery in sight at home, so I started my photowalk by scouting for batteries.
That’s public now , I am a quitter, after 14 years I am leaving Singapore. I am moving to new horizons but that’s a story for later. The recent tightened measures are not facilitating farewells and the mood is not to party.
Last Sunday, I wen out but my shooting buddy Ez, founder of the Hasselblad User Group Singapore (HUGS), for a last photo walk. We met in Joo Chiat and then walked to Kalang MRT along Geylang road. Quite a walk under the hot sun.
Camera of choice was the Hassie, loaded first with a roll of Ektar (Still to be processed) and here with my fav film : the Rollei Retro 80s, processed in Caffenol.
Its been a very satisfying morning, walking with my friend along the charming Joo Chait road, then turning into what used to be the last red district of Singapore (Still a bit seedy in 2021).
Geylang has a very rich architecture, remains of better days.
A rare close up shot, never really satisfactory to my taste.
I could not have dreamt of a more satisfying last roll and Ez promised I can keep posting on the HUGS groups even when overseas, so all is good; it just a goodbye.
This is bit back to the future as I already posted about rolls 12,13, and 15, but rest assured roll 10 will come in due time. I was complaining last week about life in Singapore being less photogenic since the Covid started last year. Man I did not knew what was coming.
For one week now we are in Heightened alert mode, basically we are back in a quite strict mode, mostly : non essential workers are asked to stay home, it is not possible to eat or drink outside (eateries can thankfully to take away), quarantine form most countries are extended to 3 weeks in selected hotels and coming into Singapore is quite difficult (even for residents).
Having enjoyed a lot more freedom than most countries since last July, we feel taken a bit aback by this new deal. So my color roll shot a couple of weeks before this soft lockdown 2.0 seems quite joyful and interesting for the place in time where I write from.
We were discussing our last holidays abroad, which were in March 2020, when we could still fly (in half empty planes though) and I remembered that I brought the Nikon F3 to Thailand and shot only two or three rolls before putting it back in the box. So it was time to pick it up again and give it another go.
I will explain a bit later this month but I am downsizing a few things, so I am shooting what’s left in the fridge rather than go and by fresh film. So I picked up my last roll of Portra 400, which is a bit overkill for just walking around, but ok I an clearing my fridge. The roll was shot over two days around Singapore.
I put the 50mmF1.4 on the F3, because my other lenses are too big for just walking around. I must say I have always been a big proponent of the 50mm, claiming the 28 / 50/ 135 were the trinity of my generation, and only young punks would walk around with a 35 as their normal lens. But I think I have moved my point of view a little bit…
The yellow Burmese girl
I have used many 35mm on the Leica system (film or digital) and I finally came quite used to it (I own 3 😦 ). The versatility of the 35mm, with a field of view larger by more than 30% is quite impressive and I think I really appreciate it on the Leica’s to the point that I find the 50mm narrow. Off course you have to step closer to your subject, but that’s not so much or a problem with a small rangefinder.
Getting closer with a SLR, even a small old fellow as the F3 is a bit less easy. Also (I am happy to be corrected) it seems the offer in term of 35mm (Vintage of course) is a bit lesser that the offer in 50mm, where Nikon has a few outstanding lenses.
So ok I feel now that the 50 is a bit narrow but at the same I don’t think I will invest in a new (even a new old) lens for the Nikon at this point) (And remember I am decluttering).
The roll was processed at Whampoa Colours, scanned by their good services, and shared on the web. Damn I still have not collected my negs. The combo F3 + 50mmF1.4 AIS + Porta did a fairly good job. I shot most of the time in Auto mode, meaning the speed is controlled automatically by the aperture I selected, quite easy with a 400 ISO film (shot at 320).
It seems the focusing of the F3 with the 50 is quite ok, I would need to try with the original 35-70 F3.5 AI Pro see if I have any problems. But that’s a heavy lens, not for casual walks.
A well deserved treat.
A final though for the road, a lot of my pictures from 25-30 years suck, I feel very bad, because souvenirs from this time are scarce, but on the upside It looks like my photography has progressed.
A short post with not many words for the roll 14th of the year 2021. This is a roll of Ilford HP5+ hand-rolled from a bulk roll. I thought I counted 30 frames but it looks It did not count well and could just fire 25 shots.
I dug out the Leica M4 from the box and screw the Voigtländer 21mmF4 Color Skopar in front of it, set the 21-24mm finder, put a battery in my Sekonic light meter and hit the road.
The roll was processed at home in Caffenol Delta. I put a 6th of the water from the fridge to cool down the very hot tap water ( 29 to 30 degrees), and used the usual dev time (4.41 minutes) for the delta recipe. It looks it had a positive effect as the negatives were not as dark as usual.
The film dried overnight and was scanned today. After scanning there are a few dusts specs and white spots, but all in all a pretty successful processing.
A pretty mundane set of pictures : after 15 month without leaving Singapore, I start to be a bit bored. No big celebrations are happenings, it s a bit more of the same every week ends.
I shall not complain too much as the weather was pretty good that day, instead of the usual downpour we get on afternoons these days.
Luckily sometime the unexpected steps into the frame
Or you have lunch with friends
And suddenly when you feel you are finally in the mood, the film ends.
As my Ilford roll only had 22 shots, I loaded my last roll of Tri-X into the Nikon F3 while we were still in Tekka Market. I could not resist running after the guy with the umbrella hat, even I did not really got a really good shot.
316 on the bowl is probably the number of the stall so the staff attending to the hawker center know where to bring it back after picking up and cleaning. I felt really hungry at that time, but it was way too early to get a second breakfast.
It was still raining outside and this guy was playing with his phone inside a wheelbarrow.
At that point we had stepped in the street, and faced the last few drops of rain. I have a hood on my 50 which does a good job at protecting him from small rain (although that’s a metal hood for a 28mm)
Ez was still with me of course. At this point you would have realized that the pictures are not as sharp as usually, for instance compared to the last post. I have several options to explain this.
First option is that the Tri-X is notoriously difficult to process in Caffenol. I have used my usual Delta recipe scaled for 500ml. BUT because I think my films are usually over processed I have decided once again to try to lower the temperature.
I feel that usually the time for processing is 4’40” and that does not give much leeway for control (I may be wrong), so I decided to keep the same time but cool a little bit the mix by using 10% of water from the fridge (probably 3 degrees) and 90% of tap water (29 degrees) to get a mix around 26 to 27 degrees.
Of course I have no thermometer and the reason you have not seen roll 2001#11 yet is because I quite screwed up by making the mix too cold back wen I processed it. But I must say that this time, looking at the film drying it has gone in the correct direction, showing more contrast than my usual processing’s.
So what could have gone wrong ? Err not sure, could the difference of 3 or 4 degrees between the developer and the rinsing water caused an effect similar to reticulation?
.. or shall I just blame the Tri-X and look for another recipe for this film the next time?
I could simply finish my bulk roll of HP5plus and keep things simple what do you think? It’s a pity as I was quite happy with the content of the film ; that will teach me to try experimenting. This is also probably the last roll of the F3 for a little while.
The little fellow made 3 turns ( understand rolls ) and will now go back to the box. Yielding a SLR, even the not so bulky F3 with a 50mm, to the face of people is a bit gross. I’ll go back to the rangefinders for a little while
I realized this Saturday that these old folks are hanging around in that place because the are polls nearby ; you can expect more shots of this place soon.
All these shots were done in Aperture Auto mode with the F3, very convenient. A facility I don’t have on the M6. It looks the shots were properly exposed, I had some difficulties as I thought that holding the shutter button would store the speed. I may get it wrong by 20 years or so. I think after these 3 rolls and the two ones form last year, I can happily conclude that the F3 focuses properly. With the 50mm at least, I did not bother trying other lenses.
Rainy day Saturday, when I left home to meet my fried Ez at Tekka Market, in Little India. The weather was quite bad so I left the Hassie home (Ez is the man behind HUGS the Hasselblad User Group Singapore) and only put the Nikon F3 loaded with a hand rolled roll of HP5+ (and a spare roll of TriX).
I was soaked when getting to the MRT. I have not seen my friend for a while so we spent a certain time in front of a coffee and shot randomly what happened within range.
I set the F3 to ISO 320, to overexpose my film a little bit as recommended for Caffenol for medium speed film. My best lens for the F3 is the 50mmF1.4AIS so the combo enabled to shoot decently in the dimmed lighted market (also given the very gloomy external light).
I came quite a few times in Tekka market but that’s not my favorite : I find it a bit too dark, and alleys are on the narrow side so you often find yourself in the middle of somebody else’s path. I generally feel a bit more at ease in Tiong Bahru or Chinatown Complex, but that Saturday was very nice and friendly.
Once home I quickly processed the film with the Caffenol Delta Recipe, adjusted for 500ml of water. At current temperature ( more or less 30 degrees), processing time is 4’40”. I use the Ilford rinsing method and Ilford fixer after that.
The smile of the butcher
Scanning was a breeze, the film is quite flat and after processing shows very little dust. The roll only had 20 full shoots and 2 half shots at start and end. 22 frames rolls are nice because I can hand them to dry in the shower without having to cut it in two.
Loosing half a frame at the start is a bit obvious but why at the end? I remember now that when loading from a bulk roll the first part of the roll, which will be the last frame is partially exposed, only enabling for half a shot. It is very difficult to know when you last shot will be, maybe I should try to quickly load a new roll and retake the last shot?
I still struggle focusing with the F3, but I think this roll is ok from that point of view. I have included a few more pictures below, I hope you enjoyed the reading
Finally after 11years of a fulfilling relationship I am letting him go. If you read this blog regularly you probably wonder where this camera has been all that time because I don’t think it appears in a single post over the last 4 or 5 years. Actually checking my papers, I realized I had it service 5 years ago and did not used it much since.
I have carried this guy all over Asia and took so many pictures that it is difficult to pic some to illustrate what looks like a eulogy. Mind you with 42000 actuations, it has not been abused and his new owner can make a few shots with it.
The D700 has been a beast of its own kind, the first and last, prosumer camera, which could handle most of Nikon lenses. It supported the road well and gives confidence that whenever you press the shutter something at least acceptable will go out.
Of course I lugged around big amounts of heavy glass, this is what you get using a DSLR, and spare battery and multiple cards.
The D700 was quickly outdated though, the usable ISO range was limited to 3200, which by today’s standard is pretty low and the noise or banding in low light was not always nice. Hence the purchase of fast glass, 50mmF1.8, 85mmF1.8, and so on. Ok I must say my current digital camera has the same max ISO so that criteria has not worked much for me.
So why did I stop using such a nice camera? Well first I have started shooting more film over the years, and falling in the rangefinder trap, I purchased a digital M 5 years ago and here we are. I must say I do not shoot that much with the digital M outside of travels, events or parties (so not much recently). I generally shoot film for my casual street photography. The M is in no way technically superior to the D700, they are from the same technological generation, but if you are not a pro the experience and the results are more fulfilling.
So over the last period the D700 has been used only to shoot events which now are becoming fewer and fewer so I came to a point where I had the choice to let it rot in the its box or part from it.
So I managed to find the original box with all the cables doc and everything and even the original bag from the shop, and here in the beautiful gold box goes the D700, 2 batteries, 7 card, and the 50F1.8D in its own gold box. I have already sold last year the 80-200F1.8D, the 17-35F2.8D and the 85F1.8D, all boxed. I only have 2 gold boxes left, one for SB600 flash, that is compatible with the M and one for the 50mmF1.4AIS that I use on the Nikon F3. Don’t worry I also have some AI lenses around a F3 and F bodies, so I did not let Nikon go completely.
These two auspicious oranges offered during CNY period, here at the entrance of a restaurant in Clarke Quay. As often I make associations in my mind which are quite irrelevant, why think of Serguey Prokovief Opera The Love for Three Oranges where actually I just have two? Maybe the essence of photography : showing what’s not there.
I started this roll in Chinatown a while back, and as we were during CNY period, people came around the Buddha Tooth Relic temple to take selfies.
CNY is also about food, and the Bak Kwa (sliced barbequed port meat) shops are busy. There are queues outside some of the most famous who generally have sold all their goods by lunch time on week ends.
I was very happy / lucky a couple of weeks later when coming back to Chinatown I saw this group of youngsters dressing up in traditional Chinese costumes, for a fun photo shoot.
This is a roll of Rollei retro 80s, shot with the Leica M6 and the Summaron 35mmF3.5 ltm lens.
The film was processed in Caffenol CM recipe at 28 degrees for 5minutes. Some shots are great, but the ones with big dark areas like above are showing some marks in the dark parts. Fingers marks? Fogging ? Effect of the expired film? I don’t really know. The effect is even more noticeable below:
It is not super easy to shoot indoor with 100 ISO setting and a 3.5 lens. I quite like the result, regardless of the marks.
A big thank you to Louis Vuitton for this fashionistas playground giving opportunities for a few candid shots. Once again it was 7pm the light of the day was fading so the shots are taken at 1/60 or 1/40 and F3.5
A few random shots to finish
A pile of bar stools, the blacks and the contrast are really specific to the Rollei 80s, so I am happy this can be rendered in Caffenol.
Some sculpture in a back alley, I think it’s the entrance of a club or a bar.
A bit if tragedy to finish this is the place where 5 party goes met their fate when driving into coffee in the late night hours a couple of weeks back. You can still see the burned façade of the building. A few days (maybe 1 or two weeks) after the incidents, offerings were placed for the deceased.