CAFFENOL Re-birth.

2020-19-iiic-24

7 years after my last failed experiments I am back again toying with Caffenol to process my black and white film. Do not try to figure out why I do not use standard methods, I cannot myself.

This time again I have put all the odds against me, I found a box of 5 year expired Fomapan P fixer in the cupboard, I shot the Caffenol unfriendly Kodak Tri-X on the Leica IIIc with the unreliable Summitar 50 and the new Chinese meter offered by a friend (more on this later).

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The set-up

From my past experiments I have a kitchen scale and a Patterson cuve, and some weights to hold the film when drying. (I just had to buy a 4$ battery for the scale)

Testing the fixer

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I found this idea on the internet to test the fixer by taking a piece of unexposed film, I cut the lead of a new roll found in the box, and drop it in the fixer (not the developer just right into the fixer) and let it sit a few minutes : it should go totally clear if the fixer still work as they should. Mine did so I should be covered from that angle.

I used in the past a recipe for stand development, but today I will try the Caffenol-C-M, recipe, the first on the http://caffenol.blogspot.com website.

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Testing the developer :

I planned to test the developer with one of the following two test cases, but actually after discussing with my assistant (my son), we decided that anyway we will not be able to resist trying the film whatever the result of the test is. Anyway here are the test cases:

  1. Test 1: once again I cut the leader of a roll and drop one into your developer and let it sit a few minutes then drop in your fixer and let it sit for a few minutes. It should turn all black.(as this part is generally over exposed), advantage is that you can use the lead of the roll you want to process.
  2. Test 2: use a piece of unexposed film, say, a few frames from the beginning of a fresh roll and make sure it’s loaded in the dark. Process as you should, you should see the frame numbers and DX codes along the sprocket holes develop and the unexposed frames should develop to be clear.

 

The process:

The chemicals:

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For one liter the recipe is to mix in order :

54 grams of washing-soda (Harm Brand 8$ for 1 kg)
16 grams of Vitamine C ( crap from Guardian 13$)
40 grams of instant coffee (Netscafe Classic 10$)

Time and temperature

This is the difficult bit, the original recipe gives 15 minutes at 20 °C for 100 ISO film. Digi

tal truth ( https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?doc=timetemp) helps converting this to my 28 deg average temperature for 6’44 @ 28 deg, for 100 ISO. ISO 400 should be shorter, but the same site gives you roughly the same duration. SO i settled for 7 minutes

Here we go

  • Pre-soak 5 minutes (this step is optional, but it is relaxing)
  • Pour the developer
  • Agitation first 30 seconds, then 3 times each minute.
  • Stop:

– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times

  • Fix: 5 minutes
  • Rinse

– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times with a drop of washing up soap

Results

  • the negatives are dense but images can be seen when back lighted and scanned with the Epson v800

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A few more samples

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Doggie goes for a walk
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Over the counter of the Japanese restaurant
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Hans Im Gluck birch trees

Where it goes wrong

The problem often reported for Caffenol is that the chemicals are not reliable, for instance, my coffee is a mix of Robusta and Arabica, where the active compound is more present in the robusta, so 100% robusta would be better. My Vitamin C contains sugar and flavoring which impact is hard to guess.

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Anything new?

Where to go from here

My film is over developed, so I already have some plans for the next roll : shorter time ( it was suggested to cut by 25%), or try the same recipe for a 100 ISO film, or cut the coffee.

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The ubiquitous Grab Food rider

Money wise

I can do 5 batches with my Vitamin C + coffee, with 2 films per batch. You probably have to factor in 0.5$ a roll for Fixer, 0.4$ for the soda, if you are discounting the water you will be around 3.5 to 4 $, definitely cheap. 5 rolls would cover the 7$ a roll I pay to the lab for processing, so if you like the result its worth trying.

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Kiss
CAFFENOL Re-birth.

The lock down roll

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Banana-ah-ah

This is not actually a full roll of the lock-down, I did not shoot much and probably on the first 20 frames of this roll.

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Cooking for take away only

This is a roll of Kodak Tri-x shot with the Leica M6 classic and the Summicron 35mm Asph vII.

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Deserted hawker center

The first part of the roll was taken on a Saturday around lunch time in the Balestier area. Shops were half closed, hawkers were deserted and the rare shoppers wearing masks.

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The masked shopper

Little traffic rare cyclist allowed not to ear masked while ridding, life seemed to have come to a halt under the scorching sun. We had dreadful weather for a while, but the day I go out at lunchtime with a 400 ISO film, I am forced to shoot at F1/500 and F16.

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The unmasked rider

There is always a nice outcome : I stumbled across the coffee shop below, I first stopped to take a shot (the symmetry of the arrangement caught my eye), then the chord bring the entry puzzled me and finally I bought some coffee. I usually use some arabica in my old Moka machine but they sell only robusta. In the end for a bit more than 5SGD for 250 grams that was a ok deal.

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The old style coffee shop

Of course life is full of encounters, an sometime you meet fellow Leica Shooters

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Another M6 with 50mm cron

I am no sure that Grab food riders made a fortune during the lock-down (my good sense tells me otherwise), but they were ubiquitous during the period and thanks to them we managed to have entertaining food at our table. (Thanks guys and gals).

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The ubiquitous Grab food rider
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Hawker at work
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Tiger’s haunt
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The other unmasked rider

As no many activity goes on to finish the film I walked the places where people were going out to exercise or just take a bit of fresh air while respecting the prescribed social distancing procedures. It is funny how here again  you meet some acquaintances.

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A well known Leica figure caught during his jogging (hard to resist)

The Singapore river was usually packed with joggers and cyclist, we  will surely do great at next Olympics when they eventually happen. The Marina Bay Area, though not empty was really a lot quieter that it used to be.

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Sorry ladies can you get out of my the view
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MBS in black and white

Skaters did had much problems crossing big roads carelessly.

The last few shots where taken after the lock down when we entered what was known as phase 1 and now phase 2. More freedom to roam around, retail shops reopening, still as nothing exceptional is happening, back to my usual vice : random shots of people in the streets, preferably with masks.

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Hope you enjoyed the roll. I manage 38 shots on this roll again, unfortunately the process suffers from reticulation (same as the one I took a couple of month back ), I ll tell about it to the photo shop and maybe i ll try to process the films myself going forward.

 

The lock down roll

The last pre lock down roll is back

I collected yesterday my first roll in a long time. It was probably finished the first week of the lock-down in Singapore which was on 5th of April.

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This is an expired roll of Fuji Across shot with the Leica M6 and probably a mix of Summaron 35 and Summicron 28.

The roll is so so , maybe the roll is too expired maybe sitting on my drawer for 3 month was not a good idea, maybe I just mucked up the metering. Well there is a couple of fun shots. I put them as a slide show just to try.

 

The last pre lock down roll is back

Touring Singapore Chinatown with the 500CM

During the last outings of the Leica User Group Singapore (LUGS) of 2019, I had the good idea to carry the Hasselblad 500CM loaded with my favorite film: the Rollei Retro 80s

I love the range of grays and the profound black that this film can produce. This is not all art but a nice walk with friends at a time when this was possible. I put the full roll, no censorship and some edition in Lightroom. Film was was processed at the usual lab (Ruby Photo) and scanned at home of Epson v800.

 

Touring Singapore Chinatown with the 500CM

When humans were roaming the streets

Well the situation in Singapore is not too much at celebrating and I did not find yet the way to represent the poetry of empty streets. So this posts start with reminding the not so distant past when Humans were roaming the streets.

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Why did the bus move?

At that time, a couple of weeks ago, I put one of my last rolls of Polypan F50 in the Leica M4 and hit the road with the Summaron 35mm F3.5 ltm.

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Not really a crowd

I have a nice Leica LTM to M adapter which provides proper focusing, and bring the 35mm framelines on the M4, so I can frame accurately.

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Resting

The roll of Polypan was given to me two years ago, and is probably expired, but shot at ISO 50 it still looks fine.

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Napping in back alleys will soon be a luxury

Shooting ISO 50 with a 3.5 max aperture lens in overcast light is a bit challenging.

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The careful walker
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Chinatown even had Caucasian tourists at that time

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Grab drivers at rest
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Mobile worship has no limit of race or religion

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Shades of grey on the old Polypan are amazing, so are the details.

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I had a couple of disappointing roll recently. First I shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X with the Heineken toy camera that shows reticulation. This was a small boat trip with friends for a birthday celebration, so I am quite annoyed.

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Ramming speed

The camera works superbly, and ISO 400 by the see on a bright day is plenty for the F10 plastic lens.

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Our captain

Even in the shadows as above, but it was screwed up at processing as you can see below.

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Is it a call for self processing in the future?

The next roll, is the evening birthday party of my friend Paul, shot with the Leica M6, and still the Summaron 35mm F3.5 LTM. This was a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 shot at 3200. The M6 meter is always very accurate so I am very surprised that the roll turned out so underexposed.

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The film was not expired. My only guess is that the meter was fooled by the very bright patches at the table, and even more easily that a 35mm gets a wider range), probably for such event its better to meter from close and keep it fixed.

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You can find more articles on this blog about:

I hope you enjoyed the reading and the pictures.

 

 

 

When humans were roaming the streets

THE NIKON F3 : DOES IT FOCUS OR NOT

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The Big Buddha is a work in progress

Before moving to the focusing bit, lets start by a few shots from Phuket. My eyesight for short distances is becoming quite bad so I cannot read the markings on the camera, so when I loaded this roll of Kodak Pro image 100 I put the speed selector to 1600 instead of 100. 2020-11-F3-2-4

So the pictures from Phuket are underexposed by 4 stops, but end up being quite exploitable , the colors are still pleasant. Nice job Kodak.

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Inside the shrine

 

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Karon football stadium
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Karon football stadium
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A resort in Karon
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Karon beach scene
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Phuket airport

I realized my mistake at Phuket airport and changes the speed. Above the colorful planes at the airport terminal; I quite like the colors of this film.

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Apples in Chinatown

Back in Singapore, I had my black and white film processed and as the results were OK (See last post), so I decided to finish this roll with the F3. I changed the screen to the Split screen model K as its easier to focus, so it will give a better indication of the accuracy of the camera focusing.

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Lost in Chinatown

Of course the shot above is a hip shot where distance has been guesstimated, so it does not prove much.

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Taoist ceremony in Chinatown

The two following shots are related to a Taoist ceremony in the center of town, the afternoon weather was quite bright so the shots were done with a small aperture, balancing potential focusing problems.

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Flags in Chinatown

I think this ceremony is held by one of temples situated in the nearby habitation block. The place were the tent is set, often hosts funeral wakes, and even a medium ceremony after Chinese new year.

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Inside TWG tea shop

In TWG tea shop at raffles hotel, the lens was nearly wide open and the focusing on the letters quite easy, it looks the picture is in focus.

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Yellow throat lizard

The lizard also is is focus, though small.

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Tiong Bahru Monkey God temple

The shot above  was done probably at F4 and quite close, looks reasonably in focus as well, I really love the warn tones or the film.

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Next table

So far so good until the last shot, wide open (F1.4) , the light was a bit dim, I focused on the glass at the front where it seems the actual focus is on the middle of the table (or the Asahi beer logo), so 10 to 15 cm back. So this is not very conclusive then.

  • Nikon F3
  • Nikkor AI-S 50mm F1.4
  • Kodak Pro Image 100ISO
  • Epson v800

 

THE NIKON F3 : DOES IT FOCUS OR NOT

The Nikon F3 gets out the closet

It seems to be a tradition to write about the F3 magically getting out for a spin (You can read the 2012 post ANOTHER OLD FELLOW BACK FROM THE MAGIC CUPBOAD – NIKON F3 ) the last picture I put on Flickr with this old fellow dates back from 2015 so it had time to gather dust inside the magic box. When I took it out the mirror foam was all gone but I have some spare foam, maybe a bit thick, so I replaced it in a 5 minutes. The 5 years old batteries were dead (not stored inside the camera), but I found some for 4$ at the convenience store of my condo. I fiddled a bit to find the correct direction for the batteries and of we go! The meter is metering and shutter is shutting. Attach the 50mm F1.4 AI-S, load a roll of H5 and lets roll.

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I will start with my favorite images, above two tourists wondering the streets of Chinatown, a rare hip-shot, I have not used a SLR for years i am not sure about using it for street shots.

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A friendly man in Karon (Phuket Thailand) building a new extension to the local temple (Wat Karon), he is molding cement Buddhist wheels to decorate the wall outside the building.

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Russian lady with a tambourine humming to Buddha while fiddling with her instrument I say : she a Shaman.

Okay so appart from these 3 shots that I really like, the rest of the roll is pretty good as you can see there after  (I spared you those of my family by the pool)

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First stop was in Singapore Chinatown, a few days before flying to Phuket, one of the reasons why I stopped using the F3 was because I keep on thinking it is not focusing properly. Indeed the distance on the lens always looks off compared to the actual distance. But the shots of this roll seems to prove otherwise.

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I used the original B screen (micro-prism) which is more difficult to focus than the split screen (model K  on top of my head).2020-11-F3-1-8

I have loaded a second roll now and will try to split screen on the second half of it just t try to assert where the issue is.

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Also I used the A mode for aperture, so the speed adjust automatically to the aperture you select. I never use it on the Leica, as I always found the speed to be too low and result in camera shake, but again it proved to work nicely here.

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Then we flew to Thailand for the week-end, which was the reason to resurrect the F3 ; I did not want to bring the M6 or the M262 to the beach. Oh but I did in Australia last year. Well OK, that’s just how it is.

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A rickshaw in front of our hotel, close focusing seems to work, I am not sure I actually focused on the horn, but that sounds (ha ha) realistic.

And off to the beach .

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Back light as the sunset if approaching the metering works great.

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Street / beach scene, another nice action by the F3 meter.

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Speeding in speedos.

 

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Back to USSR

On the next day we walk from our hotel to Katong center town, very bright light. All shots were done at F11 with 1/1000th. The shutter of the F3 is limited to 1/2000th so I could not use wider apertures with a 400 ISO film.

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Asoline ?

And we reach Wat Karon the local temple.

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Inside the temple we just missed the lunch of the monks , normally no later than 11am. Pity.2020-11-F3-1-262020-11-F3-1-32

From the seaside at Karon we took a taxi to visit Phuket Big Buddha,  a seated Maravija Buddha.

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It is big indeed, like 40 meters high.

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Here as well the light was very powerful, so maximum shutter speed and min apperture.

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Family praying the Big Buddha
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Another quite big statue at he back of the main one

I  spent 30 minutes at the shot yesterday discussing with other photogs of the potential focusing issue of my body. This roll seems to prove me wrong, but on the other hand most shots were done at very small apertures, so the focusing may not matter much.

A quick comparison with the M6 ? The F3 is slightly bigger, but just a sexy, the weight is probably very close, actually the M6 is 200 grams heavier. Both cameras have an integrated meter, but with slightly different methods, teh F3 is 80% center weighted the M6 is roughly spot metering, I actually quite like the exposure of the shots above.

The Nikon F3 gets out the closet

Thaipusam 2020 on film

Another long post, but I don’t fill like splitting this story up, hey that’s my third post about Thaipusam this year.

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The first Kavadi bearer

On arriving at Farrer park MRT, we met our first Kavadi bearer.

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Pots bearers

And then more devotees waiting for the traffic light.

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The little devotees

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And the older ones

Then when moving inside the temple the devotees are assembling the Kavadis

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or prepare their offerings

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While others use their phones to snap their friends.

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Looking proud
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Family and friends accompany the devotees.

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The drummer
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A member of a Chinese groups of devotees (and a friend of a friend)
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This one goes into a trance.

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Pictures above are taken Ilford HP5 shot at box speed, I used not to be a big fan of this film, but actually I am very satisfied with these results. The pictures after are done with the Kodak TMY 400, not exactly my usual Tri-X, but i generally quite like it.

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Actually I don’t see any difference, so I may shoot more of the cheaper HP5 going forward.

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Still osculating but looking more steady.

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Holly smoke

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One of the priests of the temple

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Preparation is everything

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All shots with Leica M6 Classic and most of them with the Summicron 35mm F2 AsphvII (the last version), processed at the usual lab (well dropped at Ruby and they get the usual guy do the work) and scanned at home with the Epson v800.

Thaipusam 2020 on film

Christmas in Vietnam (Roll 1)

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I think this one  is a great cover.

So off to Vietnam for Xmas 2019, for a bit of chilling time over Christmas. In the bag, the usual kit, M262, M6, 28,35 and 50 crons and of course a couple of Tri-x rolls.

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Hanoi is a great place to shoot. People are friendly and generally not photo  adverse. There are so many pictures to take, that if you cannot take one, just walk to the next.

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As usual, the M6 is most often mounted with the 50 cron, that ensures a reasonable distance for candid shots.

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Street side food vendors and their patrons are still a great subject.

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I was last in Hanoi 10 years ago and the traffic has not changed, crossing the roads still feels like an adventure and motorcycles are omnipresent.

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We arrived late on Christmas eve, so our first outing was a walk to Saint Joseph Cathedral on Christmas day. The mass was already going on when we reached and people were standing outside of the church. 2019-38-M6-23-12

After the service an orchestra was playing outside.

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A good opportunity for selfies.

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We walked down to the Metropole hotel, where the two Citroen below are standing guard. I stayed there 10 years ago, and at that time  they could be sent to fetch you from the airport in style.2019-38-M6-23-17

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Grab delivery men are ubiquitous through the city

We then walk north in direction of Long Bien bridge, going through the old quarter.2019-38-M6-23-21

Among many, I met these local photographers and we took shots of each others.

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Finally we made it to Long Ben bridge.

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Where I met the two young film photographers below.

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Hey this was a long post. Be reassured the next roll is not as good.

Christmas in Vietnam (Roll 1)

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore

This is one of the last rolls of 2019, finished on the 31st December morning.

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Hong San See temple celebration

It is a Kodak Portra 400, shot with the Sumaron 35mm F3.5 lens on the Leica IIIc.

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Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple

As usual I shot the roll over two weeks, I was lucky on the first day to stumble upon a ceremony at Hong San See temple around the corner, where deities coming from China to be worshiped here were sent back home by the lion head lorry. A few moments later I went to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown for a the temple consecration ceremony after its renovation.

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Rainbow

December is a wet month in Singapore, umbrellas are out (and colorful).

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Focused

Pre-Christmas the Orchard road shopping area was busy.

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Girls in uniform

At the “wings” watering hole in Clark quay I finally managed a decent picture of girls in uniform. I just printed it for them, to give away next time I walk by. This was shot wide open at 1/60 or 1/30.

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Banana
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To the top

The newly opened Funan mall with its climbing wall is just around the famous Peninsula shopping center with its many cameras shop and my fav lab.

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I like the Portra for many reasons, I think it is very good for shots as above with muted colors.

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Orange is the new black

Christmas is also an opportunity to visit churches for office or to watch the Christmas cribs.

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Off to work
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Burning Angel

Finally on the 31st of Dec, I carried the M4 along, to finish the roll. This was to Chinatown again with a group of photographers. Weather was just great.

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I must say I also love the Portra for its saturated colors.

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All shots, Leica IIIC, with the Summaron 35mmF3.5 LTM lens and assorted 35mm Viewfinder. Kodak Portra 400

Leicaiic
Leica IIIc, Summaron 35mmF3.5 with filter, hood and viewfinder

Scanned at home with Epson v800

Dropped for processing at Ruby Photo (not sure who does the actual processing)

Roll 37 of year 2019 – Hanging around Singapore