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TECHNICAL NOTES



3a. In the Field - Film



Cascade, Junction Falls, 2000


Colour v Monochrome: You may have noticed that there is not much colour photography on these pages. I do take colour photos but I find black and white photography more interesting. I also believe that while the finest colour photography (such as that of Eliot Porter or Andris Apse) is of inestimable value, it just doesn't "do it for me" like the finest B&W work.


Film: I'm sorry, but when it comes to landscape photography, there's still no substitute for film! So none of the images on this site have been made using digital capture devices - well, nothing beyond a scanner that's used to get the prints onto the web.

My initial film of choice was Agfa APX100. This was a fine grain multipurpose film capable of giving a quite beautiful tonal range. Note my use of the past tense when describing APX100 because, unfortunately, following the demise of Agfa in 2004/5 it is no longer being made in the size I use. So now I've settled on Ilford's FP4+ as a replacement - another fine-grain multipurpose film.

There is a part of me that tends to chase "magic bullets", so I occasionally get a hankering to try things like Kodak's new TMax 400 film (TMY-2 - introduced in about 2006 - who said film was dead!) or Fuji's Acros 100. However, neither seem to be readily available in Australia at a reasonable price in the size I use, and in any event I've decided to support Ilford Photo who appear to be committed to supporting analog materials. No doubt I'll get around to trying Ilford's HP5+ one day...

Despite its nominal 125 ISO/ASA speed rating, I use an exposure index ("EI") for FP4+ of 64 ASA. I cant claim that rigourous testing has lead to this, but experience indicates that (provided I dont mess up) this EI provides better detail in the shadows without "blowing out" the highlights than the nominal box speed.

While its not strictly "field", you can't really talk about film without also talking about developer. I use Agfa Rodinal, a liquid developer that's cheap, easy to use, versatile, keeps forever, and is nearly as old as photography itself (early formulations date from 1891!) And despite the demise of Agfa, Rodinal is still being manufactured. The dilution I use is generally 1 part developer to 50 parts water, and a normal developing time (assuming a 5 stop subject brightness range) of 7.5 minutes at 20 degrees celsius. (More on what that all means on the next page.)




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