The fog and dim light seemed like a good day to use Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow.
As I walked north along the southeastern side of Nassaudense near Palmer Square, the viscous fog enveloped me like a comforting blanket. The air was thick with moisture, and the heavy veil of mist muffled the sound of my footsteps. The Kiosk, a small wooden kiosk surrounded by benches, was barely visible in the haze, but its familiar silhouette was visible in the dim light.
I could feel the dampness of the fog on my skin and the chill in the air. The usually bustling shopping mall was eerily quiet as if the mist had dampened all sound and movement. Usually so vibrant and full of life, the trees were now ghostly apparitions, their branches and leaves shrouded in the mist. A man stood up from the bench and walked away, head down, staring at his electronic brick.
As I continued walking, I felt like I'd entered a different world of mystery and enchantment. The fog had transformed the familiar into something strange and new, and I walked more slowly, savouring each moment in this ethereal realm.
One of my frustrations with 35mm film photography is the effort involved in compensation for the lack of metadata. This week, I spent a lot of time learning to read 35mm film strip edge DX bar codes. The photographs are all from around Palmer Square.
One of my frustrations with 35mm film photography is the effort involved in compensation for the lack of metadata. I tried using apps to track the information about each frame, but the process has inherent limitations. When I load the 35mm film cartridge into the camera body, I can record the film stock, type, ISO, camera make and model, and lens make and model in the app. With some effort, and assuming I expose each frame without the use of aperture priority or shutter priority, I can record the aperture and shutter speed. The action of manually documenting this information for each frame gets in the way of concentrating on the making of the photograph. I have given up on tracking the minutiae of each frame. I do the bare minimum by recording the camera, lens, film stock information, and the date the film was loaded into the camera.
When I send my film off for development, I usually use Boutique Film Lab, which lets me put a note with each order. I put information about the camera, lens, film stock, and the date the film was loaded into the camera. Just in case I forget to make an entry, I rely on the information on the film strip to identify the film stock. The process has worked well enough.
However, the entire process is easily subject to failure. I had one such recent loss. I exposed the film and wrote down the information on paper. I wanted a faster development turnaround time, so I sent the 35m film cartridge to Bleeker Digital Solutions, a lab in New York City. Bleeker’s interface does not have an area to input notes. I expected that I would rely on the information on the paper. But before the negatives were returned, I lost the paper with my notes. I then hoped that I could rely on the information on the negatives. When the negatives were returned, I stuck them in a drawer and waited for when I had time to scan them in.
Yesterday when I looked at the film strip, I realised I had made an error. There was nothing human-readable to help me identify the film stock. So now what? I had read that on some film stock, the information is DX encoded on the film strip. I spent hours last night searching the internet, learning to decode the binary code on the film strip. I combined the information I found on the post, Decoding 35mm DX Film Edge Barcodes, the Wikipedia entry for DX encoding, then converted the bar code to binary, then used a binary to decimal converter, and a DX codes lookup table. All that effort to find out that I had exposed a 36 exposure roll of Kodak Ektar 100 Color Negative Film. Whew!
I had a lot of challenges with scanning. I used VueScan Preview to line up the border around each frame. However, after scanning, the images were scanned off-axis. I watched the negative twice, but the results were the same. I cropped the imported images. I also had a challenge getting the white balance. I used the same technique I always use. I used the white balance dropper in Adobe Lightroom.
All in all, my experience with Kodak Ektar 100 was dismal. After I expose that roll, I will be done with Kodak Ektar.
Most of the frames were exposed in downtown Princeton around Palmer Square and Witherspoon Street.
Last month, I grabbed my Minolta XD-11 and Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 lens and drove to Palmer Square in downtown Princeton. Palmer Square is a public square and planned development across from Nassau Street and Princeton University that forms a collection of shops, restaurants, offices and (expensive) residential spaces. It's a mall.
Palmer Square is named for the original builder, Edgar Palmer, heir to the New Jersey Zinc fortune. Constructed between 1936 to 1939, the Square was created by architect Thomas Stapleton in the Colonial Revival style as the town's complement to Princeton University, which sits directly across Nassau Street from the Square. The construction of the mall was not without controversy. In 1929, the houses on Baker Street, which was the centre of the original African-American neighbourhood of Princeton, were moved to Birch Avenue; however, the financial challenges of the depression delayed construction of the Square until 1936. Plans to extend the Square past Hullfish Street were put on hold after the initial construction phase was completed and were not realised until the 1980s.
The original architect, Thomas Stapleton, used a variety of architectural styles borrowed from old Newport, Philadelphia, Annapolis and Williamstown. However, the plan of the Square is a mini-version of Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Nassau Street, the main road through the middle of Princeton, borders the southern part of Palmer Square. Hullfish Street connects the northern part of Palmer Square. Palmer Square East and Palmer Square West are the streets around and through the middle of the mall. There was a lot of construction on Palmer Square East, so I exposed a few frames on Palmer Square West.
Palmer Square has become the primary dining and shopping destination in downtown Princeton. One of my favourite coffee shops is Rojo's Roastery on Palmer Square West. Before the pandemic, the Winberie's Bar on Palmer Square Est was a favourite after meeting hangout for the Princeton Tech Meetup. Palmer Square has been one of my frequent subjects for photography throughout the 21 years I have lived in the area. When all the shops were closed during the global pandemic, it was effortless to photograph the shops and streets in and around Palmer Square. This has become challenging again as activities on the Square have returned to their pre-pandemic hustle and bustle.
This set of images is from a roll I exposed last month. The sky was overcast, but it was a bright morning. I wanted to finish the 36-exposure roll of Kentmere Pan 400 black and white 35mm film. This was my first time using this film stock. Each frame was exposed at box speed using my Minolta XD-11, set in aperture priority mode. After the negatives were returned from The Boutique Film lab, I scanned them using my Epson Perfection V600. I would typically have used VueScan, but there is some incompatibility between the VueScan software and the macOS Monterrey version of the scanner driver. The negatives were scanned using SilverFast SE Plus and the scanning workflow I learned from Matt Wright. I don't know the film resolution specifications for Kentmere Pan 400, but based on my study of other ISO 400 black and white 35mm film and what I learned from a blog post by [Jim Grey], I assumed it was around 60 lines/mm. I set my scanner to scan at 1600 pixels per inch resulting in 20MB files.
The scans have more grain than I expected from this 35mm film stock. Some photographers would be ok with this level of grain, but I'm not too fond of grain. I have become spoiled by how clean a high ISO image looks from a modern digital camera sensor. I think part of my disappointment is due to operator error. I am still struggling with properly exposing 35mm film. Some of the frames are overexposed in the highlights, and the shadows that attracted me are barely noticeable. I want to change my technique.
What technique do you use for exposing high ISO 35mm film?