Latest Posts

    • A Detroit Photowalk With JCH Streetpan 400

      Recently, I went on a photowalk in downtown Detroit to try to finally get some good shots after my previous failures with black and white film. The forecast called for overcast skies, so I decided to grab JCH Streetpan 400, which I’ve been meaning to try for some time now. If there’s one thing I like in my black and white photos it’s deep, ink-like blacks and JCH Streetpan 400 has it in spades.

      Man praying in Old St. Mary's Catholic Church on JCH Streetpan 400
      Old St. Marys, Detroit

      For this outing, I took my Canonet QL 17 GIII which is a great little Canon rangefinder with a fixed 40mm f/1.7 lens. I wanted to grab a camera that was simple and light since I was planning on walking a long distance.

      Unfortunately, the skies were clear and blue like it was the middle of July rather than the middle of November in Michigan. 400 speed film is way to fast for the bright outdoors, especially when your camera of choice has a max shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. I had no choice to proceed since I only brought one roll of color (Portra 400) and one roll of black and white (Streetpan 400).

      I have yet to buy the right replacement battery for the Canonet, so I was guessing the aperture and shutter speed with the sunny-16 rule. A lot of the outdoor shots ended up being over or under exposed. With the sun bearing down, f/16 at 1/500th of a second was still too much light.

      Still, I was able to get some great shots and fix my mistakes in post.

      Racing car graffiti in Detroit on JCH Streetpan 400
      Is it still graffiti if it’s commissioned?
      Horace E. Dodge Fountain on JCH Streetpan 400
      This is supposedly a fountain, though I’ve never seen water coming out of it
      Spirit of Detroit on JCH Streetpan 400

      The above photo of the Spirit of Detroit has very little cropping, so you can see how small the grain is compared to the image size. I love the sharpness and grain size I get out of Streetpan. The grain is small enough to be ignored while large enough to add that je ne sais quoi to the photo.

      Monument to Joe Louis on JCH Streetpan 400

      Is It Worth It?

      The biggest downside here is the cost. At the time of writing, JCH Streetpan is $11 for a 36 exposure roll vs $5.69 for a 36 exposure roll of Ilford HP5+.

      For my money, JCH Streetpan is totally worth it and it’s my favorite 400 speed film so far. I love the contrast and the blacks I get straight out of the camera. To get the same look out of HP5+, I’d have to push it to 800 or 1600. Without a camera with a max shutter speed of at least 1/4000th of a second, that’s really not feasible.

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    • Throwback Thursday: Ludington Lighthouse
      Ludington Lighthouse

      I shot this photo of the Ludington lighthouse on October 21, 2017. I was in the area camping with my family and we took a trip to the beach with the dogs and walked across this really precarious walkway (that doubled as a protective wall for the docks) about a quarter mile out to this lighthouse.

      Walkway to the Ludington lighthouse

      These were taken with the iPhone SE by just holding down the shutter until the perfect wave came into frame. Thanks to Apple’s great machine learning I didn’t have to wade through too many photos to fine the right shot. Additionally, we just happened to get out there in the late afternoon so the lighting was perfect as well.

      If you like this content, be sure to subscribe with your favorite news reader to stay up to date and to follow me on Instagram for more photos almost every day.

    • My Top 4 Mistakes in Developing Black and White Film
      Old St. Mary's Church in Detroit on Kodak T Max 100

      In my journey to make film a core part of my photography, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. I managed to mess up and lose 3 1/2 of the first four rolls of film I tried to shoot. I decided to stick it out and bought a roll of Kodak T Max 100 black and white film to do some architecture and street photography around Detroit. Taking my Canon AE-1 Program and two lenses I walked down Gratiot Avenue to the Renaissance Center and back up the water front.

      The shoot went great, but as you may have gathered, I have a bad habit of learning only through trial and error. In this case the error meant trying to learn and mix the chemicals properly as the film was sitting in the tank developing.

      The above shot of the inside of Old St. Marys is the only shot on the whole roll of 36 exposures that is presentable. All of the other photos look like this.

      These photos are grainy, fuzzy, loaded with air bubbles, and covered in water streaks.

      Here’s How to Avoid My Mistakes

      One, buy three graduated cylinders to have your developer, stop bath and fixer mixed to the proper dilutions before you start developing. I bought three 1000ml cylinders on amazon, but you could probably get away with 600-700ml depending on the size of your tank.

      Two, give the tank a couple of taps on a hard surface to dislodge the air bubbles on the film per agitation cycle. Those circular white spots are caused by trapped air keeping any developer from touching that part of the film. Angular or more square white spots on the film are actually chemical deposits from using hard water. Which leads me to …

      Three, use distilled/demineralized water for your chemical mixes and final rinse. This is more of a timesaver than anything, since any decently filtered water (even from a well) won’t be hard enough to cause permeant defects. However, when the non-distilled water dries it will probably leave water spots over the non-emulsion side (the glossy side) of the film. These spots then need to be manually cleaned with a microfiber cloth which can waste another 15 minutes.

      Four, use ONE DROP of wetting agent (Kodak Photo-Flo, Ilford Wetting Agent) per 600ml of water in the final rinse. Not using the wetting agent can lead to water spots or streaks. Using too much, like I did, also leads to soap streaks as you have essentially dunked your film into bunch of dish washer detergent. One drop is really all you need; give the film a couple of dunks and spins on the reel while in the wetting agent and you should be golden.

      Correcting these mistakes, I’ve since made many successful black and white developments using Rodinal. Here’s a frame of Ilford Pan F+ I took over the weekend.

      Bridge Across a Dam

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