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Photography is a learning experience, but learning experiences are less fun than they’re made out to be.

I was at the Met over Thanksgiving (also mentioned here, although the image is from an entirely different Eastern Seaboard city) and made what I thought was a terrible mistake. I had my Ricoh with me, which is an all manual 35mm camera. I had just received some Kodak Plus-X film in the mail, and had brought a mix of that and Agfa APX400, my go-to black and white film at the time. The Plus-X, at ISO 125, would be perfect for sunny outdoor work, while the 400 ISO APX400 would be great in the museum. I originally loaded up a roll of the Plus-X anticipating a walk to the museum, but when we parked underneath, I pulled it back out and loaded a roll of APX400, its higher speed better matched to the presumably dark indoor lighting. As I worked my way through the musem, I was glad I had switched to the APX, because I was barely able to get shots at 1/30 f/2 in most situations, which is barely handholdable and has a very shallow depth of field. At about exposure nineteen on a roll of twenty-four, I had a startling realiztation: I had left the camera set to 125. I had shot nearly an entire roll of APX400 at Plus-X speed, overexposing the film by one and two-thirds stops (this also explained why the film had seemed so slow in realtively good light). There was nothing I could do but finish the roll at 125 and see if I could salvage it later.

I figured the roll was ruined (if you shoot digital, try setting your exposure compensation to +1 2/3 and see what happens to your images), but a little research revealed that many APX400 users shoot at ISO 200 under normal conditions. I let the film sit until last night, and then, in a flurry of photographic productivity, I developed it. Though many of the images themselves are unimpressive (and many are blurred from the slow shutter speeds I was forced to use), the smoothness of the tones and the  shadow detail are amazing. From now on, I will be shooting my APX400 at ISO 200 except when I need the speed of 400 or 800.

Agfa APX400 accidentally pulled to 125, Clayton F76+ 1+19, Ricoh KR-5 Super II as film holder and light meter.

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1 Comment

Filed under Black and White, Film, Portrait, Self-Developed

One response to “

  1. chloé

    i hate scammers, i’m very wise to them though. i agree it’s hard to sell something second hand on ebay when you know it could fetch a lot more than what bidders are willing to pay
    i decided to keep my nikon coolpix off ebay probably until tax return time here, but then i might just keep it too (lol) i’m undecided

    this photograph almost makes the head look alive, interesting concept

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