Film photography at night

It’s been a long time since I took a night walk with a film camera. Usually when the light falls, the new digital cameras with their extraordinary ISO performance are the tool to choose for available light images, but since I am mostly a film shooter, I chose to get out with a fast lens and a film camera.

The Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5 was my choice of lens (and it’s a much better lens than the Nokton 50mm f1.1, smaller and lighter, razor sharp and exhibits no focus shift). The Leica M7 with its aperture priority feature makes me shoot faster, so I chose it over the M6. Finally, I had to choose between the Ilford Delta 3200 and the Kodak TRI-X 400. I chose the later since its my favorite street film, but in order to gain a couple of stops (necessary for night photography) I pushed it to 1600 ISO.

(panoramic crop)

Pushing the TRI-X will increase contrast a lot and will create very special looking images. I used the Ilfotec DD-X developer since its excellent for pushing films and I did a trick a fellow old photographer told me, develop it at warm water and then rinse with cold water. This procedure kinda shocks the film and it will produce very high contrast images with even more evident grain (the readers of this blog know that I love grain !!). So instead of the normal 14:00 minutes developing at 20C, I did a 7:21 minutes developing at 28C. Stop, fixing and rinse was done with cold water and I really like the results much more than shooting the Delta 3200 and developing it normally.



Focusing at night with a manual focus camera is not easy, but here rangefinders have a distinct advantage over reflex manual focus cameras. It’s far more easy for me to focus with a split idol. Furthermore, I used the Leica 1.4x magnifier which makes focusing even more comfortable. I highly recommend it for lenses of 50mm and above.

Shooting a film camera makes more focused on the subjects, since without an LCD screen to preview the image, you just shoot, rewind and shoot again. I may take fewer pictures (film costs money!) but most of them are keepers, and I consider overall my film images to be better than my digital images (in total).


That’s all for today, I am still waiting two rolls shot with the the Makina 67 to be developed, so probably tomorrow I will upload them.

(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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