Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Underexposed, Overdeveloped

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Ugh, a lot of things went quite wrong in the past weeks. Our washing machine broke [I can’t decide whether it’s cool or just sad that I can link to an appropriate post when mentioning our washing machine] which probably was fair enough as we got it used for a double digit amount two years ago. Somehow the motor seems to be broken – which in turn we now guess was the reason why the damn thing made the wall socket in the washing machine room melt twice in the previous weeks (hm, what about fuses?). So it wasn’t worth repairing and we got a cheap and probably not so great new one. That said, it does wash clothes… and we’re not aiming for any additional artistic merit there.

Then, my bike was trashed by some highly civilised passer-bys, the repair of which cost almost as much as the new washing machine. And today our electricity bill for the past year came, stating that we need to cough up quite a bit of extra money. So things aren’t exactly brilliant.

On the less costly side of things not going perfectly, there’s photography. Despite trying to stuff the camera into my rucksack whenever possible, I never take that many photos. In particular, most places and situations I am in are either sufficiently photographed already or just very dull. One additional problem is that photos of objects can be, well, quite boring and I so far I’ve only bothered to actually make prints of very few of those. So I mostly try to take photos of people which in turn means I’ll have to ask them, which usually means I’ll have to know them, which in the next step means that people usually decline my kind offer as I’ve already bothered them with my photo ideas too much.

So things are going slowly and taking those photos ends up being as much of an effort as manually developing them and making prints. One nice project I came up with recently is a fun-and-silly one. I am mostly using the early 1980s Canon T-70 to take photos. And my friend Jan-Philipp got himself the shiny Nikon D-70 last year. So I suggested we should try to do a T-70 vs. D-70 shootout. Well, not necessarily with the aim to diss the other camera but more to see whether a few decades and technological revolutions can be seen in the photos afterwards.

It’s not that we’re having a consistent plan or that we take exactly the same photos, it’s just this odd idea of taking photos together in the same location and seeing what happens. It feels like making this more formal and setting up rules restricting the lenses you can use (which’d probably be a disadvantage for me as I have quite a nice range of lenses that my dad bought back in the days) or restricting the number of photos that can be taken (which’d probably be a disadvantage for Jan-Philipp as it’d spoil one of the big benefits of a digital camera) would just spoil the fun of the whole idea.

In the process of that we went for a little photo excursion last weekend. We took some photos at the railway – where I gave my nice 500mm tele lens a good run. And where I was surprised how well it worked despite just being f8. A sunny day with loads of snow around gives a lot of light. Later we went on to the Gauß-tower a bit outside of town. That’s just a ridiculous building. Nothing of the historical site you’d expect when hearing the name but rather a plainly ugly concrete monstrosity built in the 1960 which replaced the orignal building from the beginning of the twentieth century.

While it is ugly, you can go in there and have some cake and coffee in there. Actually you can also have a Schlachtplatte as the elderly couple on the other side of our table did. They were quite nice and we chatted with them a bit. That’s at the lower level and after the meal we actually went all the way up which gives a rather good view of the region.

I must admit that with all the snow on it that region currently looks mainly white rather than being particularly interesting or a source for good photos. After finishing my film and putting in a new one I made a horrible discovery – remember how we got here? bad stuff happening… – the film I was using was ISO 100 while the camera was set to ISO 400 (no automatic setting in those old cameras). Bum!

But – and this probably is an advantage of developing films yourself – I had read that you can ‘push process’ the film in this situation. Which esentially means that you’ll overdevelop the film which has been underexposed before. This won’t give ideal photos (perhaps it’s a bit like increasing the brightness on a digital photo that is too dark and then increasing the contrast as well to get proper dark tones?). So rather than throwing the film away, I decided to give that a try.

I’ve only seen the negatives so far which are still drying in the bathroom but this was definitely worth it. People can be recognised on the negatives, so there is hope… The only real disadvantage about this was the time needed. The instructions I had suggested using 4/3 the usual development time for each stop of underexposure you want to rectify. So I ended up having to develop almost twice the time as usual. And that with a film which usually needs uncommonly long 13 minutes to be developed to begin with. I may have pointed out that developing film is essentially very boring. And having to do it for two or three times the usual duration is even more so.

After that problematic film, I developed the other (actual ISO 400) film I had shot before the tricky one. And I ended up having severe difficulties working with it. It seemed to be quite sticky and was hard to get into the little development spiral properly. Even after developing it remains sticky. It looks OK though. What’s a good way to handle this?

negatives hanging in the bathroom for drying. Enjoy some railroad and snowboarding photos on there

And did I mention that my bed seems to start breaking as well?

March 16, 2006, 0:16

Tagged as bw.


Comment by Carl: User icon

I do that with my digital photos. My camera tends to make the exposure time too long and blur if I don’t set it to underexpose. Then I go back in iPhoto and up the exposure, saturation, sharpness, etc. as needed. The effect is quite nice. See any of the later photos in my gallery.

March 18, 2006, 3:46

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