A Sunday Afternoon

A few weeks ago we took our friends from Australia, who are currently living in Berlin, out to the Soviet monument in Treptower Park. It’s a pretty incredible place, and I love coming here. Not a lot of tourists come here, and there’s usually not much going on.

I also love bringing the Polaroid 110B camera here. It’s oddly fitting given the history of this place.

A Sunday Afternoon

A Sunday Afternoon

A Sunday Afternoon

It’s a place to contemplate the horror that was the World War II, as about 5000 Russian soldiers are buried here. It has an aura about it that’s hard to explain.

A Sunday Afternoon

A Sunday Afternoon

A Sunday Afternoon

The weather on this Sunday was awesome. I miss those days.

A Sunday Afternoon

A Walk

A walk

A walk

A walk

A walk

A walk

A walk

A walk

In the process of building up a new business, a lot of time I get either stuck, something drags me down, or I just need to clear my head and take some time to mull certain things over. That’s when I reach for a camera and go for a walk. It does wonders, every time. No computers, no phone, just the camera, Berlin, and me.

My current favorite is the Polaroid 110B and some gorgeous (although pretty expired) 664 black and white film.

Great soundtrack for a walk: Pantera and Bad Religion

Lunch Break at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport

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As I’m working from home now most of the time, I’ve made it my new personal regiment to head out on a bike ride for lunch instead of eating. Served me well that it’s been very summer-y all week long so far.

Just the other day, on my first 20km round through Berlin, I passed the old inner city airport Tempelhof, one of Hitler’s finest, if you will. As I was already running late I postponed a visit for another day, and that day turned out to be today.

The airport was closed down some two years ago, and has since been turned into a public park of epic proportions. Airstrips, runways and all roads on the field are available to the general public. Riding around that area on a bike is incredible. Amidst all the talk to turn it into a commercial ground, I’m now glad it turned out the way it did, and that the city is committed to investing more in it.

Obviously I couldn’t pass the chance to bring a camera, so Polaroid 355 loaded with expired Polaroid 664 film it was. If you’re in Berlin and feel like being out and about for a bit, Tempelhof is pretty great. Of course you should be on the lookout for a tour through the buildings, which are actually the masterpieces of this airport.

Fuji Neopan 1600

a neopan winter

While shooting a conference last November, I had my first contact with Fuji Neopan 1600, a high-speed black and white film. I decided to use it simply because I was shooting indoors most of the time, so both the high speed and the fact that it’s black and white were a good indication that it was a match.

a neopan winter

I was pretty surprised by how nice the shots came out. The high speed obviously increases the grain in the shots quite noticeably, but it’s not too bad. The film’s contrast is hard to grasp in one sentence. As it’s quite sensitive to light it’s easy to blow out overly bright areas, so having harsh contrast in the scene might result in the brighter areas of your photo being overexposed, losing contrast and detail. That’s true for overexposing the shots in general, so be careful with light metering. The grain is not even annoying (at least not for me) when the shots are underexposed. In black and white film that somehow adds character. With color, it’s just annoying.

a neopan winter

But that’s what you get for shooting film at such high speeds. It makes up for it though, because especially in grey-ish winter as we had it for the last couple of weeks, it’s pretty much the only choice you have. Even in reality things look dull, not having lots of different colors, so why bother? Might as well shoot black and white at higher speeds.

a neopan winter

There’s one area where the grain is a bit annoying though. If you like having a spectacularly thin depth of field in your shots, I wouldn’t recommend using this film. The grain takes away most of the softness you usually expect, making the blur effect look a bit weird. But I found that to be more annoying when things in the foreground are out of focus. Which is not something I enjoy in general.

a neopan winter

In general I really like this film. It’s really great for shooting indoors or for those dull days when the sun just won’t come out at least a little bit. Fits in perfectly with the atmosphere of grey autumn and winter. It’s a tad cheaper than Ilford Delta 3200, so if you can get your hand on a roll, go for it! The only downside I found was that the film only exists in 35mm format, and not in 120. Shame really. All of these shots were taken with a Nikon F90X either with a 50mm/f1.8 or 28mm/f2.8 lens.

Put Some Black & White Film in Your Holga

The standard recommendation for the seems to be to stuff some good 400 speed color negative film in it. While that’s all good and fun, looking back I’m still wondering why that Lomography Holga package I got for Christmas came with a roll of 100 speed Fuji Reala.

Anyway, it’s all autumn and almost winter over here, and color film doesn’t really capture anything nice, because let’s face it, there’s not much color out there at the moment. Unless you’re living in Australia of course. Black & white film to the rescue!

World Toy Camera Day

I wasn’t really much of a fan of black & white film when I started shooting film. Not because I’m a big fan of popping lomographic colors, I just happened to shoot a lot when the sun was out.

Obviously at some point you want to shoot when it’s all grey outside as well, and the simple solution is to just shoot black & white film. While my wife still doesn’t really like it, I’ve grown quite fond of it over the course of this year. It’s a lot more flexible when it comes to over- and underexposure, and you can push and pull as much as you like. Of course it’s also easy to develop yourself, but I’m not quite there yet.

World Toy Camera Day

You’ll be surprised how many different types of black & white film there are, I know I was. There’s Fuji’s Neopan, Kodak TMAX, Tri-X, ADOX, Efke, Fomapan, Rollei Retro, Agfa APX, Ilford, and many more. Oh wait, and there’s infrared film!

Black & white film and the Holga are an amazingly great match. The vignette and the plastic lens’ dreaminess add something magical to the bleakness of autumn and winter. A stark landscape or urban life can become interesting again when they’re reduced solely to black, white and the grey contrasts in between.

World Toy Camera Day

Of course, if just shooting black & white isn’t enough for you, throw in some filters with e.g. the Cokin filter hack for the Holga. I have a set waiting, including an infrared filter. If only I could bring myself to finally try it out.

If you want to shoot on a rainy day, black & white film is just for you. I recently loaded some Neopan 1600 in my Nikon and loved it. Shame it’s not available in 120 format, but hey, you can just get a Neopan 400 and push it to 1600. Grainy awesomeness. Ilford 3200 is also worth trying, although my lab’s development price for it was inexplicably high. I’ll shoot it again when I have the facilities to develop it myself.

World Toy Camera Day

Even though the label says black & white, every film is slightly different. Some have more intense contrast, some will have a bit more washed-out blacks, others have an insanely good grain, while some are just about giving you as much detail as possible. There’s 25 speed films from ADOX, and cheap film like Efke and Fomapan (still good films I’ll have you know).

Go ahead, buy some and shoot it. You need to look a bit more for contrast instead of color, but it’s totally worth it. After all, film photography is a lot about experimenting with the different films, at least for me.

World Toy Camera Day

All of the shots were taken on World Toy Camera Day, when it was rather grey and a bit rainy outside. The film totally made up for that.