Beeronol: Developing Ilford FP4 film in beer

I’m experimenting with different ways of developing film, e.g. stand development. This weekend I developed black and white film using beer. The mix I used was from Peta Pixel and is called beeronol.

The ingredients for the beeronol I made are:

  • 50cl of Guinness stout,
  • 12g of Vitamin C crushed into powder, and
  • 50g of washing soda (I baked baking soda at 400F for one hour to turn it into washing soda).

Develop the film in this soup at 86F for 15 minutes. Agitate for the first 30 seconds and 5 seconds every minute until done. Stop & fix as you’d normally do.

I found the results to be interesting. The beer turned the grain in Ilford FP4+ ISO 125 into irregular shapes, and the grain was larger. Some frames became foggy. Many frames displayed some sort of bromide drag. Some frames were flat and others super contrasty.

In the example below you can see 8 bands of bromide drag.

8 bands of bromide drag (Leica M-A, Summicron 50mm, f/16, 1/125, Ilford FP4+ ISO 125)

Here’s an example of fogging with bromide drag, too.

Fogging and bromide drag

Here’s an example that came out okay. If you zoom in, the grains are highly irregular, large and spotty. I suspect this might have something to do with the beer bubbles. There’s bromide drag in the bottom left.

Some bromide drag, irregular and big grains

Beeronol is expensive to make. 2 bottles of Guinness Stout (25cl) is already $4 versus sixteen cents ($0.16) per teaspoon of Rodinal per roll of film. If I wanted to make a photo look like it was from long ago, the irregularities with bromide drag, fog, and graininess make this a good choice.

A List of Thoughts and Feelings that Cannot Be Expressed on Twitter

What are the limits of expressing thoughts in Twitter?

Here’s a powerful but inefficient (when run) thought that can be expressed on Twitter, a quick sort in Erlang in 126 characters.

qsort([]) -> [];
qsort([Pivot|T]) ->
   qsort([X || X <- T, X < Pivot])
   ++ [Pivot] ++
   qsort([X || X <- T, X >= Pivot]).

Also strcmp implemented in C can be tweeted:

int bstrcmp(char *s1,char *s2) { while(*s1 == *s2++) {if(*s1++ == 0){return 0;} } 
return (*(unsigned char *)s1 - *(unsigned char*)--s2);}

A lot of Perl one-liners can fit into a tweet – powerful and useful ones.

You can also propose the concept of a hash tag in a tweet:

hashtag proposal

However, there are many thoughts that seem to be difficult to fit into a tweet:

The Pythagorean Theorem and one of its many proofs
Anselm’s Ontological Proof for God’s Existence
Merge Sort in Ruby
Merge Sort in PHP
Why you should or shouldn’t outsource
What qualities make a great tech hire
The logical fallacy in another person’s tweet
How to subtly tell someone something in an indirect way with the only others knowing being those in the know

Twitter encourages the laconic expression of thought.

Stand Developing Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal 1:100

I stand developed Ilford FP4+ ISO 125 in 500ml of 68F, 1:100 Rodinal for an hour. I was expecting a very fine grain, and high amount of accutance but was slightly disappointed. The highlighting and gradient effect you expect from stand development still blew me away. In the highlights the grain was fine, but the midtones and shadow areas gave medium grain that one would find in pushed film. With all this said, when looking at a magnifier, these were the sharpest negatives I had ever seen. The quirkiness of the results will make me think twice before using it as a film for landscapes, but the detail I got from the close up shots with bokeh make me see the potential for portraits.

Unfortunately, the low-end Epson V600 scanner I had wasn’t able to capture the subtleties in highlights that I could see in the negative. I’m pretty sure that as a print the highlights will be there, and if not, a little dodging should fix that.

Here’s a photo shot with Ilford HP5+ 400 pushed to ISO 1600 stand developed in 500ml of 68F, 1:100 Rodinal for 2 hours. This shot is exceedingly sharp thanks to the lens, and stand development process. However, the grain prevails everywhere. Some like this; others don’t. I am a fan of grain, but also understand the need for fine or undetectable grain for portraits.

Leica M-A, 50mm Summicron, f/2, 1/500, Ilford HP5+ ISO 1600

Here’s a photo shot with Ilford FP4+ ISO 125 in 500ml of 68F, 1:100 Rodinal stand developed for an hour. You can see the fine detail and sharpness, but the bokeh area has a bit of grain.

Leica M-A, 50mm Summicron, f/2, 1/500, Ilford FP4+ ISO 125

If you compare the first two photos carefully, you can see that the Ilford FP4+ definitely has the finer grain, but not as fine as one would expect. I know I’m not comparing apples and oranges, but Portra 160 when well or slightly over-exposed exhibits no detectable grain.

Here’s another photo shot with Ilford FP4+ ISO 125 in 500ml of 68F, 1:100 Rodinal stand developed for an hour. This is a photo of a very popular spot for photographers, Sutro Baths in San Francisco. There were at least 2 couple photography sessions happening while I was here.

Leica M-A, 50mm Summicron, f/16, 1/125, Ilford FP4+ ISO 125

So I’m really not sold on Ilford FP4+ for landscapes, but close ups and portraiture would seem to be its strength. I was surprised by the amount of grain, too. I am not sure I would buy this film again.

A Review of Blade Runner 2049

I’ve seen Sicario and Arrival, and both had far more emotional resonance than Blade Runner, and Blade Runner 2049. In Sicario, I felt the loss of innocence of Agent Kate Macer played by Emily Blunt. In Arrival, I mourned for Louise Banks’ daughter which set the emotional tone for the rest of the film. These are both masterful films by Denis Villeneuve who is the director for Blade Runner 2049.

Neither Blade Runner had that emotional resonance. I thought Roy Batty’s poetic language before dying was beautiful. Gaff’s line, “Too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?” still sticks with me for its sang froid. I thought the “love” scene between Rachel and Deckard which teetered between rejection, and near rape, made me feel very uncomfortable. Yet, where was the emotional core?

The sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, is even worse at evoking an emotional response. Like a reverse Voigt-Kampf test, if this movie left you feeling nothing, then you’re probably human. Yet, I can’t dismiss it. There are certain visuals that haunt me. There’s a scene where Officer K (Ryan Gosling) arrives at a dystopic orphanage, that looks more like a junk yard, where a sea of charges are made to take apart green computer boards. This harkened back to a visual that might more be seen in Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

I could not find fault with the world-building which extends Ridley Scott’s original vision, and at the same time has a Villeneuve and Cuaron feel to it. The visuals delighted. The world is headed to the ecological breaking point: sea walls to protect the city because the glaciers have melted.

The San Pedro Sea Wall in Blade Runner 2049

The philosophical questions raised by this Blade Runner sequel are the same as the last one (can an android be human?) except with the addition of the idea of a skin job revolution derivative of Battle Star Galactica (RDM).

It just gets worse and worse, both in Hollywood, and in dystopias, so maybe the replicants should take over.

A Review of the Argus C3

The cheapest range finder that I could find on eBay was this Argus C3. I saw it used as a prop in the movie, Carol, and saw that World War II photos were taken with it by infantryman, Tony Vaccaro.

The Argus C3, a 4 to 8 step shooter

You can get this range finder right now on eBay for between $14.95 and $40.00. I got to spend a day shooting this wonderful piece of machinery lovingly named, “The Brick.”

Before I could shoot it, I had to adjust the focusing which was off. Youtube has a plethora of videos to help you with this and adjusting framelines if needed. Once the focus was adjusted, I loaded the camera with JCH Streetpan.

I made my way to the N-Judah Stop.

Argus C3, 50mm, f/16, 1/300, JCH StreetPan ISO 400

The shutter speeds for this camera are 1/300, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25 and 1/10. The f-stops for the 50mm lens it comes with are f3.5, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, and f16. The camera comes with what I discovered to be a single zone focus setting: f16 set at 15 feet will put everything from 8 feet to infinity in focus. This zone focus setting is indicated by a red and yellow arrow.

To take a photo requires the following steps:

  1. set the f-stop
  2. set the shutter speed
  3. compose the shot in one window
  4. in the window next to that, focus the frame lines
  5. cock the shutter
  6. take the shot
  7. press the film advance release button, and then
  8. wind to the next frame.

That’s over 8 steps! 4 steps if you’re zone focused and already cocked.

The Leica M film cameras, by comparison, combine with composition and frame line window into one, and doesn’t require shutter cocking. Leicas require 4 steps, or 2 steps if zone focused. I found that most of the action already got away from me, but with practice, it would be possible to take street photos where you have to be quick. Unfortunately, you can’t shoot like Winogrand with this camera where you can shoot 1 to 2 shots a second and let a scene unfold in front of you. If you’re quick, you can maybe do a shot every 5 seconds.

I found the 50mm lens to be very soft past the center area, but such an effect would be great for portraits!

Duboce Park, Argus C3, 50mm f/16, 1/300, JCH Streetpan ISO 400

Like the Leica M-A which I reviewed earlier, this had a time machine effect. I found myself thinking of an earlier time more often than not.

Outer Sunset, Argus C3, 50mm f/16, 1/300, JCH Streetpan ISO 400

When I developed my roll of film, I realized that because of how it loads film on the right side, all the horizontal images were upside down. This doesn’t happen with left side loaded cameras.

Overall: This is the best value range finder that you’ll ever find. Spend 30 or 50 bucks more for a Pentax K1000 or Canon AE-1 to get an SLR with an optically superior 50mm and a light meter.

Pros:
Cheap
Solid, all metal construction
Made in America
Great for beginners
Beautiful, retro design

Cons:
Most of the items sold an eBay are 60 or more years old. They might all require a CLA.
The 50mm “kit lens” is very soft past the center
Too many steps to take a shot
No light meter

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