It has always been my dream to take photos, develop and print them myself. When I started photography during school, I had the opportunity to do it in the school lab, but never at home. Later, at university, I lost interest, and over twenty years later an unfortunate coincidence brought me back: a broken leg tied me to the sofa.
I had so much time on my hands that I bought a Zeiss IKON at an auction. I quickly switched to digital photography, but the desire to shoot on film was still there. Earlier this year I found a Voigtländer Bessa III 667 in a Dutch store. It was in pretty good condition and after some emails it became mine.
The pandemic has us firmly in its grip and I try my best to behave cautiously. Photo trips are currently not possible, so I decided to rediscover my immediate surroundings photographically. The neighborhood, the places you see every day, become commonplace, ordinary and lose their charm over time. This is exactly what attracted me to start my new project: “500 Meters Aways From Home“.
I decided to exclusively use the Voigtländer Bessa III with Fujifilm NEOPAN 100 ACROS (expired in 10/2019). The Voigtländer is an incredibly compact camera for medium format built from 2009 to 2014. Its f3.5/80mm lens can be folded in. This makes it not much bigger than a Polaroid SX 70 and it can easily be stowed in a coat pocket. Compared to its predecessors from the 1950s and 60s, it has a built-in light meter, which makes it an ideal street cam.
I decided to use B&W film to better reflect the depressed mood of the pandemic. The ACROS 100 is a very fine-grained film with a high contrast range and fine gray gradations. I expose it at only EI 64 ISO and develop it at home in SPUR HRX. The super-fine grain and wide tonality makes it ideal for scanning and large prints. The results are much better than those from any lab.
Most of the “500 Meters Aways From Home” photo trips I take during my lunch breaks. The slow photography with film and only a few shots (10) per roll let you discover completely new details of the closer surroundings, which were left out of the way in the hectic pre-pandemic period.
Despite all the terrible losses and deprivation in the past 12 months, I was able to discover something good – the love of decelerated analog photography is back.
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