On a hot summer day in 2018, I made my way to the area around City Hall in Buffalo, New York, USA. This is one of my favorite places to shoot film, particularly for architectural images. The City Hall is a rather famous building, with its 32 stories of imposing granite, statues, and art deco style. For years after it was built, in 1931, it was one of the largest municipal buildings in the USA.

The walking area around City Hall is filled with photographic treasures including a historic fire station, a massive fountain and obelisk, and other 1930’s era architectural wonders. On this particular day, I had the pleasure of using my brother’s Bessa R4M, Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 lens and a roll of JCH Street Pan 400.

How did it go? Well, I shot the entire roll of 36 images in a walk of about 20 minutes, while my wife waited impatiently in the auto, after I had spent the prior hour enduring a shopping mall. Because of what only could be operator error, caused by rushing, I often could not see the LED indicator lights in the viewing window of the Bessa and guessed wrongly about many of the exposures. As expected, what came back from the lab appeared to be severely under-exposed images. But there is a happy ending!

With some serious tweaks in Lightroom, beautiful dark high-contrast cityscape images emerged. This film amazes me for its ability to be manipulated in post, and so it was both a fun day of photography and an excellent outcome. I now have ordered another ten rolls and will be happily shooting them soon.

~ Karl

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