I was born in Charleroi, Belgium. This city had a long and successful past of coal mining and is therefore scattered with coal heaps. It was also one of the most active cities in Belgium related to the metal industry. If the black heaps of my childhood have become greener over the years, most of the factories are now closed, demolished or being demolished. Charleroi suffered greatly of its industries shut down and declined for several years. Fortunately, a new force has driven the city for the last decade and it seems to me it is now making the most out of its past.

If anyone happens to be interested in Charleroi, I can only recommend acquiring a great photobook by Stephan Vanfleteren named “Charleroi, il est clair que le gris est noir”. It is in French or Dutch but I can provide my approximate translation of the text. As I appreciate the industrial architecture and the complex tangle of pipes but also because buildings that are part of the landscape and my childhood might disappear, Charleroi was an obvious choice for this test.

I have always liked the image ratio given by the Hasselblad XPan. I am very much less fond of its price. So when I saw that you could 3D print adapters to fit 35mm film into a 120 magazine/film back, I did not think twice, my Bronica GS-1 and Zenzanon PG 100mm f/3.5 would be perfect for panoramic pictures. The little pieces of plastic in hands, I put some Kodak Tri-X 400 in a 220 6×7 back and jumped in my car. Composing was easy as I added a black paper mask below the focusing screen. I have to say, I am very pleased with the results and will definitely reiterate the experiment.

I developed the film at home, classically, with HC-110 (E), 8 minutes at 20°C; 1st minute with agitation then 10 first seconds every minute. The negatives were scanned with an Epson V600 and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

For those wondering, I found the adapter design here. Thanks for reading.

~ Pierre

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Received the book today, fantastic one! Just have finished the first leafing through. You are right, a very dark and gritty depiction of Charleroi. Everything looks so honest to me, especially the many street portraits. I also like the motion-blurred industrial cityscapes – will keep that in mind as an inspiration for the winter season. Thanks again for the recommendation!

  2. Thanks for sharing these industrial pics. Billy Joel’s song “Allentown” comes to mind when viewing the last pic.
    Continued good shooting and working in the darkroom!
    -Dan
    flickr.com/photos/dcastelli9574/

    • I did not know the song, so thank you 🙂 Sadly, I guess many cities have the same story but the good thing here is it is moving on!

  3. Love your images – industrial architecture is such a great topic. Should do more panoramic work myself… By the way: I ordered the book you recommended within the five minutes after I had read your article.

    • Thank you! 🙂 Yes, panoramic is an interesting ratio and with these 3D printed adapters, really easy and affordable. Great! I hope you will like it as much as I did. They are several books about Charleroi but this one is my favourite. It is depicting Charleroi quite darker than the others and the reality but still love it. Please, keep me updated once you got it 🙂

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