On the very last shoot day of January 2019’s FP4 Party, I went with my family to the nearby city of Gaillac. Knowing Gaillac’s lantern festival was in full swing, I loaded up some FP4 PLUS into my negative carriers, packed up the large format gear, and threw it in the trunk next to the stroller.

Since the popularity of my earlier dungeon in a latte photo, I had intended to revisit the idea of images in hot beverages. Putting Chinese festival lanterns in Chinese special gunpowder tea felt appropriate, if not entirely derivative.

When we arrived at the festival, it was raining, it was cold, and we were wrangling both a three-year-old and a 6-month-old. Also, I realized I had forgotten my loupe for focusing. So, all things considered, it wasn’t ideal for shooting. (Also, taking off your jacket in the rain to use as a dark cloth solicits stares.) Fortunately, I was shooting at f/22 (affording me some focusing forgiveness), and my wife was willing to distract the kids long enough for me to photograph two different subjects — a dragon and a rather sad monkey.

For each subject, I took two shots — one on each side of the negative carrier — for a total of four negatives. When I returned home I made some tea.

So, here are those four shots: Special Gunpowder: Dragon & The Sad Monkey (and their b-sides). For those wondering, each a separate double exposure shot in-camera, using splitting masks over the lens.

The film is ILFORD FP4 PLUS in 4×5 shot at EI 500 (my favorite speed for the film). And, despite the inaccuracy of other analogies between analog audio and film photography, these are indeed “B-sides” as they come from the other side of the same negative carrier.

Don’t @ me 😉

~ David

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About the author

David Allen

Tried to use photography to replace mathematics. Was paid for mathematics.


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  1. You’re welcome! I typically use TETENAL Ultrafin T-Plus at 17 minutes with 3 inversions every 30 seconds. I don’t lose any shadow detail until about EI 800 with this combo. It’s a great film for pushing. I prefer it at 500 to HP5 at 400 for sure.