Living in Utopia

On a recent rip into London I took a group of photographers round the Barbican. Not wanting to use the tube in these times of restrictions we limited ourselves to using the over ground train into Liverpool Street and walk from there.

From the Barbican we walked down to the Thames at St Paul’s Cathedral. My main area of interest for the day though was the Barbican area. I was intending taking just a film camera with me on this trip as I thought the Barbican with it’s grey drab concrete construction would prove ideal for black and white film.

As early as the late 1940s architects and town planners were looking at how people could live in high rise blocks and moved around the city on high level walkways. The idea wasn’t that they were so much concerned about pedestrians but more to do with keeping traffic flowing uninterrupted through the cities of tomorrow. As is often the case though that didn’t accord with human nature as people were more fond of following roads rather than being remote above where everything is happening,

The outcome of this is that London has some areas of remote and unlinked walkways. One area of extensive walkways though is the Barbican estate.

The gear used for this day was my trusty Olympus OM2n and 50mm f1.4 lens. I used a couple of rolls of Ilford HP5+ and developed it in Ilford ID11 diluted 1+3 for 20 minutes @20 degC.

Scanning of film was done using Plustek Opticfilm 8100 scanner and Silverfast software.

Ilford HP5+ @ 3200asa

Back in January of this year I had started a project to photograph my local town at night using film and hand held. It was a good opportunity to see how I could push the speed of Ilford HP5+ to 3200asa. During the lockdown period I had chance to process the film along with another one shot at the same speed.

Fortunately, I started on this project before the restaurants started closing so managed to get some lit windows with customers sitting inside.

Searching some online sites and the Massive Dev Chart I decided on trying to get max asa out of Ilford HP5+ which is normally rated at 400asa. I wasn’t sure exactly how far you can push this film but I’d pushed it in my earlier days of film work when it was still HP5 with out the +and then I’d taken it to 1600asa.

The problem is that with extended development times the grain of the film can be excessive. I decided though that I’d take some night time shots around the town and hopefully the grain will just add to the atmosphere so I pushed it to 3200asa.

The cameras I used was a Voigtlander Vito C and I used a Weston Master V light meter to determine exposures.

Voigtlander Vito C.

I had some stock solution of Ilford ID11 developer so used that. I couldn’t find a timing for this on the Massive Dev Chart so compared the figures stated for 800 and 1600asa and added on some more time to allow for the 1 stop increased in speed. The final figure that I settled on was 18 minutes using stock solution.

I was pleased with the contrast look and the grain I thought looked almost like a murky mist overhanging the scenes. The contrast was aided by the fact that with some of the shots it had been raining.

I’ll be trying this again with one of my 35mm SLR and a better lens.