Shooting in the Dark!

I love finding the areas of any city that come alive at night and capturing monochrome images with a handheld medium format camera. Rangefinders are probably the ideal tool for this sort of application. They’re easy to carry and easy to focus in low light. The trick is finding a well lit area and then shooting with the lens wide open at some challenging shutter speed such as 1/30s. Tonight I changed things up a bit. I took the GF670 and loaded it with Ilford Delta 3200 Professional. And yes, the number is indicative of this film’s sensitivity; ISO 3200. To be honest, when I bought the film a few days ago I wasn’t even sure if any of my cameras have an ISO 3200 setting. Of course I checked when I got home and discovered that all of them do except the New Mamiya 6 which only goes up to ISO 1600. But that really isn’t a problem since I could just compensate (either in my head or with the EV comp dial).

So on the way home from work I swung by my favorite camera store in the whole world, Fujiya Camera and hung out for a while. By the time I was done it was about 6PM, which at this time of the year in Tokyo is pretty dark. The area around Fujiya consists of lots of little alleyways that are lined with bars, restaurants and the like. They all have pretty bright lights so it makes for great photo-ops. The obvious, and yet somewhat amazing thing was that I didn’t have to shoot with the lens wide open; not even close. I took every frame at f/8 or smaller, even selecting f/16 for one or two. My shutter speeds were mostly 1/60s with one or two at 1/30s.

You can see the results for yourself. Overall I get the feeling that the meter on the GF670 is slightly fooled by the bright lights, leading to an overall underexposure. But it sort of plays into the night-time mood so I guess I can’t complain. I developed this film in SPD stock for 10 minutes and probably could have let it go another minute or so. After scanning I tweaked them a bit for increased contrast but didn’t succumb to the temptation to use NR since the grain is half the fun with an emulsion like this.

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