Recently, I had to go undergo some surgery which resulted in me taking a forced hiatus from photography and from posting on my own little blog, The Daily Lumenbox. As a reader of 35mmc you can probably understand that this inability to take photos was more than a little bit anxiety inducing.
In my anxiety addled state, I wondered if I would ever even be able to photograph again, would the photographs be any good, or would they all be utter crap?
Clearly I needed some photographic therapy; some comfort food, some photography that would boost my sense of confidence and give me a result that I could take delight in looking at.
The combination of photographic tools that drew me back into taking pictures after brief forays into it as a teenager and in college was the combination of Film Washi S and my Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm. When I developed my first roll with this combination, I was astounded; the perspective, the contrast, the clarity, were all revelations to me, it pushed and encouraged me to continue my photographic explorations.
Clearly, this was the combination of tools for my first wobbly post surgical attempt at photography!
Film Washi S is repurposed sound recording film, it’s quite high contrast and doesn’t have a great deal of exposure latitude (it really doesn’t like to be underexposed, at least in my hands), but sometimes it has a magical crispness to it that I’ve never seen in any other film. The negatives are absolutely beautiful to look at! It’s not a one trick pony though, despite it’s high contrast nature it, it can capture quite a range of subtle grays and textures. Another plus for me, is that it doesn’t seem to be very blue sensitive, so that unless you aim it directly into the sun, skies often come out quite dark without a filter, a property of this film that I really enjoy. Can you tell that I love this film? With a box speed of ISO 50, I can’t claim that this is an everyday general purpose film, but when it works, it works!
What to say about the Voigtlander Super-Wide 15mm screw mount lens? It’s what really drew me back into photography after dabbling in it many years ago. There is something about the sense of drama and grandeur that it brings to even the most mundane of shots that I find irresistible. It’s also incredibly sharp and forgiving of focus with its incredible depth of field. It’s not rangefinder coupled, so I just set the appropriate hyper focal distance for the aperture I’m using and use it as almost a point and shoot lens. The Voigtlander (actually manufactured by Cosina) is also very compact. The only real draw back for me, is that it doesn’t easily accommodate filters, but I can live with that.
These were all shot with one of my favorite cameras ever, my old Canon IVSb2. What a work of art! I’ve never used a Leica and may never have the opportunity to, but I imagine shooting with a Leica is not too dissimilar to using my Canon. It’s a beautifully crafted little camera that just exudes quality and precision, and then there’s that satisfying little “snick” when the shutter fires. Shooting the Canon is pure joy for me and shooting this combo, was essentially a therapeutic move that worked well. It cheered me up, and the photos are perfectly passable, at least for my lowish standards.
These were all developed at box speed in Cinestill Df96 monobath, a developer that I’ve had consistently good results with on Washi films.
A version of this article was originally published on my little blog The Daily Lumenbox. Thanks for reading!