Mist is a somewhat rare occurrence in Athens, Greece, and I’ve always envied photographers that live in places where they can shoot black n’ white film in the mist every other day. So one Sunday morning when I looked out the window and saw we had a misty morning I knew I had to hurry. I love shooting with my Bronica SQ-B and the 80mm f/2.8 Zenzanon PS lens, so I grabbed the camera and a roll of Ilford HP5 plus and headed straight in the woods. The forest in the photos is located in Parnitha mountain, “Mont Parnes” as it also known due to casino located at the top, overseeing Athens.
Shooting with the Bronica is unique kind of experience. Looking through the waist level finder, your frame feels so much more alive, bright and 3D, popping the magnifier glass to help you with focus feels like watching old cinema. Everything slows down when operating this camera, you first have to remove the dark slide and manual focus and framing takes more time, as you only have 12 frames per roll available, making each shot super precious. The sounds this camera makes when operated is another pleasure to be experienced, the Seiko leaf shutter of the Zenzanon PS lens can barely be heard, because of the unapologetic big fat slap of the mirror, that thing definitely turns heads! The gears of the manual hand crank are equally loud and satisfying.
The 80mm lens on medium format is equivalent to a 50mm lens on 35mm cameras and although sometimes I wish for a wider lens, the truth is that with that focal length you can do pretty much everything and if you are deciding now to jump into the medium format wagon you should definitely start with an 80mm lens.
I used to hate HP5, it was the first film I used on 35mm format and the amount of grain was overwhelming, most probably the problem was my developing and not the film itself but nevertheless I stopped using it in 35mm format. Medium format HP5 is another story, grain is significantly less obvious and the ability to push the film easily up to iso 1600 or 3200 makes it very versatile and especially great for handheld medium format photography. I decided that one stop push, from iso 400 to 800 would be enough for the lighting conditions.
For developing I used Rodinal at 1+50 concentration, 1+25 concentration is too strong and can lead to stronger grain and higher contrast, generally I prefer longer developing times as they seem to produce better results, at least to my taste. I’ve also experimented with other developers like Ilfosol 3 and Ilfotec DD-X but Rodinal is cheaper and most importantly it doesn’t go bad after a few months like most other developers. After developing the film I scanned it with an Epson v600 flatbed scanner. I couldn’t be happier for the results out of just one roll of 120 film.
You can find more of my photographs at my Instagram page, I’d love to get some feedback!