Last weekend, my daughter Harper & I decided to take a walk and do a little portrait session. I asked her “What should we shoot with? Instax, digital, or b&w film?” “B&w film! B&w film!” B&w film, it was!
Harper chose her own outfit, which was apparently inspired by Disney’s Mal, Maleficent the dark fairy’s daughter. Harper also chose, what I think, are somewhat offensively colored pink pants. But that’s one of the beauties of shooting in black and white, you can ignore your subjects’ strange tastes in clothes! Harper has numerous plastic tiaras but for today’s shoot, she chose her nicest metal one.
Not wanting to be outdone, I also chose my nicest all metal camera for our shoot, my trusty black chrome Leica M6 TTL. I wanted a sharp but whimsical look so even though we were doing portraits, I skipped on the beautiful but somewhat clinical 90mm Summicron or 5cm Summitar and went with my 5cm 1.5 Summarit for its swirly bokeh. It was a bright and sunny fall day so Kodak TMAX 100 was an easy choice. I find this film and the developer I use, HC110b to give really tonal results. Even though I edit with a lot of contrast, having a tonal film like this is good to start with so as not to blow my highlights too much when adding contrast digitally.
Time to reload the Leica! Harper loves the frame burn!
For the above images I was stopped down to around f4 but then I opened up to around f2.8 and then we saw some of that famous swirly bokeh for which the Leica Summarit is known.
Yeah, there it is, that crazy early Leica bokeh, awesome!
After our photoshoot, Harper and I returned home where she eagerly helped me process the film in our kitchen. For concerned parents, I don’t let Harper work directly with the developer or fixer. She mostly helps me with rolling the developer jug back and forth across the floor to make stock solution, rinsing the film during the 5 minute tap water rinse and the final distilled water and photo-flo rinse.
She has also become fond of squeegeeing the film dry which I have to help with since a 36 exposure strip of 35mm film is actually substantially taller than her! Finally, Harper enjoys cutting the leader off the wet film and clipping a weight on the bottom to dry in our floor to ceiling dining room windows.
Many thanks to my muse and my lab assistant, Princess of the Forrest, Harper! And many thanks to you for reading!
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