Nothing on my mind, 06 July 2009

2009/07/06

Hopefully, everyone enjoyed their respective 04 July celebrations. Now, I’m back to the photo blogging for the time being, so enjoy the following image.

Grand&Wells_North001

Photo Information:

Camera: Leica IIIf
Lens: Leitz 50mm f/2 Summicron
Film: Ilford PanF+ ISO 50
Exposure: Minolta Spotmeter F

The subject of this photo is the view up Wells Street, facing north, in Chicago, IL. As you can see, the elevated tracks for the Chicago El run parallel to Wells at this point; the tracks here are part of the Brown Line, which runs north from the Loop to Kimball. These tracks are (obviously) some of the older tracks in the city, as evidenced by the metal structure; the modern replacements for these are typically made of concrete or tube steel, as opposed to the built-up members seen here.

The film I used was Ilford’s excellent PanF+, which is rated at ISO 50 – one of the slowest films still in production. It provides very smooth and almost unnoticeable grain structure, which is nice if you don’t like film graininess (I don’t). It is also a high-contrast film by nature, so it is actually quite useful in scenes such as this, where most of the elements are not directly lit. One must be careful shooting this film, however, as there are also limits to what the higher contrast can achieve; in particular, the film can still produce “flat” results if one does not properly meter the scene. This, of course, can be more difficult if you’re using the film in low contrast scenes, as it may be more difficult to find a wide tonal range to meter. This can be alleviated, to a degree, by locating elements that meet the wider tonal range you need and metering those, even if they do not appear in the scene itself. For example, I metered a white truck that is not in this scene, but was directly lit by the sun, for the bright range; the El tracks were dark enough to qualify as deep shadow, though I would have preferred seeing a little more detail in the track structure (of course, as with most things, we can’t always get what we want – even if I had found something darker, it is unlikely that the difference between this and the track shadows would have been enough to permit more detail in the tracks themselves).

In any event, since Chicago is one of the few cities that still operates an elevated rail system, views such as this are still common within the city – and quite unique. The El itself also provides a useful platform for uncommon perspectives on the city, but that’s a subject for another time.

Enjoy.

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