One Last Rome Post Wednesday, Oct 10 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

I meant to split this post in two, with one photo in each, but decided you probably had enough of Rome shots for a little while. So, I’m combining them into one post, so we can move to something else tomorrow.

Forum, film

Forum, film

First we have the Forum again, with Temple of Saturn in the foreground on the left and the Coliseum in the background on the right. I like the clarity of this shot, and the high-contrast afternoon light gives a more pleasing result here than in the color shot from a few weeks ago. There is, however, some banding in the sky that is probably a result of an uneven exposure to some chemicals during the development process. But it’s still a very nice shot overall.

Trevi Fountain, film

Trevi Fountain, film

The second shot is Trevi. Again unflattering, late morning light, but a slightly tighter composition brings up the majesty of the fountain a little better than the earlier shot. It also helps that there are no tourist heads at the bottom, but I’m really angry at the Rome municipal government for setting up that scaffolding on the left of the fountain.

Rome is my favorite city in the world. What’s yours?

Nuestra Señora de Almudena, Madrid, Spain Thursday, Sep 20 2012 

For my final photo from Madrid, I decided to re-scan this evening film shot of Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Almudena – a massively awesome looking church directly across from the Palacio Real. In fact, in the photo of the Palace that I posted the other day, I was standing on the steps of the cathedral.

Nuestra Señora de Almudena

Nuestra Señora de Almudena

Pictured here is the north facade – you can see the setting sun hitting it from the right side of the photo. It’s worth noting that there is a statue of Pope John Paul II in front of the east entrance to the church. Which reminds me to let you know that next week I will start posting photos from my trip to Rome this past July, which included a visit to the final resting place of John Paul II.

So, over the last few days, we’ve seen Spanish palaces, churches, gates and squares. As we say goodbye to Spain (at least for now), I should mention that I wrote additional posts about Spain for a travel blog of my friend Dave Dunn. You can read those on his blog, and see a few more of my photos if you click on the following links:

City Postcard: Toledo, Spain Wednesday, Sep 19 2012 

Puerta de Bisagra

Puerta de Bisagra

The last few days, I posted about squares, gates and palaces of Madrid. Madrid is obviously one of those cities where you can spend endless weeks sightseeing, soaking in the culture and food. Nevertheless, although my visit was only about a week long, I wanted to take a quick day trip to some of the landmark sites outside of the city. I settled on a quick visit to Toledo, attracted by its ancient architecture.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo is some 50 miles south of Madrid, in the very center of Spain, and is a capital of both province of Toledo as well as of the autonomous community of Castille-La Mancha. If you’re a literary buff, you may have perked up at the mention of La Mancha – the region is known for Don Quixote, and most of Cervantes’s book takes place here. Toledo is pretty proud of this, and Don Quixote (and his loyal servant Sancho Panza) can be found all over the city, in various forms, from miniature statues to paintings and beyond.

Toledo is an ancient city, built on a hill overlooking the river Tagus which makes a big bend around the city. Most of the streets are essentially canyons – very narrow and rarely straight, so they are sometimes difficult to navigate. I was fortunate (or had enough foresight) to have purchased a map, despite of which I took a few wrong turns.

Does it look like the Chrysler Building?

Does it look like the Chrysler Building?

I entered the city through Puerta de Bisagra, pictured on top of the post, a tall stone gate which reminded me of Dubrovnik in Croatia. That’s not an accident – both Dubrovnik and Toledo were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites, within a few years of each other.

The most prominent of these landmarks is surely the Cathedral, or as the Spanish call it, Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo. Massive Gothic tower is 300 feet tall and shows numerous intricate details, some of which are in the Mudejar style. There’s a little bit of an art deco look to it, too, so one of the local art galleries compared it to the Chrysler Building in New York City.

I’m not so sure about that. What do you think?

Palacio Real, Madrid, Spain Tuesday, Sep 18 2012 

Palacio Real, Madrid

Palacio Real, Madrid

I’ve been posting some photos from my trip to Madrid I took a few months ago, and yesterday I mentioned the grandiose architecture you can find all over the city. Nowhere is that more evident than right here – Palacio Real.

Quick linguistic note – seeing letters “r, e, a, l” together immediately takes me to the English word, but in Spanish, the word actually means “regal” or “royal”. And there are quite a few “real” things about Madrid, the seat of the Spanish royal family.

Speaking of the Spanish royal family, this building was their main home for centuries, until very recently, when it was open to the public. It’s just gorgeous to look at, opulent and extravagant, and I caught it in nice late afternoon light. I even included a tighter crop of the shot I took with my long lens, to show some of the detail on the roof and the facade of the building.

Palacio Real, detail

Palacio Real, detail

Pretty awesome, don’t you think?

A Roll Developed Wednesday, Sep 12 2012 

As you guys read before, I shoot film.

The reasons why are a story for another day, but this is the story about when I wanted to actually learn to develop my own black and white film. I usually do my processing through BWC, a local lab in Dallas, but I thought I’d see if I could do it myself. I went down to Arlington Camera and picked up all the chemicals I needed, I ordered a few things online, and I was pretty much ready to go.

Urban Decay

A Roll Developed – Urban Decay

When you look into it, developing black and white really isn’t too difficult. It just take some patience, a lot of care, and a little math. Oh, and you also need a very, very dark room. A windowless room, like a bathroom or a closet is the best. The easy thing about developing is that you only need that dark room for a few minutes while you’re spooling the film onto the spool.

A Roll Developed

A Roll Developed – Cemetary

Well, that’s where I wasn’t careful. Instead of using the grooves on the outside of the spool, I tried to jam the roll in. What I didn’t realize is that the pieces of film stuck to each other will not get exposed to the chemicals and would not get developed. Combine that with a few frames lost to my issue with leaving the lens cap on (I talked about that yesterday), and I only have a few frames to show you.

The encouraging thing is that these shots seem to be just fine. The math worked, the dark room worked… I just need to be more patient and take more care. I’ll try that with my next roll.

What do you think? Is film too much trouble?

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