Pushing Delta 400

Revela-T 2019

After six months away, the M7 is back and seems to be working. These are the last of the test images used to check that the camera was working correctly.

All the images were shot here using Delta 400 rated at EI1600 and push-processed in DD-X 1+4. Everything was shot with either a 50mm C-Sonnar or Summilux lens with manual exposure and manual focusing.

The first shots were taken in daylight at the Revala-T analogue photography festival, a subsequent walk to Vilassar del Mar, and in Barcelona. A dark-red filter was used to darken the skies and bring the exposure time down to something that the M7 could handle.

Flower Sales

Plaça del Pi. Supplies against the burning heat right now…

Shooting in landscapes in daylight with push-processed film is probably not most peoples ideal. However, it is very useful for shooting street images in the city, where even in the Mediterranean sun there are surprisingly dark shadows caused by the buildings. Push processing allows a fast shutter speed to be maintained with the lens stopped down, allowing zone-focusing.

But the primary reason for push-processing is, of course, to shoot in low light conditions. The next two shots were made in Barcelona’s famous but distinctly touristified market, La Boqueria:

Mercat de Sant Josep

Mercat de Sant Josep

Here the light is ideal for an ISO1600 rated film. Most images I took here were taken at apertures from f1.4 to f4, and speeds from 1/60th to 1/250th. These are fairly easy shooting conditions, and it is quite easy to get close to subjects, who are usually distracted by the market. The main challenge is dealing with complex or busy backgrounds that make it hard to achieve an aesthetic composition.

But the main reason for I have been experimenting with push processing is to shoot at night.

Plaça dels Angels. Fixed focus at f1.5 and 1/50th second.

Shooting on film at night in Barcelona is challenging. ISO 1600 is about the minimum needed to get useful exposures on the street. The following were entirely shot with the lens wide open and with shutter speeds between 1/30th and 1/125th second.

With a 50mm lens, getting accurate focus with quickly changing subjects is challenging, and zone-focusing at close distances is near impossible. It can also be very difficult to freeze motion and you need to be careful to hold the camera steady (harder than it sounds when trying to quickly frame and focus before shooting).

Port Vell. Zone (mis)focused at f1.5.

Tactics to deal with these problems include keeping a good distance away from the subject (giving time to focus before they react), or to use pre-focus at an anticipated position where a subject will arrive.

Carrer de l’ Hospital.

Jardins de Torres i Clavé. Preset focus and wait for composition, with the camera balanced on a railing.

Plaça dels Angels. Panning with a 1/30th second exposure. Yes, it is hot at the moment…

Carrer de Montsió. Preset focus and wait for subjects. Shot at f1.4 and 1/60th.

The will be the last post made with Delta 400 for a while. I am going to switch to Kodak 400TX (Tri-X) for the next three months, partly because it is potentially easier to push process, but also because it is cheaper. I am also switching from DD-X (liquid) to ID-11 (power) mainly because of the current temperatures combined with lack of space in the fridge seems to be impacting the storage life of the DD-X.

Carrer de la Dagueria. Shot at f1.4 and 1/60th using pre-focusing and waiting for the subjects.

I am also going to try shooting with a slightly wider 35mm lens. I suspect that the need to get closer to the subjects will wipe-out most of the benefits of increased depth-of-field and slower shutter speeds that are usually claimed for wider-angle lenses, but it is something worth trying.


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