Darkroom: Charles Bridge Nostalgia

April 15, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

In 2023, I was able to spend 2 nostalgia-packed days in Prague, Czech Republic. I arrived by a morning train, took metro to the Holešovice station, and started a very long walk. While Holešovice is not exactly what Prague is known for or where tourists rush to find gems, it was the neighborhood where my university dormitory was located and my home for about four and a half years.

More on that whole experience later though. I am still contemplating how to attack that topic. Today is only about one very brief moment as I made my way to the parts of the city one might see on the Internet and in various travel articles. There, standing on the banks of the Vltava River, I was happy to snap the scene presented below with my trusty Nikon FE loaded with Fomapan 400. It may be silly but all of my black and white photography in the Czech Republic is always on Foma films. It seems like the right thing to do. And the 400 variety with its more pronounced grain seemed to fit the nostalgic nature of my trip rather well.

One thing I did differently on this trip was the whole travel with film. As more and more airports replace the old X-Ray baggage scanners with CT scanners it became more of an issue than in the past, especially if one must pass through several checkpoints before reaching the destination. Therefore, I ordered 10 rolls of film direct from Foma and had them waiting for me at my mom's place, along with the developer, fixer, and all of the hardware one needs to home-develop film. Only one thing traveled with me, which was my 2-roll developing tank, which felt wasteful to buy an extra one. By the end of my 2-week trip I finished and developed all 10 rolls and had them stored in archival sleeves for a travel safe from the CT scanners.

This whole topic has me wondering though about how I will be able to use film on shorter vacations to destinations where I won't have family or friends as a base to ship supplies to ahead of time. Will I be forced back to digital? Will I gamble and rely on the friendliness of the security staff to do a hand check of my film?

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic, a traditional darkroom print on Alford multigrade paper.Charles Bridge, PragueDarkroom Print

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Traditional Black and White Darkroom Print on Ilford MG V RC Portfolio

I wanted to make over a dozen of these prints to use as postcards for friends. I started with the Ilford MG IV portfolio paper I still had left over, did all of my tests, and settled on grade 2 contrast filter as the sunny day, even in mid-afternoon, created plenty of contrast in the scene. The orange filter mounted on the lens at the time of capture darkened the blue sky nicely helping the white puffy clouds stand out.

However, when I ran out I had to switch to the new emulsion formula of the Ilford MG V portfolio paper. In the end, for this specific scene, I determined the difference was mostly in the native contrast. After printing the photo with a grade 1 contrast filter and putting it side by side with the results on MG IV I could not see any other difference. Since I like contrasty prints and usually print at grade 3 or higher, this should not pose a problem other than change of habits and probably starting at grade two as my new base. I will see and share as I print more variety with the new paper.

Needless to say, I was and still am very happy with how this print came out and how I can remember my walk with something else in my hand than the screen of a smart phone. How do you like to store photographs from your vacations, your places filled with memories? Do you print, darkroom or inkjet, do you order photo albums, do you rely on a software catalog on your computer, do you upload everything to a cloud provider to store and share, or does social media fill that role for you?

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

For more darkroom prints, please, head over to my Darkroom photo gallery.

Previously from the darkroom:

Roofs & Chimneys. Prague Castle, Czech Republic, a hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom printRoofs & ChimneysDarkroom Print Chimneys, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, a hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom printChimneysDarkroom Print (New) Castle Stairs, Prague Castle, Czech Republic, a hand-made traditional silver gelatin darkroom print(New) Castle StairsDarkroom Print



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