Exploratorius Redux

Atelier Aquarell & Fotografie

Swimming With The Fishes


Koi pond
Winterthur, Delaware — July 2017
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Kodak BW400CN + Commercial C-41 processing

8 thoughts on “Swimming With The Fishes

  1. P

    Beautiful photo… It’s truly a shame Kodak discontinued this film stock. Regardless of the complaints by many that it is not a “true” black and white film since it’s C-41 process, I have nonetheless still seen some incredible work done with it. If we can appreciate C-41 to produce color photos, then why not appreciate the chromogenic stocks also?


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I completely agree with your comments about BW400CN, as I’ve always gotten excellent results with it and the film grain is almost nonexistent. I think that it’s one of those trigger subjects for “true” monochrome shooters — like film versus digital (only in this case it’s “true” silver versus chromogenic).

      This shot was actually taken with expired film that I purchased off of eBay; I just wish I had purchased several hundred rolls instead of a couple. 😦


      1. P

        I’m glad you were at least able to snag a couple of rolls! Every time I see any of it go up for auction the prices climb to levels far beyond what I’m willing to pay. Sadly, it’s seemingly only getting worse as less and less of it exists. But yes, it is/was a great film; extremely sharp with nearly no grain as you stated. But hey, Ektachrome is on its way back and T-Max P3200 just made its return so maybe one day they’ll bring this back too.

        Film vs. Digital, Traditional B&W vs. Chromogenic, Cheap Kodak ColorPlus vs. Ektar, Expired vs. Fresh, etc… It’s all irrelevant. Great art can be produced with any equipment and any medium!

        Now I certainly prefer the aesthetic qualities and “feel” of film and the entire process that goes along with it (which is an art form all its own, especially with traditional B&W), but I will not deny the merits of digital photography either.

        I think the unfortunate thing is all the automation and technology associated with digital cameras severely impairs the creative thought processes for most people (myself included) and stunts their ability to ever truly advance their work much, whereas using film forces one to think creatively and slow way down, especially with fully mechanical manual cameras from yesteryear. For me, every film exposure is meaningful and carries weight because it’s tangible and has permanence, whereas a digital image is just bits on flash memory. Therefore it’s difficult for me personally to care as much about or focus as acutely when using a digital camera, and the quality suffers. But that’s not necessarily true for others (as is evidenced by their digital work), and I understand that.

        At the end of the day I’m just happy if people are truly putting an effort into learning and doing something of value and sharing their knowledge and experience with others in a positive manner. Photography is one such thing.

        I just recently found your blog and I’m thoroughly enjoying it thus far. Keep up the excellent work! Sorry for my ramblings!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mitch Zeissler Post author

        Yep — the prices on eBay for BW400CN are truly breathtaking! I never pay more than $2.00 per roll for expired 136-35 film stock on eBay, no matter how much I like it — color or monochrome. There was a point several years ago that I could have snagged several hundred rolls of BW400CN in a bulk lot buy at a reasonable price, but I was reluctant to go forward with the purchase at the time… now I’m kicking myself for not having gotten it while I could.

        Sigh… oh well.

        As much as I’m glad that Kodak is bringing back some of their film classic stocks, I have to wonder about their choices… I mean, who shoots chromes much anymore? And except for scanning, how do you even share them with others now? I got rid of my slide projector well over a decade or more ago, and I have no interest in shooting chromes again. The same applies to P3200 for me; I’m interested in film that has low grain and an ISO of 125 to 400; anything above ISO 400 is too grainy and difficult to shoot with during the daylight hours.

        I use a variety of black and white contrast filters all the time, so I want film stock that delivers good results when I implement them. And because the filter factors are between -2.0 stops and -3.0 stops, the film and lens combination both need to be pretty fast for anything that begins to approach low-light conditions, otherwise I’m forced to use a tripod — which I don’t drag around much anymore due to the hassle and weight, and the fact that they are banned in so many places these days.

        Regarding your comment, “Great art can be produced with any equipment and any medium!” This is so true! My wife convinced me awhile back that I don’t need über expensive gear anymore for that exact same reason, so I dumped almost all of my high-end Leica equipment and replaced it with just a few select pieces of Zeiss and Voigtländer gear at 1/3-to-1/5 the cost. Likewise, I’ve done the same with my digital gear and now rarely shoot with what I have anymore.

        I totally agree with your comments on automation, but I also recognize the benefits; to wit, the digital age in photography has ushered in a new generation of excellent photographers that may not have the technical skills of film photographers, but they sure can create some gorgeous images nonetheless. I’ve simply chosen to go back to film because I prefer the look and the process of working with it. To each his own, live and let live.

        Thanks for stopping by and rambling — you’re welcome to do so anytime!


      3. P

        Missing out on that bulk lot of BW400CN is a shame, but who knows, perhaps if you would have purchased it you would have found it had been left in a hot garage or something and was ruined. Anytime I’m kicking myself for not acting on something I always try to make myself feel better by convincing myself it was for the best. Haha!

        Regarding Kodak’s choice of film stocks they’re bringing back, I agree they do seem odd. Like you, I have little interest in slides or large-grain high speed emulsions (although P3200’s grain structure is quite pleasing, I still find it to be obtrusive for my taste). E-6 is too expensive to have processed, it’s difficult to scan decently, it lacks the latitude of color negative (and as such is less useful for everyday shooting without taking ample time to meter each shot), and as you said very few people still have and use their old slide projectors, for better or worse. With that said, P3200, being discontinued fairly recently and being so closely related to other emulsions still being produced (TMX and TMY), was probably quite straightforward for them to reintroduce. Ektachrome is being reintroduced first and foremost for the motion picture industry, which I completely understand and applaud (and I impatiently look forward to seeing some new movies filmed on it). So from Kodak’s perspective why not release it for still photography as well? After all, it’s the same exact, already perforated, 35mm stock; it just needs to be rolled into a cassette. So while neither of these stocks mean much to me, I do think I understand Kodak’s rationale, and I am very thankful nonetheless for them giving film shooters more options. Let’s just hope they don’t stop here. I’d love to see Plus-X, Technical Pan, HIE, BW400CN, and many others return that I would actually personally use. Hopefully Kodak is hard at work behind the scenes making plans to bring more back from the dead. Time will tell.

        Regarding contrast filters, I’m all about using deep yellow and orange filters as well. They just add so much to the image in my opinion. But you’re right, without a lot of light and/or a tripod it can certainly be challenging to use them while shooting fine-grain emulsions. But when things work out — wow! Many of your photos are great examples of this.

        Anyways, happy 4th of July tomorrow! I’m sure we’ll talk some more in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Mitch Zeissler Post author

        So far so good on buying expired film and getting good results in the end, at least for me. I know of others that have gotten expired film that is so far gone that the emulsion is cracked or delaminating from the base itself, but they can still take interesting photos with it — especially if it’s black and white stock.

        Ah — I hadn’t read that the big push behind Ektachrome was due to the motion picture industry; that makes sense now. I, too, am eager to see other emulsions come back, especially their iconic monochrome film stocks.

        Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by; it’s great to chat with other film lovers out there.


      5. P

        Absolutely, Mitch. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you as well and look forward to more discussion about film in the future.


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