Underground Adventures.. Part 1

Today I would like to talk a little about a recent photo outing me and a friend of mine took into Boston. I shot only film this day, and went through about 7 rolls before the day was out. The specific films I will be discussing in this post are Ilford HP5+, Neopan 400, and Neopan 1600. I was using my Eos-1 film body for this, with my three favorite lenses at the time, my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS, Sigma 50mm 1.4, and my recently purchased Sigma 12-24mm wide-angle lens. I brought along some red filters with me, for use with the Canon zoom and Sigma 50, but didn’t get around to using them at all because of the already scarce light found within the subway where we did most of our shooting.

First lets talk about the HP5+. I shot this at 1600, and developed it in Ilfotec HC at 1+15 dilution for 7 1/2 minutes. This was the recommended time for push-processing it at iso 1600, as found on the Massive Dev Chart which I go by almost religiously. I have found that HP5+ pushed to 1600 yields exceptionally fine grain for the speed, and have actually never even shot it at its rated speed because of this. If I am going to shoot 400 speed black and white film, I will usually end up going with Neopan 400, XP2 or 400TX.

I shot the HP5 on my trip on the orange line, where we got off at the Chinatown station. This was one of the last rolls I shot that night, and the 1600 speed came in real handy when we headed above ground. The first 4 shots in this gallery were taken with my Sigma 50mm 1.4, and the last 4 were taken with the Canon 70-200.

Next up is the Neopan 400, which I had shot earlier in the day. I loaded this up on the way to Copley station, and after a few pictures we decided to head up to the surface for some food. We took a rather lengthy stroll over to Faneuil Hall in the sub-freezing weather, and by the time we got there we certainly needed a few stiff drinks as well.

If I remember correctly, the first and last pictures were taken with the Sigma 50, the second was with the 12-24, and the third picture was the 70-200. That is possibly the only thing I find myself complaining about when using film, not having exif data to review when going over your shots. As an interesting side-note, the last picture in this set is one of my top-10 favorite pictures I have ever taken.

The final gallery in this article was shot on Neopan 1600, and was taken on my underground journey from Government Center to North Station. These were only 2 stops apart, but we spent a lot of time in each of the stations, as they were both very photogenic. The Government Center station actually had a roped-off area with a bunch of off-duty trains, so we took the opportunity to sneak back there and grab some cool shots. The first 3 and last 2 images were taken with the 50mm, and the other 3 were taken with the 12-24 and the 70-200 (I’ll leave it up to you to guess which ones).

Overall this was a very fun day, and I got a lot of keepers. We escaped unhassled for the most part, however I did get yelled at by one of the conductors for leaning too far over the yellow line while he was pulling into the station, which I still blame completely on my lens. Looking through the camera at 12mm definitely distorts your perspective, I thought he was at least 20-30 feet away when I had pulled back, only to realize he was about 5 feet away from clipping the camera out of my hands! After a brief exchange, and a few curt hand gestures we were both on our way though, so no harm done. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my ‘Underground Adventures’, where we will go over my XP2, and various high speed color film rolls, including a roll of Natura 1600 I had shipped in from Japan.

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