Innsbruck, AT: New City, New Film – Acros II & Ortho Plus

If you’re wondering why I decide to take my annual trip to the mountains between March and April, the answer is simple. It’s generally still very cold so the summer tourists haven’t shown up yet but the height of skiing and snowboarding is past. As a result, the area is bit less packed out and the trails have started reopening (if they were ever closed). Not to mention that at the times the airfare is a good deal less expensive as are the hotels.

Anyhow – on this particular trip, we left for a couple week trip in Germany and western Austria just as the novel corona virus was troubling northern Italy but before it started being so widespread. On the day we were flying back, we learned there were several documented cases of COVID-19 in Innsbruck and luckily for us we were able to be screened a couple days after being back. With the self quarantine that we are still currently in, I’ve been able to get all the B&W and C-41 developed and scanned. On the trip I was able to try out the new Acros and Ilford Ortho in 120 and 35mm.

Fuji Neopan Acros II

I think this emulsion was the best film stock of all the film I went through on my trip. The rolls in 35mm were quite gorgeous and capable of producing some wonderful prints – I shot all of those in the Friedberg and Frankfurt area. The 120 was shot in Innsbruck and man, are the resulting frames just beautiful. Very low grain and high acutance made for some spectacular photographs that I’m very excited to make prints of.

As I mentioned above, I shot 2 rolls of 120 and 2 rolls of 35mm. The 2 35mm rolls were not shot in the Alps but I thought they were splendid. I’ll share some of those frames below.

Ilford Ortho Plus

What an interesting film. If I’m being entirely honest, I was very nervous to shoot this stock. I was excited by the build up around it and some of the 4×5 work I had seen but have heard mixed feelings about the 120 and 35mm emulsions. I can see why too. For an 80 ASA film, the grain was quite a good deal aggressive and very weird. I cannot say that I’m in love with the stock nor that I intend to buy it again any time soon. Of the 2 rolls of 35mm that I took, we only shot through one of them and even that one was shot by my buddy Brandon. To start, I’ll go through some of the 120 shots.

I actually prefer the shots from the 35mm. Perhaps it was the focal length (45mm) or Brandon’s eye that caught such nice frames. Either way – the results were intriguing.

Superstition Mountains: New City, New Film – Ilford FP4 & Fujichrome Velvia 100

This past trip to Arizona was my third time visiting and every time I go, I grow more and more in love with the environment. Last year when we went, we visited Flagstaff but this year we split our time between Sedona and the Superstitions.

Prior to heading out, I picked up several rolls of Ilford FP4 and at a camera shop in Phoenix, I picked up some Velvia 100. In Sedona I was shooting through a lot of Ektar and Provia and didn’t manage to load up the FP4 or Velvia until we rolled into the Superstitions.

Admittedly, I didn’t particularly love either of these film stocks. Since the trip to AZ, I’ve shot through some 4×5 sheets of FP4 and didn’t much care for them either. That said, I’ve started developing my own B&W at home and have found that for some reason I’ve getting a lot more grain than I’m used to getting from the Darkroom so it may well be my own fault for not liking it.

In general, I expect 100ish (it’s 125) ASA film to have extremely fine grain. While I know that FP4 is a traditional grain structure and not T-grain, I still expected a bit less grain than I felt I was getting. In total, I’ve only gone through 3 rolls and 1 box of 4×5 sheets so I know I still need to give it a bit more practice before making a final judgement.

The Velvia produced my least favorite shots of the whole trip. Perhaps I’ve become accustomed to Provia too much and the difference wasn’t to my liking. It’s also possible that I was just shooting it in the wrong lighting. I started/finished the roll in the afternoon started with high sun and ending during the golden hour. There was a HUGE difference in the saturation and tones between those two situations. Perhaps if I shot the entire roll during the golden hour, I’d be singing a different tune. Either way – I’ve since picked up another roll and intend to give it another go.