I like photos that displace you, that make you unsure of what you’re seeing. I can’t take only photos like that, of course. That would be unimaginative and boring.
But I like it when it happens without me fully knowing that it’s happening. Of course, there are a few things that I can do to usher this into being.
The camera, a Spartus 35F, is basically an Argus A knock-off. There were a ton of such cameras out there, and this is definitely on the lower end of the quality spectrum. And yet, with its single shutter speed (1/50sec) and curious f-stop sequence ( f/6.3, f/8, f/11, f/16), it still works like new. You can focus it, but that’s sort of beside the point.
Such cameras are not good. With things like the Diana and Holga, you might accidentally take a crisp photo once in a while. That will not happen with something like the Spartus 35F. Best case scenario is a soft focus – but not usually in the film noir sort of way.
Nearly any film you throw at this camera will be rendered in dreamy shades of gray. Even the color film I’ve shot through it is vague and washed. But Polypan F is something else entirely.
Polypan is a cinematic film from eastern Europe somewhere. It seems to still be in production, though the batch I have is from 2006. This stuff loves to get all dreamy, and it doesn’t take much to push it over that dizzy edge.
The picture you see here was developed in Xtol – a developer that I’ve not used too incredibly much. Typically, if I know a film stock tends towards graininess, I’ll process it in Xtol. There is no such problem with Polypan F, so I think I was just experimenting.
Personally, I enjoy Polypan in Rodinal (1+50 for 17mins). Rodinal usually boosts grain, but again, that’s not an issue with this – especially when shot at 100iso.
Dreamy photos are yours if you want them.
‘Look Into Your Eyes’
Camera: Spartus 35F Model 400
Film: Polypan F (x-2006); 50iso
Process: Xtol 1+1; 7min
Mesa Verde, Colorado