"One minute of Manhattan"
Camera: Lubitel 166+
Film: Ilford HP5+ Medium format film (ISO 400)
Last november I went to a trip to New York City together with my wife. I wanted to clear my mind a bit, recover from some exhausting weeks at work as well as spend time with my wife. I didn't take too much stuff with me because I didn't want to carry all this stuff around. I wanted to enjoy the trip and the city, which I visited for the first time. So I ended up with only my Canon EOS 450D with one 50mm lens and my Lubitel 166+ together with 10 rolls of film. I ended up shooting 7 of them. I also brought a small Gorillapod and three ND filters. As photography wasn't my prior aim of this trip I didn't go somewhere particular just for shooting, no list of places or subjects to shoot.
As you might expect, New York City is very well documented, photographically wise. There are tons of famous photos and even more not so famous photos. The internet is full of visual impressions of New York City. There are a lot of subjects, places and perspectives that you run across more often, Empire State Building with lower Manhattan shot from Rockefeller Center, Flatiron, Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan Skyline, the postcard type of shots, you know what I'm talking about.
One of these shots you come across very often ist Manhattan skyline shot from Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn. One day we went there by chance and I suddenly spotted the motive I saw so many times before. I'm not the postcard motive lover, but I think this place is just beautiful. And of course I had to bring something back with me to show to everyone asking me about the trip.
I wanted to do this one on film and I wanted to keep it as simple and minimal as possible. As it was quite windy the East River was too agitated to get the minimal look I desired. I decided to make this a long exposure shot in order to have a smooth and even East River. As I wrote before, I didn't bring a tripod and, as it always is, I din't take along my Gorillapod this day, left it int he hotel room. Fortunately I left the ND filters in my bag all the time. After a while I found a good and even place on the rocks for my Lubitel to stand on, with the Manhattan skyline in the background and some rocks for the foreground.
When you shoot film with a camera as simple as the Lubitel these kind of shots are a lot of work. After I screwed on the cable release, set the camera to f22, B-mode with focus on infinity, found my final composition and placed and arranged the Lubitel on the rocks I took out my iPhone to meter the exposure I needed. I use Photometer App for this purpose. It never had a major fail since I use it and I think it is very useful when your camera doesn't have a light meter included. When you have your metered exposure time you need to calculate the longer exposure time due to the use of the ND filter. I use an app called NDCalc for this. But you can also use a chart like I included here.
As I was shooting film you also need to pay attention to the fact that film needs longer exposure when exposure exceeds one second. There's a chart like the one on the left on every package of film.
I was holding a 1000 ND filter with my hands because the Lubitel has no thread for filters and the filter was way too big.
The shot was exposed for approx 1 Minute as I remember.
I tried a couple of shots until I had the feeling that I made it. The problem was that, as I was holding the filter for the calculated exposure time the waves got bigger and bigger until they finally hit the camera. I got surprised and moved the camera a bit with the hand which was holding the filter in front of the lens every time this happened. I didn't stop the exposures though, because it was film and the frame would be ruined anyway. The exposure above is the one that turned out just as I desired.
Well, here is another one of those where I moved the camera a bit due to the waves. I straightened it a bit after scanning the negative. I love it just as much because it has this heavily abstract and minimal look. Somehow dreamy.