Week 52: FT-12 super high contrast black & white film

Managing to get my hands on some rare super high contrast black & white film, what better place to try it out than Speyer's Technik Museum, with very curious results indeed.

I am all for trying new (as in rare) and different films, and a great place to start is at Nik & Trick photo services. They stock lots of rare films, as well as all the usual suspects, at super reasonable prices, and importantly, they will develop pretty much anything. On top of it all they are an independent shop, and it's more important than ever to support independent photography shops. 

More about the film - FT 12

So, back to the film. I had picked up a few different films and this one caught my eye, a super high contrast black & white film. I thought it was worth exploring more, and in reading their descriptions it seems this film is quite special indeed. It is seen as the replacement to the famous (and now extinct) Kodak SO-331 film. I was quite excited to try it out, as it is meant to produce very white White's and super dark Black's, which is a look I have always liked in black & white photography. 

However, the results that came did not seem as good as what I have seen online, perhaps I wasn't shooting in the right conditions, and need to give it another go in softer light. Regardless, I can definitely see the potential in this film, some of the shots have a level of detail, fine grain and super high contrast I have not seen in and other film I have tried.  

I figured ISO 50 on a bright sunny day would work fine (it is rated as an ISO 50 film after all), but perhaps it was actually too bright (middle of the day bright) when I visited the Technik Museum. Not all is lost though, I had a good walk around the museum and shot a whole roll (c. 27 exposures) in just over an hour. All shot with my friend's borrowed Leica M3 camera and a 50mm lens.

Here are my impressions, I have included some colour shots from my phone as I had take some. so might as well add to the post for context.  

A bit more about Speyer Technick Museum

I actually found this place by accident, I was looking for the Technik Museum Sinsheim (they are run by the same organisation), which is the biggest auto and car museum I have ever seen, with a Concorde a Tu-44 (Russia's answer), as well as historical car displays that go through all the decades. But that's OK, Speyer Technik Museum has loads to offer too, including a 747 you can go into (and "onto"), Europe's largest space flight exhibition, and even a submarine! I had thought that a place  filled with machinery and airplanes would be an ideal place to test out some high contrast film. 

The bottom of the Antonov 22 airplane. Look how contrasty the buildings are at the bottom of the image, I just need to figure out how to get a more balanced shot, without so much of it being underexposed. Talking about the Antonov 22 (that's the plane at the top of this post), it is actually the world's largest propeller cargo plane. Let me tell you this thing is HUGE, how it takes off with only propellers is really quite something. Oh, and regarding that first image above of the plane, it is definitely my favourite of the roll. It has a really aged look to it, but also look how clear the letters and numbers are on the side of the plane, impressive stuff. 
That is the town of Speyer in the background. It is a pity this shot is a mix of underexposed and super high contrast areas. But look at those clouds, how cool is that?! Talk about 'fluffy'! I forget if I shot this roll with a yellow filter, I may have. 
A colour version of the Antonov 22. 
Crazy large interior, all cargo, with the back door opening fully. What an amazing aircraft. 
This shot didn't come out as I had expected, but I left it in as example of the strong clarity, very white White's, and super high contrast. 
Pity that this shot came out so 'dirty', but I like the composition, and actually it makes it look really aged, so that's cool too. And you wonder how I got the angle for this shot...?
By standing on the wing, of course!
A 747 engine. Look how 'fluffy' the clouds are. Really interesting.
As I was walking down from one of the airplane exhibitions I looked up and saw this scene and got a quick snap. I like how it came out, and look at the detail (and contrast) around the propellers. 
Not sure what happened here, but I really like the outcome! I am not sure I could have got this shot if I tried, very strange reproduction of bright indoor lights onto a sports car. And it isn't about being underexposed (these were all shot handheld) as the focus is spot on and actually the image is very clear, its just the blacks and very, very dark!
Another really sharp image, pity so much of it is in the shade and dark areas, the composition of the final shot is not as I had intended. 
There were some light leaks or streaks of light on some of the shots, not sure what caused these. Regardless, it adds to the final image, and film (anything analogue actually) is all about the imperfections right, so I'm happy to embrace them!
A very old Lufthansa plane, I forget the model. Really cool livery though!
Probably the sharpest image of the lot. The jet engine. Look at that contrast! Talk about fine detail, look at each individual blade. The sky is whiter than white, what an interesting look indeed.

Overall observations

As you can see, the shots were a bit of a mixed bag, which is OK considering it is rare film, and it kind of adds to the intrigue. I can definitely see the potential in this film, the detail and contrast is really quite spectacular, when it comes out well. It would be hard to replicate this with post processing and still keep little to no grain some of these images show. Like with all rare films, you don't quite know what you're going to get get and therefore need more rolls to experiment. But that's the beauty of it, as you end up creating photographs that really are 'one of a kind'.

Given how this film renders clouds, I would say this is a great film for landscapes, and kind of makes me wish I had some for my recent trip to Iceland! I am definitely going to try a few more rolls, maybe even some portraits, although this film might make a man with a chiselled face look like The Terminator. 

And there you have it, no more 'Week xx film is coming', no more thinking about what film type goes to what theme or week, we have reached the big 52!!! And what a great journey it has been. So much so that I am publishing a "52 rolls of film: final thoughts" post tomorrow, where I will share my reflections on this fun project and pick out my favourite shots and film types. 

And of course, where one door closes another one opens, and with that in mind I am already onto new ideas and mini projects. More to be shared and explained in tomorrow's post!

Thanks to everyone for following my weekly posts, sending in comments and positive feedback, and showing a genuine interest in my film photography journey. I hope you've enjoyed the 52 weeks as much as I have and that it has encouraged you to get back out there and take some more photographs (and remember, if on film, even better!).

That's it for the 52 rolls of film in 52 weeks...!

Final thoughts come tomorrow, but for now here is what the plan I had used and kept filling in for 52 weeks looks like - one scribbled out mess!