Madrid on film

Deciding to simply go for a walk, camera in hand, here are some street scenes that caught my eye. Join me for a walk through Madrid, the city I grew up in. 

"I'm off for a walk" was about as much thought I had given to what I wanted to shoot. I've learned that many times the best thing to do is not think at all, and just react to what you see unfolding in-front of you, to what catches your eye. It certainly allows you to be in the moment more. 

Preparation is everything though, so I made sure I was able to secure some decent film for the bright winter morning walk. As I wandered the streets of the centre of Madrid, I started to think about documenting life as I saw it, both in colour and black & white, reacting to the various scenes I was coming across. I was feeling kind of nostalgic about the city I was born and grew up in, there really is no place like home, and that rings very true when you start photographing those things that you most associate with. 

1. About the black & white film - Ilford FP4+ (ISO 125). 120mm medium format film shot on my Rolleiflex TLR.

This is one of my favourite Ilford films (reviewed on my blog here), and at ISO 125 it is perfect for bright summer days. I picked up a few 120mm medium format rolls in Madrid. According to Ilford:

35mm, ISO 125, all-purpose black & white film with fine grain, medium contrast and outstanding sharpness. Ideal for most shooting scenarios in good light conditions.

  • Medium speed ISO 125
  • Fine grain, high sharpness
  • Robust exposure tolerance
  • 35mm, 120 Roll & Sheet Film available

2. About the colour film - Kodak Vision 500T. 35mm film shot on my Hasselblad Xpan camera.

I've used Kodak Vision 500T before as part of my 52 rolls of film project (link to review here), focusing on neon lighting and low light shots, and was quite impressed. This is the first time I have used it during the day, and it requires a colour balancing filter as it is balanced for tungsten lighting. All this means is you pop on an orange looking filter, which makes sure the white balance comes out right. At night you do not need this as the film works best with neon (hence tungsten) lighting. According to Kodak:

  • Tungsten-Balanced Color Neg. Movie Film
  • Exposure Index of 500 in Tungsten Light
  • Expanded Highlight Latitude
  • Dye Layering Technology
  • Fine Grain and Sharpness
  • Wide Dynamic Range
  • Well-Suited to Digital Post-Production
  • Process in ECN-2 Chemistry
"Water not drinkable" - not sure what is the purpose of having a water drinking fountain that contains water you cannot drink....shower anyone?
I have always thought Ilford's FP4 film is super sharp, as you can clearly see below.
I always say "look up" if you have a camera in your hand. It is hard not to these days in Madrid, there are Spanish flags draped over most balconies, it is really colourful. Although in black & white I focused more on the symmetry of the image. 
Typical Spanish 'charcuteria', where you can buy all sorts of tasty stuff including cheeses, meats and other specialities. Shot on my Xpan for a really wide shot, and very sharp too!
A different perspective looking down into the Retiro park. Actually this shot did not come out as I thought it might, but decided to add it anyways.
A traditional fruit & veg shop. 
Men in hats.
Plaza Castilla. Really fantastic sharpness in this shot. 
Bit overexposed as it was so bright and right in the middle of the day, but I still like the shot.
Hard to shoot the Xpan vertically, but I really like how this came out. 
Cool shot of my Dad in his car!
The statue of Miguel Cervantes in a Plaza right next to the Congress of the Deputies building (to the very right of the shot - not in the frame).
Anyone hungry?
Side view of Miguel Cervantes statue and this time the Congress of the Deputies building clearly visible in the shot. 
I'd prefer to use the word 'iconic' (even if that is a tad arrogant) rather than 'selfie' for this shot - it reminded me of many self portraits photographers have done in the past with the Rolleiflex camera. The light bulbs really add to this shot!
The towering Spanish flag in Plaza Colón in Madrid - another vertical Xpan shot.
I actually don't even remember taking this shot, I suppose at the time the typical Spanish fur coat look caught my eye.
The Hasselblad Xpan is so wide you can get 2 or 3 scenes in the same shot, and here I was looking at the two different groups of people at either end of the shot. 
Just happened to be walking past here, and this is where I was born! 
The main lake at the Retiro Park. Not at all how I thought this shot would come out, but I really like the effect, it looks very aged. 
Another typical street scene, lottery ticket being purchased whilst a couple light up.
I really liked the light and shadows in this scene, even though the right part of the shot is quite underexposed. 
Not sure what this statue is all about, but it makes for a great shot!
Another vertical Xpan shot, the light was really great. 

Overall observations

I really enjoyed going for a long walk. In fact it was 2 long walks given I shot colour on one day and then black & white on another. The Ilford film performed really well, and is always a good bet on a  sunny day. I found the Kodak Vision 500T shots with the filter (85b filter to be precise) interesting, but with mixed results. I have seen more consistent shots done with this film during daylight, so it might be worth having another go. That being said, I liked the shots I picked for this post. 

It goes without saying that Madrid is a great city, with loads of places off the beaten track in and around the city centre that have great photographic opportunities, or you can simply take it all in and enjoy the atmosphere. 

Thanks for stopping by, see you next time!

Neil