Munich in high contrast black & white

A December walkabout in Munich with the Christmas markets and pre-holiday good vibes provided a great backdrop for some black and white photography. This post sees plenty of high contrast, bright lights, grain, and black & white goodness from Kodak’s T-Max 3200 film.

I had a roll of Kodak T-Max 3200 left over from my “Fast film review” (that post will provide plenty of context around this film and fast films in general), which I decided to take out during a mid-December Munich walkabout where I knew there would be lots of low light opportunities. I actually mistakenly decided to shoot this at ISO 1600 as I had thought I had put in a roll of Ilford’s Delta 3200 (which some do recommend to shoot at 1600), which most likely influenced some of the funky results I got. Either way, this high contrast film delivers some good shots when exposed properly (and as we will see does quite the opposite when not).

About the shots

These shots were taken alongside my previous post (shot on a different camera), hence the locations are very similar (or even the same but black and white instead of colour). But, one of the great things about film is that every emulsion is so different you will get a completely different shot from the same location (and no, smartphone filters are not the same…in case that is what you are thinking!).

This film was shot over a weekend period and whilst this fast film isn’t ideal during the middle of the day I didn’t have enough opportunities for only low light / night shots. I actually quite like some of the daytime shots, but the grain may be too much for some (and in this case only, I might recommend looking at those high grain shots on a mobile device as it will be all too much on a bigger screen!)

If you can get past all the grain this is the English garden and of course the natural thing to do when seeing someone on a bicycle is to line them up perfectly in the frame…(that really is a lot of grain!).

Downtown Munich. I actually really like how much personality this shot has, despite it being out of focus and not properly exposed.

You have probably realised I photograph this station a lot, I can’t help it - leading lines! Also look how sharp this shot is, I am starting to like this film a lot.

Munich’s mini surfing paradise. I like how black and white removes any distractions and really focused on the surfer, the watchers, and most importantly the movement of the water.

This shot came out better in colour in my last post (here) - it is a bit of an overexposed mess here.

Conor with his new toy (the very bad-ass Voigtlander Bessa III camera - more on this incredible camera here).

Bright lights!

Another really sharp shot. I really liked the composition of this scene, the 2 guys were too busy on their phone to see me composing the perfect shot for ages.

Munich’s Marienplatz.

Reminds me of my Empty Spaces post (see here). Love the high contrast in this shot.

Overexposure overdose.

Trying to photograph a strong sunset in black and white is not easy, but it is fun….not a bad shot despite some overexposure due to external lighting. Remember these are all handheld shots too.

I didn’t expose this shot well (at all!), but you get away with a lot in black and white - and with the added vehicle movement I still like the shot.

Different view of the U-Bahn station. Even the cleaner is going in a straight line!

Loads of grain but at least it isn’t a flat image! I like the composition.

Not the best composed image but I figured the old train in black and white might come out well.

Another surfing shot.

Leaving the best for last.

Overall observations

I am really starting to enjoy the high contrast images coming out of this film, although the jury is still out on the Ilford Delta 3200 vs Kodak T-Max 3200 debate. I have read that this Kodak film has the ability to be shot at anything from ISO 800 up to 3200, although I suspect your development times would have to be amended for this.

I felt I got better results last time shooting it at its marketed 3200 speed. It is also likely that some of the scenes with a massive dynamic range (such as a bright Christmas market would be) were never going to be the easiest to meter for. I will put it down to shooting this at ISO 1600 instead of 3200, as clearly some of these shots really did not come out as they should have.

But I still think you can get away with it more in black & white than if it were in colour. I am also all for experimenting and see how the results come out…safe to say I doubt I will shoot this film at ISO 1600 again.

I hope you enjoyed some of Munich”s landmarks and other interesting compositions that caught my eye.

Plenty of more posts coming up from “over the Christmas and New Year break” shots…lots of home scanning to do first!

See you next time,

Neil