Committed to removing the mystery from photography, Ian Kenins decodes the technical mumbo-jumbo behind the photographs featured in A Snapshot of Melbourne, now available in Melbourne bookshops.
Most of the photographs in the book were taken with a Nikon FE film camera. Other models used include a Nikon F4, F3 and N90s, and a prehistoric Canon A1 and T90. The digital era brought with it the use of the Nikon D200 and P7100; about 20 photos were taken with those two cameras. And one photo was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone.
The lens used most often on the FE was an el cheapo Nikon 28-80mm f4 until one day I tripped (in the bush of all places) and used it to break my fall. It was replaced with an even cheaper el cheapo 35-105mm f3.5 Melbourne photographer and good friend Ken Irwin kindly gave me. Other lenses used were a 20mm, a 35mm, a 20-35mm, a 50mm, a 135mm, a 180mm, a 200mm and an 80-200mm.
The films used were Ilford PanF, FP4 and HP5 developed in Ilford Perceptol, and Kodak T-Max 100 and T-Max 400 developed in D76 at 20 degrees Celcius… and occasionally T-MZ 3200 film developed in T-Max Developer at 24 degrees Celsius. When I dismantled my darkroom I began using colour film such as Fujicolor 100 and 400, Kodacolor 100 and 400, Agfacolor 100, and occasionally those 36-exposure rolls of Konica 100 that you used to be able to get at the Reject Shop for $2.50. Bargain, hey?
The film was processed in C41 machines at professional labs in South Melbourne and North Melbourne, at the little print shop run by a nice Vietnamese guy next to the bakery opposite a green grocer in the Barkly Square shopping centre in Brunswick, and by whoever was working the processing machine in the imaging lab that used to be inside Jimmy Green’s Medical Centre in Geelong.
Two of the photos were scanned from B&W prints (don’t ask me where the negatives are) that were made on Ilford Multigrade gloss or pearl paper, exposed under a Durst M605 enlarger and developed in Ilford Developer at 22 degrees Celsius and fixed in Ilford Rapid Fix (20 degrees Celsius) for two minutes or thereabouts, depending on whether or not the phone was ringing, I felt the need for a coffee, or a play with the dog, in which case it might have been fixed for an additional 3 to 23 minutes, depending upon who called, whether or not there was milk left in the fridge, or how playful the dog was.
The negatives and slides I haven’t managed to lose were scanned 8-bit at 300dpi on a Nikon Coolscan IIE and Photoshopped on a PowerMac 6.1 computer with a G4 processor, 1 Ghz CPU speed and 768 MB memory that sat atop a really heavy grey laminated desk with two drawers that I saw sitting in the foyer of the aforementioned Ken Irwin’s apartment block for some six months before “acquiring” it with the help of another friend – John Van Tiggelen – who wants to remain anonymous.