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Kiev 4: Black and White Imagery

Recently I've run several rolls of film through a Kiev 4, a camera manufactured under licence in a former arsenal in Kiev Ukraine. I've scanned several of the resulting negatives and have been surprised with the results. The Kiev 4 is one quirky camera and the pictures my example has taken are best described as haunting. The spookiness of the photographs isn't helped by the fact that I chose to use black and film and develop it in Ilfosol3, which doesn't seem to have encouraged fine grain on the 400 ISO Kodak film.

The Boundary

           Above, see the border of a wildlife conservation area near Pitt Lake in Pitt Meadows British Columbia. It was raining at the time and the clouds had entirely obscured the view of the nearby mountains in their characteristically moody manner. If you're wondering about the settings used to take these photographs I used an aperture of f/8 here for greater depth of field I metered using an analogue light meter, because unfortunately, light meters that use selenium cells such as the one built in on a Kiev 4 are prone to 'depleting' over time. 

           My Kiev 4's  built in selenium meter is long dead, the needle permanently detecting nothing - no light at all. Although its possible to replace the selenium cell a better option is downloading a light meter application for your smartphone or purchasing a working handheld light-meter on Ebay or in a camera store. I was able to find a Gossen Lunasix 3 on Ebay which works perfectly, telling me several possible shutter speed and aperture combinations given an imputed film ISO setting and the ambient or reflected of a scene. 

West Lawn
The West Lawn Building

           The spookiness of my photographs wasn't helped by the fact that I photographed around a shut down psychiatric hospital. The shadows of the entrance and poor condition of the plaster covering the columns and balcony is emphasized quite well by black and white film, the doorway is barely visible along with the padlock and plastic chair set up in front in the evening light. Yes, you read that right - evening that's the best time to photograph around abandoned psychiatric hospitals after all.

My Camera is Haunted
Haunting Road

           This is a very popular road and I've seen quite a few images of it on Flickr to say the least, I've even photographed it before, but, I've never seen a photo of it quite like this.

General Tips for Using Black and White Film (Beginners) 

           I recommend films like Ilford HP5 or Kodak T max 400, find a camera like a Pentax K1000 online, these are reliable and simple to use plus lots of information on how to operate its built in 'spotomatic' metering system is available. If your interested in learning how to develop film I highly recommend taking a course covering black and white film photography at a college or university. Although you can definitely teach yourself how to develop film using online resources, actually being taught and shown how to do this, in person, will be more beneficial. 

           Additionally, using black and white film is a great place to start learning about photography in general. Courses covering black and white film may include topics such as aperture, shutter-speed and composition everything a beginner to photography needs to learn. 


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