Friday, July 13, 2007

A Latent Past

It's been nearly twelve hours now since I first saw the images on my 1941 Agfa film, I'll be honest I haven't slept much, so many things going on in my mind.
I have 5 images that I'm guessing date from the period 1938-1941, I've scanned them but haven't really worked on them.
here are those images straight from the scanner:

I call this image "Sons of the Desert"


This one: Gentlemen, There will be no war with Germany

Those are so far my favourite images, if you want to see more then I have a gallery here
One thing is for sure the original photographer was very good at catching the moment, I'd love to know who he was!
Edit:
I've e-mailed the guy who sold me the film to find out how he acquired it, to find out what City or town it was from. I'll then try to contact family history people in that City to find out who the people are.
Its a long shot I know but one I feel I have to take, who are these ghosts?
Further Edit:
According to the seller it was from Reading PA, so if you live in Reading Pennsylvania they might be your ancestors!

All images and text © Mark Antony Smith 2007

17 comments:

Charlie Wood said...

Mark

These scans are super!!

hopefully you will be able to print through the fog.

You have done really well to get such good images from an 'ultra speed' film.
What is a real bonus is that the person behind the camera is quite good with it. They have really captured the mood.
Interesting that your film is Ansco-Agfa this is before the Agfa lab in the states copying secret documents and sending copies to Berlin affair, from then on it was US govement ownership and just ANSCO.

Now you have a bit of I dilema, how much more exposed film is in your tin?????
Are you going to continue to use Rodinal?? You do have some very fast film HC110 or X-Tol might be better as the grain is very large IMHO.
I am goint to post some more of my found film when I get home.

Now that you have the found film bug, will you be trawling junk shops and clearence auctions etc for found film????? The 620 film spools you find will buy you lunch if nothing else.

Thanks for posting these here and on pbase, are you going to post on APUG?

Charlie

Photo–Smith said...

I put a post on APUG, I think I might try a different developer possibly X-Tol or D76 type.
I'll keep processing until I get blank film, thanks for your encouragement-
Mark

Charlie Wood said...

At work we are crowded round the PC monitor trying to work out where the photographs were taken and the ocation.
Location Music hall???
Ocation Works do???

We recon there is a guy with a big old speed graphic in there taking photos round the tables?

Charlie

Photo–Smith said...

Absolutely I saw the speed graphic.
My wife thought wedding, but the room seems empty apart from a few people and I see no bride so I'm guessing the hat has something to do with it, are they some club?

I would love to know.
BTW I think the photographer was terrific, thinking if he uses a IIIc or similar...
I guess we'll never know.

Charlie Wood said...

Mark

I have been scanning the two sets of negatives I got with the un-exposed found film, I have done a big post. The pictures are intersting and have come out really well. I think these photos have been taken with a contax?
Are you developing any more old film yet??

Charlie

Bryan C said...

Wow, this is amazing. I've never heard of anyone finding images in a tin of bulk film. I've had good luck developing old exposed rolls in Diafine. The developed negatives are rather low contrast and sometimes foggy, but they usually respond well to scanning and curve correction. I'm sure the folks at APUG will have some good advice.

Photo–Smith said...

Thanks for the comments guys.
Charlie I'm not developing any more just yet.
I'm pondering my next move, I would like to try a different developer, possibly a slight solvent one, possibly D76.
I only have Rodinal and Rodinal special, the latter may well work better but the dev time with Special would be short as even in the normal stuff it was 5 mins.
What do you think about D76? It was a popular developer in the 40s and 50s Rodinal wasn't because of the grain structure of the thicker films.
BTW Charlie I love the pictures of Cyprus on your blog, they don't look like 50 year old film, I think film is an incredibly robust media as we both seem to be proving.
Regards
Mark

Charlie Wood said...

Mark

If you have a quick look on photonet you should come up with some good suggestions.
Look for posts by Gene M.
PE on APUG may help to
I use Rodinal special in two ways.
I mix up 1 ltr batches and developand add 30 seconds for every film there after. You do get very short dev times.
Or on the advise of silver print I use it 1 shot diluted 1-29 This is what I use for my Agfapan 400.
You take the original R-Special time and multiply by two for the 1-29 dilution.
I have only used X-tol and Aculux for my found films. My experence with the X-Tol and HP3 as you can see is very good. I think Rodinal special whould be well worth a try I get very good results with my modern Agfapan
Have a trawl through Photonet and APUG.
The developers that are most recomended are HC110 Microphen Rodinal, Two bath developers are to be avoided.

What is interesting in in 15 years the advances that were made in the feild of fast B&W films, the pictures I posted last night are scans of the sets of negatives I got with my unexposed films. HP3 AND Isopan I.S.S. were fast for there time 200asa in the early 50's the tones are wonderful in the Agfa and Ilford films.
The earler posts are from the films I developed in X-tol there is not that much difference in the quality of the images that were developed in the 50 to the ones I did two weeks ago, the base fog is really low.
Im off to Horncastle to have a look round the junk shops I might find somthing interesting to put in my dev tank.

Charlie

vic vic said...

man.. it is like touching the history.........
about two years ago.. one of my x-grilfriends found her granf moms diary....
we started to read that diary (almost days and nights without stopping)..... there was history of the early days of israel (even before it became offecial state).. the girl was in love.. and all her love and care to her boy was written there on the landscpae of the history of renewed nation formation that then was just a daily actualia...

your film and your talks bring something of those feelings.. like reading that diary.. like touching the history :)))))))))))))

Photo–Smith said...

Hi Vic and Charlie.
Yes history is exiting! I'm e-mailing the seller to see where he picked this film up, if I can get a name of a US city I'll contact family history groups in that area possibly we might find out where and who.
I've found out so much information about Agfa-Ansco NY letters from employees, about its links with IG Farben, and its take-over by the American government in 1942.
My film pre-dates that, assuming the film was fresh and the pictures ask so many questions- I'll see if I can answer some
Mark

snap said...

These are incredible, haunting....the shot of the man in the party hat with cigar could be the beginning of a novel in itself. What a find....it's important to realize that this probably will never happen with digital cameras. Digital mages in the future may be found, but the soul wouldn't be there. They wouldn't contain the heart-breaking sense of time gone by that these film images are imbued with.

Photo–Smith said...

snap you're right about the digital images in the future, I don't even think its about soul- more ease of access.
Digital has the potential to be almost perfect, on forums you'll see people saying perfect quality for ever, but they miss one very important caveat.
Analogue is easy low tech access , these images came to me, just loaded them in the tank 50¢ of chemical later and 66 year old images- easy.
If someone finds a 66 year old CD in years to come it'll be garbage, probably won't open, you can take it to a data recovery guy, but it'll cost you.
Nah people in the future will toss it in the bin-Bye history.

Steve Huff said...

It's been ages since I read a blog entry about anything that was this fascinating. I'll be checking back to see what you find out. Like a previous commentator stated, the guy with the hat (fez?) and the cigar is the beginning of a novel unto himself.

Ryan said...

I saw the Ars Technica forum entry and had to see these images for myself. I hope you don't mind, but I posted a link to your blog on a couple of sites where someone might be able to identify these people. One site is RootsWeb, which is a family history website, and the other is a woodworking forum I'm on. Sounds odd, but most woodworkers are older, and there are a number of people from the Reading area on the forums.

Photo–Smith said...

Ryan thank you for that I've been e-mailing and trying to find out through family history as well:
Feel free to link to my blog posts or images either here or Pbase

Charlie Wood said...

What is the latest on your Agfa Ultra speed? I have just posted a couple of found film pics on my blog they are not as old as your Agfa Ultra Speed but quite interesting.

Charlie

Anonymous said...

Charlie I'm away on holiday, I'll look at your blog when I get back.
Mark