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Berlin on film

Berlin is a fascinating and controversial city, rich in contradictions that make it unique in the world. That's why I wanted to visit it for a long time to photograph the places where important historical events took place. For my project .film, Berlin means a lot.
However, the city is not just about history and politics; it is also a place full of contrasts, where art and culture meet in streets, parks, and public spaces. I personally believe that analog photography and film are a perfect tool to capture the beauty of everyday life in Berlin.

For this occasion, I decided to use iconic films that allowed me to capture the essence of the city through a traditional medium. I favored black and white films because through their grainy effect, I could emphasize details and contrasts.

Photographing Berlin on film allowed me to capture its beauty and energy in a unique way. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to explore the city in this way.

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Ilford Delta 400

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, I focused on using black and white film to capture the importance and dynamic nature of the locations through the contrast of light and shadow. That's why I chose the Ilford Delta 400 film, which is easy to use even for those with little experience in analog photography, and is ideal for creating timeless, classic-looking images. The Ilford Delta 400 film is also very versatile and can be used to photograph any subject, from landscapes to portraits. Personally, I love the way this film captures light and shadow contrasts, giving photos a sense of depth and dimensionality.
If you're looking for high-quality black and white film for your photos, I recommend trying Ilford Delta 400.

From a technical standpoint, I immediately put into practice a technique I recently read about on lomography.com: “Underexpose your shots and overdevelop your film”, along with the Sunny 16 rule. When I'm in a big city, I prefer not to get bogged down in too many technical details, but rather have my eye (and brain) focused solely on the environment around me, ready in case there's an interesting subject to photograph. Using the Sunny 16 rule, I was able to avoid worrying about the correct exposure. However, I did occasionally check the shutter speed to make sure it was underexposed.

The film was developed in Ilfosol diluted 1+14 for 18 minutes at 20°C.
The suggested development times were increased by 50% to obtain greater contrast, which gave my photos a strong character. My favorite shots from this roll are the fourth one (the Berlin Wall with the Deutsche Bank buildings in the background) and the sixth one (the roof structure of the Sony Center).

Ilford HP5 400

The photos in this section are, without a doubt, the best I have ever taken with an Ilford HP5 400 film. I believe that this film, combined with the underexposure rule, really brings out its best.

The development was done in Compard R09 diluted at 1+50 for 16:30 minutes at 20°C. This chemical pleasantly accentuated the grain of the film.
My favorite photos are those of the fire escape stairs of a building near our hotel, the back of a fantastic Buick Continental, and the TV tower.

Kodak UltraMax 400

First color film roll of this trip and my personal baptism with Kodak Ultramax, which has definitely earned a place in my stock after this experience. With the constant increase in the price of Portra, I discovered that Ultramax is a good alternative as it offers a high-quality color photography experience, even though it's not a professional film like Portra.

I practically used up all the shots at the Berlin Wall Memorial (5th, 6th, and 7th photos, which are also my favorites) for two main reasons: firstly, because when we arrived, the sunset light gave saturated colors and very long shadows that I really enjoyed capturing (see 5th photo); secondly, because that place smells of history: the portraits of the Window of Remembrance seem to speak to the visitor...I still get goosebumps when I talk about this place.

Ilford Delta 3200 Professional

If there was a subtitle for this section, it would definitely be “Joys and Sorrows.” I had never used this film before, but I thought it would be suitable for my project. Perhaps I should have done more research on Ilford Delta 3200 Professional: despite being designed to be exposed at 3200 ISO, it is literally hungry for light. Sensitivity and grain live in a reciprocal relationship, so the higher the film's sensitivity, the more visible the grain will be.

Not that I don't like grain, on the contrary, I find that in some shots it adds value. However, in this case, the characteristics of this film clashed with the underexposure technique I practiced throughout the trip.

Anyway: with analog photography, you only discover the result when the film has been developed. And, if a chemical that enhances the grain is chosen for development, the circle is closed. It will serve as a lesson for the future.
Of the 36 photos, these are the only ones I decided to keep. It's a shame because the RAW-Gelande neighborhood where I took them really impressed me and left me speechless.

The film was developed in Compard R09 diluted at 1+25 for 16:30 minutes at 20°.

Kodak Portra 400

I always carry a roll of Kodak Portra 400 with me and only use it if the place deserves it.
Berlin, in my opinion, is a city that definitely deserves this film, as it pays tribute to its beauty.

I can't choose my favorite photo because I remember all these shots and the moment I was in. However, if I had to make a podium, third place would go to the elderly couple in front of the pond, second place to the girl under the blooming tree looking at her phone, and first place to the elderly couple at the restaurant table, because they are all stolen shots.

Ilford FP4 Plus

I particularly enjoyed using this film, which like others on this trip, was a first for me (ok, I definitely experimented a little too much). The sharpness, detail rendering, and particularly pronounced contrast really made me fall in love with it.

Being a low-sensitivity film, it can be challenging to use in low-light situations, but I have to say that I did not encounter any major difficulties, thanks to its wide exposure latitude (meaning that even if the exposure is not perfect, the film is still capable of producing high-quality images).

For development, I opted for Ilfosol 3 diluted at 1+14 for 11:15 minutes at 20°C.

The development and scanning of the colour photos in this article were skillfully taken care of by the guys at LomoLab in Vienna. I personally developed the black and white photos showcased in this article in my private darkroom and scanned them with an Epson Perfection V600 scanner.