From a performance at the Blue Note in the West Village in June 2009.
Ah, I really miss Agfa. For years, all I shot was Agfa APX 400. The 100 ISO was a much better film but I needed the leeway shooting on the street. Great contrast, fine grain quality, tonal structure (especially in the mids) and inexpensive when compared to other films.
I do not know the technical specs or chemical characteristics of why or how it looked like it did, but it was a lush film with a classic look. It was not known as a push film but I never had a problem with it. Kodak’s Tri-X is a fine, legendary film and it is what I primarily shoot now, but it is not the same. My favorite mode was to expose the 400 at 250 ISO and develop it at 300 so it was under by a quarter stop. I like my shit dark.
Even if you did not shoot their films, you had your prints made on their papers. Their 111 multi-grade paper was a favorite as was their 118 warm eggshell paper.
I can remember when it was announced that they were going out of business and in Los Angeles, the last shipment of Agfa paper was on its way. Those few with enough foresight bought up the remaining paper in that shipment to hoard like dragon’s gold. My friend is a B&W printer in Los Angeles and one of his clients has a stash of Agfa paper which he only brings over when he needs some prints to be made.
Below are some scans of photos shot with Agfa APX 400 and printed by Nourredine El-Wariri on Agfa’s 111 and 118 papers. It’s a bit silly because I am trying to show you how great an extinct film and paper were through a computer monitor which makes as much sense as videotaping oil paintings.
Give me a beautiful bride, some window light, and a pocket full of B&W film and I will go to town all day long.
And while I’m at it, give me a rabbi and a window and I’ll still go to town.
Lucca in Tuscany has some remarkable architecture, especially the great circular center of town and the old medieval city walls of the former city state. The birthplace of Puccini, this charming city is not as choked with tourists as other destinations in Tuscany are which can provide for some needed breathing room. It is well worth the day trip from Florence.
It is also where I learned of the great rivalry between Rome and Pisa and was taught this insult:
Better a corpse in your house than a Pisan at your doorstep.
It is even better to say it in Italian:
Meglio un morto in case che un Pisano all’uscio.
I was wandering around the Guinness Factory in Dublin, checking out the old side streets and alleys to see if I could catch something. I had been in the factory the week before shooting an event and had made a note to return, because the parts of the compound are still extremely old and charming.
I met this gentleman, Valentine Bolger, in front of the tourists entrance to the factory, charging people to take photos with his old cart horse. His face was a weathered landscape. He had started working for the brewery as a teenager when they still used horses and carts in addition to the river boats to distribute the Guinness. He had been laid off years ago and with Guinness now under foreign ownership and the historic brewery in Dublin probably moving out of the city, he had much to gripe about.
I let him talk, gave him some cigarettes and took some photos of him. He didn’t mind the camera which afforded me a leisurely mini-session with him. His face was unmoving and very stoic, so the challenge became how to compose a shot of him and the amazing lines of his face without it being a straightforward, boring portrait shot, centered, background all bokeh’d out.
The images are below and the one I think is successful is the last which can be clicked on to view it at a higher resolution.
There was a punk rock show in Tompkins Square Park last weekend, an anniversary of a big riot there in ’86 when the park was full of punk squatters and dealers. That was back when going to a hardcore punk show many times had a strong element of danger and fear; fear of getting stomped, sometimes fear of the police, or just in general, fear of getting hurt.
So seeing reunion shows or bands that are still performing 20 years later is always a dicey proposition. I remember at the tail end of the summer in DC in ’84, everyone was agreeing that hardcore was dead and you could feel the energy of the scene move elsewhere. I kept going to shows but they were not the same. Sometimes these shows are depressing. We’re all old and slow and fat and should know more than three chords by now. Other times, you remember the energy and the reason why you went to every show. Plus seeing the East Village Whole Foods crowd with their little doggies watching the show was funny.
This was a good show. Mongrel Bitch, Urban Waste, Hammerbrain, Nihilistics and Reagan Youth.
When I moved to New York in January, I met Laura of Mongrel Bitch while looking at apartments. She gave me the heads up on the show so thanks, Laura.
The only time I saw Reagan Youth was in 1985 or ’86 at the Rock Against Reagan show on national mall in DC. That was a long time ago, with a massive outdoor crowd, cops driving their cars through the crowd periodically, helicopters overheard. Dave Rubinstein has long since passed.
What would a hardcore punk show be without David Peel. He still looks exactly the fucking same.
And to cap it off, I got my feet puked on and I was only wearing flip flops.
I had been walking and shooting all day when the gloomy heavy sky finally turned into a downpour. I was tired and the streets were emptying so there was less incentive for me to stay out shooting. As I headed back to my hostel, I passed this apartment on Lower Camden St., with this guy holding a pot out in the rain, trying to fill it with water.
I took their photo and we all burst out laughing. It is not a great image by any means and that day was not very productive, but I still smile when I look at this shot.