I tried. / by Nigel Rumsey

The National Theatre, London

This image represents a lesson. Not a new lesson but something I needed to be reminded of: just try.

About eight years ago I went to a wedding as a guest, I wasn’t the photographer but I was hoping to get a few good shots for the happy couple (they’ve since divorced, but we’ll gloss over that). I knew the venue was going to be dark so I took a few rolls of Neopan 1600. In the end I only shot one roll, but I truly hated the results, big ugly lumpy grain. I disliked it so much l’ve not shot it since, I still have the remaining rolls of in my refrigerator.

So from then to about four weeks ago I've avoided shooting film at iso1600, because I ‘knew’ it was going to look terrible. Even though I may be shooting a different film, processing it in a different developer, shooting it in different light, in a different camera and in different circumstances. I knew it was going to be crap. So convinced was I, on the evidence of that one roll of film I haven’t tried again. Until about four weeks ago.

Roof Terrace, National Theatre. London

For a private project I had to push Kodak Tri-x, not to 1600, but 3200. WTF was that going to look like! I’d researched it online and seen some ‘not bad’ results, I still wasn’t comfortable but I went ahead anyway - I tried. What did it look like? It looked bloody brilliant, that's what it looked like! I love it! The grain wasn’t bad, the shadows still had some detail, it had the contrast I like in black and white. Just think if I’d been open minded enough to give it a go before, I could have used it countless times in the last few years.

Next time I'm being such a negative twat please remind me of this moment.

Tri-x at 1600: the best thing since sliced bread!

For photography geeks out there: The above shots were exposed at iso1600 and developed in HC-110B, 16 minutes, inversions 10 secs every 2 mins.

Have a great week.