Svema film, HDR and the Jericho Drive-In

Remember that snowstorm that blew through the Capital District last week?

Yeah, that one. I remember it well.  Maybe because I actually got up at the yawn-inducing hour of 5:00 a.m. and readied my cameras for a little photo shoot.

See, the Jericho Drive-In currently has their ice cream parlor open – so it says on their marquee.  But, of course, that’s assuming that people will come to the drive-in and order ice cream on a warm day.  Not when it’s 20 degrees above zero and the marquee is covered with snowflakes.

As you know, I’ve been experimenting with my wonky Ukrainian Svema B&W film, with the hopes of putting something together that crafts its gritty, industrial grain and texture to a decently exposed and composed subject.  So what if I got the Jericho Drive-In marquee, complete with its “Ice Cream Open” signage, with the early morning snow?

I packed a roll of ISO 65 Svema film into my Kowa Super 66 and drove to Glenmont.  Once I arrived at the Jericho Drive-In, I looked around.  Plenty of snow on the ground, a little on the marquee.  No time to waste.  Let’s start shooting.

Got the tripod out of the car and set things up in front of the marquee.  The sun would have shown on the marquee, but it was a heavily overcast day.  So I had to work with what I had.  Several shots taken of the front of the marquee, then I set up the tripod for an angle.

Got decent shots, but I needed to somehow extract that gritty, industrial look that comes with 20-year-old expired Ukrainian film.  Then I remembered last October’s blog post, where I photographed the steeple of St. Joseph’s Church with Svema film and then took three of those pictures and converted them to an HDR image.  You can do this, so long as all three pictures are in the exact same location, tripod-wise, and you’ve changed the f-stop or the shutter speed for each shot.

Okay, let’s do this.  Off to McGreevy Pro Lab you go, little Svema roll.

Ding, films are done.  I picked up the film – okay, I can sorta work with this.  I took three of the images and converted them into an HDR composite.  And I got this.

Jericho Drive-In: Ice Cream Open in winter, Glenmont, N.Y.
Jericho Drive-In: Ice Cream Open in winter. Kowa Super 66 camera, Svema 65 film, three images combined in HDR composite. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay… yeah, I guess… let’s try again.  I took some pictures at an angle… Let’s convert those to HDR.

And I got this.

Jericho Drive-In: Ice Cream Open in winter, Glenmont, N.Y.
Jericho Drive-In: Ice Cream Open in winter. Kowa Super 66 camera, Svema 65 film, three images combined in HDR composite. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Well now.  The wonky, aged Svema film, when thrown into an HDR mix, looks like heavy snowflakes and age spots on the Jericho marquee.  Almost like the snow is still falling in heavy, gritty clumps.

Finally.  I got this old Commie film to do EXACTLY what I want it to do.

In other words… this picture could be competition-material for 2013.  At least worth considering.

Definitely worth considering.