Here you can find some tips to capture the magic light of the autumn using a black and white film and a camera with a simple lens scheme.
The sharpness falls at the edges, but the leaves do not yet fall… With this idea in mind, I have reproduced the magic atmosphere of the early autumn on my lake, using a camera with a simple lens (but with full control of times and aperture). Here some ideas that I used in this project:
1) I used a Be Lomo Vilia, a Russian camera with a three element lens. This lens, with a wide opened diaphragm (F 4.0 or F 5.6) is very sharp at the centre, but has an “Holga” or “Diana” effect at the edges, where the sharpness falls abruptly.
2) I used an Ilford FP4+ film (125 ISO) to obtain an high contrast. The photos were taken in a park, where the contrast is important to separate objects (trees and grass), all with green colour dominant.
3) I used a fine grain developer (R09 Spezial, another name for the Rodinal Special). This film developer allows to obtain a great “plasticity” in the grey tones, together with a contained grain size (I make big enlargements from my negatives).
4) Using the different colours of the leaves (some are turning reddish or yellow at the beginning of the autumn) you can obtain a great variety of grey tones. You can made others experiments using green, yellow, orange or red filters.
5) The autumn haze, which makes the background less contrasted (as in the mountains in the two photo above) provides a sense of three-dimensionality of the image.
I used a Be Lomo Vilia instead of my Holga and Diana cameras because I wanted to have full controls on the exposure (some parts of the park were less illuminated than others), but you can try with similar cameras (Vivitar UWS, Diana and Holga, Sprocket Rockets and many others cameras).
All these photos were taken in Bellagio (Garden of Villa Melzi) at the end of September 2012.