Friday, September 11, 2020

1960s GAF Versapan Pack Film: more Mississippi and Louisiana Samples

In the previous article, I wrote about how a friend gave me a cooler full of GAF Versapan 4×5" film packs. These had been in his freezer since the 1960s. GAF stopped producing consumer film in the 1970s, so these were definitely an unusual photographic item for this day and age. The first pack was totally viable when developed in Xtol by Northeast Photographic in Maine. I used a second film pack during some outings to the Mississippi Delta and to eastern Louisiana in June of 2020, before the heat became too beastly. I exposed the film at EI = 64, which looked good on the first pack that I tested in April. Here are some examples from Vicksburg and nearby. I posted these at 2400 pixels on the long dimension, so click any picture to see the amazing detail recorded on 4×5" film.


The Tomato Place, 3229 US 61 south, Vicksburg (90mm ƒ/6.8 Angulon lens, yellow-green filter; note some irregular development streaks)
The Tomato Place (135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens, yellow-green filter, ½ ƒ/22)
The Tomato Place is a friendly store with good produce and munchies. Mallory graciously lets me take photographs there. I photographed inside in 2017.
Ergon refinery, Haining Road, Vicksburg (240mm ƒ/9 G Claron lens, Nikon deep yellow filter, ⅛ ƒ/45)
Mississippi Lime, Haining Road, Vicksburg (240mm ƒ/9 G Claron lens, polarizing filter, ⅛ ƒ/32)


Bunge silo, LA 602 , Tallulah, Louisiana (135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens, yellow filter, ¼ ƒ16-22)
This tall silo is off Louisiana route 602, where I sometimes bike. I am not sure if it is in use because the siding that leads by the facility is in disrepair. This photograph is from July 4, when a thunderstorm was pending and the sky was dramatic. I only had time for one frame and the drops began to fall. In 2 or 3 minutes, it was monsoon.
Silos off US 80, Waverly, Louisiana (90mm ƒ/6.8 Angulon lens, orange filter, ⅒ ƒ/22)
This Versapan film works well for these industrial buildings, but I need to be careful about overexposing light material, like the gravel.
Unused cotton gin, LA 568 (Lake Drive), Ferriday, Louisiana (135mm ƒ/4.5 Xenar lens, orange filter, ⅒ ƒ/22); note irregular development streak)
This was an unused cotton gin in Ferriday, Louisiana. While I was taking this picture, a gent from the agricultural machinery company across the street came over to see my camera. He said the ladies in the office were most perplexed that someone was standing out in the 35 degree heat with a camera. He generously offered some cold water, a restroom, and some air conditioning. Louisianans are very accommodating.
Delhi water works (180mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar IIN lens, yellow filter, ⅛ ƒ/32)
Using 50-year-old Versapan film has been a rewarding experience. I am not sure how often I will use it because the thin material is a bit hard to handle. But I am glad to have this option. And I am amazed that 50-year-old film is still so viable. Will our digital files be readable in 50 years?


Mike said...

Pretty amazing quality from the film pack in view of the age. I recall some concern being expressed in regard to even refrigerated old film about normal background radiation causing some degradation. Certainly can't see any obvious evidence of such a thing in the final product here.

Suzassippi said...

It does seem amazing that the quality is so good. I really am intrigued by industrial photographs.

Kodachromeguy said...

Thank you all for your comments. I have also read about degradation from background radiation. I assume that this would affect higher-speed films. I can assure you that my generous friend who gave me the film packs did not have a lead-lined refrigerator or store his freezer in a deep pit in the ground.

The main damage to old film is from hot-cold cycles, chemical deterioration of the gelatin coating, possible failure of the film base, and film sticking to adjacent sheets or parts of the roll. Old color film does not age well, but B&W seems to be pretty durable.

I wish I could find some 220 rolls of Tri-X, but they have been discontinued for years. A fellow recently sent me 2 rolls of Ektar 25 in 120 size. I will use it in winter on a day with soft lighting.


W. White said...

Those middle four industrial photographs are outstanding. You captured the starkness and contrast very well. Of course, I like New Topographics style photography and those photographs stand up against the best of their work.

Kodachromeguy said...

Thank you for the comment. I am seeking out industrial topics more and more. They can be a challenge sometimes, depending on the light and scale.