Mega Glass in Park Slope, Brooklyn is a neighborhood fixture on our block. It’s the place that hand cut two special pieces of mirrored shelving over their lunch break one day for me because I wanted to surprise Kate. It’s also the place I get glass cut to order to make prints or to line the bottom of my developing trays. There's something to be said for realizing you need two thick 8x10 sheets of glass with smoothed corners and being able to walk down the block to get just that while you wait.
One day not long ago, the owner told me that the place has been a glass shop since 1907. It's a beautiful old space full of cool shelving and dusty boxes, but with the skyrocketing rents in Park Slope, they are moving to the basement and going online/delivery only. When he told me this I asked if I could come in and take a couple of shots with my old 8x10 camera. My plan was to capture two quick photos and then make contact prints for him.
He couldn’t have been nicer about my request, even though he was busy actually dismantling the place as I was shooting. When I brought my 1935 Eastman 8x10 View Camera and huge wooden tripod back to the shop and started setting it up, he yelled to the back and said, “Dolores, you gotta come and see this old camera.”
Then, I let him do his dismantling work and he let me do what I needed to do. It only took me ten minutes to shoot two exposures on Ilford HP5+ film. The light was very dim, so my exposures (accounting for reciprocity failure) were 45 (first shot) and 30 (second shot) seconds long.
The first shot came out perfect.
You can click through to Flickr and see the 8x10 negative scanned at 1200dpi. I tried to upload the version scanned at 3200dpi, but the 179MB file kept crashing Flickr. That's a 179MB JPEG file. I'm afraid to look at the size of the TIFF file on my desktop. If you view it full size, you can see the dust on the shelves, read every box, and even see the grain of the wood in the back of the shelving.
Here are a couple extreme crops to give you an idea.
Even the 8x10 negative scanned at 1200dpi gives you a file that is 12,000px wide, which would give you a 40" wide print at 300dpi. If I wanted to print a photo using the 3200dpi file, that gives me an almost nine foot wide print at 300dpi. To go even farther (and why not), my scanner's real effective max that I’ve ever used is 4800 (even though it claims 12,800), which would result in a print over 13 feet wide. The megapixel race was won a long, long time ago - Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, etc. will be playing catch up with film for some time...
The second shot was only 30 seconds, because there was a bit more light from the front windows. You can see on the right side that the blacks are less vibrant and the light was starting to seep in. You can also click on this photo to go to the larger size on Flickr.
A few days later, I made contact prints of each shot and walked down two copies of each to the shop owner.
When I walked in the walls were bare. The shop was almost empty. The prints I handed him captured his shop as it was just a week before and he was overjoyed to see beautifully detailed B&W hand made prints of his shop when it was still a shop. Now it’s just an empty space soon to be filled by an upscale chocolate shop (don’t even get me started on that subject).