A Princess in a Castle – the Photograph that Could Have Been Wonderful if…

The girls and I visited the nearly 400-year-old castle in Vadstena when we were in Sweden. They offer guided tours at the castle with the guides dressed in clothes appropriate for the era when the castle was built, and who also put on a little show for the tour participants to demonstrate what life may have been like back in the day for people who lived in the castle. We did not take the guided tour, but we saw the guides every now and again in various places in the castle. At some point, one of them – a young woman dressed to look like a princess, maybe – stood alone in one of the rooms and I asked her if I could take a photo of her. Bear in mind, I am normally not the kind of person who walks up to people and asks to photograph them, and it takes a lot of guts for me to do so, but I just couldn’t let my fear to get in the way for this opportunity. She even stood in the perfect spot where the light from a window in front of her illuminated her face so beautifully.

Sadly, I knew already when I took the shot, that it was not going to be one of those awesomely sharp and full of minuscule detail images that my Mamiya RZ is capable of producing with pretty much every lens ever made for it. Not only did I have to use a not-so-handholdable shutter speed of about 1/80 of a second to get the exposure right in the dark room even with the lens wide open because I was using 125 ISO film in my behemoth of a camera, my hands were also shaking considerably because asking strangers to stand for me for a photograph is just not my thing and it makes me nervous. My visualization of the resulting photograph fell actually short of how good it could have been if it weren’t for the significant camera shake causing distracting blur in the image. If it weren’t for the camera shake, I can imagine how beautiful this photograph would have been printed in the darkroom on warmtone paper and selenium toned. Well, darn it, it could have been…

(Mamiya RZ, 110mm lens, shot on Ilford FP4 Plus, developed in Ilford DD-X)


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