bronica sq-ai

Black and White in the Botanic Gardens

My friend Sara and I went shooting at the US Botanical Gardens in the beginning of March. It was a while since we last shot together, almost five months! Since last seeing her, she's moved into a new apartment and started a new job in Washington, DC.


I've never self-developed a roll of black and white medium format film before, so I've been hesitant to shoot any black and white rolls out of my medium format cameras. I was in the mood for shooting black and white, so I took the plunge, loaded the panchromatic film into my camera and told myself to worry about developing it later. One of the photographers I admire has said the phrase, "Shoot first, think later," and it has been stuck in my head.


I brought the medium format Bronica SQ-AI and 80mm PS f/2.8 lens, and loaded the back with Ilford HP5+. Usually if I'm shooting 35mm, I'll rate for 1600 and push two stops, but I kept these medium format rolls at box speed, 400. The Zenzanon 80mm PS f/2.8 never ceases to amaze me. I couldn't ask for any more image quality from this lens.


The US Botanic Gardens is a neat place in Washington, DC. Like other DC attractions and museums, you can just walk in without needing to buy a ticket or pass. I especially enjoyed the arid climate garden. The cacti and other desert succulents are very interesting looking and quite uncommon to see without visiting a TexMex restaurant. In the center garden, there are catwalks you can walk on that traverse along the greenhouse. The views from the catwalks are awesome, but after a few steps onto the platform, you start to feel like a warm plant going through photosynthesis..