Recent efforts to bring my guitar playing up to speed for the forthcoming Airtight Garage reunion have meant that the photography has taken a back seat. But a weekend away to rehearse and watch England’s opening game in the World Cup meant I could dust off a camera. I’ve been favouring my Bessa R2a recently, simply because the Aperture Priority mode means one less thing I can screw up. Forseeing low light, I used my Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM which always seems to perform well.
I loaded it up with Rollei 400s – a film I recently managed to produce two rolls of thin nothingness due to what I think was a timing error when processing. I thought I’d be taking a few pictures in a darkened rehearsal space so I decided to push it to 1600; a brave move considering I’d yet to have any decent results at normal speed.
As it turned out, I was far too busy playing and kind of singing to take any pictures in the room, so the shots here are just me firing off to burn film. The humans in these pictures may want to have words but I’m safe from the inanimate objects.
In another brave move, I avoided my Xtol as I was suspicious it might have played some part in my last failure and used a brand new to me but as old as the hills developer Rodinal. It has been around since the early days of photography and is something of a classic. The things I’d read suggested I was going to get grain and with pushing the Rollei 400s I geared myself up for some disappointment. I was further worried by the Massive Dev chart having no timings for the combination and speed I’d used.
A Google search led me to Flickr and a dear soul who’d actually used this combination but the time was a 1 hour 30 mins with stand development. I’d never used this method before, being a man who likes his film processed in under 10 minutes if I can. One immediate benefit became clear; you could give a minute’s agitation and then bugger off and watch some football, then come back in 45 mins, have another 10 sec agitation, and then disappear off for another 45 mins. Film processing for the World Cup watcher. So as Italy struggled in the rain against Paraguay the Rodinal at 1 to 100 dilution worked its magic.
It’s always exciting when you get to open the dev tank and see the film for the first time and doubly so when you have no idea if some random advice from the internet is going to work. As it turns out, the negs were a little thin but for scanning that’s fine, so I was pretty happy when I hung them up. Naturally some disaster had to befall me and this time it was the old film hanger I’ve bought to replace the guitar lead I used to hang film off. With this old thing, you just slide the film into clamps which seem like a fine idea until they slide out and you find your wet film lying on a dusty floor. Much gnashing of teeth and cursing followed and a bit of dust removal in Lightroom, but below are the results which show that this is a combination that might have legs. My Rodinal experiments will continue for a while yet on this evidence.
And the rehearsal well – click Sparking in the Dark for noise.