Archive for darkroom

Light, Time and Silver with a Roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan

Posted in black & white, film, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2018 by yammerman

 

DSCF6134The hottest summer since ’76 has finally passed into history and the attic darkroom has become habitable to the human species once more.  With rolls of film piling up, I cleared the space of cardboard boxes and guitar speakers to make room for some old fashioned film processing.  I had been given some developing equipment by a friend, who’d obtained it in an auction, so I began sorting through it to see what might be useful.  In a developing reel box, along with the new reel, I found an old roll of 120 Kodak Verichrome Pan; I confess a film new to me.  It was old enough that the rubber band wrapped to prevent exposure had fused to it.  Imagine my delight; here was delayed gratification on a grand scale.

How old it was, I could not tell, it sure looked ancient.  How long does it take a rubber band to fuse to paper? Google failed to help with that, although I came across a few archivists who didn’t have a good word for rubber bands, suggesting it takes many years.  Incidental fun fact, it was invented by Stephen Perry in 1845.  Other clues included a metal film spool which Google failed, as it so often does, to provide a definitive answer but the switch to plastic seems to have occurred in the early seventies.  The older the better I hoped but I learned nothing definitive from my efforts.  Really, I was just putting off the moment when I’d have to get the film on a reel and decide how long to process it for and in what developer.

The Massive Dev Chart had a list of options for obsolete films including Rodinal which I have in the form of Adonal.  It has been open for a couple of years but the urban legend is that it lasts for ever.  So, that combined with the person on a photographic forum who said ‘this was a popular film in its time with a high latitude for exposure and development’ – how could I go wrong?

I was slightly nervous that the film might have stuck to itself after many years, but it was fine and wound on to the reel without problems and the backing peeled off just as they do now.  I settled on a combination of the Massive Dev time with other online advice to give it slightly longer.  In the end I gave it Adonal 1+50 @21degrees for 10mins one inversion every 30 secs.  A quick bath in the Stop and 4mins in the Fix.  Then the moment this film had been waiting 40 or 50 years to arrive, a human eye was looking at what the light, time and silver might have done.

So the first thing to say is that it was 6×9 film from a camera that clearly had a malfunction half way through the roll.  I had four shots of a dog; one with a young girl.  It all seemed to go wrong for some reason and the last four shots were one more indistinct shot of the girl with the dog and then just nothing but strangeness.  Did the film jam; did the camera break; and is that why it was left undeveloped for decades?  I’d hoped for something that gave a clue as to the age of the film; some drama; or some evocation of the past, but this all seemed very mundane.

I thought how disappointing, only two shots in focus because the dog moved, the camera moved, or the limits of range focusing had been reached.  But as with all old photographs that capture a moment in time, it makes you think of the future and what might have happened to that young girl.  Is she still alive?  Did she have a good life?  She is like all of us, waiting for an unknown future to unfold and hoping for the best.

I wasn’t even going to bother scanning the others but then I thought silver salts and light even by accident can do magic.  Maybe complete failures are more interesting than the almost focused, almost exposed, successful shots.  Man Ray comes to mind, achieved with a broken camera in a backyard, somewhere sometime, by an act of  serendipity.  Could digital do this?, well not in my experience, which is why I love film.  You can screw up big time and still get something interesting.  Viva analogue, viva accidents and viva failure.

I wonder what sort of dog that is?

 

 

Lost and Found

Posted in black & white, film, lost and found, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2017 by yammerman

 

 

6x7027As readers of my last blog will know, I misplaced a film during the windswept expedition to West Wales and, as a lover of a happy ending, I am pleased to report its return.

Gather round….

I went walking yesterday and took the Mamiya 7II out but didn’t take a single shot. When I left, I took a new box of spare film as I have a fear that aliens will descend from the sky suddenly or Lord Lucan will appear strolling on the promenade and I will be stuck without enough film.

On my return, as  I took the spare film from my pocket, I had one of those problem solving revelations that used to strike me quite often as a computer engineer.  I’d be trying to fix something for hours (I’d confess to days but that would make me sound completely hopeless) when suddenly inspiration would strike and the opaque would become transparent.

In this case, the moment I noticed the spare film box was open I knew what some idiot had done and that I would find the lost film inside. This is something I ordinarily never do but in extremis, like a war zone or a little wind and rain on a welsh hill, the centre cannot hold.

As I pulled the film from the box, I still couldn’t quite believe it; had I not brought the full weight of my man looking skills to bear on the search?  Had I not looked several times; would my wife not present this to a jury of my peers as evidence that I cannot find a damn thing?

A man without my moral courage might have just overlooked the whole thing, but when I processed the film in Illford HC  1/31 @20 degree for 6.5 mins I had four images I liked well enough to share.

In Rain and Sun with a Mamiya 7II

Posted in black & white, film, penarth, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2017 by yammerman

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I made a visit to West Wales where the stereotype that it would rain the whole time was confirmed by plumes of spray on the motor-way and low cloud pressing down on the hills.  I patiently followed a cement mixer along the winding country roads for many a mile, hypnotised by its slowly turning drum as the rain continued to fall.  I’d come to visit a friend in Cardigan and mount a photo expedition with my Mamiya 7II.  We dined on Shepherd’s Pie and red wine that night; a sound preparation it turns out for the next day and a wet and windy Pentre Ifan.

The following morning, the BBC Weather app normally so unreliable proved accurate as their picture of a cloud with two drops of rain could be confirmed by a drawing back of the curtain.  But a couple of eternal optimists like our good selves were not to be discouraged by the predictions of a supercomputer and so we found ourselves leaning into the wind and rain, my Mamiya 7II wrapped in a plastic bag.

One thing I can confirm is that the ancients did not erect these stones for the purpose of shelter although, when combined with a decently placed umbrella, you can change a 120 film with reasonable speed.  Unfortunately it does appear that you lose the film you take out at this point and it has not as yet turned up.  An enquiry into who was at fault in this matter is yet to be convened.

I normally don’t wander about in the rain with a camera so that may explain why some pretty basic stuff becomes something of a challenge.  Taking the lens cap off and focusing, it turns out, are somewhat essential to photography even when you are trying to keep the damn camera dry.

The ancient gods smiled upon us for our efforts and the cloud base did lift enough that we could see the coast from our lofty position.  We then visited the beach north of the river at Parrog, where the remnant of Storm Brian had left seaweed in great quantities giving the appearance that it was making an attempt to become a land based creature.  It didn’t appear to be raining but the air was full of water, pleasantly warm while clouds hung upon the higher ground.  I imagine in summer it would prove to be rather idyllic. We breakfasted late or lunched early in the Vic North Cafe an establishment of some pedigree and highly recommended.

Then next day as I drove home the autumn sun shone, mist hung in the valleys and the mirth of the photographic gods could be heard echoing through the hills.

I still had 5 shots left in the camera and so, on my return to Penarth on a completely different kind of autumn day, I finished the roll.  I’d processed the two rolls of HP5+ in Ilford HC 1/31 @20 degrees for 6 mins before remembering there must be a third roll I’ve misplaced.  Gratification delayed for an eternity I fear and possibly the greatest images taken but never processed, I like to think.

In a radical move I tweaked them in Lightroom using a colour preset.

 

 

A Walk with a Mamiya 7 MkII

Posted in black & white, film, penarth, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2017 by yammerman

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The last days of summer are upon us and in a break from the everyday 35mm I took out my Mamiya 7 MkII with its 80mm lens. Only ten frames of 6×7 on a roll of 120 generate a feeling you need to make every frame count but on a sleepy afternoon in Penarth, it’s not so easy. I’ve done this walk hundreds of times so I don’t expect to find anything new but a different camera always has other ideas. Few things in life are as lovely as a large black and white negative fresh out of the wash, shiny and wet offering up its delayed satisfaction.  You know I might even print some in the darkroom.

This is the whole roll of Ilford FP4 processed in Ilford HC for 6:30mins @  22 degrees and then tweaked in Adobe Lightroom.

West Sussex on a Roll of HP5+.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2016 by yammerman

 

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I’m slowly working through the rolls of exposed film sitting in the darkroom. It’s not quite the 2500 rolls that Gary Winogrand left but given a fair wind with my health and a continued need to click a shutter, a small mountain might yet be in my grasp.

I’m currently processing one at a time just to get a feel for how the chemistry is working.  Using Ilford HC instead of Rodinal gives slightly better grain with Ilford HP5+ to my eye though that is using the Epson V700 rather than darkroom printing. I will fire up the enlarger at some point if only to see the difference.

I used a more concentrated Ilford HC this time at 1+31 instead of 1+47 which at 20degrees only takes 6:30. The HC has turned a tinge of brown in the bottle but still seems to have some potency. A lot less dust this time but I kept the windows closed (I’m a bit of a genius on the quiet) which is somewhat easier with autumn coming on. I changed back to the Ilford wetting agent and scanned the film as soon as it was dry. Still the odd blob but not the blizzard I had been getting.

This roll is shot on the south coast around Emsworth and Chidam. Nothing exciting tweaked in Lightroom with a bit of noise reduction and an Antique preset. Likely  shot with Leica M3 and 50mm Summicron.

Returning to Analogue with a Leica M3

Posted in photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by yammerman

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It’s a long time since the smell of photo chemicals has been upon me but I finally got back in the game after an autumn sort out. I’ve started on a dozen rolls of Ilford HP5+ I’d shot but not processed, just to get my hand back in. These were shot with a Leica M3 and an old 50mm Summicron  ISO400 with a yellow filter.

It may take a few rolls to get in the swing but it’s good to hear the sound of water gurgling. Some of these photos are processed in Adox Adonal and some in Ilford HC, both attesting to their ability to still work after a long period of sitting on the shelf.  I’m not a big fan of the grain but that might be accentuated by the Epson V700 scanner and my ham-fisted processing.

I’ve had problems with dust so I’m trying to find a regime that reduces that to a bearable level.  Dust was the thing that got me using a digital camera most of the time.  I find myself dreaming of a drying cabinet when a shaft of sunlight reveals the dust floating in the air as a wet length of film drys.

Nothing exciting here all tweaked in Lightroom then an Antique preset.

Nostalgia on a Roll of Rollei Retro 400S.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2015 by yammerman

Pic013 There are projects online where people take great pleasure in processing old film that has been left for years sitting in a camera or on a shelf. These are moments in time, waiting to be revealed to a world they could not have imagined.  Young girls that are now old maids, soldiers on tanks their fates as yet unknown, an analogue world pregnant with possibilities.

Then there are those so seduced by the new digital age that, though they shoot film, are actually too lazy to process it preferring the instant gratification provided by the shiny new pixel machines. Not me, of course; I would never allow 10 rolls of film to back up on the shelf for years, convinced that nothing in the viewfinder was of much interest, but merely created because the sound of a shutter clicking is rather pleasant and fondling a film camera is a delight……..well, OK, maybe.

So this is the first roll that’s been through the chemicals,  a three year old roll of Rollei Retro 400S shot while the country was awash with Olympic fever in 2012. I think you’d have to agree that these images capture the true flavour of the spirit that gripped the nation during that heady summer. It’s hard to believe such a remarkable record of nostalgia could remain unprocessed for so long.

The Massive Dev chart reckoned on 22min in Rodinal 1+50 @20degrees  but I always find those numbers too long for my setup and went with 17.5 mins.  They seem to scan a bit better when under developed like this. The only problem is the dust, which drives me nuts and which I get bored trying to clone out.

I give you eight off the roll not because they are any good but because I can. In a world with some staggeringly good photographers, I feel I could claim a niche in the ‘dullness’ movement. I just need to work up my artistic statement and then, look out, Turner Prize.

I feel duty bound to leave no film unprocessed upon my demise as I can only imagine the disappointed faces of the retronauts when they unfurl the rolls from the fix. Scanned and tweaked in Lightroom.