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Film Photography 2017

Posted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:47 pm
by drmoss_ca
It's been some time since I irritated you with my snaps. I'm still dedicated to film in 35mm, 120, 4x5 and 10x8 formats. I shan't annoy you all with many examples, but I hope a few of them will please. I have made motorised versions of a pair of 1950's=era Agfa developing tanks that I use now for B&W, colour negative and colour reversal (slide) chemistry. It does make the chemical side of film development very easy.

One of the tanks:
New motorised Rondinax by chrism229, on Flickr

Using it, I have been experimenting with a B&W film that was introduced when colour negative films became the norm and ordinary B&W processing was hard to obtain. This film was a monochrome version of a colour film, and was meant to be processed in the same pharmacy/chemist's/photo minilab as any colour negative film - using the same chemical process as colour films ("C-41" is the process). Essentially, instead of having silver halides embedded in a gelatin emulsion, these films have a tiny amount of silver halide that will trigger, when exposed to light, dye-couplers in the same emulsion to make clouds of dye, which make the image in the negative. This is called a chromogenic film. The advantage is almost no grain at all. Many hipster-type users of film today regard grain as proof that they were cool enough to use film, and the more obvious the grain, the easier it is for everyone else to understand how cool they are. This doesn't wash for those of us who grew up learning to use film before there was an easy digital alternative. Grain was the enemy then, and it got worse with faster film speeds. So what I have done is to figure out that the tiny bit of silver in this chromogenic film might still be developed in the same kind of chemicals that regular B&W films require. There are many available chemical recipes, and all are cheaper than using the chemical kits that are needed for developing colour films. Furthermore, this might mean that the film could be 'pulled' (over-exposed and under-developed to reduce contrast in bright light) or 'pushed' (under-exposed and over-developed to allow an image in dark conditions) like a traditional B&W film. And if that were true, would it also mean less grain? Several hundred feet of film later, and a few gallons of chemicals, I have a result. Yes, you can develop this film in B&W chemistry, and you can pull and push it. Grain is not present in any significant way, and I have rather enjoyed being called a liar when I have presented scans of the negatives online as film shots - some cannot believe they are not digital! Here are examples of Ilford XP2 Super, nominally an ISO 400 film:

ISO 50:
Rudbeckia by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 100:
XP2 @ ISO 100 by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 200:
Dan by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 400:
Four Eyes by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 800:
Experiments in Push Processing 10 by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 1600:
Pippa 2017 #16 by chrism229, on Flickr

ISO 3200:
Experiment in Push Processing 5 by chrism229, on Flickr

It was rather fun figuring out the development regimes involved - which vary from 3 minutes to 24 minutes for the exposure indices shown above. But it's not been all work, as I have extracted my 1991 Miata from the office basement, where she has sadly been sitting for the last 16 years waiting for me to have time to bring her back to life. I used her gently from 1991 to 2001 each summer, but when my practice partner jumped ship having found life here too busy, I had to do his work as well as my own and the car stayed in the basement for 16 years until CLL saved me(!) A few weeks and a few thousand dollars later, we went round the Cabot Trail:

Cabot Trail 1 by chrism229, on Flickr

and saw some lovely scenery, all recorded on colour film and home developed:
Cabot Trail 3 by chrism229, on Flickr

So I had to reward the car (I must give her a name) with some new paint, a new tan soft top, and some new wheels:
Miata 1991 by chrism229, on Flickr

She is now tucked away in a garage for the winter. I feel a bit sorry for her in that this will be her first winter in an unheated garage, but I hope she'll cope. I can't wait to go for another road trip with the top down next summer, should the CLL approve it. I still have a few year's worth of film stock in my film freezer, and I have sold all my digital cameras except for one. When the snow goes I'll be out using them up, and perhaps doing some more paper negatives in the 10"x8" view camera in the meantime.


Re: Film Photography 2017

Posted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:40 pm
by CMur12
Well, I'm impressed with your experiments in chromogenic B&W film and standard B&W chemicals, Chris!

I wouldn't have guessed that you would get such image quality using this technique, as I would guess that chromogenic films have fewer silver halide crystals spread father apart; hence, lower resolution and scattered grain with the dye couplers and ink clouds removed. Your experiments clearly prove that this is not the case. I have always regarded grain as the "enemy," as well, so I have been amazed to hear photographers tout grain as a desirable quality that distinguishes their film-derived images from digital.

Interesting that you have purged your digital equipment. My guess is that the camera you kept is the Leica Monochrom (?).

I'm also pleased to see the love going to the Miata. Your NA (first generation) Miata, with unassisted steering, is the "purest" of the Miatas - the most elemental of sports cars, in my eyes. What a lovely little car.

- Murray

Re: Film Photography 2017

Posted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:00 pm
by brothers
Chris, it's good to see you active again with your informative detailed photographic posting. You and your lovely wife look great. I love the classic Miata.

Re: Film Photography 2017

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:05 am
by fallingwickets
quad qc and the trail get my vote.....amazing pics. Do you post any of these on instagram or similar? if you don;t you should....become one of those fancy 'influencers' :lol: