Film Friday #6

Another digital scan of a darkroom print. This one is a 10″x8″ print on Fotospeed RCVC Oyster paper.

Taken with a Canon EOS 600 with a cheap and cheerful 28-105mm lens and the film was out of date Kodak 400TX, commercially developed, which had been in the camera since 2016 before I finished the roll recently. The print was a straight print with no dodging or burning.

Stand developing: follow-up

Any lack of sharpness is down to poor camera craft!

As a brief follow-up to the Stand Development post, here is an image printed in the darkroom from one of those negatives.

A brief recap. The camera was a Nikon EM with a 50mm “E” lens. The film, Kodak 400TX (expired circa 2013) with this particular image being taken in early 2016, so the latent image has been languishing in the camera for over three years.

The print is grainier than I would prefer but as I already noted this was not the perfect situation for trying stand development. However, this is a straight print and despite the tonal differences between Zac and his background the whole print had a 17 second exposure under the enlarger and I have not needed to use contrast filters or any dodging and burning.

So, whilst it is unlikely that I shall be using stand development for 400 ISO films in the future I shall certainly be employing the technique from time to time and it’s a useful tool in my developing (pun intended) toolkit.

Stand Developing

In the past I’ve always developed my 35mm black and white films using Ilford’s Ilfosol film developer, diluted at recommended ratios and developed for the recommended number of minutes. Such a little conformist! So, for my first film development in three years I decided to break with my own tradition and try stand development.   No reason other than I wanted to try it out for myself having read a lot about it recently.

I was developing two rolls of Kodak 400TX which insofar as I can determine both expired in 2015. I’ve read mixed reports on Tri-X stand developed in Rodinal but decided to give it a whirl for myself. Nothing like mixing up all the variables!

My chosen workflow is an adaptation that has been based on the many recipes  and slightly different approaches that I’ve been reading about.

  1. Prewash in room temperature water 10 minutes
  2. Rodinal diluted 1:100 at 20  degrees. Agitate using full inversions for 30 seconds, tap the tank twice on table top, leave for 60 minutes, agitating once at 30 minutes (which technically makes this semi-stand development)
  3. Stop bath, 1 minute (I used Ilfostop diluted 1:19 as I had it to hand)
  4. Fix using Ilford Rapid Fixer at 1:4 for 5 minutes (again it was what I had to hand)
  5. Wash 10 minutes using the “Ilford method”. Fill the tank with water and invert 3 times and leave to stand for 1 minute, change the water and invert 6 times, and leave to stand for 1 minute, then change water and invert 12 times, leave to stand and finally you agitate 24 times before leaving to stand for another minute.
  6. Final wash in room temperature water with a few drops of Adoflo II wetting agent
  7. Hang to dry in bathroom – threatening Grandsons with dire consequences if they touch them!

And the verdict?

Boring!!

Seriously … this was tedious …

Seriously, compared to normal film development, this was tedious although to be fair, now I know what to expect I’d use the two thirty minute “breaks” to have lunch or catch up on my forum reading.

The two strips of negatives are currently drying but my first look at them was very positive. I have 72 decent-looking negatives and whilst I’ve not looked at them closely my first impressions are fairly good. They have a full range of tones, look clean and sharp and blemish free. They do appear to lack a little contrast although that is the price of getting a full range of tones I guess. Grain looks a little harsher than I expected from this film in the past but it must be remembered that they are out of date films, with one film having sat in the camera, part-exposed, for around four years and the negatives are definitely usable. And as I intimated earlier, not everyone recommends stand development of Kodak 400XT.

Will I use the process again? Yes – absolutely, although I’d like to try it with one of my better lenses, fresh film and also an emulsion that doesn’t get such mixed reviews for stand development. But first I’m looking forward to printing some of these in the cellar darkroom.

Film Friday #2

Surprise View: Pentax 645 Neopan 400

Fujifilm Neopan 400 black and white film was discontinued around 2013 I believe. It was never a film I played with much back in the day, being more of a Tri-X or HP5 kinda guy, but I clearly bought a few rolls of 120 film around 2010 because I’ve just unearthed the negatives!

Surprise View: Pentax 645 Neopan 400

Now I’m told that Neopan 400 was never the greatest film in the world and I shall take other peoples word for it but I must have bought a few rolls as I’ve found negatives from a Pentax 645 as well as the Mamiya RB67.

It’s a shame about the edge of the umbrella creeping in! Schoolboy error. I’m still posting this though because of the detail especially in the banner. Mamiya RB67 Neopan 400

On Wednesday I put seven rolls of exposed film in the post for developing by Digitalab in Newcastle. Watch this space!

Skye 2015

Canon AE1 Kodak 400TX

As its Friday I’ve dusted off the scanner ready to make my first “Film Friday” post. I did shoot a roll of 35mm film yesterday but as I’m going to be sending films off for developing for a while I’ve nothing from yesterday that I can scan. So I’ve dug out my old negative folder and am looking for something suitable for my first official Film Friday offering.

In the meantime here’s a few 35mm black & white negatives I scanned all taken with a Canon AE1 on Kodak 400TX (the replacement for Tri-X I believe) on Skye in 2015 (click an image to make it bigger).

Holga 120 Panoramic Camera

Last week I found a roll of 120 Ilford Delta 400 in the back of a drawer that had lain there for goodness only knows how long. Nothing on the label told me what camera it had been through (I have four that take 120 roll film) nor what was actually on the film. I’ve only recently packed away the darkroom and with it the film processing tools as well so it was sent off to Ag Photographic for processing.

On its return it was clearly the test roll I had put through a Holga Panoramic camera early last year and totally forgotten about in the meantime. Four strips of film, around 6cm x 12cm, each containing one image. I popped the first on to the small light box I still hang on to and it was immediately clear that they were all horribly over-exposed, a fact that I’d already been able to see just by glancing at them in their protective sheet. I wasn’t particularly surprised, the “controls” on the Holga 120 Panoramic are rudimentary to say the least and this was the first roll through the camera.

Undaunted I popped the first on to the scanner (a rather outdated Epson Perfection V550 that I have had since at least 2013) and fired up the interface. It took quite a lot of tweaking to get detail appearing and it took around fifteen minutes to scan the first negative. I scanned at 3200dpi (the scanner has an optical max of 6400) and saved the resultant scan as a 16-bit grayscale TIFF file.

© Dave Whenham
The shot here does have a certain atmosphere or charm I guess.

Why did I buy such a camera in the first place? Tempted by the hype in one online review on the Lomography website perhaps?

“One could argue that its 90mm ‘OPTICAL LENS’ is a piece of crap. I would argue that the fancier competitors (e.g. Linhof, Horseman etc…) produce cold, sad, perfect panoramic shots you wouldn’t even consider hanging in your toilet. Or maybe I’m just frustrated I can’t afford one of these monsters… Anyhow, the usual soft focus and vignette produced by the dirt-cheap lens give the warmth and dreaminess we all love in lomographs”

Well, as you can see the 90mm lens is definitely soft and the promised soft focus and vignetting is there for all to see.

© Dave Whenham
Soft & really? Or just crap?

© Dave Whenham
Can you see any sharps spots?

Well, I paid over my pennies as you can see and I took the camera for a wander down Gog Hill (above) to the Elland Bridge (first picture) and shot the allotted four frames. Then promptly forgot about it! I was probably waiting to process it with another 120 roll film but got diverted and started playing with the 35mm film SLRs instead.

© Dave Whenham
All images Holga 120 Panoramic with Ilford Delta 400 roll film.

What do I think now? Well, the images are everything I thought they would be so no disappointments there, but they probably don’t sit with the type of work I’m doing right now. They have taken a fair bit of work to look half decent, and I’ve not tried printing them yet. But the fact that they don’t “sit well” with my current work is perhaps irrelevant. We all experiment at times, or at least we should experiment, and these have produced images with the characteristic Holga charm. Charm is highly subjective of course and one mans charming image is another’s out-of-focus, soft piece of crap I guess.

Yesterday I was ready to ditch the Holga, even offering it to anyone who wanted it amongst my Flickr friends. But this morning, having processed the other three negatives I’m a little less inclined to ditch the experiment altogether. I won’t be rushing off to put another roll through the plastic-fantastic but it will live to see another film at some point I think.