Developing B&W Film

As part of my return to a film workflow, I decided to work through my backlog of film. These are 35mm and 120 rolls of both B&W as well as color, which I’ve shot over the past year. (On expired film, no less!) I don’t have the chemicals yet for C-41 processing, but I did get what I needed for B&W. Last night, I developed one roll of 120, and two 35mm rolls. These were shot on a Holga, a Lomo LC-A, and a Leica M6.

Old habits die hard, and after a few minutes, I was back in my groove, able to process without thinking too much. After drying, I realized how important a good light box is, as I tried to use a flashlight and some paper to see my new negatives. What really stood out for me, were the images from the M6. Not only did it appear to have more keepers, but even photos I struggled to capture, seem to have come out ok. Once I digitize these, I’ll get a better look at the performance of each of these cameras.

Some tips for those wishing to develop their own B&W film:

  1. Use a Patterson tank, and double check the required volume of liquids (written on the bottom). This really helps save on chemicals!
  2. Use glass jars to store your chemicals. Photographer’s Formulary is a nice brand, and I like their amber colored containers. They also come with caps!
  3. Add in glass marbles to fill up the empty head space in those jars. This will help your chemicals store longer. Also store them in dark, cool area.
  4. Label all those jars! I have added information for developer type, mix date, and how many rolls processed (counting 120 as 2), for the stop and fixer. (I reuse these)
  5. You don’t have to wait 24 hours for freshly mixed developer, just make sure it is dissolved properly.
  6. Make notes for chemical types. Use it like a cheat sheet during processing.
  7. LabTimer for the iPhone is great, and simple to use.
  8. Pipe in some music to help pass the time.

I still have a few more rolls to process, and I just got some Portra 120 to experiment on. I have plans to visit the local badlands in Central California, in a few weeks, to try out creating some medium format landscapes. Film is back, and it’s better than ever!

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Re-visiting the Old

It is ironic that I find myself drawn (again), to film photography. There will always be something about film, something magical for me. The discovery of toy cameras, makes this discovery of serendipitous images, even more alluring. It’s like finding a little treasure in a pile of images. It also ties into this post, and a new direction for my blog.

As my last post indicated (3 years ago!), I’ve been busy settling into a new home. I’ve also been busy exploring other art forms, both photography and otherwise. After this divergence, I’ve returned back to photography, with the lessons of this experimentation. Much of the time has been spent understanding the concept of “art for the sake of art.” But, also, trying to create meaning with art. I’ve found that the discovery of meaning, can be found through creation. And sometimes, art can be just that. Art.

So I hope to return to this blog, and talk less about the technical, and more about the process of creating art, showcasing what projects I am working on, and new discoveries I’ve made as an artist.

The biggest realization recently, has been the creation of prints. Photographers don’t print anymore. They post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, and that is their only medium to showcase their images. Unfortunately, the computer screen does not match the fidelity of a masterfully printed photograph. And you really can’t hang a computer up on a wall.

I’ve decided to start printing my images again. I used to use an Epson 2200 printer, but ink was becoming cost prohibitive. (I was able to create a series of brightly colored 13″x19″ prints, which I still enjoy today) Instead, I’ve decided to outsource my printing to a couple different candidates (BayPhoto, ProDPI, and possibly, Adorama). I hope to continue to build up my print library, and keep an ever changing photo display in my home studio.

Here’s to a new direction in my work, and a new direction for this blog!

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Changing It Up

I’ve been so busy moving to my new location, I haven’t had a chance to even update any blogs, shoot, or even edit photos. Things are beginning to settle down though, and I can finally get working again. I’ve stopped using my own web domain. The work and effort necessary to maintain it was too much. I am now on 500px instead. Not quite as elegant as Smug Mug’s custom solution, but it’s also free and requires very little in terms of management from me. I am still in the process of uploading my images, but If you are interested in visiting, here is the URL:

In other news, I’m hoping to get a decent shot of the Endeavor riding shotgun on the NASA 747 tomorrow morning by Moffet. Fingers crossed!

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Think Tank Test Drive Demo Out

For folks who would like to try out Think Tank’s modular system, either the Modular Rotation or Skin Rotation sets, Think Tank is offering a 2 week free trial now, until March 31st or until all sets are given out. If after two weeks you don’t like it, you can return it, otherwise you bought it. More information found here.

The Skin system seems pretty useful to me, but I wonder if it would be strange walking around with all my gear hanging on my hips? I do like the customizable options. Perhaps it would be best paired with a backpack – so only the most often switched out or used gear is placed on the hips, the rest is carried in the backpack. I may consider doing this, or just purchase one of the Retrospective shoulder bags.

Here’s a great review I found of the Think Tank Skin set. He addresses some of the main concerns I have shooting out of a backpack. Have a look!

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Adobe Photoshop Touch Released on iPad

Adobe announced today that their iPad version of Photoshop is now available for $9.99 through the iTunes store. For additional information, please check the Adobe site.

This looks like it will be a fantastic tool for the photographer on the go. It will be interesting to see how this app will fare against Apple’s recently announced iPad version of iPhoto.

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Adobe Lightroom 4 Released

Adobe has released a new version of Lightroom, bringing the venerable photo management and editing software to version 4. Full version is priced at $149 and the upgrade is priced at $79 for existing users. For a limited time, Adobe is also offering free shipping on Lightroom 4 upgrades and purchases. If you have yet to purchase Photoshop, you can add on Lightroom 4 for an additional $99 to complete your workflow. Check out Adobe for additional information.

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News: Nikon Updates J1 and V1 Firmware

Nikon has updated the firmware for their J1/V1 cameras to version A:1.11/B:1.10. The fix includes:

  •  An issue that sometimes caused images captured using the Speedlight SB-N5 to be over-exposed has been resolved.
  • When switching from framing photos in the monitor to using the electronic viewfinder, or vice versa, with focus mode set to MF (manual focus) and the display zoomed in, the camera sometimes did not function properly.  This issue has been resolved.

Nikon has also updated the lens firmware for the 1 system, which includes a fix for images that may have blurred after being taken if the camera was moved too quickly, and aperture setting that were recorded incorrectly.

1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 updated to 1.02

1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD Zoom updated to 1.01

1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 updated to 1.02

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Nikon’s New Cameras

For those living under a rock, Nikon released two new cameras for 2012, the ultra-high megapixel D800 and the new flagship model, the D4. The question is, how are these cameras for nature or wildlife photography? I’ve spent the past couple days mulling over the details, and I think the answer is, “It depends.”

Nikon's New D800 features a 36.3 megapixel FX sensor.

For macro and landscape photographers, the higher megapixel rating of the D800 is very attractive and will provide another level of detail. Wildlife photographers would also appreciate the higher level of detail, but would sacrifice the higher FPS.

Nikon's flagship D4 features a 16.2 megapixel FX sensor and 11FPS continuous full frame shooting.

The D4 provides a higher FPS and better low light performance, something wildlife photographers will love. (Especially those who shoot in dim/low light conditions, like rainforests or in the woods.) The lower megapixel rating isn’t terrible, and should be able to create some amazing imagery.

For myself, I have yet to decide which model is right for me. Shooting in a wide variety of conditions, the D800 would provide the best all around solution, but the low light performance of the D4 could open up a whole new world, and a whole new method of shooting. Though switching to an FX sensor from a DX sensor will pull in the fantastic reach of my 300mm f/4. Perhaps the D800 would be a nice match to the D300.

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