Life in black and white. It’s a good life, so far.
I have processed only a handful of rolls at this point, so it’s hard to tell for certain. Too early. I screwed up my very first roll, I didn’t load it onto the reel properly.
You can see where the film pressed against itself during the developing. Lesson learned. And I haven’t made that mistake again. Yet.
It’s one of the many hazards of home developing.
I was able to mix the developer and fixer correctly, so there’s that. I am using boring old D-76 developer, for all you film nerds interested in the technical babble. I was using a stock dilution, and have only just moved to a 1:1 for my last two rolls.
I’m using water for my stop bath, which seems fine, and I’m not using a wetting agent, but I’m reconsidering that at the moment.
For the film itself, I started with 2 rolls of Ilford HP5+ 400, then 2 rolls of Kodak T-Max 400, and then my last two have been Kodak Tri-X 400. I need to go through all the selections again before I choose one and really stick with it. It was the Ilford that I screwed up during developing, so I probably shouldn’t have formed too solid of an opinion. That said, I am leaning towards not liking it, but I’m willing to give it another day in court before I completely discard it.
Man, I liked the T-Max. Look at those tones!
The Tri-X has been good, too.
Different films do different things under different circumstances. This is all part of the learning curve. I anticipated the first 3-6 months of this was going to be about experimentation, it’s actually one of the reasons I’m glad I didn’t jump straight into medium format. Gotta learn to walk before you can run.
My Plustek 8100 dedicated 35mm film scanner has been pretty great, too. Nice sharp scans, though I wish I could get bigger files with better resolution. I actually want to start printing some pics soon, I would like to see what they look like in the real world.
Which brings me to confession time. Yes, I still manipulate my photos in Photoshop. However, I am spending far less time on my film scans than I was spending on my digital work. I had accumulated a workflow in digital that often meant I was spending an hour or more on one shot. Now, I do some spot removal, I adjust contrast, I dodge and burn, and I still do some light sharpening using a high-pass filter. That last step is the only one that actually doesn’t belong, everything else is just a computer replication of the work I would have normally done in the darkroom anyway.
Anyone who thinks photographers shouldn’t use Photoshop doesn’t know the first thing about photography, it’s history, and how much manipulation when into working the negative.
Again, this is all early stages. But I do know that right now, I would much rather pick up my film camera than my digital.
What did I want out of this experiment? I wanted to do more in the real world, and home developing and scanning has given me that. I wanted to get away from color, and get back to black and white. It’s been surprising how much that has thrown me off, how little I paid attention to lights and darks when shooting digital. Man, I got lazy.
I wanted my Instagram feed to look different that most other people’s. I could see my photos looking like everyone else’s, and it bothered me. Yes, I’m vain that way.
My only worry was that I thought an all black and white feed would be boring. I was wrong. An friend of mine rightly commented, “I’m tired of the black and white…. said no one ever!” Indeed.
I’m shooting again this weekend, with a model this time. My immediate short-term goal is to get more people in front of the camera. If I’m brutally honest, some of my film automotive photography doesn’t look that different from my digital work converted to b&w. But somehow the people look different. People look better on film, more interesting. More real. Digital has a weightless quality to it that you don’t really notice until you capture someone on film. There’s more volume with film, forms seem more substantive, more thorough.
But that’s just me, and I might be wrong.
Here’s to capturing the real.