I developed a film today, and I don’t think I made any glaring mistakes. I didn’t kink the film as it went onto the spool. The whole film fit on the spool, so I didn’t need to do a random snip of the film partway along. The lid didn’t fall off the Patterson tank before the fixer had gone in. I didn’t scratch the film by impatiently running my fingers along it to speed up the drying process.
So, I’m improving from a physical technique perspective. I think that I’m also improving from a black and white film photography perspective. I’m seeing the contrasts better before I take the picture. I’m seeing what will work a bit more. Or at least I think so.
I’m very excited about this photograph, taken at Arthur’s Seat on Mount Lofty. Photographed with an Olympus OM-1, on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film, and developed with Ilford DD-X at 1+4 dilution, for 9 mintues at 20°C.
A few weeks ago I wrote about doing wet photography again. I’m now two films in, and it’s as good as I remember it. My films aren’t working out perfectly. I’m making mistakes. A lot of them. Bad metering. Bad film handling. Bad dropping-the-film-out-of-the-Patterson-tank-during-the-developing-process. Bad walking-into-the-still-wet-film-leaving-lint-everywhere.
But, it doesn’t matter. I’m finding it incredibly relaxing. Incredibly fulfilling. And that’s exactly what I need, and exactly what I was hoping for. The last time I developed a film by hand was in year 10, and all the smells bring me right back to those hallways. Those buildings. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
If you’re a Fediversian, you can find me on my PixelFed instance. If you’re not, you should consider getting a Mastodon account at the very friendly aus.social, from where you can follow me here (@email@example.com), my Mastodon account (@TechnicalKO@aus.social), and my PixelFed instance (@KO@photos.karloskar.org). The other good place to find my photographs (other than right here!), is at Flickr.
I will do a post on my workflow, and general setup, once I’ve streamlined it a bit more.
It’s no secret that I like technology, and I do, if I’m going to be absolutely honest with myself (and what better a place for that than in a place where about 56.1% of the world’s population can read it), think that I’m quite good at it. Quite good at software, and also quite good at hardware. Last week I repaired a motherboard on a motion controller, and it booted right up after many hours with a soldering iron and replacing components.
But I’m also tired. Maybe verging on exhausted.
Tired of “instant”. I’m tired of the process of taking a photograph is see, snap, review (probably redo these three steps a few times), then post, hashtag. After that it’s largely forgotten, with the exception of collecting notifications from bots.
This ties in with me dumping my Fitbit. Dumping Facebook. Dumping Instagram.
So, what is my plan?
My plan is to go analogue for photographs. Not exclusively, but significantly more than I have in the last…20 years.
I bought my first digital SLR in 200…and…5…I think. Since then I’ve been chasing crisper, less noise, and faster. Better lenses. Better/bigger sensors. The last camera I bought was a Canon 5D, and I have used that camera extensively. But the trap of reviewing, even on the back of that crappy LCD on the back, gets me nearly every time. I don’t sit back and trust that I have done the right thing, trusted my gut and taken a passable photograph.
So, now – to the plan. The plan is to not only start shooting film again, but I’m going to develop my own film, too. At this stage I’ll develop to film and probably scan the shots I want to do something with, but there’s nothing (except space in the laundry) that will prevent me from getting an enlarger, paper,some trays, some more chemicals, and printing my own.
I asked my old photography teacher from high school if he had any developing tanks left, and not only did he have a Patterson tank, he also had a Minolta XG-1 with lenses and a flash that he wasn’t using any more. So I now own that, and I’m very pleased.
I’ve bought some film, and have taken a few pictures. But I don’t know if they’re any good until I develop them, and today I organised the equipment I need for that, beyond the tank. I ordered the developer, stop bath, and fixer from B&H in New York (for about $40 less than it would cost to buy locally – including shipping from the US). I ordered a couple of volumetric flasks for mixing chemicals, and some storage bottles. And a portable darkroom bag for loading the film onto the spools and into the Patterson tanks.
I really enjoy night photography. I like the standing-around-ness of it, while you wait for your exposure to finish. I like the way the world looks different in an over-exposed night-light. I like the ethereal look of anythign that’s moved.
This photo was taken at f/7.1, at ISO 400 with an exposure time of 106 seconds. Fisherman unknown.
A hundred metres or so from the beach at Port Willunga is the shipwreck of the Star of Greece. She sunk in 1888 after 20 years of service. 18 crew perished, and 16,000 bags of wheat destined for Great Britain were lost.
If the tide is way out you can see one of the masts sticking out of the water, which makes it easier to find from the beach. You can see the approximate area of the wreck if you look for the small dark patch of water north of the reef (very large patch of dark water) in amongst the sand. If you have a look at Google Maps beforehand you can get a feel for where you should look.
I went out there yesterday and visibility wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely worth a visit. I brought our little GoPro Hero Session with me, and took a couple of snaps of the wildlife.
I’d like to dive the wreck-site next time, and spend some time piecing together what’s left, and what’s what. In the meantime, please enjoy the vague descriptions of the photos below.
Driving home from the Fleurieu Peninsula on Sunday there was a heavy blanket of smoke hanging over the hills and the Adelaide plains. I’d been to see dad, helped him repair his lawn mower and sipped a coffee at Port Elliot. I had spent longer there than anticipated, and was running late for dinner with the kids. The way the setting sun was being coloured by the smoke was too enticing, so I swung off the freeway and went up to Mt. Osmond to take a few photos.
I’m finding the act of being creative is really good for my overall wellbeing, so even though it meant that I only just made it home in time for dinner with the family, it’s a really excellent thing to be able to do.