Monday, November 16, 2009


I've been in buzzing mode for the past week or so. No, I'm not actually buzzing or buzzed. No ingested chemicals have caused this state of mind. So, the word seems a bit arbitrary, but to me it most accurately describes what I'm feeling right now.

I've completely dived into researching various medium format cameras and various kinds of 120 film. Not only because of my interest, but also for the distraction.

The problem is... all I'm coming up with are subjective opinions from others via forums and photo sites. I guess its not really a problem, per se, but when I read oodles and oodles of posts about people arguing over film; Kodak vs Fuji, Ilford vs Agfa, slide vs color neg, and all the debates of specific films (Velvia vs Agfa Ultra, Tmax vs Tri-x, Delta vs HP5+, Superia vs Reala, ___chrome vs ___chrome, the list extends on to infinity... and I haven't even touched debates over developing/developers), I've basically compiled all my research and it chalks up to: You can't really rely on any specific suggestions. Some general ones you can accept - with a grain of salt.

It boils down to that I just gotta get out there and shoot as much film as I can and discover my preferences.

Someone very, very generous is giving me a Lubitel 166+ Universal TLR. It looks so peeerty. But then again, I have an instant attraction to TLRs... for some reason. AND, this camera even has a self-timer!... but its broken and probably can't be fixed easily. But hey, that's okay!

I think I'm stocked up on MF cameras for a while. Now I just need film. And lots of it.

And when I need/want a change, I'll go back to my two lovely 35mm cameras.

I'm really excited to try multiple exposures. In fact, I really want to swap rolls with someone in another city (cough cough Erin) and see what we produce.

I don't just want to take pictures, I want to create pictures. I want each exposure to be a canvas. I want to experiment, and I want to have fun. I want to be inhibited, so before each exposure my camera will slap down a shot. I dont want to take pictures of models, or scenery, or buildings - I want to create pictures of people. Of places. Of things. Sometimes I'm going to want to create pictures of everything and nothing - at the same time. Sometimes I'll let the camera take creation into its own hands, and sometimes I'll force it to do my bidding. Sometimes I'll be aiming to create something sober, sometimes something drunk. Sometimes realistic, sometimes bizarre. Sometimes I'll ask my camera to lie, sometimes I'll insist it be truthful. Sometimes I'll be neglectful, and sometimes I'll be clingy. Sometimes the camera and I will battle and fight, and sometimes we will sing harmoniously.

We'll have great adventures, my cameras and I.


Christopher Ryan.


Shadowscapestudio said...

Couple of comments from and old, long time film shooter.
1) If you are going to be developing the film yourself, stick with B&W negative film for now. Color negative is a bit more complicated, and color positive (transparency film, or slides) is a nightmare. B&W negative film is one, two, three quick and easy that you can do in the kitchen.
2) Don't believe most of what you read about Tri-X film by people who have not spent lots of time shooting it (most people who like to talk about it on forums). It can be grainy if you you want. It can be near no grain if you want. It depend on how you expose it (iso) and how you develop it. Very flexible and fun. My favorite of the B&W negative films.
3) T-Max is good film that was based on over lapping plates like color film uses so you do not get grain like other B&W films. If you like grain, don't use T-Max. I was involved with testing T-Max long before it ever hit the public market.
4) When you are comfortable shooting B&W film, play with altering the iso. e.g.: Tri-X is normally shot at iso 400. It is actually rated 320. I shoot it at 200. At 200 iso and then developed in HC-110, solution B, for 3 minutes 45 seconds, it produces some of the best B&W images known to man with just that needed touch of grain but not over the top like it would be if you had shot the film at iso400 and developed it in D-76 per Kodak recommendation. Play!
5) If you can get a chance to visit we can develop a roll and you can see how easy it is to do. Fifteen minutes and the film will be hanging up drying. And I will donate everything you need to take home and do it on your own.
6) From what I gathered above you were thinking of taking a roll of 120 film and sending it to Erin so she could shoot over it and create double exposures.
Maybe I misunderstood, but if that is what you had in mind, you have a problem to over come. 120 film does not rewind onto its own reel. It ends up on the take up reel and you use the original one for your new take up reel. If you send it to her and she manages to get it started in her camera, her images will be upside down compared to yours, plus they probably will not be perfectly in frame with yours (over lapping other images).
7) Last but not least. If you use T-Max film...don't use T-Max developer....ever. Kodak wanted to come out with a developer for their new film when it hit the market so they created T-Max developer. It sucks. Even Kodak says it sucks. D-76 works much better, and they agree.

Dave Levingston said...

Listen to what that Dave from Marcell has to say. He is right on.

One little note about how to control grain in b/w. If you maintain precise...and I mean PRECISE...temperature control throughout the entire process, including the wash, you will have very fine grain, even with Tri-X at 400 or even 800 ISO. Temperature variations play a major role in grain size.

But, yes, play. That's the fun of black and white. There's all kinds of stuff you can do...and you really can do it all at the kitchen sink. All you need is a changing bag or any space you can make dark. Windowless bathrooms work very well. I started on the floor of my mother's closet. A piece of cardboard cut to size and some duct tape can block most windows well enough, especially if you wait until after dark to load your film. It's dark about 16 hours of every day up there now anyway, isn't it?

And, hey, write me about May. I'm thinking about booking a condo in the red rock desert for us, but I need to know what week to book.

Oh...and there's Florida next month. Let me know if that's a possibility.

Dave said...

I'm all ate up with TLRs now too after having seen some photos on Tanya Dakin's blow. I now have a Rolleiflex in hand and a YashicaMat EM coming back from Mark Hama's shop. So far, I haven't taken a photo with either! I'm looking forward to running some film through them! At a buck a shot to purchase and develop, I'll need to be careful too! I'm thinking get it developed and small prints from the evil W, and then getting a scanner too, probably an Epson, either the V500 or 4490.

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R said...

The Lubitel was my first MF camera and I still have it. It is a really fun camera. One thing to be careful about is the little window in the back to check the exposure number. Try to protect it from direct sun or your images may end up having a little round circle in them.

e-string said...

What Dave S said. I was trying to figure out how loading an already-shot roll would work. I'm intrigued by the general concept, though. Will have a think on some variations.

I wasn't going to mention this yet, but since Dave L brought it up, do we want to talk travel so we don't have a repeat of our sadly clashing schedules, or is that unimportant?

Sully said...

I found this topic truly fasinating.

in my own humble experience. I only had success merging 2 35mm images when I combined them in the projector, or when I uploaded them into the computers thru the scanners, and using photoshop.

thx for sharing some of your techniques.

Sully said...

Thanks for sharing those juicy tidbits. I've experimented with several idea's myself, but I was only successful when I merged 35mm B&W negatives in the projector during film processing. or when I scan images into the computer via the scanner. then use Photo shop.

now I have some new idea's to try.
thank you.