Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chasing ghosts (and dreams)

So for the last couple of weeks I've been shooting film.

I am finishing my second roll of film in a few days now and I am starting to look into developers ant their characteristics.

Back at photo school it was simple. We used T-Max 400 asa film and T-Max developer. Easy combo as a student. But 12 years or so down the road, expectations have shifted quite a bit.

My goal is to achieve the most perfect negative as possible with the smallest amount of grain as possible.
When I talked to a friend here at work, she immediately said the magic word 'Rodinal'.
Now I know the whole history of Rodinal and why and how it became the preferred 'elixir' for a lot of photographers. It produces sharp negatives and leaves the grain structure of the film alone. Plus it has a tremendous long shelf life and you only have to use Rodinal in small amounts.

I started my search for Rodinal only to quickly discover that Agfa doesn't produce Rodinal anymore. Hell Agfa sold the whole Rodinal factory to first a&o Imaging Solutions GmbH who sold it to Connect Chemicals. Today though Rodinal is still available under the name Adonal. And for some WEIRD reason, Rodinal is available under the name Blazinal in Canada. It IS the same chemistry as the pre-1940 Rodinal developer. And just to make your head spin even more, there is also something called R09.

All of these developers are all Rodinal. The only problem is GETTING THEM! Maybe I just need to stop chasing ghosts and go with ILFORD's ILFOTEC DD-X instead. This is a fain grain developer and produces very good results too.

Maybe you could help me find a solution. Do you have any sample scans available online using Ilford films in either Rodinal (or it's equivalent) or DD-X. I would surely appreciate that A LOT!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mamiya RB67 update

Time for a little update. How are my adventures with the RB going so far?
Let me tell you it is an eye opener. A real wake up call if you ask me.

The whole reason behind my purchase of the RB was that I want to get more conscious about my photography and I want to print my own images in my future darkroom. But first step one. Film testing and finding a rhythm for the camera.

Finding a rhythm is a real interesting experience. Instead of grabbing the 5DmkII, composing and letting the camera determine exposure time (reviewing the instant preview and go from there). This time around I need to figure it out all by myself BEFORE I take the shot. Let me tell you. I've wasted some film so far. But so far I always know when I did something wrong.

Just as an example, the RB rhythm goes something like this.
  1. Setting camera and tripod up. You want to get this right.
  2. Opening the viewfinder and cock the camera and lens. 
  3. Decide on the focal length of lens you'd like to use. If necessary change out lens. Fire shutter on detached lens and put that away. Pull out dark slide until arrow shows, advance little lever on the 120 back to multiple exposure, fire the shutter and re-cock camera. Now I'm ready to shoot with the new focal length.
  4. Attach cable releases (be sure to use mirror up more).
  5. Focus and compose.
  6. Measure light.
  7. Set desired aperture and exposure time.
  8. Look at bellows and double check to see if bellows adjustment factor is going to alter exposure.
  9. Advance film.
  10. Remove dark slide.
  11. Re-measure light if necessary.
  12. Press mirror release.
  13. Press cable release.
Those are 13(!) steps I need to check and double check before I can take a shot (ONE shot). Throw in some changing light and I'm F'ed!

It is definitely a challenge and it makes me very humble. A lot of people call themselves 'professional' 'skilled' these days but don't have a clue how to operate a camera like this. Do they still sell film?

Friday, October 14, 2011

New addition to the family!

I know, I know, I've been slacking on the blog but I had some things to take care of in the last week or so.

So last week I found a killer deal on a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD. I had a hard time ignoring it. It was so good I could NOT refuse it!!! But long story short. When I told Sarah about the fact I saw an awesome deal on a Mamiya she immediately said 'Buy it! That's what you always wanted to have. Do it! And then you can build your darkroom in the basement!'. I looked at her and I saw she was even more excited than me. And in turn I was in awe because I did not had to beg on my knees this time to get something I really really wanted! Aaaah love, isn't it beautiful?

So today I bought the camera! The kit consists of a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD, 2 120mm Pro-SD film backs, a Mamiya 67mm ƒ4 K/L lens, a 127mm ƒ3.8 Mamiya-Sekor C lens and a 180mm ƒ4.5 Mamiya-Sekor C lens. All in awesome working condition. The kit came with some more nick-nacks like a grip and holding strap etc.

Yeah I'm pretty excited to go back to film. At least for some of my black and white work at least. The plan is to shoot some of my black and white landscape stuff on film again, develop it myself and eventually PRINT it myself as well. Plans are already underway (at least in my head) to build that darkroom in our basement. Talk about striking the metal while it is hot and all huh... ;)

Anyhow. I've been sharing this news a bit on twitter here and there and some friends already knew about what my plans were too. I got reactions ranging from:

  • Do it! 
  • Welcome to the club! 
  • You are a very brave photographer! 
  • You are an environmental polluter (I'm not kidding)

So anyhow. I am very excited to get started shooting some rolls of Ilford Pan F Plus (or maybe Tri-X 320) in the next few weeks.

But without further ado, here's my new baby. :) Isn't she beautiful?