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And then, Colour!

Posted 2011.07.04 23.24 in Hobbies, Photography

After a couple decades of developing my own black & white negatives at home, the time has come to make the big jump into colour!

Like many, I’d heard lots of reasons for why not — too difficult, too expensive, too picky, exacting temperature control requirements, and short-lived chemistry. Lately though, I found some articles online that helped to disspell some of these myths.

Finally, looking at the pics I took a couple weeks ago, I realized that it was time to make the jump to colour. Canada Day was the perfect opportunity to shoot some colour, and today I had my first go at processing it.

For my first attempt at processing colour film, I’m fairly pleased. The first image above was using 10-year-expired AgfaColour Pro film, but the rest were on a new roll of Kodak (Professional) Portra 400VC. The VC stands for Vivid Colour and I am quite pleased with the results.

The camera was, um…. well… a Lomo LC-A+. Yeah I know, I know. There’ll be a whole post about that in the future. Honest.

Anyways, I’ve got a couple medium-format rolls lined up for some colour chemistry, and I’m still shooting colour with 35mm as well. So there’ll be more colourful goodness coming in the next couple weeks.

C41 Film, B&W Chemistry

Posted 2009.09.25 9.35 in Hobbies, Photography

So I’ve tried a few times to process colour film at home in Black & White chemicals. And I’ve had a few failures. It started out as a lark, then became a bit of a challenge and a learning process. In the meantime, I also got a newer, better scanner that has a bit more oomph in its transparency adapter and can better manage the darker negs that colour film produce. (Darker due to a built-in orange mask.)

My most-recent attempt actually produced workable results! Pitty I wasn’t trying to take good pictures.

What happened was, I picked up one of those disposable / one-use cameras. It was cheap, a ‘store-brand’, and mostly I wanted to take it apart to get at the shutter assembly and the electronic flash components. So I had 27 frames of film to piss away, and I did just that, snapping here there and whatever. The film was ISO 800 which is very fast (for me at least, I used to think 100 was ‘standard’ and 400 was ‘very fast’; now 400 seems standard.)

Anyhow, so at the end of the day I had managed to waste the whole roll and took the camera apart to get it out. The no-name camera contained a roll of no-name film. I had been hoping for some clue as to who made it, so I’d have some hope of knowing what to expect. No luck. So I snipped off a bit of the leader then loaded the rest into my developing tank.

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My Eyes! Aauuugh!

Posted 2009.09.18 7.38 in Hobbies, Photography

I know I said I wasn’t going to try and process colour film in B&W chemicals any more. The problem is, I was reading and came across a clue as to what I did wrong. I didn’t fix it long enough – I read someone was fixing for 30 minutes to get good results. So armed with this new knowledge, I decided to give it another shot. I had two exposed rolls, and got a second reel for my tank so I can now process ruin film at twice the efficiency.

Well, it didn’t really turn out again. I don’t know what was wrong this time. Maybe I mixed the fixer too weak. I’ll have to go and read some more. The negs were still so dark (almost opaque) that I really had to push the scanner just to get an image out of them.

This time though I decided to go a little crazy with them. Instead of scanning them as black and white, I scanned in colour. And instead of trying to get realistic images, I decided to just yank the sliders and dials this way and that, I let each frame inspire me.

Oh – and I almost forgot! All these pictures were taken with a pinhole camera! I was not just testing the home film processing, but the roll itself was a test of using a pinhole instead of a lens.

Canonet Test Roll

Posted 2009.09.12 8.15 in Hobbies, Photography

I processed the first roll shot with my ‘new’ Canonet QL17, and the results were… mixed. Almost the entire roll came out under-exposed, so I have to try and figure out why. Two possibilities come to mind, the first being that the Electric Eye is not working right, i.e. giving incorrect metering, and the second being that I &#%ed up the developing somehow.

I’ll have to do another roll and be sure to vary the exposures so there are some different levels I can compare. The Electric Eye was designed to use the now-verbotten 1.35v mercury battery; the alkaline replacement is 1.55 volts and that might be enough to throw the meter off by one or two stops. And alternatively, when I decided to process the film it was late at night and I’d enjoyed a few adult beverages, so it’s entirely possible that the camera is fine and I baffed the whole thing up by mixing the chemicals wrong or getting the timing wrong.

I tried to find a book yesterday at Chapters that would include some info on developing film, but literally every single book in the ‘photography’ section includes the word ‘digital’. Even the darkroom books are all ‘digital darkroom’. ¬†Ptooey!

Anyhow, here are a few results from that first test-roll.

Because the whole roll had come out under-exposed, I was forced to push the exposure when scanning the negs and that affected the quality somewhat. It’s not unlike going from neg to print, you can fix some problems by varying how you expose and develop the paper.

Also, I was more interested in rushing through the roll so I could ensure that the camera was working, and didn’t think much (at all) about actually composing good shots. I’ll have to work on that – still trying to re-train my eye for photography.


Developing Film

Posted 2009.09.06 11.11 in Hobbies, Photography

It’s not as hard as you think!

Tri-X 400 black and white filmYesterday, I wrote that I had processed my first roll of film in over a decade. In fact, with hardly any time I was able to refresh my memory on what needed doing. It’s realy quite simple – there’s three main steps. Develop, Fix, and Rinse.

In terms of equipment, really the only thing you need to invest in is a developing tank. I have a plastic Patterson Super System 4 tank which can hold two 35mm reels. The key to the developing tanks is that once the film is properly loaded and the tank is closed, you can then pour liquids in and out, without any light reaching the film inside. There are a number of different tanks available, I like the Patterson system because it’s pretty easy to use, and the reels are more or less easy to load.

Along with the tank, you also need a light-proof place where you can get the film out of the little metal cannister and into the tank. Red light isn’t safe – it has to be completely and totally light-proof dark. A windowless room would be good, or a closet, or something like that. If light gets through around the door, you need to fix that. Lock yourself in for 5 or 10 minutes so your eyes adjust, then look for any light.

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Black, White, and Processing

Posted 2009.09.05 19.03 in Hobbies, Photography

So, when was the last time you developed your own film? I haven’t done it in at least a decade, but today I picked up some Tri-X 400 Pro film, some chemicals, and took a walk around the neighborhood. It didn’t take too long to shoot a roll of 36 frames through my trusty Minolta X370. I’ve got a ‘new’ old lens on there, a Rokkor 45mm f/2 that I bought through eeeebay.

Processing was pretty simple and didn’t take long, and I can’t tell you just how rewarding and exciting it is to open up that tank and see the images on the film. It’s almost like magic, really.

Anyhow, below are some of the shots from today. They’re nothing terribly special, just shots that caught my eye between my walk and getting home.

Zebrafish – Bigger and Better

Posted 2009.08.26 16.08 in Aquaria

It’s been nearly 3 months now since I got my zebra danio fish. I started with just two, Shifty and Popeye, then after a week or so, I added five more. They were small, like an inch to inch and a quarter long, they were also skinny and scrawny. I couldn’t tell males from females, though I realize now that this is because they were somewhat young and hadn’t fully developed.

Of the new five, only two got names. The albino, I named Blondie and there was one that was so scrawny that I named it Runt. I actually didn’t expect Runt to survive, he looked that unhealthy.

Anyhow, so here we are a mere 12 weeks later, and not only are all seven of them alive and going strong, but they’ve gotten bigger, developed, and been mating like crazy. (Although zebra danios are rather fast twitchy fish, everything they do, they do it like they’re crazy.)

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