Category Archives: film development technique

this includes using coffee based developers, roasting coffee for developers, hand processing film

TMY retina image

as i have been making long exposures again

here is another one on kodak tmax 400 film

this is a very long exposure, reversed negative tweeked levels and color removed and then tint added in photoshop

 

retina

multi hour retina image
reversed tinted with photoshop

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emulsive

i thought i posted a link to this but i guess it got away from me.

i was interviewed by emulsive.org a little while ago about film and emulsion and what i am up to. in case you don’t know about emulsive org what i am up to here is the link what’s emulsive.org ?  feel free to go there, its a pretty interesting site

well worth the click !

I am John Nanian and this is why I shoot film

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quick and dirty processing for expired or ” no idea what kind of film it is ” film

as you might have read, if you have found this blog / journal i don’t typically use fresh film, chemistry or paper.  i am fond ofthe expired variety.  for the past maybe 15 years my “personal” photography adventure has all been done with out of date, bought cheap, given to me for the price of shipping film.  yes, i have bought new, for work done for others, but for myself it has all been the materials some people suggest is  ready for the trash heap.

there really is no cure all for the problems that might be considered “the downfall” of expired film.  sometimes the people ahead of you in the long line of owners stored it in their 150ºF car for weeks and just remembered before giving it to you or selling it on eBay suggesting it was found in their neighbor’s house and they were asked to sell it … or it could have been lying around a warm house with drastic seasonal temperature changes, or it could have just been sitting on a shelf in a cool not too humid basement.  so you have to be prepared for loss of speed, maybe fog, or the worst case scenario, the film not working at all … most of the film i use that is expired i know where it has been, so its provenance is not so mysterious.  when i get it, it gets put in a place that doesn’t have too much temperature variation, and not too much humidity.  when i expose it, i typically over expose a few stops ( i do this with “fresh film” too so it isn’t that much of a stretch for me

but for some who love to shoot box speed or “push” process, this can be an issue ). the trick in processing isn’t really a trick at all.  it is to use a print developer like dektol, or ansco 130, or whatever else you might have on hand.  sometimes they are called “universal developers” …  whatever you want to call them, they work well.  some restrain the fog that might have appeared on the film from poor storage too. the “old trick” for using print developers for film again isn’t really a trick at all.  for dektol it is the dilution becomes the time. so 1:5 is for 5 mins, 1:7 for 7 mins 1:3 is 3 mins.  ansco130 i used to regularly use 1:6 for 8.5 mins.  i liked dense and contrasty film and i am sure it would have worked fine at 6 mins like its cousin “gaf universal” used to suggest on its can.  i have read stories, and talked to old pros from days gone by and they regularly put their sheets of film or rolls of film in strong dektol ( 1:2 or 1:2 ) and just let it sit there, no agitation for 1 or 2 mins.  i have never done that so i can’t really recommend it, but i have done 1:6 both with dektol and ansco and it works great.   if you are a coffee developer user another couple of things i have done uses coffee (as you might have guessed).   you mix a strong batch of caffenolC ( i use the teaspoon recipe ) and add a splash of your favorite print developer into it.  i used ansco130 for years, now i do this with dektol.  and you stand develop your film for about 27-30 mins.  before you sink your film in the developer, you water bath it so you get the emulsion swollen and ready to absorb the developer.  and you bank the tank &c to get rid of the air bubbles.  then you just pour the developer in the tank.  i agitate for a few seconds and bang the tank again to get rid of the bubbles and then just walk away for about 1/2 hour.  if you want yo can agitate a little bit in between halfway through or the end, don’t do it much …  your film is pretty much going to look OK.  i also do the split develop routine now too.  1:8 for about 8 mins it would have been …  i process the film for 4 mins with a normal agitate scheme (water bath first, then 1 min continuous, then 10sec / min) then i pour out the print developer and continually agitate the film tank, now full of strong caffenolC with a splash of print developer in there.  you don’t need much print developer 20cc 15cc whatever you want.

again, your film will come out looking nice.  maybe a little dense maybe not too dense … either way you will be able to print with an enlarger, or contact print or scan if you like to do that.

if you like examples …

poke around this blog, or my image kind area and most of the black and white images there, made within the last 15 years

were done using the methods i have described.

 

have fun!

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magic bullets ? conventional?

the other day i poked my head back to apug after a month away and have been having a conversation with someone about magic-bullets and conventional photography.

back in the olde days a magic bullet was made by melting down religious icons.  the silver was used to kill werewolves.  in photographic terms, a magic bullet is a cure all, a combination of materials ( paper, chemistry and film, and technique ) used to make perfect photographs.  its almost like something a photographer can do to make their photographs better, without trying.  for a long time magic bullets were sold by kodak tri x and d-76, kodabromide and dektol come to mind.  these days a magic bullet might be a vintage lens, large format camera using film or a digital camera.  if you boil it down to its essence, a magic bullet is what makes the person comfortable behind the camera, the darkroom, infront of their computer.

merriam webster describes conventional as something that has been around a long time ( paraphrasing ), something that is considered “traditional”

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conventional/

i guess all photography is conventional …  seeing no matter what is done with camera, someone has probably done it before, i suppose it might be nearly impossible “unconventional” …. unless one weaves modern technology into and creates hybrid images.

 

 

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last group of cups and plates

i had a mini project with cups and saucers and bowls and plates.  all taken with a large camera on sheet film, processed in coffee and print developer ..  scanned and colors added by me ..  all sort of green and red, some better than others, all just fun  and playing around.

 

the bottom cups and handles were not taken at the same time, and just sort of fit together and noticed after the fact …

green and red cups and plates

hand colored

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self made close up attachment

you read it right.

i made myself a close up attachment for my graflex slr.  i did this a handful of years ago because i wanted to do macro work, or at least “magnified” photographs and couldn’t put a long lens on the camera because of bellows extension.  so what did i do ?

i took one of the handful of old junk lenses i had lying around, and assembled something that i could stick in or on or over my camera.  i have done this with a few different lenses i use with the slr, and it is fun.  the depth of field is nearly gone so you have to be careful what you focus on.  you also need to realize that depending on where you have the bellows cranked open to, your lens to subject distance will change, and the magnification will change as well  …  so the image might end up looking normal not magnified.

this is something i made exposures of last week and assembled as a tri chrome moments ago.  i know the colors are a little weird, i kind of like this sort of charm, like a bad fotomat print  😉

because i had excessively expired film and developer i decided to stop down a little bit and make very long exposures.

i am not sure what F-number i stopped down to, my sunshade blocks the numbers, so i will just say 1/8 a turn  ..
and the film was exposed for around 15seconds each exposure.

 

graflex slr, sumatranol130 + dektol

home made close up lens, expired film, and developer

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film processed in dektol and coffee

my last entry i mentioned i had finished exposing about 36 sheets of film.  it was more than that ..  4 bag-mags filled with a variety of tmx ( 100 ) tmy (400 ) and some mystery film that was bad enough that it never exposed.  maybe 10 sheets were as clear as unexposed film when it came out of the developer.  they were some of the first sheets i processed to test the developers.  i increased the times and added a little more dektol to my mix.  originally it was about 1:8 but i added so it was more like 1:6.

i hadn’t ever processed film in dektol before, only heard about it, and i have to say i was happy with the results.  i have to fine tune my dilutions and times but for the most part everything looked good.

i exposed in a variety of different lighting conditions, room light, weak window light, bright light and i exposed my film well.  sometimes developers need a little encouragement.  i go against convention.

here are 2 from my  39 sheets.

1:6 / 7+ 7mins.

dektol and sumatranol test

1:6, 7+7 mins

dektol test

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around 36 exposures

the last few days i have been using a graflex slr ( series D )  ..  just moments ago i exposed my last 12 exposure  ” bag mag ” full of what might be foma 2oo and tmx 100.  i loaded the film a month or so ago in anticipation of using it up fast.  i researched the notch codes seeing i didn’t recognize them, there are a lot of films that used that code and my best guess is that i loaded was fomapan200.  i found this very strange because i have have only bought fomapan200 film once in my life and the film box is unopened.  …  i am certain there are elves living nearby and they seem very interested in large format photography!  they have borrowed my light meters and cameras, film holders, glass plate holders, even film and dry plates in the past … usually the stuff is lost for about a year and they put things back with film i have never purchased.  so, i’m guessing this 30 sheets of fomapan200 was an exchange for the 30 sheets of tmy ( old 400 ) that went missing about a year ago.  it sounds almost like a modern brothers grimm story ( the shoemaker and the elves ), but that’s a post for a later date.

===

i loaded it in the bag mags ( 4 of them ) and made some controlled exposures to test my new film developer line which is DEKTOL 1:7 ( 4 mins )  then SUMATRA CAFFENOL C ( 5 mins ) then wash and fix normally.  if you read my posts here from time to time you will notice this seems familiar.  i usually do the same thing using ansco 130  ….  while it is sort of a new adventure, i am quite certain it will be just fine and i probably won’t even notice the difference.   i’ll post a few scans after i process the film.

 

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ansco 130

about 15 years ago i used a can of what was called GAF UNIVERSAL DEVELOPER.  it was propping up a broken window sash in a loft i was renting.  it was an old can, a red can and it seemed to be full of developer powder.  i mixed it as it said on the can and made 5 gallons of developer.  it was a HOT summer that summer, and   i had to do my best to use up the developer before it went bad in the summer heat i didn’t have AC, it was a brick building, and my space was under a black membrane roof, so i shot hundreds of rolls of film and processed+printed as often as i could, usually in the middle of the night because it was the coolest time of the day.  the bricks retained heat, but that was OK at least the sun wasn’t up.

i had never used a universal developer before.  i had only really used dektol, selectal (soft ) and sprint print developers.  and for film, well, i had used sprint film developer ( which i still use on occasion ) DK50, and Tmax RS.  i used the DK50 when i was the darkroom person for a portrait photographer in providence that was a few years before, and i had used tmax rs a, a few bottles worth, but i didn’t like it, not to mention it stained my film with a green metalic fog.  so i used this GAF stuff.  it said “1:6 films 6 minutes, 1:1, 1:2 prints”  so i used it, and used it, and used it. and eventually ran out of developer.  it made nice films that some told me were “snappy and crispa friend and printer told me about xtol soon after i ran out of the GAF stuff, but it wasn’t the same.  it didn’t really give me contrast i liked, and was kind of BLAAAH.  so i went back to sprint developer for a few years after that.  i used to talk to jc welch at equinox photographic on the phone once in a while when i was buying oddball photo things and he suggested that the GAF universal was probably ansco130.  its kind of a long story but agfa turned into agfa ansco after ww2, and eventually just ansco, and eventually gaf , so it seemed like it might be true.  the problem is that the developer numbers were not the same between agfa, ansco-agfa, ansco and gaf, so it is still to this day a mystery what this developer might have been.  i was happy to use ansco 130 though, and it became one of the only developers i would use for the next 10-15 years.  i started small and only purchased a gallon at a time, so i could process film with it, and see how it seemed to work.  the films looked good.  i was still using the dilutions on the can of GAF UNIVERSAL because the ansco 130 packaging said nothing about being a film developer.

i wrote in a few threads on apug.org and maybe photo.net about it.  and might have converted few people here and there.

ansco 130 is a simple formula but a great developer

water ( 750ml )
metol (2.2g )
sodium sulfite (50g )
hydroquinone (11g )
sodium carbonate (78g )
potassium bromide (5.5g )
glycin (11g )
water to make 1L

i’ve used it as a film developer lots of different ways … replenished it, used it as a stand and semi stand developer  in a unicolor drum, in trays, in small tanks …  it really never let me down.  it does work with sheet film the best though.  with roll film i have to dilute it instead of 1:6 usually to 1:10.  and instead of 6 mins as recommended on the can of GAF i usually extend development to around 8-8.5 mins.  years ago i was in touch with the good folks at the photo lab index ( morgan / morgan )
and when i asked them about the developer, they put me in touch with their chemist, a person by the name of jerry katz.  jerry and i were going to do the same sort of work up with ansco 130 as he did with nearly ever developer in the index.  together we were going to work on an article for publication with text and photographs of grain structures &c, but unfortunately  jerry passed away a few months later, and i was never able to follow through with our plan.

 

a few photographs

35mm film ansco 130 1:6 @72ºF for 8mins

 

120 film, mamiya folder (post war), ansco 130 1:6-8mins

 

tmx, 4×5 sheet, 1:6 tray shuffle 8.5 mins,

 

 

currently i use ansco 130 to make prints, and i have reverted at least half way back to using it for films.  for 7 long years, or maybe 8 years i converted my film processing to using caffenol c film developer.  i have always put in a small amount  – 15-20 cc – of stock ansco 130 developer to boost the contrast  and smooth out the  rough grainy patches i used to get by using straight caffenol c.  but these days, instead of developing in straight ansco 130, or straight sumatranol 130 …

i developer for half the time in ansco ( so it is 4 mins ) agitate normally, and then 4 mins constant agitation in sumatranol 130 …  it is my own version of a split developer, and it seems to work great

rolliecord + expired film + split develop ansco 130 + sumatranol 130

 

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how much exposure, is too much ?

how much exposure with negative film, is too much.

should you over expose your negatives?  should they be thin or dense?

when i first began developing my own film, i never would leave the developer on the film for the last few seconds of development.  for example, if it was to be processed for 8 mins 30 seconds, i would invert / agitate at 8 mins and get rid of the developer after that.  my film was usually thin, but not too thin to print with a #3 graded paper, or a contrast filter under my enlarger head.  i would always make sure in a portrait that the whites of the eyes were white and everything else fell into place.  if it was a different scene, i would make sure there was a black and a white in the image and everything seemed OK after that.  i never photographed where the light struck things, never looked for excessive shadows or brightness, i just made exposures.

it wasn’t until years later that i was told that my negatives were terrible, that i  began to process my film fully, and eventually go overboard the other way.  rather than thin film i began to process my rolls and sheets in a paper developer to get what used to be called a “snappy negative” or a “crisp negative”.  when told i should use developers like xtol ( which i have used off and on ) i decided it was hard for me to get the contrast i wanted so i stopped using it.  i eventually started using coffee developers ( caffenol ) but the negatives were a bit thin and reminded me of xtol film, so i started to put ansco130 in there to boost the contrast.  ( haven’t stopped )  when i was visiting family overseas in france i processed a bunch of film in my father in law’s basement with him.  it was a moonlit night, the area we processed in was not completely dark …   i used washing soda and vitamin c sourced at a pharmacy and “el gringo” coffee sourced at a grocery store.  the developer was black and i shuffle developed it for 15-20mins, and the film was hung up to dry.

the next day when we returned the film was so dense you couldn’t see through it.  not even with a light bulb behind it …  when we returned to the states i contact printed the negatives not with an enlarger bulb or room light, but a 300 watt light bulb on RC paper.  the same set-up i use to print on silver chloride papers.  the prints came out more beautiful than i could have guessed.

so to answer my question …

there isn’t any such thing as too much exposure.  as long as you can project light through the negative you won’t have any problems.

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Trichromes with film

so far i have posted a handful of trichromes i have made but using digital technology

…  that is making b/w images using a digital camera ( not film ) and assembling them
in photoshop.  none of them have been using film which would just be a few added steps
exposing / processing and scanning .

the results are pretty much the same as with a digital camera, except you get the signature of the lens.
so, instead of my nice sharp nikon glass, i get soft german glass from my ancient 1930s rolliecord.

and instead of an instant image, you get a film made image processed in coffee and print developer  .
grain, tonality film base, stuff people love to try to emulate with a variety of digital programs, instead of
just breaking down and exposing the film in the first place ( something that i think is kind of funny)>

 

trichrome fun

 

schmutz on kitchen window is my main filter ( except for the RGB ) that is

thrichrome fun

 

 

espresso maker

trichrome fun

 

 

in addition to the 3 views 3 negatives approach i have fiddled around with just taking 1 negative scan
and making 3 duplicate files each with 2 color channels removed for the most part …
and i assemble the 3 black and white images in PS again to make a tri chrome
i did this and posted it on DPUG.org and someone mentioned that i was sort of just toning the
image using the color channels, which i had never thought of like that before …

narragansett bay

trichrome fun

 

 

 

 

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another batch of tri chromes

making trichrome color images is a bit addictive

it is so easy and fun with a digital camera, it almost makes you feel guilty how much effort
is spent when film or plates are used.  and it makes you feel even more guilty and in awe of
people who spent a long long time mastering this process with color paper, or making dye transfer or gum prints.

i have film i exposed ( haven’t processed it yet, shame on me ! ) which will be almost as easy as using a digital camera
instead of files that are immediate, i’ll have film that i expose with the colored filters.
that’s about as difficult as i will let this game get, i won’t be making contact prints onto color paper,
or matrix sheets &c, i’ll just scan the negatives, get files to merge in photoshop which will take barely longer than it takes to scan the
files with a scanner.

the last few uploads were made in bright sunlight, or kitchen light ( bulb )
i took some portraits but since my subject wasn’t nailed+taped to the chair and the expression glued on their face
and it takes 3 separate exposures, well, my results were a bit sub-par …  i have some ideas how to fix that …

these uploads are soft afternoon overcast light. iron chair, wooden stiles hanging plant+box

 

 

 

 

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tri color again, this time coffee

can’t not take photographs of my favorite drink

 

coffee

espresso

 

espresso

 

 

all gone

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a few more tri color images, kind of addictive

went to the lighting supply guy today

east coast lighting, nice folks !

 

i got some gels to match the swatchbook numbers i had
and took a few more b/w images with my digital camera

i tried a few color ones as well, converted to greyscale but they didn’t work …

 

just a little fun before i start using film

cup of pencils

 

with coffee

 

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Tri Color

decided to make my first tri color image today

this was made using a digital camera

but i plan on using up my film making color images from black and white

its a lot of fun

there are handfuls of tutorials on the web that show this

the main trick is the images have to be exactly the same size and align perfectly  or it will look
a bad  …

 

you take each image with a red green and blue filter
and drop them into a color file’s channel’s
and after each negative is dropped on ontop of the other

you have something that looks like this

( or better, this was taken with filters that didn’t cover the lens, of a terribly backlit subject )

plants on shelf

 

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