Saturday, November 20, 2010

B&W developing at home again.

Whenever you shoot film, the major question you have to ask yourself is "What film will I shoot"? And if you shoot for any length of time, the answer to film type ultimately boils down to one issue: color vs black and white. And if you're serious about your film photography, then there's only one real answer to that conundrum - black and white ;-)

OK - maybe that's said tongue planted firmly in cheek, but... many a photographer would probably seriously argue that you're not a 'real' film user until you've mastered the 'art' of black and white photography. And that includes developing the film yourself.

I 'grew up', photographically speaking, on black and white photography - rolling, developing and printing my own black and white films for years. In fact, I taught b&w development night classes until the digital boom (whereupon I then switched to teaching digital photography courses). I was the president of Canterbury University's Photosoc (Photo Society) all through my University days, using the darkrooms there on a weekly basis, and teaching other students how to use the enlargers, developers and processing chemicals as well.

So all this talk of shooting with film again has naturally got me thinking black and white, and that in turn has got me thinking about developing my own film.

A quick trip out to the shed this weekend confirmed what I suspected... I still had a stash of chemicals hidden away in a box from out last move (three years ago). And "surprise, surprise, surprise" (in my best Gomer Pile impersonation), I still have 6 rolls of Ilford Delta 100 film to boot! Don't know how stable they will be now - they've been in that cardbord box under all sorts of temperature changes - but it's worth putting a roll through just to see. At least now it's being stored in my fridge!

I've got Ilford developer, fixer and stop - as well as Paterson wash and a large measuring jug. I'm pretty sure I've got a thermometer in my sock draw somewhere (don't ask :-), so all I really need is a developing tank (and maybe a couple more measuring jugs). Trademe to the rescue... I've got a two reel Paterson developing tank arriving this week. All I need now is more measuring jugs, and I'm set.

A few years ago my clever wife made me a light-tight change bag for my black and white films (so that's the darkroom sorted), and rather than print my own photos in a conventional darkroom, I'm going to scan the negatives so I can print from the digital files. I believe it's called a 'hybrid' workflow (shooting film and converting to digital) and all the cool young photographers are doing it don't chya know. A whole new generation are now 'discovering' the joys of film and digital - together as one. Ah yes - what we really do need is a great big melting pot...

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