Part of the Process is a series of posts that puts the spotlight on film photographers and DIY film developers. These features provide unique experiences and perspectives on shooting and developing film while also showcasing diverse talent and film photographers around the globe. If you are interested in being featured, feel free to contact me!
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?
Mostly through Facebook groups like Film Photographers and Negative Feedback.
What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?
I love the tangibleness of film and for me personally, having two kids, I want my kids to be able to have negatives and prints to be able to look through when they get older.
I was lucky enough to have film be the only medium for many of my early years of taking pictures. When digital got popular I used it a lot, but after my dad gave me his old Canon AE-1, I started using film here and there again.
I really got into shooting a lot of film after my son was born. About a year after, in 2015, I started developing my own black and white and C41. I recently began developing E6 last year.
What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?
I shoot weddings, portraits, boudoir, some street, and found objects.
What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer?
I shoot mostly 35mm and medium format. I shoot a Leica M3 and a Widelux F8 for 35mm and a Pentax 67 for medium format. Although, I’ve had more cameras than I can count for each format.
I shoot a lot of black and white, slide, and color film. I love the mechanical goodness, tactile feel, and noises that my Leica makes. The Widelux is a terribly fun camera and format to shoot. Jeff Bridges was my inspiration to purchase that camera. Finally, the Pentax 67 sounds like a shotgun which I find fantastic. The 105mm f/2.4 lens is one of the sharpest and best lenses I’ve ever used.
What types of film do you develop?
Mostly black and white and slide film. I develop personal C41 stuff. However, I mail out my paid work that I shoot on C41.
Tell us about your first experiences in developing your own film. How did you muster the courage to give it a shot? What resources did you use?
My first experiences developing black and white would have discouraged most people and made them stop. I didn’t know it for a while, but my thermometer was off by 12 degrees (on the cold side) so all of my negatives were coming out super thin and almost unscannable and unprintable.
I had done some research on the MassDev website and a friend of mine had been developing his own film for a while and he showed me how to do it. After finding out my thermometer was off, I bought a Paterson thermometer from B&H to be sure it was accurate.
My whole world changed and I was finally getting nice, thick, contrasty negatives!
What is your development process like now?
For personal work, I try not to let my undeveloped rolls sit for too long and pile up. But sometimes life gets in the way. Most of the time I shoot, process, and scan within the same day or a day or two later.
For wedding, portrait, and boudoir work I process all the black and white I shoot as quickly as possible, and color is sent out to the lab as soon as possible. Printing and enlarging is tougher because my darkroom is in another town, not to mention that I’m so busy with my kids that I don’t always have free days to get there and print. I usually have to spend 8+ hours in there to get as much done as I can.
What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?
I scan my my traditional 35mm negatives with a Nikon Coolscan LS-40, and medium format with an Epson V550. I currently have a darkroom in my father’s basement and have 4 enlargers, although I really only use one or two.
My main enlarger is a Beseler 45MXT with Dichro45s color head that I got for the unbelievable price of $Free.99. I usually make prints from the black and white film I shoot at weddings and of my personal street and family photos.
I like to think that my kids will have boxes and boxes of prints to look through when they’re older. And also why 80% of their life is in black and white!
What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?
I bulk load most of the black and white I shoot (HP5, Tri-X, or Kodak XX). I sort of still shoot film like it’s the only medium available and there luckily there still is a ton available.
I use a medium size changing bag and Paterson developing tanks. I mostly use Ilfotec HC developer; it’s concentrated like Kodak HC110, and I’ve gotten 79 rolls out of a liter bottle.
I do my developing at home in my kitchen. I find the Paterson tanks and reels very easy to use. I hear people have complaints about the plastic reels being hard to load, and that the steel reels are the only “authentic” reels, but I’ve ruined more film using the metal reels than the Paterson counterparts. Although, my first Paterson 120 reel experience ended with me ripping my arms out of my bag with the film in one hand and the reel in the other, and hucking them across my kitchen.
Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions ?
I’ve gotten comfortable in my shooting and developing processes. Nobody’s perfect and there have been times I’ve messed up a development, but for the most part I’m happy with how my negatives and positives come out of the tank. I’d like to turn my “Before We Wake” and “Driver’s Side” projects one into a book.
Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed? Feel free to give a solid summary of each project.
My life-long “project” is my kids, which will never be completed, so to speak. I’ve shot a half frame Pen F, with a 36 exposure roll (so 72 photos) in less than 10 minutes with my kids around the house. I know many people are super selective with their shots they take on film, and while I try and make sure each shot is worth something, if it’s of my kids, every shot is worth it.
I’m too ambitious with projects, so I have a hard time focusing on one and seeing it to fruition. Other projects rely on people, and people are too often unreliable.
However, I did do a small project called “Driver’s Side” in which I shot HP5 pushed to 1600 using my old Leica Minilux, and shot photos while driving between the hours of 11pm-5:30am. I also started another project entitled “Before We Wake” in which I used my Widelux with Cinestill 800T pushed to 6400; shooting large, empty parking lots of stores and shopping centers before the hours of them opening (usually between 3:30a-5:30a).
What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?
To the people thinking about developing their own film: talk to as many people that do it as possible. Get information and consume as much of it as possible: watch YouTube videos, maybe find someone local who does it and see the process. I’ve had a few friends come and hang out while I developed to see how the process is done.