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!
Name: Kent Miller
Location: New York, New York, USA
What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?
Casey Neistat, Thomas Heaton, Ben Horne, On Taking Pictures, and Art of Photography.
What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?
I started shooting film because digital didn’t exist at the time. Processing your film was something you just did. It allowed you to experiment with your art and push things with your own vision. Spending hours in the darkroom in the early years was a different kind of high. Seeing something appear in the developer was a rush and was super exciting.
What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?
With large format film, I do a bit of portraiture and land/waterscapes.
What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer?
5×7, 4×5, 2.25, and 35mm. Right now my go to camera is a Linhof 5×7. I shoot only black and white film. Mostly, I shoot very old stock from the 50’s. I also shoot Ilford FP4 and anything I can get my hands on.
What types of film do you develop?
I started with color film. Convinced the world is in color I never thought about anything else. Then a friend and amazing shooter talked me into buying a Monochrome Leica. I fell in love and have been obsessed with black and white since. Going back to film was a product of exploring deeper and deeper into the art. A friend in the family is also a great motivation to move your ass.
So, now I am only developing black and white films at this time. Some old, some new. Using Kodak D76, R5 monobath and Ilford developers.
What is your development process like now?
I load my film and paper in the darkroom as much as possible before going out. I take 3-4 different emulsions and papers. Some days, I use paper negatives for more contrast or a unique look to the image, other times I want super sharp and a safe film I know will look great.
I’ve been working on a portrait project using very old outdated film with great results. It’s just a risk you take to use this film. You just never know how it was stored or handled. So far, so good, though.
I then process using one of three developers I talked about above. I then scan the negatives and pick a best shot to wet scan for digital printing. I plan to print the best shots with platinum/palladium.
I’m still working on this project so the final prints have not been made yet. I don’t really have any great tricks to offer. I’m not a master printer at all, so I just do the best I can and look to others for life long guidance. Tim Layton is amazing and I pick up anything i can from him. I’m also lucky, My great friend and now brother-in-law in an amazing alternative process guy so he is always a source of inspiration and guidance.
What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?
Now I develop my film and scan using a wet scanning process for the best results from my Epson V700. The negatives are also contact printed using a platinum / palladium process on watercolor paper. I also print using a digital negative with amazing results.
What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?
I use many types of processing vessels. Stainless tanks, Patterson tanks and reels for roll film and 4×5. I also picked up a beautiful tank for 5×7 sheet film made by B&W King in China. Only available through eBay, but it is a work of art in itself. I use trays for some work if I only have a sheet or two to process. I have loaded and messed up film in all the options I use, so no real one way of doing things. I have been using the stainless 5×7 tank for a lot of work lately.
Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?
I’ll never be content with the process as I will never be a master. I’m always learning and trying different things. A lab is not in the cards for sure but you never know about other options. I think youtube or blog type things are more in my future. Mostly just to show the things Im doing so others can offer help or info to push things in different directions.
Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed?
My current work is still very new and still in its infantry. I am a commercial photographer in New York City, so I do mostly what clients need. I have yet to show any of this work yet.
What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?
If you have never shot film, you need to at least run a few rolls through an old camera and see what you think. If you’re searching for something with feeling, texture, and a different look than you get with digital then you may find it in film.
The cost to give it a try is not all that much, but could be a bit of a process. I would just send out a few rolls to a lab at first and see if you want to take the plunge into the art form that is film. I believe that shooting large format will slow you down and make you think differently. It’s a thought process. It’s just a box with a lens on the front but so many things can and will go wrong. When you get it right you will be amazed at the results. If you have never seen a 4×5, 5×7 or 8×10 chrome you will just sit and stare at it. It is stunning to see!
** All the film was developed in D76 straight, 7.5 min@ 70degrees, Agitation was first 30 seconds then 10 seconds every 2 minutes. The images were scanned on an Epson V700 with a better scanning wet system. **