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Michigan

When I got back home from Asia this summer, I was looking forward to just catching back up with life.  However, it just wasn’t it the cards just yet, at least for another few weeks.  After I completed my last doctoral course (just have to write a dissertation now), I was off to Michigan for a long weekend.

The target destination in Michigan was Marine City, just across the River from Ontario.  After the worst flight experience I have ever had (shoutout to Spirit Airlines), I arrived In Michigan a day and a layover longer than anticipated.

The first day of the weekend in Michigan was spent in Marine City.  The old maritime vibe of Marine City is still present as it never moved away from the river or its roots with many historical sites, houses, and museums to check out.  Not to mention you can sit in the grass anywhere along the coastline against the river and watch the boats crawl by.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

On the main drag of Water Street, there are plenty of antique stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and parks to spend your time.  Looking for a reprieve from my busy summer, I spent most of the first day just taking in the small town atmosphere, drinking the local coffee, and doing some light exploring around town.

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

Day two was a bit more exciting as I headed into Detroit for the day.  First, I headed to a camera store in Dearborn, just west of Detroit.  Being a huge Eminem fan growing up, I was excited to visit the filming locations of 8 Mile and checking out other iconic spots from the movie.  I also meandered around downtown and hung out in Hart Plaza after seeing the Joe before they tear it down in favor of the Red Wings moving into Little Caesar’s Arena this upcoming hockey season.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Walking a few blocks west from Hart Plaza, I ran into an event celebrating the birthday of the city.  Children and adults alike lined up for free ice cream, played basketball, and took photos with Paws, the mascot of the Detroit Tigers.  I even decided to take part and take a few shots with the kids on the court.

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

As run down and abandoned some parts of Detroit were, there was an strong, intangible feeling of brotherhood in the air every where you went.  If you could put, “yeah life sort of sucks sometimes, but we’ll get through it together” into a city’s atmosphere , then that’s exactly what it felt like.

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

There was also something about the city that just exhaled some sort of historical pride that has been carried and passed on through the decades.  It could have been and probably was the echoing of the bustling automative and manufacturing industries of years past.  But there was something about the decay in the city that was also beautiful.  Something like a flower that grows through broken concrete.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

The last full day in Michigan included checking out the massive amount of local antique shops in Marine City for cameras and a drive up to and through Port Huron and taking in the sites of the Blue Water Bridge, just across the water from Sarnia, Ontario.  I managed to pick up two new cameras, a Rollei 35 LED and a Minox 35 EL, both of which I have yet to test out.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

There’s just something about Michigan that just felt so…American, but in the best way possible.  In the few places I got to see in the limited amount of time I got to see them, I got to see both ends of a few different spectrums.  Each one of those still aligning somewhere within stereotypical American ideals.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm on Fuji 400h

Contax T3 on Kodak Color Plus 200

Overall, the trip was rather relaxed and provided a little bit of a break since I did basically no planning whatsoever.  In that regard, it was a nice way to end my marathon summer.

 

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Camera Giveaway: Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80

It’s time for another giveaway! The first one went so well, that I’m doing it again. As long as I find cameras for cheap, the I am willing to spread them to people who want them. This time, I will be giving away an Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80.

In order to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is: 1. Follow @now.developing on Instagram 2. Like the Instagram promotional post for the giveaway in my feed 3. Comment on that post by tagging two friends on said post.

Entry deadline is September 12th. Winner will be randomly selected and contacted by September 19th!

Part of the Process: Derek Boswell

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: Derek Boswell

Location: London, Ontario, Canada

Links:

Flickr

Instagram

Tumblr

This one is still under construction, but it will be where I feature images of installations, mostly my photos exhibited in public spaces. I’m working with a couple of other artists to accomplish this, notably my good friend and fellow photographer, John Densky.

Our aim is to exhibit work outside the four walls of the traditional art gallery, so to speak; making it accessible to all persons in a given community. By exhibiting this kind of work in public spaces – something with a social documentary aspect to it – everyone is a participant in viewing the art, and ideally they can identify with the subject on some level.

Whether they want to be or not; they’re rendered as a captive audience, which sounds a bit nefarious, but it really just comes down to one pretty simple, benign concept: Often it’s those who don’t willfully engage with art that need to do it the most.

What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?

Underdogs is a favourite of mine. It can be also be found on Issuu.

First and foremost though, it’s a print zine – which is always refreshing to see when photography (a printmaking medium) seems to be dominated by online exhibition. Of course, electronic communication has its merits, and I probably wouldn’t be talking to you if it weren’t for Facebook/Flickr/Instagram, but it’s always nice to see photographs rendered in a tangible way.

A good print can really do a photograph justice, but exhibiting your work online lets an overwhelmingly huge number of people see it – that can be a great thing too. With Underdogs, Isa Gelb (the editor, and a great photographer in her own right) does a fantastic job at curating each edition. I always like discovering how other photographers see the world, and I think Underdogs does a fantastic job at communicating that. It’s long been a favourite zine of mine, and I was fortunate enough to be featured in the tenth issue. I believe they’re on the twelfth issue now – definitely something to check out!

Besides Underdogs, I often read the British Journal of Photography. What I appreciate about BJP, more than a lot of websites of its stature, is that their content often makes me reconsider what photography can be. A lot of the work that’s featured strays from photographic convention into some novel direction. It’s just genuinely good, novel artwork.

That aside, I always browse Flickr and like to read Japan Camera Hunter once in a while. JCH has a good mix of content, which does focus on gear a fair bit, but for what there is, the “in your bag” series acts as a sort of “typography” of photographers’ equipment. JCH’s other content is what I’m really there for though. I get to see some great work (especially photo books/zines) I probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise.  The same could probably be said for Flickr; if you know where to look (something which I’m still trying to figure out – it’s a never ending battle of sifting through the bad stuff, but when you get to the good stuff, it’s great).

What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?

I had always been around photography as a child; my cousins even had a darkroom in their basement. However, I never used it myself, but I was continually fascinated by it.

Rather, I began shooting with film when I was 17; right after high school. I didn’t feel ready for university quite yet, and I figured “what’s the rush?” in forcing myself to attend. There’s an excellent institution in my city called bealart; an art program for those fresh out of high school. One of my cousins had attended it some years before and really enjoyed it, so I figured I’d do the same. I’m awfully glad I did – attending bealart was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

In my first year there I fell in love with film photography (our first assignment was shooting portraits of our classmates with a Cambo 8×10). Bealart allowed me to explore photography at a high school age, but at a university level; something I’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Canada, or anywhere for that matter. With all the mediums I was able to explore, and all the artists I met, bealart has proven to be quite the formative experience for me. In my final year there prior to university, I worked as their darkroom technician, and I continue to go back there to teach C-41 workshops – the next one will be in a couple of days, in fact.

Voigtlander Vito II, 50mm f/3.5, Kodak Gold

What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?

Rangefinders like the Mamiya and the Linhof are great for night photography – especially urban landscapes – which is something I do a lot of. The Mamiya Super 23, as large as it is, is also a great camera to use handheld. I’m not really sure if you could call what I shoot street photography, but I suppose it shares a lot of characteristics with it.  However, shooting the things that people use and the “residue” of their action has always been of interest to me.

Mamiya Super 23, 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 160

What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer? 

Like I’ve said before, digital media has its merits and I do shoot with it on occasion, but it’s always struck me as a bit odd that so many pictures never leave the digital realm. In many cases, bits of information go from sensor, to processor, to SD card, to computer, and finally to the internet. They never leave that electronic world; they never actually exist as tangible objects. I can’t really say if that oddity is a good or bad thing per say, but it’s always struck me as kind of strange; those photos don’t really exist.

However, I love film. I am primarily a medium format shooter, though I always keep a Leica IIIc and 25mm f/4 in my bag for quick snapshots. Coincidentally, the 25mm lens’ field of view matches what I see within my eyeglass frames. Shooting with no viewfinder aside from the eyeglasses I wear can be a fun, liberating experience.

Leica iiic, 25mm f/4 Snapshot Skopar, Fuji Superia 400

With that said, I typically shoot 6×8 with a Mamiya Super 23 on Portra 400, 160, or 100T. As much as it is an oddball format, I think 6×8 is simply one of the most pleasing to look at; the negatives are huge, the depth of field can be extremely shallow or deep if I want it to be, and it’s relatively easy to use tilt/shift movements at this size. 6×8 also allows me to differentiate myself from the typical 2:3 ratio that dominates much of photography, while not straying too far with a 4:3 ratio. All in all, I’d consider this my ideal format.

Mamiya Super 23, 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 160

I recently bought a Linhof Super Technika III in “bargain” condition – I’ve spent the last few months refurbishing it myself! I’ve always been fascinating by how mechanical things operate and I enjoy metalworking, so this works well for me. I probably won’t shoot much 4×5 though, as I’m primarily a colour photographer, and I’d like to explore more panoramic formats.

4×5 Technika III with Sinar Zoom, Mamiya 90mm f/3.5, Ektar 100

What types of film do you develop?

I mostly develop C-41, though I began with B&W and have even done a bit of B&W reversal for cine film.

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 experience developing film was very much so one of “those” experiences you continue to remember: Inherently, something goes wrong the first time and there’s at least a little bit of embarrassment. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t one of those people who thought you could beat the system by developing, stopping and fixing all at once. ( I recall our teacher making a joke about the soup of developer/stop/fix in the “photographic waste” jug allowing you to do this, and someone took him literally)…

For me, it was embarrassing, though not too bad: Everyone else was used to 35mm, yet I was enamored with a hand-me-down Minolta Autocord, and just had to start with medium format. For this, I was rewarded with hours in a dark room trying to load 120 roll film with the backing paper still on. Somehow I managed, but I left the room all hot and sweaty many hours later, possibly without a shirt, to the confusion of my classmates (no air conditioning in a tiny room during the heat of the summer). Yet, the magic of the process makes up for it – let’s be honest, weren’t we all amazed when we popped a curly roll of plastic and silver dust into a black tank, poured some stuff in it, and out came reflected light forever imbued onto a piece of acetate?

What is your development process like now?

I usually begin with a drive, bike ride, or walk around different parts of my city to scout out locations; places I am not familiar with, nor are many others. More recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing a friend along to shoot with. This wasn’t my decision per say; over the last year or so, a dozen people – some whom I know well, some whom I hardly know at all – have asked to tag along, especially while shooting at night. I’ve never really understood the appeal of watching someone twist a lens barrel and cock a shutter in -25 deg. winter weather, as is often case, but to each their own!

Regardless, it’s grown into something that’s really helped my creative process: Different people are aware of different aspects of our surroundings, and can provide insight that helps me determine what needs to be shot; they’re almost like my guides, in a sense. This also speaks to why I enjoy medium format, particularly with my Mamiya. It’s great on a tripod at night; slowing me down to be contemplative, but not so much that it is a burden. Likewise, I can use this camera handheld – it’s pretty quick to operate. This lends itself well to the variety of subjects I shoot, and how I wish to render them on film, considering how Mamiya’s lovely 100mm f/2.8 lens has the ability to isolate the subject from the fore and background, plus those massive 6×8 negatives.

Mamiya Super 23, 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 400

I do everything myself – from developing C-41 in an (old) kitchen sink, to scanning and printing. Since I shoot a lot of colour, and since I’m a university student, photographic enlargements aren’t really in my budget. With that said, the results I get from inkjet printing on rag paper make up for it. I begin by scanning with an Epson V600, cleaning the image up and colour correcting in Lightroom, then printing with a Canon PIXMA Pro-100. There really isn’t too much to the process; I like to keep it as streamlined as possible, but the use of rag paper does add some complexity to it. However, I’d say it is definitely worth it.

Having attended bealart, I was exposed to other printmaking mediums as well. One thing that always stuck with me was the quality of paper the lithography students used, versus what we did in photography. That’s not to say one paper was objectively better than another, but inkjet paper – even photo paper – has always seemed too clean and sterile to complement what I shoot. A friend of mine at bealart had began experimenting with inkjet and rag paper, and I was really liked the results she was getting. Weeks later, we developed our own techniques for printing on rag paper, finding that Somerset 200-300gsm rag was the best, Stonehenge paper was objectively horrible for inkjet, and colour calibration was tedious to say the least. However, all the work was definitely worth it. I love the results I get from printing on rag paper, and that I have complete control over every step of the process. It’s great for 13×19 prints, and it’s great for printing zines. I think it’s safe to say that the creative process doesn’t just stop at the click of your shutter or in the darkroom, there’s definitely more to be explored beyond that.

 

What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?

Yes, I do everything myself. Having complete control over the process is something which I desire. I think there’s room for creative choices at every step of the process, from shooting to exhibiting – a process which I always try and get the most out of.

What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?

I order my chemicals from Argentix.ca – their service is great, it’s economical for us Canadians, and most of all, once of the few places we can get ORM-D chemicals when places like B&H don’t work. Most of my film is bought from Freestyle or B&H though, which both offer fair prices and shipping. As for things clips, tanks, jugs, etc. I get whatever I can.

Right now my C-41 kit consists of three Datatainer 1.85L jugs, a 2L graduated cylinder from a lab, three funnels with wide throats (an important feature for pouring quickly) from an Autozone, two meat thermometers (one for chemical temperature and water temperature), a pair of vinyl gloves, a gas mask, and a 1 ft. square white plastic tub to carry everything and use as a tempering bath. C-41 can be quite nasty, especially while mixing the chemicals, so don’t cheap out on a gas mask. Organic Vapour filters are important, even with good ventilation.

Mamiya Super 23, 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 400

Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?

I love what I’m doing now, though of course, I’d love to even more. I like to engage with the public. Taking that further means moving beyond exhibition and  into the realm of actively communicating with the public (e.g. workshops).

That’s not to say I want to teach some class on “how to become a photographer just like me for only $29.99”. I don’t really have anything to offer in that respect; few if any truly do. Rather, something simple like teaching artists (and generally curious people) the basics of developing film, printing in a darkroom, with inkjet, and so forth – how to reign control over the entire creative process, essentially – is something that does interest me. I do that now with bealart, where I had attended as a student some years ago, but I’d like to extend that to a broader audience.

Mamiya Super 23, 65mm f/6.8 (modified to open at f/5.6), Kodak Portra 160

I’m not saying I want to move away from exhibition either – I wouldn’t say exhibition and teacher need to be mutually exclusive pursuits. Recently, I was asked to photograph a particularly underrepresented and misunderstood community near where I live. I don’t want to reveal too much, but a lot of people tend to hold negative connotations regarding this group of people – there is very much so a cultural divide and an “us vs them” mentality here. Exhibiting work within this community’s spaces could bring in outsiders and ideally, help ease relations by making those spaces more approachable.

Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed? 

I like my work to comment on local places, local objects, and local issues – especially aspects of the community which too few people are aware of. I’ve always lived in the quintessential Canadian city; too small to reliably be on everyone’s map, yet too large – and lacking any outward character or charm – to be an inviting location. It’s a sentiment that even locals tend to agree with. Having traveled through the US and Canada, I see this unfortunate trend repeated often. So many places lack an overt incentive to visit them. Yet, objects of aesthetic pleasure exist covertly in these locations. By forcing oneself to navigate these landscapes, these scenes can be discovered. Here, photography acts as a patron searching through the shop-worn bargain racks of a department store; seeking that diamond in the rough. Its existence may have been disarmed by its surroundings, but when that object is viewed in an alternative context, it has the power to be just as captivating as any other sight.

4×5 camera with Graflex 6×9 rollfilm back, Portra 100T

Here in London, Ontario, that “philosophy” has two parts to it. Firstly, this city does have a lot of great things to offer, and like many places, you’ve got to put effort into looking for them. I think photographers have the intrinsic ability to perceive their surroundings in a novel way compared to non-photographers. So ultimately, my goal is to uncover those things which are pleasurable to look at – better yet, use my cameras to render objects typically considered unpleasant and unsightly as objects which elicit desire and intrigue.

Secondly, I think this takes on a different form when it comes to photographing issues which are integral to my city’s identity. London, Ontario is nicknamed the “Forest City”. Yet, it’s hard to come across a forest that hasn’t been torn down for a new subdivision or an apartment complex. At the cost of growth, we’re selling our soul – quite literally, we’re selling our identity. With a lot of my work, I wish to comment on this. What is our current identity? Where are we headed? This can be made especially powerful when coupled with public installation or online galleries seen by my peers, where the gaze of someone who doesn’t normally look at art can be captured. I think there’s a lot of potential in this approach to shooting and  exhibiting – it’s definitely something I want to explore further.

Mamiya Super 23, 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Portra 400

What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?

Just do it. That phrase gets passed around a lot with varying degrees of seriousness, but it still holds water. Go buy a film camera. Really, they aren’t that expensive. If you have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle, focal lengths, and so forth, start with medium or large format. A RB67 is a fantastic camera, and can be had for obscenely low prices. Same can be said for a 4×5 Graflex. If you’ve ever cooked or baked before, you’ll do just fine with developing film. It’s a recipe like any other – the only difference is that you aren’t supposed to eat the end result.

 

Hiroshima

Our last day trip was to the city of Hiroshima.  Hiroshima was the city I was most looking forward to since I have a deep interest in social studies and history, especially that of World War II.  The five-hour train ride surprisingly didn’t feel as long as it actually was.  Although, we definitely felt the constraints of time since we were only able to spend about five or six hours in the city.

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

Right out of the train station, we caught a cab to the north side of Peace Park.  With the Hiroshima Carp baseball game on the radio with the every-so-often cheer from our cab driver reacting to the game, it was already evident that Hiroshima truly was a city that rallied around baseball and each other.

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

The highlight of Hiroshima was the A-Bomb Dome, an untouched dome just a short walk from a three directional bridge, which was the hypocenter of “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on the city over seventy years ago.  On the other side of the river, surrounding the dome lies Peace Park.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

At the memorial, I couldn’t help but notice an odd feeling of guilt.  Perhaps it wasn’t guilt, but it was something along those lines.  Being an American that had nothing to do with the bombing that occurred well before my lifetime (and my parents’ as well), I still carried a guilt-like and dejected aura walking around the dome.

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

On the far side of the dome, I came across a group of Japanese people chatting and sitting in lawn chairs with books spread out at their feet.  Books and binders that told the story of the day the atomic bomb was dropped on their city.

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

One woman who was sitting in the lawn chairs took some time to share her personal story about her grandparents who were in the city that day.  It was a sobering tale, one that truly pulls at your heart in hopes that such tragedies need not happen again.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

After spending a bit of time at the memorial, we decided to randomly wander about the streets, stores, and markets for the remainder of time we had left.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Fuji Natura 1600

 

 

Part of the Process: Ralph Brandi

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:

Ralph Brandi

Location:

Middletown, New Jersey, USA

Links:

Website

Instagram

Flickr

What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?

PetaPixel and Film Photography Project.

What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?

I was shooting digital with the idea that I could shoot more and get better as a photographer, but what I found was that the more I shot, the worse I got. I found an original Diana in a junk shop in Levittown, PA for a dollar (holy grail for toy camera fans).

I took it to Florida with me on a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. My digital camera died after four shots that day, so the whole day was shot with the Diana. When I got the film developed, I was blown away; a place so associated with the 1960s in my mind (Apollo 11 landed on the moon 10 days before my 6th birthday) looked like I shot photos of it in the 1960s.

Diana // Tri-X

I found that by slowing down I was getting better shots, and by shooting with simple cameras I was concentrating more on composition, one of the only things I could actually effect with such primitive cameras. It was a year or two after that that I started developing my own film.

What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?

Landscapes, mostly; I like to shoot in the resort towns of the Jersey Shore where I live.

Pentax 67 w/ 90mm // Ilford FP4+

What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer? 

35mm, 126, 127, 120, 4×5, Polaroid pack film, SX-70, 600, Spectra.

What types of film do you develop?

C41, black and white, and E6

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?

I was spending a lot of time on a site called Vox, which at that time was a host for blogs run by early blog software maker Six Apart. One of the people I met there was a young woman from Montreal who was also a film shooter. She convinced me that developing film was fun, cheap, and easy. She educated me on what I needed to get (basically a Paterson tank and a room I could make dark), and I was off to the races. She was an art history student at a university in Montreal who was torn between art history and art making. I lost track of her when Vox shut down, but I owe her a lot.

What is your development process like now?

Lately I find myself shooting mostly medium format (Rolleiflex, Pentax 67, Kiev 88) or large format (Sinar A1, Calumet CC-401, Wanderlust Travelwide, Intrepid 4×5 Gen 1) because it slows me down and makes me think about by shots.  I still shoot 35mm, but I’m never happy with the results.

Rolleiflex MX-EVS w/80mm Xenar  and Hoya R72 filter // Rollei Infrared 400 film

I load the film into my tank (I have three Paterson tanks) in a bathroom that I can make dark by covering the window with a piece of cardboard. After loading the tank, I head to the basement and the utility sink between my washer and dryer.

I usually develop with Rodinal 1:50; it provides a reasonable balance between graininess and speed. Occasionally, I’ll stand develop at 1:100 for an hour, but typically only if I have a real oddball film and can’t find anything about what the development time should be. I use the Digital Truth Massive Dev app on my iPhone to time black and white development, and an old app called LabTimer to develop C41 or E6.

Canon Canonet QL17-GIII w/ 40mm f/1.7 // Tri-X

If I’m developing black and white, I’m not as picky about temperatures; if I’m within 2-3 degrees of 68F/20C, I figure I’m okay. If I’m developing C41 or E6, I pull out a picnic cooler and fill it with hot water, about 115F, put my chem bottles in that for about 15 minutes, check the temperature, and go when it’s around 102F. For black and white, I use water for stop rather than an acid bath between developer and fixer, and I changed from using Ilford Rapid Fixer to Photo Formulary TF-4, which is alkaline and doesn’t require hypo reduction afterward. For C41 and E6, I use the directions that come with the kits.

Kodak Retina Ia w/ Schneider-Kreuznach Retina-Xenar 50mm // Kodachrome 64

I use the Jobo press kit from B&H for C41; for E6, I use the kit that the Film Photography Project sells. When I’m done developing, I use a modified version of the Ilford 5-10-20 rinse process.  Basically, I do each twice, so it’s more of a 5-5-10-10-20-20 process. Last thing is a bit of Kodak Photo-Flo surfactant into the last rinse, then onto the rack and into the shower to dry. After they dry, I cut the negatives, put them in Print File negative sleeves, and scan; medium format uses a BetterScanning negative holder; 4×5 and 35mm get the standard ones that came with my Epson 4990.

What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?

I have scanned my own film for most of the time I’ve been developing it. I’ve started to learn how to print with an enlarger. I have this oddball enlarger called an Enfojer that was developed in Croatia primarily to print and enlarge phone photos, but that also includes the ability to print from negatives. The enlarger I received was faulty, but at least I received one; most of the backers from Indiegogo never did, and they appear to have been shut down recently. Like I said, the enlarger is faulty, so I’ve had to hack it to get it to work, but I’ve been pretty happy with the results.

Wanderlust Travelwide 4×5 camera w/ Angulon 90mm f/6.8 // Tri-X

I’m currently looking for a more traditional enlarger. I’m also spending a lot of time playing with old-fashioned traditional methods of printing like cyanotype and gum bichromate. These typically use a hybrid methodology where you print digital enlargement negatives, because they’re contact print methods and nobody wants to look at contact prints of 35mm negatives. I’ve been learning about how to use step wedges to calibrate the production of the digital negatives, which I produce on an Epson 3880 printer. Given that I’ve scanned my photographs for the past ten years, this kind of hybrid process works well for me.

What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?

Paterson tanks. I bought into it early on and have never seen a reason to change for the most part, except for 4×5. I was using a MOD54 with a large Paterson tank, but backed a new tank on Kickstarter that uses half the chemistry: Timothy Gilbert’s SP445. I find it really easy to use.

Intrepid 4×5 Model 1 w/ Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm // Arista Ultra 400

For chemicals, I’ve played around but settled largely on Rodinal. I like grain and Rodinal produces that grain. It’s a good fit. I played around with HC-110 (too similar to Rodinal) and Pyro when I first started shooting 4×5 (too toxic and never saw the benefit). Back when I was shooting mainly toy cameras, I also used Diafine a lot; the speed boost it provides was very useful for those cameras.

Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions ?

I always keep learning. I think my photography is getting better, but have had bouts of lack of inspiration. I think my attempts to get better at printing and my exploration of alternative processes have been my way of dealing with that.

Polaroid 250 w/114mm f/8.8 // Polaroid 669, on-site image transfer to Arches Watercolor

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash // Tri-X // Printed Cyanotype

Have you completed any notable projects or in the process of creating something from the film you have shot and developed?

My initial “project” was more of an ongoing philosophy; I am not a fan of nostalgia, and I found film useful in subverting nostalgia. Then my dad died.  I discovered why nostalgia hasn’t been bred out of us via natural selection. I learned a lot, but it messed up my photography for a few years. I spent time exploring different aspects of photography trying to figure out where I was going. More recently, with the changes in the political climate, I’m finding a need to return to subverting nostalgia.

Polaroid 250 w/114mm f/8.8 // Polaroid Chocolate 100

What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?

Dive in. It won’t always work the way you think it should, but you’ll learn a ton, and get better. Even your mistakes might turn out to be things of beauty and wonder. Don’t be afraid. Every failure contains the seeds of success; you try something and fail, you know to try something different next time. Only by exploring will you find your way.

Agfa Clack w/ 95mm lens // Ilford FP4+

Camera Review: Rollei AFM35

Recently, I have been trying to offload or sell some of my camera gear in favor of shedding the amount of stuff I have and simplifying my shooting.  I’m really trying to only one one camera for each of the 35mm and 120 formats, but it is proving to be very difficult.  More often than not though, I tend to shoot the same cameras over and over again.

In an attempt to sell a Bronica SQ-B, I was offered to trade for a Rollei AFM35, which is a Rollei rebranded Fuji Klasse.  Now, while I would have to say that the Rollei branding is not as pretty as Fuji’s, it does appear (through a very brief eBay search) that the Rollei version is harder to come by if you’re into the rarity sort of thing.

The camera itself has a substantial build.  I wouldn’t say it is heavy as much as I would say that it is solid.  I have rather large hands so it fits nicely in my oversized grip as a point and shoot camera.  The camera itself is rather straight forward.  Only three buttons across the top for shooting settings and three buttons across the back for date settings.  The knobs are large and easily accessible.

There was something about the camera that made me excited to shoot it.  In quiet environments, I would definitely argue that this camera is not a stealthy shooter.  The shape and color of the camera is rather inconspicuous, but once you hit the shutter the camera is very whiny and draws attention to you rather quickly.  Not sure if this is an issue with all of these cameras and I’m not sure if I am being too tough on the camera, but it was something I definitely happen to take note of.

The best thing about this camera is definitely is it’s quick f/2.6 lens.  I did catch myself a few times not getting a positive focus light in the viewfinder before sending the shutter button all the way down, so I’m not sure if the focus is a bit off/slow or maybe me just being a bit antsy.  On my first roll, I took the camera to both light and dark environments to test out its capabilities.  While I did shoot an expired roll of HP5, the results were still something to celebrate.

La Botánica Art Show

I am excited to announce that I will be exhibiting some work alongside some other very talented Tampa Area artists at Fancy Free Nursery in Tampa Heights.  There will be an opening party in the coming weeks.  I hope to see you there to enjoy some art, music, coffee, beer, and just an overall good time.  Details are provided in the flyer and below:

La Botánica Art Show

Fancy Free Nursery

1502 N Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33602

August 25, 2017 @ 8PM

Works displayed by Dylan Barnes, Ryan Berger, Daniel Ryan, Jujmo, Soojin Brown, Cory Robinson, Katie Callihan, and more!

Refreshments provided by Foundation Coffee and Hidden Springs Ale Works.

Kyoto, Japan

Getting out of the mega-city of Tokyo was a nice break every couple days or so.  It just so happened that after we got our rail passes that we decided to schedule a day trip outside of Tokyo about every other day.

The bullet train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto was about three hours.  When we arrived in Kyoto, we decided that it would be a good idea to rent bicycles and ride around the city.  This allowed us to move quickly but also gave us enough control to stop when we wanted to and move slowly enough to still take in the city and soak in the sights.  With only a couple things on our must-see list, we figured the day would be an easy one (it wasn’t).  The first thing we did was ride our bikes towards Kiyomizu Dera.  We rode a few miles before arriving at the west entrance of the park.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

We spent a few hours walking through the park, most of which was uphill, passing by a few temples and a insanely large graveyard.  The views along the walk were impressive to say the least.  Up until that point we had only seen a handful of people.  Nearing the end of our trek, we turned a corner and finally arrived at Kiyomizu Dera.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Along with the temple, there were literally thousands of people buzzing along the main drag filled with shops that sold food, trinkets, and other things.  Many Asians wore kimonos and geta, which just made the environment that much better.  While walking around taking photos, I was approached by a group of Japanese middle school students.  They asked if I could help them with their English homework.  Of course, as a teacher myself, I obliged.

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Contax T3 // Provia 100

After spending a bit more time walking through shops, we jumped back on the bikes and grabbed some udon for lunch.  After lunch we planned on biking to the bamboo forest in Arashiyama.  While riding and navigating simultaneously, I dropped my phone.  Not only did I drop it, but it ended up right in between my spokes, slamming into the back of my front fork.  Needless to say, it was done for.  After riding a bit more, we decided that the additional mileage was not manageable before the last train left for Toyko.   We returned the bicycles, had a match shot frappuccino, and hopped on the train back to Tokyo.

We did however make a second trip to Kyoto two days later.  While this did mean that we would have to cross Osaka off our list for this trip, we thought the bamboo forest would be worth it.  When we arrived the second time, we took a cab straight to Arashiyama.

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Still, we got sidetracked (a little lost) and ended up taking a hike to the highest point in the area.  We were greeted at a temple at the top of the trail and decided to take in the view and reap the reward for our walking.  I observed quietly at first, but then decided to make small conversation with some other visitors and took a few portraits.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

After the temple, we took the easier walk back down and headed toward the bamboo forest.  For someone who likes to take photos of natural environments, it was hard to wait out the perfect shot in an area that is packed with tourists and selfie sticks.  I didn’t expect the amount of people that were there but I did manage to grab a few shots I was happy with.

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 w/ 75mm // Fuji Pro 400h

While Kyoto was a bit more tourist-filled than anticipated, we did find the nature-based reprieve we were looking for although it took a bit of walking (and biking) to do so.  Of course, we only were there for two half days so we remained focused on the bigger sites to see.

 

Part of the Process: Christopher Sturm

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:

Christopher Sturm

Location:

Oakland, California, USA

Links:

Website

Youtube

What other websites or blogs do you keep up with to feed your photographic interests?

PetaPixel, The Phoblographer, and Fuji Rumors.

What attracted you to film photography? How did you get started/introduced to shooting film? How soon after did you start developing?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had to choose an elective class to round out my schedule. I had no interest in anything that was available, but Black and White Film Photography stuck out to me. My mom took me to a thrift store and I found a Canon AE-1 in pristine condition, with a 50mm f/1.8 stuck to it. I think it was $15 or something.

The second week of class we had to develop our first roll. I remember opening the tank for the first time, pulling out my film, and holding it up to the light. I couldn’t believe I had actually made images appear on film. It was like magic.

The following week we used enlargers to print our favorite image. After that print dried and I saw it in all its glory in the light, I decided I would never go anywhere without my camera. I still own that AE-1. It’s actually sitting on my desk as I type this.

Canon F-1 w/ 50mm 1.4 // Fuji Pro 400h

What do you like to shoot on a regular basis?

I love shooting portraits on location outdoors, as well as product, editorial, and anything coffee related.  Lately, I’ve been shooting for Barista Magazine and they have allowed me a huge amount of artistic freedom. I got to spend time with amazing cafes and roasters really seeing their processes and documenting them the way I want. It’s truly amazing.

I have recently started a project focusing on architecture around my town with focus on minimalism. Basically different types of buildings framed against a stark cloudless sky.

What formats, cameras, and films do you shoot? What do you like about the formats, cameras, films you prefer? 

I shoot 35mm and medium format. My main film cameras are my Canon F-1, Pentax 67, Olympus XA, and Polaroid Land Camera 100.

Olympus XA // Kodak Portra 400

The Canon F-1 is the most solid and professional feeling 35mm SLR I’ve ever used. I started off when I was 15 with an AE-1, and this camera is so very comfortable and familiar coming from that, but in a class of its own. The shutter sound and feel, the ruggedness, the brassing on the corners, the weight, everything. It just feels like a serious machine. I shoot that camera almost exclusively with the FD 50mm f/1.4, which is a gorgeous lens. Images are almost three dimensional. Ive been using it a lot for environmental portraits and some product stuff.

Canon F-1 w/ 50mm f1.4 // Fuji Acros

I was mainly shooting a Pentax 645N and a Mamiya RB67 for medium format, but I let both of those go and picked up a Pentax 67 with the magical 105mm f/2.4 lens. The huge form factor and cannon of a shutter just feels so right to me, almost like positive feedback from the camera that assures me I’m doing the right thing, I’m exactly where I need to be. I’ve shot with my friend’s Pentax 67 and finally ordered my own.  It should be in my hands before this is published. I feel like Christmas is coming, and I can’t wait.

Pentax 645N w/ 45mm f2.8 //Fuji Pro 400h

I used to be a total sucker for the “full frame vs crop sensor” argument and I totally believed that in order to be a professional you needed to own a full frame camera. Then I started shooting medium format and everything I knew went out the window. I started to realize that while it did matter what tool you chose for the job was the right tool, these are all just tools. I have shot professionally on 35mm film and full frame cameras, as well as crop sensor and medium format. It’s all about what you’re doing with it and how you see things.

Personally, I love medium format for intensely shallow portraits or environmental product or editorial work. But I will also shoot the Canon when I need to be a bit lighter with my kit and be able to wedge myself into smaller spaces. There is, however, an undeniable feeling when you hold up a 6×7 negative into the light for the first time.

What types of film do you develop?

I develop black and white as well as C41 at home. I have been developing black and white for years ever since high school, in my bathroom sink. A couple years back, I decided I really wanted to try C41 at home to bring costs down since I was shooting so much. After doing a ton of research online and a lot of trial and error, I developed a stand development technique that works really well, with very consistent and predictable results and not too much extra grain. Ive been processing my C41 like that for over a year now, about once a week, sometimes more.

Canon F-1 w/ 50mm f1.4 // Fuji Pro 400h

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?

After my sophomore year in high school, I was just shooting black and white film like crazy and processing the film at a lab in Hayward that sadly doesn’t exist anymore. The woman who owned the lab told me that I could develop the film at home if I wanted, and that they carried all the stuff necessary to get the job done. I begged my mom to buy the stuff I needed. A tank, spools, the chemistry, a squeegee, a film changing bag, and clips to hang the film to dry. It didn’t take much convincing, I think she was just thrilled I was being creative and not asking her to buy me an Xbox.

I had already learned how to process film from my class, so I got right to it. I made a lot of mistakes that first year, but eventually it became like second nature. It took me 15 years to even consider trying C41 at home, because I always heard there was no way you could do it.

Olympus XA // Kodak Portra 400

What is your development process like now?

When I’m shooting, I tend to overexpose colour at least a stop or two. I push black and white often, usually up to 1600 ISO, but not much higher than that. It depends on what I’m shooting.

I don’t want to give all my secrets away, but I use a modified stand development process for both black and white and C41.  Since I use a stand development process, it doesn’t matter what the film is pushed to, the process remains the same. This has allowed me to really streamline my workflow and keep things simple.

Pentax 645N w/ 45mm f2.8 // Fuji Pro 400h

After I shoot, film doesn’t hang out for too long before I process it. Sometimes I’ll process that day if I have time. The process for black and white takes about an hour and ten minutes, while colour takes about two hours. The whole idea behind stand development is that you load the film, add the chemicals, agitate for a short interval, then leave the tank alone. Since there isn’t constant agitation, the chemicals exhaust and develop the film slowly, allowing you to do other things in the meantime. It also means I can use room temperature or colder water for processing C41. I tried the traditional way with hot water and all that stuff, but it was a pain, and getting the water to stay a constant temperature to be sure everything works right is a juggling act I’m not interested in.

After the film has processed, I hang it up to dry, usually overnight. The next day, I’ll cut and scan the negatives with my Epson V550 flatbed scanner. I don’t use the automatic modes, I do it manually one frame at a time. That way I can control the curves and sharpness as it scans and leave nothing up to chance. I scan everything as flat as possible to make sure all the information is there, and then I make minor adjustments in Lightroom to contrast, exposure, and highlights. I don’t do any colour correction digitally. Everything is saved as high quality JPEGs for delivery or whatever.

Mamiya RB67 w/ 127mm f3.5 // Fuji Pro 400h

 

What’s your processes regarding scanning, enlarging, and/or printing your work?

When I was younger, I would print my work as much as I could. Photo paper is expensive, so I didn’t print a ton. One year, I was gifted five packs of Ilford Multigrade photo paper and I think I went through it in a month. I haven’t printed in a good three years, but I am looking into some professional enlargers so I can build a setup to start printing again.

The internet is amazing and Instagram is great for showing off your work around the world in a second, but I feel there’s something missing when you don’t print your work. I feel like its a necessary part of the photographic process that informs the photographer and the viewer something on a screen just can’t.

What equipment are you using to develop your film and why?

I use a Paterson four spool tank, mostly so I can process either two rolls of 120 or four of 35mm at a time. I use the same processes for both so it saves time and the results are very consistent.  I use Kodak Photoflo for both processes. It’s cheap, lasts forever, and just works. Most of the stuff I use is easy to get and is affordable.

For black and white, I have had amazing success with Rodinal. It’s so cheap and economical.  I was weary at first, but I’m so glad it performs so well, both with traditional and stand developments.  I don’t believe there is a magic chemical or process that makes the best images. However, I do believe Rodinal is the best for me, simply because of the cost to performance ratio, plus it works great with the particular film I shoot.

For C41, I have been using the Jobo Press Kit. Its readily available, not super expensive, and lasts a decent amount of time. I go through a box every two or three months, which isn’t bad considering how much I process.

The weak point in my development kit is my changing bag. I got it from Amazon and the zipper broke. It was cheap, so what was I expecting? I need to find a bigger higher quality version soon.

Nikon F2 w/ 55mm f2.8 // Kodak Portra 400

Are you content with where you are now with your shooting and developing? Do you have any future plans or ambitions?

I would like to move to a house or a live/work space that I can have a permanent lab set up to process my work and print. I have really considered investing in a Jobo system to get the most high quality and consistent development possible. All of the things I want to do would take a considerable amount of money to get it off the ground, so I’m scheming at the moment.

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.

I am in the process of a project thats very collaborative with some film photographers that I am friends with, and I am really proud of it. I can’t talk about it just yet, but it will be coming out soon and I cant wait to share it.

Canon F-1 w/ 50mm f1.4 // Fuji Pro 400h

What advice can you give to others who are interested in shooting and developing film but are apprehensive about getting started?

Film can be expensive, and it is a very manual, hands-on undertaking. However, there is nothing more satisfying then pulling out a roll of film after processing and seeing those images come to life.

Film is an organic, living, breathing thing that captures light in a way that digital still hasn’t conquered. Shooting and processing film is a learned skill, and anyone who has the desire to do it can absolutely be successful.

Find people who shoot film and talk to them. Look up classes in your town. Most colleges and night schools should have a course for film photography. Talk to your family and see if anyone has an old film camera collecting dust in a box or attic somewhere. Go forth and keep film alive.

Anything else you care to share?

There is an incredible film photographer community, and being plugged in to that community has helped me be more successful in my efforts, inspired me when I’ve been in a dry spell, and introduced me to some of the coolest people. I honestly think that I am a better photographer for having met other film shooters and become a part of that community.

Mount Fuji & Aokigahara

Of course, Mount Fuji was at the top of our to-do list while in Japan.  Driving in Japan is manageable in a physical sense, but perhaps not as feasible in a mental and emotional sense.  Just getting out of Tokyo was an adventure in and of itself.  Although, once we got moving, it wasn’t so bad.  The interesting thing about Japan, is that since it is an island, most of the tourists in many of the sightseeing areas are actually Japanese citizens on day trips to a different part of the country of which they are from.  There was only one rest stop on the way to Mount Fuji from Tokyo, and it was here that we saw couples, families, and motorcyclists getting away from their busy weekday lives on a Sunday morning.

Contax T3 // Velvia 50

After driving about eighty miles, spending about $40 or $50 on tolls, getting stuck at a toll booth, and a single pit stop, we arrived in the vicinity of Mount Fuji.  The air was fresh, the trees were green and spread as far as the eye, condensed over rolling hills and smaller peaks in the distance.

Contax T3 // Velvia 50

Mount Fuji, of course, is stunningly beautiful and is probably the number one nature-related thing to see while in Japan.  And rightfully so.  The ride to Mount Fuji wasn’t terrible, but was definitely much improved after crawling through Tokyo traffic and getting stuck at a toll plaza.  Driving towards the mountain is just as scenic as arriving at the destination.

Contax T3 // Velvia 50

The base of the mountain is surrounded by campgrounds, viewpoints, and traditional dwellings.  We stopped at a small cafe on the opposite side of Mount Fuji and took in the sights of the sun lowering behind the low-hanging clouds, windsurfers, canoes, and fisherman.  Every person individually partaking in their own activity, but collectively embracing the beauty of the countryside.

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Velvia 50

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h

Contax T3 // Velvia 50

Aside from the mountain itself, the reason we journeyed to the area was to walk through Aokigahara, or the suicide forest.  Aokigahara is a vast forest with dense vegetation and a ground layer consisting mostly of hardened lava from past eruptions that consumes most sound leaving it very quiet, tranquil, and even a bit eerie.  However, the forest’s solemn mood does is not derived solely from its sound-deadening surface, but from the fact that it is the second most popular place for suicide in the world.

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h

Without getting too much into details which can be readily found elsewhere online (here and here.  Oh, and here’s a Vice Documentary here), there are many interesting traits to Aokigahara.  The opening of the forest is set up more like a tourist attraction than a destination for suicide, including a gift shop that serves corn ice cream (which was delicious as it was life-changing).  The forest is utterly beautiful and truly is an attraction on its own without the mystique and theme of suicide.  Of course, the forest is not marketed to the public as “The Suicide Forest.”  That large, lingering, and pretty well-known detail is seemingly swept under the rug.

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h

Before I went, of course I did a little research about the forest.  I had read that there were signs throughout the forest.  These signs were said to have been hung by a man who previously set out to commit suicide and serve as a reminder to those who go with the intention to end their lives that their families are home waiting for them, depending on them, and of course love them.  Another thing we were on the look out for were any ropes, strings, or long pieces of ribbon; as these are frequently used by those who are still uncertain about their choice to take their life and use this as a tool to get back to the main trail if they so choose to live and leave the forest and return to their families and lives.  We did see some of these things (no bones or skulls, though) throughout our short trek through the forest.  Needless to say, you can’t help but feel a bit despondent.

The forest is vividly green, the trees and foliage only allow for the sound of a light breeze and narrow rays of sunlight to cut through the cracks between the leaves (it was so dark at points, that my cameras couldn’t get enough light to take an automatically-metered exposure).

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Contax T3 // Provia 100

Contax T3 // Provia 100

We didn’t spend too much time walking through the forest, maybe an hour or two (we spent an hour or two just driving around looking for it).  We should have spent the entire day hiking the forest, to be honest, but we weren’t exactly prepared for an all-day hiking excursion.  So if you plan on visiting, I definitely recommend blocking a whole day for a proper journey through the sea of trees.

If anything, Aokigahara is a place of peace for both those who are dead as well as those that are living.  It’s a place for quiet, serenity, and reflection where time and sound seems to stand still.

Mamiya 6 // Fuji Pro 400h