If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I like alternative processes. Something about cyanotypes has really grabbed my interest recently – something about the ability to print on anything porous, something about the fact it uses the sun to fix the image, it’s a process I keep thinking about.
I recently (grudgingly) sold my Nikon Coolscan IV 35mm scanner, to be able to buy a flatbed that could accommodate both 35mm and 120 negatives. I’m still not massively sold on the flimsy film holders, as opposed to the easy-peasy “feed it in the hole and wait for the clanging to stop” method of the Coolscan. However, I can’t fault the quality of the scans, even if the method of obtaining them is a bit of a pain.
These shots were taken in the spring, locally to me – a test of my new 50mm Bronica SQ-A lens, and mostly metered on my phone or by eye (still not perfect, but not bad!).
I scanned and processed these all at night, in the dark… which meant I didn’t spot the MASSIVE amounts of dust on the negatives. At some point I’ll go through and clone it all out, but for now, it’s nice to have them properly scanned.
It’s perhaps inevitable that at some point in a film photographer’s life, he or she will mess up a roll. I’ve been having ongoing problems with developing at home, and today was no exception. Yesterday was Grillstock, a festival of food and music here in Bristol, and I took my new 24mm Superwide lens out, loaded with a fresh roll of HP5+. I shot a whole roll in one day, taking loads of photos of the event in the sunshine, as well as lots of shots of my friends and I at night, drinking and chatting and having a lovely old time.
This morning (despite my colossal hangover), I attempted to transfer the roll onto a reel, in a changing bag. Same as I have done, many times previously. However the film just wouldn’t go onto the reel – it kept sticking and tearing and buckling. As I kept trying, getting more annoyed, making the inside of the bag sweatier (nice), the film kept buckling and creasing. After about 30 minutes of annoyance, I eventually had to cut the roll to eventually get it onto the roll. I resigned myself to the fact that this roll was probably ruined – the heat and moisture in the bag had made section of it stick to itself, which is not a good thing for delicate emulsion. I processed it anyway (stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for an hour), fixed and hung it up to dry. Checking the date on my fixer, I groaned again – it was WAY out of date, and cloudy. This roll was doomed.
One small thing to take from this disappointing morning, was that I seem to have alleviated some of the problems of bromide drag, I’d experienced previously. I did this by pre-washing the film, and keeping the tank in a water bath while it sat for an hour. There is still some evidence of drag, but only on the portions of film where it was also very creased – this probably didn’t help.
So, what did I learn? I need to find out why my reels are sticking and tearing my film. I need to buy more fixer (in a smaller quantity, perhaps). I also need to perfect the pre-wash and water bath technique, to hopefully eradicate bromide drag altogether.
The few salvageable photos are below – I like the energy and fun times captured, but I can’t help but feel disheartened with the results, technically. I’ve been enjoying colour photography a lot more, recently, and this episode has only helped push me towards colour, as I don’t develop it myself!
If anyone has any rips for my reel problem, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
I’ve used a trusty Nikon Coolscan IV for years, since I bought it for a song from someone who didn’t really know what it was (sometimes in life, you get lucky). It’s a fantastic scanner – quick, produces scans of decent size, and because it focuses on the film itself, capable of producing sharp results. However, it’s only designed for 35mm film – as I’m shooting more and more 120 film recently, I thought it was (sadly) time to replace it.
So I had some fun trying to scan the Xpan slides and negatives from my last post. They are on 35mm film, but take up the space of two frames, per shot. My dedicated 35mm scanner, a Nikon Coolscan IV ED, can only scan one frame at a time. I eventually managed to scan all the frames using a simple, if long process:
Back in 2011 when I was just starting out with film photography properly, I had a roll of Fomapan 400 developed at a local photo shop – just a little one, next to my then-office on Brick Lane, run by an older guy and obviously geared up for holiday snaps. Must have cost around £7 or so for a black and white processing, and scans on a CD. I liked how they came out, but they were rather small, and I’d like to get a couple of them printed up properly someday, so I decided to re-scan on my little Coolscan IV.
Recently I have been lucky to find myself in possession of two film scanners. Going from “no film scanner” to “two” is a bit of a leap, but that’s what happens when you see two bargains on eBay and decide that driving to Milton Keynes is a good idea.
So I now have a Nikon Coolscan IV and a Canoscan 9000F in my possession. Both scan 35mm transparencies and slides, but the Canoscan also scans 120 transparencies. The Nikon is the mouch older of the two, it’s about 10 years old, but sold for much more than the Canon when it was new. As it’s got the ability to be fed film in strips of four, it was often used as a mini lab, scanning in batches. Flatbed scanners are more common nowadays, being as they are, multipurpose – you can also scan documents, photos, pictures etc with it.
My first go at stand developing with my little Olympus XA 4. This roll was mostly taken at box speed, except for a few shots where I thought it was too dark, so pushed to 200 or 400. Amazingly all shots came out pretty well-exposed! There was a lot of tweaking in Lightroom, mostly to bump the contrast and adjust the tones, but not much else done.
Mostly for my own reference later, but a great and really simple guide for anyone with negatives they’d like to transfer to their computer.
Also the dev process: