Film vs D800E

Started Jan 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
Rich42
Regular MemberPosts: 194
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Re: I want to try film, but...
In reply to chlamchowder, Jan 29, 2013

chlamchowder wrote:

I want to try film.

but here's the problem: I have nowhere to develop it. Not many places develop film anymore, and it's extremely hard to find a place to process black and white film. There's a darkroom at my school, but there's also a membership fee that I'm not sure I want to pay. I really want to experiment with film, though. Any suggestions on where to process film? Or is it worth paying for darkroom membership, and messing with chemicals myself (never done that before)?

Where to process it?! Huh?!

The same place we all did 60 years ago. And 50 years ago. And 40 years ago. And . . .

You have a bathroom with no window that you use late at night after everyone else has gone to bed. Or you work in the evening and stuff towels under the door to keep out the lights from the hall.

Or you have a bathroom that does have a window, so you have to wait until it's dark out side, and even then you have to wait until everyone else in the house has gone to bed . . .

Or you tape aluminum foil on the window panes, and . . .

See a theme here? Everything's done late at night.

You get yourself some developing tanks. Stainless steel with stainless steel tops. God help you if you mix up the tanks and tops because they are not inter-changeable. So you learn to use plastic tops which are.

You can also learn to "see-saw" the full 3' length of film through 2" of developer in a developing tray. Of course, this needs to be done completely in the dark. By feel. All the way through until the fixing stage.

You learn to thread the film onto the stainless steel spirals. You can't do it. It doesn't work. It can't be done. Over and over. In the dark (no safe lights while the film is out- they're just for paper). It doesn't work, until one day it does. The film finally "pops" into the groves in the spirals. You can do it! Then it's like riding a bike. The film knows you know. And it goes in no matter how you hold it. Put the top on. Turn on the lights!

You pour developer into the tank. Invert and rotate. 15 seconds every minute. Or 10 seconds every minute. Or whatever "special" interval the manufacturer of the particular soup recommends. Tap the tank to dislodge air bubbles.

Ten minutes. Pour out the developer. Pour in the stop bath. 2 minutes. Pour it out. Pour in the Fixer. The suspense is killing you, but you have to wait a few more minutes before you can open the tank and try to see if there are any images on the roll. You do. And there are! Finish the fixing cycle.

Wash the film. Hang it to dry. It takes overnight to dry. Unless you use a hair drier which blows dust around that embeds itself in the soft, fragile, wet emulsion and makes printing a nightmare. Even letting it hang, it attracts dust. And it gets water spots. So you learn to use a wetting agent in the wash, and how to gently squeegee the hanging film strips which you clip to a string with clothes-pins in the shower stall.

So making prints is done on another night. You set up your enlarger and developer trays. The enlarger sits on the sink. Developer tray sits on the closed toilet seat. Stop bath and fixer trays are in the bath tub. You replace the bathroom light with a red safelight. A box of developing paper precariously sits on the top of the toilet tank.

Three, four hours in the "darkroom." Test prints. Test strips. Wash them long enough to be able to handle without chemicals dripping off, cause you have to view them outside in the hallway under normal light to make any judgements.On a good night (a real good night) two good prints is a great batting average.

Deal with complaints that Dektol permanently stains towels, bathmats and woodwork and that fixer eats holes in stuff, including clothes. Deal with family members needing to use the bathroom while you're developing.

You get hooked. You are on a quest for the Holy Grail of developer to give you the least film grain and highest film speed. You pour over formulas and manufacturer's claims. You test and test and test. Condenser enlarger or diffusion type? Agonize over a Nikon lens or a Schneider or a Leitz. You get an enlarger focusing microscope. You beg, plead, bribe others not to walk by the bathroom because their footsteps vibrate the enlarger and ruin the prints. (Eventually you learn that even when someone sneezes in china, the tiny seismic waves vibrate your enlarger and ruin your prints)

Eventually you build a "real" darkroom. But that's another story.

What's stopping you. Get processing!

Rich

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