Film Photography: How any could masrer film and darkroom work?

Started Jul 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
tedolf Forum Pro • Posts: 26,895
Gotta agree with Mark.....

Mark Smith wrote:

Well it's pretty much a fact, the only pro's that used 35mm exclusively were sports and journalists photographers, mainly because newsprint didn't require more resolution.

maybe in your country.

No that'll be worldwide and especially in the USA.

The problem with 35mm is you're limited to a maximum 8x12"

no you weren't.

Ok I had a lab, printed up to 4 feet wide from 120 film. You can't do that from 35mm film. In fact grain became visible at 8" with 400 speed films and 11x14 was a real stretch.

Most of my clients had 20x16's which with 35mm was poor.

nothing wrong with grain. Looks great with b/w.

The grainy aesthetic is fine, but back in the day grainy B&W wasn't the mainstay for weddings.

Better films had little grain in normal sized prints. The options for were there. 35mm b/w was an addition to medium format, which typical handled the often boring posed shots.

In the 1980's few photographers shot B&W weddings-that's a retro thing. Like you said 35mm was a back-up to 120 mainly used for the 'reportage' that became popular in the late 1990's

In fact the love of grainy mono has made a comeback. Your image above kind of proves the point although 'nice' for the atmosphere; it isn't a quality that most wedding photographers strived for,

as I said, there were also finer grained films to choose from. 35mm easily produced good quality at normal print sizes. It wasn't typically meant to replace medium format. The quality judgement is your opinion.

No, not until Tabular grains were introduced. It is a fact that until Portra and Fuji NPS, Agfa Portrait there were no tabular professional negative films.

In the late 1980's those tools we needed started to appear and 35mm was 'good enough' for 8x12 (at a push)

and just proves the point that reportage suits 35mm where people will overlook soft and grainy.

Again, that's your opinion. Magazines like National Geographic did just fine with 35mm. Most readers thought so.

Magazine print and wedding photography are a whole different ball game. The quality needed in print media is low take an 8x lupe to those 'just fine' magazine prints of the 1980's you'll quickly see the folly of your argument.

which meant re-prints were a big problem, most of the money i made was from large prints.

you priced your smaller prints wrong then.

You don't 'price' smaller prints, you give packages. So most of the value added was in the larger prints. Sure we gave them 8x8 packages in an album but you needed to compete the money was made on higher priced re-prints and larger framed prints.

you should have considering different pricing strategies then.

Don't be silly, I made a fortune from weddings-I don't need a hobbyist such as yourself to tell me how to make money– my wedding business employed over 30 photographers and I ran three labs.

a truly wise businessman keeps an open mind to all ideas, from anyone.

A truly wise businessman you aren't! I can see that from your posts. I just made money, so much so I retired in my 40's you did that from photography?

There is nothing wrong with the policy of packages and up-selling–it gave me a very comfortable living.

was just saying that you could have perhaps considered different pricing strategies so your revenue would not have depended only on the high end.

We made lots of money. Enough to support 30 photographers and three labs. To chase the smaller profit items will not bring profit revenue-just cost. I could make more on one canvass bonded 20x16 than 200 5x5's which actually cost more to produce.

Casing ¢ where $ are easier isn't a good practice and is where the industry finds itself today–few will now make as much as I did in the 1980's.

So amateurs used 35mm pro's rarely at least none that I knew-and I shot weddings for nearly 30 years and owned a lab in that time I probably saw a handful of 35mm weddings.

So no it wasn't 'heavily' used the tool of choice for most Pro's was a 6x6 camera.

that's just not true, and I've known many wedding photographers from back then.

It's a fact, you may not like it but most Pro's used 6x6 cameras. Like I said we worked with about 80 weddings a week from various photographers all over the UK, none of which used 35mm exclusively.

maybe that was a UK thing then. I'm speaking as an American in America.

Certainly not!

The country specific thing I mentioned was regarding possible differences in popularity for using 35mm for weddings specific to each country

No it was to do with the available materials.

Until the mid 1980's 35mm print film was poor.

Yet it was widely used professionally, all throughout magazines for example, with excellent results.

Magazines and newspapers didn't require the same quality levels; your 'excellent' would be poor for the aveage wedding.

Then Kodak introduced T grain films and by the late 80's early 1990's the dye sets and quality allowed for great 8x10's from 160ASA film.

During the 1980's few used Vericolor for weddings. Fuji had yet to even make a pro film for weddings.

as I said, 35mm was widely used in many professional applications long before the 80s.

But crucially not weddings, the film of the time (Vericolor) was not really suitable for that use.

Don't know how you can deny the suitability it had for weddings.

Because clients wanted images that would require a Herculean effort to have been fit for purpose in the 1970-90 period from Vericolor 35mm.

Sounds to me like maybe you were the hardcore medium format shooter that probably would't have considered 35mm anyway, despite its suitability.

Hardly, I was a partner in a business that employed over 30 photographers, we ran a lab that processed many more Pro's work (around 80 or so)-none used 35mm exclusively a tiny amount had second shooters that might have used 35mm for 'reportage' shots.

I'd say the most people shooting weddings with 35mm were enthusiasts not those earning their living, this was wholly true until the early 1990's when reportage started to become popular.

Not in my country.

Yes even in the good ol' US of A the laws of physics were the same there as here– as were the films.

As i said, the mention of countries was in regards to the possible popularity differences between countries in using 35mm for weddings, not a suggestion that film was better in one country over another.

Like I said the restriction wasn't demographic but down to the lack of quality of emulsions pre tabular grain, and that didn't improve until the introduction of Portra, NSP, and NPH in the early 1990's. The advent of AF in 1986 also helped increase 35mm uptake and the two brought about the aesthetic change that occured in the late 1990's

The shift from the formal to reportage.

I travelled widely and knew many photographers stateside some like Monte Zucker were personal friends and did seminars for my employees; so yes even in your country pro's used mainly 120.

That's your claim. I have no way of knowing if you did or didn't. In any case I get the impression you wouldn't have been interested in knowing if wedding photographers were also using 35mm.

Interested? hell yes any trend in clients work is important to a lab when investing in new equipment–coupled with the fact we'd see thousands of weddings going through our printers; so yes we'd notice

Any changes in the type of films used would be noted pretty rapidly in order for us to survive.

You also said "mainly 120” but my claim is not how much of their shooting was 120 and 35mm, only that 35mm was used.

No the claim was:

"35mm was most certainly heavily used for weddings"

To me that means lots of photographer were using 35mm for weddings i.e 'heavily' when in fact it was used rarely and then only when certain styles were called for–until the change to the free reportage style of the 1990's weddings were quite formal on the whole, B&W and the whole 'retro' thing hadn't happened yet.

By the way, our country is not called stateside.

But that's how we refer to your country from ours i.e stateside means 'being in, going to, coming from, or characteristic of the 48 conterminous regions of the United States– in other words the difference between how things are done here and USA.

in this case "there may be a difference to how people work in the UK compared to how they do things stateside"-no really used by Americans more by foreigners referencing you country.

I can only think you're coming at it from a hobbyist POV and one that lacks a historical perspective.

why would I lack historical perspective when I lived through the period, as I have obviously indicated?

Because you were not earning your living as a working pro in that period? You see things though a 'well it was OK for newspapers' so it was obviously Ok for weddings.

You opinion is not one that has been informed by the experience of working in the industry.

the  higher speed 35mm films were really not good for anything bigger than 8" x 10" giving yourself a little room to crop.  I don't think it was until the late 80's that we got really good, fast color 35mm print film that could be printed large.

Tri-X (B&W for you youngsters) pushed to ASA 800 was a mess!  Pan-X was OK for larger prints but you had to be really careful in the darkroom.  I wasn't.


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