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  1. A Scanner Darkly

    June 25, 2018 by Daniel

    Turns out you can immerse yourself in lots of tinkering on the output end of photography things. Up to know when I’ve got the scans back from a processors, I’ve just sorted of accepted them as is. I’ve farmed out the decision making. It could be done all automatically or with some human input, I don’t know. But generally I accept the images and only lightly change them before I send them on out into the world.

    Doing your own scanning is not like that.

    eos roll 4 07

    So my process is this. I don’t know whether this is the best way or not but it quickly became my workflow.

    1. Open up GIMP, File->Capture to fire up the scanner.
    2. Load up the negatives, set it to TPU – Black & White, 3200dpi
    3. Scan
    4. Repeat step 2 until you’ve done the roll.
    5. Crop the image in the scan file
    6. Set the levels to taste.
    7. Repeat 5/6 until you’ve done all the images.

    Possibly the proper software might do the cropping for me and that would be quicker. There’s not much control on the exposure at scan time either so potentially I could be saving lots of time here.

    There was one image I was struggling to get right
    _18 EOS5 roll 4

    I was unable to get the detail in the sky whilst also brightening the field. Which leads you into doing layer masks… which is quite the rabbit hole. I was going to do an early bath for the kids but ended up losing track of time….

    Laptop wise- you know what? I think I’m OK. I still find my Lenovo a little too big, but at the same time you get a good sized screen for that. The MacBook Air is a great size and can do the job, but it is noticeably slower than my Lenovo which surprised me!

    I’m also learning that despite my efforts, I’ve found it tricky to keep on top of everything being organised properly. I’ve ended up misnumbering rolls having gone for a camera-roll# system rather than a unique number for each roll (I’ll probably end up doing both for a while). Sending off larger batches of films makes it trickier to reconcile what camera was which roll. Yes yes, use less cameras? At least with home processing I can only do two at a time so it ought to be easier. Trying to keep notes of what was on each film before its processed should help a bit.

    I’ve started to run low on film again so I’m debating with myself what to buy a batch of next and what ISO. I’d like to go a bit lower now the sun is out so perhaps some FP4? Some stuff has come out very dark though despite being ISO400. *Shrug*

    08 EOS 5 roll 1

    Personally I really like this one of Florence taken at the Space Centre in Leicester. They have a mockup of an ISS module there and she always insists on dressing up in the costumes they have lying around for the whole way round. So here’s a dreamy sort of 2001: Space Odyssey image of her as a Star inside a perhaps Apollo era evoking looking ISS.


  2. Bumper Film Day

    June 20, 2018 by Daniel

    As I mentioned briefly, I’d sent off 5 rolls of film last week and yesterday I got back 148 images…

    So yeah it’s going to take me a while to go through those.

    But the basic links are here, I’ve been reading up a bit on archiving and keeping good notes. But my system is working so far for me. I try to label the film rolls as I go so I can keep track of what’s on where. It’s tricky when you send off multiple rolls though as you need to remember at least one picture on each roll that’s coming back to associate it back to the roll number I’ve written down. Perhaps slightly easier with home developing perhaps as there’s only 2 rolls at most at a time, but perhaps complicated by the fast they are going to be the same stock and ISO.

    So what were they? Well for a start they were all colour film stocks.

    • Sprocket Rocket Roll 2  – Kodak colorplus 200 (these are going to need a bit of work as the scans need colour adjusting – I think because they scan the sprockets they just turn all their settings off.

    Ordsall Curve

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    • EOS 5 Roll 2 – Kodak Gold 200 (Florence’s 4th Birthday)

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    • Canon 5000 roll 2 – Kokak colorplus 200 (For this roll, I handed over the camera to George, so pretty much all of them are by him)

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    In addition to all these(!) the scanner came yesterday, I only just had enough time to scan in one roll before I went to bed exhausted, messing about with scan settings as I went. It’s going to be a bit of a learning curve – but that’s what its all about really! Negatives are very finicky and precious to work with and either I accept the flaws or try to come up with ways to avoid or work around them. It’s pretty time consuming, the software wasn’t splitting the images into separate files. My work computer made short work of that though.

    I was using a Linux driver for the Epson V600 which worked pretty well. It’d be interesting to experiment with different software but I want to avoid Windows if I can. I might try out the Epson software on a MacBook.

    • Centon DF300 Roll 4 – Fomapan 400 Action, developed in Ilfosol 3. – A fair amount of messing about needed to work out DPI settings, etc – but they grain is lovely!

    Centon Roll 4


  3. End of GAS?

    June 19, 2018 by Daniel

    GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome

    I’m hoping I’m nearing the end of ‘GAS’. I think I’ve figured out what works for me and what doesn’t. It was my birthday over the weekend so I finally pulled the trigger and bought the Canon EOS M50 I’d been eyeing since it’s release. “A digital camera?” You say? Yes, digital. No it doesn’t mean I will stop taking pictures on film, certainly not – having just gotten started developing! No I discovered that whilst film is brilliant for some things, there are circumstances you just want to know you’ve got the picture. Experimenting with the film cameras helped me cheap(ish)ly learn about photography and what I love about it and of course I will carry on with them.
    Ex-Cornerhouse
    So, why the M50? Well I’d gotten used to the Canon way of doing things, I’d managed to acquire a very nice Canon film SLR (and used it on School sports day – looking forward to seeing how those shots came out!) I’d managed to get a couple of lenses for that and the Canon EOS 5000 I got. The M50 offers the ability to use the same lenses on it, whilst having all the modern bells & whistles. So, it’s APS-C which means not ‘full frame’ 35mm equivalent, which is important to note as it means the lenses get cropped when moving between the two, but it’s not a big deal for me really. Perhaps Canon will bring something full frame out in the mirrorless range soon, but a) this is out now and b) I expect it to be expensive. Why mirrorless? Well I’ve used enough SLRs, I wanted something compact when it needs to be, but that also had proper manual features and could also do wide-angle and telephoto. Having seen the talk from Terry Donnelly at Bolton Camera club about mirrorless it did seem to me to be the way forward. It can handle all three kinds of Canon lens so it got massive choice of lenses (currently debating what to go with next, I do fancy a pancake lense).
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    I keep saying, “this is my last camera” when I buy one, but now I think I mostly mean it. EF, EF-S, EF-M Lenses, yes please, a rangefinder – also I wouldn’t say no (Leica M?!!!)

    I’ve bought a scanner so I can digitise the films I have developed (yet to collect and set up though – yet to see how my laptop copes with it…. something else which may need an upgrade….) – I went for the Epson V600, I’ll try it with the included Software and see how that goes. Software wise I’m also looking at Adobe subscriptions – basically something that can handle RAW files from the M50.

    But then, after GAS is at an end (hopefully) I’m looking forward on concentrating on the images.


  4. Dev. Stop. Fix.

    June 6, 2018 by Daniel

    I’m now three rolls of home developed film in 🙂 so I thought I’d run through the kit I’ve acquired and what my process is.

    I’d bought this kit from ebay, which basically has everything you need (minus chemicals, scissors, something to open the film up with ie a bottle opener). It worked out quite a bit cheaper than buying the parts separately from all the online stores, under £60 for all of it.

    You can get smaller tanks but I thought being able to process more than one roll at a time would be handy (especially as I’ve built up a bit of a backlog to get developed…) Plus it’ll manage 120 format if I decide to ever try that again (one day perhaps, give that home developing it is lots cheaper).

     

    Next up I took the plunge and used a Saturday morning I had free to go into my local Camera shop (the excellent Mathers) with the kids and asked for Ilford chemicals. I’d made a list I wanted to get, but the guy said Microphen, which is what I’d used on my course, had been discontinued or something. I’m not exactly sure what he meant, perhaps it was the liquid version rather than the powder, instead he pointed me at Ilfosol 3, which comes as a liquid. Seemed easier to me, so I went with that along with along with Ilfostop, Rapid Fixer and Ilfotol which is used to help the film dry evenly rather than leaving water marks.

    I bought a couple of extra measuring jugs from my local ASDA and having had a bit of trouble measuring things yesterday have ordered some finer graduated measuring cylinders. My tank needs about 700 ml to do two rolls so mixing a 1+9 solution was a bit tricky when the first mark on the measuring jug was 100ml. – What I ended up doing was weighing 75g of water in the jug, marking the line and using that as my measure. I wasn’t sure of the density of the Ilfosol so didn’t weigh that. I probably could carry on like this but I could order 4 measuring cylinders for £1.61 so…

    The vital tool to bring it all together is an app called Massive Dev Chart Timer. This kind of does it all it’s £8.99 which is quite a bit for an app, but it’s worth it I think. I”ve just discovered it’s even got a Volume calculator for figuring out the chemical dilutions, along with all the different times for developing at different temperatures. It’s pretty comprehensive.

    The next piece of the puzzle is bringing the images back into the digital world. Let’s face it, I need to get a scanner. I’ve long found them fairly pointless, usually had access to one knocking around but just your bog standard ones. Turns out to scan film they need to be able to shine light through rather than only reflecting off of what you’re scanning.

    The simpler option for now has been to take a picture with my phone, then edit it in various apps. This process is quite satisfying and works, but I’ve not been very happy with the initial ‘scan’ that gets taken. There’s not enough resolution at the minimum focus distance on my iPhone 6 to get a nice shot to start off with. Yes this might be improved with a bit more time, a light table and some kind of jig to hold the phone the right distance away, but a scanner will beat this every time (it may however take much longer and demand more oomph than my poor old home laptop has along with possibly having to run it booted into Windows).

    Yes I had considered the CMOS based film scanners which are around £40, but mostly they seem fairly low-res again, basically rubbish phone cameras mounted specially (ie a phone could do the same / better job) I do like that they would output direct to a memory card though, bypassing much of what my old laptop would have to do.

     

    I’ve got a bunch of colour rolls that I’ll still be sending off (for now?!?) and I hope to get hold of a scanner soon and set aside some time for getting that up and running.


  5. One Stop Shops

    May 17, 2018 by Daniel

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    I was listening to the Sunny 16 podcast for the first time the other day and it brought up the ‘Free Film’ truprint issue I posted about. It’s funny how the market seems to have split apart and the one stop shops of old really seem not to exist anymore. Paul McKay was the guest of Analogue Wonderland, a new UK online store specialising in film and was talking about how he hopes to someday bring this about.
    You’ve got:

    • Camera Shops
    • Film Shops
    • Development Labs
    • Darkroom specialist stores
    • Digital specialists

    Some crossover and do a bit more than only one thing, but not many do it all, not many have the kind of slick dev+scan+film replenishment ordering that you’d expect. Printing off confusing mail order forms? Seems odd these days.

    The fascinating thing about the industry at the moment to me is how the methods and technology that ‘Digital’ (ugh I hate the use of that term like this, but I can’t think how else to put it) has brought. How the mixture of analogue and digital technologies has combined to produce something different. Digital and Film don’t need to and shouldn’t compete, they are now different things. For many uses, digital has no competition – and that’s fine! But there is still a place for film, and what we have learn and developed with digital technologies can be injected into the old film ways to make it anew.

     

     

    Hmm sorry, got a little waffley there I think.


  6. ‘Event’ Photography

    May 17, 2018 by Daniel

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    One of the things I’m enjoying about exploring analogue photography is how in my mind I have started to plan photos around attending certain things.
    For example, I haven’t really been able to build up much of a stock of film – my excitement means I’m kind of getting through it too quickly, but it’s quite nice to think about something upcoming and how you might want to take photos of it. This is all opposed to just turning up with your phone or the digital camera you have and taking a picture.
    I’ll think about, will it be indoor out outdoor (ie what ISO should I use?), what kind of backgrounds would there be (colour or black & white), will there be interaction? how far away will things be? (lenses, instant film?)
    Because you can’t just go and buy film at the moment I try to think about this stuff in advance so I have time to order some rolls. I guess eventually I’ll have narrowed down what I like using, but for now it’s fun to try out different things and see how they turn out.
    I quite favour the multiple camera + phone approach, I want to make sure I get at least something out of it.

    For example F’s 4th birthday party is coming up, I’m sure it’ll be loud and colourful so I think a mix of instant shots and colour with a 50mm will do the trick, to get in close but also kids are so used to instant feedback with digital that they love to see the pictures you’ve taken.

    I’ve taken to carrying one of my more lightweight cameras around with me in my work bag, this week it’s been the Sprocket Rocket to finish off the roll I started at the weekend. I find it a little tricky to know how much is left on the roll, turns out I’d been carrying it around all week with only one shot left to go on it (it exposes two frames at a time, so you have only half the exposures as normal, plus or minus some inaccurate winding on my part…)


  7. 5 more rolls

    May 2, 2018 by Daniel


    I posted more rolls off on Sunday and yesterday got the email, they’d received them, two hours later they were already processed and scanned! That’s some quick work. It’d probably take me all day to do that. I guess they have some big machine that does it all, which would be fascinating to see.

    So what did I send? I’m trying to get better at taking notes as I go as inevitably I’ve completely forgotten what’s on what roll with which camera by the time it all comes back. Let alone what settings were used for a shot! Oh EXIF data….

    These were the the first rolls through the Centon DF-300 which came from a box given to my Dad at one of his sales of antique toys and a Canon EOS 5000 which I bought from Ebay (along with an EOS 100 which unfortunately only works on full auto as the mode dial doesn’t function – but hey, it came with a decent lens).

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    The Centon is actually very nice, it had three lenses along with it, a 35mm, a 50mm and a 28-70mm of which I’ve pretty much just used the 50mm, a little of the 28-70mm but I didn’t like it as much. Features wise, it’s got more than the Canon 5000 – apetrure control is on the lens, but no autofocus. The metering for exposure length works quite well. The Canon has a fancy winding motor though which I didn’t expect to enjoy as much. It’s pretty cool putting the film into the Canon as it winds through the whole roll and displays on a LCD panel the number of shots remaining. The Canon also reads the DX encoding on the 35mm cassette to set the ISO which as far as I know cannot then be adjusted, whereas the Centon you can set yourself which is good if you plan to push the film (use it at a higher ISO than rated, I’ve not tried it yet but plan to).

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    The rest of the rolls were with the Holga, a camera which I think is actually reallly good. The shots are so characterful but I definitely feel more anguish and jeopardy using it. It’s not an SLR so you have no idea if the focus is right, the exposure and aperture settings are basic – but it all adds to the results I think.


  8. Dev + Scan

    May 1, 2018 by Daniel

    I was thinking about how things have changed in film photography since the last time I was doing it (when really it was the only choice, digital cameras were expensive and far-lower resolution…)

    Used to be that you could get film absolutely anywhere, or at least it seemed like it.

    But how often would you be buying film anyways? You’d send off your exposed film to Truprint or whoever and they’d sent you a new one back, for free.

    I wish I could do a price comparison from those mail order forms, I bet my Mum still has one or two lying around.So anyways, here’s the change, at the end of the halcyon days of film they started to offer the ability to put your pictures on a CD. Which was great, best of both worlds. You’d get the CD, store it somewhere and probably never actually put it into a computer, as you already had the prints or do that once. Save them somewhere and forget all about them when it comes to changing to a new computer. Some of the CD’s had software hiding the images in some program that won’t run on modern OS’s – which is really annoying!

    Compare that to these days – I send off my film (I have to pay the postage and provide an envelope…) They email me when they’ve received it (I do quite like this innovation). They develop them and scan them – I usually don’t ask for prints – and instead of posting a CD with the negatives they just post the negatives and e-mail a link to download the photos with. The magic of the internet! I then save them in my various places and upload to my usual cloud service storage and sharing spaces. From which I can edit, order prints if I like.

    I miss the SAE’s and ‘free film every time!’ but I know that the economics of it all have changed.

    So next up in my plans. I’ve ordered some developing kit. I’m still to order another couple of bits and chemicals and then I can start to process the B&W films myself.Then I will need to buy or get access to some kind of scanner. I think I’ve narrowed it down to two models, both have advantages and disadvantages. The Canoscan 9000F Mark II is able to do medium format as well as 35mm negatives, is a flatbed so it can be used for documents also but is a bit lower resolution than the PlusTek OpticFilm 8100 (or the 8200i SE with built in IR pass for dust removal) which only handles 35mm. The PlusTek also comes with better software, but that can be gotten separately I suppose. All assumes that my aging laptop will be up to the job (I expect so, but may get frustrated – basically it just needs to handle ingesting pictures, I can worry about actual editing later).

     

    Will doing it myself be cheaper? Well…. I guess eventually yes….? I think it will take about 30 odd rolls of film to pay for itself for the kit anyways, the chemicals per roll is a bit trickier to work out.


  9. B&W Developing Course

    April 23, 2018 by Daniel

    This past weekend I did something a little different, especially for such a sunny day. A lot of the process of learning about film photography this past couple of months has been about different process is, that it’s more impressionistic but also you can have as much control as you would with digital, it’s just different how that control is applied and the results are much more an idea of what you think they’ll be in your head than apparent right in front of you. It’s much more important I think to have a mental model of what is happening as you go along than with digital.

    So part of what I wanted to do was learn how to process my own film. Now once you start telling people you are shooting film many people have a fond story about when they used to do it years ago, or sending their films off or taking them to the chemists. People seem to have very vague memories now of what is involved though.
    As to the why I want to try it? For the same reason as learning about how beer is made I suppose?
    So I started looking for places to learn it, thinking they would be abundant, like the beer tours I suppose but to my surprise not many were offering workshops. I do think it’s something that may start to crop up more in future though as more people want to take control of their own photos, of the whole process and be hands on with it.

    After a bit of research I found Lightbox Darkroom about 60 miles away from me in The Wirral. The course looked like exactly what I wanted to learn about. So I paid up and excitedly jumped in my car.

    I arrived about an hour early… I’d allowed for weekday traffic but it was a Saturday… Oh well time for a quick wander and a coffee.

    The course was split into two. The morning for developing our film and the afternoon for printing contact sheets and a print of a selected frame.

    Untitled

    Some things surprise people about developing the film, what you can do in the light and dark for example. We practiced with some spare film how to get it onto a reel which when you do it for real you do in a lightproof bag. It’s a little like tying your shoelaces in the dark, against the clock (if the bag heats up too much the film can start to get a bit “sticky”). I’d brought along 35mm and 120 format, I started with the 35mm which I found pretty easy to get onto the reel and into the tank but later I had much more trouble with the 120.

    We went quickly through the chemicals needed and plugged in the details into a very slick Massive Dev Chart app which handles the timing for you.


    So, there’s three main chemicals, we went over quantities and which ones can be resued. Developer (I used MICROPHEN), Stop (ILFOSTOP) and Fixer (RAPID FIXER) and then open the tank and it goes into the sink with a running tap over it. After this a little bit of wetting agent (Fotonal Wetting Agent) and hang up the film to dry.
    The app is good at telling you when to agitate the tank, but you need to watch out for modifying the times according to the temperature of the chemicals.

    I think this part mostly likely is what I’ll start with doing at home. A complete darkroom set up is not necessary apart from access to water really.

    He had a nice cupboard set up for drying which looked quite handy for impatient people like me!

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    The other guy on the course and I then went for lunch, it’d been about 3 hours up to this point (which had flown by!). It was a short walk to the beach so we sat and ate their discussing our respective photographic journeys.

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    For the afternoon session we started off with cutting up our negatives into strips and then making a contact sheet for them. Quite satisfying really to get an image out so quickly. From that we learn to process of using the enlarger controls and developing the paper. This is where actual darkness (albeit with a safe light) is required!

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    From there we chose a shot we wanted to get a print of and went through experimenting with the exposure and contrast, using test strips to gauge the result we wanted and dodging and burning. It was very easy to see how you can get very engrossed in this part and lose many hours!
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    Overall I had a fantastic day and would recommend Martin to anyone who is interested in learning this kind of thing. He was a great teacher and had lots of experience, being a graphic designer by trade.

    Now I’m looking at Film scanners and development tanks… (I already know of an enlarger I can get hold of…)


  10. More Adventures in Film

    April 23, 2018 by Daniel

    I’ve gotten a bit behind in writing up about rolls of film, I sent off the biggest batch yet on April 4th of three rolls of 120 from the Diana and 1 roll of B&W 35mm from the Holga – the first roll through it.

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    Overall I was really pleased with the results from the Holga, it seems much easier to get things right than with the Diana. From loading the film through to just things like focus. Aperture is a little more limited. But I like the look. It certainly helped I think to have an ‘event’ – a friends birthday – to takes pictures of.

    From the Diana things again a little mixed. I’m happy with a couple of the shots.

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    Diana: Roll 6, Roll 7, Roll 8
    Holga: Roll 1

    Currently in the mix shooting wise: I shot B&W 2x35mm (1 Holga, 1 Zenit TTL) + B&W 1×120 for a developing course (more to come on that in a post), a colour 35mm Holga and a colour 35mm that was in a Centon DF-300 (copy of a Minolta X-300) that my Dad was given at an auction sale. There were about 4 pictures on the roll when I found it so I’ve shot the rest and we’ll see how they go! I’m fully expecting the film to be expired so who knows if it’s usable, but might be interesting. I quite like the camera and it came with 3 lenses which are very nice. It’s got a nice meter in it, which I am learning to appreciate given the Lomography cameras.