Film Photography

Greater success developing black-and-white film at home

I’ve had my most successful go yet at developing black-and-white film at home.

I had trouble getting the Kodak T-Max 100 onto the reel, though. I tried six times before it took. The first five times it took up okay but at about two-thirds spooled it crumpled and jumped off the track. The stuff feels thicker than the Acros and Kosmo Foto films I’ve developed previously, films that went onto the reel like they were born to be there. The T-Max felt almost as thick as the expired Verichrome Pan I could never manage to get on the reel. It, too, kept crumpling and jumping the track.

I vocally compared the film to the male offspring of a female dog and tried again. It crumpled and jumped the track again, but in frustration I forced the film flat and back onto the track, which crumpled it further but let me keep on. From there I ratcheted the reel very slowly, and finally all of the film was wound on.

Naturally, those crumples showed up as dark curved lines on the developed negatives, which translated to light curved lines on the scans. With Photoshop’s healing tool I was able to fix them well enough.

I used Rodinal at its 1+50 dilution and used the spinner to agitate the film. Because the weather is cooler now my bathroom, and therefore all of my solutions, were a perfect 20° C so I didn’t have to adjust developing time for temperature. I also made sure the reel was pushed to the bottom of the core, and therefore the tank.

To my eye the negatives are a little thin. I fiddled with exposure and contrast in Photoshop to counteract it. I also misfocused a couple shots. I’m usually spot on with my Yashica-12, but not this time. Finally, and I’m not sure why, my scanner simply would not bring in the entire frame of the frog statuettes. The ScanGear software detects the frame’s edges for you, and when it gets it wrong you have no recourse. I muttered under my breath, cropped the scan square, and moved on.

Here are ten of the 12 photos in order from first to last. The other two turned out so well that I’ll share them as Single Frame posts next week.

On our lane
Parked cars
Second Presbyterian
Door
Heavy door
Bench
Arches
Headless
Froggie
The Ruins

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Reflected in the bulbs

My family celebrated Christmas yesterday. We have to be flexible around the holiday schedule I share with my ex-wife and everybody’s work schedules. Fortunately, it matters more that we celebrate than just when we celebrate.

Wherever you are and however you celebrate, I wish you a merry Christmas!

Film Photography

Captured: Reflected in the bulbs

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Lady Liberty in miniature

The St. Joseph County Courthouse (full photo here) was built in South Bend in 1896. It’s the county’s third courthouse, all three of which stood on this spot. The first was a frame building, built in 1832. The second was built in 1855. When this one was built, the 1855 courthouse was moved thirty yards to the northwest, where it still stands. I shared a photo of its cupola with you a few years ago; see it here.

The twisted effect of this photo as you scan it from top to bottom both intrigues and infuriates me. Another shot I took with this camera on this trip has the same effect (see it here). Did I just shoot at a wacky angle twice in a row? Was it something about my gear? But I really like how my Nikon F2 and its 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens rendered the textures present here on Kodak T-Max 100 film.

Photographs

Captured: Lady Liberty in miniature

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Photographs

Captured: Abigail

Abigail

Nobody wanted Abigail, so my parents took her. It helped that she is a Lab mix; they had two Labs before her and they had come to love the breed. After their last Lab, Shadow, passed a few years ago I didn’t figure they’d get another dog due to advancing age. They didn’t either, they told me, but Abigail had the agreeable nature they like in dogs, and they hated to see her go homeless.

A black-and-white dog seemed like a great subject for the black-and-white film (Kodak T-Max 100) I had in my Nikon F2. I took this photo at my parents’ home against their pale gray carpet, which placed Abigail’s head in relief.

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Photographs

Captured: Reflected in the bulbs

Reflected in the bulbs

In the last two weeks of 2013 I shot five rolls of film: two black-and-white and three color; four 35mm and one 120. I shot my Pentax ME, my Yashica-D, my Konica Autoreflex T3, my Nikon N65, and my Nikon F2. Oh, and I also shot half a pack of film in my new old Polaroid Colorpack II, for good measure. I’ll post about that eventually. I had a great time with every camera but the N65, with which I shot my family’s Christmas celebration. They can attest to the harsh words that escaped my lips when the stupid thing wouldn’t focus or wouldn’t fire at all because it didn’t trust me to know what I was doing with the available light. Argh! Anyone want an N65? Free to a good home. Warning: it’s a dreadful camera.

The F2 trusts me. It let me shoot this shot indoors, handheld, on relatively slow T-Max 100 film. There I am, reflected in the basket of colorful glass bulbs I keep on my coffee table every Christmas. Several old cameras lie about my house awaiting their test roll, and I’ll get to them – but in 2014 I will keep film in the F2 at all times. I want to get to know it better. And so I’ll be shooting with it a lot more.

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Film Photography

Captured: The Palace

The Palace

South Bend’s Palace Theater was built in 1921 as a vaudeville house. As it went for so many theaters after vaudeville died, it converted to showing movies. It went much the same way for South Bend’s other grand theaters, the Colfax, the State, and the Granada. All four of them hosted the premiere of Knute Rockne: All American, a 1940 film about the Notre Dame football coach. Michigan Street was packed with people that night; see a photo here. Downtown as a major movie destination lasted until suburban shopping centers came in the 1960s. The Granada was demolished in 1971 to make way for South Bend’s disastrous downtown pedestrian mall. The Colfax closed in 1977 and was demolished in 1991. The State still stands, but has been mostly vacant for decades.

Obviously, and thankfully, the Palace still stands. In 1987 I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life here. It was known as the Morris Civic Auditorium then, and it was in serious disrepair. By the time I saw the rock band Heart perform there in 2006, the theater had undergone a wonderful restoration and was renamed the Morris Performing Arts Center. Gorgeous inside and out, the Palace is a crown jewel of South Bend’s downtown. I’ve tried to photograph it many times, but it is immense and I find it difficult to frame. I’m not entirely satisfied with this photo, because it fails to capture the building’s total beauty. But I like how the light and shadow play on its flanks. I shot this with my Nikon F2 and my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens on Kodak T-Max 100 film.

Today is my 7th blogiversary! Read my first ever post here.

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