A second attempt at developing 120

So after the fiasco that was the other days roll of 120 I decided to have another attempt.  This one went much better, although there are too many variables to determine exactly what the problem was on the first roll.

Camera was the same Coronet Flashmaster.

Film – Ilford HP5+ (1st variable.)

Film was fresh stock (2nd variable)

This film went on the spiral first time with no problems.  It is maybe worth noting that after the first roll I did some googling, and found a lot of people saying that they had a much better success rate loading 120 if they snipped the corners of the film before attempting to get it onto the spiral.  Snipping the corners helped prevent it snagging up as it was loaded.  (this then was the 3rd variable.)

It may also be worth noting that (possibly as a result of the snipped corners) as the roll went on easily my hands didn’t get all sweaty, resulting in a spiral that stayed dry and didn’t cause the film to hang up.  This could I guess be a 4th variable…!  Either way, this roll went on fine and developing went ahead as per the films tech sheet.  After the film had developed and dried I noticed that there were a few small dents in the film.  Genuinely no idea how they occurred but I guess the film is fragile, so the smaller kink could have done it.  The scanner fortunately didn’t ‘see’ them though so they have not come out on the digital files which is a result.

You will see though that there are some curious marks left behind on some of the images.  Some would appear to be evidence that the film did in fact not go onto the spiral nicely, and was left making contact with itself somewhere along the line.  Some I have absolutely zero explanation for…!

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Southwold pier.  To be honest it is one of my favourite towns to photograph, and if I want to try an idea it is normally the first place to give it a whirl.  This first image above developed pretty much fine.

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Different angle of the pier.  Curious white streaks in the film which to me suggest that the film was possibly pressing against itself in places.

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No idea.  Possibly a double exposure…?  The Coronet Flashmaster is fully manual so there is every chance that I shot a frame, and forgot to wind on for the next one.  Cool though.

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Streaks down the left of the frame.  No answers for.  Nothing physically wrong with the film so I assume it was an in dev issue.

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Pretty much fine again apart from the scratch

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End or beginning of the roll.

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Very curious black streak, again with no explanation…!

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Same view pretty much but without the defect

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Possibly the other part of film that was pressing against the earlier frame?


and finally another that apart from being a bit patchy is almost ok.

Success I think.  Well I like them at least.  If any of you know the black and white dev process inside and out and have any thoughts on what these defects could have been caused by please do drop me a line i’d love to hear your thoughts.  More to come, although I think it will be 35mm again next time as I believe I’m getting a bit of a backlog that needs developing.  Until then take care all.

Speak soon


Developing 120

Having had some reasonable success developing rolls of 35mm I acquired a mass of 120 film, some fresh but mainly expired.  Like 32 years expired…

I had a go at shooting and developing one of these expired rolls.  An Ilford HP5 to be precise and it was a nightmare…!  The principle is the same as the 35mm that I have been doing, as is loading it only the spiral, but this roll would not play ball.  A full hour (maybe more) was spent by both myself and my wife trying to get the film to position itself correctly onto the spiral.  The darkroom bag was hot and sweaty and I believe this was a big part of the problem.  As soon as the spirals get any sort of moisture on them the film starts hanging up and you get horrendous problems.  By the time the roll was ‘on’ it was in a bad way.  Scratches, creases and dents were apparent across all of the frames but I went ahead and developed it anyway.  Even before developing, when it was in the bag still it was clear the film was in bad shape.

Developing was fine but as soon as the film came out it was obvious that these images were not going to look their best.  Honestly the film surface had a texture that looked like it had been squashed between a car tyre and the road…!

Not sure how clear it is in the picture but I hope this gives you some idea…!

I have now scanned the film anyway, to see if anything can be salvaged and was actually pretty surprised at the results.  Camera is a 1954 Coronet Flashmaster.  No manual controls at all, so images shot in bright daylight –

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As you can see they are trashed in all honesty, but I like them anyway.  There is good contrast and tones in the images and I guess partly because of the damage to the negs they look quite historic – I like that!

Maybe with some retouching in Photoshop they can be improved but I may just leave them how they are.  Thats another instalment anyway…!

Speak soon.

35mm Dev Attempt

So yesterday evening I finally plucked up enough courage to have a go at something I have wanted to do for ages – have a stab at developing my own black and white film.  And it worked!   The first film was a 35mm cartridge of Fomapan classic 100.  I say a cartridge…I shot this film about two weeks ago and when trying to change the film in my Olympus OM-1 I forgot to cock the release lever.  Therefore when winding back the film snapped off of the cartridge and was left in the camera.  On the beach(!) I opened the camera back, saw this mess and closed it quickly in the hope of potentially saving it later…!  At home I put the lot into a darkroom bag and managed to get the film into a blacked out 35mm plastic canister and taped it shut.  There it sat until last night… Into the bag again it went onto the spiral and into the developing tank.  7 mins in Ilfotec DD-X agitating the tank for the first ten seconds of every minute and 3 minutes in Ilford Rapid Fixer and it was done.  In my haste I actually forgot the Stop step, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the process.  Film washed in routinely changed water in the sink and it was done!  Big smile. The second film was also a Formapan but this time a Creative 200, again 35mm cartridge.  This required 6 mins in Ilfotec DD-X  again agitating the tank for the first 10 seconds of every minute.  I remembered the stop stage this time…aggitating the tank for 15 seconds then leaving to stand for a further 30 seconds.  Out with the stop then the fix was in for 5 minutes, agitating for the first 30 seconds then a few seconds every minute.  I do not have a mixer tap at home for continuous running water at 20 degrees so filled the sink to the right temperature and washed in there.  I have read somewhere that this is a perfectly acceptable wash method and it seemed to work fine for me.  The films were wiped and hung to dry, then cut and the results can be seen below –

Tomorrow hopefully I will have access to a scanner, so I’ll get them scanned in and have a good look at them.  Once I get them scanned, I publish them so you can have a look, until then, here’s an alligator from a visit to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Norfolk with the family.

Speak soon

Mighty White Micro Camera 1st Results

I sent off a 110 cartridge last wednesday taken with the Mighty White 110 camera in the hope that something was captured on the film…and indeed it was – mega excited! Sent it to Photo Factory, who trade on ebay, and I would whole heartedly recommend them.  If your film comes back blank they simply charge you the postage costs which is a great arrangement I think.  I sent two off a month or so ago but they didn’t have anything on them, and they refunded the money no problems. To scan these negs I have access at university to several Epson Perfection V700 Photo scanners which have dedicated film trays for most film formats.  Unfortunately not 110 though so a little bodging was the order of the day.  By clamping the negs sideways across a 120 film tray you can get the neg to stay solid at the right height across the scanner bed.

Its definitely not the ‘purest’ way of scanning film – it does cause damage to the neg strip where it is clamped.  Fortunately this was not an issue today as the frames where I clamped had nothing on them.  I am going to look and see if I can find a proper tray for the job if I continue shooting on 110 though.

After some gaffing around though there are some cool images on the film that have successfully scanned.  Keeping in mind this is mechanical toy camera from the 1980s these are pretty cool.

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A couple of my daughter who appears to love posing for the camera.  As soon as one comes out she says “Cheese!”img048 img049

A couple of landscapes taken across my allotment at the back of my house.  These I really like.  They have that ‘film look’ aesthetic to them which I love and just cannot reproduce in digital post processing.  The tiny plastic lens in the camera can’t capture anything sharply but it still looks fantastic!


Spoils left over from a bonfire – not sure why, just testing the camera again in full sun.  No idea what the shutter speed and aperture equate to on this old thing but the brighter the better.  The depth of field appears to be quite large so i am guessing the aperture must be somewhere around f/11 or so – just guesswork though.

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Couple of interior shots.  Noticeably darker, result of quick shutter speed and (presumably) small aperture.img053 img054

Outside again in bright sunlight.  Reasonably well exposed again with good dof.  Major light leak on the second image above – I thing this was the end of the roll?  Not sure…


Outside again, testing shutter speed.  Windmill was spinning pretty quick and the toy camera has done a good job of freezing the motion.  Slight blur but happy with the result.

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Couple of random interior shots.  Underexposed inside, nicely exposed through the window.


No idea what this was supposed to be – but I like it…!

1st result with this camera then, pretty well happy.  Would like to try some more landscapes with it.  I like the way the distances seem to compress into one.  It also seems quite ironic to be taking photographs of massive open areas with this tiny little toy camera.  Future project maybe?  Possibly.  Its also pretty funny the looks you get shooting with this thing and then explaining it to people who know nothing much about film, let alone 110 formats.

Anyway thats it for now.  There is another cartridge pretty much fully shot in the Mighty White camera at the mo, so expect to see some results (hopefully) soon.

Speak soon

Analogue Boy Project – Kodak Instamatic 33

Today I was carrying on with this project, which due to its content I have decided to name Analogue Boy.  Todays subject was an old Kodak 33 126 point and shoot camera.

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Shooting kit was a Mamiya RZ67 coupled with a Phase 1 P40+ digital back.  It took about two and a half hours to set the studio  lighting up for this shoot.  For continuity I am still using the one Elinchrom lamp with a softbox and bouncing the light over the subject with a series of reflector boards.  You would think that by the fourth image of the project it would be a simple task to set up.  Incorrwct…all of the subjects seem to need the boards set slightly differently.  A board is held, yes that lights the side I want.  Then it has to be clamped to a light stand.  Repeat this for about half a dozen or so boards and you get something that looks like the image below…


Shooting tethered to the iMac is great as it allows you to see each image on a big screen as it happens.  Boards and/or light output power can be micro adjusted as you go until you get the final result you envisioned.  Unfortunately with the Mamiya being a mechanical camera there is no way to use Capture One to remotely fire the camera.  This would be fine and I wouldn’t normally mention it but I was fining that as the focus adjustment dial on the Mamiya is next to the shutter cocking lever I knocked it a few times when trying to cock the shutter.

A good day was had, I got the shot I wanted and found out that I actually really enjoy still life photography….  Working on my own in this way with no real time constrains means that I can keep control of every aspect of making the image which is what I like so much about my other work (see neilpiper.com)

After some retouching in Photoshop and Lightroom, the final image can be seen below,

Kodak Instamatic 33 126

Thanks for staying til the end and speak soon.

Cameras Project – ‘Mighty White’ Branded 110 Micro Camera

A Mighty White 110 camera was the first camera I can remember having as a child.  I’m 99% sure my brother and I got one in our stockings as children (although both he and my parents don’t remember this…!)  I think you probably saved up the tokens on the side of the old bread bags and sent them off with a few quid to cover the postage.  Either way, wherever it came from I think I was about ten years old or so.  I don’t remember ever having film in it, just running around ‘shooting’ with it…shutter, wind it on, repeat…

It wasn’t until not long ago when these memories came back that I decided to try and hunt one down.  My original one was long gone, one of those possessions that as a ten year old was a fad for maybe a few days.  I started trying to find one, or at least find a picture of one online but all I could find was one tiny webpage that mentioned it.  A photographer called Hannah Beatrice mentioned in her blog that she as well has a Mighty White 110 camera when she was a child.  An she actually ran film through it…!  I’ll let you read her story on it, it can be found here –


Still nothing else, not even a single photograph, until one day a favourite eBay search returned a listing advertising one for sale.  Brilliant.  It looked as I remembered and came still boxed with instructions.  Mine for the sum all in of about £4.  Although it wasn’t (presumably…) my actual one from my childhood, I felt that I had been reunited with something.  The fact that I still cannot find a single picture of one on the internet started the idea for the Cameras project. (I’m going to rename the project at some point just so you know…)

This is rather bad in progress shot of the set up for photographing the camera.  The whole series is intended to be studio lit with just the one flash head and bouncing the light onto the subject with a series of white and black reflector boards.


The white splurge you can probably just make out is the camera – like I say it is a micro camera!  Above and to the left of the frame the main light is modified with a large softbox and like I say the light is then simply bounced around with boards.  I say simply, working on your own it’s quite difficult to get everything positioned and you end up finding more and more ingenious ways of getting the boards to stay where you want them – gaffer tape and heavy duty clamps are you’re friends.

Mighty White Brand 110 Micro Camera

This is now the final image.  There has been minimal retouching afterwards, just to remove a few bits of grime that age has given the beautiful white finish.

If you fancy having a go at something similar I have two pieces of advice –

  1. Enlist the help of an assistant! – as I said earlier it can be a real pain doing still life on your own.
  2. If it’s a camera you’re photographing, make sure you get a catchlight in the lens.  Treat it like a portrait.  If you shoot a portrait and the eyes don’t get a catchlight I always feel that they look ‘dead.’  The same can be said for the glass or plastic lens of a camera.

I love this image, and I cannot wait to actually run some 110 through it and see what kind of an image I can make with it.  I have stockpiled 100 at home for when I get a chance to use it but exactly when that will be I am not sure yet.   I’ll keep you posted though I promise.

Speak soon.