Three Minute Tips #5 – Semi Stand Development.

So every now and again I’ll purchase a new camera and inside there is a roll of film – sometimes with just a few frames shot, sometimes almost finished and I’ll always finish off the roll and attempt to develop them.

Last year (2017) two such examples were an original Diana and some ‘faux’ TLR whose name I have forgotten…

The roll that was in the Diana was a roll of Boots branded black and white film that even had a few frames left.  I didn’t even know that Boots ever made roll film and my attempts to contact them about it failed.

So anyway, this is supposed to be a three minute tip – sorry I forgot.  The best way I have found to cope with these old films, or unknown films, is a semi stand development process.  With regular black and white development your film is submerged in a solution of developer for between 5 and 10 minutes on average, and you agitate it in the solution once a minute or so.  This all varies between films and developers.  Usually you’ll mix up your developer to a ratio of something like 1:25 (developer:water) but with a semi stand I tend to do 1:100.  This creates a much weaker solution so therefore the film needs to be in it longer – about 90 minutes I have personally found best so far.  The film out of the Diana, at the time of me processing it, I had absolutely no idea how old it was.  The Diana was brought to market in the 1960, so the film couldn’t have been shot before that (although technically it could have already been an old film before it was put in the camera…), and much internet research could not get me any information whatsoever about Boots ever selling their own branded 120 roll film – so it couldn’t be very recent either.

With early old film – this one could in theory have been 50 odd years old – I really worry that too much agitation is going to cause parts of, or all of the emulsion to lift away from the base of the film.  I believe that stand developing with minimal agitation will minimise this risk.

The other issue aside from the age was that being able to find any info on the film also meant that I had no developing times for it.  Again, stand developing seems to circumnavigate this issue, as I have developed several different emulsions in the same mixture and technique with success.  I use Rodinal R09 at a ratio of 1:100 and leave it for 90 minutes.  Every half an hour I will give a small agitation with the spinner on the top of the tank.  I don’t do a full inversion – I don’t want all that liquid sloshing around in the tank and running the risk of possibly lifting the old emulsion.

Below are a couple of examples from the Boots roll –

…and thats it.  To conclude – weak developer, longer time, unknown film, old film.  Again I hope this post has been of use to somebody.

Just to add, below passage taken from Wikipedia, so you can choose whether or not you think its true –

“It (stand developing) has a compensating effect whereby the developer exhausts itself in areas which require greater development whilst remaining active in less-exposed areas, which has the effect of boosting shadow detail whilst preserving bright highlights.”

 

 

 

…and by the way, looking at the clothes 1960s…?

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“Do You Name All of Your Cameras…?”

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Back in April I was at my local car boot sale scavenging for cameras when I came across an original Diana camera.  It was in its original box with one of the previous owners name and address written on the bottom and even had the instructions with it.  The only thing it was missing was a lens cap, but having never really been interested in the Diana range of cameras I didn’t know at the time that it was supposed to have one.  And I probably wouldn’t have cared – I certainly don’t now.

The chap was also selling something calling itself a ‘Vista Colour Camera,’ and bundled the pair together after some haggling for the princely sum of just £8.  £4 for an original Diana in its box isn’t to be sniffed at.  £4 for a boxed Vista Colour Camera…? Well I’m not sure about that one.  I’ll talk more about that monstrosity another day because its now fast approaching July and I’ve still not really tried it out.

 

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So a little bit about the Diana…  As I understand it, they were marketed by the Great Wall Plastic Company as an inexpensive gift/toy camera in the 1960s.  I don’t know if it’s made or Bakelite or some type of more recent plastic but it’s certainly very 1960s in its aesthetic.  You probably know already but since about 2007 Lomography have been selling a cloned ‘new’ version of this camera called the Diana +.  Hipsters want them now I guess…

Plastic lens – Check.  Ability to focus – Check.  Well sort of.  You’ve got a basic focusing ring that screws the lens towards and away from the film plane.  Options for 4 – 6ft, 6 – 12ft and 12ft – Infinity are marked on the front of the lens barrel but in the couple of rolls of film I’ve put through the Diana none of these have seemed to make the slightest bit of difference.

I think that the blue top plate looks fantastic.  In the sun it’s a cool baby blue.  Right now under a light in the kitchen its kind of grey with a blue hue to it.  The graphic design work on the stickers on top are a work of art, and leave you in no doubt which type of film to stick in there…!  Oh and turn that film advance and listen to the wondrous noise that comes out of it.  Its like a kids bicycle when the spokes are covered in those clicked clacker things.  It’s awesome really.

Mounted in this top plate is a big bright viewfinder so you can see what you’re pointing it at.  Although it’s not coupled to the lens and has no parallax correction markings so if yore attempting to shoot something vaguely close up be prepared to compensate for this.

The actual body of the camera is black and has this disgusting ‘pebbledash’ finish to it on both the front and the back.  The texture feels pretty shitty, but at a guess I’d say the thought behind it was probably grip in the hand.  I mean its pretty heavy.  Once loaded with a roll of 120 roll film it weighs about as much as a roll of 120 roll film…

It has three aperture settings (and I use that term loosely) that are simply marked with the standard recognisable ‘Cloud’, ‘Sun/Cloud’ and ‘Sun’ symbols.

These apertures are not formed by blades how you may be familiar with in a modern lens, rather simply just a plate that moves behind the lens when actuated by the selector switch underneath.  This plate has two different sized holes (apertures) in it, which correlate to the Sun/Cloud and Sun settings, and for the Cloud setting the plate moves aside.  Just make sure when you’re changing your settings that the aperture in the plate sits central as it has a habit of not centring itself.

 

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As for shutter speeds well what a choice you have here.  You’ve got your ‘B’ for bulb setting and your ‘I’ for…well to be honest I actually have no idea what the ‘I’ stands for…?  The ‘I’ setting is the normal picture taking made where even if you hold the shutter release down you’ll still get the same single exposure time.  I don’t know what this exposure time is; at a guess I’d say 1/60sec.  God knows what it is now probably at least 50 years since manufacture…

The shutter release button isn’t really a button, more of a lever.  Move from top to bottom and the bottom of the stroke is when the shutter is released.  There is no lock to prevent you making multiple exposures, but I guess that that is part of the charm of a Diana.

No tripod attachment thread.  Although nobody has probably ever needed one I struggle to think why the Great Wall Camera Company or whatever they were called thought people would like a bulb setting on their camera but no real way of steadying the camera other than the old ‘sit it on a wall or similar’ technique.

Now lets talk briefly about light leaks.  You know that the Diana’s and the Holga’s and all the plastic pieces of crap like this leak light onto your film.  Hell that’s part of the charm isn’t it?  That’s why you wanted one?  Right?  Meh…

Light leaks are present at the top of most images taken with this one.  I think it’s the red film number window.  Actually it’s probably the crap fit of the entire casing as well.  The damn thing is only held together with one lock (again, term used loosely) on the bottom of the casing, and that’s unlocked itself several times already…

Light enters the lens and is inverted thus producing an upside down picture on the film.  That would mean that the light leak being at the bottom of the camera, where the film number window is, puts the results at the top of the image. I guess that this could be sorted with black electrical tape over the window and possibly around the edges of the casing, but imperfections like this are why people want these stupid things aren’t they?  It’s like ‘in-camera’ Instagram or something…

So what do the images that it takes look like?  You know exactly what they look like…Square, 4x4cm (ish) frames with massive vignettes and with focus that drops of enormously at the edges of the frame.  But that doesn’t matter because chances are the centre of the image isn’t going to be razor sharp.  Or even just sharp sharp.  It’s going to be soft.  Soft as a soft-boiled egg.  But no really even if you actually used the focusing scale on the lens it’s hit and miss as to what you’re gonna get out of it.  And even then you’re beautiful image is going to have an enormous light leak smeared across it.  But you already knew all of this.  That’s why you wanted a Diana in the first place.  Be it one of the new variants from Lomography or an original one like this one.

 

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No flash sync and no light meter. It’s just a plastic box with some springs in it.  Normally how I like a camera to be, but it’s the emphasis on that word ‘plastic’ that doesn’t really do it for me.  Don’t get me wrong I like the images that come out of it, but the visual aesthetic of each of these images is always the same, regardless of the photographer or what they do with the camera.  It seems to be that a Diana is suited best to a sunny day (its definitely a summer camera) and a beach.  But it would probably get all clogged up with sand because the panels fit so freaking badly…

 

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Oh yeah.  And the strap is too short for a fat man.

‘Proper’ Build Your Own Pinhole Camera

After doing some reading on the mrpinhole site and on other pages on the internet it is becoming increasingly apparent that the relationship between your cameras focal length and your pinhole aperture is very important and affects the quality of your final image quite severely. With this in mind I would like to have a go at making a camera, or at least having a camera made where these dimensions and figures are as accurate as possible. With the Ensign pinhole camera conversion the measurements of the cameras focal length were approximate, and I believe this is why the images were not as sharp as I expected. Above is a scale diagram of the top down view of what I have done so far. 50mm focal length which will be teamed up with a 0.3mm laser cut pinhole. These dimensions seem to offer the best chance of getting a sharp image. They allow for a large projected image onto the film so I shouldn’t get any distortion at the edges caused by a very short focal length.

 

View of the camera from the back with the back open/off. Inside will be an interchangeable set of masks to allow shooting in 6×9, 6×7 and 6×6 formats. I am not sure if I would use these formats, especially 6×6, but it seems like a waste to not incorporate them as I have the chance. The camera will also have two film advance knobs to allow the film to be rolled in both directions. Again, not sure if i’d need it, the only real reason I can see for it would be intentional accurate double exposures of certain frames, but, I can incorporate it so why not. When shooting pinhole I tend to note each frame in a notebook – subject, exposure, film etc so I could in theory roll back and shoot over a certain frame if I wanted to.

At the top I have noted film diagonals, this is the size of the diagonal of the negative. I have also noted that with a 60mm focal length the image diameter created is 115mm. This is the projected CIRCULAR image from the pinhole. 115mm is large enough to cover the 6×9 negative easily.

 

I have chosen the use of 120 roll film as I want to have large negatives. I could have designed the camera to use 4×5 or larger sheet film, but at the moment the use of sheet film is financially not available to me. I would also need to buy dark slides to use it so 120 roll, with a 6×9 neg is as large as I can reasonably go.

The larger the negative in theory the greater the detail that can be captured.

Quick sketch of the camera from the same angle with the back closed. The back will need three viewing windows covered with red plastic to allow me to read the frame numbers on the films backing paper. I may also try and come up with a way of covering these fully to prevent any light leaks. I do not think this is required, some of my 120 cameras have windows that you can cover, some don’t so I guess its not required. Just may be better if the film is in the camera for long periods of time?
May also incorporate the holder on the bottom right to put in a box label to remind me what film is in the camera. My Bronica ETRS has this on the film backs, I dont generally need it as I go through a whole roll when I am shooting something. I dont like to leave half used rolls in the camera and I like to develop them as soon as possible. Also if im shooting something for my university work I dont have time to just leave it until the roll is fully finished.

 

 

C-41 In Rodinal – Test Results

So last night I burned a roll of pound land 35mm in the garden taking the same shot, so that I had a roll of 35mm that I could try some timed tests in Rodinal for varying times.  In the darkroom I extracted the length of film from the canister and cut it into three lengths. Each of these lengths was then loaded onto a separate spiral and then into a dev tank.

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I mixed up a Rodinal solution of 1:50 and at 20 degrees started the tests one at a time.  The 12 and the 13 minutes were fine but looked pretty much the same once pulled out of the tank.  For this reason I added an extra thirty seconds to the 14 minute tank to try and get through and get a thinner neg.

Results below…

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Alright yeah I know that they’re not easy to see details but you get the idea, they all look fairly similar.

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Here you go this is a scan and close up.  I think that the 13 minute result is the best for overall contrast .  I am slightly confused though as the 11 minute result from the other day pre-scanned like this –

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I seemed like the neg was too dense for my scanner to see through, resulting in this horrible digital mess. When putting the question out there on the internet I received much the same response.  I had hoped that leaving in the dev for longer would cut through some of the orange base and it would appear that this has worked.  Or at least something else has worked…!  Either way I appear to be able to get a workable neg out of a c-41 film in black and white chemicals.

So to recap.

13 minutes in Rodinal 1:50.  Agitate for the first minute then the first ten seconds of each remaining minute after.

One minute in ILFOSTOP, agitating for the full minute.

5 minutes in Ilford Rapid Fixer, agitating for the first minute and then the first ten seconds of each remaining minute.

Ten minute wash in 20 degree (or there abouts) water.

Final wash in Kodak Photo Flo.  About six dunks in a tank of solution.

Hang to dry as normal.

Kodak Photo Flo – An Amendment

So it does seem that I was wrong in a previous post about the use of photo flo as I was still getting streaky negs but I seem to have sorted it now….

I have found that my favoured way is to make up a jug of Photo Flo, not accurately – about 300ml of water and about half a ml of Flo (use a syringe) and then ‘drag’ my negs through it.  I attach the regular drying/hanging weighted hooks to both ends as normal for drying and then whilst holding them both in each hand, allow the film to curl slightly into a C shape under its own weight.  I then lower it into the jug and allow the length to submerge in the jug.  You can then do this a few time, hold it up and you will see the solution running off.  A couple of dips normally does the job just fine.  The strips of film are then hung as normal with a towel under them to catch the remaining solution as it rolls off.  Again, don’t wash the solution off, and now I don’t even recommend squeegeeing them – there doesn’t appear to be the need and you eliminate the risk of damage to the negs.

Hope that helps somebody…!

C-41 In Rodinal Tests

This is something for tomorrow morning, and ill keep you posted on how it works out.  I have just burned through a roll of pound land special 35mm (AgfaVista 200 if you don’t know…) and intend to test the film in Rodinal tomorrow for different times.

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I have had varying ‘success’ before with c-41 in black and white chems but I intend to do some research and try and perfect the process.

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?

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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