Three Minute Tips #6 – Make A ‘Dark Room…’

Yeah, a dark room, not a darkroom.

I really hate film changing bags.  They’re horrible little sweaty bags of hell.  Its incredible how quickly your hands get soaked with sweat inside them, and ask anybody whose ever loaded film onto a processing spool, if any of it gets wet you’ll ruin your film.  It’ll stick to the spool and snag up and crease and you’ll swear and want to smash things and then you’ll give up…its true.

This is what I do.

Simply four cushions from Ikea, that are normally on our sofa.  They fit perfectly into the window rebate (is that the word) and seal out the light.  Or seal in the dark…  Works best when its dark outside but in a pinch can be done during the day.  I switch off the lights in the nearby rooms so no stray light leaks in under the door or anything, and there you go, a room where I can load my tanks and bulk loaders in complete dark without having to use those stupid sweaty hell bags.  Theres plenty of space to lay things out and theres even a ‘seat’ should it be needed…! 😃

Try it, you’ll never go back I swear.

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Are You an APS Shooter…?

So the other afternoon I bumped into friend that I haven’t seen properly in years and the conversation naturally turned to the ‘what are you doing these days’ threa.  It wasn’t long before I was being offered an Olympus Trip. “You know, one of the old ones that takes film…” Sweet. I do like an Olly…

I arranged to pop round and pick it up and was presented with a camera case and immediately opened it up to find…a Kodak advantix F600…

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It’s certainly no Trip, But cosmetically it looks like it’s barely been used which is good, and it does appear to have a part shot film in it which is always fun. It’s takes a CR123A battery like the Olympus Mju as well so I swapped one into it and it fired up a treat.  It’s got a 30-60mm zoom lens so nothing special there, and comes equipped with the standard run down of flash settings. A chunky little late 1990s beast in that classic ‘1990s space age brushed crappy grey and black’ finish. Even has a tripod mount which I’ve always found a must have for small point and shoot cameras…!

I’ve been after something that takes APS for a while now. A pal of mine on instagram (yes you @londoncameraproject) is forever harping on about APS and how it’s a forgotten gem of a format. I’ve personally never shot it and personally can’t see why it was really ever a thing…but, I now have the F600 and a stack of APS in the fridge I’m going to give it a go once I’ve worked out a satisfactory bodge for developing and scanning it. I know that there are labs around that advertise dev of this format but I’d really like to work out a way of doing it at home. The main issue that I think I’ll face, other that the actual dimensions of the film are that APS isn’t supposed to be released from the cartridge. Well maybe it is for development but certainly afterwards it goes back in the cartridge to keep if clean and safe. I need to hack an old cartridge open really and have a gander at how it works.

Interesting thing about APS is that you can wind it fully back into the cartridge mid roll and swap it out for another. Say colour to black and white or ISO200 to 800, and then when you pop the cartridge back in it automatically advances to the next frame. Just like swapping the backs out on my Bronica… 😂

Anyway because of this feature you can’t open the camera until the film is wound back, the F600 has a lever on the side to open it and I assumed it was jammed…but a quick look at the manual online (available at https://www.manualslib.com/manual/89133/Kodak-Advantix-F600zoom.html?page=16#manual incidently) showed me my error.

Anyway. I’ve shot a few frames with it, and once I find a suitable way to develop and scan the film I’ll post some results. But really don’t hold your breath, you’ll probably pass out…

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.

test

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…!

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.

kodak instamatic 133 126 c-22

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…

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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.