Well, I guess today it makes sense to continue along my progression to the final step: True black and white film photography. Yesterday’s rant should provide ample explanation if what is and is not to love about the C-41 stuff, and after a few rolls of that I felt the need to try the real thing. A lot of Googling brought me to a basic understanding of how to develop one’s own film, and so I took the plunge and ordered chemicals, accessories, and 20 rolls of real live black and white film for a total of about $79, or about the cost of shooting and developing eight rolls of C-41 black and white.
Secure in the knowledge that I would soon possess the necessary skills to develop it, I bought and began shooting real live black and white film (living in the middle of nowhere for work meant that I had to make many phone calls and drive twenty miles to find any, and all that was available was T-Max. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a big shout-out to The Film Center of Altoona, PA not only for explaining to me that no one uses film anymore and everything is digital now, but also for failing to realize the irony of calling their operation “The Film Center.” If you know film isn’t dead, why don’t you give them a call at 814-946-3648 and ask if they have any Tri-X?). I shot one roll of T-Max 400 and one roll of Tri-X 400 on the summer program’s trip to Washington D.C. (I probably should have been paying more attention to my students and less to my light meter and circular polarizer, but so be it).
The package arrived at my house the day after I returned home from the summer program. I loaded up a roll of film (re-branded Agfa APX 400, but that’s another story), shot through it as fast as I could, gathered my supplies together and worked some chemical magic in my sink. Sure enough, once I fixed and rinsed, I had a three-foot strip of little tiny reversed pictures! I was thrilled that it had worked, so I loaded up a roll in my manual camera and went back to work.
I think this shot is from my second roll. It’s Agfa APX 400 shot at 400 and developed in Clayton F76+, an excellent low-toxicity hypoallergenic liquid developer (I also have more to say about low-tox chemicals- stay tuned). The image you see here was scanned from the negative at Target (more about that later too) and lightly corrected, and it will be printed as a 5 x 7 for a birthday present. Chasing a skittish animal around with a manual-exposure manual-focus camera is a bizarre and difficult experience, but I’m pleased with the results.