Photography is sporadic.
Shooting with any sort of discipline does not come naturally to me. Like everything I do, it starts and stops, sometimes gushes, sometimes trickles. sometimes ceases to flow at all. For this reason, I am glad that roll of T-Max from a few weeks ago had many shots I didn’t use. This is one of them. Again, note the lovely scan quality. I’ll miss you, CVS. I also just might get a film scanner. Maybe.
Kodak T-Max 100 (expired), Clayton F76+, CVS film destroyer.
Here’s an interesting one (can you guess where?). This is an uncorrected scan of one of my negatives. To be fair, the swirls and nastiness are probably because they didn’t dry well. Next time I’m running film I’ll wash this strip again. Something about it is appealing the way it is- it seems convincingly “retro.” Interesting.
More expired T-Max 100, Clayton F76+ 1+19.
Sometimes ignorance is excusable. Sometimes it isn’t. When you bring someone a page of strips of negatives you just painstakingly made in your kitchen sink and they grab them with their dirty fingers to pull them out and jam them into the scanner, it’s just heartbreaking.
Ummm, you know you can’t touch those negatives, right? You have to hold them by the edges.
Oh, uh, really?
Yeah. You might have just ruined all of those. You have to hold them by the edges.
Oh, uh, I’m sorry. I guess I should wear the gloves then?
Yes. Yes, please wear the gloves. Please.
I saw this in the library and though the light was interesting. Interestingly enough, this one scanned especially poorly. It still has the low grain smooth look that is the signature of T-Max, it just had no blacks. Not sure why that’s happening, but it’s easy enough to fix.
It’s interesting how in photography one goes from looking for interesting events to looking for interesting frames to looking ofr interesting light. I wonder where I’ll go next.
100TMX, F76+. I still hate CVS.
A group with political ambitions that I would be hard pressed to disagree with more created a September 11 memorial display that, all politics aside, was extremely visually interesting. I would never post a political or otherwise controversial image for any other reason.
All deep political thought aside, this is the first fruit of my minimal grain minimal contrast experiment and the results are interesting. The images have less apparent grain (because 100TMX is one of the finest-grain films on the planet), but still didn’t scan very well. At least I’ve tried it. I think my next experiments will involve Plus-X 125.
100TMX, the usual suspects for developer and scanning.
Following the evolution of my photography brings us to the transition step, C-41 black and white. While working in a remote (by my standards) central Pennsylvania location, I scored a lens I wanted from eBay that happened to be attached to a 35mm manual SLR. In order to fully assess my purchase and leave all-important feedback, I decided to head to Wal-Mart to pick up a roll of film or three. It was here that I discovered C-41 black and white: black and white film that can be processed at any lab that does regular color film (development of true black and white film is extinct save for a few high-end labs and home processing). The film at Wal-Mart is Kodak 400CN, and I shot the better part of two rolls at Penn State’s Artsfest this summer. While this shot is really not a favorite of anyone who frequents my photography, I like it, which I suppose is probably the point.
For those who are into the technical side, I was impressed with the smooth tones and low grain of this film shot at 400. The image you see here is a mildly Lightroom-corrected Wal-Mart scan (definitely more coming about various scanning services I’ve paid for) of the negative. I guess the moral of the story is that C-41 black and white (a) exists and (b) can produce impressive results with a simple shoot-dump at local big box/camera chain/drugstore-enjoy process. Definitely worth a try for 35mm shooters who don’t want to take the plunge into self-developed black and white.
The verdict: C-41 black and white was fun, convenient, and produced impressive results, but it was not without drawbacks. For me, the biggest drawback was price: Three rolls of 24-exposure 400CN runs about $12 at Wal-Mart, and when you add in about $6 per roll for processing and an additional $2 to have the negatives scanned, it was about $12 per roll or $0.50 per frame. While that’s very inexpensive compared to shooting 4 x 5 or 35mm slide film, it’s still pretty rich for my student blood. Additionally, the C-41 process offers very limited control over output. While I physically exposed the frames in my camera, whoever did the development had complete control over the processing of the negatives and the corrections applied to the prints. When you consider the fact that the “whoever” in question is a machine designed to produce the most acceptable color prints for the Wal-Mart crowd, the situation isn’t exactly ideal. All things considered, C-41 black and white films like 400CN or Ilford XP-2 are great for those who need convenience (on the road?) or want to get a taste of 35mm black and white, but I was not completely satisfied.
This is one of many street shots from ArtsFest I shot on Kodak 400CN with my Ricoh manual SLR and 50mm Asahi SMC lens. The brightness of the day and the fact that I wouldn’t receive my 49mm circular polarizer for another week conspired to limit me to smallish apertures, but in this case it the result is interesting (to me at least) with so much of the frame in focus. Lesson learned: When street shooting on a bright July day, 100 speed film and polarizers or neutral density filters are your friends.
Tomorrow: I progress to true old-fashioned handmade black and white.