Barry Thornton Two Bath
Following the renaissance I gave some thought to development. I frequently expose in available light, and am drawn to dark scenes. I’d been pushing a lot of 400 ISO films (e.g. Ilford HP5+ and Kentmere 400) to 800, sometimes 1600. My previous attempts in both Ilfosol 3 and Rodinal yielding grainy, contrasty negatives that were poorly rescued by my previous digitization and then processing. The Online Darkroom turned me on to Barry Thornton’s Two Bath developer, a two bath compensating developer nearly immune to exposure speed. It’s an inexpensive developer that can be mixed at home, and although I’d read it lacked contrast I was intrigued by the results others were getting.
The first attempt was wrought with agitation issues, but still the results were encouraging.
The second attempt was very satisfying. One roll was tormented by a loose “felt” from the reloadable film cassette; present in almost every exposure. I’ve tried Kalt metal reloadable cassettes, which have fallen apart and ruined rolls. And now the “felt” on these Kalt plastic cassettes is causing problems. Re-using prepackaged film cassettes is a pain, so I’m trying to avoid that option. What to do..
As I’ve previously written, I haven’t shot much since 2012. I wasn’t receiving the satisfaction from carrying around a camera and making exposures. The exposures I had made I wasn’t exactly thrilled with either. A lot had to do with processing technique; particularly scans. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the position to afford drum scans or wet-mounting. The process wasn’t rewarding and the product wasn’t rewarding, so it just wasn’t happening.
Then I came across some articles which made convincing arguments for negative digitization through a digital SLR and macro lens: Yes, Your DSLR Really Is The Best Film Scanner and Scanning 35mm Black and White Negatives with the D800E. Convincing. Afterall, I have a DSLR and macro lens for my profession which is seeing little to no use. After much deliberation, Googling, and Youtubing, I’d ordered a lightpad and copy stand. Preliminary results (i.e. my first DSLR digitized frame), I’m very pleased.
I didn’t even bother to try to match the exposure, tone curves, anything. I just don’t care about the flatbed scan anymore. Forget about it.
I think these images speak for themselves. I don’t have a darkroom for printing available to me, and most of my images I view digitally. The quality and character afforded by the DSLR technique makes me feel like I’m using film again.
Is this the best investment I’ve made into photography in the past year or so? We shall see. I’m unlikely to go back to rescan all images, but am likely to digitize all future exposures with this technique. Many argue that this is faster; that remains to be seen. Definitely more post-processing involved with DSLR technique. Anyway; call this Renaissance #2. A renaissance two-fer. I’m motivated again.
My folks had a number of film rolls remaining after they switched to digital; all of which were expired by 2008. Over the years I’ve been using them here and there. I hated paying for the development, so exposed and undeveloped rolls collected. Last spring I took all that I had to a local pharmacy and had them developed. I took this on-call weekend to scan them all. The process reminded me of how much I prefer film. And, how much I prefer monochromatic to colour. Here is a selection, presented chronologically.
My hiatus from photography was closely tied to a hiatus from my previous life; my previous me. To ponder the significance of the hiatus, consider that in 2012 I completed over fifty rolls of film. In 2013 and 2014, I have yet to break a total of five rolls. I neglected a lot of what made me healthy. I rarely played my instruments, I frequently over drank and often under ate, exercise was sporadic and unfulfilling. A commanding theme of students’ responses to our schooling was a feeling of abuse. Sixty to eighty hour work weeks bookended by exhausting weekends, cramming in as much fun and forced happiness as one is capable.
It’s been evinced that the stability in my life is in fact instability. Embracing this has been an effort. Accepting what is as opposed to what I think it should be, or what I want it to be. I must also learn to accept my cameras, my lenses, my films. Embrace the imperfections, appreciate the character.
Happiness is creativity.