So I’m going to really try to be better at this blog thing…and post at least once, if not twice a week. I’m going to share my adventures (including such events as going to Myrtle Beach, trips to Ocean City, and white water rafting the New River in West Virginia) and my Interests (NASA, Airshows, Hapkido, and photography including black and white film and even exploring wet plate (ambrotypes) and Cyanotypes). Come along with me and maybe we’ll all learn something together!
I sit here and look at a lot of my recent photographs and realize that I have been shooting a lot of black and white film. I don’t know what it is about it, but it just draws me in. I even find myself looking at my digital prints and think about converting some of them to black and white.
Maybe it’s the romance one thinks of with black and white? Maybe it’s the contrasty tones and noise behind the photos, but I find myself shooting a lot on the walking trail behind my house. I love the blacks, greys, and whites that I see in the nature photos. I love to shoot my grandfather in black and white, and even my niece who is only 2 years old. One of my absolute favorite photos I have of her is in black and white. I won’t be posting that one here as this is a public blog, but here is another of my recent favorites of her.
Film has its own trials, especially when developing it oneself. The second time I tried to develop we discovered as I was getting ready to put it in the changing bag to spool it and put it in the developing tank we realized that the top clip was missing. John had gotten some bulk film and put it in film canisters himself and I guess this one lost the clip somewhere along the way. I have to admit I kinda like the effect. See how the light went in through the holes? This is a live and learn hobby! Hope I learn enough not to re-do past mistakes! I know I have a lot more to learn and I’m loving every minute of it.
So at the end of last year on 12/29 I had the opportunity to make a print of one of my pictures. John recently got a Beseler 67 enlarger. He loves to share his equipment with me and show me everything that there is out there to do with photography. This being one of his newest endeavers, he was excited to show me how it works and is done. I selected one of the negatives from a roll of film I had developed there about a week before and together we made a print!
Together we did a test run to see how long to expose the paper. He had recently gotten a Ilford #3 Vari-contrast filter for on the enlarger because the first time he used it it had over exposed a bit, he’d really had to limit the exposure time to less then 3-4 seconds because otherwise it was way over exposed. On our test run we discovered that the filter only helped minimally so we would get the best print at only 4 seconds. I know I’m not near ready to burn or dodge, especially since this was my first try at this anyway, so a quick time was no problem yet. We exposed RC graded #2 glossy paper 50mm at f/8 for four seconds to make a 5X7 print. Then we developed the paper in Kodak Dektol for 60 seconds.
I have to say that sometimes I wonder how John can keep all the chemicals straight, but then he does have them all labeled on the caps and bottles. Organization is key I think as with many parts of life! I know that this will be a lot easier when he gets his darkroom created at his house and gets moved in! This night we used the enlarger on his bed in the bedroom using a timer and darkroom lamp he obtained the same time as he got the enlarger, put the exposed print into a light proof bag and then moved the darkroom light and timer out to the kitchen with us. There we made sure the front door was securely locked so as to make sure no one walked in and turned on the light switch on us while we worked with this light sensitive paper.
I have to say watching the picture show up on the paper was an amazing thing. One minute it was a blank, white sheet, and then relatively quickly the picture showed up, there, right before our eyes! It was an exciting moment and I know that now this picture of a vine wrapped around a young tree will hold a spot in my heart…for it was my first print. I look forward to learning more about this process with John’s help and I’m excited to see what other magic images will show up to adorn the world!