Trial and Light

We finally had a brief sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest and low and behold, I’m hunkered in the makeshift darkroom (laundry room) developing and drying film.

In this session I used two different sheet films and two different developers.

For the sheet film, I used Rollei RPX 400 and Atomic-X 100. For the developer I used Ilford DD-X and the FF No.1 Monobath.

I admit this was a struggle as large format is not like digital and developing times are different. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather throwing myself into the fantastical process of analogue.

I study the time of day and where the light falls. I remind myself in large format film you need a well-lit environment, and I am a fearful of underexposing.

I sit back and reflect on the one photographer of the 19th century that I can’t help but relate to. Julia Margaret Cameron.  Here she was a woman of her time, paying no mind to the critics on her soft focus, scratches, thumbprints and other flaws, but her portraiture is beautiful. She was 48 years old when she received her first camera from her children and immersing herself in this new invention of photography, she was fortunate to have Sir John Hershel as her one of her many posed subjects and teacher. Of course it helped that he was a champion of her works.

I am 48 years old (proud of it too) and somewhat on my own but I’m lucky to have those few peers in my life that I can bounce questions off of.  Interesting enough, when I share with folks that I do large format film photography, I have been questioned over and over again as to why I am wasting time and money doing this alternative process in this digital world. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but I know there is value and I will continue to create and make mistakes, as long as there is breath in me.

Going back to my notes, the film I am using is very much different. Rollei RPX 400 is very thin and I think I over-fixed it or that the fixer I used isn’t compatible. It started stripping the emulsion right in front of my eyes, the cruel part of chemistry. Oh the crushing heartache!

Distroyed Negative

Off the bat, D-DX is not compatible with the Rollei RPX sheet film. I switch over to FF No. 1 Monobath. Yes!!! Success! For the Rollei RPX, I’ll have get developer and fixer that is compatible like Rollei RPD developer or Supergrain and more experimenting and creating art.

Atomic-X sheet film developed with FF No. 1 Monobath is definitely compatible. I was tempted to use the DD-X on the Atomic-X sheet film, but thought better. I’m sure someone has already attempted to due to the fact there were no developing times anywhere to be found and didn’t want to blow anymore film than I already have.

My take away?  I will try the Rollei RPX sheet film again and use the correct supergrain developer & fixer. The Atomic-X and FF No. 1 Monobath will be a staple ready to use at anytime!

Thank you for visiting. Until next time, keep photo’ing…..

Rollei RPX 400
Atomic-X 100


Wet Plate Collodion

Wet Plate Collodion!

I finally did it! The alternative process I’ve wanted to learn for the longest time! I first and foremost must give thanks to artist Daniel Carrillo. What an amazing mentor and teacher!

It is a pouring down rain late Saturday night in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and I am simply beat from the week and the busy day I just had, but learning this process is so important to me.  Not wanting to drive and walk in that part of town by myself that late in the evening, I asked my husband Joel to accompany me, he’s good that way. What a long and exhilarating night!

I was super nervous and hope I wouldn’t screw things up!

I observe Dan giving me a safety overview, demonstration and the reactions of the chemicals used.

After he showed me in an effortless way of this process, he had me jump in with both feet and start practicing pouring.

I was tense and overthinking the steps, my hands were shaking as I was pouring the chemical onto the plate. Before I photographed Joel, I delicately place the coated plate into the film holder. It was tricky because I couldn’t remember what side I coated the plate with the collodion versus and the back side. After it came out of the silver nitrate tank, it was all one color. (That was the overthinking part) on the first go I ruined the plate as I put in the wrong side. Dan congratulated me! He said I was on my way! Mistakes are good! So I try again, clean both sides of the glass plate, pour the collodion, from there into the silver nitrate tank. Once the plate was coated, I place it into the film holder and off we go to the camera. We used powerful strobes! Joel and I were both blinded, but it was an awesome pop sound.

I must note, this is around 11pm in the evening, and at this state Joel and I are both exhausted from standing and walking as this process is a constant flow and we don’t know how what we look like. This is an exercise of pouring and developing the plate and not necessarily a posing and composition session.

I can’t wait to master, as I would like to offer alternative processes as an additional service for those wanting an exceptional heirloom result.

35mm Movie Maker

It is a very cold day in the Pacific Northwest and the weather couldn’t be any more gloomier. The wind is howling and loud and my hands are frozen as I forgot my gloves. The seagulls hover in place while the aroma of the salty air and spectacular views of Puget Sound reminds me of Seattle’s rich history of water way transportation.

That said, I decided to trek to one of my favorite areas. I love the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry landing to watch the commuters come and go, it’s a beautiful place to gather one’s thoughts.

In one of my trials using the LomoKino 35mm movie camera, I wanted to try out this contraption to expand on my analogue adventures. It was awkward to load the film and tough to use even though I had it on the tripod. The hand crank kept moving things around and there is no focus.

The other issue I had is a high tech feature that was supposed to be convenient by scanning the developed film and splice together a short video off a smart phone. It is a crying shame however, that the “Lomoscanner 2” app crashed after the first picture was taken, after all it hasn’t seen an update in over 3 years. The alternative was to take my developed the roll of film, and painstakingly scan each image and create the motion in Photoshop.

After going over my “lessons learned” with a warming hot cup of tea. I looked at the pin to the plate for my tripod, the thread appeared to be worn.  I debated on showing this clip, but I will try it again soon after making a few adjustments to get a more stable story to share.

Overall, I do love the concept and hope to do cool artistic wonders with this hand-held analogue movie maker.