Why do I shoot film?

Why do I shoot film?

A good friend of mine asked me this question, but it was hard for me to come up with quick answer other than saying, “because it’s cool man!”. Then I thought about that question in depth. Why do I shoot film? I will try and break down my thought process, so here it goes.

Going back to childhood, my dad was actually our family documentarian; I wish I could remember the camera he used, all I know is I was mesmerized by those cool disposable flash bulbs making the loud popping sound and the smell of the magnesium scent after it was fired. Makes me smile just thinking about that! It was a hobby of his and the difficult part to share is that all the images he took ended up in a shoe box rather than placed in photo albums or print on the wall. When I decided to venture into this competitive world of photography, I didn’t know really what I was doing. A lot of photographers can make a decent salary doing this craft for a living, but they are well established and earned that solid reputation over time. I have yet to establish a name for myself, but I’m on my way.

My desire to shoot film in the digital world isn’t to be trendy or hipster but rather an homage to a time that wasn’t that long ago. Maybe it’s me holding on to a piece of my youth in an era to where times were better than they are today; at least that is how I feel. Put it this way, I sure miss driving my 1968 Mustang listening to The English Beat, dropping my film off to the local Fotomat on a sunny SoCal SoCool day, the window rolled down and the wind blowing in my face, not a care in the world. I was even more excited when I picked up my film and prints in one day; it really was worth the wait.

I value the medium as the results don’t quite measure to digital at least for my artistic preference and I love the fact that I can slow down and take a deep breath and try to frame my shot, it’s the slow and methodical process that I love.

On this particular week, I was home for Spring Break last year in April 2017; I took my family on day trip to Baby Beach and Long Beach to do some exploring. I brought my 1954 Rolleicord and loaded with Velvia Film. This is my favorite film for landscape by far! I love the fact; I didn’t use any filters and no Photoshop other than converting to jpg for web use. This was straight out of this analogue camera and I cannot seem to take my eyes off the images, it was a good day that day.

So there you have it in a nutshell. That is why I shoot film.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, last year I bought a lot of photo albums for my dad and all the pictures have been removed from the shoe box and placed into those albums and a few frames. All is well.

Thanks for visiting!

 

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…..

Caldwell_Sisters_Film-web
Rollei RPX 400
Portraits
Atomic-X 100