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


Author: chellecaldwellphoto

I like making pictures.

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