Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentacon Six TL

Well, I finally managed to get back in the darkroom and try out our new-old Hewes steel developing tank & reels. After the auto-loading Paterson reel we had decided to start giving up the ghost, I figured it might be a good idea to try something that might end up being a bit more reliable, though there are caveats, as always!

Loading the steel reels is straightforward, but requires practice; there are videos on youtube that are very helpful, I found this one and this one to be helpful. One of the two rolls I developed this time was misaligned and therefore ‘bunched up’, somewhere in the inner spirals, causing the chemicals to pool there during the process. This resulted in lines and blobs on the negatives at around this point on the roll. Like I said, practice will hopefully alleviate this.

I also recently managed to get hold of a Gossen Profispot for around half the price they normally go for – this is the spot meter attachment for my Profisix light meter. For the purpose of testing, instead of using a grey card, I used this to meter on the Edale to Hope walk, and after looking at the ‘scanned’ negatives, it became apparent that a steep learning process is going to transpire, when at last the time arises of course!

Anyhow, I shot a couple of rolls of Tri-X on two separate trips out to the Peak District from the past month or so; one a walk out through Endcliffe Park towards the Norfolk Arms shot using the MIR 45mm f3.5, the other a very wet and windy hike out from Edale towards Hope, via the Roman Road – shot on the Zeiss Flektogon 50mm f4.

The rolls were shot at ISO 320 and developed accordingly in 1:3 Perceptol, for times derived from the Massive Dev Chart. I also performed some cropping, contrast boosting and white balancing in PS, and the negatives were scanned using a Canon 500D, fitted with a Sigma 18-250mm f3.5.

One of the Riley Graves, Eyam. MIR 45mm f3.5.
One of the Riley Graves, Eyam. MIR 45mm f3.5.

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Ilford FP4+, Shot At 100 – Pentax SV.

Shot over the X-Mas and NY period on the Pentax, through a Pentacon 30mm f3.5 lens; this film was home developed in Perceptol 1+3 dilution, for ISO 125, and represents my first 35mm developing nightmare!

120 film is a cinch to load onto the old Paterson developing reels, though I had previously had a problem with the reel coming apart during inversion; thus ruining a roll of 120 Ilford Pan F+. 35mm turned out to be pretty much impossible, no amount of releasing and re-spooling was enough to get the full roll on, it just kept on bunching and ripping. And to add insult to injury, the previously occurring fault also featured in tandem, with the reel, (supposed to adjust to fit 35mm or 120 film), popping open, releasing the film inadvertently at the most inopportune moments. Anyhow, after much sweating and swearing, I had to lose a third of the roll, so there went the NYE pics; which were probably drunken-blurry anyway.

Despite the annoyance, it’ s interesting how certain kinds of visual artefact can add to the allure of film. They isolate and accentuate aspects of the image, directing our focus and nursing our nostalgic tendencies but irrespective of character, I guess that the banding evident in these images is probably down to the ‘bunching’ of the film during loading and the resulting uneven exposure to the developer within the tank, (at a guess anyway, please feel free to make any other relevant suggestions).

This old reel and tank was generously gifted to us by Sarah’s Dad, and has allowed us the opportunity to delve into home developing, but given the persistent fault in this old reel, I think I might try and get hold of some of the stainless steel reels and tanks; though these might take some time to source second-hand, as some of the UK-made Hewes products are no longer being manufactured.

Some cropping, straightening and contrast modification was undertaken in PS Elements. Anyhow, enjoy.


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Photowalking: Sheffield, City Centre.

These shots were taken on a number of days, a few months ago, probably sometime in the summer, when Sarah and I had been taking the Rollei for walks around Sheffield city centre; locations including Crookes Valley Park, Kelham Island and the Porter Brook.

We shot this roll using a grey, metered Rolleiflex T, on Ilford HP5+ at box speed, (ISO 400), and in accordance with the Massive Dev Chart, we home developed the film in Perceptol 1+3 for ISO 400. Our first home-developed B&W film was processed using de-ionised water, but due to potential cost and weight constraints, we decided to try out plain-old tap water. I also decided to use our darkroom lamp, as opposed to the main light, throughout development until after the fix-stage; in case this was responsible for the ‘fogging/over-exposure’ evident in my first post.

Again the resulting negatives were ‘scanned’ using a lightbox and Canon 500D dSLR with a Sigma 18-250mm superzoom attached, though this time I tried to flatten the film using the negative holder, (Autoneg), from our Durst DA 900 enlarger. I had originally intended to use some recently acquired macro-bellows, but figured out that I need extension tubes for the lens I intend to use, (next time maybe). Plus, I still need to get the hang of contrast manipulation.

And again the dreaded vertical scratches are in full force, like I said in my inaugural post, unfortunately we didn’t realise that we were incorrectly loading the film until after a few rolls of film had been shot. It adds character to some images at least!

Anyhow, despite the scratches, tap water and dSLR scan, they appear to have turned out reasonably well. Perceptol 1+3 and HP5+ are pretty well suited it would seem; but I guess that’s for you guys to decide.

Crookes Valley Park
Crookes Valley Park

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New Beginnings…

At last, we have developed our first film! After much bargaining, begging and borrowing, my partner Sarah and I have finally amassed enough equipment to construct our very first, (makeshift-but-useable), darkroom and having recently moved into a new apartment, we actually have a relatively defined space in which to do so.

I’m not going to talk too much in these posts to begin with, as we’re just starting out and have very little knowledge on the subject, but I would certainly welcome any pointers, critique etc…, so don’t feel shy and comment away!

A few initial observations and informations:

The film is scratched, due to feeding it ‘under’ the roller bar, rather than over it. Unfortunately we used a few films in this way before realising, so the first few posts here will show consistent vertical bars in all images.

The negatives have been ‘scanned’ using a lightbox and dSLR camera, shot at 155mm, ISO 100, f22 and at slightly variable shutter speeds; the latter defined by the image brightness.

Furthermore, we shot this particular film at ISO 100, but when negatives were inverted in Photoshop Elements, they appeared somewhat overexposed so contrast and brightness has been altered, (box speed or faster next time!).

Anyhow, here we have some shots from both the Peak and Lake Districts, shot earlier this year on a Rolleiflex T1, on medium format Ilford FP4+ 125, metered by the Rolleiflex, shot at ISO 100 and developed in Perceptol 1:3 for ISO 125, (in accordance with the Massive Dev Chart guidelines):

The Edale Valley - from Roman Road.
The Edale Valley – from Roman Road.

Continue reading “New Beginnings…”