lost in translation

One of the things that always amuses me with French language, is the sheer amount of it. Not quite the same as the 97 Inuit words for snow but in this bit of France at least they do love to talk, to use several words where just one would do, and discuss everything in teeny weeny detail. I had to see Milla's head teacher yesterday to discuss what school she will go in September. Turned out all the head really needed was to be given one piece of paper, but she still trilled on and on about Romy's character (relevant, how?) grilled me about this, that and the other, waffled on about our arty family and then told Milla she was too quiet (it's called British reserve, lady).
Mesdames et Messieurs I give you the perfect example. You know that book called 'The Horse Whisperer'?
Well, in French the title translates as 'The Man Who Murmurs Into The Ears Of Horses.'
It's rather endearing quand même.


about a girl

Like most 14 year olds, she does not see her beauty, believes that no-one notices her and everyone else looks much better, prettier. She is tiny for her age, quiet and thoughtful by nature and does not see what I see.
"Come on, let's take the dog for a walk. I am trying out a film I've never used before and I need something to photograph." 

 But now she sees what I see.

Pentax Spotmatic/ Agfa APX100


black and white film developing

A while ago I asked the question “how about a home developing b&w film tutorial?” And it seemed quite a few answered yes, please. It's taken a while to get myself together, but here it is.

I love black and white photography. It makes for the most delicious light and shadow, the subject matter becomes free of distractions, plus I'm an old, traditional nostalgist at heart. Developing my film is probably my most favourite part of photography over all else; being in (relative) control the whole way through the process from viewfinder to the final picture really scratches as that creative, hands-on itch. It gives you a feeling that you are involved in an active, art-making process. Probably not for the wham bam thank you ma'am type of photographer, but for all of you who want to feel more connected, physically and mentally to the discipline. Everybody say om.

You will have to invest in the following:
  • A developing tank and spiral reel. 
  • Chemicals ~ for developer and fixer I recommend Kodak D-76 and Kodak or Foma fixer. I never use stop bath, I use white vinegar, but Ilford make a good stop bath if you want it. I would recommend getting a bottle of Kodak Photo-flo for the final rinse.
  • Dark containers for storing the mixed up chemicals.
  • Measuring jugs.
  • Film squeegee tweezers.
  • a timer or stop watch.
  • Thermometer

Optional extras:
  • Film changing bag if you don't have a pitch dark cupboard or room (my shower is light-tight)
  • A tool to open film canisters (I use a bottle opener)
  • Film clips (you can use regular pegs)
In France or Europe, you can buy all you need here, in the UK here and across the pond (and pretty much everywhere else) here.

So here's how to do it.
  • Start off by making sure you have everything you need to hand. Mix up your chemicals very carefully following the instructions on the packet. Pour into your dark bottles and label. If I am using previously mixed and stored chemicals I stand the bottles in hot water for several minutes to bring them up to approx 20°C/68°F, the ideal temperature for developing. If they are freshly mixed and need cooling slightly, stand them in cold water. 
  • Either in the pitch dark (if necessary seal any light gaps in your room/cupboard with black insulating tape, light leaks will fog your film and ruin it completely, so no scrimping on this part) or in a film changing bag, crack open the film canister using your film or bottle opener, and tip the film still wound on it's spool into your hand. 

  • This is the hardest bit. In the complete dark or inside the bag you have to load the film from it's spool onto the spiral reel. Cut off the film leader and slowly feed the film end onto the reel. Then by twisting the reel back and forth it should load onto the spiral reel, as in the above picture (apologies for the bitten nails and skin, disgusting habit). When you reach the end of the film, cut it away from the spool and give it one extra turn. It's probably a good idea to practise this with an old film in the light a few times first to get the hang of it.  
  • Put the loaded reel onto the spindle that is inside the developing tank, seal the tank up carefully and now you can turn the lights on.
  • You need to make sure you use your developer for the right amount of time. Either follow the guide on your developer packet or use this chart. Take the rubber lid only off the top of your tank, pour in sufficient developer, re-seal and start your timer for the appropriate time. For the first 30 secs invert the tank i.e. whip your tank back and forth (slowly), and tap it down a couple of times to release any air bubbles. After that, you need to agitate the tank 4 or 5 times every minute till your timer goes off, by inverting it.

  • Pour out the developer and put the tank under running water. Experience has taught me to never use developer for more than a maximum of 3 films. I usually dump it after 2 to be on the safe side. Leave the tap running for about 5 mins. If you use a stop bath maybe you could shorten this. Anyway, after the 5 mins is up I fill a jug with a 1+4 solution of white vinegar and water, pour that in and agitate for 30 secs. Pour away and rinse under running water for a minute.
  • Empty the water from the tank and pour in your fixer. You need to fix for between 5-10 minutes, depending on a) your fixer and b) how old it is. Invert/agitate exactly as you did the developer and when it is done, carefully pour it back into the bottle. Fixer should never go down the sink. 
  • Rinse the tank again under running water for another 5 minutes or so. Then mix a few drops of Photo-flo with water in a jug. Pour into the tank, agitate for no more than 30 seconds. Empty the tank, open up and remove and shake the spiral. Remove your film from the spiral, and hang up in a dry, preferably dust free place using your clips or pegs. Bathrooms are good. Run the squeegee down the strip a couple of times to give you good smear and stain free negatives. I like to leave mine to hang overnight before I do anything with them.

So that's all there is to it. My method and it works for me!