Happy New Year 2015

First of all, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

At the beginning of each year I always like to take stock of the previous year. Since I have started blogging in 2011 it has become a bit of a tradition and usually it gives me a sense of achievement that I don’t usually get when I’m just entangled in my day to day adventures. Two years ago I skipped the exercise, mainly because 2012 wasn’t such a great year, but looking back at 2013 was quite an enjoyable experience last year. And I’m sure 2014 will prove to be equally interesting.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Life and all that

2014 was actually a year of big changes for me. I gave up my plans of doing a PhD in Berlin – it just wasn’t workable at all – and finally moved to Spain to find my luck in other things. And all of a sudden an opportunity came up to do my PhD anyway! That’s what I call magical solutions. For me this was a fantastic development and I’m really happy about it.

One of my goals this year was to improve my health a little bit more and at the beginning of the year I was hopeful that I would soon be pain free. Sadly these hopes weren’t really justified. After just a few months the medication that kept me largely pain free stopped working and since then it hasn’t always been easy. I’m still trying new supplements, one of which actually seems very promising now, and I have a few things left to try, but I’m afraid for now I better assume that the pain is going to stay. However, although I regularly have quite bad days, my health hardly ever keeps me from doing the things I want to do and this is something that has changed in comparison to 2013. I’m not a victim of my health anymore and this feels really quite good. In fact I even started dancing tango again recently, which is something that my illness prevented for two years. Last year when I just had my surgery I couldn’t even walk properly, so dancing was completely out of the question. This means that my health is actually slowly improving although sometimes it’s impossible to see the progress in the usual everyday struggle.

My first solo show

Now, since this is a photography blog, let’s move on from the external circumstances and look at how things went for me photographically.

Well, it’s actually easy: 2014 was a fantastic year for me. The most amazing thing was that I had my first solo show in Cologne in May, which was definitely the highlight of the year and also a great success for me! It was something that I had been dreaming of for years and when it finally happened it all seemed a little surreal and otherworldly. It was a really great experience and it also was a great motivator! I learned a great deal in the process as well – how to mount prints on foam board (surprisingly easy), how to keep the foam board from falling off the walls (surprisingly hard) and all sorts of other things like that. Also making the selection really was an interesting experience – although I select pictures for posts every day I never really quantified my shots in any way and so I had difficulties making a selection at first. It only started to become manageable when I introduced ratings to my archive, so that now I can easily find the best shots. (This has also been a great help in making a selection for this post.)

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

The interesting thing is that the selection process also forced me to take a long hard look at what I’m doing and although what I saw was actually quite nice, I decided that I need to step up my game a bit, set myself some new goals and invest in really good gear so that the next show can be even better. This leads me straight on to my next section:

New analog gear

In 2014 I actually developed quite a bit of GAS – gear acquisition syndrome -, as you can see already by the fact that there are several subsections to this heading!

Compact rangefinders

It all started with a search for a good compact rangefinder, because my Zorki was rather heavy, clunky and sometimes just decided to eat my film for no apparent reason. I also wanted something largely automatic that would just allow me to snap away while I’m running errands. My first attempt at finding a camera like that was the Yashica Electro 35 CC. Sadly I happened to get a dud on ebay, which was really very broken. Although the electronics worked, the rangefinder was stuck, there was something loose in the top plate, the light seals were crumbling and the lens had some gunk in it. Repairing all of this took quite a while and only after the summer did I manage to shoot a halfway decent roll with this camera. However, it seems that even now the film forwarding is slightly broken and that the slow times are too slow, which I noticed when my brother was using it a little while back. By now I almost think that this camera is such a mess, that it’s not worth it to continue the repairs. On the other hand I have now already invested quite a bit of time and effort in it, so that I might as well continue until it’s fully functional. The next step will be to test the slow times properly by shooting a roll at night and then to try to figure out why the film forwarding jams sometimes.

Although my Yashica was a dud in the end I managed to find a rather nice compact rangefinder anyway: The Olympus XA. It quickly became the camera that I would take with me wherever I went. In fact for almost half a year I didn’t use my Zorki at all after picking up the XA, because it’s just so easy to use, light, small and quiet. And the best thing is that the lens really is great considering that this is a compact camera. I really like the results I got from this camera and it will remain the camera of choice for the moments when I need a small and light camera. I actually carry it with me all the time just in case.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Medium format

The most significant change for me with regard to the style of working was that I started taking pictures in medium format. I got the opportunity to try an Agfa Isolette II and I quickly became hooked on the gorgeously big negatives that allow for seemingly infinite zoom when scanned in a high enough resolution. The Isolette has a nice lens and I got some really sweet results from it, but it is a rather basic camera without a frame counter and zone focussing abilities only. With an 85mm lens zone-focussing does get rather difficult, so I was really longing for a camera with an actual focussing system on it. So, in the end I actually invested in a rather wonderful Rolleicord V with a Schneider-Kreuznach 75mm f/3.5 lens. It is a really beautiful camera and I have had very good reactions to it on the street, which means that it’s actually not such a big problem that I need a bit longer to set the shot and focus with the TLR. It’s a slower style of working and it forces me to think, compose and not just snap away. This means that I actually have a higher hit rate with this camera than with my 35mm gear. I was very surprised, that it doesn’t really matter that there are only 12 shots of 6×6 on a roll of 120 film. In fact I usually get at least one picture I really really like on a roll of 120 while this doesn’t happen for every roll of 35mm and even less rarely with my digital camera.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Leica

And if those weren’t already enough camera acquisitions, just before the year ended I also finally took the plunge and invested in a camera that I’ve been lusting after for many years, the Leica M6. This camera was the reason why I got into film photography in the first place, because the digital Leicas are perfectly unaffordable for me.

I didn’t really expect that I would actually prefer film when I started shooting. I started out on a slightly broken and perfectly misaligned Zorki 3C – a Soviet Leica copy – and worked hard to get the hang of shooting without a light meter and with a fully manual camera after eventually upgrading to the Zorki 4K. I learned how to develop film at home, some basic darkroom techniques and even winged some lo-fi contact sheets executed with the bathroom light once. I experimented with different developers and even started developing film in coffee, until I found some combinations that I liked – XP2 at box speed in Rodinal, Kentmere 400 / RPX 400 pushed in Rodinal stand or at box-speed in Caffenol-CL, Tri-X and Double-X semi-stand in Caffenol-CL. I think I’m getting the hang of developing now in so far as I can usually get the right look out of my pictures now.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

All of this was basically preparation to be able to get the best out of the Leica, once I was able to invest in it. Now it finally happened! I also got a Zeiss Biogon ZM 35mm f/2.8, which is perfectly sharp wide open and I’m looking forward to all the pictures I’ll be able to shoot with this combination. I haven’t had the chance yet to scan any of the pictures, but from what I’ve seen with the magnifying glass I’m expecting great image quality. And even without having seen the pictures in full resolution yet, the wait and all the hard work learning about film photography was definitely worth it already. The M6 is an absolute joy to shoot. The rangefinder is bright and clear and can be focussed even in very low light, which is not the case with any of my other rangefinders. The film forwarding feels incredibly nice and the shutter is quiet enough to allow for close distance street shooting without being a problem. Also the Zeiss lens has a nice feel to it – the focussing is smooth and the aperture ring has click stops at a third of a stop. It is definitely the nicest lens I ever handled. I really wonder whether a Leica lens will be able to top the experience of that, but I’m obviously hoping that at some point I will be able to afford one of those as well.

100 rolls

I didn’t only buy new gear though, I also took a lot of pictures. One of my goals for this year was to shoot 100 rolls of film, which is precisely what I managed to do. In fact I shot 111 rolls of 35mm film and 30 rolls of 120 film on top of this. I also took some of my favourite pictures on film this year and I really learned a lot about analog photography in the process. Of course Cartier-Bresson said that your first 10.000 pictures are your worst – and since this amounts to about 330 rolls of 35mm film I’m still a bit off the mark on this one, because I’ve only shot some 150 35mm rolls so far. More to do next year, I suppose! With all this analog work I actually moved further and further away from digital. As I already mentioned, by now I actually prefer film to digital, because it gives a more organic atmosphere to the images. It just looks a lot less sterile and I like that. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be shooting any digital at all anymore, but instead of shooting primarily digital with the odd walk with an analog camera it is now the other way round. Lately I have only touched my digital camera when travelling and even when running errands I prefer to take my Olympus XA. At the beginning of the year I was still shooting mostly digital, but the last 2 months of the year I hardly used my E-PL3 at all. I bet in 2015 this will happen even less.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Film experiments

Over the course of the year I have tried to find the perfect emulsion for my work, because I somehow just couldn’t get great results out my old favourite Kentmere 400 / Rollei RPX 400. They were ok, but never made me go “wow”! For a long while I kept trying, only to get disenchanted and switch to Tri-X as my primary film. However, also with Tri-X I kept having problems because of the development. By now I have found a great developer for both emulsions – Caffenol – but I kept trying different emulsions to see whether I could find a film that would really satisfy me. In the end I also shot quite a bit of Ilford XP2, as well as some single rolls Fuji Neopan Acros 100, Kodak T-Max 400, and test rolls of Eastman Double-X and Orwo N74+. For the test rolls the idea was to see whether further experiments with cheaper bulk loaded film from 100ft rolls of these emulsions would be warranted. XP2 was actually the first emulsion that I tested like this and it’s really quite nice at box speed in Rodinal, but it didn’t live up to my expectations when it came to pushing. If all of these experiments weren’t exciting enough, there was also a completely new development this year: I have also started to shoot some colour film! For quite some time I hardly shot any colour at all, but this year I suddenly got inspired by an amazing Joel Meyerowitz exhibition I saw in Düsseldorf. So, in the end I also tested some colour emulsions to find the right one for the kind of work I want to be doing with it. The colour emulsions I tested were single rolls of Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Farbwelt 400, CineStill 800 (which is actually Kodak Vision 3 500T), and a whole bunch of two cheap German drugstore films both of which are probably re-branded Fuji film: Rossmann 400 and dm Paradies 400. They have the same canisters, but to me it’s still unclear whether it’s the same emulsion.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Film development

Since last year I have tried around with different developers. Before I only really knew how to develop film in Rodinal stand development and I really wanted to improve my development skills. To do this I decided to try a less compensating developer that was actually sensitive to temperature changes and agitation, in this case Tetenal Ultrafin. Although I went through a whole bottle of it, I found it rather difficult and never quite found the sweet spot. I either got too much grain if I over-agitated or edge-overdevelopment if I under-agitated. In the end I decided to try a different stand-development method instead that promised good results and started to develop film in coffee. Surprisingly Caffenol is actually a really good developer and it finally allowed for even development which I never before achieved in high contrast shots – neither with Rodinal nor with Ultrafin. The tonality with Kentmere 400 / Rollei RPX 400 is great and also with Tri-X I seem to have found a development method that works, which is rather surprising, because Tri-X has always been a problematic film for me.

Just before the end of the year I also embarked on a completely new experiment: Developing colour film at home. I had already shot a few colour rolls in the summer during the time of the football world cup, but never had them developed. After seeing the Meyerowitz exhibition I decided that I would have to shoot more colour and immediately knew that this would only happen if I learned how to develop my own colour film. I bought myself a Tetenal Colortec C41 Negative Processing Kit and after a bit of a period where I was eyeing the kit suspiciously I finally got over my fears and started to develop. After all the black and white development I didn’t find the C41 development very difficult and already my first roll turned out quite nicely. Since then I have developed 12 rolls of C41 film and I’m now reaching the limits of the kit. I will experiment further and see how many rolls I can get out of the kit in the end.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

travel, gear and other lists

Another change this year for my photography was that thanks to my improved health I was actually able to travel a fair bit throughout the year. This year I took pictures in Berlin, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Irun, Düsseldorf, Neuss, Cologne, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Chemnitz and Seiffen. Quite a list, eh? I basically travelled back and forth between Germany and Spain this year and it really helped me to focus on work. I tend to shoot a lot more when I’m travelling, so this definitely was great for my work. And since we’re talking about lists: This year I have shot the Olympus Pen E-PL3 with the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH and the Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 ASPH, as well as the Canon EOS 450D with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 on the digital front. I have also shot all of these analog cameras: Yashica Electro 35 CC, Olympus XA, Agfa Isolette II, Rolleicord V with their specific fixed lenses, the Zorki 4K with the Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8 and the Industar 22 50mm f/3.5, and the Leica M6 with the Zeiss ZM C-Biogon 35mm f/2.8. My primary cameras this year were the Olympus E-PL3 and the Olympus XA, but over the last few months my Rolleicord has also become an important camera for me, if not even my favourite one.

Well, with all this travelling and shooting, all these experiments and experiences, would you believe that I also managed to read 100 books somehow? Granted, these were mostly short books, but in total I read some 22000 pages and among them were also Marx’ Capital Volume 1 and the whole of The Lord of the Rings in Spanish. Not too shabby I’d say!

She Shoots Film

Towards the end of the year I also got involved with a new project called She Shoots Film. With this project we want to create a new platform to promote film photography by women and have made a great start already. By now we have over 400 likes on Facebook, and a website with interviews and profiles of contemporary photographers as well as some articles about women photographers who have made history with their work. I’m proud to be part of this project!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Goals for 2015

Well, after such a busy and successful year, how can you really go further? Shoot 200 rolls and read 200 books? Well, I don’t think that’s possible! Besides, it’s about quality, not quantity!

Improve my Spanish

The first thing I will attempt this year will be to improve my Spanish. Now that I actually live in Spain, I definitely can’t get by with just being mute. I used to be able to speak quite alright, but I somehow lost it while I was living in other countries. I understand almost everything, but speaking is difficult for me now. It’s probably just a matter of confidence, but I will actually start going to classes to get speaking again. I will also read at least 10 books in Spanish in 2015 (and Marx Capital Volume 2 – in English).

Travel to Argentina

For years and years I have been planning to visit Argentina, quite unsurprising for a tango dancer. I actually even wanted to move there for half a year. However, with all my health issues it never really worked out to even visit. Now that my health is a lot better and I can travel without getting ill, that trip to Argentina is finally happening. We’re planning the trip for April 2015 and I’m already researching where to find film, developer and a good lab that does E6 processing. Unbelievable but true: It will be the first time that I leave the continent. I’ve lived abroad and travelled a lot, but never beyond the European continent. I better change that soon! And of course I’ll be speaking Spanish there too!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

50 strangers

My husband challenged me to shoot 50 portraits of strangers in 2015. I have shot some portraits of strangers already, but never systematically. This year I will go ahead and try to do this for real. It definitely takes guts to approach strangers, but with my Rollei I think it won’t be so difficult after all. It will also be a good opportunity to meet people and to practice my Spanish when I’m not travelling.

50 times Rollei

And speaking of my Rollei: In 2015 I want to shoot 50 rolls with my Rollei! It’s such a wonderful camera and I really want to use it a lot now.

Buying no new 35mm and MF cameras

My goal for 2015 is actually not to buy any new cameras in 35mm and medium format, since I already have really nice cameras in these formats! After all the GAS this year, it’s time to just use what I have and spend money on film rather than on cameras. (I might invest in a faster lens for my Leica at some point though.) Instead of switching around a lot I will mainly use my Leica M6, my Olympus XA and the Rollei in 2015.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Shoot E6

For my adventures in colour photography I will have to get into slide film, since I want to shoot medium format slide film for one of my projects. So, after doing C41 at home I will now try to do E6 processing at home as well. For the actual project I will probably have the film lab developed, but to get the practice of shooting this stuff I will have to process it myself or it will get too expensive.

Darkroom work

When I learned to develop film in 2013 I also learned how to make prints in the darkroom. I definitely want to get back to this in 2015 and check out the community darkroom that isn’t far from where we live. I actually regularly print my work, because that’s how photography is meant to be viewed, but I haven’t had many opportunities to do classical darkroom prints. I’m really looking forward to printing some of the negatives where my scanner had trouble with the highlights.

Write more

Although I have obviously written my almost daily blog posts last year, I would like to focus a bit more on my writing. This will include many articles and interviews for She Shoots Film, but also some fictional efforts that I have neglected last year. I will definitely edit my novel after leaving it in the drawer for a couple of years.

Possibly maybe

If the right opportunity crops up I might also want to try large format and maybe get some more training in general.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Well, I’m definitely looking forward to a new year full of adventures and experiments! And of course I hope you will continue to visit my blog! Without you guys and all the encouragement I get from you wonderful people, all of this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you!

How to develop black and white film the lazy way

A lot of people feel rather intimidated by doing their own film development at home. I definitely understand it, I was worried myself and didn’t dare to try it myself until after someone else showed me how it works. The thing is, it’s actually quite easy and the most difficult part is to overcome the fear of trying something new. To make it a little easier for you I thought I’d write a little guide, to show you that it’s not as difficult as you think and that you definitely don’t need a proper darkroom for it either.

Why stand-development?

The method of development I will show you here, stand-development in Rodinal, is by far the slowest, but also the easiest, laziest and cheapest method of developing black and white film. It will give you quick results and there is no need to measure temperatures or to be very precise with the timing or your agitations, which makes it much easier than normal development. Also, most films of any ISO have roughly the same developing times, which means that you can develop rolls of different speeds and types in one tank. At the same time the development method is compensating, which means that it slightly reduces contrast, but at the same time it doesn’t really matter if you underexpose or overexpose by 1 stop. This is great when you’re guessing exposures with the sunny 16 rule or you could actually change ISO settings by one stop halfway through the roll. Sounds all very easy and positive? Well, this doesn’t mean that this method doesn’t have problems, but it is definitely very easy to learn, produces decent results with most films and is definitely amazing for pushing film. And the best thing is, you don’t even have to sit next to it. You start the development, and then leave it to stand, so that you can actually just go do other stuff while the developer is doing its magic on its own.

©Lilly Schwartz 2014

Rolleicord V, RPX 400, Rodinal 1:100, 70min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Zorki 4K, Fuji Neopan, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

What you need

There are a few things you will need to get started. It’s not a lot of stuff though and you can pick these things up cheaply on the internet. I paid roughly 60€ for the whole lot of it including the chemicals. Changing bags aren’t cheap, but if you have a room that can be made completely dark, you won’t need one.

  1. Developing tank.
  2. A room that can be made completely dark or a changing bag.
  3. Several measuring cups of 1L: I use 3, but you can get away with 2 or even 1.
  4. Measuring device for small amount of liquids: You need to measure 3.5ml, so a 10ml plastic syringe from the pharmacy should do.
  5. Chemicals (Developer, Fixer, wetting agent) and maybe some distilled water depending on your water quality.
  6. Ideally running water, but you can also use water from a bucket as a replacement.
  7. Enough ventilation, ideally in a room with a window.
  8. A place to hang your negatives.
  9. Some film clips or clothes pegs.
  10. Scissors.
  11. Bottle opener or film leader retriever.
  12. Protective gloves.
  13. A timer on which you can see the seconds.
  14. An exposed roll of black and white film of any ISO speed and type.

Now, let’s look at the most important stuff in detail to make sure we get it right:

Developing tank:

There are different types of tanks that come in different materials and have advantages or disadvantages. The most common option are plastic tanks with plastic spools. They are cheaper, but less durable and they don’t respond quickly to temperature changes. Also, and that’s probably the most annoying part: The plastic spools have to be completely dry when you load the film or else you won’t get the film onto the spool. Among the plastic tanks there are also variations in price. The most expensive are Jobo tanks. They use less liquid, which makes the chemicals a little cheaper in normal development, but isn’t good for stand-development, because the latter uses weak dilutions that need more liquid. However, these tanks can be inverted without dripping, which definitely helps when dealing with toxic chemicals, and there are also some series that can be extended to take more spools at once. These are definitely good tanks, but another thing I found annoying with my old Jobo tank was the spools, because they are quite fiddly to load. It often took me 2 or 3 attempts before I could get the film on the spool. The cheaper Paterson and AP tanks have better spools, but they are not extendable and at least the AP tank bleeds like a stuck pig.

The alternative to plastic tanks are metal tanks. They are definitely more durable and might actually last you for a lifetime, which makes them in effect cheaper in the long run, although they are quite expensive in the short term. Metal tanks tend to have metal spools that can be loaded wet, but are apparently a bit more difficult to load in general. So, these tanks definitely have some advantages, but on the other hand you should only get one of these if you’re really sure that you’re going to be developing a lot of film for quite a while, or it’s not a sensible investment.

Although any developing tank will do, my recommendation is to get whatever tank feels right for you. If the tank needs to be cheap that’s fine too: I myself actually use a 2 spool AP tank, because it was the cheapest out there and it also has enough space for stand-development, which is what we’re doing here. A Paterson tank will work equally well and if you want to invest in a Jobo or metal tank, that’s a great choice too. However, for the Jobo tank I suggest that you get a bigger or extendable tank, because in a Jobo 2 spool tank you should only develop 1 roll of film with stand-development. It is definitely more efficient to develop more than one roll though, especially in stand-development where every batch takes more than an hour to develop.

Chemicals:

You will need three types of chemicals, and maybe you can get away with two if you have wonderful soft water where you live. The first one is the developer that as the name says develops the image on the film. The second one, the Fixer is the one that makes the picture permanent instead of letting it fade away again. The wetting agent is basically a help for drying the film so that you don’t get water stains on your negatives.

1. Developer

In black and white development the choice of developer is just as important as the film you shoot. For normal development you can get powder developers, liquid or syrup developers or mix your own from base chemicals. Powder developers like D76 or Xtol are more difficult to mix and temperate, because you need to use them in 1:1 or stock dilution, liquid developers like HC110 or Tetenal Ultrafin are difficult in other ways because they can have very strange dilutions to confuse you and don’t even get me started on mixing your own! All these choices can be really difficult to make and especially in the beginning it’s all a little overwhelming. With stand-development however things get very easy: There are really only three common developers for this type of development, Rodinal, HC-110 and Caffenol-CL. I myself use both Rodinal and Caffenol for stand-development, but have yet to try HC-110. Which of these you want to choose depends very much on the film you want to develop and how difficult you want to make things for yourself. I recommend that for your first experiment you stick with Rodinal, because it is cheaper and you can get it in smaller bottles. In some places you can even get only 100ml for 4€, which is perfect for trying it out. However, keep in mind that not every film works well with every developer. Rodinal works well for me when I develop Kentmere 400 / RPX400, HP5+ or Acros, but I often have problems with Tri-X at box-speed. So, if you mainly shoot Tri-X I recommend that you get HC-110 instead. Caffenol-CL is generally a really great developer, but it’s a little more fiddly,  because you need to mix it yourself from instant coffee, vitamin C, washing soda and potassium bromide, so maybe try that a little later when you’re more confident about your development chops. One more thing: Rodinal is one of these developers that is really quite toxic and in fact it is even corrosive. For this reason it can’t be transported by plane and might be difficult to obtain. If you can’t find Rodinal anywhere, then I suggest you go with HC-110 instead.

2. Fixer

Any type of fixer for film will do. However, I recommend rapid fixer because, well, it’s quicker! Which one you choose is pretty much up to you, they don’t really differ much. For a long while I used Ilford Rapid Fixer, but lately I’ve changed to a cheaper locally produced one by Argenti. At the moment I’m also researching eco fixers that are less toxic, because obviously that’s safer and better for the environment. Whatever fixer you choose, make sure it’s for film and not only for paper though!

3. Wetting agent

The wetting agent isn’t really that essential. If you have good soft water you might not need it at all. However, in most places it is a real help. After trying both Tetenal Mirasol and Kodak Photoflo I tend to recommend Photoflo because the Mirasol gets sticky if you use too much.

4. Distilled water

In some places where the water is really hard you might need distilled water for your last wash and the wetting agent. If you have a problem with limescale in your kettle or get a lot of limescale stains in your bathroom, then definitely use distilled water for the last step of the washing process and the wetting agent.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Olympus XA, XP2, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Olympus XA, Tri-X @800, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Rolleicord V, RPX 400, Rodinal 1:100, 70 min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

Now that we have everything that we need, let’s get started with this!

Step 0: SAFETY!!!

Most chemicals involved in film development are really quite toxic and you don’t want to get them on your skin, in your eyes or mouth. Whenever you handle chemicals, wear gloves and possibly glasses to protect your eyes. Fixer can also produce toxic gas, so only develop in well ventilated rooms! Taking care of your safety is important, especially if you are developing a lot of film. Do not develop film while pregnant and of course keep all the chemicals away from children or pets. YOU are responsible for your own safety and the safety of your loved ones, so do all of this at your own risk. Seriously, please take care and use some common sense while dealing with these chemicals. Toxic load can be minimised by wearing gloves and always using the least toxic chemicals available. If you are still worried about toxicity, despite wearing gloves and glasses, develop in Caffenol instead of commercial developers, use eco fixer and only use water as a stop bath. Also, please discard exhausted chemicals in an environmentally safe way. With all this said, don’t go nuts over the safety issues. If you use common sense film development is really quite safe.

Step 1: Loading the film

Now that we’ve talked about the serious stuff and you have everything in place, let’s get started on all the fun: The first and most fiddly bit is to load the film onto the spool. THIS HAS TO BE DONE IN TOTAL DARKNESS!!! I hope the bold script and exclamation marks got the message across. Don’t do this in daylight! Where to find a dark enough place? A bathroom without a window or a walk-in closet could be dark enough if you can prevent light from coming in through keyholes. If you’re not sure whether there is still some light leaking, then always load your film at night and turn off the light in the adjacent room. If there is no such place in your house, then the other option is to get a changing bag. I use one for added convenience, although I actually have a bathroom where I can do this. A changing bag is a double layered black bag with openings for your hands in which you can do all the loading as well. If you get one of those, make sure you get a big one. Mine is rather small and that can get slightly annoying.

For this step you need:

  1. Your developing tank with dry spools – don’t forget the lid!
  2. Total darkness! And no, a gothic attitude and black clothes are not enough!
  3. Scissors
  4. Optional: bottle-opener

Before you open the canister or pull the film out, familiarise yourself with the spools and the tank. Figure out how to pull apart the spools and from which side you need to load them. Also try the movement that feeds the film into the spool – for this you need to turn both sides of the spool in opposite directions. If you have a longer piece of junk film – wrongly developed or exposed film that you don’t want to keep – you can try loading it onto the spool in the light too. You also need to know how to put the spools into the tank and how to fasten the clip to hold the spools in place (if your tank has that). Also try to put the lid on, to see how tight it needs to be to be properly closed. You need to know how to do this by feel, so maybe try it with your hands under a pillow or table so that you can’t cheat.

FROM HERE ON IN DARKNESS!

First you need to get to the film leader. If you always rewind your film completely into the canister then you need a film leader retriever (which never works for me actually) or use a bottle opener to open the film canister. I prefer not to rewind my film completely, because I tend to re-use my canisters for bulk-loading. Once you have pulled out the film-leader or opened the canister, you need to cut the leader off in a straight cut. Make sure you don’t leave any sharp corners, because they tend to jam the spool. I always cut the corners off diagonally to prevent jamming, also with 120 film. By feel feed the film end into the opening of the spool – hopefully you have figured out the correct side already, but you will know by the time you try to advance the film into the spool. When you reach the end of the spool, cut it off the core. If you are loading 120 film, then use scissors to cut off the end that is attached to the backing paper – I have torn film by trying to remove the tape without scissors. Once you have the film on the spool (yes, I know, by magic? Believe me, you’ll figure it out!), put the spool on the tube in the middle of the tank, fasten the clip or put a second empty spool as a spacer to prevent the spool from moving in the tank. Finally close the lid.

Once the lid is closed and the film is on the spool inside the tank (!!!) you can turn on the light or take your hands out of the changing bag. The rest of the procedure can happen in daylight.

This was actually the most difficult step, so you can relax now! Please keep the film leader for the fixing step if you are developing 35mm film.

Step 2: Pre-soak. 

Although this is not always necessary, I recommend that you always pre-soak your film. This makes the developer more effective, prevents stains from backing-paper and also makes sure that any contamination on the film or in the tank gets washed away. I usually just fill in some room temperature water while I prepare the developer and chuck it out when the developer is ready. Don’t worry if the water comes out a funky colour – this is precisely why we’re doing the pre-soak, so that this funky coloured stuff doesn’t end up in the developer!

Step 3: Developing

For this step you need:

  1. Protective gloves
  2. Bottle of Rodinal or at least 3.5ml for one roll.
  3. Measuring beaker or syringe that can measure 3.5ml of liquid.
  4. 1L measuring cup.
  5. Timer on which you can see the seconds.
  6. Optional: thermometer

While the film is sitting in the pre-soak, we now prepare the Developer. Please wear gloves during the rest of the process until you are done with the wetting agent. At box-speed we need at least 3.5ml of Rodinal per roll to make a dilution of roughly 1:100 depending on how much liquid you need to cover the film. These values are usually noted on the tank somewhere, often on the bottom. My AP tank needs at least 400ml liquid to cover 1 spool and 650ml to cover 2 spools of 35mm film. For one roll of film I will therefore use 3.5ml Rodinal to make up 400ml developer, for 2 rolls I will use 7ml in 650ml developer. For 120 film I usually just go with a straight 1:100 dilution, which means 6ml in 600ml developer. If you want to push the film, use 1ml more per stop pushed. How do you measure such small amounts? I use a 25ml measuring beaker for Rodinal, but you can also use a 10ml plastic syringe from the pharmacy.

A heads up about Rodinal: At the beginning the liquid will be clear, but the longer Rodinal stands, the browner it will get to the point of being black. With any other developer this would be bad, but with Rodinal it doesn’t make a difference, because it keeps for ages. I know people who still use bottles that were opened in the 1990s and that have crystals floating in them. Just make sure none of the crystals end up in your working solution.

Once you have mixed the developer, you can chuck the pre-soak water and fill the tank up with the developer. Once you have filled the tank you need to agitate for 30 seconds. I recommend that you invert the tank to make a full inversion every 3 seconds. I have tried different agitation schemes, swirling and inversions, faster or much slower and I had the best results with gentle but not too slow inversions. Too little or too much inversion will invariably result in uneven development, so be gentle, but not too gentle. If you don’t know what a 3sec inversion looks like, I recommend that you watch the animation in the massive dev chart app. You can see the animation also in the demo of the app at time index 1:19. This 3 second inversion has served me best with a lot of developers actually. For Rodinal, you can also go with 1sec inversions if you want a bit more pronounced grain, but I suggest that you don’t go much slower than 3sec, since you will get uneven development with slower agitations and some films (especially Tri-X).

After you are done with the inversions, put the tank on the sink top and give it a little nudge to dislocate any bubbles. After this leave it standing without touching it for 30 minutes. Don’t forget to set your timer!!! After 30 minutes give it only 1 single 3sec inversion and leave it to stand for another 30 minutes. And again, timer!!! This one inversion technically makes it semi-stand development, but believe me, without it you would most likely get into trouble with uneven development.

Total development times are these: ISO 400/800 60min, 800/1600 90min, 1600/3200 120min, 3200/6400 150min. When pushing I suggest that you do a slow 5sec inversion after every half hour. These times are starting points and should give you usable negatives with most films. Some films like Kentmere 400 / RPX 400 might need a little more like 65-70 min, others like Double X at ISO 250 a little less. If you’re unsure always do a test roll of the film brand in question before developing anything important!

Although the temperature is generally not as important as with other developers when you’re stand-developing in Rodinal, you shouldn’t really go higher than 25°C without adjusting the development times. I have read somewhere – sadly can’t remember where – that the development time should be halved at 30°C, so at 25°C maybe some 10-15 minutes less would also work. I myself always develop at 20°C to keep things predictable.

If you opted for HC-110 instead of Rodinal, I sadly don’t have any experience with exact dilutions and times, but there is a good description over on hjlphotos with lovely results. The development method is the same, but the dilutions and times will be slightly different and I don’t know whether the times are different for specific film brands. However, the temperature is likely to be more important than with Rodinal.

Caffenol-CL is a slightly different animal, because it has to be mixed from ingredients (to make 650ml: 26g instant coffee, 6.5g vitamin C, 10.4g washing soda and 0.65g potassium bromide) – I can’t really go into the details here -, but the principle is definitely the same. With Caffenol-CL it is important to start at 20°C and there doesn’t need to be an inversion at the halfway point. Here times seem to depend more on the film though. Tri-X and Double-X worked much better for me with 30min semi-stand with 3 inversions at 1,5, and 15min, but Kentmere 400 is just lovely at 60 min full stand.

In any case, whichever developer you choose, once the development time is over, you can dump the developer and move on to the next step. All the next steps are the same for normal development by the way.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Rolleicord V, Tri-X, Caffenol-CL, 30min semi-stand | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Zorki 4K, RPX 400, Caffenol-CL, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Zorki 4K, Kentmere 400 @3200, Rodinal 1:100, 150min | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Zorki 4K, Delta 3200 @6400, Rodinal 1:100, 75min | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

Step 4: Stop Bath

Some people use an actual stop bath that you can buy just like any other development chemical. I personally have never used a chemical stop bath and never ran into problems. Instead I just use water as a stop bath, because this way the fixer also produces less toxic gas. For the stop bath I fill the tank up with water and invert 10 times, dump the water and repeat 2 more times. The timing of these inversions isn’t essential, just do them as fast as you want. The water changes are important though. If you don’t change the water, your fixer is more likely to get contaminated with developer and doesn’t last as long. This is especially the case for Caffenol, so keep changing the water until the water runs clear.

Step 5: Fixing

For this step you need:

  1. Fixer
  2. 1L measuring jar
  3. Timer
  4. A bottle in which you can store the fixer.

Before we move on to fixing, we first need to prepare the fixer. For this, read the instructions of the fixer for the correct strength of the dilution for fixing film. Ilford Rapid fix has a 1+4 dilution, which means, 1 part of fixer to 4 parts of water. For my 650ml developing tank I use 130ml of fixer and fill the rest up with water. If this sounds a lot then keep in mind that you can and should re-use the fixer! And don’t forget to rinse your measuring jar thoroughly, if you’re using the same one for developer and fixer.

Before you put the fixer into the developing tank, let’s do the film leader test to see how long you need to fix the film. Remember that you were supposed to keep the film leader after cutting it off when loading the film onto the spool? Well, you need it now. Also, turn on the timer! Now, dunk the undeveloped leader about halfway into the fixer for 10 seconds and then let it fall in and measure the time until it takes to become entirely clear. Dunking it in halfway makes this more visible. The minimum fixing time is double the clearing time + 1 minute for safety. Since it doesn’t really matter whether you leave the film in for too long, as long as you don’t go too much over, I usually just fix for 5min with freshly mixed fixer and do the leader test only every few rolls or if I change film brand. For 120 I often add another minute just for safety, because the base is thicker. If the clearing time goes beyond 2min you should increase the time to 6 min. I personally re-use my fixer to total fixing times of up to 7min. I normally don’t go over that because I don’t trust lengthening the fixing times more than twice. With these times I can usually fix about 15-20 rolls of film depending on the brand. Some film brands like Kentmere 400 need very little fixing time whereas others like Tri-X take quite a bit longer and exhaust the fixer quickly.

Now that we know the exact fixing time, we go ahead with the fixing. Chuck out any wash water that might be still in the tank and fill the fixer into the tank. Agitate for 10 seconds every minute starting immediately after filling in the fixer. You can either use the fixing time just calculated with the film leader test: fixing time = 2*clearing time + 1min, or just go with 5min for freshly mixed fixer if you want to play it safe. After your fixing time is over don’t throw the fixer out, fill it back into the measuring cup and then into a bottle for storage. Don’t worry if you use Caffenol and the fixer suddenly smells of coffee and comes out with a slightly brownish tint. That’s quite normal because coffee is a rather strong dye. The fixer will still work fine.

After (!!!) you’re done with the fixer you can actually take a peek at the negatives if you want, because it is safe to open the tank now! Don’t pull them off the spool yet though, they still need washing!

One thing about chemical storage: You want to have as little air as possible in the bottle with your fixer, since chemicals lose their strength more quickly when they are in contact with air. I myself use a 600ml Jobo bottle to store 650ml fixer and fill it so full that it’s almost flowing over. This makes sure that my fixer stays fresh longer. This same rule applies to any other chemicals you might want to store like other types of developer that don’t have quite as amazing keeping properties as Rodinal. The best bottles to store chemicals are dark folding bottles that you can compress to minimise the air in the bottle.

Step 6: Washing

The last step to ensure that your negatives keep for a long time is to wash the negatives. You don’t want any fixer to stay on the negatives or they will deteriorate. Originally washing happened under running water for 10 minutes, but there is a water saving alternative that I prefer to use: the Ilford method. For this method you fill the tank with water and invert 3 times, change the water and invert 6 times, change and 12 times until finally you agitate 24 times. After inverting you need to leave the water standing in the tank for about a minute before you change it. This means that this step takes at least 4 minutes plus the time it takes you to do the inversions. Important if you have hard water: Do the last change of water with distilled water!

Step 7: Wetting agent

For this step you need:

  1. Wetting agent, I recommend Photoflo
  2. 1L measuring jar

To ensure stainless drying we do a bath with wetting agent as the last step. Follow the instructions of your wetting agent and don’t forget to rinse your measuring jar! Often the dilution is rather cryptic, so remember that it usually takes very little. I never take more than 1 drop of Photoflo for 650ml, but this might be different for your wetting agent. If you have hard water, then do this with distilled water! Before pouring in the wetting agent solution, take off the lid and make sure all the other water is out of the tank. You don’t need to put the lid back on. The negatives should sit in the wetting agent bath for 1 minute.

Step 8: Hanging the negatives

For this step you’ll need:

  1. A place where to hang the negatives
  2. Film clips / clothes pegs

A good place to hang your negatives is usually in or next to the shower. To minimise dust in the air you can quickly run some hot water to steam up the bath, and then hang the negatives there. Not sure where to hang them from? Well, I used a bit of string to hang my film clips from it in the shower. A clothes hanger from the chemical laundry that you can bend a little could also work. What you want to avoid is dust or animal hair. If you have pets, definitely keep them out of the area where you develop already for their safety! They might actually try to lick up spilled chemicals and you definitely don’t want that! Also, don’t leave the negatives hanging for too long or they will accumulate dust. After drying you can cut the negatives and store them in negative sleeves.

If you still get water stains despite the distilled water and the wetting agent, you can try two things before hanging your next batch:

1. Use a salad spinner. Spinning the spools in a salad spinner gets rid of quite a bit of water, but sadly not all of it. It is a handy trick that really helps to prevent big stains.

2. Use a film squeegee. I’m actually not a big fan of those and I’m always worried to scratch my negatives, but it is a rather reliable way to prevent stains. Just make sure the blades of the squeegee are free of dust and don’t use too much pressure!

Step 9: Clean up!

Make sure you give all your equipment a good rinse with hot water. Most importantly, if you use plastic spools, you actually need to scrub your spools every now and then because the chemicals and especially the wetting agent builds up on them over time and this might affect subsequent development! I use an old toothbrush for that basically after every batch I develop. Also, make sure to clean up any spills. These chemicals are really quite toxic and you don’t want to accidentally get them in your eyes or mouth, because you forgot to clean up properly!

And now you’re done!

Conclusions

Personally I’m a big fan of stand-development in Rodinal. It’s how I started my forays into film development and it was a good starting point for many experiments that followed afterwards. It was good to know that I could just get results without fiddling with the agitation scheme for ages or bothering too much about my times or temperature. Also, whenever I get difficult lighting situations where I don’t really know whether I exposed the roll correctly, Rodinal will definitely save the day.

Somehow I have also never really gotten warm with normal development, although I have made my way through a bottle of Tetenal Ultrafin. Although normal development is faster, I prefer to just let the developer do its thing while I do mine in the meantime. Yes, normal development in certain developers produces slightly less grain, maybe there is more contrast or in some cases even slightly better tonality. Nevertheless I keep coming back to my good old friend Rodinal, because it’s just so easy and convenient.

Lately I have also fallen in love with Caffenol-CL and I’m sure there will be much more experimentation with this in the future. I like that it produces slightly more contrast than Rodinal and that there is a distinct mad scientist feel about it. After all, developing film in coffee, how cool is that?! And maybe at some point I will complete the stand-development trinity and try some HC-110 as well.

I hope this little guide to film development / stand-development was interesting for you and maybe gave you an incentive to start developing your own film. One thing is for sure: it’s much easier than you think. You just need to give yourself a little push to overcome your fear of the unknown!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Olympus XA, Tri-X, Rodinal 1:100, 60min. © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Olympus XA, Tri-X@800, Rodinal 1:100, 90min. © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Zorki 4K, HP5+, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Zorki 4K, T-Max 400, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

© Lilly Schwartz 2013

Zorki 3C, HP5+, Rodinal 1:100, 60min | © Lilly Schwartz 2013

 

up there

Out there it’s ISO 1600 weather, grey, cold and rainy, so I didn’t even bother taking a camera with me when we went out to run errands. And just as I suspected I only saw people trying to escape the dismal weather, boring! Photographically the day wasn’t lost though: One thing we did was to collect a package from the post-office, which included some folding bottles for my colour development chemicals. If I can’t shoot, I might as well try to develop the many colour rolls that I have had sitting in a drawer since the summer. It’s either that or finally putting them in the freezer!

Even though the weather is awful, I’m hoping that tomorrow I get the chance to shoot a roll of film when we go to a nearby town to dance some tango. Yes, I’m finally dancing again after 2 agonising years without it because of my illness! I was actually afraid that dancing would worsen my symptoms, but luckily I haven’t noticed any major issues yet. You can’t imagine how happy this makes me! Tango has been a very important part of my life for many years and living without it was rather difficult for me. I’m glad that it’s now back in my life in full force, listening to tangos every day, practicing, watching tango videos and documentaries (e.g. the BBC documentary about La Confiteria Ideal or my favourite video of Javier and Geraldine dancing a milonga) and so on.

To come back to photography though: Apart from watching tango videos I have also scanned the rest of the roll of which I already showed you some street shots yesterday. The rest of the roll was shot in a park nearby.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Rollei RPX 400 stand-developed in Caffenol-CL, 60min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I love shots like this! Always a compositional challenge.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Those were two, if not three dogs!And the guy is not floating, he’s sitting on the backrest of a bench.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Back then it was still sunny around here. I miss that.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I was actually exploring the side paths in the hope of catching little details like this.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I like the tones.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

The view from a park bench that caught a little bit of sunlight.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Random broken down wall.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Good that I didn’t expose for highlights. Or did I?

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Autumn in black and white!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Light and dark.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I love the shadows in this one!

waiting, watching

Today I wanted to develop some film and found a monster sitting on the inner tube of my developing tank. It had wings and it looked rather unfriendly, so I decided to wait with the development until after I felt like dealing with the thing. Yes, I even deal with spiders myself, but things with too many legs spook me, so it might just take a moment or two until I get over the initial aversion. So, instead of developing I pointlessly spooled a couple more rolls of XP2 and stared out into the rain. It’s the rainy season again and since I don’t really like shooting in the rain, I almost immediately get impatient with this kind of weather. And it’s not as if I wasn’t impatient enough already waiting to finally get my hands on my Leica!

In the end I got so impatient with being cooped up in the house and with waiting around for the winged monster to fly away by itself that I decided to embark on a far more masochistic mission than just getting rid of an insect: I actually installed VueScan and tried to figure out how to make raw scans and to invert them with ColorPerfect. I have been unhappy with Silverfast for a while and I always feel like I don’t get enough control when it comes to difficult negatives. Well, the VueScan + ColorPerfect option goes into the completely opposite direction and it’s rather overwhelming with way too many options! It took me quite some time to figure out how it works, but in the end I think I got some decent results from a difficult roll where I was a bit all over the place with my exposures. It was the first time I had used my Zorki after buying the Olympus XA in summer and every now and then I think I forgot to change the aperture. A lot of the shots came out underexposed. That’s what shooting an automatic camera can do to you! With Silverfast a couple of these pictures were really just too underexposed to be salvageable. Especially in the shadows they became really ugly. With the VueScan + ColorPerfect combination I managed to get much better results by using the multi-exposure function that got a little more shadow detail out of the negative. I think the Pro version of Silverfast also has that option, but after dealing with their support one too many times I decided not to spend any more money on them.

The only problem I see with VueScan is that it’s way too slow a process. After all I spent the whole afternoon with scanning and only managed to get through barely a third of the roll. For everyday situations multiple passes with slower scanning speed just add up to too much time, and I also have to keep in mind that the adjustment in ColorPerfect also takes time. I will therefore only use VueScan in specific situations where I need more control – for printing or with negatives that can’t be salvaged in Silverfast and probably also for colour negatives, since this is the main purpose of ColorPerfect.

Tomorrow there will be more to come from this roll.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.0.
Rollei RPX 400 stand-developed in Caffenol-CL, 60min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

He was just standing there staring.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Dark shadows, strong highlights. Silverfast could have only dealt with the highlights.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

again, the shadows look much better here.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

This one wasn’t salvageable at all in Silverfast because the blocked up shadows had too much noise. Much more smooth with VueScan and the multi-exposure function.

Why shoot film in the digital age?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about analog photography and whether I should maybe stop doing digital photography altogether. Wait, what? Don’t we live in the digital age and isn’t film something completely outdated? Well, hear me out before you conclude that I’m crazy!

I have been shooting film for a couple of years now and it’s been a very rewarding experience. However, at the beginning things were tough. My first manual film camera, the Zorki 3C, was slightly broken and I had problems with the focus because the rangefinder was off. It also didn’t have a light meter so I used an external one, which was rather tedious for street photography. The camera wasn’t the only problem though. The cheap lab I used in the beginning also did a terrible job with black and white film and I had to use a pro lab which was quite expensive. In the end I only shot 8 rolls of film in the first year because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the lab to have the films developed and found that paying 10€ for one roll of film – 5€ for my then favourite HP5+, 5€ for development – seemed way too expensive for my budget.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

After about a year I decided to give film another chance though. After all I started film photography not out of boredom, but because I had a goal: I wanted to buy a Leica one day and the only way I would ever be able to afford one was to get a used film Leica. So, after 8 rolls of film I actually took a darkroom course where I learned how to develop my own black and white film, how to make contact sheets and also basic darkroom techniques like dodging and burning. And all of a sudden I was hooked! Not only did my expenses for development drop to only a few cents, but I could also develop at home in the bathroom the same day and had control over the results. If I didn’t like how the negatives turned out I could try different developers or push the film at no extra expense. Quickly I ditched the light meter and started guessing the exposure, which helped me to really get to know light, correct exposure and also how to compensate for exposure mistakes in development. After another year I have actually shot more than 100 rolls of film, tried different developers and film emulsions, pushed film beyond the ISO range of my digital cameras and I also started shooting medium format film.

Granted, shooting film is expensive with one roll of black and white film costing between 3-8€ depending on the emulsion. It also takes a lot more effort if you don’t have the money to pay a lab to do all your developing and scanning. However, apart from the emotional reasons shooting film still has some great advantages as well where digital photography can’t compete yet.

 

Latitude

Current professional DSLRs have about 12 stops of dynamic range, while there are film emulsions that can have 18 or even 19 stops! Experience shows that Portra can be overexposed 4 stops without loss and underexposed 1-2 stops without having to resort to push or pull processing. T-Max shows similar properties. I personally hardly shoot such high latitude films, because they are either colour films (Kodak Portra) or fine grain films (Kodak T-Max), but it is good to know that the option is there when needed at the expense of a few euros only. Where digital photographers need HDR to increase their dynamic range, which looks artificial and does not work with all subject matter, film provides an increased dynamic range out of the box without exposure bracketing. This is also why I could ditch the light meter so easily and still got decent results most of the time.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Resolution

Compared to 35mm film digital full format provides higher resolution and sharpness with comparable image size, yes, I know. However, where digital cannot compete in resolution yet is in medium format and large format photography. Although there are digital backs for quite a few medium format cameras their prices are still too prohibitive to compete with 120 film. People who haven’t recently won the lottery can only dream of shooting at such a high resolution, unless they shoot film. Digital large format is not available at all yet. It can be expected that digital medium format will become more affordable with time, but even then there is still a rather large gap to close when it comes to large format. Of course resolution is somewhat overrated, but there are applications that need rather large formats to produce big prints and here medium and large format film still has a competitive advantage. If you ever dream of having a massive print of one of your pictures, medium or large format film photography is the way to go. And the great thing is that you can pick up a medium format folding camera and a roll of 120 film already for 50€. Chances are that the camera case of your digital camera was more expensive than that!

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

Consistency

Analog cameras often have a very long life span. I have shot several cameras from the 1950s that still work fine if you know their quirks (Zorki 3C, Agfa Isolette II, Rolleicord V), which means that a consistent look can be achieved over decades! In an era in which photographers change their digital gear every 2 years and sensor quality is still increasing, there is really no consistency at all anymore, because sensors and formats are still changing too fast. Each time the gear changes, a photographer has to re-learn all the automatisms that make him work quickly and efficiently with his gear. Usability is not the only issue though: Each time the gear is changed the look and quality of the pictures, the colours and noise levels will change. In this context, chances are that a retrospective of pictures taken over a lifetime in digital photography will look very inconsistent in comparison to the work of analog photographers who often stick with their gear and film / developer combinations for decades. The availability of film stock in different formats even makes it possible to achieve a tonal consistency no matter whether you shoot 35mm, 120 film or large formats like 4×5. By the way, I’m sure that one day I will decide on a film emulsion and a developer as well, but for now I’m having fun experimenting.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

Atmosphere

In the same vain film has something that digital lacks: Atmosphere. In fact the magic of analog photography lies hidden somewhere in this elusive concept of “atmosphere” that digital photographers usually fail to create with software filters. Although it is obviously impossible to quantify this atmosphere in any way, it is obvious also to digital photographers that their pictures are missing something, or else there wouldn’t be such a high demand for filters that create a believable “analog look”. Digital RAW files consist of very clinical raw sensor data that still has to be processed to get a certain look. Film on the other hand comes with a certain look and feel out of the box which is achieved by the film emulsion in combination with the development. The C41 development process is standardised and consistently produces the same look for everyone. And although black and white development is not standardised and every photographer can develop their own look by experimenting with film emulsions and developer combinations, even there the look is still reproducible by always following the same development formula. In comparison to the rather open post-processing options of digital photography in which atmosphere remains mostly a matter of chance, it is much easier to achieve predictable results with film, because film producers have spent years on creating just the right tonal balance and colour saturation. And this is even possible without any knowledge about film development at all if you use a professional lab! No need to learn Photoshop at all! Since digital photographers usually change their gear too often it is rather impossible for them to even stumble onto a comparable “atmosphere” in the first place, so that film again has the edge where it comes to the feel of the pictures. This might be the least quantifiable argument for film, but for everyone who ever shot film it is probably the most important aspect. Although we can’t quite put our finger on it, digital lacks something vital, a certain magic, an atmosphere, a look and feel that is next to impossible to emulate in the digital world and this is usually why film photographers keep coming back for more, despite the cost and/or effort involved in shooting film.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

San Sebastian, Spain | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

Archival properties

The earliest photographs are now almost 200 years old and some of them still survive. The reason for this are the exceptional archival properties of analog photographic materials when stored correctly. In comparison digital photographs might disappear within a fraction of a second due to accidental deletion or failure of storage devices. It can already be anticipated that there will be a whole generation that will lose their baby pictures due to faulty hardware. Yes, old photographs might be lost or damaged physically as well, but losing track of digital files is much easier than forgetting the existence of a stack of photographic prints. And if you still don’t believe me that negatives have better keeping properties because you have a flawless two-tier off-site backup system, then why do you think that certain labs now offer the option to expose your digital pictures on film? Ironic as this fact may be for the question at hand, the reason is clearly the inherent cruelty of the universe, since the laws of probability seem to be bent where it comes to backup systems. If systems fail, they usually fail all at once for no apparent logical reason. And believe me when I tell you that even the most religiously performed backup routine might not save the picture of a lifetime if you accidentally delete it on your camera. Yes, it has happened to me and I cried.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

Conclusions

As you have seen, even though digital photography is very convenient, fast, cost-effective and flexible there are still some very good reasons for shooting film that go beyond emotions. If you want the highest possible latitude and resolution, excellent archival properties and predictable results that have the potential to be consistent over decades then shooting film is definitely the way to go.

I personally fell in love with analog photography even before I ever thought about these rather technical reasons though. In the end these might just be attempts at justification for a matter on which my heart is already decided. I used to be a rather digital person for as long as I can remember. I learned to code when I was 12, I used to work in IT, I spend many hours a day in front of the computer and I even hold a degree in Robotics. Still, there is nothing quite as lovely as the crackle of an old record that I salvaged from a flea market or the magical moment when a picture starts to appear on the paper in the darkroom as if by magic. I am still unsure whether I will switch to film entirely, but the truth of the matter is that I have shot more and more film over the last year without even thinking about it. I know I would switch to film without hesitation if I could afford to shoot as much film as I wanted and if developing and scanning the film wouldn’t take up so much time.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

How to justify the cost

The truth is that in the digital age shooting film really has become a matter of cost. Film prices are always increasing so that even the cheapest 35mm black and white film costs 3€ nowadays and pro labs charge 14€ for developing and scanning one roll of it. Although I would have to win the lottery to be able to afford scanning at this rate and prefer to develop my own black and white film to have more control over the non-standardised process anyway, there are still ways of making film photography more cost-effective, both financially and time-wise. Only recently did I realise that one can save money on bulk-loading Ilford film even in Europe. To save on Kodak film in Europe the only way is to shoot cine film like Double-X that is only sold in 400ft and 1000ft rolls. Development costs are already very low when you develop your own film, but can be made even more cost-effective by using especially cheap methods like stand-developing in Rodinal. With only 3.5ml of Rodinal and a no-name fixer developing a roll of BW costs only about 15ct per roll. This is even cheaper than developing your film in caffenol, which is also a surprisingly effective, cheap and ecological developer on the basis of instant coffee. As for the time spent developing: This can be significantly shortened by developing up to 8 rolls at once in one tank. Although scanning is of course a matter of the cost of the scanning equipment the most important factor is how much you value your own work though. Whether spending 14€ for scanning is worth it depends on your hourly wage, since scanning a roll of 35mm film on a flatbed scanner takes about 1 or 2 hours – not only raw scanning time but also cropping the frames, colour / histogram corrections and dust-spotting. However, even scanning time can be decreased by using dedicated film scanners that can automatically scan a roll of uncut 35mm film in 3-4 minutes.

 

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

 

In the end, the question whether to shoot mostly film or digital will become moot for me once my little Olympus E-PL3 with its poor autofocus and its sad low light capabilities has to live up to the standards of my fantastic Rolleicord and a yet to be acquired Leica M6. Maybe with a Leica M9 this decision would be less easy for me, but if I could afford an M9 then cost also would hardly be a factor anymore either. As it is, if I want to shoot with gear at the level of the Leica then the price difference between a used full-frame digital Leica M9 and a used Leica M6 is almost 800 rolls of Kentmere 400 film, i.e. more than 5 years worth of film at my current rate of about 150 rolls of film a year, at which point the Leica M9 will also be completely obsolete. Besides, the M6 will probably keep its value while the M9 had a drop in re-sale value of probably around 2000€ with the introduction of the current Leica M and is likely to drop another 1000€ once even the current model is outdated. A digital medium format camera as fantastic as my Rolleicord would also be so fantastically unaffordable to me that the prices provoke nothing more than laughter. I could maybe buy around 25-75 years worth of film from the price difference between a analog and a digital medium format camera depending on the model. And what’s even more baffling is that those digital medium format backs can only do ISO 800, while I can push my film to ISO 6400 if I want!

Of course, if you are operating on the level of a relatively cheap MFT or entry-level DSLR cameras, shooting film can quickly seem rather expensive, but once you start comparing professional level cameras there really is no question for me as a street photographer anymore: Film is the way to go!

 

Final words

After all this deliberation and all these attempts at justification I suspect that even without all these arguments the decision was clear for me from the start. It only needed one afternoon in the darkroom and film photography found its way into my heart. There is only one thing left to say: Long live film!

 

Update: Since October 2014 I shoot exclusively film and my Leica M6 has already seen almost 200 rolls of film. There is no going back for me now! 

your mother …

During my trip to Berlin in March I shot this roll and completely forgot about it after scanning it. The negatives were a bit more contrasty than what Kentmere normally looks like in Rodinal, because I gave it 15 minutes more development time than I usually do. I quite like the look although I’ll probably put in less agitation next time.

Today we’re leaving for a short trip to Bilbao. And like every time I go on a trip, the most important question is which cameras I’m going to take. So far I’m set on both my Olympus E-PL3 as well as my Olympus XA, because they are small and light. If there is still space and my bag is not too heavy I might pack a medium format camera as well.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 semi-stand developed in Rodinal 1:100, 75min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

One of the signs between the guy with the sunglasses and the girl says: “Your mother is pulling catapults to Gondor!!!”. Insults for Lord of the Rings fans …

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

modern driftwood

In the winter a big storm hit San Sebastian and a flood damaged all the four bridges and part of the beach front. The next day I went for a walk with my Zorki to see the destruction. I developed them, scanned them about a month later with my old Epson v330 scanner and then forgot all about them, because I was busy posting more recent stuff. Of course that’s always the danger when you shoot a lot.

Last month I was definitely taking it easy in comparison. I didn’t shoot any digital and apart from that just my leftovers of K400 film with my Olympus XA and one roll of 120 with my Rolleicord. Last night after shooting a roll of 120 in the Rolleicord and some 35mm in the XA I tried something new and developed film in two tanks at once. I guess with normal development this would get confusing quickly and invite mistakes, but with stand development in Rodinal it actually worked quite well. I still have 4 rolls of 35mm to develop and will probably develop them in one go as well. Now, if only I could cleverly minimise the scanning time as well!

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16 min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Nowadays not only driftwood ends up on the shores after a flood. I wonder where the rest of the car is.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Not many surfers out there because it actually still looked too dangerous. These two came back out after a very short time as well.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

There was sand even on the other side of the street.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Police tape to keep people off the beach promenade the night before.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

The flood took a whole stretch of railings.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Rubble from the destruction.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Sand everywhere!

San Sebastian, Spain | © Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

The flood took some of the railings from the first bridge as well.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Already the next day the repair work was going on. They actually finished repairing all the bridges and the the railings at the promenade before the summer. Only the repairs on the breakwater at the end of Zurriola beach took longer and are finishing now.

too late

I stopped using an external light meter with my Zorki more than a year ago. It just slowed me down way too much and I felt like I was just blindly following the light meter without having a clue myself. I have shot about 50 rolls of film with a fully manual camera since then, maybe more, and I have to say that I hardly ever had a roll where I was off for the base calculation. Well, in this case it happened, mainly because I didn’t feel like shooting a soft Russian lens below f/8. I should have pushed the film, since it was a really dark and dreary day in the rainy winter season. I haven’t had an underexposed roll since then and I’ve shot a lot of film in the last half year. That’s how you learn correct exposure.

By the way, today I used my light meter for the first time since I ditched it last year. I had it on me because I took my Rolleicord to the park loaded with some Ektar 100. I hardly ever shoot ISO 100 film and even less so beneath trees, so without the light meter I wouldn’t have known where to start. Sadly I forgot my cable release at home though and I was shooting at 1/60 with a 75mm lens. However, I’m hoping that the stabilisation from the strap will be enough.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

we have to wait outside

At the end of January we went to Bilbao to escape the noise of the celebrations of the day of San Sebastian. It was rainy, grey and dark, just as was to be expected in the middle of winter. We were staying in the Casco Viejo, the old part of town, and so our surroundings had a lot of narrow streets which were of course quite dark with the dreary winter weather. I used the opportunity to play around with pushing some ISO 400 film to 1600 in Tetenal Ultrafin. This involved agitation every minute for 36 minutes, which is obviously incredibly boring and monotonous. Although I have pushed some film to ISO 800 in Ultrafin since then I think 36 minutes for 1600 is just too much. Pushing in Rodinal stand-development is way more comfortable, since you only have to agitate every half hour, and the grain is also less pronounced. Nevertheless, I think the atmosphere of the results is still quite special.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8 ASPH.
Kentmere 400 EI 1600 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 36min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I guess the dog wasn’t allowed to come inside the shop.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Rain and lots of it.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

When I say dark, I mean dark …

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

There was a market hall that was recommended to us by our landlords. Sure, the food looked good, but the hall itself had a very sterile atmosphere.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

More from the Casco Viejo.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Across from market hall.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Boy, do they look happy!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Our holiday flat was very nicely decorated. The old fashioned telephone obviously didn’t work.

guggenheim

At the beginning of the year we went to Bilbao for a long weekend. In winter the Basque country is very wet, so we got rained on quite a lot. However, we still had a good time and at some point I had the opportunity to catch some sunny moments while the streets were still wet from the last rain. A shame that I still hadn’t yet figured out Ultrafin. Even with grain like gravel the you can get a little glimpse of the crazy architecture over there though. I’m definitely looking forward to my next visit!

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16 min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

take away coffee

Before I continue with my usual mischief I actually want to catch up on all my editing. This way I can actually be up to date for once instead of always trying to catch up on something or other. I’m through with the digital editing queue for now and I’m trying finish up with some film scans now. I still have to clean up some 6 rolls worth of scans, then there are 4 rolls waiting to be scanned and 5 to be developed and scanned. That’s a total of 15 rolls that need dust-spotting. If only someone could make all dust in the world disappear …

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

big hug for grandma

I was 16 when I shot my first roll of black and white film. I can’t remember what kind of film it was, but it must have been ISO 100 film, because I came back with a completely underexposed roll. The only shots that were on it happened to be of bare trees against a grey sky that would have looked just the same on colour film. Although I liked those bare trees I was disappointed and blamed my silly Braun point and shoot camera. Although that Braun was junk I also picked the wrong film. This was long before online shopping and so I was stuck with the stuff the local drug store was selling and I remember that it was the only black and white film they had in stock.

By now most of my negatives from that time have disappeared. I guess they might still be somewhere, but where I wouldn’t know. The only really good pictures I took during this time were pictures of concerts. We all are clueless in the beginning. At least I already knew that I would fall in love with black and white eventually.

The pictures I’m showing you today were taken at the beginning of the year. I didn’t yet have the opportunity to post them because they were taken during a time when I didn’t yet have a scanner here in San Sebastian. As you can see I hadn’t yet figured out how to use Ultrafin properly and there was lots of grain in them. These were also rather quick automatic scans that I made with Epson Scan so the grain looks even worse. Ah well, I guess for the web it’s fine.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

libre

A new batch of film has arrived and so I have now 25 rolls of Tri-X to shoot, 10 of which are 35mm and 15 are 120 film. As you can clearly see from the numbers I’m definitely planning to turn my attention to my new Rolleicord after having tested my Olympus XA extensively. For the Rolleicord I already got a lens hood and a cable release so that I’m all set with my new toy. I already shot a second roll with it that I haven’t shown you yet, but it still needs scanning and dust spotting. For now there are still some older Zorki rolls in the editing queue of which I’m showing you one today. Most of this roll was taken in the neighbourhood Egia.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16 min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

That’s one weird bunny. Is that a knife in its paw?

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Nope, I don’t have any explanations.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Basque revolutionaries?

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Black and white indeed.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Creepy eyes …

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Look carefully, there is someone leaning out of the top window on the ground floor next to the lady walking. Very odd …

bored keeper

Being in the Basque Country also has its downsides. One of them is that doing paperwork concerning the Spanish government always involves metal detectors and x-rays. Sure, I can understand the notion. After all I know with which methods the Basques have struggled for their independence in the past. However, obviously it’s annoying and even more so for a film photographer like me. The other day I therefore couldn’t take any film with me at all although I was running errands in town. And since I’m not shooting any digital this month it meant walking around completely without a camera again. What an odd feeling! One would think that walking around without having to keep the eyes open for subject matter would be relaxing, but actually it’s rather frustrating instead.

The pictures I’m showing you today were taken with my Zorki before my last trip to Germany. It was already getting dark and I was exploring some rather narrow side streets, so these turned out a little thin and grainy. However, they still have something about them.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Self portrait. Shame it’s so grainy. I should try this with medium format on a brighter day instead.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

I just couldn’t walk past this one without taking a picture. I guess it might need some colour though.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Something I like about the people in San Sebastian is that they take care of their elderly.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Another one for the Enigma collection.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Quick, get the women inside!

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Backyards and patios are rather dark and small around here. This is actually one of the bigger ones.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

No wonder that most flats are rather dark around here!

potential cindarella

Again a late post from me, because I was actually travelling  today and didn’t have enough time to edit the pictures I wanted to show you. These were taken last week when I was out exploring one of the closer neighbourhoods. There isn’t too much space for exploration left there and soon after I’ll return I will probably be able to move on to a different neighbourhood.

All pictures taken with: Zorki 4K and Jupiter 12 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 developed in Tetenal Ultrafin 1:20, 16min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

She lost her shoe.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

By some rather ingenious feat of intuition I managed to walk down a winding road to a driveway that had left me wondering many times.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

That’s the road.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Here is where I started down the hill.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Lots of spots in Egia have nice views like this one.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

At the end of this street there were some steps leading down the hill.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Notice the shadow under her bag? It looks sort of fake, doesn’t it? It’s like this on the film though.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Re-taking shots isn’t my usual practice, but this one has people in it! I had never seen anyone there before and during my explorations I walked past there many times.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Walking in single file.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

A little Roman apparently.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Another weird mark on the film … I guess I can admit now that I under-agitated this lot and got some surge marks. I usually get over-development near the sprocket holes, so I’m actually thinking of trying to agitate every 30sec rather than every minute.