Archive for the 'Film Photography' Category

My first photo books available for pre-pre-order

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

I have been working on producing a book of my photography for several years now. Organizing and curating your own work is a tough task of critical self-examination, second guessing, and pattern recognition. In the end I actually have three collections of photos centered on three themes. The titles are:

  1. Motion and Distortion
  2. Reflection and Distraction
  3. Isolation and Repetition
Each hard cover book is 32 pages and is divided into 2 chapters. I have written an intro poem for each chapter. The books each contain 29 of what I consider to be my best photos over the last 15 years of experiments, accidents, and triumphs. If you are a reader of this blog then you can appreciate the assortment of cameras I use in my work, from pinhole to handmade to antique. Needless to say, I am proud of the work and I hope you are interested in ordering a set for yourself.

Which brings me to the part where I tell you how to order the books. The books are ready to be published. Right now they are printed digitally, which is less than economical. If I can connect with a publisher I can get the price down, but right now the set of 3 books will cost $165. If you are interested in ordering a book please contact me. Let me know if you would like to order the first pre-edition of the book or are interested in being notified when the first real run of books is available. I really appreciate your support. For a few more photos of the books, click here.

Receipe for Processing Film with Coffee, aka Caffenol

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

I made a post a couple months ago talking about how you can develop film using a mixture of coffee and vitamin C. Coffee Developer has been called “caffenol” and “folgernol” and there are various recipes online for making homemade developer with household products. In my last post there was a great video tutorial, but I wanted to follow up on the experimental developing process with a more detailed list. Here are the instructions which are pretty much taken right off the YouTube video:

You will need: 1. An exposed roll of film (one that you won’t be devastated about losing if it doesn’t turn out) 2. 5 teaspoons of instant coffee (caffeinated) 3. One quarter teaspoon of vitamin C (you can crush tablets of vitamin C) 4. 3 teaspoons of washing soda (you might have to search your local grocery stores for this or buy it online) 5. Water 6. Fixer (I used print fixer since I don’t have film fixer) 7. Processing tank, 3 glasses, a spoon, and a couple measuring cups 8. Thermometer (I didn’t use one, but if you want to be precise you need one) 9. A stopwatch 10. Bottle opener (if you need help opening a 35mm film canister) 12. Scissors

Step 1: Load Film in Processing Tank In a dark room, take the film out of the canister and load it onto your spool and stick it in the processing tank. Close the lid and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Caffenol Developer Mix 6 teaspoons of coffee crystals with 125ml of water. Mix 3 teaspoons of washing soda with with 125ml of water. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of crushed vitamin C powder with 100ml of water. Combine the coffee water, washing soda water, and vitamin C water together. The measurements above aren’t critical as long as you end up with 350ml of water (12 ounces). Mixing them separately helps to make sure it all gets dissolved. Honestly, it is tough to get it all perfectly dissolved. Don’t worry about it too much, because this is meant to be an imperfect process. If we wanted perfection we probably wouldn’t be doing this ourselves anyway, right?

Once you have everything mixed together, let it sit to to get rid of bubbles. (Again don’t stress too much about bubbles.)

Step 3: Developer Add the chemicals to your film processing tank. Turn the tank over repeatedly for the first minute and continue to agitage it every three minutes after that. This step is 20 minute.

Step 4: Rinse Pour out the coffee developer and add 350ml of room temperature water (68 degrees). Agitate it 5 or six times and dump it out. Add more water, agaitage. Dump it out. Do this one more time (3 times total).

Step 5: Fixer Add 350ml of fixer. Agitate it for 5 minutes. You can save the fixer and reuse it many times.

Step 6: Rinse Rinsing is the final step and the better you do at rinsing, the more archival your film will be. I rinse it with water three times with lots of agitation and then do a final rinse with distilled water with a couple drops of liquid soap. The soap helps cut down on water marks when the film dries.

Once you are finished rinsing, take the film out, hang it up, and let it dry thoroughly. With any luck you should have negatives that are ready for printing or scanning.

(Note: if you are developing 120 film, like I usually do, you can make a double batch. 350ml is not enough to cover the larger 120 film.)

I hope this tutorial on how to process film with coffee was helpful. If you have any additional tips, please add them to the comments.

Develop film with Coffee and Vitamin C

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I have been talking about doing this experiment for a long time, but have never gotten to it until this weekend. It is possible to process your own film using coffee. Hard to believe, I know, but it works. The other ingredient besides vitamin C and coffee is washing soda. It was a little hard to track down, but you might look in the laundry section of your local grocery store. Here is a YouTube video showing how it is done:

For my test I used color slide film and it worked just fine. The pictures were taken with my trusty medium format Lego camera. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but the results were black and white negatives (as opposed to color positives). Interesting. Here is a photo from the roll:


Book Giveaway: Fundamentals of Photography by Tom Ang

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Fundamentals_of_photography.jpgThe endless debates about whether “film is dead” or “digital sucks” are fine for late night debates and chat room rants, but anyone really serious about making pictures isn’t served by picking sides in a pointless war. Fundamentals of Photography: The Essential Handbook for Both Digital and Film Cameras is a new book by Tom Ang that puts an emphasis on “digital and film cameras.” Rather than picking a side in the pointless battle between digital and film users, this book gives practical advice that any photographer can benefit from.

When it comes right down to it you need a practical manual if you want to take better pictures. You need a book that you can turn to when you want to know “how did they do that?” Whether you are learning the fundamentals for the first time or are just looking to expand on what you already know, a browse through this book can’t help but improve your photos. Your photos will improve when you understand light better. It will improve when you understand how your camera works. It will improve when you learn the history as well as the latest advancements. It will improve when you know what to do with your image after you take the picture. All these things are covered in this book and it is written in easy to understand language.

In many ways, this is a book that couldn’t have been written five years ago. The digital revolution has been a whirlwind and I think we are just finally starting to understand the implications. Digital isn’t something to rebel against, and film isn’t something to throw out the window.

Being the kind of person who would rather hack together pieces of old cameras than baby an expensive piece of machinery, you may be surprised that I would endorse a traditional kind of book that focuses on the fundamentals of photography. Actually, I find an easy-toiread manual really inspiring. A firm grasp of the basics is essential before you can improvise and dance. The Fundamentals of Photography is a welcome addition to my photo library and I recommend you pick it up. It’s available from Amazon for about $17.

Also, I have a copy of the book to give away. Leave your name in the comments of this post and I will randomly pick a winner at the end of November. Just make sure to put a real email address in the comment form and I will contact the winner at the end of December. To make it a little more interesting, tell us what kind of camera you are learning with or what camera you learned the fundamentals of photography with. Mine was a Pentax K1000. What was your’s?

UPDATE: Congratulations to Amod Rahatkar, winner of the drawing for this book!

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for photography books that you might be interested in:

The Lomo: Perfection is Overrated

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

I can think of nothing more boring than a photo that looks exactly like I planned. Some photographers have the ability to perfectly craft a photo by manipulating an environment until things fall into beautiful alignment. I definitely respect that, but I have no wish to work that way. For me the beauty is in the chaos, not the organization. Lucky for me I don’t have to make a living from working that way because leaving a photo to chance is literally a shot in the dark. You point your film in the direction of something interesting and hope for the best. That mentality puts me in the company of the Lomography fans. Here is a video documenting the rise of the Lomo camera:

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for Lomos that you might be interested in:

For the Love of Film

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

In preparation for my camping trip last week I stopped at Sam’s Club to stock up on 35mm film. Not finding the film aisle, I asked the person at the photo counter. My suspicions were confirmed when he explained that two weeks earlier Sam’s stopped stocking 35mm film. My heart sank. I know that eventually digital will completely replace film. It’s just a matter of time. I have nothing against digital, and I would actually love to have a really nice digital camera. Still, it is sad to see the decline of film.

I was reminded how much I love film this week as I watched a slideshow of family photos. The slides were projected onto a white sheet taped to the side of a cabin. The colors were so warm and the photos were so beautiful. The aged slides were a living document, showing the effects of time. The dust, the color shifts, the less than perfect exposures, the scratches, all the imperfections made the images more than just pictures. These were actual artifacts of something real. I think that is what is really lost with the transition to digital. When you look at your digital pictures in 50 years they will look exactly the same – pixel for pixel – as the day you took the picture.

Here are some of the auctions on Ebay for expired film that you might be interested in:

Double Exposures On Found Film

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

I thought I would share with you the story behind the double exposures that I posted recently. I friend gave me an old 35mm camera that was on the 15th frame. It was going to cost $15 in batteries to get the camera to turn on, and it didn’t seem like it was worth it judging by the condition of the camera. I decided to take the camera in the closet, pop open the back and manually rewind the film. Then I loaded the film into my trusty Pentax. At this point I was faced with a tough decision. I could advance the film beyond the 15 exposures and see what was on the roll, or I could take 15 photos on top of the unknown pictures and hope something cool comes out. I have dug through enough “found photography” to know that the majority of snapshots are garbage, so I decided to have some fun and make some double exposures.

As expected, the results were hit and miss. Some images were completely useless, and some were complex and interesting. Here are a few of the better images, click on them if you want to see a larger version. Cat_Window_b.jpg Bike_Flowers_b.jpg Sunflower_Double_b.jpg

One of the joys of photography is never knowing what you are going to get. If you find yourself getting bored by your photos, or are looking a way to bring some spontaneity into your work, I suggest experimenting with double exposures. Take a roll of film and run it through your camera twice. Better yet, a Holga is cheap and perfect for double exposures. It might be just the creative spark that adds some excitement and fun back into your picture making.

Advice About High Speed Film at the Airport

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

Security guards at the airport have told me that if your film is 800 speed or faster you shouldn’t run it through the x-ray machine. Although I have heard stories of film being ruined at slower speeds, I haven’t had any problems at 400 speed or slower. This week I was flying with 3200 speed film, so I asked that my film not be run through the x-ray machine. Apparently this is an extremely rare request because the guards acted like I was the first person ever to ask. In Chicago, the shocked guard said, “No one can deny you that right.” In Indiana the guards said, “What speed is it?” and then didn’t seem to believe me when I said 3200. Needless to say, my unusual request sent the guards into super alert mode. Since my film was in the original sealed box, I expected them to just pass it through and give it back to me. How silly of me! No, they gave my film the terrorist treatment taking all four rolls out of their box, out of the plastic, and then began swabbing it with what I can only guess was a bomb sensing cloth. Luckly they didn’t unroll it and exposed the film, since they acted like they had never seen medium format film before.

Once they were satisfied that my film was safe, they treated me like a professional photographer. “Wow, you must be a VERY professional photographer to need 3200 speed film! How much is that a roll? I need to get some of that.” They are just doing their jobs, I know. I guess as long as my film isn’t ruined I will forgive them. My advice is if you are traveling with fast film, you might want to make sure you budget a few extra minutes to get through the line!