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Making a start with home developing


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Making a start with home developing

18 Apr 2020 7:54AM   Views : 378 Unique : 262


My plan for the next few days is to set out the steps you need to take to start developing your own films, and maybe going on to print them. Is this looking backwards (like Kasia in the window at Bodyline Studio)?

To help you decide, Iíll be doing this in terms of the lowest cost possible, and you can get all the kit that you need either new or secondhand, and Iíll be suggesting a source for new stuff. Then you can find out for yourself.

Today, why. Tomorrow, the basic kit for developing films, and on Monday, how to do that in easy steps.

Stuff to follow on printing and the digital alternative (thatís not REALLY cheating, honest), and even choosing a camera, if you donít already own one. With the wonders of modern online ordering, you can do all of this during lockdown!

But why would you want to do any of this in the first place? You donít have to, and the quality of results will, broadly, not better those from a 24mp digital camera. Nonetheless, a lot of people are trying this for the first time, and the majority of photographic courses in colleges require at least a little Ďwet workí along the way.

First, because itís there. Itís a craft, and some people will find any craft a worthwhile challenge.

Second, because it teaches you patient, methodical working. You canít rush it, and you canít cut corners without paying a heavy price, usually in the form of a wasted film. Thatís wasted money, time, and effort. You will emerge with a more philosophical approach to your pictures, and may even learn patience!

Thirdly, the results can be absolutely beautiful, especially if you progress to making your own prints.

Fourth, you will gain greater understanding of and insight into the whole of the photographic process.

And finally, the very best moment in photography can be yours, if you make your own prints. Watching the sheet of white paper in the developing dish as the image appears, slowly, and faintly at first is something that continues to delight me every time, even after more than 50 years of darkroom work.

Thatís the peak of Everest, photographically. You may not want to go there every day, but you will be glad that you went there, even once. And some people have to go back again and again.

Tomorrow, Iíll go through the basic kit for developing.


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AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
18 Apr 2020 9:33AM
Certainly the cost of film made people made people to be more selective. Film is also a brilliant way to learn the interrelationship between shutter speed, aperture, and film speed. My first camera was an old Zeiss Icon that came with a detachable rangefinder for distance and a Weston Master light meter (whose dial was marked into zone system stops) meaning that a conscious decision had to be taken about whether shutter speed or aperture was the priority and whether you were exposing for the highlights or the shadows. Definitely a brilliant way to learn - and all without batteries. Then printing nudes, unseen by teachers, in the darkroom at a Catholic school was an altogether different skill 😊
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
18 Apr 2020 10:53AM
That made me laugh, Paul!

Indeed, a different skill - and one that reminds me of Bob Carlos Clarke's book, Shooting Sex... Very much in hte shadow on priests.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
18 Apr 2020 11:09AM
Lol. As far as his Shooting Sex book (somehow I ended up with two copies, one signed), here is my favourite quote, which shows that photography isn't always a serious matter:
"On an early catalogue shoot of some cheap, poorly made lingerie, I misidentified a loose white thread and smartly tugged a tampon out of the model. It shot off like a little rocket, coming to rest inside a reproduction Tiffany lamp."
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
18 Apr 2020 11:14AM
I had forgotten that line...


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