So, last week I did some Diafine developing since I had a stockpile of found films I needed to develop. I had a small amount of Diafine left over from this summer, but not enough to fill an entire Paterson tank, so I had to order some fresh Diafine from Freestyle. I mixed that up a day ahead of time, and then the next day went about my developing, combining both the old Diafine and the fresh.

A while ago I had gotten a hold of 3 old exposed Ansco Memo 35mm cartridges. I tried to develop one of the rolls in HC110b, but all I got was a bunch of fog and no images. I developed the other two rolls of Ansco Memo 35mm along with a roll of 127 Kodak Verichrome Pan in the same tank. Happily, when I took the film out of the tank, I could see images on all three rolls. I hung them up to dry and went along with the rest of the developing day.

Later on, I went to scan them in. The cartridges had notes written on them, indicating that the film was shot in 1949, so I was thrilled when I began scanning and the first images scanned in like this:

In the park

Yay! Epic old film WIN! Couldn’t ask for a better result than that. I continued scanning, and noticed that some of the images were starting to get a little weird.


It’s a lot lower contrast, and if you examine the picture closely, you can see the white outlined edges on the trees in the background and along the shoulders of the woman. And then I scanned in the picture at the top of this post and realized what was happening – the film had somehow solarized.

Bewildered, I kept scanning in images from the two rolls of Ansco Memo film.


And then I scanned in this:

This is a positive image

Confused, I pulled the film out of the scanner to check it. And yes, this frame had somehow reversed itself altogether. Instead of having a negative image on the film, it was a positive, like a slide. Here it is scanned in as a positive image.


Weirdly, the entirety of both Memo rolls were like this. Frames either scanned in correctly as negatives, exhibited solarization, scanned in as positives, or, in some cases, had become a positive image with solarization.

Another positive

There was no rhyme or reason to this at all. It didn’t seem to be caused by a light leak in the Memo cartridge or the Paterson tank – the different effects limited themselves to a frame, and didn’t bleed over into the sprocket holes or film between the frames. I scanned in one strip of five negatives, all pictures of the same subject. 4 pictures had reversed themselves to become positive images, and the fifth was a normal negative.


I have no idea what caused this. The other roll of film in the tank, the 127 Verichrome Pan from the 1960s, was unaffected by the solarization and reversal entirely.

So, okay. It was just something odd what that specific film, then. Weird, but okay. At least, that’s what I thought until I started scanning in the photos from my roll of 124 film that I shot in the big Brownie box camera. Here are the first two images on that roll, both scanned in as color negatives (since that helps cut through the fog).

Negative scans

As you can see, it happened again. The second image on the roll reversed itself, just like what happened with the Ansco Memo film. Here it is scanned in as a positive:

Dead end positive

Three other pictures on that roll reversed themselves as well, becoming very low contrast positive images.

So, here’s another roll of old film, shot 60 some years after the Ansco Memo films, on an entirely different brand of film altogether, developed in a different batch, that gave me the same results. WTF?! The only thing I can think of that might help explain this whatsoever is that the two photos that came out with moderate to normal contrast on the roll of 124 film were the two pictures I shot using extended exposures. The other four photos I just used the regular instant setting on the box camera, and I don’t think that was long enough exposure to cut through the fog. So maybe only low contrast images were susceptible for reversal and solarization?

Anyway, the whole thing was bizarre, but kind of neat, too. It was one of those moments that made me really excited about shooting with film, because sometimes weird, unexplainable, unplanned things just happen, and I think that’s neat. I’ve since used the same batch of Diafine to develop more film (including some film from the same vintage as the ones that went weird on me), but everything has turned out normally. /shrugs

Big! Brownie! Action!

Film for the big Brownie

I did some developing yesterday, and a very, very weird thing happened. In fact, I think in the whole time of messing with photography and developing film and such, this is the single most strange thing that’s ever happened. But that deserves its own post, and I want to get all of the negatives I developed scanned in first, so instead, I’ll talk about what happened with the No. 3 Brownie box camera. Weirdness in the next post, I promise.

Anyway! About a year ago, I picked up this Kodak Brownie No. 3 box camera.

Brownie No. 3

Normally I buy box cameras because there’s a roll of found film inside of them. I don’t mind using them, but they’re not a camera I intuitively grab to shoot with. However, this camera was in pristine condition, and still had its (battered) box, so I couldn’t pass it up.

After I got it, I also managed to score two rolls of 124 sized film off of ebay. This was a coup, because the last year Kodak produced 124 sized film was in 1961. One of the rolls expired in 1957, and the other, pink roll, expired sometime long, long before then. Judging by the backing paper on the roll, I’d guess it was made sometime in the 1920s, maybe early 30s, but I doubt any later than that.

My plan was to shoot the older roll first. If anything went weird, I’d rather that I screwed up the older roll as opposed to one that might actually work. So, I loaded it up…


…and took it out for a spin. And then the roll of shot film sat and sat while I tried to figure out how to develop it.

124 film is big. Bigger than 120, bigger than 116. One roll of 124 film produces 6 3.25 x 4.25 negatives. That’s like shooting with a large format camera, except on a roll! Crazy. So, because of its width, I had to find a way to make a developing reel for it.

My order from Freestyle arrived the other day, and I finally got my fresh batch of Diafine. I’ve used Diafine in the past to develop old, old films, and it worked really well. So, I mixed up the Diafine and started developing our backlog of found film, knowing that the roll of 124 film was waiting, lurking…

Inspiration struck when I was pulling film out of the Exposed Film Bag (we have 3 – one each of color, slide, and black and white film – just like everybody, right? RIGHT?). 124 film was almost exactly double the width of 127 film.

That was something I could work with.

This probably isn't the best way to do it...

Since I adore old Kodacraft developing tanks, I’ve accumulated Kodacraft film aprons in odd sizes – specifically 127 and 116. I taped two 127 film aprons together, top to bottom, using electrical tape. I went with electrical tape because it seemed like it would be easy to peel off, but strong enough to hold up to being in a developing tank for 15 minutes.

The film fit on there nicely, although it was longer than the aprons (not by much, though – you only get 6 frames per roll on 124 film). I just kept wrapping that around the outside. Luckily, it didn’t double on itself. I slid the apron around the center column of a Paterson tank (the kind where you can develop 3 reels of 35mm film), and slid an empty 35mm reel on top of that, to keep the 124 film from sloshing around and sticking to each other.

And… it worked. Really, really well. No harm was done to the 127 aprons – the tape peeled right off. But most importantly, the film actually freaking worked!

Dead end

This was the first frame on the roll. The black goop is residue from the tape that held the film to the backing paper.

The best result, however, was this, which was barely altered in Photoshop (I tweaked the levels a tiny bit):


This film was probably at least 80 years old, and this is a fresh image. I was boggled.

The other four images didn’t come out as well. I think the reason for that is that on the Dead End sign picture and the Pride picture, I probably sat the camera on the ground and did either a long exposure or just flicked the shutter a few times, with the thought that the film was almost certainly fogged, and maybe I could get an image that way.

So, two out of the six images, even with the black splooge on the one, can be considered a success. The other four… well, those fall into the Twilight Zone of images that I’ll get into in the next post. Trust me, there is all sorts of WTF-ery to go around then.



Travis did some C-41 developing the other day, so I got to see what the first test roll of the Bronica C turned out like.

Cold heart

Not too bad, considering that the camera is the size of a football and heavy like something… incredibly heavy. Here’s a slower speed shot, still hand held, in low light:


Mmm, depth-of-fieldrific!

The Bronica is supposed to automatically prevent double exposures unless the multiple exposure dial is turned a certain way to allow for intentional multiple exposures. The only issue I’ve been having with my Bronica is that the multiple exposure dial accidentally gets turned to the multiple exposure setting, so, la, there I am shooting 220 film without a care in the world, completely ignorant to the fact that I’ve just taken 5 shots on the same frame. FAIL! Anyway, after probably screwing up all of my Large Cow pictures, I finally just taped the dial in place with electrical tape.

Yesterday, since the newly applied leatherette on the Revueflex still looked good, I went ahead and replaced some of the peeling leatherette…

Sad leatherette is sad

…with some scavenged vinyl from a Goodwill purse.

Racing stripes!

Bronica from above

It feels like it’s sticking pretty well. But even if it only lasts a little while, I’m pretty zen about replacing the camera skins now. I’ll just put some different colors on there.

These were taken with the Yashica C on vacation. I thought they turned out well.


Oui!  Je t'aime le Biosphere!

New Things!

I’ve bought a ton of crap lately. It’s because the weather is so cold and ugly, and kind of crummy for going outside and taking pictures. So, instead, we keep accumulating cameras and gear instead.


One of the things I got tempted into buying online was a Bronica C. This is a medium format SLR, the type of camera that used to be frequently used by wedding photographers and the like. I’ve always kind of wanted one, so I took the plunge.


This camera is heavy. I mean, probably not as heavy as the 4×5 cameras, but close, and it’s a lot more compact. Carrying it around is like carrying a cat. I definitely need to get a strap for it.

The Bronica is in pretty decent condition. There are a few scratches on the lens, but I won’t know how much that affects the image until I scan in the photos (Travis did some C-41 developing this afternoon – yay!). There are a few small areas of peeling leatherette on top of it – nothing major, just enough to look kind of funky. I decided I was going to leave most of the black leatherette in place, but try to recover the areas with the peeling leatherette.

I’ve been having a hard time finding suitable substitutions to use. The last time I went to JoAnn Fabrics, I bought some vinyl and leather stuff that looked nice…

Profile of the Seven Nation Brownie

…but was really pretty expensive. And thick. For recovering cameras, the thinner the fabric, the better. And, unfortunately, some of the leatherette stuff I have just didn’t seem to work with the adhesives I was using.

I peeled off the original covering of the Revueflex E this past summer and tried to recover it in brown leatherette. It looked decent for about an hour, I think, before the leatherette started shrinking and curling up from the adhesive. It was really bizarre, and the camera looked like ass. That kind of stopped me in my tracks from refinishing other cameras.

But, still, the Bronica. It’s peeling leatherette needed to be replaced somehow, or else it would drive me crazy. I was originally planning on using some of my white and red sparkle vinyl that I used on the White Stripes (R.I.P.) camera above, but then I had an epiphany. Instead of buying new, expensive vinyl, and being limited to the small amount of stuff I could find at the fabric shop, and it was all too thick anyway, why not go thrifting and see what kind of leather/vinyl/etc from clothes and purses I could scrounge up?

Two trips to Goodwill later and I was blessed with an embarrassment of purses. The gaudier, the better!

Next, I needed some adhesive. I’ve used superglue, which works but is unforgiving (and also screws up any metal finishes that it happens to get on, and some other misc. glues that kind of worked, but kind of didn’t. My plan was to pick up some permanent spray adhesive, and try spraying my pieces and then sticking them on the camera, this way (hopefully) avoiding the splooge problem I tend to have with glues.

The only place I knew in town that we might find the spray adhesive was… Walmart. Yeah. We sucked it up and went anyway.

They had a few different kinds of spray adhesive there. I picked up the 3M kind, and we went to leave, when there, two aisles down on a bottom shelf, sat, zenly, this:


It’s a Xyron sticker maker, and it was $20. The can of spray adhesive was $8. Travis looked up reviews about it on his phone while I examined the package. What we had both thought of when we saw the Xyron was, the place that makes neat custom leather replacement coverings for your vintage camera. I haven’t ordered anything personally from them, but have always heard good things. Anyway, the leather pieces for your camera that you get from them are, essentially, big stickers. You just peel off the backing and stick them to your camera. Neat, right?

Anyway, needless to say, the Xyron came home with us, and the can of spray adhesive stayed at Walmart.

I started feeding things through the Xyron. First, a little Velite photo print I had made. It became a sticker. Next, I fed through a piece of hand-dyed fabric. That became a sticker, too. Finally, I started dissecting one of the Goodwill purses.

Sacrificed purse

You can see the pieces of leatherette stickers there at the bottom of the picture.

Since I felt bad about screwing up the Revueflex so badly this past summer, I stripped off the leather pieces I had tried to apply and started recoating it in purse-leatherette stickers.

The whole process, minus the time it took to get the old leatherette off, but including the time it took to cut up the purse and make the stickers, probably took 20 minutes, max. And when I was done, I had this:

Red Revueflex

Back of the Revueflex

Snazzy, no? The only potential issue I see with this particular coating is that the leatherette had an interfacing attached to the back of it, and the sticky part of the sticker kind of pulls against the interfacing than the main part of the leatherette. This causes a few of the edges to be a tiny bit flared. I’m not sure if I can salvage that with a tiny bit of super glue, or if it’s something that will worsen in time. If it gets bad, no big deal – I’ll just recover this again with some leatherette that doesn’t have the interfacing on it.

So, anyway, thumbs up (so far, at least) on the Xyron. Much less mess and drama than trying to deal with superglue and other stuff like that.

Coming up – more pictures, since, like I said, Travis was the developing monkey today. Also, I got some awesome slides sent my way by Retro Roadmap Betty, so Found Friday is going to be the bomb for a while. 😀

Fuji Peel-Apart Negatives

I haven’t been taking very many pictures with my trusty Polaroid 230 lately, mainly because I’ve gotten more into large-format film, especially after getting an enlarger that can handle negatives up to 4×5.

However, my interest was renewed when I ran across this post by Moominsean yesterday, which reminded me of this Flickr set by pacorocha that I had bookmarked a while ago. The idea of both is how to reclaim actual, usable negatives from the peeled-away section of a Fuji peel-apart photo. All you need is a brush and some bleach.

The weather has been crap lately, all dull and gray and cold, and I’m kind of sick and didn’t feel like venturing out into the real world to take any Polaroid pics. I dug through a box of random photography stuff, and found a nearly two year old peeled-apart section (the Goop part) of Fuji FP-100C. Since I didn’t have bleach, I rinsed the goop off of the emulsion side and let dry. The next day, after Travis brought home bleach for me (hooray!) I applied a little bit with a brush to the black side. Within about 10 seconds, the black backing had dissolved. I’m not sure if it happened that fast because of how old and dried out the peeled-apart section was, or what, but it was kind of the easiest thing in the world to do.

After rinsing off both sides and letting dry, this was the result:

My first Peel-Apart negative!

Looks like a cross-processed negative, doesn’t it?

Inverted in Photoshop:


And with the levels adjusted:


For comparison, here’s what the original photo looked like:

The van next door

So, that’s a pretty awesome way to get a large format color negative, huh?

Anyway, now that I know how to do this, and now that I have an enlarger that will let me work with large format color negatives, I’m uber-excited to shoot more with the Polaroid again. I’m even more excited to see what a color enlargement made with the Fuji negative looks like.

More adventures in RA-4!

Washington DC

The past few times I’ve tried doing RA-4 (color print) processing, I’ve had problems. Mainly, it seemed like my chems were going bad too quickly. I felt like I was doing something wrong, but didn’t understand what. I think I’ve got that sorted out, finally. Hooray!

So, for the sake of learning, here’s how I think you’re supposed to develop RA-4 prints. At least, this is how I did it.

I bought the RA-4 chem kit from Freestyle. This comes in either a 2 liter or 4 liter kit. I went with the 4 liter, because I am insane.

RA-4 processing is actually easier to do than black and white processing (same thing as developing color film versus black and white film). You’re only working with two solutions – the developer and the Blix. So, go ahead and mix up your chems. The developer is a combination of 3 liquids inside the kit, plus water, and the Blix is two liquids, plus water. Since I wasn’t going to mix up the whole kit at once, do some math wizardry and figure out the correct ratio for all of your chems. Use warm water, since the chems will need to be warm. I mixed up one liter of each of the developer and the Blix, since I had brown plastic bottles of that size.

The chems need to be kept warm (between 75 degrees and 105, preferably – that’s why doing color print processing during the summer seems so appealing, where you can work at ambient temps), so chuck them in a warm water bath and let them heat up.

You can do color print processing in trays in the dark, but screw that – I don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark, trying to keep all of those chems warm. So, I use a rotary processor. I’ve got my motorized base…

Rotary base

And my set of print developing tubes…


So I’m good to go. After the paper is exposed, you slide it inside a tube emulsion side up and then close the tube. The tube has a trough running the length of it, so that when you pour in chems, they don’t actually touch the paper and start developing until you make the motor go on the base. The beauty of this set up is that you use very little chems when developing paper. When I develop an 8×10 sheet of paper, I only pour in 120 ml of chems at a time.

Which leads me to the next step – you need to find very small containers (like, yogurt cup sized) with water-tight lids. Get two of them. Mark one as developer, and one as Blix. Draw a line on them with a Sharpie showing exactly where 120 ml is on them. Then, pour that much developer and Blix into each of those containers, seal them up, and chuck them back into the water bath. These little containers are your working solution. The big containers? Your replenisher.

Got your chems? Made a print? Stuck it inside the tube? Put the tube on the motor base? Good. Get your working solution of developer and take its temperature. Over 75 degrees? Good. Use the magic chart that came with your chems to figure out exactly how long you need to process the print with the developer – since developing times are so short with color printing, it’s important that you check the temp of the developer every time before you process so you don’t accidentally over or under develop your print. Check the developer temp every time before you make a print. The Blix times will fluctuate based on temp, too, but I normally just assume that the Blix is about the same temp as the developer. I don’t get real stressed out about it.

Pour your chems into the tube and start it rolling. Process it for the required amount of time, pour the developer back into your working solution container, and then pour in the Blix. After the Blix has been processed, pour it back into its working solution container. Pop the lid off your tube, fish the print out, and set it in a tray of warm water. Wash the print for a few minutes, and then hang it up to dry.

Now, here’s the important bit – look back at your working solution containers. The amount of developer you poured back into the container is less than the amount you put in. About 8 or so ml got sucked up and absorbed by the paper. Oh noes! This is where the replenisher comes in. Pour developer back into the working solution container with your developer replenisher until the amount of liquid reaches the line. Then cap your bottle of replenisher and put the lid back on your working solution, and put them back into the water bath.

The Blix allegedly needs replenishing too, but my Blix always multiplies, like the loaves and fishes. So, after every few prints, I’ll pour a little bit of my working solution out, and replenish it with the Blix replenisher, just to keep the chems active.

So, that’s how you develop color paper! I think. At least, that’s how it works for me. Travis and I tore through the entire 1 liter of chems over the course of three days. I think we probably developed over 40 prints, so I’m happy with that output. However, the RA-4 chems are more stable than C-41 or E-6 chems. The replenisher of Developer is supposed to stay good for 6 weeks, and the Blix even longer.

We developed a ton of paper. Mainly contact sheets of negatives, with a few enlargement attempts thrown in. Now, did those prints actually come out like they were supposed to? Erm… not so much.

Apparently color paper is supposed to be kept in cold storage – preferably, refrigerated. Well, I only have a few different boxes of color paper (I got a box of Agfacolor Signum paper a few days ago, which I’d guess is between 10-15 years old), and I doubt either of them have even seen what a refrigerator looks like. So, after much experimentation with the Agfa paper, I’m waving the white flag and admitting defeat. No matter what sort of filter combinations I try, all of my prints seem to come out with this odd orangey cast.


Lincoln and other

Those two contact sheets were of C-41 negatives. I did those for a while, and then switched to doing some contact sheets of cross processed slide film to see if I got any change.

Lomo DC!

More Washington

Still there!

Cross processed film is funny, because the base color of the negative varies so much from film to film, as opposed to regular C-41 color negative films, which are just pretty much universally orange. Here’s this again, showing the difference between what the negatives can look like:

Xpro Comparison

This led to a lot of wild guessing as to how I needed to adjust my filters. Sometimes I got it close to right:

New York!

And sometimes, things just went really, completely bizarre:


The negative to the horse picture was bright, dark blue. My 4×5 Fuji Velvia 100 slide film is normally tinted a pale aqua, but for some reason, this particular sheet of film came out entirely dark blue. I tried compensating for that by using a filter level of +90Y +130M, but… yeah.

I only tried making one enlargement on the Agfacolor paper. I used a Kodak Portra 400VC negative, processed correctly, and here’s the best I could get the color:

Capitol, with tulips, from 1952

In retrospect, I could have done better with the color – the orange cast is there to stay, but I could have at least knocked down the green tones some by increasing the yellow filters. That said, I kind of like it. Travis said it looked like a photo from Life magazine in the 50s, and I think now that I know how the old Agfacolor paper is going to behave, I might be able to use it for some fun effects.

That being said, I’m still going to order a box of new, fresh, in-date paper next time I place an order from Freestyle.

Here’s something weird

Black Swan

(Swan diptych is entirely unrelated to this post)

I stumbled upon a tumblr called I Still Shoot Film which seems pretty nifty. Lots of film-camera-lomo-y goodness abound, so it’s worth checking out if that’s your thing (and if you’re already here, then it probably is). Anyway, the I Still Shoot Film guy chick (my bad!) has some photos up on her recent blog posts of images taken using Revolog film. I’m all, “Revolog? What is this? It looks fun! Want!”

From what I can tell, Revolog is a small German company that makes special effect 35mm film. Some of the film has a texture of tiny bubbles on it, some have light-leaky flashes in different colors, some have odd color tints or lines going across it. You can see some examples of the photos taken using the film on Revolog’s Flickr.

The film looks interesting, some more so than others. I’m especially interested in the Kolor film, an example of which is here. The cost of the film is high, though, seven Euros per 12 exposure roll, although they offer combo packs that are more reasonable. I’m not sure what steps they have to do to get their film to behave in this way (although I have a few suspicions about some of them… I may try some things out on film I have to see if I’m on the right track), but this looks like pretty fun product, even with the high price. You can order from them using a credit card or PayPal, so the next time I have some excess PayPal cashflow, I may have to check it out for myself.

Another cute little weird photo web-shop Travis found today was Four Corner Store. They specialize in Holga/Lomo/filmy stuff, including some specialty Rollei film, specifically for redscale or cross processing or the like. Unfortunately a lot of the odder things I was interested in was out of stock, but for $17.50, the little Holga flash unit with the multi color gels seems like a bargain! Do I need to buy it? Absolutely not. Do I want it anyway? Yep.

Fun with Filters: Embiggening edition

I started becoming more familiar with the world of making photographic prints last year, especially after I got my brand new used enlarger, the mighty Omega Super Chromega D. If this doesn’t break spectacularly at some point, this should be the only enlarger I’ll ever need. It enlarges negatives as big as 4×5, and has both black and white and color enlarging abilities.

This is what the head of it looks like:

The mighty Chromega!

The C, Y, and M dials control how much Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta light is projected onto your photographic paper. This is vitally important when trying to do color prints, since you not only have the different color casts from the negative to worry about, but also the color casts from whatever paper you’re using. The color paper I have has recommended filter levels to start with when doing printing.

Yesterday I did a bunch of black and white printing. In theory, to do black and white printing, you just set all of your color values at 0 and go to town. However, black and white paper comes in two types: Graded and Variable Contrast. In general, black and white paper is graded in values from 0 to 5, with 0 being extremely low contrast and 5 being extremely high contrast. Most graded paper I’ve seen sold tends to be in grades 2 or 3, although I have some old Kodak paper that is graded 4. Graded paper is pretty old school – photographers would buy paper in a variety of grades to compensate for how their negatives looked. If you had a really soft, low contrast negative, you might choose to print that on grade 4 paper. If your negatives was really contrasty, you might go for grade 2 paper.

The problem with using graded paper is that keeping a bunch of different grades of paper around can be expensive. So, in the early 1950s, variable contrast (VC) paper was invented. This is paper that you would use in conjunction with a set of filters to alter the grade of the paper. The filters range from yellow to magenta – yellow filters reduce contrast to your prints, and magenta filters add it. This way, you can buy only one type of paper and be set, because you can alter the grade of it as needed.

When I tried working with VC paper prior to getting the new enlarger, I had a really hard time with it. In retrospect, what was wrong was that my enlarger bulb wasn’t strong enough to light up the paper through the filter. I got frustrated and just set the VC paper and the filters aside (I was using a set of Ilford filters) and worked with graded paper.

However, the new enlarger has all of its filters inside of its head, and all I have to do is turn the dials to get the proper filtration I need for VC paper. Neat! I was still kind of confused about the whole process until I ran across this chart on Freestyle’s website. It tells you exactly what to set your Y and M filters at to achieve certain paper grades.

So, with this chart taped onto the wall next to the enlarger, I started making contact sheets. It made sense to me to print my contact sheets onto graded paper, in this case, some Grade #3. This way I could see what everything looked like at that grade, and then I could judge what grade to use when I was making my enlargements. My enlargements would be made on some Oriental Seagull 8×10 VC-RC II paper. That paper, with all of the filters set to 0, is the equivalent to a grade 2 paper.

Lensbaby film contact sheet 1

I wanted to try making enlargements of the pictures of the house and the pony. The house picture seemed a little soft, so I upped the contrast to +100M – somewhere between grade 4 and 4 1/2, according to the Freestyle chart. Here’s the result:

Hard house

I think I went a little too heavy on the Magenta filters, but whatever, I’m still learning.

I went the opposite way for the pony picture. I wanted to try softening the image some, so I set the Yellow filter at +40, somewhere between a 1 1/2 and a 1 grade.

Soft pony

In retrospect, what I should have done was tried dodging the pony some instead of softening the entire image, but burning and dodging are things I haven’t tried yet (I’ll get around to it sometime). Anyway, you can at least see the effect of changing the paper grade with these pictures.

When I was making contact sheets, I wanted to see what my 4×5 waterfall picture from the other day looked like. To my horror, it was entirely underexposed.

4x5 contact sheet detail

After I had a sad about it, I decided to see if I could salvage anything from it by using filters. I jacked the Magenta up to +150 (the equivalent of slightly higher than a 4 1/2 grade) and made a print:


Not too bad! It’s still not contrasty enough for my preferences, but I think I know how to improve it if I’m going to try making the same print again: increase the magenta to +170 M (the highest magenta filter my enlarger can do), and then maybe dodge the water portion of the photo so the cliffs and the trees get darker. And if that still doesn’t get dark enough, I can always try adding some of the Ilford enlarging filters I have under the lens of the enlarger in order to add extra magenta filtering.

It’s starting to make sense to me, which is pretty cool. Here are some of my test strips I did at various contrast levels:

Test strips

If you go through to the Flickr page, it shows what filter levels I used to get the different results.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the results of what I did yesterday in terms of getting a perfect print (which, let’s face it, I’m probably never going to do – I’m just too sloppy. There’s always hairs or dust on my negs, no matter how hard I try to clean them). The prints were either a little too contrasty or not contrasty enough, and it’s hard for me to judge them when they’re still wet. However, by keeping notes, I can tell what I should try if I want to go back and make a print from the same negative. For example, this Unisphere print?

Behold my macro power!

Could be just a touch more contrasty. I still like it, though (mainly because the Unisphere = AWESOME!).

Something else I tried yesterday was making a black and white print from a C-41 color negative. The problem with doing that is that the heavy orange color cast on the negative makes the negative read as extremely low contrast if you try to print it on black and white paper. For example, things turn out like this:

Newark Drugs


So, to try and get a feel for what kind of filtration I should use, I did a test contact sheet of some C-41 negs.


From left to right, I used filtration values of +80 Cyan, +80 Yellow, and +80 Magenta. As you can see, both the Cyan and Magenta filters did something good, and the Yellow filters made things go horribly, horribly wrong.

So, for the next contact sheet, I used a combined filter value of +160M and +100C.



I decided to try and make an enlargement of one of the turtle pictures. I used some Arista Graded #3 paper for the enlargement, although in retrospect, I probably should have tried using the VC paper. Oh well. Next time. Anyway, with filter values of +170M and +115C, the enlargement turned out like this:

Black and White and slow all over

Not fantastic, but not too bad, either. For comparison, the color scan of this image looks like this:


I think I may try doing some more color enlarging next, at least if my chems are still good…


Back in September, while on vacation in Vermont, my beloved Nikon D40 broke. This made me sad because, although I have many, many other cameras (including a respectable digital Canon Powershot), the D40 is my go-to camera, what I would instinctively grab for any pictures I was taking around the house, what I would use for Etsy photos, what I would always throw in the car even if I was going out to take pictures with film cameras.

The shutter mechanism got stuck, a problem which seems to happen sooner or later to cameras of this model. I was reluctant to send it in to be repaired, partly because of the cost, and partly because I didn’t like the idea of sending it anywhere. A few months went by, and then finally Travis decided to have a go at fixing it himself.

Following a tutorial he found somewhere online, he opened up the body partway until he found screws that were too stripped out for him to remove. Fortunately, a bit of the shutter mechanism was visible, and he was able to drop a few drops of oil into the workings. And behold, the Nikon snapped back to life!

It’s not perfect – the shutter has stuck a few times since then, which is always greeted with a sense of dismay. We’ve stopped being gentle with it and have taken to giving it a firm smack on the bottom when it’s finicky. For now, it works. I definitely foresee buying a new digital Nikon sometime in the new year, though. Hopefully, it’ll wait until I’ve got the money put aside for it.

When the D40 was in its sad, extended period of not working, I had the thought that I should get a Nikon 35mm film camera body – something that would let me use the lens that came with the D40 and my Lensbaby Composer with the Nikon mount even if my Nikon digital camera wasn’t working. So this year, for Christmas, Travis bought me one. Meet the newest member of the family, the Nikon FM2N:

My Christmas present

Since the D40 is still roughly functional, I outfitted the FM2N with the Lensbaby Composer. I’ve always wanted to try shooting film with the Lensbaby, and now I’m finally able to!

The first roll of film I shot through the FM2N was, ironically, the last roll of Kodachrome I’ve shot. Considering that 1. the Kodachrome was probably outdated by at least a decade, 2. this was my first time using the FM2N, 3. I shot half of the roll outside at night without using a tripod, and 4. I knew I needed to get through the roll quickly in order to get it shipped off to Dwayne’s before today (the last day they’re accepting Kodachrome to develop EVER), I bet that roll is a hot mess. If it did make it to Dwayne’s in time to get developed, I’m not holding out a ton of hope that I get any decent results off of the roll. If nothing else, though, at least I’ll have some new junk slides to make curtains and lamps out of. 🙂

Speaking of Kodachrome, we shipped off 6 rolls to Dwayne’s a few weeks ago. I haven’t heard anything from them, but hopefully there were no post office shenanigans, and all of the film made it there safely. Honestly, I only shot the Kodachrome because I felt obligated to – I shot a few rolls of it back in the late 90s, and then never went back to it, probably because of the delay it took to get the film processed. If I hadn’t’ve accumulated some Kodachrome this summer when I went to the camera auctions, I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to acquire any before the great Kodachromepocalypse. As is, I had to force myself to shoot with them, which seems sacrilegious, I know, but I just really like shooting film that I can develop myself. Process K-14, why must you be so mysterious and complex?!

I won’t even mention the 12 or so reels of Kodachrome movie film I never got around to shooting. As much as I want to, I just can’t force myself to get into shooting movies. Oh well.

Anyway, back to the FM2N! I shot the roll of Kodachrome through it, then an old roll of Kodak Vericolor from 1990 which I’ve yet to develop (it’s C-41), and then I finally loaded up something I could develop quickly – a roll of black and white Rollei R3 400 that expired in 2008. Semi-fresh, even! We took it out for a test drive yesterday and developed it in Kodak HC100b last night.


Hey, it works! Maybe there’s some hope for the roll of Kodachrome, after all!

The FM2N is really a great little camera. The shutter mechanism is entirely mechanical, which means it doesn’t use battery power to operate. The only thing in the camera that uses the battery is the meter, which actually works better than the Nikon D40 did when using the Lensbaby. Whenever I had the Lensbaby on the Nikon, I couldn’t get a meter reading at all, and would just wind up taking a bunch of pictures in order to find the right exposure. Since it was digital, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but with the Nikon FM2N, I don’t need to do that. The exposure indicator lights inside the viewfinder let me know if I need to adjust the shutter speed without having to do any guesswork. I shot two rolls of film yesterday using only the in-camera meter as my judge of shutter speed, and I got perfect results.


Also, when I wasn’t looking, Lensbaby released a new product, a lenshood/step ring for filters. It’s like they anticipated my needs and met them before I had even realized what I needed! Spooky! Anyway, this nifty little gadget screws onto the Lensbaby lens and allows you to use 52mm filters, which is perfect, because all of my good filters are 52mm. Hooray! When I took the photo of the pony, above, I used a red 25A filter to darken the sky.

So, this is all leading me towards the ultimate goal of shooting infrared film through the Lensbaby. Exciting! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and I may wait until spring to actually give it a try, but at least now it’s possible. I’ve got a few rolls of the color infrared film left, too (the one roll I shot got sent to Dwayne’s for processing, since I wasn’t sure when I’d get around to developing more E-6), and what could be more awesome than shooting color infrared film with a Lensbaby?

Spooky sun

The FM2N has made me a lot more interested in shooting 35mm film in general. It’s not my preferred format – I far prefer 120 or 4×5. However, I’ve accumulated a boatload of 35mm, a lot of it really weird stuff that was never available in the larger formats. Now I have an excuse to shoot through it and be excited about doing so.

I also shot through a roll of color film (some Rite-Aid branded 200 speed expired film) with the FM2N yesterday. We took it to CVS for a quicky developing, and got pretty good results with that as well. Since most of the pictures on both of the rolls were of the same subject (I was trying out the different optics and taking notes! Go, me!), here’s one of the non-test subject pictures.

Blue house

On the lower left edge of the above pic, you can just barely make out one of the stars from the star aperture disc. Fun!

Anyway, now that the Nikon D40 is working (sort of) again, I should be getting my Etsy shop back and running here in the next week with misc. camera weirdness in stock. I like the Canon Powershot SX 1S that we have, but it really sucks for doing product photos. Nikon 4-evah! I’m also going to try and post some articles about using different filters, since it’s something I’m interested in learning more about right now. I did a really wacky filter experiment yesterday, but want to try it again with a different subject before posting the results.

I’ll leave you with one of the few pics I took on vacation with the Speed Graphic. The entire frame is cropped since I can’t scan in a complete 4×5 negative in my scanner, but it’s enough to give you an idea until I make a print with it. Waterfall goodness!