Sunday, April 19, 2009

35mm film in a medium format camera

If you shoot 35mm film in a medium format camera, you're using film that's smaller than the image circle cast by the lens. Therefore, every bit of film is exposed, and the sprocket holes show up after processing. The problem is, using the film holder for my Canoscan 8400F scanner is no good, because it blocks the sprocket holes. Where's the fun in that?

I just placed the negative directly on the scanner's glass under the transparency backlight to get these scans. I didn't care if it wasn't perfectly flat on there because I shot it through a Holga to begin with. I've heard of folks flattening it on the platen using a piece of glass, too, to varying degrees of success.

As for modifying a camera to perform this experiment, nothing beats the flexibility of a Holga. Many others have done this before me, and I more or less followed the instructions at Squarefrog. An unused kitchen sponge worked great to keep the 35mm canister in place, and I did opt for the rubber bands on the 120 takeup reel to keep the 35mm film from straying to the edges.

So I have to wonder why anyone would buy a 35mm Holga...just buy the normal one and you get the 35mm version free.

Wind a few less clicks on the film reel, and the frames overlap, giving you a panorama, Holga-style.

I imagine this could work in many medium-format cameras, and I like the effect, so if I get my hands on one I'll be sure to try it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Push processing

When I ordered my photo chemicals from Freestyle, I threw in a few rolls of their house brand Arista Premium film. It comes in ASA 100 & 400, and I chose 400. Rumor has it the film is really re-branded Tri-X, but I don't have enough experience with film to verify this. The reason to try it out is that it's only $2 a roll, while Tri-X is $3.75 or so.

I do know that people love Tri-X because it's very "pushable," meaning you can underexpose by a couple of stops, then develop it longer to make up the difference. The result? You can shoot your 400 film at ASA 1600. The difference in developing times is about 3-1/2 minutes.

Being new to the film developing game, I had never actually tried this, and I assumed the grain would be plentiful and possibly annoying. Boy was I ever pleasantly surprised!

Good enough for me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Adventures in Caffenol-C

It's been documented elsewhere, but once I found out about it I just had to try this — developing B&W film in a mixture of instant coffee, vitamin C, and washing soda. How cool is that? Here's what you need:

I used the Photojojo recipe:
12 oz. water
5 t. instant coffee
3-1/2 t. washing soda
1/2 t. vitamin C powder

I divided the water in half and dissolved the washing soda in one part and the coffee & vitamin C in the other. Let it sit until all bubbles were gone, then combined. I put the mixture in the fridge for a few minutes until it read 20° C.

How long to develop was a crapshoot. I've seen starting times on the web anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes. And to top it off I was developing a roll of Arista Premium 400 film I had exposed at ASA 800. I decided upon 30 minutes. I also didn't agitate as much as I would using regular developer. Just didn't seem necessary with such a long developing time.

It's funny how bad this stuff smells — you'd think it would result in pleasant-smelling coffee-tinged negatives, right? Well, to me it smelled like the air you let out of an old tire. Weird!

Anyhow, after 30 minutes I used a Kodak fixer and then washed using the Ilford method. Went to hang up the negatives, and...they looked black! Oh, crap, did they need more time since they were underexposed to begin with?

After holding them up to a light I was relieved to find they had indeed been developed — but a combination of underexposure and a coffee stain made them look different from the other negatives I've developed. The pictures are there, sure as hell.

Problem is, I couldn't scan them. They were too dark, which in most cases would indicate the photos were overexposed — except that in this case, the whole roll was deliberately underexposed by one stop. So I conclude that I let them soak too long...30 minutes was too much time. I'll try again soon, with a shorter soak time (and maybe a slightly higher temperature). Clearly, though, this developer is viable.