I live in northwest Italy, a region that has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. Just like millions of people all over the world, I have been socially distancing for the past weeks, staying home and going out just to buy food and other necessities. However, even during this grim period, my love of photography has not died down. On the contrary, I feel now more than ever the need to document my life in this unthinkable moment in modern history. And, while I’m at it, I may as well use the extra free time for some experimenting!
Thus, I decided to buy a Lab-Box, the daylight-loading film tank designed by Ars Imago, together with a 135 module. I loaded a roll of Ilford HP5+ in my Leica M4 equipped with the lovely 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens, and proceeded to shoot my daily home routine. I developed the film inside the Lab-Box using Ars Imago’s Monobath film developer, following verbatim the manufacturer’s instructions (300 ml of developer at 20°C / 68 °F, under continuous agitation for 8 minutes). Below you can see the results.
These are just boring snapshots, but I guess they will always hold a particular “meaning” to me. They’ll remind me how much time I spent in front of multiple screens at once when smart-working, or how me and my wife had to use separate dishes to eat (she is a doctor and continues to work in a hospital). I will remember the look of puzzlement my kitty would have when seeing me at home all the damn time. I will remember all the canned food I ate, being an extremely lazy cook.
As for the Lab-Box: it’s simple enough to use IF you have the patience to go through the instruction manual BEFORE doing anything. When assembled and used properly, it’s a joy. Not having to spend ten minutes in total darkness cursing the wretched spiral while loading film is liberating. I’ll let you judge the quality of the results. In my opinion, it’s fairly good: the negatives have good contrast and developed quite evenly. I did notice a slightly coarser grain than I’m used to with HP5+, however I’m not sure if this is due to the agitation or to the Monobath developer.
All in all, I would recommend getting a Lab-Box if you want to streamline your film development process!
Thank you for reading, and please visit my Instagram account dedicated to instant photography (@brickwall_photo).
Stay safe, and keep shooting!
You can find more articles about Ilford Hp5+ film on 35mmc here