Photo-Philosophy

Why I spend my free time being a lab technician for a friend – By Sina Farhat

Films to develop

Many years ago I met Jonas Lundström and I learned that he is a creative film shooter that doesn’t fear odd cameras, expired films and trying out new things. In 2014 he announced that he would move from south of Sweden (Gothenburg) to the northern part of Sweden (Umeå) and with that he would lose access to the lab where he usually developed his rolls. Considering how many rolls he shoots per year it would quickly become very expensive to send them for development.

Being that I am a “let’s try out something new” kind of person, I suggested that I do the development and scanning for him. He said ok, and from that point a great adventure started that has led to me being experienced lab technician that can develop just about every kind film going including bw, c41 and e6. In learning to develop my current favorite kind of film (slide film) at home, I wrote a guide for it which can be found here on EMULSIVE

A bit about Jonas

Before I get into my thoughts about being a lab technician i want to tell you something about Jonas:

He is not afraid of trying out things, he loves plastic cameras and has a wooden pinhole camera in addition to his Olympus and Minolta SLRs. He will send me films that have a major uncertainty to their health because of their age and how the films were stored. He does so ready for the bad news when the films just are too dark or come out completely unusable. Some cameras are also of uncertain health and if he wants to be extra adventures he runs an expired roll through them.

On occasion we will do a double exposure experiment where one of us sends a roll to the other to double expose. We both enjoy the odd feeling of seeing our images double exposed in a creative mess!

His latest camera is a Kodak pocket west that uses the odd 127 film format and in his recent experiment he successfully ran 35mm film in that camera and got some usable frames out of it! In short Jonas is a person that will try just about anything when it comes to film photography!

Various Cameras

Jonas has allot of cameras that he uses!

Why I do this…?

So why do I spend some of my time developing and scanning another person’s films just for the cost of chemicals and other required materials. The answer is that I work as freelance event and news photographer and in my job it’s mostly humans, accidents and other kinds of events that I cover. This can get boring after a while, and I find that I get lost in my own world, and lose the sense that there is anything else out there!

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Seeing Jonas images help me to get my own creativity back. I can see someone else’s perspective and remember that life can be so good if I learn to see the beauty of it!

Developed bw films

A collection of black and white films i developed in on day!

Tetenal colortec e6 kit

I learned how to develop c41 and e6 film at home! My go to kit for developing slide films!

The winters in Sweden are dark, grey, cold and monotone in colour and being that I love having colours around me, like many out there, I have to deal with seasonal affective disorder, which is a terrible thing for a creative person! This is where I get a bit of relief by having access to his images. Through them I am able to take my mind off the winter season and not drown in the negative mood of it. I also get to see the Jonas photos first and can enjoy the reaction he gets seeing the photos for the first time!

Developed slide films

A collection of slide films i developed in on day!

Developing tanks

Using two Paterson tanks is a time saver!

I have over the years gathered a lot of data when it comes to finding development times for odd films. I get to see the look and style of many types of films and decide where I want to put my personal style and enjoy film photography in a better way!

220 backing paper

The fascinating almost lack of backing paper on a 220 roll!

The risks

I am only a human with a home lab and two paterson tanks. I have learned from experience not to develop films when I am tired or angry! However this doesn’t mean that I will perform my best every time. There have been times when I’ve optimistically used dead chemicals and completely destroyed photos!

In the past I have also used to little developer and caused films to come out less than good – thankfully I learned to correct that mistake. Jonas knows of all these risks as he knows very well that sometimes mistakes happen and he accepts the loss of images. This is where trust comes in, those I develop films for know that I am good at my job, but they also know that in rare cases accidents will happen, and that is life!

In conclusion

I learned that only seeing my own little corner of the world is not an optimal way of living, so I said “yes” to helping out Jonas with this film development needs and started an adventure that helped me to really grow as a person and a photographer. I don’t mind spinning the agitation stick over and over again, looking for odd development times, and now and then asking Jonas to send me supplies so that our great adventure can continue. The best part of it is to make someone very happy!

Go out there and make someone happy, you will enjoy it!

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4 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Murray Kriner
    October 17, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about your trials when making attempts to quite literally push the envelope with this Photographers methods and means. Jonas sounds like a man with a similar habit of using materials of obsolescence steeped in an Arcana that I can appreciate. Many of my cameras are 75 plus years, and for all their traits take far better images than even my Advanced gear can lend. Your personal twist just makes it far more endearing as you are magic behind his own madness, since you effect the presentation in ways unheard of. Bravo my friend. Thanks!

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    Oliver Lison
    October 18, 2019 at 5:44 am

    A very honest story about all the proud moments and failures. I count the developements and mark them on the bottles itself using a permanent marker. Also I put dates on the bottles. This ensures that the chemicals are always usable.

    I did also my mistakes. After developing and scanning film,I realised that the film is underexposed by at least 2 stops. The pictures were so grainy and unusable. I wasted time, money on the film, model and the location.
    I also had a series of 4 rolls of film that were not focussed correctly. All out of focus. by a huge magin. Until today I have no idea why/

    • Avatar
      Reply
      belola_goth
      October 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks!
      It I a adventure to research and find data on odd films and more importantly have good chemicals that dont die on me!

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