Learning Journeys

My First Roll of 120 Film – My First Steps into Analogue – Part 4 – By Andrea Bevacqua

May 28, 2020

In this unusual period we are all living through, I have tried to keep the momentum going, reading quite a few articles on internet and trying to stay focused on what/how to improve my whole experience. Finally, despite only starting my journey just a month ago, I shot my first roll of 120 which I am fairly happy with.

I feel guilty of having done an error which I think is characteristic of a beginner: being attracted by gear. I know, at my level is not the gear that make the difference, but what can I do?! But the damage is already done now.

I love the feeling of TLRs and rangefinders. Most of all the TLR makes me comfortable, I love the fact that I have to think before pressing the shutter button.

I love to carry them and their history too. Thinking that these objects are many years old and they are still in use, producing awesome results is something that fascinates me.

I could not resist the Yashica 124G. After I read this article and after having watched a few videos on youtube, I started looking for a decent model at a fair price. I did search on eBay and I placed an offer, being sure that it would have not been accepted because it was quite a bit lower than the price requested… and guess what?! My offer was accepted almost immediately!

After a few days the camera arrived at home and I noticed that the focusing screen was a bit dirty, it was quite bright but dusty, so I decided to try a step forward. I decided to clean the focusing screen and also the mirror. I can’t hide that I was a bit scared, but I could not hold myself back.

I have to admit, it was not that easy, but in the end it was worth it. One hour later it was much better than before: brighter and cleaner. Happy days!

Anyway, keeping it short, I loaded up a roll of Fomapan 200 and I went out in the estate where I live, hoping  that the camera was working well and then hoping for some decent shots. Because the weather was a bit dull and not completely clear, in my mind I was expecting some sharp images with smooth contrast.

I did not test the camera’s light meter so I used the Lumu app and I exposed for the shades, looking out for bright highlights.
In less than one hour I finished the 12 shots and I headed home couldn’t wait for the developing.

Every time I develop, I think about the environment and I am determined to reduce the pollution as much as I can. I started to search on the internet about different chemicals and I found out some interesting info.

I need to double check, but it seems that the Kodak Xtol is considered an Eco developer. Because it is also considered a good developer, I think I will give it a go.

Furthermore I read some articles about Caffenol which explain how to produce a developer at home made of several natural ingredients. I am not too sure about it yet. I guess that using it will develop the images, but how good can it be?

I also stumbled across the Bellini developer which so far seems to be the easiest way?

Another little environmental help could be to use a home made the stop bath. I read on some website that 20-30 grams of citric acid powder in 1l of water, does the trick. In theory this should help the wallet as well.

Another way could be to dilute vinegar, but is not recommended as it could thin down the negatives and ruin the gelatine. I don’t think I should pursue this path, but it was interesting to read about.

There is a lot to dig about this topic and I want to know more, so hopefully I will be back with more info and experiences.

As usual, I would really appreciate if you could comment with your thoughts and give me some feedback and tips.


If you fancy, you can check out my Instagram
You can read more about my journey into shooting film here

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  • Reply
    Craig Schroeder
    May 28, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    My first foray into MF was a Yashica D, so a similar entry point. That was in the 1970’s and when I look back at the photos from that camera, I realize that I haven’t gained much at all with much more sophisticated gear. Nice captures, there!

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Craig,
      thanks for your comment.
      I agree with you, is just a nice camera.

  • Reply
    John Furlong
    May 28, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Your exposure measurements with the app have worked out fine – as you say, it was a dull day and that’s conveyed perfectly.
    As regards a stop bath, plain water will be fine. I agitate continuously for one minute followed by two more changes of water (just to be sure) before going on to the fixing process. I think it’s generally accepted that a stop bath is only really needed when working with photographic paper. It’s going to be harder to remove traces of developer from a surface like paper than it will be from film.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks John,
      at the moment I started with the citric acid and I think it’s fine, anyway I will experiment with just water as well.
      Thanks for your tip!


  • Reply
    AmDe Sidik
    May 28, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Indeed is beautiful result. I’m just starting too, haven’t finished my 36 mm roll yet, While at the same time still waiting for my chemical for developing I ordered to arrived.Photos are sharp and crispy clear intriguing to me.Congratulation and thanks.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks AmDe,
      I hope my articles are helpful to you and I hope to see your results here 🙂

  • Reply
    Michael Jardine
    May 28, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    These are great. Last summer, I was granted indefinite loan of a ‘prestige brand’ TLR and tumbled back head-over-heels into film photography after many years’ break. Medium format, especially thru’ a TLR is intoxicating and primal and reminds you what you already know and what you don’t about taking photographs. This blog’s quite dangerous isn’t it, in the enthusiasm it seems to inspire?… I have in recent weeks also re-discovered the utter unbridled joy of going on photo-safari (aka ‘government-mandated daily exercise), then coming home and sticking the film directly into the tank. It shouldn’t be a massive surprise that a 150-yr old technology works so damned well, but a surprise it is!

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm

      Intoxicating and dangerous does not sound good but it gives the idea 😀
      You are right, this blog is phenomenal. With a great bunch of passionate and good people.
      I think that mid format is just the good ratio of gorgeousness/Practicality. Now I find the vertical 35mm just not right. I don’t know why but I almost dislike them…despite the fact that I understand in some occasions they work well.
      TLR’s are my new love.

  • Reply
    Neal A Wellons
    May 28, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Great photos and congratulations on your film work. As far as developing, I looked at a Caffenol group on Flickr and decided it gives good results. Soon, I was ready with the ingredients and was more than pleased with the results. The images were very good. Unfortunately, I am a bit lazy so I still opt for HC-110 with the spent solution going into my septic tank. I worked in wastewater treatment for 32 years and don’t think you should be concerned about darkroom chemicals, either in septic tanks or sewer lines.

    Like others, I don’t use stop bath and have processed over 100 rolls of B&W and color since I got back into developing 3 years ago. Never had a problem.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Hi Neal,
      Thanks for your comment. I will probably give a go to Caffenol, just for fun.

    • Reply
      David Purton
      May 29, 2020 at 11:22 am

      First foray? Really! Spot on exposures resulting in superb prints with beautiful tonal range. Great camera by all accounts but not one I have used. Rollei tlr and Linhof in the past, ‘Blad for pro work..and now Mamiya C220’s and 6×9 Mamiya Press “for fun”! I can highly recommend the C220 for quality and price plus of course a fantastic range of lenses….

      Boring bit over, it’s about the pictures, so much what shooting film is about and this is superb work. Your eye, technical ability, processing and printing frankly make me jealous!!

      Think you might have been “top of the class ” when I used to teach this stuff!!

      • Reply
        Andrea Bevacqua
        May 29, 2020 at 1:27 pm

        Hi David,
        well thanks! I think you exaggerating a bit but I appreciate that.


  • Reply
    Sergio Palazzi
    May 28, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    Notevole, Andrea. Benvenuto a bordo della nave dei folli!

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 28, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      Grazie Sergio! Ben trovato

      Thanks Sergio, glad to meet you

  • Reply
    Donald Qualls
    May 29, 2020 at 1:45 am

    I’ve used Caffenol many times. It’s a very good developer, especially if you’ll print in a darkroom. Xtol is also very good, and you can easily get the ingredients to make Mytol, a homebrew version of Xtol.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 29, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Hi Donald,
      I don’t know Mytol. I will check it.

  • Reply
    Bernd Runde
    May 29, 2020 at 7:57 am

    I can only encourage you to go ahead with coffenol. for me one of the bigger ones on the plus side is not to have any shelf life in my mind. I just add everything I need to my ordinary shopping list and off you go. For me – as I develop fairly un-regular with the tendency to very seldom – this is quite a thing.

    I did and will do the entire process from developing the file to developing the paper with caffenol. Having said that – for paper it is a bit pain in the backside as the developer exhausting very quick and you perhaps manage only 2-3 pages with one shot. consequently – if you need a quick print for lets say: a birthday present coffenol is an option for printing. If you plan to spend an entire Saturday in the darkroom, perhaps not..

    to more good reasons why I’m a big fan: it is kids-friendly chemicals and last but not least: SO MUCH FUN
    (…just my 2 cents )

    Great Pictures by the way!

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 29, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Hi Bernd,
      I will try it for sure. Now I am hooked!


  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    What a coincidence, I also just acquired a Yashica Mat-124G! Bought it on first week of May, Can’t think clearly due to lockdown and spontaneously bought it on online seller here in Indonesia. Not in the best condition cosmetically – which make it not too precious to be used – but the lens are in good condition. Can’t wait until things got better so I can use it more outside campus’ housing facility where I live.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 29, 2020 at 1:56 pm

      Yeah, it seems now became a bit of a trend this camera. Anyway, enjoy it because I think it deserves it!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Andrea, first time? These are superb negatives! You did really well with both exposure and development. And I think the square format works with your way of viewing the world. After using 6×6 for awhile, you will probably think of 24×36 as the “miniature format”. Next step: Hasselblad or Mamiya RZ67, or a 6×7 mini view camera.

    • Reply
      Andrea Bevacqua
      May 30, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      Well, thank you!
      You are right, I really like the square format, now I find the 35mm “odd”.
      I’ve got a couple of Zeiss 6×9 which I want to try.
      Thanks for reading!

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