After some time, I am back into the world of photography. I’ve always been intrigued by analogue photography and especially by the dark room, but I have never attempted it. So, after a few years of digital, I thought it’s time to give it a go.
I am lucky enough to have a few vintage cameras in house, so all I needed was a starter kit for developing. I want to experiment with colour eventually, but for now, I am starting with B&W.
As I wanted to learn as much as possible, the starter kit I choose included also the bulk film loader, so I could make my rolls as well. My new equipment includes an Epson flatbed scanner as I also want to import the negatives on the computer.
My future step will be to approach the dark room for prints with an enlarger and complete the full analog process, but hey, one step at time!
After a bit of research, and thanks to Hamish who helped me to understand how the Leica M2 works, I loaded it with a roll of Ilford HP5+ and headed out in the estate where I live in order to do some trial shots and start developing.
In less than an hour I got my first roll completely exposed so I decided to continue and load the Ilford P3 400Iso Surveillance (bulk) I bought to do more shots, this time with a Diana+… yes, the toy camera!
It was then time to develop. To keep things easier, I decided to try the Monobath Cinestill Df96 which seems a decent compromise for home developing. I was very excited but, due to my lack of confidence, I thought I messed it up and I was pretty sure I was about to get a couple of black stripes of film. Thankfully, I actually obtained two rolls of negatives with some decent images!… I mean, decent, considering it was the very first attempt.
I was very surprised – I did not think it would be so easy.
Much more confident with the digital side of things, I thought it would be now really easy to scan the negatives and save them into my hard drive for saving online.
And here I got another surprise: the main difficulty was to understand all the settings of the software and then all the adjustments in order to scan a decent image. I did not think about the fact that you have so many different settings, all of which can result loads of different image outcomes, which in turn can tell different stories…
This thought brought me to the idea of making the minimum edits possible to the negatives. It is very easy to get lost between all the changes that a software can produce!
So my perceptions were exactly the opposite in the actual experience, developing was easier than expected, while scanning was much more difficult! I am not saying it is easy to have a good result. There are many of variables to consider, so it does require planning and some study but it was easy to obtain a result from film and home developing than I thought it might be.
However easy or hard any of it was, it all worked well enough for me. I was looking for a learning experience to keep building up on my pre-existing passion for photography – and that’s exactly what I got!
My journey into analogue has just begun, and I can’t wait for better days to go out and shoot without the limitations of the social distancing and the fear of contracting this awful virus.
I hope to be able to contribute with more quality images very soon and to learn as much as possible via your comments and tips.