Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photography Year 2012 In Review

2012 Was The Year Of The Dragon

Gone Walkabout Up Country As Almost No Snow In Toronto

Toronto Islands  In January

The Diffusion Of Occupy Toronto Into The Collective Memory 

Trying Out a Couple of New For Me Medium Format Cameras

From The Mamiya RZ67

Hasselblad 500cm

In and Around the Streets Of Toronto

A Couple Of Double Exposures For Old Times Sake

In And Around The Streets Of Paris

Some Portraits And Modeling

Some Countryside

The Year Wouldn't Be Complete Without Some Strangeness 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Developing Film And Water Spots

Following on from my blog posting titled Odds and Ends In B&W Film Development I  thought I would continue with the topic of the final rinse.

Final Rinse Update - In the past I had spots now none:

The final rinse is 3 minutes in distilled water; After the 3 minutes I  then add 1 drop of Edwards LFN wetting agent.; Shake really well for 5   seconds, wait  until any foam dies down; Then remove film from liquid. Shake off excess water and hang to dry.

Absolutely no spots!

The distilled water adds  about $0.15 per roll but it seems to be worth it, The trick seems to be prior to adding the wetting agent leave the film in the distilled water for long enough to dilute (replace) any of the tap water in the emulsion.
Over washing and washing the film like a raccoon can do irreparable damage to the emulsion.

Obviously if you get white spots with tap water you need distilled for the final rinse if you don't get them then you don't.. And of course negatives without white spots and drying marks are better than those that have them.

I did an experiment watching under a microscope one drop of distilled water and one drop of my tap water dry on a microscope slide. Absolutely no observable difference! So why use distilled water? Distilled water removes most minerals from the film gelatin layer so it doesn't come to the surface later and cause water marks when it drys. The final rinse must be long enough for the gelatin to become in equilibrium with the rinse water. The reason I reuse the same "distilled" water from the final rinse for the photo flow or wetting agent stage is that I want the water within the gelatin to be in equilibrium with the water that has the wetting agent. This and a short cycle time with good agitation keeps the wetting agent surfactant mostly on the surface where it belongs. It's all about chemistry, surface chemistry, diffusion and equilibrium.

Why not dishwashing soap instead of a wetting agent? Because it's a false economy and they contains impurities, contaminants that could cause problems. Wetting agents designed for film do not have the extra impurities that are added to dish water soaps and are only a couple of pennies per film.


Sometimes I find stuff floating in my developer or fixer, to remove pore the liquid through a small fine stainless sieve used for cooking. Don't forget to rinse the sieve after using to prevent corrosion.


 I recently I brought an old Kindermann Rapid dryer. I then taped a dust and pollen filter over the fan air inlet so for a total cost of $20 I can now have dry, dust and spot free film ready to scan within 45 minutes of development.

There are many DIY dryers out there on the web including those made with garment bags. This MacGyver like method although I haven't tried it yet, it looks brilliant!


Depending on your water the use of distilled water may be dangerous overkill. A friend of mine after many years of no problem started to have problems with spots this went on with the spots getting worse over the year, Finally he gave me a spotted frame which under a microscope showed fine surface crazing all over with the spots caused by more severe surface damage rather than by left over chemical residue. With the proof he finally followed my advice and used the Ilford method of rinsing. Suddenly no problems! His problems started when in his own words "Someone told me I should rinse more so I started to rinse more and the more I rinsed the bigger the problem so I added more rinsing aid and more distilled water. Ended up rinsing  like a Raccoon." 


Why Is Water The Universal Solvent

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vuescan, Lightroom and DNG Plus The Lomography DigitaLIZA

Fall Path
My blog on Plustek scanner mentioned my purchasing of the scanner software Vuescan to replace the software that came with the scanner. Up to now I have avoided using it for my epson v500 as I find the epson scanner software very easy to use. For a change I decided to try the Vuescan DNG output. DNG is equivalent to a RAW file only in a Adobe format. This turns out to have several advantages if you happen to own Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • You don't have to fuss with scanner settings for each individual image (Just set gain and base colour on an unexposed part of the negative once per roll)
  • You can extract and save all the information that the scanner can provide in a standardized archival form
  • Fits into Lightroom's non destructive workflow so reprocessing does not degrade the scan.
  • Merges your film and digital workflow
  • You can make and apply your own colour profiles, curves, fx and other post processes as many times as you want
  • You start out with a RAW file that has more information and less noise then a conventional tiff scan with some curves applied during the scanning phase
Warning the Vuescan DNG has a linear gamma of 1 the same as a scanner so opening up a file out side of a gamma aware program will result in an image seeming to have a very strange contrast curve.
New note on Vuescan/Epson V500 here.

For Pixel Peekers

Have a look at this example of 35mm Nikon FMn2 105mm hand held street portrait on HP5 film developed in Xtol + Rodinal and scanned on my Plustek 7400

Original scan from the Plustek B&W scanned as a 48 bit tiff

1:1 with some slight sharpening in post

Lomography DigitaLIZA

I have to give the Lomography DigitaLIZA  120 Format film holder a 4 out of five rating compared to the epson holder 2.4/5 rating. It's so much better for keeping curly film flat. It's also easy to load the film.

  • For the digitiliza make up a template that you can place on your scanner bed to make it easy to align the Digitaliza with the scanner bed (I made mine out of a stiff cardboard looks like a thick L) be careful not to cover the calibration area of the scanner
  • I use a rocket blower rather then canned air to blow any dust off the negative. 
  • A pair of silk inner liner gloves (from a sports or outdoor shop) are much better then cotton gloves for handling negatives

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    What Is And What Isn’t Street Photography?

     I have a personal definition of Street Photography. It is personal because I don’t believe a formal definition of what is and what isn’t Street Photography does anything except to fix firmly in the past our idea of what street photography should be.

    Personal definition what is Street Photography:

    • Urban environment
    • Range of distances: from up close and personal to across the street. (Across the street being more urban life scene less traditional street.)
    • The subject should scream life and humanity all those personal quirks and everyday little and big things that make us human
    • The subject does not have to be a person or persons regardless it does have to evoke an image of humanity
    • There has to be some transit nature to the subject. An example: A half eaten ice cream cone melting on a pavement evokes memories and tells a story
    • Generally the single photograph should stand by it’s self even when it’s included in a larger photojournalist type story. Whether or not the single image shows truth in the photojournalist sense is not relevant.

    My Personal Definition of What Definitely Isn’t Street Photography (doesn’t mean I won’t take the shot any way)

    • Beach scenes; nature scenes, country roads; Architecture, statues and art as the primary subject.
    • Static objects including empty streets (too obvious and trite) although fog street scenes are tempting
    • Road traffic where the cars, trucks … are the subject even is it’s a long exposure and shows pretty light painting effects
    • Too much staging although I hate getting into the street portrait debate


    • Sometimes a backside is just a backside and a snapshot is just a snapshot, trite is trite in whatever guise
    • Geometric organizations and patterns, can be really interesting but if too clinical and clean without the grit it’s more of an abstract
    • Sometimes a sign mixed with people work as street, it depends if the subject is the people rather then mostly the sign.

    Most important: If you see a shot take the shot! If you take a shot then consider staying a minute or two and taking another the shot from several different positions and angles. Worry about any definitions of what is or is not street afterwards,

    By my definition here are some borderline Street photographs. Except for the first one they all came from the same roll of film. Remember there is no right or wrong answer.
    Robocall: “Democracy Can Kiss My Shiny Metal Ass"

    Body Language

    Freshly Squeezed
    At The Bay

    Wednesday, August 01, 2012

    New Kodak Portra 400 Beautiful When Pushed One Stop - Review Update

    In my first review of the new Kodak Portra 400 I had one negative about the film

    Cons : Needs post processing to bring out contrast 

    Turns out there is a splendid work around: Unlike most other colour negative films Kodak Portra 400 shooting at ISO 640 and developed pushed 1 stop in normal C41 chemistry really brings out the contrast  and colors. These days this is my preferred way of using the film.  The dynamic range (contrast ratio) is increased at the expense of a slightly decreased latitude. In addition an extra 2/3 to a stop of increased ISO really helps out in hand holding medium format cameras.

    Beware that unfortunately not all labs will correctly push c41 films.

    Kodak Portra 400 Shot at ISO 640 and pushed one stop in C41chemistry

    Slide show of some more pushed Kodak Portra 400

    Faux Cross-Processing

    Cross processing is simply developing film in a different process then it was intended to be processed. The most common type of cross processing is developing slide film as colour negative film. Normal slide film is processing is called E6 and normal colour negative film processing is called c41,

    If you are interested here is a slide show of some of my slide film cross-processed in c41.

    Also here is my blog posting exposing some of the myths of cross-processing:

    Now days there are plenty of actions that try to duplicate the "Cross-processed" look. But it turns out much of what we consider the cross processing look and feel is as a result of a lab scan as opposed to a printed photograph. Mini lab scanners when scanning cross processed film as a normal c41 assumes a nonexistent orange base plus a normal colour channel gamma.

    I am interested in duplicating the look of cross processing by back engineering a normal image back to a faux cross processed negative. Just for fun after scanning I converted a Portra 400 negative film to a cross processed slide by reversing the result and then reversed the negative back to a positive assuming a none existing orange base that a regular negative film would have.

    This is my first attempt in using a model rather then a canned action:

    Original Photo

    Faux Cross Processed