Film . . .

I am beginning to really enjoy taking pictures with film these days.

Autumnal Grasses-1

As I’ve said, in my early days of photography – back in the 80s when digital didn’t exist – my experiences were all really bad.  I had no training and no idea what to do.  Maybe it is because my own family didn’t take pictures, so my experience with photography was very, very limited.  I had no idea what made a good picture as far as composition, and no idea how to make a good exposure.  Hundreds of dollars in printed ugliness was no reward, but the best deterrent!


Enter the digital camera, some classes, lots of reading, and now I think I can go out and take a few shots in film without screaming at the results.  One reason is I can get digital images, rather than prints.  Costs are $10 – $11 / roll of film.  I have my own scanner.  Now, I am learning how to shoot film, such as lowering the iso for richer color and better contrast.  I am learning how to use my software to do post production, which may seem like cheating, but it is simply a digital vs. chemical darkroom.  Film still retains the quality of film, even if digitized – at least, it seems to me it does!


One of the most fun things about film is trying out different types of film, and finding ones I like.  I have tried Tri-X, T-Max, Superia, Rollei Crossbird, UltraMax, Ektar, and have a few others.  It’s really cool.  Developing B&W is going to happen with greater frequency, and later, developing color.

Trees & Rocks-1

What have I gotten out of this?  Patience with composition.  Appreciation of digital and analog film processes.  A sense of success.  And a whole hell of a lot of fun!

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The First Pictures

As I stated in my last post, I processed my own film at home for the first time. and scanned them after the film strip hung drying several hours in the bathroom.  I have a Pakon 135 scanner, and it gives excellent results.


Initially, with the Pakon, I was getting only negatives – I had forgotten what to check off in the software to make the negatives into positives.  Once that was figured out, the results were interesting – for some reason the Pakon will image black and white with a rather reddish tint.


Desaturation was the key, so in LR, the saturation bar was moved to the far left, and the result was a black and white image! Now editing could begin.

The scans showed scratches and bits of debris – not sure if the debris is in the scanner (blow it out with canned air?) – but I expect the scratches were the result of my trying to roll the film onto the reel prior to developing. Fortunately, LR and Perfect Photo Suite help a lot in the post-production clean up to produce the final digital image.

Follows are some images . . . not all have been worked on, except to reduce the reddish tint.

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Developing My First Roll of Film at Home!

This adventure began this summer, and only now did I finally get around to developing my first roll of black and white film (Ilford HP5, 400 iso) at home. I was tooooooo scared!


On the dining room table, on a towel and metal tray, the chemicals and such were laid out. I practiced loading the reel and placing it in the developing tank multiple times. I have a developing bag that I bought, and it, as you may know, replaces the need for a dark room. I found that if I closed my eyes and focused on touch, things were much easier. Of course, when a dog barks suddenly, it does get a little stressful.

The directions I followed were from Peter at, and while my water out of the tap was a little warmer, I am hoping that there is a bit of latitude when it comes to temperature and time.  My husband also helped out, sort of supervising the “now do this!  now do that!” part of it – the first time doing anything is a challenge, no matter how many times you rehearse, eh?

So, now, I have film hanging in the shower stall, drip drying until later this afternoon or early evening, which is when I will scan it to see what I got.


What excitement to pull out the developed roll! I can see that I got photos – there is contrast, so that means something worked right . . . on this roll, I used the Werra along with green, yellow, and orange filters to see how they affect contrast. Feeling the film, it is not tacky, which means the chemicals were good, too.

So, I leave you with this hint below . . . and will show you the results after I scan them. Stay tuned!


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Morning Spiders

Sounds gross, if you don’t like spiders. I like spiders . . . but not in my house and not on me.

The Sun is Up!

That said, I went out this morning with a new-to-me Spotmatic film camera with a 55mm f1.8 Super Takumar lens, and my cell phone, just in case something happened. I will take the film in later this morning, and perhaps add some images once I get the film and scans back from the lab this afternoon.

Cactus - Fuji Astia 100F

I never use my phone for photography, just because I don’t think of it. If I have the desire to take pictures, I take a camera. My intent was to use up the rest of a roll of Lomography 100 with two goals in mind – see if the camera and lens function – and to see what the film itself is like, having never used it before.

Cholla in the Morning Sun

I walked down the trail, waiting for the sun to come over the horizon to begin backlighting the fields of cacti and trees. Canyon wrens called back and forth, ravens croaked, and things scuttled in the undergrowth. At times, I saw very early hikers out further on the switchbacks dropping into the canyon below.

Web Sweet Web

As the sun came up, I turned around, looking at the beginning of the classic starburst of the sun through the leaves, and checking the beginning of morning backlighting of thorns and leaves, as well as silhouettes of leaves and branches further away. It was then that I noticed all the beautifully perfect spider webs, glinting in the sun – a real neighborhood of garden spiders in classical webs, centered like Xs. It was stunning.

Sunrise Web

I may have gotten a few good shots on film – don’t know until I see. I did shoot with my cell phone, and while the images are not really good, per se, they did catch a memory of a beautiful morning.

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Learning to Like Photography

For me, photography has always been an interesting dichotomy or dilemma, a sort of love-hate relationship.  I enjoy looking at photographs, but as someone who has always drawn or painted, to me, photography often seemed rather pointless other than “creating memories.”  It’s the exactitude of a photo that gets me – little in the area of artistic endeavor.  However, as I have been doing it now for about five years, I am slowly changing my mind.


Let’s travel back in time.  As a kid, I had a camera, and took snaps.  I also have a handful of photos from times past, images of my family and parents and of a generation past.  There is something to be said for these pictures – a name has a face – a flavor of a time is caught.  No, these are not “art” as I think of it, but bits and pieces of the quilt which is my life and the lives of others.


In my twenties, I bought a Canon A-1, thinking I’d be a hotshot photographer because I finally got a “good” camera.  Hah!  I have a number of snaps of deer butts – yes, indeed!  a fine collection!  The reason is simply because I had no education in photography or concept of construction of a photo – of waiting, of thinking, of taking the time to wait for a picture.  The cost of film processing was dreadful, and so I put away the camera until the digital age.


The beauty of digital, as we all know, is the fact that film and processing costs go out the door.  A few classes helped me learn more about the camera, and soon I had a few purchases and thousands of pictures under my belt.  Truth to tell, I was – and still am – somewhat caught in a love-hate relationship with photography.


Now I am returning to film, and finding there is something about having to wait to see my photos.  Digital has given me the opportunity to learn more about the elements of composition and how different lenses work.  There are some lenses that are my favorites, many of which are manual focus or prime digitals.  Some of my cameras I prefer more than others.  There are also software programs and plug-ins which can trigger the creative process.  Finally, it is a real pleasure to be able to scan my own analog images and play with them.  Perhaps at one point I will develop and print, but for now, that cost factor and failure factor, and the where-the-hell-will-I-put-these factor all create a “no” for now.

Mooooo (1 of 1)

I am learning to like photography more, and appreciate it as an art form.  Some of it is an appreciation for the historical.  Some of it is going out with friends and looking at what others do.  Reading about different ways to “see” helps as well – working with the rule of thirds, layering of fore-middle-back, action, direction – all these are helping me see the world around me as it happens, which is very different than creating a picture on paper wherein I am the god(dess) directing motion, movement, or whatever.

Under the Greenwood Trees

Somewhere I read one must dedicate 10,000 hours to an art to gain a modicum of mastery.  Maybe I am on my way.

Lunch Window (1 of 1)

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Cornmeal Biscuits

Cornmeal Biscuits

Instead of the usual corn tortillas to go along with our homemade chili verde, I thought cornmeal biscuits were a good idea. At first, cornbread floated through my mind, and then I thought of biscuits . . . why not combine the ideas together?

Cornmeal Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425 F.

3/4 c. butter, unsalted, finely diced
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. white sugar
1/2 c. chopped, fresh sweet pepper (I used pale, green Hungarian)
1/2 c. corn, fresh or frozen
2/3 c. buttermilk (or thin yogurt)

Combine dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal, salt, soda, cream of tartar, and sugar – in a bowl. Blend in, as for pastry, the butter, until combination resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pepper and corn. With a fork, stir in the buttermilk.

Check biscuits for consistency, adding more flour or buttermilk as you think is necessary.

Create a ball out of dough and knead briefly on floured board.  Roll out biscuits, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, on floured board, using 2.5 inch biscuit cutter.

Place on baking sheet. If you want, brush tops with extra buttermilk. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven quirks, until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack.

I got a nice baker’s dozen, but YMMV.

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Bilious Green Horrors


A nightmare of green.

This is Rollei Crossbird Creative Edition film. It sounded interesting. In a green-ish landscape, it is a nightmare of greens. This looks like something designed to torture.

91260005 91260012 91260035 RCCE - Trees 1 (1 of 3)

As you can see, with too much green it only devolves into creepiness.

But, if you have reds in the image, suddenly it becomes interesting.

RCCE - On the Table (1 of 1)

RCCE - The Bar (1 of 1)

RCCE - In the Surfboard Museum (1 of 1)

I actually rather like these. These are straight out of C41 processing.

But the nightmares can be changed into something – better? different? more interesting? artistic?

RCCE - Trees 1 (3 of 3)

RCCE - The End of Summer (2 of 2)

RCCE - Door & Mirror (1 of 1)

Oaks & Pathway - Sunflower Fields - Topaz Restyle

Yes, I think so. I used my own presets in LR, Topaz Restyle, and a few other things.

Conclusion: This film is weird, but that is what it is supposed to be. I bought it because it was an experiment. It tweaks the mind. Also, a lot of the photos, I actually like, and wish I could turn them into something more normal.

I shot this with my Nikon FM2n and 50mm f1.4mm AIS lens.

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