Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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I went through my film developing and scanning routine once again in the past days. And I’m starting to get used to it. A number of things were different this time, though. The first was that with my newly acquired AE-1 I now had two cameras at my disposal – meaning I could use films of different speeds at the same time. This meant I had two films to develop – an ADOX CHS 100 and an ADOX CHM 400 (aka Ilford HP5) which I shot at ISO 1600.

But there was another change: I recently bought a pack of developer (ATM 49) which is supposed to give finer grain. It’s not that expensive – €5 for two packs giving a litre each, with each litre being good for ten films – and it was the first developer I had to dissolve myself, reading all the health warnings they decorated the packaging with on the way. Then I developed away – with things taking good time (pushing the ISO 400 film two stops took 26 minutes). As you have to turn the film container every 30 seconds while developing, this was the first time I thought there might actually be a point to applications like Flex Time. Although I ended up investing four lines of shabby AppleScript instead [Why exactly is the command for AppleScript to just idle for a while called delay rather than wait? – That one gets my every time!]

And whoa! That developer was worth the money. While I thought my negatives came out all right previously, there was sometimes a bit too much grain for my taste – grain of the lumpy kind rather than the kind I consider cool, that is. I was told that this is due to my use of Rodinal – and this change of developer suggests that was correct. In addition I found that the bright spots in the photos just look better – more brilliant – which I welcome as well.

Of course I managed to damage a negative or two while developing, and I also got some water stains on there once more – even with the dishwashing liquid I added when rinsing the film. And don’t get me started about the dust. While I’ve been really careful and tried to get the negatives packed away in protective sleeves as soon as possible, I could still see dust on some of the scanned negatives.

The fact that a number of the photos ended up being quite dark may have helped that. In fact there were two interesting projects on these films. The first had to do with jumping. I started enjoying that idea when I passed some trampolins with Jörg and his kids and I took photos there. And then I learned that this wasn’t the most original thing to do and that there’s artistic history behind – and of course a flickr group these days.

While it may be difficult to talk people into jumping for a photo, so far I’m quite happy with the results. Not only do you get the movement to play with (which is of course much simpler when shooting digitally and having more than a single shot), my impression so far is that people also look much happier when jumping. No more grumpy photos with closed eyes – but smiling excitement! Nice.

The other little project was inspired by this shot on flickr – as photo with an eight second exposure time of someone playing guitar. Cool! I wanted one as well. So I convinced my flatmate Daniel that he really wanted to do this as well. And we sat there with a tripod, hardly any light and many many shots.

I first took some with the digital camera to get a feeling for the exposure times and the problems we could run into with movements. It’s not the easiest thing to play the guitar with interesting movements of the hands while not moving the guitar – particularly if your guitar player has the ‘artistic integrity’ to want to play actual songs rather than just going for the good-looking movements. From the digital shots we got this one as a reasonably good result. A bit more movement and a darker background would have been nice.

Getting the light right for this was a bit of trouble. Because with eight seconds of exposure time you really need a very feeble light and you want that to shine on the guitar in an interesting way. I supposed something more sophisticated than my bed lamp with the MacBook bag on top of it could have helped. As a dark background would have. And while I did some measurements and computations to get the correct exposure time and aperture to use when shooting this on film, those images all ended up being too dark - even those done at ISO 1600. It’s not quite clear to me why that happened.

So where’s this?

December 20, 2006, 1:42

Tagged as bw.


Comment by Daniel Jalkut: User icon

As you have to turn the film container every 30 seconds while developing, this was the first time I thought there might actually be a point to applications like Flex Time.

I love that quote :) But oh, we’ll get you eventually!

December 20, 2006, 20:51

Comment by ssp: User icon

Keep trying!

December 21, 2006, 2:39

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