Still Making Due

Starvation Creek Falls, October 2016

I’ve been without a darkroom for over a year and a half.  My attempt to carve one out of a spare bedroom was foiled by carpet.  Gaia and I don’t consider this to be our permeant house, so ripping up the wall-to-wall carpet upstairs is out of the question.  And, even if we could do that, imagine the damage that a few major fixer spills could do to the resale value.  
I have the room set up, sans sink.  The enlargers are ready to go, I have chems and paper.  I can get the room dark enough to load film, but the dust is impossible to control.  I can do contact prints, and develop them in a Jobo Processor in the bathroom, but the dust is… you get the point.  

I could muddle through.  The situation is not impossible.  But, after having a real darkroom for so long, the difficulty of doing the most basic processes, when compared to the ease I experienced before, makes it not worth doing when I can send my film out for developing, and scan the negatives.  My scanner won’t do 8×10 negatives, but I’m working on that. 

What does the future bring?  Someday a different house with space for a proper darkroom.  I’m also reconsidering carving a small darkroom out of the garage.  More on this later.

Digital:  I am looking to buy a pro digital camera like a Nikon D810.  I do not intend it to take over for film, but I can use it for the quick shots, and save the medium and large format film for the spectacular shots.  

Featured image: Camera: Hasselblad 500CM with a 40mm Carl Zeiss lens.  

Between darkrooms and making due

Well, the new house in Hood River is very efficient, but not conducive to containing a production darkroom.  I set up the third bedroom with the D5XL enlarger, and some of the framing equipment, but it’s carpeted, so all of the wet stuff has to happen in the bathroom with my Jobo CPP processor.

So….

I bought a digital camera to keep me going until I carve a darkroom out of the garage.

The impossible happened.

I have the photos to prove it.

Ruthton Point, October 2015 # 2I bought a used Nikon D300 with a 24-120 VR lens.  Then, I had my Nikon prime lenses converted to AI at Blue Moon Camera.  These include the following:

20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 65mm Macro (Vivitar), and 135mm.

Add to that my 300mm Tamron with a 2X teleconverter, and the package is complete.

The interesting part of this is that it made me a better film photographer.  Having the ability to see how my shot will turn out immediately enabled me to get the most out of my film shots.

I’m still shooting film, but I don’t get around to developing them as often as I’d like to.  I hope to get the Jobo fired up this weekend, so I’ll have some early spring shots coming up soon.

Losing my darkroom.

Black is turning to white.  My darkroom since 2005 is turning back into a bedroom.  

We’re getting ready to move into the Columbia Gorge, so I’m getting the Portland house ready for sale.  The saddest part of this tearing down the darkroom.  On Tuesday, I ripped apart the sink that I built from plywood and boat paint, and I had the first coat of white paint on it by this morning.

I waited 10 years to have my own darkroom.  I’m hoping that it isn’t another 10 years until I get another one.  

Zillah, Washington

Zillah Teacup

Infrared Church, Colton NY

This is from my East Coast trip last Spring.

I have a few more rolls of my favorite film, Konica IR 750, which was discontinued in 2006, in my freezer. I shot this roll over nearly a year, choosing each subject carefully while trying to remember how to use the stuff.

©2014 Gary L. Quay

©2014 Gary L. Quay

I took a chance on development. I tried a new (to me) developer called Divided D-23. It’s a variation on Kodak’s D-23, and was the version that Ansel Adams used briefly. I used it on a less precious roll of film before trying it on this. The results were stunning. Some of the infrared look is missing, but I think the visual is quite nice.

Wahkeena Falls, May 2014. Developed in coffee.

20140716-230141.jpg

I made an interesting experiment with this picture. I deliberately overexposed it to bring out the detail in the shadows, and, instead of my initial intention of reducing development to tame the highlights, I used a formula known as Caffenol CL, and stand developed the negative for 70 minutes.

This is a scan of the negative. I altered the curve a little to darken the deep shadows, but no other adjustments were necessary. In the darkroom, it should print fine on grade 2 paper.

The Mad Achemist Speaks: Fall 2012 in 510 Pyro

Chanticleer Point, November 2012

Chanticleer Point, November 2012

I took this picture on Tuesday, November 14, 2012 from Chanticleer Point in the Columbia Gorge. For once, the clouds were cooperating. So many times here in NW oregon, we have either total overcast, or blank, cloudless skies. Finding the cusp between these two opposites can be a challenge fo people like me who work 6 or 7 days a week at our day jobs so that we can afford to shoot large format film.

I have been experimenting with the developer 510 Pyro. Formulated by Jay DeFehr, it uses Pyrogallolic Acid, Phenidone and TEA (not the Earl Grey kind) as its main ingredients. it seems to be more stable than PMK, and has less of the maddening streaking and mottling. I mixed the developer two weeks ago, and melted my 100 ml graduate (beaker) in the process. It didn’t occur to me that a viscus 150 degree liquid would turn my measuring device into the leaning tower of plastic. Go figure. So far, I like this developer. It doesn’t have as much general pyro stain as PMK, but it has more proportional stain.

A few notes on pyro for the uninitiated. Pyro , which is short for pyrogallolic acid, was formulated, I think, in the 1860’s and enjoyed wide use until more stable developers arrived on the scene around the turn of the century. It’s demise was slow, however, as demand for it from a small, but determined number of photographers persisted. By the 1970’s it was all but forgotten. Then along came Gordon Hutchins. He formulated PMK Pyro in the late 1970’s to work better with modern films, and to reduce pyro’s tendency for uneven development. His success repopularized pyro, and led to a succession of new formulae.

Pyro is what is known as a “staining developer.” It tans, or hardens, the emulsion during development. This has a number of effects. I will mention two. First, the hardening of the emulsion tends to restrain highlights, and compresses the tonal scale of the negative. This can be an advantage in night photography, or for high contrast images when a softer negative is desired, especially when printing on variable contrast papers. Second, the image stain masks film grain, and creates sharper images.

The lens I used for this image was my 8″ Cooke Series IV Anastigmat. Made somewhere in the late 1800’s, it is exquisitely sharp, and the optics are uncoated. I wanted to see how uncoated optics would render the scene. Modern, coated optics are much more contrasty, and have a different feel to the images they create. Now, here’s the kicker: I used a red filter. If I’m trying to see how a lower contrast lens will render a scene, why would a use a red filter? I think that even with a red filter, the gradations of tone are smoother with an uncoated lens. Or, at least, that’s what I wanted to prove to myself. I like the results.

Camera: Camera City View 5×7.
Lens: Cooke Series IV Anastigmat.
Film: Arista.edu 100 developed in 510 Pyro

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