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Prints using Seasoned X-Tol

 Joke all you like. I'm a.... how does one politely put it.... frugal fellow. I've been looking into the least expensive means of developing film for a while. I'd been trying to use my thrifty skills on behalf of the school where I work (Mills College, which clearly didn't work out as we're working on shutting down.) For school I've had the lab setup to use HC-110 dilution E (1:47 from syrup, or 1:9 from stock.) HC-110 dilution E ended up being good solution for our school darkroom. Paterson tanks require 10oz per roll of 35mm, and 1:9 dilution makes math easy. And it costs about 25% of the developer we were using when I started. I like HC-110 ok. It works well for stand development. It's economical. It lasts seemingly forever. But it is NOT compensating. And some of the most common budget films are a bit on the contrasty side (FOMA for example.) Doing some research I found that you can replenish Xtol with fresh Xtol. And you can allegedly keep going foreve
Recent posts

Shooting the Sheet - X-ray Duping Film and Positives from Litho Film

Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or at least that old dog can learn tricks on his own. I'm the dog in this metaphor, but by most people's standards the old is not metaphorical. Photography has been an important aspect of my life since I was in my mid-teens and now I'm 51. By trade both my dad and grandfather were/are professional photographers. So when it comes to film photography, I feel I know alot compared to most.   I've been playing around with X-ray film for a couple years now.  A sheet of conventional 8x10" film can cost from about $3 to $15. Some X-ray films are going for less than $0.50/sheet. But there are a lot of quirks. Most X-ray films are coated on both sides which is problematic for methods most of us use for processing. All (?) X-ray films are Orthochromatic (not sensitive to red) and as such can be processed under a safelight.  For conventional photography I found Carestream Ektascan BR/A film to be a good option even though it wa

Cyanotype Testing

For the college I work, I've been working on cyanotype testing. Our darkroom class like all others was forced into quarantine. And guess what, it's hard to learn how to develop film and enlarge it from your dorm or apartment. But you can learn cyanotype process and do that at home. Of course unlike me the students don't have a bunch of large format negatives to contact print. But they did find creative ways to use the process. I had relatively little knowledge of the process until now despite my 35 or so years of conventional photographic experience. So I'm taking some time to become as expert as I can to help students if we resort to cyanotyping. Actually, even if life resumed as normal, I'd still want to continue with this process. It's very inexpensive, easy and relatively safe. That despite half of the chemistry used to make the sensitizer having cyanide in the name (Potassium Fericyanide.) Below are some tests using different techniques and substrates. What

A few new scans from 5x7" negs

The Gods of Analog have been generous to me of late. The world around us may be falling apart. But I was given a ton of weird photosensitive materials. In the recent past I also acquired two 5x7 cameras, and gradually have been working with them. My uncle gave me a Seneca 5x7 camera, a truly old school wooden camera with a lens of the type that requires a bulb release that you squeeze and the air triggers the shutter. It's a nice, compact lightweight camera slimmer and lighter than most of my 4x5's. Processing of the films has been a bit of a challenge. I bought a reel from e-bay that in principal seems good. But 5x7 film on a reel tends to bend quite a bit. And getting the films on the right rung on the reel proves difficult, especially in a film tent. I'll end this here, but just wanted to share my love for the 5x7 film format.

Graflex 23 on an RB67?

The RB67 and Graflex 23 Back Recently my dad gave me his Mamiya RB67. Since then I’ve been doing lots of research about what parts fit which system. It’s not as straight forward as you might expect. In the decades since the first Mamiya RB67 there have been lots of variations and a few more modern models. Some parts are interchangeable. Some are not. When looking for a budget film back, I came upon a forum hinting that the old American Singer/Graflex backs also fit the RB system. And while I was at Looking Glass in Berkeley, I saw one of those backs for just $20. And it so happened I had the RB in the car.  So I tried it on. And indeed it fit. However, while in the shop I couldn’t figure how to get it off. The sliders that release the back wouldn’t budge. Guess I’ll be buying it I told the gal at the register.  So the back appears to work fine. But there are some quirks. First off, I found how to release the back: there are two little metal tabs opposite the lock that holds th

Fun Mistakes and Other Experiments

During the Covid Crisis, I'm bunkered down at home unable to use the college lab I manage. So I've been developing film in my films in the laundry room again with my trusty old JOBO tanks. School was wrapping up and a student found a holder with film in them and I offered to process. I can process 12 sheets at a time with my Jobo and I'm lazy, so I try to fill it and use semi-stand. So I took her two  sheets and found a few of mine to process and made a few to at least get close to the capacity of the tank. Also, recently I "repaired" my old Sakai (Toyo) half plate camera that was converted to 4x5. My high school teacher, Vince Bernucci at Independence High School was kind enough to give this to me in the mid 1980's. At some point the ground glass got broken and recently it occurred to me that I had a transplantable one I could replace it with. The bellows was also all squished up, and I sort of managed to partially straighten that out. Unlike some of my camer

What's the cheapest B&W 120 film available?

Not sure why I'm even looking, I've got plenty. Maybe so I can advise students at my school? In any case, I found myself looking to see what was the cheapest B&W 120 film I could find. In general, I think there's no such thing as a bad film.There are films that are easier to use and process, there are films with various traits that may not be suited for intended use. But I'm no longer interested in the sharpest finest grain films. I used to shoot Tech Pan and Agfapan 25 in the 1980's. Now I look at the prints and negs and, some are pretty nice. But on the whole they are too contrasty. I switched to ORWO NP20 (and later NP22 in the USA) and much prefer those negs. After ORWO stopped making consumer films, I moved on to Acros. Fuji Acros was a beautiful film, with wonderful tones as well as fine grain and minimal reciprocity failure issues. So today I'm going to do some searching and put the results up here. Please note, I'm in the US, so it's US suppl