Of all the things I know
I understand almost nothing

vrijdag 26 maart 2010

The 2010 Easter Lecture... :)



FUN AND PROBLEMS WITH REAL OLD FILM

"You are as old as you feel" - well, that didn't work for my 60 years old Panchromosa. He got wrinkles, dried out and became blind. And he wasn't the only one, so why do I work with those oldies?

Firstly: because I want to use my 116, 616 and 620 cameras. Yes, I could use them with 120 film (see flickr erwinruys) but ehhhrm... there is that second reason: nostalgia. And the real, contemporary thing is sometimes just better. Smooth, rich. Not the hard, sharp contrast. Example: the normal-to-handle but incredibly nice pre-1970 Selochrome I use in my 1938 620 Nagel. See the post above, or flickr erwinruys. The best film ever made.

So: what problems, and how do I solve them.

Well, what film is it anyway?
I bought some HP3, metal spool, yellow back-paper - wrapped in white foil. And discovered only on the "exposed" sticker that it was FP4. Even the seller couldn't know that.

And how "hyper-sensitive" (Ilford HPS) are they?
Well, not. If you are lucky there is an image. More often than not there is nothing, or only fog. 6-Nitro-benzoltriazol "no fog" can help. Or make the film spotty.
At the moment, September 2010, I consider 1965 the "point of no return": younger film could still be usable, older film is probably blind. The 1957 Gevachrome Ortho was foggy and spotty, but did produce an image; the 1948 Ansco Plenachrome was destroyed by time ànd by the back paper (not the first time back paper and gelatine stuck together. Well, after 60+ years... See above, april 14 & 17.
(But on September 22 the surprise: Selochrome ortho. Back paper stuck to the film, but was easily removed from the wet film. Wow! You can find that on my Flickr Photostream, set: old film...)
But we were talking sensitivity. I said "could be..." for June 2010 I tested Adox R14 from november 1970. Black fog. Alas. Extreme over-exposing and underdeveloping produces "an" image, it's fun to try that.
And of course: storage is a point. Kept in the freezer, or the attic? (You never know.)

Pan-chromatic?
More or less. I like to use a yellow2 filter, as did the photographers 60 years ago.
(And ortho is really not bad - I very much like it. But even ortho is not always ortho: red flowers on 1957 Selochrome ortho became as dark as the green foliage, but the dark red painted lanterns were rather light grey.)

And then (120 and so on) there is the sticky paper at the start. Sticks everything together while leaking on both sides, or dried out and doesn't stick at all, or even cuts through the back paper. It also can make the inside of your camera very messy. So: always check that. Always!

After 40 or more years the film will be very curled, especially 127 (and other thin-spool film) and it will be pure hell to get it in the spiral. I don't start with the free end, the sticky-paper-start-end is a bit less curled and that helps. A little bit. If nothing goes, I just develop the whole film by hand in a dish. Messy.
In January 2011 I had a very interesting problem: ± 1946 Agfa had become brittle: the film broke like glass, I could save some gelatine with an image on it! Caught that on glass, nice!
Scanning the very curled film can give all kinds of newton-like problems, turning it upside-down can help.

And that feeling of superiority over the digitalics - priceless!

BTW I put any kind of film in good old Rodinal 1:50 11 minutes to start with, adapt when I know more about sensitivity or shutter. Colour film, even old C22, I put in Tetenal Colortec.
Spirals and drums: 116 & 616 in Polly-Max; 127 in Paterson; 220 & sheet in Gepe; 120, 620, 135 in LPL/Kindermann.

**UPDATES ON PHOTOSTREAM ERWINRUYS
(flickr, the old film in old cameras set).