Introduction to the project – This project was our first photography practice project, but we had to used 35mm film cameras and process them in a darkroom.
Process, technique and development –
Our first task was to go out as a group and photograph things with an SLR camera. The make I was using was Vivitar. After going out and shooting with the group we then had a week to wait till we could develop them.
Darkroom – I was actually dreading the development process as it meant going into a darkroom. I have claustrophobia, and find it hard to be in small rooms, especially when they’re pitch black. But one of the technicians took me down to the darkroom before class to show me how dark it would be and what to expect so i would know when it came to actually doing it. It wasn’t that bad but I still wasn’t comfortable with going in alone. But luckily we where doing the first one as a class, which made things slightly easier. But it was still very uneasy for me.
Processing – After the darkroom, we then had to develop the negatives by putting them into the light proof cylinders and adding the correct amount of chemicals. The first thing we had to do is take the temperature of the developer, to figure out how long the processing time will take. So for example if the developer was at 20 degrees then it would take about 17 minutes but if it was at 18 degrees then it would take about 21 minutes (the colder the developer, the longer the processing time). We then had to measure up 300ml of developer for each film, as this was a group activity we had to be work in threes. This then meant we had to measure up the developer for three films which came to 900ml. Once the developer has been poured into the cylinders, the processing time begins.
During the developing time, you must agitate the developer every 30 seconds. To do this you have to gently swirl the containers round, turn it upside down and then tap it on the table. This ensures that the developer is moving round the container and reaching all parts of the film. While the developing is taking place, its always a good idea to measure out the next chemicals, for this all we needed was 900ml of stop. when the time was up, we then had to pour the developer into a special container, then we added the stop which we use for 1 minute and agitate every 10 seconds. We then had to empty the Stop back into into its container and add 900ml of Fix, which we used for 5 minutes then poured back into its container. We then had to take the reels of film out of the cylinders and put them into the wash for 15 minutes. we then had to take the film off the reel, put them in another wash for 10 second and then put them into the dryer for 10 minutes.
Once we had our film out of the dryer we had to cut them up into six photos a negative. Then we had to take them back into the dark room to start making contact sheets. I made several test prints to before the contact sheet to make sure I had the correct amount of light exposure.
In total I have used four rolls of film but only two worked, the first one was completely unexposed and the second one didn’t work because the camera jammed. after my two failed attempts, I was beyond frustrated. But I took out a different camera (pentax) and went out again then another time. I Then found myself with two full rolls film. This was a big deal for me since the other two where very disappointing.
Development/Techniques – Once I had my contact sheets all sorted out, I then moved onto making prints. I stated out by making test prints on teared photo light paper, I used a thick piece of black card to block the light, I used this to create sections of the paper to be exposed under the light to find the perfect time to be exposed. For example I would do 10 seconds as a base exposure then divide it into five sections then do 2 seconds a section. so all together one part would have been exposed for 12 seconds and another at 20 seconds. This would vary depending on what machine we where using as all of them weren’t the same and because some of the negatives where naturally darker and need more time to be exposed under the light. I had to use filters on some of the prints as they needed that extra bit of contrast. For some of my prints I used a technique called “dodging” this was done by hovering my hand just below the light, casting a shadow onto the paper, this means that the bits that are shaded, get less time exposed making them darker. I used this for my 1st and 5th final prints as they had bits that were too light and needed some parts to be darker.
Conclusion – I’ve got mixed feelings about this project, I have made some incredible improvement since I started. Everything went wrong at the beginning, as it was my first project at Chester and my very first time using film ,I was nervous and wanted to do my best and make a good impression. Yes it didn’t start well but it didn’t end well either, I had a bit of an allergic reaction to the chemicals during the development of my final print. This was a frightening time for me.
But onto positives, I leaned many new skills and how to use 35mm film. I have also gained a lot of confidence with my photography work and social skills with my photography group. So all in all I had trouble with it but i’m glad I did it and created some rather successful prints.