Last weekend I finally got around to trying to develop my first black and white film. I took a variety of images using a medium format (120) Holga. The whole process has been fun and in complete contrast to my usual digital images. I intend to write in more detail about my experience but for now I wanted to share the first images and my initial thoughts on the process.
The Holga is a cheap plastic camera with a terrible lens and almost no control. It takes medium format 120 roll film resulting in 12 or 16 images per roll. I chose to use the full frame so only 12 images for me. In theory there is some ability to focus the camera – basically one person, several people, mountains and I am quite sure every individual camera will behave differently, so the chances of getting a sharp image is reduced even further (ignoring the technical qualities of the plastic lens).
As far as the aperture/shutter speed in concerned to all intents and purposes it is fixed, although the model I have actually provides a B-mode and with a tripod I guess you could use a long exposure to interesting effect. In practice apparently the camera works out around somewhere between f8 and f11 and around 1/60th of a second. I need to play a lot more to sort out the exact values, again the control over the resulting image is very limited, basically pick your film speed and try and find lighting suitable.
Anyway I took a roll of film mainly commuting to work so I chose a 400ASA Ilford HP5 plus black and white film. which I hoped would be sufficiently fast. In reality I probably need something a bit faster or to wait until later in the year (it is winter here right now).
Not content with using a very dodgy camera in not great light I also decided to try my hand at processing the film myself, just to see what I have been missing by using the digital dark room. Again there is much to be said on the subject I will try and return to it later. On the plus side I appear to have successfully developed my film without too many difficulties (thanks @tedforbes from The Art of Photography podcast). I have now scanned the images in and here they are…
What next? Well I intend to try and print the images using the chemical dark room just to complete the exercise, I may even develop some more just for fun. The experience has been interesting and the limitations have made me think more about the composition of my images, and using the chemical darkroom certainly makes me appreciate the relative ease and comfort afforded by the digital darkroom.