Wet Darkroom

I have just finished printing my first images in a real darkroom, or at least my kitchen in this case. Messy but fun watching the images materialise on the paper. It appears to have been reasonably successful, certainly for a first attempt. Of course now I will have to scan them in to share them, better wait until they dry though!

Almost Ready

Really busy just now, the final club competition for the year needs to be organised and I am preparing SmuginForAperture and SmuginProForAperture v1.2. Final testing is underway and I am starting to organise the release notes; lots in internal changes which should mean faster and more reliable upload. Stay tuned.

I have also been developing some more film from my Holga, I just need to print or scan the images so that I can share them, but not today. I really hope to have my first attempt at darkroom printing this weekend…

Today’s images are from Akaroa during this year’s PSNZ Southern Convention.




In my last post I explained that intended to try and print some black and white images in the darkroom. I have run into a small snag, I have all the chemicals, paper and containers, measuring jugs, trays; pretty much everything I need. My enlarger however is a problem, I bought it on TradeMe (like eBay) for not very mush which was fine and it appeared that all the parts were there when I fitted it together initially. On closer inspection before trying to do my developing I noticed a small snag, there is no lens on the enlarger! Doh.

So now I need to look for a lens or a new enlarger, whichever is cheaper and easier to find. In the meantime I have been playing with Topaz Adjust and Topaz DeNoise 5 both seem to do a good job, with Topaz Adjust allowing some fun effects. I’m not sure I like them all but sometimes just playing gives me ideas for improving an existing image or of a different image I might want to capture.


Am I brave enough?

I am sitting here trying to decide if I am ready to try and develop and print of my Holga images. I think I have now gathered all the equipment and chemicals I need, including an enlarger. I just need to get everything organised and give it a go, watch this space I guess.

In the meantime I have now successfully developed two rolls of 120 film although I still have a huge amount to learn and could have done a better job with the last roll which has a few water marks on it – I need to get some distilled water and use a wetting solution for the final rinse. Nevertheless I think it will get easier quite quickly, the hardest bit is still getting the film onto the developing reel. Rumour has it that loading a 35mm film is easier, maybe I will try that next.


My other difficulty just now is deciding on a project, I need a fairly specific goal to aim for, I’m not ready for a 365 project yet but I have been looking for something to keep me motivated and force me to try different things. Having looked around I have a lot of ideas but so far I am no nearer deciding what to do! Note to self, stop procrastinating.

First Holga Images

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…


AtHome_2010-07-27_20-50-44_Holga 11_©RichardLaing(2010)


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.