Film - An Adventure In Discovering The Past

December 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
holga hats 2holga hats 2 My Memories of the world of film had succumb to the passage of time. The smells of the darkroom, the anticipation and the satisfaction of a physical process had sweetened and mellowed. The romance of the creative possibilities have crept up into my present interests. 
 
I searched my old drawers, closets and cubby holes to dig out my old equipment. I resurrected my Canon A1 and my very first SLR, an old Kmart all manual Focal TLR with a built in light meter, sort of. I even found an old Kodak Retina III that my daughter had discovered in her attic. Wow, I was all ready to go.
 
I needed to replenish some things that were missing for the post processing. Namely everything. I needed a tank, a dark bag, a thermometer, Bottles, graduated cylinder, some chemicals and even a couple of clips for hanging my creations to dry. That was $130 investment in bringing out the past.
 
The shooting was fun. I was stopping to think. Carefully measuring light to craft my composition, I was creating.
 
What a load of hokum. It took me two hours to load the 2 reels in a dark bag, so much for muscle memory. The scanning was absolutely agonizing. I hadn't scanned anything in years and my old scanner needed new drivers. Then the software provided for my old HP flatbed was so slow it took almost 45 minutes to scan ONE negative. So I dropped 40 more bucks on new scanner software and finally got that under control. At last I could finally grasp the reality of my hard work. Well crap again. Dust, smudges, odd ball exposures from cameras that acted unpredictably after so many years made this first go round more than a little disappointing.
 
I am bruised from battle. Weary from struggle. Embarrassed by results. But not defeated. I believe that not only had my hands forgotten how to wistfully spin my exposed film cleanly onto the reels but my head had forgotten the discipline it took to properly set up the conditions required to process real film. 
 
The work we miss in the digital world of today lessens our appreciation for the labor of the past that brought us here. 100 shots fired off had an impact on time, labor and processing costs. There was no slapping of the delete button when we were not pleased. All the film had to be developed and contact sheets made before we could pick and choose. Then often it was back to the dark room with a plan of action for the chosen few negatives that would live on to be prints. Still more work with paper selection, darkroom tricks of real dodging and burning, playing with enlargers and perfecting the development of the final print.
 
Sometimes going back to the well is a good thing. We should all taste the water. Then once we have had our fill, thank the gods that now things are so very much easier. I will still shoot some film for the zen of it. However, nowadays, I am a digital photographer.
 

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