Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the Beginning

First my disclaimer:  I am not a pro, I'm not even a learned amateur developing and processing black and white film.  I recently started using several old cameras that I purchased from eBay.  The first is a Mamiya C330 Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera, the second is a Busch Pressman Model C 2x3 press camera, and the third is a Burke and James Orbit 4x5 view camera.  All, of course, utilize bellows for focusing.  I also have a Pentax K10D digital SLR, but this will strictly relate to my ever-growing experience using the film cameras, developing the film, and creating prints with a photo enlarger, all done in a home darkroom.

How I started was more out of necessity than desire.  I purchased the C330 and a dozen rolls of Ilford FP4 Plus film, and after shooting my first roll of test shots, I tried to find a processing lab and the pickings were both slim and expensive, not to mention most had turn-around times of several weeks. A friend who long ago had a home darkroom told me its quite easy to develop black and white film at home - well, the basics of it anyway - you can spend a lot of time experimenting with different chemicals, processes, pushing, pulling, etc - but getting a roll of film developed equal to or better than a commercial processing lab is easy as pie.   So, my initial plan was to develop the film, then pick and choose which shots I would have printed at a commercial lab.  More on this later...