Developing situation

I’ve been accumulating B&W film for a few months, waiting to get enough so I could justify mixing up all the chemicals and use them up at once.  The film keeps well in a cool, dark place (like the basement) but the chemicals have varying shelf-lives once they are mixed.  My goal is to time mixing up chemicals sufficient to process all the film I’ve exposed and have little chemicals left over.

Going through my several rolls of 120 film I was processing a couple of rolls a night, really just grabbing the exposed rolls out of the basket I’d thrown them in.  The wrappers on the film tell the brand, type, speed but apparently not adequately enough when I’m moving along at a good pace.  I grabbed a roll of Ektar (color negative) film the other day and blithely ran it through the B&W developing process.  I knew something was wrong when I was dumping the developer out of the tank and it was orange!  Not an expected color from B&W film.  Went ahead with the process to see what I’d get.

Color negative film has a brownish-orange mask on the film so my strip looked pretty dark when I finished.  There were images on it, though, so when I scanned them I cranked the back light intensity up to full to get enough illumination for the scanner to pick up details.  i was concerned it would be washed out but actually it wasn’t.  The scanner did a good job of eliminating the mask and pulling out the details.  Here’s an example:

Ektar 100, B&W processing

For comparison, below is a similar image using TMax (B&W negative) film, shot around the same hour of the same day, processed the same as the image above. I’m using Xtol developer at full strength followed by the usual stop bath, fixer, hypo and flow agent, processing at 65F both because that’s the temperature of the basement where the chemicals are held and I feel the longer development time maximizes the resolution.

TMax 100, B&W processing

It seems the TMax 100 is ever so slightly warmer in tone, otherwise the details and grain are very similar as is the dynamic range.

I don’t think I’ll be doing all my color negative film through B&W processing but it’s good to know images aren’t lost if I screw up and grab the wrong film.

Casual Opportunities for Interesting Images #VantagePoint

Vacation or photo safari?  Always a question when traveling and not for an assignment.  Like many outdoor photographers I like to “document” places I visit.  Sometimes it’s just to remember what I saw, sometimes to get some perspectives on a place I plan to come back to for more images.

This image was one of those occasions.  Visited here because it showed up on a tourist guide of the area then found some interesting compositions.  Fortunately I had my tripod and assortment of lenses to use.  One great thing about places you can drive right up to is having all your gear in the car!

Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

What attracted me to this composition was the abrupt change in the water’s flow and the way the wet rocks were reflecting the light in the sky.  I knew this was going to be a B&W image and that I wanted the water to have a nice flow rather than be stopped in time.  The tripod enabled a long exposure and the shorter lens let me put more of the falls in the composition.

So what if I hadn’t carried along all that gear?  Would there be a way to get a similar image?  What about other tourists who have point-and-shoot cameras or their cellphones?  What would they make?  At the time, probably nothing like this.

Friend of mine asked recently about available compact cameras that would give the versatility of a DSLR for dynamic range, depth of field, and varying focal length.  He likes putting something in his travel bag or pocket that will deliver very nice results but not require hauling around lots of gear.  At the time I didn’t have a good recommendation but soon after that I ran across a different type of compact camera.  This one uses multiple lenses and processing software to enable the photographer to capture several versions of a composition and then create the final image with the characteristics desired.  There have been variations on this idea in the past years but it seems the company behind this idea,, has found the right combination of technologies and design features to meet my friend’s needs.

Photography used to be about skills and technical knowledge, mainly because the tools and processes required those in order to get the final result.  Now the result can be shared in the blink of an eye (no more chemicals and special materials to create a print) and the capture almost with a glance.  Kodak’s original statement was along the lines of, “you push the button, we do the rest” which if you think about it, is how photography is these days.  There’s seemingly no effort required.

Is this a terrible change to a 100+ year human endeavor?  I don’t believe it is.  Now the “technology” of photography can stop being in the way of the creation of photographs.  Today if you don’t like your images you pretty much can’t blame the equipment!  Even the most casual tourist has the chance to create a wonderful experience to share with others – all they have to do is pay attention to what they are seeing.

Random thoughts

The photography adage is the best camera to have is the one you have with you.  For a week I kept mine in the car to simply be ready.  Most of the week was pretty gloomy with clouds and fog but that just makes me pay more attention to forms and how shapes work together.  Of course black and white is the only way to portray such so here’s the best from the past week.

Lifelong exposure to the prevailing wind gives the trees near Lake Michigan a definite angle, like they are leaning toward the water.

Pretty traditional composition for prairies and trees – just finding a way to show off the clouds.

A rigid shape among the organic forms, displaying its own tribute to the waves in the lake below.

Leading lines – will they merge in the distance?

Winter shape

The park nearby is around an old limestone quarry.  The pit is a lake now, available for swimming, canoes and scuba diving.  Artifacts from the days when the mining company was in full swing are still in the park to connect the past and present.  With the right light they give a nice contrast between manufactured and nature.


This is all that remains of a rock crusher situated next to the pit.  Limestone from this area was used as structural elements in buildings but most of it was crushed to become aggregate for roads and such.  Late light falling on the crusher enabled me to show the texture of the worn metal and dimensionality of its shape.  The bullet nose contrasts nicely with the chaotic tree-line on the lake’s far shore.


This small wetland bisects through the park, giving the passing waterfowl a choice between open water and hiding in the tall grass.  The shape here that looks like a mowed path is where the small stream meanders through the park.  I liked how the sun was falling on the duck nest on the right, looking across the open grass to the tree spreading various limbs over the marsh.  Again, the ordered structure of the nesting box contrasts against the fractal nature of the tree limbs as they branch smaller and smaller, ending in a fuzzy edge against the sky.

Sometimes abstract just makes sense


I forget sometimes not all photographs have to be of “something” in order to be interesting.  Shapes alone can intrigue the viewer, revealing positive as well as negative space.  The unusual begs a longer glance, a lingering view to bring context and realization.  Repeating patterns, small and large, offer a sense of rhythm, implying an underlying order and meaning.  Do we look to understand or simply to wonder?