It was hard for me to believe but we recently passed our first year in our "new" house and I still hadn't developed a film in all that time. In total, I shot about four rolls of 35mm and a couple of 120 but couldn't get motivated enough to see how they might have turned out.
Eventually, I got so fed up that I decided to get the finger out and develop a few 35mm rolls. I thought I'd kick off with two rolls of Tmax 400 and one of Eastman Double-X, the latter a film that was sent to me by boutique analogue dealers Nick and Trick for review. It was good to see that the films needed the same time in D76 1+1 so out came one of the big dev tanks and in went the three rolls.
Never having developed a film before at the new kitchen sink, I had to search for the various bits and pieces necessary for processing, eventually amassing the complete works of dev, fix, measuring cylinders, thermometer, tank, etc in a plastic box. The process went well despite regular interruptions by family members making cups of tea, noodles, and so on. And yet, for no obvious reason, I didn't have a good feeling.
As the film was sitting in the wetting agent, it occurred to me that I didn't have anywhere to hang the three rolls. Not being able to find any string, I ended up suspending them on a double layer of thread attached to a hook at one end of the darkroom and a screw at the other. Not exactly elegant but needs must.
I took the rolls out, hung them up and then noticed that, although the Eastman film looked fine, the Tmax was lacking some density. I've been on a diet for a month or two and have lost about 20 lbs but I'm still a "heavyweight". Nevertheless, I was sucker-punched by the bantam weight D76 which, I remembered too late, can be out on its feet if asked to do too much work, ie. develop too many rolls at once.
Yes, the highlights were definitely on the weak side. They looked a bit like the type of negs that would "scan well" - in other words, they were under-developed, by around 20% I'd say. I fished the D76 packet out of the bin and checked the dev time for Tmax 400 - it was 12 1/2 minutes - before recalling that that time applied to the old, original Tmax 400. Kodak, for whatever reason, couldn't be bothered updating the packaging. I'd given the three rolls just 9 1/2 minutes, working off the Massive Dev Chart App on my iPad. It was then I realised I'd forgotten to make an allowance for the three rolls-in-a-tank. I think Kodak says that there should be 250ml of stock dev per film. At 1+1, I'd used just 500ml in the litre of developer.
That's my first excuse out of the way. Now here comes the second. I normally scan negatives on an old Epson flatbed but it's out of commission for the time being so I used an all-in-one printer, scanner, fax machine that Cath has. I just couldn't get very sharp neg scans from it at all. So the pictures on this post have been hit by a double whammy of severe contrast adjustments which accentuated grain pretty drastically and over-sharpening. Not the best combination really.
I think the negs will print OK but they'll need grade 5 or thereabouts. But that's what you get hard grades for, isn't it? The Eastman negs look nice if a little under-developed but I'll comment on them in another post once I've had a chance to eyeball them under the enlarger.
And onto the photos themselves. You'll maybe notice a wee theme running through them - they share a similar sort of composition. It's a fall-back of mine, I'm afraid: a converging road, S-bend, or similar leading the eye into the photo. I was disappointed with these pics, to be honest, as they don't break any new ground for me but just plough over a field that has been tilled and replanted to the stage of near exhaustion. I was quite excited looking through the viewfinder at the taking stage but the negs didn't live up to my expectations - and not just where their technical quality is concerned.
Continuing the crappy boxing metaphor from earlier, I'm putting it town to ring rustiness. At least, though, I'm back in the saddle (one metaphor not enough then? - Ed) as far as taking photographs goes. I've been out a couple of times this month, most recently to the Queen Mother's birthplace at Glamis. I had the Rollei SL66 gear and a Contax SLR 35mm outfit in the boot of the car.
I'd taken a few shots in a spooky old graveyard - see the Gothic iPhone pics below - but decided to use the Contax 137 MA for a gathering gloom shot of the village as the street lights came on and the sky darkened a little. Everything was lined up nicely - and then the batteries packed in! I reached into the bag for the spare set but they weren't there. I must have used them for some other purpose. Oh well. Step forward the SL66.
If I can take you back to the graveyard for a minute, Cath and I burst out laughing at one stage at the eeriness of it all. You need to picture the Hammer Films-like scene: it's a fairly old church (1792 but there's been one on the same spot since the 8th century), there are lots of very old gravestones, probably dating back to the 1500s or earlier, it was approaching dusk and, as you can see from the iPhone pics, ivy grows everywhere. I was lining up a shot on the 40mm wide angle on the Rollei when a dog howled in the middle distance. I raised a Roger Moore-like eyebrow, Cath chuckled and the next second the church bell sounded. Flipping 'eck! Where's me garlic?