Swedish Fusion Cuisine

I’d like to tell you that i’d been channelling my inner Manny, but the terrible truth is that the beloved forty had lost its mind a few times, and got all locked up. It seems to have recovered now, so we can guiltlessly enjoy the fruits of it’s momentary insanity!

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Framed Print

Was rather proud:

The framer did a fantastic job of it. Thanks for the intro Sean!

Only problem was that i would rather have kept it…

Edit: this is the shot… in case it wasn’t obvious. Oh, and that pole, that she has her left hand on, is no longer there. It’s a historical document!

Pink Negatives

I’ve been developing quite a lot of Kodak T-Max 400 recently. One of the problems with the negatives is that they have a purple-ish / pink tint after being fixed. The Kodak support page says the following:

Important: Your fixer will be exhausted more rapidly with these films than with other films. If your negatives show a magenta (pink) stain after fixing, your fixer may be near exhaustion, or you may not have used a long enough time. If the stain is slight, it will not affect image stability, negative contrast, or printing times. You can remove a slight pink stain with KODAK Hypo Clearing Agent. However, if the stain is pronounced and irregular over the film surface, refix the film in fresh fixer.

which suggests to me that the fixing time for Fuji Super Fix is probably longer than the 6mins that i’ve been using… or the fix is close to used up. The latter doesn’t seem likely to me, as the last couple of rolls of Neopan that i developed came out perfectly grey. Although, it does warn that it uses up developer faster than usual film, and the rolls that Manny processed were fine. All very confusing.

It could also be that there is some important difference between the Fuji QuikWash and the Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent… but that doesn’t seem very likely.

The next rolls of T-Max that i process can sit in the Fixer for a good ten minutes! If that doesn’t sort it, it can go in a fresh batch, and at least i’ll know.

Tainted Blood

The infamous tainted blood products scandal in Japan, that came to a conclusion, of sorts, a few years back, with the government and companies involved making payouts to the victims, has always been shocking. It seemed horrendous that the government would protect companies from having to pay compensation by not admitting guilt. In the end the victims got compensation and company officials were charged with manslaughter. Not a bad result, but obviously too slow coming. Bad Japan, not the sort of thing that would happen elsewhere…

On a recent Newsnight there was piece about hemophiliacs in the UK contracting Hep. C and AIDS from tainted blood products in the 1980s. What was shocking to me, besides the fact that the UK Government was still refusing to admit guilt to protect the companies involved, was that the blood was being sourced from the american prison system! Can you imagine any worse source of blood than that?

It would appear that a hemophiliac, now with liver cancer in a transplanted liver, is going to attempt to get the UK government to admit guilt in the high court. Freedom of information requests have already shown that the government knew at the time that they were incompetent, and trying to cover it up. Sadly it’s unlikely that the corporations that supplied that tainted products will lack indemnity protection, so the burden will fall on the public.

More on the UK case in the Guardian.

Film Development

I’ve been meaning to write this up for an age… Brian did a great piece on his workflow for everything he shoots. His section on black & white sounds doesn’t sound completely different to what i do, but appears to involve a lot fewer steps. In an attempt to find out if i’m over doing it (wouldn’t be at all surprised…), i’m going to write it all down in horrendous detail.

Step 1. Match up all the film so that it can go in the tank. This is usually pretty easy for me. Usually i’m only doing a few rolls, and tend to stick with the same film when shooting for a specific project. In general it’d be unusual for me to develop more than 6 rolls in a month; often less.

Step 2. Set up all everything in the kitchen. My strategy for not poisoning myself is pretty simple: don’t get chemicals everywhere. In order to do this i use a polystyrene box (blagged from a fruit shop) with a ~5l of roughly 25ºC water in it. This has several advantages: it means that if i drop something in the water it’ll get diluted; the water keeps all the chemicals at a more constant temperature; the weigh of the water in the box stops anything moving around.

Everything consists of:

  • 5 x 1 litre jugs
  • two thermometers (one in the developer, one in the tray)
  • a towel to bang the tank

During the winter i’ll put the chemicals in warm water for as long as it takes to get to a little above 20ºC (usually 23 – 24ºC), and then pour them all out into the jugs. With the water in the tray it’s easy to do several loops of the process without having to warm things up again.

Step 3. Load the film. I use steel reels in a steel tank. This is manly. Plastic reels are easier to work with but not as manly.

Loading 135 reels in a dark bag is painful, and is therefore done on my lap in the toilet.

Loading 120 reels on my lap in the toilet is painful, and is therefore done in a dark bag.

The above is only truly horrendous when doing a mixed tank of 135 and 120. In that case i’ll do the 120 first and then take the dark bag into the toilet to do the 135 in my lap. Being manly does not go as far as learning to do 135 in a dark bag, or 120 in the toilet…

Step 4. Develop the film. I try to keep things simple: put the time on the clock, start pouring, about halfway through the pour start the clock, finish pouring. This usually takes ~30s. Most instructions for developers tell you to agitate for the first minute. Pouring seems as good as agitating to me, so i’ll agitate for 30s after finishing pouring.

Gentle agitation is apparently really important… i’ve not bothered to try doing it violently to see if it really does give more grain, but that’s the good word. To agitate all i do is invert the tank, and then return it to upright. It takes ~5s to do this twice. Nice and slow, nice and smooth. All you’re trying to do is move the developer that is next to film surface and replace it with fresh developer.

15 or 10s before the timer expires start to pour out the developer. It should be all out when the timer expires. This is probably overkill in most cases, but with films like Neopan Presto 400 in Superprodol, the development time is really short (4:15 @ 20ºC) so letting it sit there another 15s might actually be significant. Its probably best to favour developers with long development times, as that gives you more margin for error.

Step 5. Stop. If i’m using a Fuji developer, i’ll stop with a weak solution of Acid. Otherwise just water. Just rinse for a minute. I try to be careful about the temperature of the stop, and keep it within a few degrees of the developer. In theory the film is still pretty delicate at this stage, and it’s best not to shock it.

Step 6. Fix. Have never used anything other than ‘Super Fuji Fix L’. Depending on how old the fix is getting, i’ll leave it in for anything from 4 to 8mins. Giving it a shake every minute.

Having poured the fix out, i’ll usually open the tank and have a peak at the film, just to make sure it has cleared. In theory i could mix up a new batch of fix if it had gone bad. In practice it has never happened. I’m probably dumping good fix periodically, but who wants to live on the edge?

Step 7. Rinse. This seems find of optional… it’s mentioned in the Fuji development guide that its good to rinse the fix off the film before putting it in Quickwash. When i remember, i’ll fill the tank up with water, give it a shake for 30s and then dump it.

Step 8. QuickWash the film. This step is supposed to remove some of the halides left in the film, and make it easier to wash. Have always used Fuji QuickWash (it’s something like 60yen for 2l). Depending on the film that you’re washing it’ll turn from pale blue to dark blue or purple in a few minutes.

Step 9. Wash the film. Fuji films apparently need to be washed for longer than Kodak. In it’s development guide Fuji says 20mins if you don’t use QW, and 10mins if you do. Kodak appears to say 5mins, but it wasn’t clear to me what their version of QW might be called (or if it even exists?)

I leave the film in the tank, under a running tap, such that it fills roughly every minute. When it’s full i dump the water and let it refill.

Step 10. Sponging & Wetting. Wipe both sides of the film with a damp sponge, then pull it through between two sponges. Keep these sponges clean. Really clean! Then dunk the film in a solution of DriWell for 30s. I didn’t know about this step when i first started out, and was ending up with water marks on the film as it dried.

After all that, the film is hung with two or four wooden pegs, left to dry overnight, cut down to file, and finally scanned.

Phew! What an effort. Someone should invent an electronic device that captures photons and turns them into image files… that’d be great.

Credit: the basic process described here was explained to me by Thomas Orand, and refined with input from all sorts of people, including, Sean Wood, Jim O’Connell, Brian Peterson. Lovely chaps. Much obliged!

Dreams Less Sweet

Should probably have written this right after i woke up…

in a large hall, something like a school gym. need to get sheets / bedding washed. a baby being held by an asian man is throwing up mucous and brown gunk into the water. after protest he moves the baby and it shits down my back. the baby is wearing orange. the smell is awful. washing the bedding seems less important now. get the impression that i’m in a mental hospital, or a prison camp. no recollection of how i got here, or why. only know that i can’t leave. hall is crowded with people, who all give the impression of being stupid, dull, or retarded. a large, well dressed, overweight american is talking on an old fashioned mobile phone. he is vigorously making the case for climate change being a hoax. he appears to be one of the few sane people in the room. acutely aware of hearing only one side of the conversation.

Have concluded that it’s good that i don’t recall many of my dreams. This one has left me feeling most peculiar today…