Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

I had originally booked to visit Ukraine in July this year (and Poland) but due to my Ironman triathlon training commitments I decided to forgo both model photography trips and rebook them after the event.  I wanted to try to get to Ukraine before the cold weather came so booked it as soon after the Ironman as I could.  I also rebooked Poland (to come!).  After no overseas model photography shoots since I think May 2017 it felt like it had been forever.  I was more than ready for this one!

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens

Cameras and Film

I have been to both Budapest and Ukraine quite a few times now so I tried to select cameras, lenses and film stock different to previous trips. I wanted to take a medium format camera but had taken the Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645 and Mamiya 6 in the past and was not overly impressed with the results compared to a 35mm film Leica.  I think if you load a Leica with professional standard fine grain film they can capture super sharp high clarity images even with the smaller 35mm film format.  I’ve had great success in the past combining in particular the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens with  the fine grain black and white Ilford Pan F50 film.  I wanted to bring the Hasselblad but I didn’t have sufficient capacity in my hand luggage so settled for 2 Leica film cameras, one to shoot colour film and one for black and white film. I also tried to pack more rolls of colour film as I normally shoot mostly black and white. For colour film I bulk loaded a batch of Kodak Motion Picture Vision3 200T film which is tungsten balanced but I use it with a 81B colour correction filter in daylight. I also had some daylight balanced Vision3 50D to use but less of it.  For black and white film I selected what I believe is the best with regards to image quality (sharpness and clarity) and took Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film. For low light I packed some Kodak T-Max 400 film as I like the fine grain and some of my usual bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 which has such great latitude and seems to work in almost any light.

Leica M Lenses

When taking Leica film cameras rather than a different film camera brand such as Hasselblad, Mamiya or Nikon, I have the advantage that I can pack one set of lenses to use on both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica film cameras.  Last time I was in Ukraine my M240 needed recalibrating so I used a 35mm Voigtlander Skopar lens stopped down to ensure I had a deeper depth of field. I was also using speedlights a lot for flash photography.  In contrast, for this trip I wanted to use less flash and shoot with a shallow depth of field. My obvious lens choice for available light photography is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Digital photos to me can look very boring but the Nocti lens shot wide open can add a lovely filmic / painterly soft look to a photo and it is these imperfections that make the photos perfect (for me anyway). I like the small size of the compact Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens and it balances nicely on my Leica M3. It is also very sharp wide open.   I packed the 50/2.5 for those reasons but in hindsight I wish I had packed the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 as it is more suited to available light photography. I find the Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 can be a little too soft at f1.0 when shot on film (for many film stocks I’ve tried) whereas the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH can work well at f1.4 with film.  Lastly I chose the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens for a wider view yet suited for available light also. Again in hindsight next time I may pack 3 50mm lenses plus a 35mm for occasional use. It is frustrating to use two focal lengths side by side as I will stand in a place to compose for say a 50mm lens then when pick up the camera with the 35mm lens on the perspective is different and I need to walk forward for the same crop as seen with the 50mm, only to then step back again when I switch to the 50mm.  I think I’m currently back to being a 50mm shooter as my most used focal length. 35mm can feel too wide yet 75mm – 90mm can be too long/ tight.

Budapest

Budapest was only a short visit and hello to models en route to Ukraine.  I had two nights in Budapest city centre so booked three models each day. On day one the first model didn’t arrive nor even bother to write. Luckily the next two models were some of my most reliable in Budapest so they came prepared. What I learnt the most from the day is regardless of a model looks, the models I can make the best photos with are those that are as excited as me about making the pictures. Two creative minds on a photoshoot can lead to some amazing results and in particular I love models that are also stylists. They piece together really interesting clothing combinations and somehow source garments that you rarely see on the high street.  I was really happy with days photos despite the morning being wasted by a no show. The digital images I was seeing on the M240 LCD using the Leica Noctilux lens looking very promising.

I only had one evening in Budapest so even after a busy day shooting and not much to eat as soon as the last model left I grabbed my running kit and drank a quick coffee then did a sunset run along the River Danube. So beautiful and enjoyable. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Day two had another bad start with another cancel but I was tired so made the most of it and had some extra sleep. The rest of the day was two more reliable models so luckily stress free. I think the big difference for day two is the model had their own vision that was not my preferred arty style so having less input made it more like going through the motions. Day 1 I shot nearly 3 rolls of film. Day 2 I didn’t shoot a single frame! I think the longer I do photography the more selective I become, both in terms of models I work with but also the styling, location and general mood.  I only shoot film when I feel the capture deserve it.  Film doesn’t suit every photo, I think, or for me anyway. To be more precise, if the light does not interest me when shooting digital I will not reach for a film camera. Light is everything.

Slovakia

Normally when I shoot in Ukraine I fly into Slovakia from the UK and then get a bus over the border to Uzhgorod. For this trip I decided to fly to Budapest, then bus from Budapest to Slovakia, stay there overnight then get my usual bus from Slovakia to Ukraine.

That was the plan anyway. I am quite relaxed as a person and I arrived to the bus station at the exact time of departure and missed my pre-booked bus.  Luckily I was able to find another bus going to Slovakia 6hrs later that would arrive in time to catch my connecting bus to Ukraine. The long time waiting was less painful than feared and I arrived in Uzhgorod on Day 3 ready to shoot.

Ukraine

Window Light

Day 3.  I had a quick one hour shoot with an agency model I knew from last year and then my model friend arrived on her train from Kiev.  We set to work and had an extremely enjoyable and productive first day using the light right through until sunset. I can’t wait to see the photos!

Day 4 started with a pre-breakfast lingerie shoot which just showed the amount of thought and planning going into trying to make the nicest pictures.  Once we were both dying of hunger we stopped for breakfast. In the afternoon we shot a few more looks right up until it was time for the model to catch her 16hr return train back to Kiev. A very enjoyable first two days in Uzhgorod and the bar had been set high for others to try to follow.  I felt very fortunate a model would want to travel 16hrs (each way) for a photoshoot.

Leica M240 B&W

Day 5 was supposed to be my first full day working with local models friends with five models booked back to back morning til night. Sadly three of the five models cancelled putting me on a bit of a downer after experiencing such highs in the two days before.  The sun and warm 28 degree temperatures we had been enjoying also gave way to a day of mostly rain. The last model, my first ever in Ukraine six years ago, braved the rain and we shot under a bridge before retreating for coffee and cake.

Leica Fashion Photographer

Day 6 was my last in Ukraine so I’d booked in five more models. Luckily my endless hours on social media trying to organise all these shoots paid off and I had no cancellations.  Even the sun came back out for us!  I shot with a wide mix of ages and experience and I think I discovered a new super model at the age of only 15.  When I first came to Uzhgorod I shot with a 15yr old girl and now she’s based as a model in Paris (the last I heard).  I also had a lot of fun catching up with friends and it’s lovely when they seem genuinely thankful that I came back to visit them.  I was dead on my feet again when the last model finished but still decided to fit in one more run along the river despite being dark.  I even made two new friends on the pull up / dips bars outside one of the housing blocks.  It is probably not that common for ‘tourists’ to mingle with the local but I enjoyed it. A great memory to end my time in Ukraine.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

The original travel itinerary was to stop off at a hotel in Slovakia on my way home via Budapest. After realising the night buses were not that painful I cancelled my hotel and booked a night bus instead. That gave me a full last day in Ukraine but also now some extra time in Budapest to fit in one last shoot.

My taxi was at midnight to go to the bus station. I jumped in the taxi, an old Lada Niva I remember well as a child and said ‘autobus station to go to Slovakia’. The driver said ok and we speed off along the empty pot holed roads, without a seat belt sitting in the passenger seat. (It is considered rude to wear a seat belt). I tried to show a driver an iPhone map photo of the bus station and he replied ok ok Slovakia. I soon realised he had misunderstood me and we were driving at speed in the opposite direction to the bus heading direct to Slovakia! To cut the story short I managed to make him stop the car and by describing roads and various Uzhgorod landmarks he understood and I managed to catch the night bus to Slovakia. The bus trip was great except we arrived to Slovakia 2hrs early.  It was perhaps 15 degrees colder than Ukraine and I now had a 3hr40 minute wait in a dark and deserted bus station. I wore all my clothes trying to keep warm but was very relieved to see my bus arrive to take me to Budapest. I slept the entire journey like a baby, including dribble!

Back in Budapest

A model friend from a few days earlier met me at the bus station in Budapest and we had a very enjoyable and hopefully successful shoot.  I suggested we shot at the location and it gave very different backdrops to the rest of my Budapest images. A good decision. We then also shot a bit more on the metro travelling into the city before I caught my bus to the airport.

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

I believe the number of rolls of film I shoot on a trip is a good indicator as to how successful it was. I managed to use ten rolls of 36(/37) exposure 35mm film and for once I think more colour than black and white.  I was trying to push the equipment and materials to their max to see what I could achieve so I’m interested to see the results. In particular using fine grain film with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 shot at f1.0-f1.2-f1.4. I don’t think I stopped the lens down beyond f1.4.  I fear at f1 the photos will still be too soft (for my taste) but I wanted to try so I know my equipment limits.  Another sign of success for me was every film photo was taken with available light which I was keen to do (after so much flash film photography in the last 12-18 months). It’s easy to make light but harder to find it.  To again push myself I took no reflector to bounce available light so I’m excited to see how we got on.  I tried to mix up my styles even using the above mentioned parameters and I also shot outside as much as I could to use the locations.  Where possible I tried to not photo a model against a wall and kept the lenses close or at to their widest apertures. (The opposite of when I was doing a lot of flash photography and had the lenses stopped down (higher f. stop for a greater depth of field)).

I know many photographers prefer the diffused light on an overcast day for taking portrait photographs but for me I love nothing better than blue skies and direct sunlight.  Living in the UK where we often have cloudy weather I found I really appreciated the sunny days of Budapest and Uzhgorod. If I simplify things, the entire model photography trip was just one big light hunt! I think I need to relocate to a sunnier warmer destination. San Francisco perhaps!

Overall I was really happy with my week away and I don’t think I would have changed anything other than pack the hugely missed Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens to use with the Leica film cameras.  I really wasn’t feeling the 35mm focal length and I would have been happy with only 50mm lenses. The best performer of the trip was without doubt the mighty Noctilux 50f1 lens.  The cameras were fighting over the Nocti as I wanted to use it to shoot film with but also to get the instant gratification when using the Noctilux on the digital Leica M240 and seeing the image on the LCD.  I don’t feel at any point that I missed not having a medium format camera.  Previously I have enjoyed the high flash sync speed (1/400-1/500) of most of the medium cameras to control ambient light when using flash. As I did nearly all available light photography the fast (f1.0-f1.4) Leica M mount lenses were much more suited (than f2.8-f4 MF lenses).  I am interested to see what the smaller 35mm film format Leica cameras achieved.

I think I write this and the end of every blog post I share but I’d like to think some of the images to come are my best yet.  I certainly tried!  Coming soon.

Big Thanks

I’ve not named models individually throughout this post but a huge thanks to models Eva, Nadja, Lili, Galyna, Inna, Dana, Angel, Nikoletta, Franciska, Alexa, Maryna and Valeria. It wouldn’t be possible without you.  Also apologies for the models I didn’t see this year.  I know I missed quite a few of you in Ukraine due to time constraints but I hope to be back again next year!

Thanks

Matt

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Poland Models – Leica Ms

Poland Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2016

Mr Leica - Poland

Happy New Year!  I wrote this on the flight back to the UK after spending four nights in Poland visiting my model friends in Sopot. It was a Christmas present to myself to fill the quiet time between Christmas and New Year!

As with all my model photography trips I like to be busy and make good use of my time and this was no exception. I only had 3 full days in Sopot but managed to still do 12 photoshoots (even after cancellations). A big thanks to Malva Models who recommended many of the models for this visit.

Leica Camera bag

I took my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it fitted the following:

  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P camera (with B&W film)
  • Leica M4-P camera (II) (with colour film)
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

I do love Leica M cameras for many reasons but one of their best features is their size. I can carry 3 camera bodies and 4 prime lenses in the same space as a DSLR and a zoom lens. This is a huge help to me when I’m shooting overseas with models.

I bought a Leica M4-P film camera after my last trip to Budapest as wanted a Leica M body with a hot shoe so I could use strobes with film. My Leica M2 and M3s only have cold shoes so it is not as easy. A few weeks before Poland I decided to buy another Leica M4-P camera body as saw one at a good price and that way I could pack both Leica M4-P cameras and load one camera with colour film and one camera with black and white film.  (This is the reason why I have two Leica M3s too.  Both M3s are in need of slight recalibration but I hope to start using those in the summer when using available light only as the M3 viewfinder is the best Leica M viewfinder bar none I think).

Hotel photoshoot

Kodak Motion Picture Film

For this trip I decide to pack all home rolled bulk loaded Kodak motion picture film. For colour film I rolled equal amounts of Kodak Vision3 50D (daylight balanced film like the Cinestill 50D), Kodak Vision3 200T (tungsten balanced film) and Kodak Vision3 500T (tungsten balanced film and the same film stock as Cinestill 800T). For black and white film I recently bought myself a 400ft bulk roll of fresh boxed and sealed Kodak Eastman Double-X film. I used my 35mm bulk film loader to run off whatever film I needed.

Polish Girl

I was in Poland last December too, staying in Gdansk, and the days never seemed to get light. For this visit I thought I could shoot Kodak Double-X at ISO 1600 if needed and Kodak Vision3 500T at ISO 1000 or more with ease. I also had a speedlight with me for backup. Luckily the Sopot hotel on the sea front has much more light and even though the weather was cold it was brighter and blue skies one day. I managed to persuade a few cold hardy models to join me on the beach for pictures as I prefer outside photos where possible. I managed to shoot mostly Kodak Vision3 50D film (for colour photos) but it was under exposed a few stops for some pictures so it will be interesting to see the results. I shot the black and white Kodak Double X film at anything between ISO 100 and 800 on the same roll. Kodak Double-X is great for this and so too is the Kodak Vision3 500T. I could shoot either of these films all day and not meter the light once and still get results.

Polish Model

Models

Despite not seeing many of my regular models I still managed to do 12 shoots with up to 5 shoots on a single day. I worked 8:00-18:00 to use as much of the daylight as possible but still used the speedlight a lot inside to try to add interest.

A big thanks to Monika at Hotel Bursztyn for having me again and in no particular order thanks to models; Natalia, Marta, Karolina, Agnes, Agata, Magda, Dagmara, Gosia, Teresa, Aleksandra and Kasia. Also big thanks to MUA Kate and Marta!  I felt I discovered some amazing new talent so hope to work with some of the girls again when I return in spring 2017. Lastly thanks to Gdansk based clothes designer ATR Wear that supplied some of the clothes used in the photos.

Thoughts

I had hoped to shoot less in the hotel and use the local area more but the weather was just too cold on the whole to do much outside for very long. After doing overseas model photography trips for quite a while I now realise there is no one camera setup to suit all situations. In Budapest I shot mostly on 35mm lenses and craved a wider focal length. In Sopot I could have easily used 50mm on two camera bodies as 35mm was a little too wide for the plain hotel rooms. I did use all lenses including the 28mm Leica Elmarit-M ASPH but found I usesd the faster lenses the most in the low light. I might be tempted to take the 75mm Leica Summicron APO on the next visit to Poland to get a different perspective as I have shot on mostly 35mm lenses for over 12 months.

Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8

As it has taken me so long to post this I have already shared both digital and colour film photos on my Flickr, Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and Facebook pages.  I will wait and process more colour film negatives and develop the black and white film and then share a blog post for the film pictures shot on my Leica M4-Ps. Here are some more digital Leica M240 photos until then –

Winter Sun
Empty Beach
Agency Model
Hate U 2
Lingerie Shoot
Beach Photoshoot
 

Pipeline

I realise I have so many promised and unposted blog posts to come but to recap here are some posts on their way for 2017

  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Leica M240
  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Nikon F4 + Kodak T-Max film
  • Kodak Vision3 50D Film
  • Kodak Vision3 200T Film
  • Kodak Vision3 500T Film
  • Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5
  • Budapest Models 2016 – on Film (various)
  • Leica Weddings 2016
  • Poland Models 2016 – on Film – Leica M4-P

C41 Colour Film Developing

C41 Colour Film Developing – At Home

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

November 2016

Film Developing… to Recap

 

Black and White Film Developing

I have developed my own black and white film since the beginning of 2013 and I am pretty comfortable with the process as I shoot so often.  I have quite a casual approach to B&W film developing and it still seems to work for me every time now I know the basics.  I have a degree in science so I like to apply the common sense approach as to how chemicals work rather than strictly following the film/ developer guidelines. When I started out I used the developer Rodinal for semi-stand development but I have since move to Xtol and have settled with that for the meantime. I am happy with the results Xtol gives me so don’t see a need to change yet.  For fixing black and white film I use Kodak T-Max fixer.
kodak-xtol-5lv2

Paterson Developing Tank

I develop all my film (colour film and black and white film/ 35mm, 120 and 4×5 film formats) in Paterson style developing tanks (a 2 reel tank plus a 3 reel tank). For readers new to film developing a 2 reel tank can accommodate 2 rolls of 35mm film or 1 roll of 120 film.  A 3 reel tank holds 3 rolls of 35mm film or 2 rolls or 120 film.  Sometimes I wish I had a 5 roll tank but I haven’t got to that stage quite yet! A Paterson developing tank for those that don’t know is a light tight tank so film can be developed in daylight without the need of a dark room.  Film must be loaded into the developing tank in complete darkness using a changing bag or a room with no windows.  (I just wait until it is dark outside and use a part of the house where there is no windows.  I then bring the developing tank into the light and develop the film in my kitchen.
patunivtank

C41 Colour Film Developing

After avoiding colour film developing for the best part of 18 months I finally took the plunge when my local film lab rejected my first roll of Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I sent for developing.  I had bought a bulk roll of Kodak Vision3 500T movie film which is ECN-2 colour negative motion picture film and not the standard C41 colour negative film.  In brief, ECN-2 film has an additional rem-jet or remjet anti-static / anti-halation layer, a black carbon layer that needs to be removed prior to film developing.  ECN-2 film cannot be developed in a standard film lab C41 process and doing so would contaminate the C41 chemicals resulting in machine downtime.  I removed the remjet layer from the Kodak Vision3 film at home (see below) and then sent it to the lab for standard C41 developing. Unfortunately some remjet layer residue remained on the film so the film lab returned it back to me undeveloped.  *I would not recommend trying to send ECN-2 film to a lab as C41 film as in hindsight I don’t think it is not fair to risk other peoples C41 film if any remjet residue remains on the ECN-2 film resulting in film not being developed properly and the developing chemicals failing.

image3v3

As a result of not being able to develop my Kodak Vision3 ECN-2 film at my local film lab I decided to purchase colour film developing chemicals and try to develop the film at home myself.  I looked at a few different colour film developing chemicals and decided on the Tetenal C41 Kit 2.5L kit.

Removing Remjet

Before attempting to develop my own ECN-2 film I did some reading to try to understand how to remove the remjet backing on the film.  Popular choices seem to be to use washing soda or baking soda.  Both make an alkaline solution when dissolved in water.  Personally I tried baking soda as I found that in my local shop first.  My remjet removal method is as follows:

  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 litre warm water (40 degrees Celsius) to dissolve the baking soda in
  • Pour solution into Paterson developing tank containing ECN-2 film
  • Soak for 3-5 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
  • Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
  • Empty the tank content into a white bowl/sink (Solution should appear coloured yellow-pink at first then towards the end of the emptying start to go black (carbon remjet layer))
  • Refill developing tank with warm water (40 degrees Celsius)
  • Shake vigorously for 1 min
  • Empty the contents into a white bowl/sink (solution should be black)
  • Repeat warm water rinse process until water runs clear
  • Remjet removal process finished.
  • Next see colour film developing process below

antacids-baking-soda

*Note – The above remjet removal process has worked for me but there may be better or alternative methods if you search online.  If you search “Rem-jet removal” or “Rem jet removal” on YouTube there is also similar methods shared but with the advantage of the visual aid!

Tetenal Colortec C-41 Kit 2.5L

What is in the box – 6x 0.5 litre bottles, including 3 bottles of film developer (Part 1,2,3)(mixed together to make the developer solution), two bottles of bleach fix (“BLIX“)(Part 1&2) and 1 bottle of stabiliser.
c41-kitv2

Product description – “The Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit is ideal for the enthusiast, professional or home user looking to process their own colour negative films. This kit will process around 30 35mm or 120 films or equivalent in sheet film. This is a 2 bath kit, a simplified version of the C41 process where the fix and bleach are combined. May be mixed to make 2.5L of working solution in one go, or smaller quantities may be made retaining concentrate for future use”.

 

Tetenal C41 Chemicals – Mixing

To make 1 litre of film developing chemical solutions –
  • Developer: 200ml (Part 1) + 200ml (Part 2) + 200ml (Part 3) + 400ml water
  • Bleach-Fix: 200ml (Part 1) + 200ml (Part 2) + 600ml water
  • Stabiliser: 200ml (stabiliser) + 800ml water

Tetenal C41 Film Developing

My colour film developing is nothing mind blowing.  I simply followed the Tetenal C41 film developing instructions and opted for the 38 degrees Celsius method.  In summary this involves the following stages/times/temperatures (based on developing times recommended to develop the first 1-4 films in fresh chemical dilutions from concentrate):

C41 Developing Instructions

  • Pre-Soak Water Bath: 5min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)
  • Developer: 3min15 @ 38C (+/-0.3)
  • Water Rinse: 1min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)(*extra rinse I like to do)
  • Bleach-Fix: 4min @ 38C (+/-3.0)
  • Water Rinse: 3min @ 30-40C
  • Stabiliser: 1min @ 20-40C

clock_png6614

The common term you always hear associated with colour film developing is “very temperature sensitive”.  To give myself the best chance of keeping the film developing chemicals at the required temperature I filled my kitchen sink bowl with warm water at around 40 degrees celsius.  I made up 1 litre of working solution for each of developer, bleach-fixer (BLIX) and stabiliser per the Tetenal C-41 film developing instructions and put the 3 solutions into 3 used plastic pop bottles and labelled accordingly.  My bottles are not as good as the recommended 1 litre collapsible film developing chemical bottles but they function OK to start me off.  I ensure all the air is squeezed out of the bottles after use and store in a dark cupboard out of the light.
1-best-selling-instant-read-professional-kitchen-digital-cooking-thermometer-100-money-back-guarantee-used-by-top-chefs-baking-soup-bbq-meat-thermometer-real-commercial-type-these-are_3771135

C41 Film Developing – Chemical Shelf Life

  • Developer: Diluted solution – 6 weeks / Concentrate – 12 weeks
  • Bleach-Fix: Diluted solution – 24 weeks / Concentrate – 24 weeks
  • Stabiliser: Diluted solution – 24 weeks / Concentrate – 24 weeks

*Note – Recommended shelf life is assuming chemicals kept in full / sealed bottled

Conclusion

So is colour film developing as impossible and risky as I feared?  Not at all.  I really wish I had started developing my own colour film 12-18 months ago.  Yes you need to watch the time and temperature of the developing chemicals more than if developing black and white film but it is merely like following a recipe in a cook book.  If you follow the instructions the results are a success!  I love the fact that I am now self sufficient and can develop and scan all my film in house.  It gives much better control in terms of not having the risk of film being lost in the post, a much much faster lead time (as can develop the film the day it was shot) and a big cost saving if you use the chemicals within their active lifespan (per above).

Going forward I will buy bottles of colour film developing chemicals separately rather than as a developer kit as each chemical has it’s different shelf life.  I also read that by doing a 3 bath C41 development (developer + separate bleach and fixer) rather than a 2 bath C41 development (developer + bleach-fix)(above) it gives greater control so win win. I understand you cannot ‘fine tune’ colour film developing like you can with black and white film developing but I will certainly try to modify my process after each film batch developed to try to get ‘better’ and better results.

E6 Colour Film Developing

Now I have tried C41 colour film developing I am now interested to look into E6 slide film developing as I love the colours of slide film.  Watch this space! 🙂

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Kodak Vision3 200T Portrait

35mm Bulk Film Loader

35mm Bulk Film Loader

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

October 2016

Bulk Film Loader

After buying a 35mm film bulk loader (Computrol film loader as pictured) what seems like a long time ago now I finally started using it.  I bought the film bulk loader online as a bundle together with some 35mm Kodak Plus-X 125 black and white film.  I spooled the Plus-X  onto used 35mm cassettes by taping the new  film to the film stub end of the original film in the film cassette.  I develop my own black and white film so where possible I manually rewind the film in the cameras.  Most of my 35mm film cameras can do this; Leica M’s, Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Nikon FM, Nikon F4, Olympus PEN-F but the Hasselblad XPan doesn’t.  I rewind the film to leave the film leader protruding so when I removed the film for developing I don’t have to break open the cassette (and then discard).  I then use the bulk film loader to spool the desired number of film frames onto a used film cassette ready to use.

image1v2

I can spool for example the usual 24exp or 36exp rolls but also perhaps just 10 frames if want to test out a new-to-me old camera.  I always count 3-4 frames extra to what I need as some film will be lost (being exposed to light) at each end of the film when loading/removing from the bulk film loader.  Some cameras like my Leica M3 and Leica M2 will accept slightly more frames such as 39 frames but automated film cameras like the 35mm Hasselblad XPan just gives an error messages and locks up if the film is too long.  My Leica M6 has the known problem of jamming up after around 25 exposures (for me) so I now just spool myself 25exp rolls for the M6 and 39exp rolls for my M2/M3s.  The bulk film loader has a counter on the side so you can keep track of how many frames is on each roll you spool.

Reusable 35mm Film Cassettes

A second option is to buy reusable plastic film cassettes where the end unscrews to load/ unload the film. I have recently bought some of these as shown below.  To load film onto reusable film casssettes simply tape the end of the bulk film to the cassette central spindle. Once secure slip the cassette outer over the film protruding from the cassette inner so the film fits into the groove of the cassette (to look like a normal roll of 35mm film) then screw on the film cassette end cap to make the film cassette light tight.  Film can then be wound onto the film cassette with the 35mm bulk film loader and you are ready to go.
* (There are plenty of YouTube instruction videos on how to use a bulk film loader and how to load film onto a 35mm reusable film cassette if you need visuals).
35mm-film-cassette-crop

Advantages of Bulk Loading

The obvious answer of course is cost (in addition to my Leica M6 issue mentioned above!). Buying bulk film works out much cheaper per roll. The exact saving varies by film manufacturer and also by what length of bulk film you purchase. The more film you buy the cheaper it is. Many manufacturers sell bulk film in 100ft or 30.5m lengths such as Ilford film and prices in the UK are around £65-£70 (example price rather than average/norm). Foma make a 30.5m / 100ft Bulk Fomapan 100 roll for under £40 which is one of the cheapest options I have seen when buying new. The 100ft/ 30.5m length of film roll to my knowledge is manufactured for a target audience of still photo photographers. Kodak however also manufacture 400ft and 1000ft bulk film rolls (example lengths) of motion picture film for cinema and TV such as Kodak Vision3 500T which is the film CineStill modify before rebranding it as CineStill 800T (Please see my followup Kodak Vision3 blog post to come for more details).

Kodak Vision3 vs Kodak Portra – Cost

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Buying 400ft of film offers excellent value for money if you think you will use that much film. A 100ft bulk film roll is said to equate to about 18 rolls of 36 exposure film and so a 400ft film roll will give 72 rolls of 36 exp film. Quite a lot of film but if you were previous buying for example 35mm Kodak Portra 160 /400 film at say £6 a roll you can now buy Kodak Vision3 bulk film for less than £1 a roll! A crazy cheap price for professional colour film. (AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film can be bought in the UK for £1 a roll but I would argue that Kodak film gives ‘better’ results)(better being grain structure/latitude/skin tones – for my taste*).

Blog post to follow to show results I obtained using ECN-2 Kodak Vision3 500T film and Kodak Vision3 200T in my Leica M cameras and Hasselblad XPan. I bought a bulk roll of each!  If you want to see previous example photos using the Kodak Eastman Double-X black and white film see the link below.

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