Back to the darkroom

Boston, MA 02/03/2015  Bare trees in the snow after a blizzard. The first film I've developed myself in 14 years. Ilford HP5+ 400  Developed for 8 minutes in straight Xtol. Diluted Heinz vinegar as the stop bath because I forgot to buy the real stuff.

Boston, MA 02/03/2015
Bare trees in the snow after a blizzard.
The first film I’ve developed myself in 14 years.
Ilford HP5+ 400
Developed for 8 minutes in straight Xtol. Diluted Heinz vinegar as the stop bath because I forgot to buy the real stuff.

You may have seen on the news that it’s been snowing in Boston.  A lot.  Let me be clear: we just got a Biblical amount of snow.  It’s like winter is Shaq and is just dunking on us.  Over and over and over.

In a fit of creative energy after I finally dug my car out from the 2 feet of snow we got during the blizzard last week, I drove around looking for snow scenes to shoot on film.  I wandered through the woods of the Stony Brook reservation near my home, and after struggling there visited Millennium Park in West Roxbury.  As is frequently the case shooting large format, I set up on a scene by the river that I thought looked beautiful — and then watched the light vanish in front of my eyes before I was set up.  Disgusted, I turned around and began the hike back to my car.  I stopped in my tracks when I saw the snow-covered hill and the white sky above it in front of me with a few trees to break the scene up.  Scrambling to set up, I fired off 4 frames.

Over the past 6 months I’ve been collecting darkroom equipment with the goal of retrofitting an old darkroom in my in-laws’ basement into something I can use to develop black and white 4×5 in.  Great news: it’s up and running!  Given my cavalier attitude toward mixing chemistry, I’m surprised it worked at all.  I learned a lot from this, my first batch of film that I’ve developed since my college days at The University of Texas, and I’m looking forward to refining the process and my technique.  Step 1: buy some real stop bath.  It’s the one thing you can’t buy from B&H (they won’t ship it), and I forgot I hadn’t bought any when I was at Levine’s the other day.  It turns out that you can dilute white vinegar and achieve the same effect.  Step 2: wage war on dust.  This neg is pretty dirty.

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