Saturday, 6 December 2008

Back to the Future with 35mm Film!

Late last week, in this world of 'only digital will do' I was starting to feel rather sorry for my old much film starved Nikon FM 35mm film SLR gathering dust on the office shelf. A day or two later, & much to my surprise I was still able to buy a roll of B&W film called Ilford XP2 - which can be processed down the local 'Kwikkysnaps' on their C41 processing line.

In the 'old days' I'd have processed my own film at home, but of course in this brave new world we live in, like many ex darkroomers, my redundant processing gear is likely to be lining some landfill site in India or other foreign clime - illegally dumped courtesy of our law abiding councils - or so we are led to believe if we take notice of the popular press!

OK, back to the all important film, the camera back opening almost by magic as the hungry outmoded technology grabbed the 35mm canister off me. The lucky subject of the old girl's attentions would be Catcott Burtle, my new layout/diorama. Soon I was snapping away with the reassuring rasp of the manual frame wind on and unmistakable ker-thunk of the shutter going off - 38 times in total, remembering of course that you can always squeeze on a couple of extra shots onto a roll of 36!

The following day the roll of film was dropped in at the local lab and after a coffee at Starbucks I ventured home with some strips of processed negatives for the princely sum of £3.50.

Rather than being totally analogue, I decided to merge this 'old tech' with 'the new' and digitise the files with a scanner and 'process' them in Photoshop, of course the simpler option would have been for the lab to make me up a CD! That's just too easy!

In the 'olden days', after wet processing the resulting prints, it's likely you'd have used Indian ink to retouch the odd white spot or scratch, now of course we simply use the various retouching tools in Photoshop with great effect and speed. We can then prints them off at home on the ink jet or post them to the internet. Of course, the other option would be just to get prints made at the time of processing - dust specks and all! Nah, that's just not me, that’s far too easy!

Tech: Nikon FM, Nikkor 18-35 IFED, 4 sec @ f22. Ilford XP2 b&w film scanned to digital via and Epson 4870 @ 3200 dpi (resized for web here).

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