F-22 and Holding

 

 

We are back from a successful trip to the Olympic Peninsula and also from a one day outdoor art tour which was not so successful, but it’s over. In my two printing days this week I got four images finished and ready to mount for our annual open house in December and Kathy today finished two new images for the same event. I say this not because it is exciting news to anyone except us, but to give context to my absence from this blog and as a prequel to what is really exciting to us, an upcoming exhibit at the MAC, the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture in Spokane.

 

As part of the prequel, we attended the exhibit just closing, a set of images from Edward S. Curtis on the North American Indian series he burned up his years and moneys on. The Spokane Public Library was one of the early purchasers of Curtis’ set and a couple Summers ago I served as a technical consultant to a library series that publicized the set and exposed weekly groups of visitors to some of the books and images.  This last exhibit was, in itself, a powerful revelation of the role photography has played in out cultural history.

 

The next exhibit, opening in a couple days  is even more pertinent to the work Kat and I do: “Museum Masters: Group f-64”.   This show includes work by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, and Brett and Edward Weston.  A long time ago in a land far away (Atlanta) I saw an exhibition by Ansel and Edward Weston at the High Museum.  At the time I knew next to nothing about Weston and as they were in separate rooms, I spent most of my brief time looking at Adams work, while strolling through the Weston exhibit casually, walking past the cases that held his cameras and giving cursory glances to his 8X10 prints.  Every time I recollect this I try to kick myself.

 

Group f-64 was probably formed at some California potluck with a lot of vegetarian food and plenty of wine.  Credit for the name goes to Van Dyke and although the group exhibited together perhaps just once, one gets the notion that most of the members did not take it as seriously as Adams did.  He wrote a manifesto on straight photography.  It has an earnest quality and semi religious overtones.  As with most religious tracts there is an air of self-righteousness as well.

 

To get a sense of what Group f-64 was about we must mention Pictorialism of course, and specifically one of its California evangelists, William Mortenson, who taught photo classes and worked in and about Hollywood.  I have several Mortenson books, which go from informative and thought provoking to insufferably maudlin and, given some of the illustrations, more than a bit icky.   Pictorialism is a broad term for the general thrust of late 19thand early 20thcentury photo club kinds of photography.  The Salons, as they were called, involved a sort of culture of contest in which one submitted prints before the “judges” who might give helpful advice but also might be critical to the point of humiliating budding photographic “artists.”  There were salons in both the U.S. and in Europe, and photographers submitted works across the seas.  Many good things came from these clubs but the overriding theme of creating art in general caused photography to develop an affection for imitating painting and drawing, where, in that era, art was supposedly best expressed.   There were early exceptions among the salonists, like Peter Henry Emerson who developed quite a following among what is sometimes described as the “naturalist” photographers. The Stieglitz circle, i.e., the photo-secessionists, made an early but incomplete break from that predilection to make a photo look not like a photo.  Ansel Adams began photographing in the pictorialist mode, soft focus lens, dreamy landscape etc.

 

There were technical contributions to the revolution that was to come.  The anastigmat lens was one component, sharp and decisive.  There was the Kodak and Kodaking among the masses who could afford the camera.  We have a 1903 annual printed by Eastman Kodak of winners of their contest, all photos made with an Eastman camera, and lo and behold, when amateurs got a camera they did not go for warm and fuzzy but did their best to focus and hold still. Arguments may have been going on in the darkrooms of the New York Camera Club but the Mother of the family in Iowa just wanted sharp and properly exposed pictures of her children!  Then came, of course, glossy gaslight and enlarging papers.  Artist photographers tended to print on gum bichromate or Platinum and with those media details sunk into the fibers of the matte surface,  Glossy paper on the other hand showed what the daguerreotype revealed 60 years earlier, the sharp, etched detail that a lens could capture.

 

So when the history of photography is written, inevitably we hear about the theories and the personalities that argued them.  When one reads Edward Weston’s Daybooks, on the other hand, what comes out is Edward trying out some commercial glossy contact print paper, and almost immediately swearing off the matte surface platinum paper he imported from England. He then goes into a joyous frenzy of work trying out some older negatives on the new paper and the rest is history.

 

The California photographers all seem to have been moved by the same spirit and their personal friendships established a mutual support society so that the formation of Group f-64 seemed like a natural event rather than simply a way of formalizing an aesthetic ideology.   Nevertheless, there really was a significant ideological basis to what comes to be called, “straight photography.”  Adams’ manifesto tries to clarify what straight photography must be, but he was not a great writer.  He was a great photographer and a true believer.  And he was a vociferous opponent of the Pictorialist photo clubs and their soft and fuzzy salons of pretty pictures and a vocal antagonist to the Pictorialists’ advocate William Mortenson, his fellow Californian.  Group f-64 advocated for the presentation of the photographic tools and materials in their very best and most natural state, sharply focused images, cleanly presented printing with minimal manipulation of negative and paper, straight and not tortured into looking like and charcoal drawing or water color print.

 

They didn’t invent this way of photographing of course.  Timothy O’Sullivan, Peter Henry Emerson, Eugene Atget and Mrs. Alfred Donaghue of Baltimore, Maryland all practiced to the best of their abilities a form of straight photography.  The dominance of the Pictorialists and the photo clubs, and of Stieglitz and his coterie in New York made the 19thcentury straight photographers disappear from the discussion, and that New York group made themselves the genius of its reinvention without really knowing the mediums’ own history.

 

Group f-64, in that context thus becomes very important and even as it disbands and the photographers disperse to their own careers, their impact will reverberate for the rest of the 20thcentury, and in a sense they win the battle.  Mortenson, once a famous man is hardly found in the histories of photography.  Adams writes two photo series that establish the norm for a black and white photography that joins a workable scientific and technical base to a romantic approach to the American landscape.

 

What became of the photo salons?  They exist today in the photo clubs, like we have here in the Pacific Northwest, full of photo enthusiasts with remarkably similar high end digital cameras talking about converting medium format lenses to full frame bodies and the wonderful results. Kat and I have judged, at the request of the clubs a few contests and it was always an interesting but frustrating experience.  We looked at prints made by Walmart, for example, of a bug on a bright, bright green leaf that, we were informed, was made with 40 different exposures!  We looked at a panoramic view of the inside of a famous local old theater that, we were told, was stitched together from 7 different captures.  Kat has a 4×5 negative of the same angle but alas, she made it with one ¼ of a second exposure and the 90mm Angulon.  We turned down another judging when given instructions to watch some online lessons on judging, only to find the teacher showing when to advise a photographer to remove an object or person from the image file to better the competition.  We cringed.  That is not straight photography.

 

The name Group f-64 is interesting.  Although we do have a lens that goes down to f-128, these big numbers are not the norm for lenses after maybe 1935! Part of the change was the transition from the US system of numbering: 4,8,16,32,64,128, to the f system itself: 1,1.4,2,2.8,4,5.6 etc. It seems however, that a lot of very good photographers in those days worked with the assumption that a lens continued to increase in sharpness as the aperture decreased, so that Weston brags in his daybook of making an exposure at f-256 to get the very best detail. In truth, the image degrades due to refraction much earlier and even if apparent depth of field increases the resolution goes to pot pretty quickly.  For contact printers like Edward Weston, that never really reveals itself.  So the name that Willard Van Dyke suggested is based on that fallacy.  But no harm done. We are careful when we are shooting, nevertheless, to try to not go smaller than f-22 with most of our large format lenses, and definitely not with our medium format lenses.

 

It will be immensely enjoyable, in the midst of this land of miraculously stitched together ink jet prints from a dozen exposures with saturated colors as overdone as super-sugary pumpkin lattes with cinnamon sprinkled whipped cream tops, to take a slow walk through an exhibit of cool, calm black and white prints from a few of our favorite photographers and once more remind ourselves of our aesthetic foundations and inspirations.  We are, we laugh to ourselves and each other, lesser lights: group f-22.

 

Good shooting,

 

 

Bill Kostelec

 

McCain Rally, 2000

 

 

I was never a photojournalist, but I got a press pass to cover the John McCain Rally at Gonzaga University in 2000, by virtue, I guess, of being the only regular photographer on staff at the University. Gonzaga had a history of being oblivious to the needs of a full time photographer even though photography had played such an important part in the history and work of the Jesuit missions in the West. G.U. is, in fact, home to the Oregon Province Jesuit archives which holds an incredible collection of images from the 19thand 20thcentury missions. The public relations wing of the University nevertheless had a habit of hiring outside photographers in for special events, but I worked for Media Services in the Foley Library as a photographer and graphic artist.  So I got a press pass.

 

I had 2 Leica M3s, one a gift from a Jesuit friend, Bill Yam, sick with emphysema who had worked as a photographer in the Phillipines in the 60s, and the second, a weak sister that had seen its better days and had a dim rangefinder that I had picked up locally for 500 dollars.  But still, 2 Leica M3s! So I waited outside with the crowds for the bus with John McCain to arrive, scouted good locations and had one Leica with a 35mm Summicron and the second with a 90mm Elmarit.

 

There was a lady military vet in the crowd that caught my eye and so I slipped through the mix of students and older visitors in what I thought of as photojournalist aggression, polite but determined.  When she caught my eye she smiled and I got the shot, what I still think of as my supreme “decisive moment” photograph.  McCain Rally

There was a man with a big sign in the street out front of the COG, where McCain would speak and I positioned myself, he saw me turned and smiled and I got that. signman

When the bus pulled up I moved again close near the entryway I was told he would use and got a half dozen shots when he came through shaking hands with his wife Cindy close by.j9hnandcindy

 

pressingpalms

The best shot of McCain was, I think when he stood above, waving to the crowd and gave them a big thumbs up.  McCain was an interesting candidate that year and a lot of young people seemed to be drawn to his ‘wild horse a little out of control’ reputation.thumbsup

 

I photographed part of the speech and was leaving the COG, walking down the steps. People were still coming in, including a guy with 2 cameras with straps identifying the newspaper from Cincinnati that he photographed for.  He was very professional looking and he stopped on the stairs smiling at me and said “A real photographer eh?” I looked closer and saw he carried 2 Leica black bodies.  “Yep.” I said and we went our ways.  Though it was not that long ago press photographers were still shooting film and Nikons and Canons were ubiquitous.  The Leicas were already becoming rarer on the scene.

 

I shoot with a lot of older cameras. Today I have a Kodak Pony 828 around my neck with some film I spooled from a bulk roll of 35mm TriX and even an amateur camera like that can produce a good image.  Nevertheless, for me, using the M3 always feels special and I know in advance that the negatives will have a certain quality from the Leitz lenses.

 

McCain himself seems now like a leftover from the days when national politicians sometimes rose to the status of statesman and when mutual respect across party lines made it possible for good things to happen in the Halls of Congress.  His empty seat will be hard to fill in our current social scene.

The smoky air has cleared today after a morning rain, first time in a month. So on to

Good shooting

 

Bill Kostelec

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Old Equipment

 

 

 

Recently a friend offered us some old cameras because she knew that we appreciated such things.  We have had several contacts in the last months from people we didn’t know who heard we might be interested in film equipment they wanted to have a home for.  It’s a sign of the times and the cameras almost always come with family stories related to them, so it has been a worthwhile experience meeting people and talking with them.

 

This last was pretty out of the ordinary as our friends Dad had been a physicist working in the Eastman Research laboratories in Rochester.  She said many of their family photos were made on experimental films that staff would shoot in the R&D process and her Dad also brought home new cameras to use.  Her cameras came in a big cardboard box, as most do, but in this case the box held treasures for which it was unworthy to carry.  First off, and the oldest, was a Premo D, a 4X5 folding camera with a red bellows.  Premo was from the Rochester Camera Company that was bought up by George Eastman early in the 20thcentury, a common practice of his. It is a cherry wood box camera that opens front and back, has three shutter speeds plus B, and a meniscus lens enclosed in brass. 20180730_103503 With the camera came one plate holder, as the camera was designed for dry plates, and one plate holder altered to hold sheet film, the alteration done by sliding in glass plates so that sheets of film would tuck in above them. The camera was from about 1896, before the company was acquired by Eastman.  It came in its own case with an instruction manual for “manipulating the Premo D” and an 1896 publication on the basics of photography.  The lens was full of fungus but I carefully got access to it and cleaned it.  The ground glass image looked sharp so I loaded a couple of my holders, found that the Premo accepted them perfectly and shot an image , a time exposure at the smallest aperture. 20180730_103529 The camera was intended to be a hand camera, meaning to be used without a tripod.  I used a tripod.  Using this Premo increased my respect for early photographers even more.  I have a 4X5 Graflex D SLR from the 1940’s and its weight and bulk make hand held work doable, especially with its focal plane shutter.  The Premo is very light and I doubt I would ever try to handhold it for a shot. The negative, shot on a light table with a cell phone, is surprisingly good. This is a camera worth using.20180730_131118

 

The second camera of note is a Kodak Recomar 33, a 9 by 12cm. folder from 1935.  20180801_105654It was manufactured by Nagel Kamera Werke in Germany.  Nagel designed the Recomar in 1928 and Eastman bought the company in the 1930s, and it was Nagel who designed and built the Kodak Retina, the nice little 35mm folder.  This model of the Recomar is marked Kodak and has a Kodak Anastigmant 4.5 135mm lens in a Compur shutter. 20180801_105750

20180801_110014_001

20180801_105939 It came with a single sheet film holder and I already had a plate holder and a pack film holder that fit the sliding mount of the Recomar.  The ground glass screen slides up and off the camera and the film holder slides into its place.  Not very convenient for a hand camera, but the body has a nice focusing scale and a triple extension bellows.  The camera is in excellent shape but where would I get 9X12cm. film? In our camera case I have had a couple packs of Agfa pack film that came with a collection, both films expiring in the 1940s.  Pack film holders are dime a dozen and mostly useless these days.  When I realized these old Agfa packs were 9X12cm. I thought I’d give it a shot.  I had never used pack film.  It was before my time but it seemed easy enough. I loaded up the Super Pan and tried it.  It was difficult to process, being thin and curly, let alone being 70 years old. Originally rated at 200, I tried ASA 50 and then exposed very generously.  The one negative that sort of turned out from the half pack I shot was fogged of course, but also showed some mottling and flaking.  But still, I had an image.20180801_140631_001

 

About 20 years ago a woman I knew asked me to make copies of some old small prints she had.  They were very interesting.  Her Dad, who had just died, was captured by the Japanese on Bataan in 1942 and survived the Bataan Death March. The photos were taken inside a POW camp!  The story is that one GI smuggled in a small 35mm camera but had no film.  Another GI had smuggled in a roll of film, probably 620 or 120, and together they managed to secretly get into a dark place, slice the roll film down to size and get it to work in the 35mm camera and then secretly, and very dangerously take pictures in the camp.  The photos were not the best but they were there! Whenever I think of that effort and ingenuity it makes me feel rather humble and lucky that I can take photos so easily.  So every time I work with one of these old cameras and get a picture I feel excited and gratified.

 

A third camera I tried out was a little Kodak Bantam, again from the 1930s, with a Kodak  Anastigmat Special lens.  The pop up viewfinder was broken and had black tape on it, but I had another Bantam with a bad lens and I switched out the viewfinders.  The complication here is that the Bantams were made for 828 film, a paper backed roll film made on 35mm stock without the sprocket holes, which of course no one makes anymore.  Because I had a couple 828 spools I was able to spool some 35mm TMAX in the darkroom onto the paper backing from a Kodacolor roll and get my 8 shots.  These were surprisingly good considering the guess focusing.  This turns out to be a fun camera, slipping into my pocket, easily opened and ready to go.  A drawback is the 7 or 8 shots per roll and of course the image area bleeds deeply into the sprocket holes of 35mm.  It’s a nice special effect but I wouldn’t want it on every photo and the advantage of the 828 was its larger image area.

 

We are just back from a one week trip to the Olympic Peninsula where we used 2 1953 Linhof Technikas IIIs and a 1939 Eastman Commercial 8X10 equipped with a 5X7 film back. 20180812_153230

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Our newest lenses were from the early 1960s. After 3 days in the darkroom we have all the sheet film processed with happy results.  So using older equipment is not a hobby with us but our “sitz im leben”, and our normal working procedure.

 

Try it, and good shooting.

 

Bill Kostelec

Using C-41 Black and White Film

adventures in processing and printing black and white chromogenic film

 

 

 

Today I was printing some 35mm black and white negatives I processed this morning in the kitchen sink. Printing negatives in the afternoon that were processed in the morning is not that unusual; the kitchen sink part is.

 

I have a good supply of Kodak c-41 process black and white film, mostly 120 but a half dozen rolls as well of 35mm.  A couple years back a good friend gifted me with his refrigerated stash as he had gone digital in his portrait business.  I was my usual skeptical self and didn’t shoot any right away, and then when I did, sent it off to The Darkroom in San Clemente, CA.   It looked OK, pretty good, not bad.  Still, sending it off was a pain, and expensive for someone used to just going into his own darkroom and processing.  I found a video online from the Film Photography Project about using their kit to process C-41 at home and ordered a kit.  I was intimidated by the temperature requirements but, Heck, I have six or seven thermometers and the kitchen has hot running water so I tried it.

 

It works.

film

A chromogenic film, the image structure is made up of dye clouds rather than silver clumps, and the first thing I found out from the 120 rolls was that it scans very well.  The second thing I found out was that it requires long exposures when printing on variable contrast paper.  I have been using this film in 2 very different ways: the first is an ongoing portrait project, very informal, in which I photograph individuals or couples upstairs in our gallery during a once a month food and music party we host. So often enough the subject lugs up a guitar or fiddle. I have 2 cameras that I use for this, my Mamiya C220 and the baby Linhof, 2X3 with its 6X6 back.  I use one white lightning flash with a shoot through 42 inch umbrella aimed at the subject and within two and a half feet of the same. This light is very soft and the 400 ISO film gives me plenty of flexibility with f-stop and shutter speed if I need a little more depth of field.

joshnmnlisa
Josh and Monalisa

 

The Linhof is blessed with a 105 Xenotar.  It is a happy camera.

Kat2
Kat and the Xenotar

The second way I have been using this film is in the 35mm camera as I roam around public events.  I haven’t been using it exclusively but have been alternating it with traditional silver films like Delta 100 and TMY.  In the last month or so there have been several of these events in town and I finally got around to processing the C-41 films this week.  To be more accurate, I finally accumulated enough rolls to mix my batch of chemistry, a Unicolor kit that has developer, blix, which is a combined bleach and rapid fix, and stabilizer.  A friend who was in the business of custom color printing until the digital revolution told me that in the past there had been a Kodak process that divided up the bleach and fix and had some other differences that made it a superior process, but now we have what we have.  So I use it.

2bitches
Two “Bitches”?

 

 

 

westand together
At A march against school shootings

Some technical notes: I follow my thermometer to develop at 102 degrees, with the Blix about the same. I immerse the bottles in a hard rubber 8X10 developing tank in the kitchen sink, get the water bath at about 110 degrees and monitor the chemistry till it is just right.  My negatives are punchier than my commercially processed rolls and when wet make me wonder if I have burned out the highlights.  But no, they print easily with no filtration under a cold light head on Seagull VC or Ilford Cooltone multigrade paper.  The chemistry is reputed to be short lived so I will want to process some more film in the next week and after that call it good. The instructions say 3.5 minutes at 102 degrees.  For the second batch I do 4 minutes.  The Blix calls for 6.5 minutes and I stick with that but I have doubled the wash time to six minutes at about 90 degrees.  The reason I did this is that I had a persistent magenta runoff after the washing and the stabilizer, dripping down into a white tray, and I was getting ugly white splotches from the runoff.  The stabilizer is supposed to make the film more permanent I guess but I don’t understand the process it does for that.  The video showed these guys wiping down the wet roll with a folded paper towel and my friend the old film processor and printer about had a fit when I did that in front of him.  SO I stopped doing it and started getting these ugly splotches.  Hence, two changes I made; I doubled the washing time and then I made a photo flo final bath in distilled water.  Now they come out nice and clean.

 

When our garden is in full bloom I sometimes load up a roll of color print film and it is nice to be able to process that as well.  For printing however, we have to rely on our scanner and an ink jet printer, and it is hard for me  emotionally to wax enthusiastically about the chugging of the machine.

pjammersinrain
The PJammers at a protest against school shootings

A couple of days ago we had a nephew here with his old Miata, newly painted a light blue.  His Aunt visiting from back east was ironically wearing a matching light blue jacket.  The black and white C-41 film rendered both the car and the jacket white! I’ll try out the next roll with a K-2 filter and see what happens.

 

I also picked up some Kodak Portra 400 B&W 120 rolls and I look forward to trying that out.

 

Good shooting.

 

Bill Kostelec

July 3, 2018

https://thedarkroom.com/product/film-developing/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8Y-OrZ6J3AIVEJl-Ch1New71EAAYASAAEgIhpPD_BwE

https://filmphotographyproject.com

 

 

My Nobel Peace Prize Winners

TutuCarter

In the 1980’s I spent about 8 years in Atlanta at Emory University doing doctoral work in the Division of Religion. It’s where I got deeply involved in photography. I was using 35mm exclusively for awhile but then an old photographer suggested I get a Speed Graphic, a “real Camera”, and I found a 4X5 Crown at KEH, which still had a walk-in store.   As my photo work progressed I got some kind of reputation among some of the faculty, and when the Religion Department sponsored a small conference with former President Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu I was asked to make some photographs. The former President was in the library I worked in fairly often as his presidential library was located in the Special Collections area. I was teaching a religion class in the college at the time and had heard a couple students during a break talking about the “Bishop’s daughter”, another student in the class. I asked “Which bishop?” and they said, “You know, Tutu!” Well, I hadn’t known but when the department chair asked me to go fetch the Bishop across campus and bring him to the conference I did, and mentioned to him that I had taught his daughter in the now finished class. He got a bit excited and grabbed my hand. “She loved that class!” he said, which was kind of cool for me, as you can imagine.

 

So we went upstairs to the conference and Jimmy Carter was there with men in dark suits and wires in their ears and the two Nobel Prize winners embraced with big smiles and chatted like old school roommates. That’s how this photo came to be. I was using a Minolta 101 if I recall. Tutu had been a warm and funny companion as we walked across campus. The President though, at one point, gave me a cross look as he sat at the conference table. Being a strict amateur I think I was taking too many photos and so I backed off and sat with the faculty and he relaxed his next gaze in my direction.

 

The negatives turned out well and I made a contact print and some 8X10s for the Religion department and kept a contact print for myself. After getting the doctorate I moved to the Pacific Northwest where the air is dry and it is cool at night in the Summertime. And the first Winter my cabin in the woods burned down and destroyed my entire stash of 35mm negatives plus all my equipment and everything else the family owned except what we had put into a storage unit. Later on I found I still had the contact print.

 

Nearly thirty years later, while working at Gonzaga University, I learned that Desmond Tutu was coming to do the commencement address and I told the story of my photo to some colleagues who spread it around and I was invited to photograph him again, in a meeting with students. Kathy had previously dug out the contact sheet and scanned it, and got a nice copy of the photo from the scan, which we framed. Later on I found one 8X10 print from the original negative. Kathy went with me to the event as a second photographer and I was invited to present the Bishop with the framed photo. He had never seen it. He was excited again, and again warm and funny. He noted that he looked a bit different now and that I didn’t look the same either. He told me that he had driven Jimmy Carter to an emergency room in South Africa when the President broke his leg on a house project. They were still fast friends. The Bishop treasured the photograph, and took it home in his carry on luggage because he didn’t want anything to happen to it. And that’s my story of photographing  2 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

 

Bill Kostelec

 

January 24, 2018

 

Processing Film and the Good Life

The Good Life of Processing Film

 

The other evening, Kathy processed her first 8X10 negs in my BTZS tubes. She had processed 8 X 10 in a tray before but I was the only one using the tubes. It was also her first time shooting the 8X10 Eastman Commercial View Camera that I spent a lot of hours getting into shooting condition last year.

She was amazed at her negatives. We did the first two at 6 minutes in Xtol at 72 degrees, thinking that we could alter the time for the duplicate negs if necessary. It wasn’t. The next afternoon she made contact prints on a Foma contact printing paper and now apparently, I am going to have to find a hiding place to stash at least some of our 8X10 film!

My favorite format for sheet film negatives is 5X7. As I have always enjoyed framing and shooting 35mm film, the aspect ratio of 5X7 seems ideal to me. It is a lot like 35mm in that way. Having a working Beseler 5X7 enlarger with a cold light head also helps to add value to that format. Still, when we want to produce a large body of work, as in last Fall’s trip to the Eastern Sierra, we both shoot a lot of 4X5 and medium format. Film processing, as well as cost, contributes to that choice. We both process 4X5 in restaurant trays, used for, I suppose keeping food hot, a brilliant innovation that Alan Ross showed us a year or so ago. We used to use hangars in Kodak rubber tanks. It is an easy and nearly foolproof method and being very hands on, also satisfying.  8X10 and 5X7 film has been more problematic and the acquisition of the BTZS tubes was, and Kathy will now allow me to say this, a rather good move on my part.

I enjoy processing film more than I enjoy printing. The moment a negative first comes into the light is like (well not quite) when the newborn baby first is wheeled into the room. There it is, full of potential, full of promise and hope! (I’m not sure if I’m talking about the baby or the negative. Sometimes I get carried away!)

In any case, whenever I use the digital camera to make an image, the act seems so prematurely done, and so incomplete in a way that I find very unsatisfying. Sitting at a computer just doesn’t feel like a photographic activity to me, partly because of too many years in a sedentary sitting at the computer job. Processing film, on the other hand, makes me smile and hanging negatives to dry and going into the house, where Kathy inevitably asks, “How do they look?” is what I call, “the good life.”

Bill Kostelec