Since I last wrote we’ve had a bumper crop of rain in California.The last post with the fog lifting off Lexington Reservoir isn’t possible today because that part of the lake is about 10 feet below the surface. Since then I have been developing black and white film. I enjoy it much more than I thought I would. In addition to bringing me back to what I love about photography, developing my own film has me focusing more closely on the various aspects of making a picture.
I have set my self a challenge to spend the year using my manual cameras without a light meter. I’m using the “sunny 16” rule and keeping in mind the latitude of black and white film. Briefly, it works like this. In the bright sunshine you set the aperture to 16 and match the shutter speed to the speed of the film (100 speed film: 1/100-1/125 shutter speed, ISO 400: 1/400 or 1/500 shutter speed.) On a cloudy day reduce the f-stop to 11, shade, reduce to f8, always keeping the shutter speed at the same number as the ISO of the film.
My workflow looks like this: load the film in one of my cameras (a Yashica 124, a Mamiya 645, or on of the two 35mm cameras), go out and shoot, bring the film to the shed to change the film from the camera to the light tight developing tank (all done in the dark). After developing the film and hanging it to dry, I scan it into Photoshop using either an Epson v700 or taking a picture of the negative with a digital camera. Adjustment in Photoshop completes the process.
My long lenses and extremely wide lenses are all matched to my Nikon digital cameras so any surfing photos I take are done with the digital equipment. At this year’s paddlefest I had both Nikon digital and my Yashica film camera with me. A funny thing about long telephoto lenses is that sometimes the photos are better than what you can see with your eyes and this is the case for the photo below. I had a 300 lens on the camera and then cropped in Photoshop to get these pictures. The thrust you see in the photo is certainly more than we saw from the cliff at Steamer Lane.
The black and white photos are later in the day after we watched the pros do amazing things in the surf. They were taken on the Santa Cruz warf.
A last note about developing my own film. After purchasing all the equipment (canister, chemicals, measuring cups and thermometer) I feel like I am developing the film free. It cost me $100 total but I expect to use the chemicals for over a year. I’m already on roll 8 or 9 (between 35mm and 120mm) and hardly see a dent in my chemicals. It’s almost like developing for free. Contrast this with a consistent $6-8 per roll and having complete control over the process.