Over the past seven months, Ilford has been publishing a set of helpful “Darkroom Guides” to the How To playlist on the company YouTube channel. The series was created to help film photographers take their “next steps in your black and white darkroom printing journey.” If that describes you, then this is one you’ll want to bookmark.
There’s a lot of information out there about film photography—including some exceptional websites like EMULSIVE that are exclusively dedicated to film lovers—but if you’re looking for “how to” advice, one great place to start is right at the source. Ilford’s channel is filled with great behind the scenes videos, how to videos, and some fascinating photo stories besides.
This particular series features Rachel Brewster-Wright—the owner of Little Vintage Photography—who uses each episode to walk you though one key darkroom technique. The series begins with an introduction to Dodge and Burn and moves on to more advanced techniques as the episodes roll on. By episode four, you’re learning how to use multigrade filters to take your printing to the next level.
There are currently four episodes live, which you can see for yourself below:
Episode 1: Dodge & Burn
Episode 2: Selenium Toner
Episode 3: Photographic Papers
Episode 4: Multigrade Filters
We hope to see more videos with Brewster in the coming months. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this then definitely check out Ilford’s full “How To” playlist for lots more tips and tutorials on shooting, developing, and printing your film photography.
Analogue Wonderland has just announced Analogue WonderBox, a new subscription service that sends a curated set of 35mm films to analog photographers every month.
“Every week we get questions from folk getting into film photography – either for the first time or returning after a couple of decades in the digital world – asking for film recommendations and expressing amazement with the range available,” the online film shop says. “We want to capture this enthusiasm and join together as a community to help people
learn and enjoy new films, while shining a light on some of the lesser-known jewels of the analog world.”
Photographers who sign up for Analogue WonderBox will have three rolls of 35mm film delivered to their door every month. For example, the September box gives subscribers a roll each of Dubblefilm Bubblegum, Ilford Pan F, and Rollei 400S (with extra goodies comprising a cyanotype kit, a free development for a roll, and an exclusive piece of AW merchandise).
Subscribers will receive information about the films along with tips and tricks for getting the best photos from each film’s unique look. Subscribers can also participate in an ongoing photo competition that offers prizes every month for photographers who share their photos and experiences with the films.
A two-month subscription (for 6 rolls total) costs £50 (~$65), which averages out to about $10.80 per roll. While this is a discount for some films offered by Analogue Wonderland — a roll of Bubblegum costs £12 (~$15.50), for example — it’s a higher cost for other rolls that would be cheaper to buy individually (e.g. Rollei 400S costs £5.50/$7.13).
However, as a subscriber, you do get the convenience/excitement of receiving a brand new set of films to try every month as well as surprise goodies in the box.
Most everyone’s got one. If you’ve been around for a while, you may have some great stories or a few crazy or scary assignments, but this one is not what you might think. Oh, I have had some interesting gigs for sure, but most of my work was in studio and not at all scary (with the exception of melted ice cream). I’ll save those stories for another time. No, this phone call was a different kind of scary.
Thirty years of top work and my confidence went out the window within sixty seconds of answering the phone. Actually, the entire call lasted less than sixty seconds.
One February afternoon I’m cleaning up the studio and planning to run for the 4:40 train from NYC to Greenwich, with my biggest worry being whether I’ll grab a cab or get soaked. That’s when the phone rings. Tony, the creative director of J. Walter Thompson was on the phone, which either means bad news with a problem, or good news with a new assignment.
My work with J.W.T. was generally studio stuff: liquor, Burger King, pizza or something else that typically sits still and doesn’t talk back, but always pays well. Those days in New York I was a busy still-life shooter with a name in studio photography. I took pride in myself for lighting, composition, a sparkling personality, and a cool studio; all of which I’d banked on for several decades.
“I’ve got an interesting assignment, if you’re up for it.”
Well of COURSE I’m up for it, we both know that! But instead I simply responded
“Sure, what’s up?”
He must have been smiling to himself when he broke it so casually:
Would you like to shoot for Kodak? It’s a new campaign. You would choose one of the four films we’re advertising; like Kodacolor II, Hi-Speed Ektachrome, Ektachrome and Kodachrome II. It’d be your choice, you choose and show off the benefits of one, like Hi-Speed for candle light maybe, or Kodacolor II for saturated daytime…
“I’ll take Kodacolor,” I said, as I just laid it right out there. Dibs, if you will. Bright colors and sunshine? Mine! Fate sealed; challenge accepted. Next? Layouts; budget issues; unreal deadline?
Instead, Tony said simply “OK, let me know when you’re done.”
And there it was. “LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DONE!” Shit, now he’s just playin’ with me. This was starting to scare me.
“Wait – tell me more. What about…”
He ignored that and said, “Just have fun, do something great, as usual, remember bright colors, call me when you’re done.”
I tried again to extract details, but alas, “No worries, no layout, budget is great, I’ll talk to Bill Stockland (my rep) about it, but it’s pretty unlimited. Gotta run, have fun.”
Complete panic ensued.
I realized it was all on the line now: could I really do this? Thirty years of building a reputation, and now no excuses, no art director, no layout, just deliver greatness to the creative director of New York’s top ad agency or crash badly. And for Kodak, no less. Shit – at that time the name of my sailboat was actually ‘Kodachrome’ though it happened to be in winter storage at the time.
I needed sunshine. After pouring a healthy scotch, I scrambled to call Bill. He reaffirmed that I could go anywhere, do anything, spend any amount, but just come up with something great within maybe two weeks. He offered no help at all.
In those days my usual film was 8×10 Ektachrome (with a Polaroid tossed in here and there). I almost always shot in studio and always with a layout and I always brought the assignment. Roll film? I’d shoot a roll or two maybe once a year and I still owned a Nikon, if I could actually remember where it was…
I went home and, on the way, grabbed a brick of film, new batteries for the Nikon, packed up the wife and kid, and headed for California sunshine. It would be sunny, with parks, boats, zoos, and even hot air balloons seeming to be a safe bet, and I wanted safe. Upon arrival, this idea crashed.
I found that they don’t fly balloons when it’s rainy, and it was very rainy. No bright colors and no sunshine.
So, I learned something: when dropped into chaos, you’ll probably stretch a bit. You can actually relax and trust yourself. Sure, it was raining, but I did happen to have a great model with me. I decided to just relax and let things flow… which it did. I found a kiddie store on Union Street with a yellow Sou’wester hat and a matching yellow raincoat. Perfect Kodak color, actually.
A few weeks later Tony called. They couldn’t pick a single shot. My heart began to sink. Then he said that this shoot changed their entire advertising campaign. They decided to run an entire contact sheet when they couldn’t pick just one image. He loved it. Kodak loved it. It ran in a number of national magazines, influenced their future advertising, and it was my all-time favorite shoot.
Greatest model to the greatest shoot ever, Lauren Molly Bartone, age 3.
About the author: After his studies at the Art Center College of Design, Laurence Bartone first opened his commercial studio as a photographer in San Francisco. Ten years in and looking for new experiences, he headed East to NYC.
Heavily influenced by the lighting and composition of Vermeer, and the brilliance of both Irving Penn and Phil Marco, he believes every photo should tell a story. Bartone won four gold medals for advertising photography in SF, NY, and LA, and has been published in dozens of national magazines. His work consistently underlines his lighting and composition talents, with Bartone delivering successful campaigns and assignments – both in studio or on location.
Whether traveling through Europe, shooting on a beach in Tahiti or a vineyard in Australia, he’s descended from helicopters, climbed high-rise scaffolding, flown gliders, and even donned a scuba suit into the icy depths of the Monterey Bay Aquarium – all to get the best possible shot; as his incredible list of Fortune 500 clients would agree.
Photographer and YouTuber George Muncey of Negative Feedback recently set out on an ill-fated adventure in film scanning. He went out and bought the cheapest 35mm film scanner he could find online—the DIGITNOW! 135, which costs a whopping $60 on Amazon—and tried it out so that you don’t have to.
There’s not a lot of introduction required here. Muncey went on Amazon, found the cheapest 35mm film scanner money could buy, and put it to the test to see if it even approached “good enough.”
The point was to see if this is a viable option for someone who is just getting into film photography and doesn’t have much money to spend on a scanner or getting film professionally scanned. And if you’re looking to get the cheapest 35mm film scanner that pops up when you do a quick search, this is it (note, the picture shows the US model):
You should watch the video to see how it went, but we won’t keep you in suspense: the scans did not turn out well. In fact, as Muncey puts it:
The scans look like they were photos taken on an early 2000s camera phone, definitely not a nice film camera. And if you can get past the rather shocking quality, there’s a lot more waiting for you…
There’s some lovely color inaccuracy. None of these photos look how they were meant to. And if you can get past that, there’s dust… and a lot of it. There’s almost more [dust] than image.
Muncey describes the results as “potato quality,” and while the black-and-white film scans avoided the pitfall of color inaccuracy, they were still chock full of dust and scanned at such poor quality that it’s really just not worth it. Long story short: do yourself a favor and pick something up that’s at least a little bit nicer.
Check out the full video up top to watch Muncey suffer a little bit trying to set up and use this scanner, and if you haven’t gotten enough by the end, check out the followup video he published a few days ago where he buys the cheapest 35mm film camera on the Internet: