Oct 10, 2021

Video: How I process my film negatives using (mostly) FOSS software

I shoot film, but that doesn't mean I'm a purist. After the development stage, I'm happy to use whatever technology is available to me in order to get the best presentation out of my image. This is a video I did last month on how I scan and edit my photos using a combination of GIMP, AnalogExif and the native Epson scanning software. Specifically, this photo is for an Instagram channel that I run called Columbia Inland Pinhole. Interestingly, AnalogExif is a FOSS application that lets the user apply Exif info to film photo scans fairly easily. It hasn't had an update since about 2010 or so, but it continues to work on my (Win10) machine. I wonder how it will hold up to the next iteration of that OS.  

How are you scanning your film images?

Sep 15, 2021

The Glass Blower

While on a recent trip to the Oregon Coast, we stopped by a glass shop. I hadn't planned on taking many pics, but the owner started putting on a demonstration shortly after we arrived. Luckily, I had my Canon A-1 with me, so I quickly loaded it with some HP5+. 

The light inside the building was constant but a little on the iffy side. A curtainless window on the opposite wall would have thrown the internal meter off by quite a lot. Rather than taking the time to get my exposure reading on each frame I just set my shutter speed to 1/125 and aperture on the 50mm f/1.8 to f/2.8.  Afterward, I checked the light levels with the metering app on my phone. Turns out I was at EV 6.  I was effectively shooting at ISO 1600, well within the pushing limits of this film. 

I ran out of film just before he showed his final presentation of the glass ball. But, I was able to fill up the entire roll with some frames without worrying about the metering on each one. Sometimes you just have to shoot first and ask questions later. 

Processing was done with d-76 at a 1:1 dilution ratio, then scanned with my Epson v550. I'm still don't have DSLR scanning 100% down yet. 

All in all, I was happy with the results. Given the subject matter, I think HP5+ was the perfect way to go in this instance. Not only did I show off the versatility and adaptability of this film, I figured out a new approach to metering in the moment.

Aug 14, 2021

JCH Streetpan + R72 Filter

 I've been promising to settle in to HP5+ for my every day shooting, and I will follow through with that plan in the coming weeks and months. However, I do have a few other stocks laying around, including some rolls of JCH Streetpan. My stash includes four rolls of 35mm format and a roll in 120. All of them expire this year, so I believe this is the 'older' emulsion. 

It's rated at 400, but it produces pretty thin negatives when developed at suggested settings. After having shot a few of these rolls now, I'm pretty sure it could be safely shot at 100. Either that or developing for a longer time. I might suggest the lower speed, though, as that approach has the potential bring out shadow detail. The highlights are far from being blown out, so there's plenty of headroom here. 

Most of the time I'm a straight Sunny 16 shooter. I don't know if that's the correct approach for this combination or not, but that's how I roll. In this case, I allowed for five extra stops to compensate for the R72 filter. All of these photos were 1/15 sec. at f/16.  An extra two stops would have put me at 1/4 sec.  I'd like to shoot at least one more roll of this before our summer is over and test that out. 

Without question, JCH Streetpan doesn't have the latitude of a Tri-x or an HP5+. You really have to get it right in camera. And next time I shoot, I might even bracket it just to be sure. I do love those jet black tones, though. 

I developed in D-76 1:1 for 10:30. I'm also seeing some times for DD-x, but I don't have enough of that left over right now to do the rest of my rolls. Plus, I'd like to only change one variable at a time. So, I'll stick with D-76 at least until I can get exposure times right. Ultimately, my goal will be to get the kinks worked out with the 35mm so that I can have some success with my lone 120 format roll. 

Aug 3, 2021

Newport, Oregon - Canon AE-1P - Ilford HP5+

I'm still working on my DSLR scanning. When it works, it's great. However, I'm getting too many missed focus scans with my manual setup. I'm told that autofocus works great, but that's just not an option for me right now. My Fuji X-T4 has a 100% zoom preview option, but that doesn't seem to be enough. My next option will be to use a physical loupe on top of that to see if I can focus in on the grain a little better. 

These shots were on the AE-1 Program using the 28mm f/2.8 lens. I love that focal length, and I'm glad I picked that lens up when I had a chance last year. Here are a few frames from that roll:

Oregon Coast, 35mm Oregon Coast, 35mm

Oregon Coast, 35mm

And if you're interested, here's the whole album:

July 20-21, Canon AE-1P

Jul 27, 2021

Baker's Dozen: Kodak Tri-x

I recently sold off my remaining stock of Tri-x in 120 format, but I kept one roll back for my Baker's Dozen series. After this, I'm done shooting Tri-x and instead using HP5+ for my everyday 400 speed shooting. 

Pacific Surveyor. Mamiya C220, 80mm f/2.8, yellow #8 filter.

We made a trip to the Oregon Coast, right at the height of the tourist season. As such, it was difficult to get out and about very much. I had wanted to walk the entire stretch of the wharf (including getting some fish and chips from Mo's), but the foot traffic was just too much for me. Instead, I ventured out onto the docks to shoot some of the boats there. Interestingly, back in 2013, I shot a few frames of my very first roll of b/w film at this location, and even came across some of the same boats. 

Newport Harbor. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5.  

My C220 started experiencing a couple of problems with this roll. One of the cover flaps over the viewer came undone at the hinge. I can't tell if it is broke or came unscrewed in some way (it's really tiny), but I now have to be extra cautious when opening it up. More seriously, the winder won't stop at the last frame, but instead keeps going. One work around I haven't tried yet is to manually stop the winding when '12' appears in the little window, and stop it at the point at which the crank usually rests. This should work, but it's a little discouraging to not have such a beautiful (and functional) camera work at 100% capacity. 

Newport Harbor. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5.  

It's been fun shooting Tri-x, but the cost for new stock has me settling on HP5+. This is something I've mentioned here on this blog. It's past the time to narrow my shooting down to one or two stocks so I can get consistent results. Currently, I can buy almost three rolls of HP5+ for every two rolls of Tri-x. 

Newport Wharf. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5.  

I was mostly successful with my DSLR scanning on this roll. Not everything was exactly tack sharp, and I'm finding even with 100% preview on my X-T4, it can be difficult to pinpoint the focus exactly every time. I'm working on it, though, and even these scans show a vast improvement from where I began when I first started scanning this way. Still, I'm not convinced I can't get similar results with my Epson V550 scanner. I'll need to do a side by side comparison at some point. The next roll to be scanned will be HP5+ in 35mm format. I haven't scanned 35mm format yet, so that should offer a challenge until I can make that workflow a routine for me. 

Newport Harbor. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5.  That leak in the upper left corner shows up very, very occasionally with this camera. 

Jul 16, 2021

More Scanning Notes

I've got a few DSLR scanning sessions under my belt now.

For financial reasons, I don't use Lightroom. I did up until they moved to a subscription model a few years ago. We purchased a new computer and it was time to upgrade my RAW editor, so I went with RawTherapee. They have a tool in there simply called Film Negative, which is a selection under the RAW tab. It works pretty well, especially when I have some neutral gray in the image to select. It's also important to note that Film Negative only works with Fuji X-Trans and Bayer sensors. Fortunately, I shoot with a Fuji X-T4, and my scanning is done with an adapted Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro. Once I get the colors close, I can further manipulate them with the HSL and LAB tools. The ability to selectively edit one color in a RAW file while leaving the others alone is well worth learning. 

Kodak Portra 400. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in RawTherapee 5.8 using the Film Negative tool. 

Kodak Portra 160. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in RawTherapee 5.8 using the Film Negative Tool. 

I learned that DarkTable has a similar function known, interestingly enough, as Negadoctor. It had been a decade or so since I had played around with DT, so I went and downloaded the latest version and took a look. On the surface, it's more intuitive and probably a little easier to use. Like RawTherapee, though, it requires some additional manipulation beyond the module itself in order for the scan to look right. I'm not as familiar with those tools in DT as I am in RT, but I did find something that resembled an HSV tool to bring some colors more in line with what I wanted. 

Fuji 400H. Mamiya C220, 180mm f/4.5 lens. DSLR scan and edited in DarkTable 3.6.  I left this one a little on the cooler side, as is a characteristic of Fuji 400H. 
 One thing I wasn't sure about with Darktable was handling the noise inherent in DSLR scans. That will come with time if I decide to settle on DT for this purpose. 

My skill level for scanning color negatives is not where I'd like it to be just yet. However, it's a lot further along than when I started. The pay-for option is to buy into Adobe and pay (yet again) for the module called Negative Lab Pro. I hear it's fantastic. And from the demonstrations on YouTube (and there are plenty) it looks like a fairly simple process. 

That's not me, though. So, I will need to be content with working a little harder to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to accomplish the task. And it will come in time.  

Jul 11, 2021

First DSLR Scan

This is my first venture into DSLR scanning. Or a mirrorless XT-4 with attached Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro lens, in my case. Edited in RawTherapee 5.8. It wasn't a quick process, but I showed that it could be done using FOSS photo editing applications. And it didn't hurt to have the grain elevator in the background as a neutral gray point. I have a few other photos from this roll that I did, but this is the best one.

First DSLR Scan

Scanning like this offers some incredible results, but it's not without some challenges. Specifically, getting white balance and all the colors just right can be tedious if you don't have the right tools. Apparently there are some plugins for Lightroom that make this dead simple. However, I don't use LR simply because I refuse to pay Adobe $20 a month for the privilege. So, I will continue to refine my workflow with RawTherapee and hopefully the processing time will improve over time.  Moving forward, I intend for all of my scans to be done this way.

Jul 1, 2021

Riggs Cemetery on Ilford Ortho+

I recently traveled to Rosalia, Washington to visit Riggs Cemetery. In the springtime, it's said to hold an impressive collection of wildflowers. They were present when I got there, but I think I missed them at their peak which was probably a week or two prior. Plus, this has been a drier year than usual, which likely contributed to their relatively sparse population. Still, it's a beautiful location, and I'm surprised it doesn't get visited more when photographers are visiting the Palouse that time of the year. 
Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

I shot a couple of rolls on the C220: This one (Ilford Ortho+) and Kodak Ektar, which I will have processed by Blue Moon Camera in Portland. That roll will of course show up here when I get it back. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

This roll got processed in DD-x. I use the developer just often enough to forget that it's easy to overprocess with it. At least, I think that's what happened with these negatives. They're quite dense, something that I don't usually deal with when I'm using this camera and another developer. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

Ortho+ being what it is, I fully expected different results than when I'm shooting a more traditional panchromatic film. Especially when I'm using a yellow or red filter. Ortho+ is a great film under the right circumstances; just not landscapes. Not for me, anyway. Still, I thought that concrete/stone subjects against vegetation might be an interesting contrast, and to that end I think it was successful. 

Riggs Cemetery, Ilford Ortho+

The Mamiya C220 performed like a champ, as did the Sekor 180mm f/4.5. I cannot overstate the sharpness and clarity of that lens. It delivers the goods even down to f/32, which is the aperture most of these shots were taken. 

You can see all twelve frames here.

Mar 27, 2021

Zeroing in with HP5+, part 2

A previous post showed what happens with HP5+ at ISO 800 when shooting with a yellow filter and developing in d-76 1:1. Part two of this series shows the results at ISO 200, still with a yellow filter, and developing at 1:2.  

I'll post the photos here and let them do most of the talking. They were shot on the Mamiya C220 with the 80mm f/2.8 lens. I do like the softer tones in the sky that this combination creates. The shadows have opened up tremendously. And the scans certainly came out sharper, which I'm largely attributing to the extended developing time. 

Sunday afternoon rural tour

There are some artifacts that have crept up also, and I can't ignore them. For one, I'm seeing what I ~think~ is uneven development. One rule I ran across right after I developed this roll was that d-76 needs a certain amount of stock in the developing tank in order to do its job, regardless of the dilution used. I couldn't find an exact number of that 'certain amount', but it's more than I used here. If my tank was 600 ml, then the amount of stock present was 200 ml. 

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Also, some white specks have shown up which might be attributed to, well, most anything I suppose. In the interest of full disclosure, I do mix my d-76 in single batches. I've been told that's a no-no, but I've never had any problems that I can directly tie to that practice.

Sunday afternoon rural tour

All in all, though, this little experiment has shown the results that are possible by changing just a few variables in the process. Reliable results can be had with HP5+. My next roll will be at ISO 400 in a stock solution. If it still shows some of the uneven development, I may have to look closer at my developing practices.

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Sunday afternoon rural tour

Tri-x Up for Grabs

On the off chance that the two or three readers I have on this blog are interested, I am shopping 14 rolls of Tri-x in 120 format. I'm starting to narrow down my film preferences at this point, and I just hate to have an emulsion like Tri-x just sit in my freezer unused. It expired in 2016 and 2018, but has been sealed and cold stored since new.

What am I asking for it? Good question. If expired/second hand film in this format is $5 USD a roll, that would equal out to $70. I'm not necessarily looking for cash, though. If someone out there has an item in either Canon FD or Mamiya TLR mount, I'd be willing to consider a flat out trade. I would also consider some fresh/nearly fresh film from another brand as well.  US only, and we both pay our own shipping costs. Whatcha got?



Mar 22, 2021

Zeroing in with HP5+

As a film photographer for the last eight years, I've been playing the field in regards to my selection of black and white films. I've tried the majority of them as this point: Everything available to me from Ilford and Kodak, with maybe the exception of P3200, and a few off brands in there as well. Bergger. Arista Edu. Street Pan. You get the point. Frankly, I lost count a long time ago. 

At The Ready

To really make film work to your advantage, though, it's important to stick with one film and then work to get reliable results at a given ISO and with a given developer. I've known that for years now, but haven't actually put it into practice. It's time to do just that. 


Ilford HP5+ is my emulsion of choice. It's versatile, (reasonably) affordable, and readily available in both 35mm and 120 formats. Several times when I have shot and processed it, though, I've been less than happy with the results. Too many grays. All of the tones bunched up in the middle, even when I try to spread them out. Other times, though, I've been completely happy with it. 


A few weeks ago, I headed out on a partly sunny day with the Canon AE-1, 28mm f/2.8 lens, and a roll of HP5+. I attached a yellow #8 filter and shot the roll at ISO 800. Afterward, I souped the roll in d-76 1:1.  The results? You can see for yourself. A lot of contrast with much of the shadow areas blocked up. In some situations, this might be ok. You might even think that approach is ok with these frames (one of them was Explored on Flickr).  I want some contrast, but I also want some even tones. 

 Abandoned Grain Thresher, SE Washington State. {Explored, thank you}

My next roll, which is waiting to be developed, was shot at ISO 200, again with a yellow #8 filter. I will develop it in d-76 again but at a 1:2 ratio. Yes, I'm changing two variables, but I think I can get closer to what I'm looking for with this combination. At least, we'll see what happens, and we can tweak it from there.  More to come.