back to film

Matt Hughes
Feb 15, 2024
3 min read

i started off this year wanting to do a sort of "picture a day" type of thing. i was doing pretty good until i flipped a couple pics to black and white in lightroom and that took me back into a rabbit hole of film. i havent touched film in about 8 years, back when i had a little darkroom set up in the massive closet that was in my mini apartment. i had three rolls of 35mm from those years that just sat up in my attic at my new place that I planned to turn into a whole darkroom. i did get my enlarger set up when i moved but never bothered with it. i think i set it down because of the camera i was using at the time, an ancient nikon fg-20. it was a fun camera to shoot with, super basic camera and a great intro to film, but it was starting to show its age with some of the seals that were falling apart and sticking to the mirror and getting on the film. i still have it sitting pretty on a shelf.

i had taken a bunch of shots i really enjoyed back then, all through Lakeview Cemetery, at shows at the Grog Shop, and at the RNC that was held in Cleveland in 2016. i didnt have the extra cash at the time to pay someone to do some high resolution scans of the negatives so i was experimenting with different ways of doing horrible scans by holding the negatives down to a motorola xoom android tablet with a plain white screen and snapped with a nikon d5500 to get something digital into lightroom. from there, to flip the negatives i just reversed the tone curve in lightroom to get the above images to work with a bit. they turned out kind of ok, I'm still going to have all of these scanned eventually though, just so i can have the digital backup since i have the nas storage.

all of this got me looking at some slightly newer 35mm cameras available for cheap. I found a Nikon n8008s for 60$ on ebay and picked that up and snapped a few rolls. it worked surprisingly well for a camera from the 90s. i had some old chemicals for developing the rolls but since i also wanted to develop the rolls from 8 years ago i did not want to risk the variable of older chemicals ruining those old rolls. so after a quick refresher on developing i mixed some chemicals up and got to work. that video from the art of photography channel is a great intro. i had his website saved in my bookmarks but looks like he's working on switching providers and the page wasnt loading any longer, thankfully the internet archive page had all the content to give a great refresher that wasnt just a YT video.

i ended up making some prints with paper i had stored in the attic with those old negatives. to my excitement, the photo paper still worked out great, and i only had problems with the "safe light" being not really a safe light and being much too bright in the space i was using the enlarger. so i now have some equipment on order from b&h. the above are just horrible cell phone pictures of prints I made but they seemed to have turned out pretty well. im hoping to get some really good prints after shaking off some of the rust from not doing this for a number of years and going to a few art shows this year.

oh... i also found a decently priced mamiya rb67 that im going to pick up this weekend. that will be my first foray into medium format and im pretty excited about what i might create with that.

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