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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

12/03/22 - Medium Format Tests

Capturing Wilderness

Location: Guisborough Forest – North Yorkshire Moors

Date of Visit: 31st December 2021

Date of Developments: 8th March 2022

I finally managed to develop the negatives from the Guisborough Forest shoot back in December. Unfortunately, work has been a little hectic and I have not been able to find the time to develop my negatives.

On Tuesday I found a spare hour within my admin time and so I decided to get myself into the wet room and dark room. I was a little concerned that I might have loaded the film backwards in the medium format Mamiya 645 camera and that would result in empty negatives. Luckily I did not, as I was to find out after I had pulled the spool out of the tank.

I always take great pleasure when being in the photographic development rooms. There is something really interesting about the many stages and scientific factors involved when developing photographs. A certain unknown and worry does exist but it runs alongside an excitement which is filled with that familiar smell... a reminder of my time studying photography back at the Cleveland College of Art and Design. As a part of this collective I had to begin from then start and that involved making up a batch of film developer. I used Kodak D-76, which is a powder chemical and mixed it with 3litres of water at 50 degrees until the powder had dissolved. I then added 800ML of cold water to the rest of the batch and gave a good mix.

The development stages I will quickly run through. Due to the film being 120, the timings and quantity of developer does need to increase... but not by a great deal. I still used a 1:1 ratio of developer to water but instead of 200ml of each (as would be standard for 35mm film), I used 350ml of each, just to increase the impact reaction between chemical and film negative. The timing for the development stage was increased to thirteen minutes with agitation set at every minute. Once this initial stage was complete, I transferred the developer into the waste tank and then added 400ml of stop solution for thirty seconds. This was then removed out of the tank and put back in the bottle, and replaced with fixative. The fixative quantity was 400ml as well but the timings for this stage was set at eight minutes. Once completed, I ran water through the tank for five minutes at a mild temperature and added a couple drops of wetting agent just to help the negative film have an even finish and shorted drying time.

For developing the negatives into imagery, I headed into the dark room and used an enlarger that had a medium format negative holder. At this point I had never developed an image from 120 film, and so I used this opportunity as a learning curve. I followed the same steps I usually do when enlarging 35mm film, i:e two second test strip with all colour filters set at 0, but I kept the lens aperture at eleven.

Below you can see the test strip and from the result it was clear I needed to use a low exposure time of two seconds. I will eventually increase this to six but that will happen after I experiment more the aperture and enlarger height.

I discussed with my colleague different ways to enhance the test prints as it is an unfamiliar territory for me using medium format. Andy Dunning (photo tech), is highly skilled and experienced with analogue processes and he encouraged me to experiment with the colour filters within the enlarger. Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are the three filter colours and each play a different role depending on the outcome you wish to achieve. Andy also stated that it is possible to double expose using the filters. I:E I could expose the darker tones with a high magenta for several seconds and then switch the magenta down to zero and turn the yellow up to thirty, and expose the image again for a second to bring out certain highlights. Hearing this was great, it was something I was not aware of and I will explore this form of development when I investigate further.

Below is three test strips at different settings.

1 second

No filters

Two seconds

Cyan 5

Magenta 10

Yellow 25

Two seconds

Cyan 0

Magenta 80

Yellow 5

Below is a full test print. The mark is unfortunately a mishap within the Colenta developer machine. A piece of paper might have been stuck within and then caught itself onto my print. I am quite pleased with this outcome (ignoring the mark) and I will head back into the dark room next week to develop the rest of my imagery at this setting.

I will aim to explore the filters and exposure times a little further but I will also look to enlarge my imagery onto A3 and A2 paper. I always prefer working at a larger scale and I believe it creates a more affective experience for the ocular participant. I will also aim to add sound to these images through a headset. I want to keep exploring that sound and image relationship, emphasising the landscapes existence and accepting its place within humanity. This though will emerge at some point in the near future and for now it is about exploring the developments of my film.

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