Two years ago, I got back into film photography while I was laid off over a summer. I had found some expired film in various places at home. With nothing better to do between filling out job applications and going on interviews that led nowhere, I decided to put this treasure to good use. I dug out my parents old trusty Nikon FM that I learned to shoot on about 20 years prior and had some fun with it.
Fast forward to the end of summer and my job search still fruitless, the Department of Job and Family Services said that I was eligible to go back to school. I re-enrolled in at Cleveland State University and decided to finish my degree. All I had left was two general education requirement classes, but I needed to be considered a full-time student to get off unemployment. I decided to take Foundations of Black and White Photography which would give me enough credits to finish and would let me learn print making. I started to look for a secondary/backup camera on eBay, though I trust this old metal box of magic, I do not trust the cheap SLR cameras that the department loans out. While on eBay I find a Nikon N60 in unknown condition, but probably working for the low, low price of $8.00 plus shipping. I figure if it does not work I can pair it with a lens that isn’t worth repairing and add it to my collection of cameras, if it does work, I just got a steal.
When I get the N60 in the mail just a couple of days later I found a roll of Kodak UltraMax 400 that expired 10 years earlier that the seller threw in with the camera. Since I wanted to test the camera to make sure at least the basics worked I loaded the UltraMax in and heard the film advance when I turned the camera on. I went on to test everything else with the camera systematically, deciding not to waste the film shot the roll. When I finished, not wanting to spend $14 to develop it, I put it in the fridge.
In December, after getting that ever so valuable piece of paper declaring me a certified college graduate, it is now winter break and I have a few weeks off from my student job before starting my second degree in the spring. I decided to play around with some homemade developers. I dove in and made a batch of Rodinal, or what should probably be called Parodinal because I used the recipe based on Tylenol. After waiting for the acetaminophen to be converted into para 4-aminopehnol, I needed to test out the developer. Not wanting to potentially ruin a roll of Tri-X that had something I cared about on it, I pulled out the expired UltraMax from the back of the fridge.
Rodinal and C-41 Film
Rodinal is one of the oldest film developers around. It was the first product sold by Agfa in the late 1890s. It has gone by many names over the years. Rodinal is known for its ability for its edge sharpness when used with high dilutions (1+100 or even higher) with stand development. Rodinal is also known for being a high acutance developer. Rodinal is also one of the developers that is easy to make at home.
Something that a lot of people don’t know about Rodinal is that it is a weak color developer. When you cross process C-41 in Rodinal you end up with eerie pictures where the entire photo is tinted anywhere from a light pinkish-brown to deep purples. Within the photos, you will also find hints of color in areas that were extremely saturated when the photo was taken, adding a unique element that is very hard to reproduce in digital.
There are images like the couple I took of a bottle of Tabasco Sauce that someone had left sitting on a bench at Cleveland State University where you can see hints of the green of the label and the band on the neck of the bottle, and the red of the hot sauce in the bottle.
But sometimes, weird things happen to the color, like this image of a Mr. Bill plush chew toy (I found him on clearance at Target and got him to use during safety lectures in film and television production classes) from Saturday Night Live. His shirt is, bright red and his pants are blue. But in the photo that was processed in Rodinal his shirt became blue and his pants became a black with hints of blue.
|Camera||Nikon N60 with 28-80mm Lens|
|Lens||Nikon AF Nikkor28-80mm 1:3.5-5.6D|
|Film||Expired Kodak UltraMax 400 135-24|
|Temperature||68 ºF (20 ºC)|
|Fixer||Ilford Rapid Fixer|
These photos were taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 that had expired 10 years earlier and had been stored in unknown conditions. The photos were shot on a Nikon N60 with a 28-80mm f3.3-5.6 lens. I developed the roll of film in Parodinal (I will post my recipes in a Photographer’s Cookbook section that I am working on) using the stand method. I agitated for the first 0:30 seconds and for 0:10, over the course of 60:00 minutes of developing. Using a water stop bath before fixing with Ilford Rapid Fixer. Rinsing the film using the Ilford Wash method.
The one thing that I don’t know about is how stable the color in the images is over time. I am pretty certain that the silver image on the film should be stable as it is based on black and white chemistry, and since I have made sure to give an adequate rinse to remove all developer and fixer left on the film. However, since the color dyes are produced by a developer that is not intended for color development and by since this method skips the stabilizer step, the stability of the color portion of the image is uncertain. Over time I will report back on how stable the images have been.