Over the past few months as I’ve started to recover from a cardio procedure I’ve taken a few rolls of B&W film but haven’t had the energy, or maybe the will, to process them.
That changed two days ago when I finally felt like tackling the four rolls I had backlogged: 3 rolls of 35mm and 1 roll of 120. What’s embarrassing about this is that two of the rolls are test rolls from used cameras I’d bought and I didn’t even know if they worked okay.
Fortunately both purchases look fine. I’ve started my scanning with shots from the Minolta Autocord TLR and the images look great. The 75mm f/3.5 Rokkor lens lives up to its reputation. The negatives from the Contax IIa all look well exposed and I’ll scan them next, followed by a roll from the Nikon FM10 that my friend Peter lent me because it’s lightweight and easy to take on my walks, and finally a roll of Tri-X from my Olympus XA, my smallest 35mm camera.
All the films were developed in Rodinal 1:100. Rodinal is one of the oldest B&W developer formulas. I still have two or three bottles of the classic Agfa Rodinal that I purchased before the demise of Agfa. When I run out I’ll have to try one of the substitutes on the market.
Developing your own B&W film is akin to baking your own bread. Most people don’t want to be bothered when they can buy really tasty and delicious breads at the market. I don’t blame them. If your life is full and fast-paced, ready-made is ideal. It’s one of the reasons why digital photography has become so popular.
But for those with the time, or who make the time, custom developed B&W has a special quality, again akin to homemade bread. No matter how good bakery bread is, it’s not the same as homemade. Convenient it’s not, and it takes time, but the results in the case of both bread and B&W photography are delicious.