If you thought film was dead, think again. A group of local photographers have come together to create the first all-new, public access darkroom in Leeds City Centre.
Aire Street Darkroom is less than two minutes’ walk from Leeds train station. Hidden within the Victorian architecture of Aire Street Workshops, the professionally-resourced, light-tight lab offers a range of wet print facilities for photographers of all abilities.
It’s a hub where anyone can learn to process and print monochrome images using traditional techniques, and the demand is soaring. In a world dominated with digital noise and radio ga ga, the humble black and white photograph is enjoying something of global revival. But many dedicated photographers would argue that its appeal never went away...
Shooting 35mm motion picture film in a stills camera is always fun. It opens up a new world of experimentation with unique emulsions used in Hollywood and beyond.
The folks at CineStill now offer a low speed daylight film repacked from Kodak Vision 50D, whilst promising: "The exposure latitude of this film is beyond anything digital and even most other films can hope to achieve."
Shooting a roll over the Summer, I tried this film out and the results speak for themselves.
In August 2014 Kodak Alaris confirmed that BW400CN, the company's flagship chromogenic black and white film, was to be discontinued.
"Due to a steady decline in sales and customer usage," Kodak Alaris will no longer be producing the film, though they expect stocks will still be available up to February 2015. They were sympathetic with their consumer base, stating: "We empathize with the Pro photographers and consumers who use and love this film, but given the significant minimum order quantity necessary to coat more product combined with the very small customer demand, it is a decision we have to make."
As a kid, one of my favourite pastimes in the school library was to scrutinise old copies of National Geographic. Especially the musty, over-thumbed NASA specials which seemed like they were printed a lifetime ago.
The lurid photogravure pictorials of the recent past fascinated me. Trios of Florida-tanned astronauts wearing oversized goldfish-bowl helmets and heavily padded white spacesuits - often posed next to toy-like models of their oddly-shaped spacecraft - accompanied fold-out maps of the moon and detailed maps of their trans-lunar journey. It was all giddy stuff compared to the sedate low-earth orbit trips of the Space Shuttle at the time.
Most captivating of all were the photographs taken by the astronauts themselves. The experiences of these pioneers, evidenced in the universal language of the still image, ensured that space exploration continued to be an inspiration for multiple generations born after the event - just like me.
Those well-versed in black and white techniques often avoid side-stepping into the colour world and all of its differing technicalities. In truth, processing colour film, specifically C41, is arguably easier than a traditional black and white process. With minilabs closing down and a prevalence of C41 chemistry kits readily available, home processing of C41 is quickly becoming an option which is both time-saving and cost-saving.
I recently acquired a 35mm roll of PolyPan F, a black and white panchromatic film designed for striking positives for motion film. For some time photographers have been using this cheap stock for stills photography with captivating results.
For some time I've been experimenting with Kodak's Panatomic-X, a film which has long since ended production yet leaves a legendary status as one of the finest black and white films ever produced.
I'm just getting used to my new exposure...
Instructing film photography, developing and printing in the darkroom.