Things are really getting interesting in photography class! The evening started when I arrived at school a little early to develop another 2 rolls of Ilford HP-5+ completely solo. Armed with my notes from last week and the Massive Dev Chart Timer app on my iPad, I decided to get a couple more attempts of getting the film loaded onto the spools for the developing tank, which is really the only hard part of the entire operation.
I lost a couple exposures and put a few fine scratches in a couple others, but it wasn’t a total failure so I’m happy. I need to do some more practice with an unexposed roll of expired film to work on my technique. But I had everything developed, dried, cut, and stored in well under an hour, so now I know how long it takes me to do 2 rolls.
During class, we finally made it into the dark room. I found this to be surprisingly easy. We used grain magnifiers to get the image really well focused, and did exposure test strips to determine the f-stop and exposure time for the contact sheet. Then we printed the contact sheet. I was one of the first to have a sheet complete, so I had enough time to do contact sheets of the two rolls I developed earlier that day too.
Then it was on to enlargements. Apparently I figured out or understood the whole exposure/f-stop/and grain focusing pretty well. It took me two test strips to dial in an exposure time (which was 50% longer than the contact sheet), and I got what I feel is a pretty good print – the instructor seems happy with it as well. He said it was a challenging image to get the exposure right, especially for the first enlargement. At 16 seconds @ f-8, I think it might be a second or two overexposed, but the instructor said it will be a good image for when we practice “dodging and burning” in a few weeks. But this one is going in my office – there will only be one first print!
Now that I’ve done contact sheets, I want to go back and do some for my previous rolls of film. I also see the value of shooting 24 exposure rolls, because I can only fit 30 exposures on an 8″ x 10″ sheet. I guess on my 36 exposure rolls I can cut the film paper to an appropriate size and do a smaller contact sheet.
Everything we’re doing in class is 8″ x 10″, so I think I’m also going to order some 5″ x 7″ paper for personal work. In the next few weeks I’ll be shooting 4 new B&W film stocks and some more rolls of Eastman Double-X 5222, then try my hand at developing and getting contact sheets made of them, in addition to my assignments using the HP-5+. I was originally focused on being able to scan my negatives, but the whole contact sheet thing minimizes that need for now!