This week we hear from Kevin who has an interesting traveling dark room set up that he can take along on all his travels. Thanks for sharing with us, Kevin!
What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom?
The kind of photography I have done for the last number of years might best be described as urban hiking. Therefore I need a camera that is simple, easy to use, can do both architectural photography, as well as point and shoot and doesn’t weigh a ton! The answer I found was a Speed Graflex. These cameras are much underrated but nothing comes close for ease of use and versatility. I acquired one that was fully functional with a coupled rangefinder for less than $500 at an estate sale. One photo at the bottom is a hand held shot (boy on tightrope) and the other is of architecture.
I have shot large format for over 20 years and have learned if you want to survive at this sport you need to keep things simple and straightforward. After trying all kinds of exotic developing methods, I found that four sheets face up in the bottom of a tray works best. I made a special tray by gluing plastic guides to an old paper tray. As I often travel and needed a way to develop the film in the hotel bathroom – and this fits the bill.
What’s your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo and what results does this give you?
My preferred film/developer combination is Ilford Delta 100 and Kodak Xtol. This gives a nice smooth evenly stepped tonal scale and allows for 4X enlargement of the negative without the grain showing. Although I have tried platinum printing, which produces a beautiful image, I find that having a large neg and then using split contrast printing produces what I am looking – generous detail.
What is the best processing tip you can give?
When it comes to processing film I have found that slow is best. I usually dilute the developer and use a semi-stand method when I have a 5 stop or greater of dynamic range. I keep the time negs are in the developer at about 30 minutes – which is sufficient for the negs to “stand” several times for 5 minutes preventing the highlights from going off the scale. When I have 4 stops or less then I use a 1:1 dilution, shorten the time and use continual agitation. Even though I use variable contrast printing I still follow the basic rule of 19th century photographers “expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”
Below are a couple of examples from a recent trip to Lisbon.