Life is full of unknowns and variables. If I was of a mind to have perfect pictures whenever I wanted, technology would gladly grant my wish. However, It would come at a price. The computers in my phone and digital cameras already do that for me. I can set them to fully automatic mode and just compose and click. Most of the time the images will be as good 90% of my fellow “photographers” who do exactly the same thing and we can post them on social media and click each other’s likes and all be one big happy family.
I’m not like the 90% and glad that I was born with a predominant obtuse gene or two. I still haven’t figured out what kind of photographer I am but it’s fun waking up every morning and knowing that whatever I was yesterday is going to be different today and will be different tomorrow or next week.
There are a few things about me that don’t change. I was born to fix things and figure out how things work. This permeates every fiber of my being and continually affects my behavior often to my spouse’s chagrin.
Finding old cameras and bringing them back to life gives me a great deal of satisfaction as does trying things I’ve never done before and stubbing my toes, skinning my knees and falling in the mud hole a few times before that “Oooo… Now I understand” moment happens.
My friend Lee Palmer in New Mexico has been doing ‘stand developing’ of black and white film for quite a while and I’ve been quietly watching from the sidelines and looking at his results and making mental notes.
I finally decided it was time to try it myself so I picked up a Paterson tank, some Rodinal and assorted paraphernalia and dived into the deep end of the pool.
The methods for doing this are infinite as are the ways that someone like me can screw it up. I don’t think I screwed it up entirely and I understand to some extent why my negatives turned out the way they did. It’ll take a while for all of this to sink in and the understanding of the process will allow me to improve my technique.
I used Ultrafine Xtreme 400 film in an untested Mamiya 645 and picked one of the thousands web posts written by sometime like myself who tried it and got pleasing results.
I got grain. Lots of it. In its own way it’s pleasing to me and I’m glad I got usable negatives but I’m going to work on my process and see where the fine tuning leads me. One way or other it was fun and that’s what counts.