In the past, in another photographic life, I developed my film and worked in the wet darkroom. I did do all of the necessary testing for the Zone System for both T-Max and Tri-X films. Also, I used Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film for most of my 4"x5" work. For printing I used a Selectol Soft and Dektol developer combination and occasionally used Weston's Amidol developer, depending upon the type of work I was doing. I used two different enlargers, one for medium format and one for large format. My paper of choice was Oriental Seagull, variable contrast. I also worked with the "historic process" of Van Dyke Brown printing.
Today I have eschewed the wet darkroom in favor of the digital darkroom, but I still photograph using film. The reasons for this are very straight forward. Maintaining a wet darkroom and printing on silver photographic paper is very expensive. As I do not consistently make prints of any great quantity the cost of having to replenish chemicals became prohibitive. And the cost of silver paper is not cheap. Working into a final print involved many sheets of paper that would drive up the cost.
Seeing a fine print made in the wet darkroom still makes my heart race and I do miss making those prints. But, if this was the only way to make photographs I would no longer be making pictures.
|iMac and Scanner|
All of that being said, I still photograph using film. I have the control that I want for making images when using film. I still use the Zone System when making exposures and I find that film has a latitude, scale and feel that I don't see when I look at digital photographs.
The video below shows the camera and light meter that I am using for Truth From Perceptions. After making exposures I have a lab, typically Roberts Camera, develop the film. For the Truth From Perceptions project I am using Kodak BW400CN. I have found that this film has a nice long scale and a fine grain structure. At normal development it accurately reflects the metering that was done at the time of exposure. The film is developed using the C-41 process so film development is quite affordable.
After film processing I scan the film using a flatbed scanner with 24 bit color settings at a resolution that will provide the size of prints that I desire. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements on an iMac as the digital darkroom. I adjust brightness and contrast and dodge and burn as required to make the expressive print that reflects what I visualized when I tripped the shutter. I do slightly adjust the sharpness of the photograph only to ensure that the digital file will accurately print. And, I fix all of the dust marks. The one thing from the wet darkroom I do not miss one bit is print spotting.
So, there you have it in a big nutshell, my past processes and an overview of my current workflow.