This skillset is something I have been waiting for since the beginning of my first year in University. I got very excited having these classes, because I am very interested in the analogue process of image making, having grown up at the time when digital cameras were becoming mainstream.
We were given a brief introduction to the film cameras, which was pretty straight forward, because we knew the technical bits from before (at least some of us) and how to load the film properly. After everything was set our job was to produce a series of images under the title “personality”. I walked around the University inside and outside looking for interesting people, in my eyes, to take a photo of. After one hour we went back, wound the film back into the cartridge and were shown how to put the film into a holder to go into the developing tank. To be honest it was a nightmare in the beginning. We turned off the lights to simulate how it really will be. After a few tries it kept getting better and better. After everyone was done with putting their film in the tank the class was done.
Next class we took our tanks and prepared for developing. Laura took out the chemicals and put them in smaller tanks to help with pouring. We put the chemicals in our tank and Laura counted with a timer the amount of time we need to agitating the film. The whole process with all the chemicals took around fifteen minutes, which really surprised me that it actually takes this long. I guess we are spoiled with our digital camera and want everything to be instant.
After the developing was done we took our film out and let it dry overnight. I was so happy to see the images “alive”.
The following class was time for printing the images. Everyone has his old enlarger with an image that they most liked. First thing we had to do is a test strip with multiple exposures of the same image to see what amount of time would be the most appropriate to use. When we established what time we were going to use we made a real print. After we were happy with this image we were free to make a few more prints of other images the same way.
Next up we were introduced to the technique of dodging and burning, which means where the image is too bright you burn to bring detail back into the image if the negative allows and if it is too dark you don’t let that much light go on the paper. Having worked with Adobe Photoshop before I was familiar with the process, but in a passive way. I knew the general idea of what it does, but not exactly how it is done.
The last class was a combination of all the previous ones combined with the exception of in the end of the class we got to use a more expensive type of paper to show us the difference what good quality paper does to the image, which was to add a lot more dynamic range to the image capturing the highlights and shadows perfectly without need of too much dodging and burning. Moral of the story was to always invest in the good stuff.
I have learned quite a lot during this skillset classes and am also interested in using analogue a bit more in the future, despite the cost of good film.