The Artistry of Black and White Film Photography
I shot my first roll of black and white 35mm film as a teenager in 1977 and although I use colour film from time to time, I have remained faithful to black and white. Over the years I have never strayed into the digital photography arena and have maintained a full laboratory and darkroom facility with professional enlargers and associated equipment. I work in three film sizes 35mm, 6 cm x 6 cm and 4x5 inch. My preferred medium is medium format or 6x6, that’s 2.25x2.25 inch.
I have a large collection of cameras and each has its uses, I tend to shy away from any automatic settings or predetermined settings and still use a light meter. I prefer heavy indestructible bodies and lenses and hate plastic. I have a collection of twelve 35mm bodies and twenty-six lenses; on the medium format side I have six camera bodies and twenty unique Carl Zeiss and several ancient and beautiful Russian lenses. My range extends from 15mm right through to 1000mm. On odd occasions I bring out my 4x5 camera, however it is far from portable! My cameras are film loaded and fitted with different lenses for every project, studio or otherwise.
I shoot film from a range of manufacturers; these include Kodak, Ilford, Fuji and Foma. Unfortunately some of the film I loved is no longer produced, I had my favourites from Efke and Agfa, where I could shoot at 25 ASA. Now my film speeds range from 100 ASA to 400 ASA and as I process my own I can speed up or slow down these as required, generally speaking I stick with the standards however when shooting in available dark I have pushed my film to 3200 ASA!
So despite the march of the digital revolution where many professional photographers have become machine operators guided by an assistant with a laptop, I have stuck with my craft, which extends to printing my work in a range of sizes on genuine silver-gelatin paper stock. I tend to print from 8x10 up to 20x24 inches and again I source my paper from far and wide, having favourites from Germany, England, Japan and the Czech Republic.
Why stick with film, paper and chemistry? I am in full control of my artistic output; the quality and results are mine. I have lovely tangible and tactile things like negatives and not potentially unreliable hard drives, memory sticks or discs. And best of all I have to wait to see the results, sorry no instant gratification here!
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