How to start processing black and white film at home + my recipes for Tri-X in HC110

Adrian, from my final major project about living statues – Ilford HP5@400 in ID11 1+1

For a long time, while I was at uni, my film of choice has been HP5, a classic 400 iso emulsion by Ilford.

To be totally honest with you, it wasn’t so much of an informed choice, as I only knew about FP4 and HP5 and I chose the latter simply because it was faster (FP4 is 125 iso speed) and I was shooting in available light, needing the extra speed.

At university we only had a kind of developer, ID11, and for three years I just shoot HP5 developed in ID11, happily ignoring the existence of whole of world of other films and developer combinations.

Robert, from my final major project about living statues – Ilford HP5@400 in ID11 1+1

 When I finished university and moved to London, I felt the urgency to do some research to be able to still shoot black and white film and to develop it at home.

Where to buy cheap film, paper and chemicals in the UK [UPDATED]

constantly shooting film, but at what price??

I know that most film photographers would be interested in this subject, so I decided to share my findings.

If you know any other shop that sells analog photographic materials at a reasonable prince, please write in the comments and I will add it to the list.

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Photography resources in London: the cheap darkroom on Chatsworth road (Homerton)

When I left university, I knew that I would miss the facilities immensely, especially the darkroom and the library, so, as soon as I settled in London, I started to hunt for a cheap rental darkroom to print my work at.

I’ve been looking everywhere on the internet and, I have to say, there aren’t many options in London for traditional printers, and most of them are too expensive for me, therefore I was delighted when I found out on a forum about a community darkroom in Homerton, literally round the corner from where I live, that apparently was one of the cheapest places where you could print both colour and black and white in London!

Photochats is a lovely lovely darkroom ran by Peter Young at Chats Palace, on Chatsworth road, in Homerton and I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately there’s no much information about this incredible place on the internet (they’re working at their website), so I’ve decided to copy their spring newsletter, with opening times, prices and descriptions of the facilities and of the courses, on this blog (after the cut)

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Taking Pictures of Strangers

Vincent Marino (photographed for 1883 magazine)

I’ve always been fascinated by people and people watching has been a favourite pastime of mine since I can remember.
On the other hand, I’m a tad socially awkward and I find quite hard to approach people who I don’t know.
Recently I’ve finally (partly) overcome my awkwardness in approaching strangers and I’ve started asking more and more people  on the street if I can take their picture.

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Beauty retouching

I apologise for the lack of updates, I’ve been a bit busy and generally to lazy to write here.
Now I’m bedridden because of a nasty flu and my voice has disappeared, so I finally have some time to write.

I’m still working in the studios, but I’m trying to get some extra work as a freelance assistant and retoucher.

One of my early attempts at using Photoshop (shame on me)

Retouching was a major part of my early work and I got interested in photography through Photoshop, while normally is the other way around 🙂

When I was 18, a friend introduced me to Photoshop and I fell in love and I became totally obsessed, learning to use it by trials and errors (I didn’t know about online tutorials and the manuals looked very boring)

I was into cheesy digital art (like the example of the left) and I became increasingly frustrated with the quality of stock photos that I could find on the internet, so I started taking my own.

I kept retouching to some extent all of my photography work, especially because I didn’t have a clue at the beginning and the pictures were generally awful to look at, but I’ve gradually moved away from digital photography and over-retouching and I became interested in film photography and “raw” pictures.

Lately I’ve got back into retouching and looking at my early work I’ve realised how much I’ve progressed in these years.

At the moment I’m studying different techniques for beauty retouching, especially how to get a flawless skin without losing the texture and spending too much time on it.

horrible blurred effect in one of my first pictures

When I was starting out I used to blur (shock horror) the skin to create a soft effect that nowadays looks totally inappropriate (picture on the left)

Finally I discovered about the magic properties of the healing brush and I started smoothing everyone skin to the max, making them look like plastic Barbie dolls (example below).

There are still tons of people who believe that this is a good way of retouching skin, but if you look at high end magazines you will notice that the models have perfect skins WITH some sort of recognisable human texture, they look flawless but not plasticy.

I’ve been researching a lot to find out how to achieve this result and I think that I’m getting there.

Below is my latest retouching work, where the model already had a good skin, but there where still some imperfections to correct.

It was just after a shooting and the hair was messy, the make up a bit smudged and the model generally tired.

In this 100% crop below you can see how I worked on the skin, still retaining some texture (click on the picture to see it full size)

Finally I’ve played a bit with colours and saturation to create a black and white version and a vintage one.

To achieve this effect I recommend to have a look at these resources:

Model Mayhem’s forum thread about the applications of separation of spatial frequency data for micro contrast and skin retouching

Dodge and burn tutorial: part 1 & part 2

Quick and easy (but less accurate) skin smoothing tutorial

Protected: Photography resources in London: the cheap lab near Shoreditch High Street – UPDATED it’s not so cheap anymore :(

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