Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: Deep ND Filters Compared (updated)...

[Update April 2015: Added a few comparison images and at the end of this post taken with a Hoya Pro ND1000, as well as some notes about that filter.]

This article is a quick review on some of the latest and greatest IR-blocking ND filters and how they stack up against the “old standby," a standard B+W 10-stop ND which has no IR filtration. The above image is a screenshot from Lightroom, showing a side-by-side comparison with the image thumbnails conveniently colour coded to match the colour cast of the filter used! The B+W 10-stop ND gives colour images a somewhat ruddy-brownish colour cast (the red thumbnails) and it has been speculated that this is due to infrared light affecting cameras with sensors that still have some residual IR sensitivity.

In response to the IR issue, several companies have come along and made filters that purport to solve this with the promise of easily corrected colour balance. The issue is that if a scene being photographed is heavy in IR, a sunny day with foliage perhaps, or anything that reflects a lot of IR, then a deep visible light blocking filter that lets through IR, like the B+W, might affect some areas of an image differently than others, meaning that a simple WB correction in post might still yield an image with strange looking colours or colour casts. There are two image galleries that accompany this article as follows…

There are details about what adjustments were made in the second colour corrected gallery. Also, the filters being discussed in this review are as follows (with the image filename suffix indicated in brackets, also detailed in the galleries)…

- (TA) Tiffen Apex XLE-series 10-stop IRND
- (BW) B+W 10-stop ND (110 ND 3.0 - 10 BL 1000x
- (FHF) Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 16-stop IRND

Monday, April 20, 2015

Red Light in a Dark Room - Part 18

We're back this week with a new installment of our dark room series from Ron. Sounds like a good set up and a reoccurring theme in the advice column definitely seems to be STAY ORGANIZED and be meticulous about recording what you do. Thanks, Ron!

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

When it comes to developing film I use my whole house. The Laundry room (loading reels), the Main Bathroom (for drying the film) and the Kitchen (for mixing the chemicals and "souping" the film).

My darkroom does double duty as a laundry room. It works well since it has no windows and I've set a curtain before the door so no light sneaks through from the outer hall. The top of the washer and dryer make a good large workspace. I haven't expanded into printmaking yet. (I have an enlarger and all the accessories, but I need to build a proper darkroom before I can use them.)

What's your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it's tricky.

I like to keep my process as simple as possible. I use two 2-reel Paterson tanks which I load in the darkness of the laundry room.

Before loading I check Massive Dev chart ( to ensure that the films I am developing have the same development times (not a concern for colour but important when developing black and white)

I make a note of each roll and its position in which tank.
ie. tank 1 - Top: HP5 - Olympus OM 10 - March 5 - Gastown

Bottom: HP5 - Canon QL17 - Feb 3 - Strathcona

I often check to see what other people are doing; but, for the most part, I like to stick to the tried and true methods found on the Massive dev chart website.

I don't do stand developing, not because I don't like it but because I haven't the patience to sit around waiting :) My general rule of thumb is agitate for the first 30 seconds and then 4 or 5 inversions every minute after that.

Sometimes I will pick up Ilfostop, but if I run out I do a water stop for two minutes (30 seconds agitation/empty/refill and repeat)

I use Ilford Rapid fix as my go to fixer and, even though it says three minutes is adequate, I like to fix for 6 - 7 minutes using the same agitation as in developing. I've read that it is difficult to over fix and I haven't yet.

Once the film is developed, I hang dry it in the main bathroom (I run the shower for about 15 minutes before hand to keep any dust from ending up on the film as it dries)

Once dry I scan it to my computer with an Epson V550 scanner and store the negatives in archival sheets and binders.
What is your go to developer?

I like Ilfosol 3 because it's low maintenance. I can mix it and go. Unlike a powder mixes like D76 where I have to mix it ahead of time and let it cool.

What is your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

I can't give an opinion on this as I haven't been doing this long enough to have experimented with different combinations. I often use whatever I have in the house. Currently I have enough Ilfolsol 3 for two more rolls and a liter of D76 mixed/ready to go. I just picked up 3 - 5L mixes of Xtol and am excited to give it a try.

What result/look does this give?

I will say this... When I've developed HP5 in Ilfosol 3, I've found the results to be grainy with a nice contrast; however, Ilfosol3 with Tmax 400 ended up with a nicer grain and less contrast. Now, take it all with a grain of salt since, like I said, I haven't got the years of experience that many, more knowledgeable, folks may have.

Have you tried any or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

I haven't done anything like cyanotype, but I have had great fun playing with caffinol. If you're unfamiliar... Caffinol is a process in which you create your own developer using instant coffee, vitamin C, and washing soda. (It smells as revolting as it sounds) A great video can be seen at and many different recipes and guides can be found at

What is the best processing tip you can give?

1) Leave your phone, smart watch etc outside the darkroom! I learned this lesson a couple days ago when I forgot to take off my watch and, half way through loading some 120 film on a reel, it lit up.

2) Invest in a film puller - makes life soooooo much easier.

3) Set everything up the same way every time. Its so much easier to find the reel, scissors, film rolls etc... when you put them in the same place.

4) Label your film - often it will be weeks or months before you process some rolls (Gary Winogrand would let his film sit for a year) and it sucks trying to archive your stuff when you can't remember when/where the photo was taken, or what camera/ lens combo was used.

5) Make a note of what film is where in the tank and keep track of where it hangs when drying ( I work top to bottom/left to right - so when hanging the film the top roll in the tank is always on the left and the bottom roll is on the right (tank 1 is left, tank 2 is right.))

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where can you develop film in Vancouver?

Looking for somewhere locally to develop 110, 35mm 120 Black & White & C41 film? Well, the friendly staff at Rocket Repro are here to help! Thanks to Martin for providing us with a little bit of their history and what services they offer.

Most people think about Rocket Reprographics as “The Headshot Place” where actors and headshot photographers get their images printed. While this is certainly true, we do so much more than that, providing services for both professional and amateur photographers.

Rocket Repro began as an exclusively Black and White photo lab in the late 1980’s servicing a small number of professional photo studios. At that time all headshots and much fashion photography was shot and printed in Black and White. In the mid-90’s we took our lab retail with a storefront in Gastown and did Black and White film development and printing to include amateur photographers and enthusiasts as well as our professional clientele. (We even included budding photographer Brian Adams as a client - our Gastown neighbour before moving to London!) The next transition was to color processing and then ultimately to digital. We now provide a full spectrum of imaging services including digital output wide format, fine art prints as well as servicing Actors with headshots Canada wide.

But still, we have not forgotten our roots. We continue to process both Black and White as well as Color negative film, and we print and scan from negatives for both professionals still working in that medium as well as photo enthusiasts revisiting this lost art. We are very excited to see film make its resurgence and truly enjoy being part of this new film revolution. 

403 West Cordova St. Vancouver BC

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Project Impossible V2.0: Photos from the People Gallery Opening

A big thank you to everybody who took part in our Impossible project V2.0: Photos From the People show and everyone who attended our show open last night! It was wonderful to see so many smiling instant film enthusiasts in one place!!

Kathy had the 8x10 camera going for portraits with the Impossible 8x10 film and it was a huge hit! We were overwhelmed by the amount of people who were interested in learning about it. Thank you to everyone who stayed to have their photo taken.

The show is on now at Science World until May 10th, 2015. The photos are hung in the entry way as you go into the main building. Please note that admission fees to Science World now apply to gain entry to the show.

We would like to say a BIG thank you to Science World for all their help with the show! They were very gracious with their time and were very helpful while setting up all the photos and getting us everything we needed to make it all happen.

There were so many creative entries, it was extremely tough to choose a winner. However, after much deliberation our judges finally made their decisions! Here are the Impossible Project V2.0: Photos From the People show winners:

Over All Prize Winner: Ron Jensen's “1 – Two - Me." SX-70.

Impossible Project photo taken with a Polaroid camera: Allison White's “Half Light.” SX-70 Sonar.

Impossible Project photo using an Instant Lab: Clara Edvi's “Prairie Drive”

Impossible Project photo mixed media: Wayne Lam's “Red Luggage Diary.” Polaroid 600 Cool Cam.

Judges Choice: Chris Gallagher's “Then Was Once Now.” Polaroid 600.

Jason – “Loved the idea and presentation of the print with the fresh tulip.”

Judges Choice: Tracey Harper's “Catching Rays.” Polaroid SLR 680.

Jane – “This caught my eye & held it. I like the idea that sunlight is out of shot on the left, the straight lines give it focus and I enjoy wondering about the imperfection at the top.”

Judges Choice: Melissa Partee's “Jack Point – Winter 2015.” Polaroid 600.

Kit – “This image has a quietness about it. The framing of the tree brings the viewer to the centre where the eye is met with a bold horizon line.”

Judges Choice: Georgette Swenson's “Bobby.” SX-70.

Jo Ann – “Feels like my favourite summer Sunday afternoon.

Staff Pick: Zoe M. Wright's "People Taste So Good."



Adventures in Chemistry: Darkroom Safety

Our friends over at Cineworks have a great course coming up!

19 April 2015—11:00am-1:00pm
Cineworks Annex, 235 Alexander Street

How many of us have ever handled darkroom chemicals without gloves? Or developed a print without tongs? We've all read the warnings on photographic chemicals, but how many of us have always heeded them? To the novice, many of the precautions sound like hyperbole designed to protect the manufacturer rather than inform the photographer. But the warnings are real. Chemicals commonly encountered in the darkroom range from the harmless to violent poisons. It is important for the darkroom enthusiast to understand the hazards faced in the pursuit of art. This class is designed to introduce students to the roles of chemicals in our photographic work, their risks, their benefits the procedures required to use them safely.

$15 Cineworks members; $20 non-members (plus taxes)