This image represents an experiment.
Back in 2013, my father-in-law gave me a Sawyer Mark IV twin-lens reflex camera. The Sawyer shoots on 127 film–an older format, larger than 35mm film but smaller than 120 film.
Almost no one manufactures 127 film these days. (I have acquired some new 127 color film, but am a bit reluctant to shoot it.) I bought three rolls of black-and-white film from eBay. The film was enigmatic: it was wrapped in foil wrapper identifying the film as “panchromatic” film, but it contained no other identification. When I opened the wrapper, nothing identified the manufacturer of the film. Nothing identified the film speed. And, of course, I had no idea how to develop it.
I shot a roll in my Sawyer, and my six-year-old daughter shot a roll in her Kodak Brownie Starmatic. I guessed the film was originally an ASA 100 (now ISO 100) film. I exposed it as if it was 25 ASA film–that is, I overexposed by two stops.
I developed both rolls using a technique that I sometimes use for Kodak Tri-X: I diluted Kodak HC-110 developer 1:100 in water. Then, after filling the developing tank, I agitated it for thirty seconds, set it down, and let it stand for sixty minutes. This is known as “stand developing”–“stand” precisely because you let it stand and don’t agitate the film in the solution.
I had a bit of trouble spooling my roll of film onto the plastic spool that holds it in the developing tank. The film was so brittle that a portion of it broke off. But the broken portion was on the leader section of the film, and I didn’t lose an image.
I was pleased to find that I had obtained images. The film is spotted and grainy, but I have images!
I didn’t try too hard to get artistic images. I just wanted to try out this enigmatic film. I took the shot here through the window of our living room. It was a hazy winter afternoon, and the sun was setting through the haze. That meant that the scene had a very wide dynamic range. The film captured more of that range than I really expected. I printed the image onto Ilford MGIV resin-coated paper, glossy finish.* This paper is pretty contrasty, and I probably lost some shadow detail. Then I scanned the print on my 2008-vintage scanner, which eliminates detail in both shadows and highlights. Woo-hoo! (I’m planning to buy a better scanner.)
Again, I’m not offering this as an artistic image. It’s really just a story about using a beautiful vintage camera and some really funky film–and still getting a result!
* I’m lazy and cheap, so I use only the Ilford resin-coated paper. It’s easier to handle than fiber-based papers.