Debshots Photography: Blog en-us (C) Debshots Photography (Debshots Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:19:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:19:00 GMT Debshots Photography: Blog 120 96 This Time Last Year

This time last year I was driving home with rolls of film and I wasn’t sure what my results would be. I had no way of knowing if my experiment would be a massive failure, or if it would have some measure of success.


A lot has happened since last SDCC.

And with my inability to go to conventions throughout the year, I worry that I’ve lost my edge.

I’ll know that soon enough.


SDCC starts today.

Panels are already underway, and the doors for Preview Night are soon to open.


I’m planning to post some of the scans from last year both on my IG and my Facebook to try and get more people in front of the camera and a part of this crazy journey.


Below are some of my favorites. And when I get home from SDCC 18 I’ll post a full gallery.


But for now; enjoy. And I’ll see you out there.


(Debshots Photography) 70mm 70mm journey color film film film photography hasselblad kodak photography portra 160 San Diego Comic Con SDCC SDCC 17 SDCC 18 Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 GMT
the simplest things

I mentioned earlier that I’ve been having issues with my scanner.


I have been working on getting the scanner to properly read the negatives for months.




What’s the issue?

The same thing it always is: nothing is made for 70mm.

Not anymore.

No modern scanner is going to have the trays or film holders for scanning 70mm.

See, the tray for medium format negatives is set up for 120 negatives, those are 60mm wide. So my film is too large to properly fit in the tray. And I can’t just put it on the surface of the flatbed . . . .

Okay I CAN, but when I’ve done that the scan comes out uneven, out of focus in places, all in all it’s not great. The film isn’t flat and the scan comes out warped, especially where the ends of the roll are, because there’s so much curve that they go all wonky.

Another route is would be to trim my film down, but that runs the risk of damaging the emulsion, so that’s out.

All the way out never to be considered again.  


And here is one of my serious failings as a human comes in: I overthink.

I also get very focused on the details and forget to look at a the big picture, or even just consider the obvious work arounds.

I spent the past six months trying to come up with making trays to hold my negatives myself. I used paper, cardstock, mountboard. I tried white and black and 18% grey.

Yes folks I sacrificed a grey card for this.

It still didn’t work.

No matter what I use to make the trays, the scanner freaks out and auto closes.

I can’t force it to manually scan for film.
Maybe there’s a way and I never found it, but that’s okay. Really.

Because I have tape.

Archival, low acid, black masking tape.

And I will give you a moment to realize that it took me months to remember that tape is a thing, and that I have been using this specific type of tape for projects for the last ten years or so.


The medium format scanning tray for the CanoScan mkII has two parts, the base that holds the film and the upper part that clips in place to old the film taut.


That pesky scan mount . . .



I removed the upper part (it snaps into place, so I was able to do this without actually breaking it) and put the film on, taping it in place.

  Like so

I am a little concerned that this could affect the quality of the scan, but so far it looks good.

I have more testing to do with it, but I’m really happy thus far, and I’ll be posting some galleries soon!


Like tomorrow soon.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm journey Canon canoscan film film photography film scanning photography Scanner scanning Tue, 17 Jul 2018 05:04:31 GMT
et tu Printfile

One thing I never considered when I began the 70mm Journey is negative storage.

I guess I always took it for granted.

It had never once occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to find archival negative storage for film 70mm wide.

It didn’t occur to me when I was buying specialty film loaders and backs for the camera and film stock.

Or when I was finding ways to expand my development reels.

Or when I was having to scan my negatives loose because I couldn’t find a way to mount them for the scanner. (more on that in another post)

No, it didn’t occur to me until I went to Horn Photo to buy the negative files, only to discover there were none.

Well of course there weren’t, there’s no demand for them really, and my local photo and camera store isn’t going to keep that stuff around, taking up valuable floor space.

So I checked Amazon.

I checked eBay.

I checked every site I could think of . . . nothing.

No one made anything to store 70mm negatives. Not anymore.

I could get 120 film storage, but as you can see in the photo, that wasn't going to work . . .




          What am I using for a light box? A computer screen and a blank google doc . . . hey it's cheap and it works.  




120 film is on the left, with 70mm on the right. As you can see, there's no swapping the two around.

I did find some 70mm continuous plastic sleeving available on ebay, but that wouldn’t get me through the entire 12 rolls.

Plus it's flimsy and can't be easily stored in a box or binder.

No, I needed something permanent and high quality.

I was not having my negatives destroyed by sub-par storage.

About three weeks ago I found a solution.


I was at my wit’s end.

I knew that I could store negatives, temporarily if nothing else, in glassine envelopes.

So, I went to google, as one does, and I typed in “Glassine Envelopes” . . . top hit; Bags Unlimited.

I click the link, and am taken to a splash page . . . for stamp collecting.

Guys, I may have not considered many things, but never in all my years has I even remotely connected the needs of stamp collectors to photography.

But there, in the corner there’s a link for Binders and Pages.

So I click, because why the hell not, and there, fourth from the top is the listing:


Stamp 3 Ring Binder Page

3 rows, 84mm x 195mm




      What's that? It's a unicorn that's what.


I found them. Yes, they’re not cheap. One more expense in this journey of mine. But they EXIST.

And they’re made for stamp collecting which is arguably as picky and as worried about the acid content of stuff that comes in contact with other stuff as photographers are.

So now I have a storage solution, which is more exciting than it sounds, because I can start organizing and scanning and properly cataloging the negatives.

I am so unbelievably thrilled.

            I converted this to black and white, but yes those are my 70mm color negatives in their nice new file folders. I am STOKED.



Now . . . if I can just get the scanner to cooperate we’ll be golden.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey archival film storage color film film film photography film problems gear negative storage photography Printfile stamp collecting Thu, 12 Jul 2018 02:08:52 GMT
Through the Fog  

“Through the Fog” sounds like I’m going to spend the post expounding on my journey and coping with Pam's death and grief. And I guess in a way it is . . . but it also isn't.


Tule Fog is a special kind of weather phenomenon that happens almost exclusively in California’s Central Valley. It doesn’t roll in from the water like in LA or San Francisco . . . it rises from the ground and gets so thick you can’t see the front end of your car.

Being in it is peaceful and centering, and a little like being in a low budget horror film. Driving in it is a learned skill and can be something of a nightmare at the best of times.


I work for a school district where "Foggy Day Schedule" is a real thing and means that school starts two hours late. But I like to leave at my normal time, 6:45am, to give myself plenty of time to drive down carefully. One day, I decided to fire off some of my film. Just for fun, on my way in to work.


It felt good to get some photos done. To burn through a couple of rolls and not look back. I didn’t have to think about color, water, or anything. I just mixed everything up and went. I wish it was all that easy. I wish I could just slap together some chemistry and fix things. I can’t. That’s not how life works. But I forget sometimes that this film project, and picking up film at all is about my personal needs . . . and that I need to respect those needs and goals.

I leave you with these as I prepare for SDCC 2018, consider the various sources I can get water from, and work to block out time for film development in what is left of my summer.


While I work on that, please; Enjoy the fog.


(Debshots Photography) art as a coping mechanism Black and White film film photography grief Hassleblad Kodak medium format Nature Photography photography Tule Fog Wed, 04 Jul 2018 00:59:42 GMT
Water is a Chemical

The expensive question . . .

The $120 in chemistry question . . .

The question that everyone from nearly a year ago is asking . . .

Why aren’t you done developing film? That takes like a month at most.

You’re not wrong.


I feel I should open this post with the undignified and yet entirely true comment


"I am an idiot"


I tell my students all the time that chemicals are all around us, for example: water is a chemical.

It is a compound composed of hydrogen and oxygen, and there is no escaping or denying the scientific fact that water is a chemical.

Which is why I felt 37 different kinds of stupid for forgetting that water is such an important chemical part of the development process for photography.

It wasn't until about the end of January, I saw a forum post commenting on the hardness of water; that is the amount of minerals disbursed in the water measured in parts per million, and the subsequent effect on development; that I realized I had completely forgotten to take the chemical makeup of water in account when thinking of development.  


Retrospectively, there are two reasons for that:

One: until I started this project I had only ever developed black-and-white film.

And Two: while the chemical process of black-and-white film is so well known, the chemical processes for color are, in most cases, an industry secret.


So this is me, once again, regretting not doing my proper research.




So about two rolls (that’s still like 30 feet) though development of the SDCC photos, I came to a screeching halt. I couldn’t go further without running some experiments. And that meant time that I didn’t have, research I hadn’t done, and chemistry I would have to order.


Which brings us from January/February to now . . . July. I have spent the past months researching color film chemical processes, and devouring all the anecdotal evidence I could find about the effects of water composition on color development, in between lesson planning, teaching, and making sure the school yearbook looked awesome. (it totally did btw)


This is where we’re at now:


Some of this I already knew. Like: water composition doesn’t matter so much for black-and-white because the black-and-white process is entirely based on silver halide crystals. These crystals, or silver salts, are the light-sensitive aspects of black-and-white film, and indeed color film.

What I did not know . . . with color those silver salts are chemically bound using an oxide to dye couplers which determine if the specific crystal will be Cyan, Magenta, or Yellow. And here’s the thing . . . I don’t know what oxides are being used as dye couplers.

(this is also a very basic explanation of how color film works, and not at all comprehensive)

What little information I could find was in academic journals and stuck behind a paywall.  

Which is where the anecdotal evidence comes in: I may not know exactly which compounds matter, and without testing my water I don’t even know which ones I have . . . . but what I do know is that we can all agree that water matters.

And the water I’ve been using up until now is hard water. Really hard water. That is to say, there are a lot of minerals in our water in parts per million. Depending on how those minerals are showing up, and which ones they are, they may or may not have an adverse effect on the development.

I won’t know without experimenting.

It is entirely possible that my film, when developed using chemistry not mixed with hard water, could look completely different.

So what water to use?

I’ve done a bunch with the water at my house, so I don’t need to do more with that, I can use it as kind of a baseline.

I’d like to use the water from my parents’ house because it sits on an aquifer, and doesn’t have the water treatment that city water gets, and I want to know if that changes things. It’s going to have a lot of limestone in it, which is going to add calcium and raise the pH. Will this matter? I have no idea.

Then there’s the cabin, which sits on a mountain stream and whose water has a totally different composition to that of the aquifer and to my own home.

There’s also water I can buy at the store, like distilled or drinking water.

Distilled doesn’t have any minerals in it, or almost none. You’re not supposed to drink it at all because it pulls the minerals out of your own system and can really do some long term damage. Regardless . . . it means there’s nothing to play with the dye couplers.

Then of course drinking water, it’ll have a neutral pH and some minerals, but not in large enough quantity that it’ll have a drastic effect on development . . . as far as I can guess.

And those are just water sources I’m currently considering, there’s a lot more.

My husband says I’m getting a little crazy with my investment in the variety of water sources I want to use.

I don’t really care.

Now, I know what you're thinking, that's a lot of goddamn chemistry.

Because it is.

I’ve decided to mix up the chemistry in batches, each batch will be 1L of chemistry.

First I’m going to mix two batches: one from the Aquifer and one from the Cabin.

The Aquifer



       The Aquifer is under my parents' property in the  San Joaquin Valley of California


        The Cabin is in the Sacramento Mountains in Northern California


I’ve purchased the 2.5L kit, and I’ll be leaving the last .5L as concentrate.

In theory, there should be three distinct looks, one for each water type. If there’s not I’ll have to revisit this and decide where to go next.

BUT assuming that the development all looks funky I’ll purchase another 2.5L kit when I am financially able to do so, and I’ll do the distilled and drinking water batches.

The last 1L concentrate I’ll mix up when I decide what I like best, or when I grab water from somewhere else to see what it looks like.

This also means that SDCC 18 will be part of the water experiment, which I’m totally fine with, I look forward to a larger test base for this crazyness.


All that aside, there’s one part of this I really hate:

At the end of it all, none of this might matter.

It’s possible that I’m not going to see much of a difference in tone, contrast, or color.

I have to accept that “no difference” is as much a result as the weirdness I’m hoping for.


Regardless, I want to see what I’m going to get and I have roughly 15 days, give or take, before I leave for another SDCC.

So much has changed between last year and now.

I am excited. But apprehensive.

All I can do is as for your patience and support.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm journey art as a coping mechanism color development color film development problems film film photography kodak photography tetenal Mon, 02 Jul 2018 05:01:05 GMT
What Comes Next

Hey there. It’s been a minute. And for those of you still paying attention I feel I should address that.

This year has gone sideways in the most spectacularly awful of ways; from the obviously terrible (like the sudden death of my mother in law) to the completely normal yet also dreadful staffing-issues-I-cannot-discuss at work to the inescapable chemical issues plaguing my film development.

Every time I turn around something else goes wrong.

In the past month and a half I have gone from purchasing a new car, getting a gig at E3, finishing the school year, and getting ready to spend the summer on my art and my family to . . . . totaling my new car on the way back from E3 (every person involved is physically fine, two cars are totaled), more school related table flippage (still can’t talk about it), and somehow acquiring two infections in my throat (yes, two).

I’m not going into more detail than that.

You don’t want more detail than that.

But I’m having issues leaving the couch . . . I’m level 38 in Skyrim . . . and I have rolls of film staring me down.

More on the film and why three rolls of it still sits on a shelf in the next post.


Anyway, balancing work and art has been more difficult this year than I ever thought it would be. I’m so far behind where I wanted to be right now. But also, it’s forced me to thing of more efficient ways to do what I love and make the most of my time. And objectively, that’s a really good thing.


I’m going to leave you with photos of my car accident, and remind you that we’re all okay.

And I’ll see you all in the next post.


(Debshots Photography) 70mm journey film photography life personal photography Sun, 01 Jul 2018 00:38:18 GMT
Chemicals and Ashes

I got a message yesterday from someone I shot at San Diego Comic Con asking if I had the scans from my 70mm shoot with them . . .

I don’t.

I leaned back in my chair and looked up at the canisters of  undeveloped film above my computer I realized: I've done a bad job of keeping those of you who

have shot and worked with me informed about what is going on.

I haven’t posted to my blog in months.

I created this darn thing so that I could document my journey, but that journey was waylaid.

The goal is to get back on track this holiday season. But first, I owe it to you, and honestly to myself, to share with you what’s been going on and why that

film is still on a shelf.


I shot five rolls of 70mm film at SDCC 2017.

When I returned from SDCC 2017 I had no chemistry to develop the film, so I ordered some when I was able (it's expensive and I don't charge for helping

me make art) with the intention to develop the film as soon as then chemistry arrived.  

However within a week I was back in San Diego, this time for an AVID conference (surprise!) for my new job teaching Seventh Grade Math and Science

(and journalism and yearbook). After that it was trainings and meetings and planning and students and when I looked up it was halfway through September.

I took a deep breath and started to plan pacing my way through the film, at worst I could use my Thanksgiving Break to develop nonstop. But September

ended with a blow that did the kind of damage you don't recover from, you learn to live with the pain.

Last Christmas found my Mother in law, Pam, in the hospital with aphasia, a condition where a person has difficulty communicating.

For Pam that meant that she couldn't link the appropriate words to meanings, often using words that were in no way connected to the meaning she was

aiming for. The diagnosis lead to scans and tests and another diagnosis: brain cancer. Specifically a tumor in the speech center.

The doctors did surgery, and her prognosis was good.

Our year went on, holidays, birthdays, I got hired and we celebrated, I started work as a full time teacher . . . and then it all went to hell.

Pam went to the hospital at the end of September because the aphasia was back, and with it, the cancer.

At first we thought there would be another surgery; we braced ourselves for changes in her medication, and we waited for the scans to come back. If you had

asked me then, I would never have thought that another surgery would have been a best case scenario.

It took about two weeks for the scans to come back. The cancer had blown past the radiation, there was no treatment, no surgery, no medication to look to

this time.

We would be lucky to be able to spend Thanksgiving with her.

We were not lucky.

We didn’t even make Halloween.

I can’t tell you how I spent the next few weeks.

I don’t remember.

I remember crying as I told my students what was going on.

I remember them crying with me (I have phenomenal students).

I know that my husband put school (he’s in a double baccalaureate program) on hold and moved in with his mother.

My kids moved in with my parents during the week because with my teaching schedule I couldn’t get them to school in the morning.

My husband’s sister came down and helped care for their mom. She was amazing and powered through a struggle and a loss I can’t possibly imagine.

I was numb to it all. I poured everything I had into supporting my family and teaching my students. The world at large ceased to exist for me.  

It felt longer than it was, it felt like months. Looking at a calendar now it was only a two weeks from that diagnosis to when Pam died on the 21st of October.

But that time passed in this fog of emotions and exhaustion and I have aged because of it.  

Pam’s Memorial was held the Thursday following her death.



I have never been so torn apart as I was that week.
I should have been supporting my husband. I should have been there for my family.
I was not.
I was at parent teacher conferences.

The job is, what it is; and everyone understood that.
Pam was the sort of person who would have been livid if I hadn’t kept up my end as a teacher for that week.

She was already pissed off that my husband had put school on hold to take care of her and live with her in her final weeks.

A part of me is proud that I got through that week. I think she would have been proud.

A part of me is ashamed that I was not there for my family more.

I think I’ll always feel that way.  

Through this whole experience, I forgot that the film was above my computer.

I forgot I shot film.

Hell I forgot a lot of things.

I forgot STAR WARS was coming out.


All my energy was going towards my family.

And it was like that for a while.

Thankfully my district gives us a week at Thanksgiving. I spent most of that week in the kitchen or on the couch, trying to recenter myself and get to a point

where I could move forward.

I spent time with my side of the family, dearly loved friends, made two rounds of Thanksgiving dinner, and played my favorite video game.

December came and with it life began to return to something familiar. It was like waking up, I realized how much I had set aside in late September and all

of October. Somethings I had to address immediately like teaching research and exams I needed to write and the half and half going bad in my refrigerator

at work.

Other things, like art and film and photography, would have to wait until the winter break.


Which brings us to where we are now.

The quiet cold of winter break.

The Christmas tree silently twinkling in the living room.

The urn centered on the piano.

The chemicals that sit still in their shipping container, under the bathroom sink.

The film that waits on the shelf above my computer.

The aimless days between Christmas and Spring semester.

And the hope that I can make something out of all of that quiet.

We’ll see.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm journey art as a coping mechanism death family film film photography grief photography recovery tetenal Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:13:16 GMT
SDCC Happened Well I did it, I shot 70 mm at San Diego Comic Con.

It was not the affirming magical experience that I expected however . . .  due to technical difficulties, humidity, and my favorite areas of the convention for photography being closed, it was more of a train wreck.


FYI this post is all words, photos to come later.


First: The Weather

Oh god the weather. It was humid, unbearable humid, all weekend. I looked at the forecast before I drove down, and everything said mid to low 70s and I was stoked. Okay I live in Fresno, while I was in San Diego it was upwards of 102 at home, it hit 106 a couple times. Overnight lows hover in the land of 78.
Do you have any idea how excited I was?

And then . . . the humidity attacked.
It felt like it was 90 the whole time. It was sticky and gross and nasty.

And I couldn’t shoot inside because 160 speed.

I won’t lie, by Friday am I wanted to go home and dry out. Photography was pretty far from my mind.

AND YET I shot four rolls of conventional color film, three rolls of slide film, and five (5) cartridges of 70mm.

I’d be proud of myself if I could remember doing any of it, but it’s all kind of a blur. . . that’s probably not good.

Technical Difficulties:

While testing my gear at Wondercon I had a minor issue getting the camera synced up with the back on Friday, and from then on everything was more or less fine. But on Thursday of SDCC the camera decided that it wasn’t going to sync up at all, and I mean physical gears. Remember that my camera is entirely mechanical. There’s no light meter, no batteries, and no connections to scrub or clean. Just gears.

At one point the back was stuck a full 3mm away from the body, that’s A LOT of space for light to come in, those frames are toast. It got so bad I had to brace the back against my chest when advancing the film. By Sunday I was just used to dealing with it, I have no way of knowing if this is related to the weather (think film swelling) or if it’s all mechanical. What I know is that I probably need a new back, or at least another one so I can swap out instead of changing rolls out in the open.


Closed for Photography:

There are areas of the San Diego Convention Center that are classic spots for open air photography. Areas where Cosplayer and Photographer alike can get away from the crowds, for the benefit of everyone. One of the biggest complaints I hear at cons is “people just stop in the middle of a walkway to take pictures and that negatively affects my experience”, and I get that, I do. Which is why so many cosplay photographers like to shoot in out of the way places. We don’t want to get in your way and more than you want us too, but at SDCC this year a wrench was thrown into all of that.

The convention decided it would close off one of the major areas where photographers would go, which meant more of us in the way, or shooting on the convention floor. Both bad options for me. With my film being 160 speed I couldn’t very well take it onto the convention floor, which is where a lot of people were hanging out because of the weather and closures of popular areas.
But more than that, cosplay for better or worse is how a lot of people celebrate what they love. It’s how they connect at conventions, how they find people who love what they do; and that’s a wonderful thing. Added to that, there is a reason that cosplay photos and videos are popular, people love see (or love to hate) cosplay. We live in an image driven society, and to effectively be told “We’ll use your photos for promotion but we won’t make spaces for you to take them” is more than a little messed up.

Ugh, soapbox aside, I didn’t get to shoot where I wanted too, that made me grumpy and threw off my whole weekend.


The Upshot:

I spent most of my time photographing cosplayers offsite, I don't think I took pictures of very many people at all at the convention a proper. But seeing as how I burned up probably a quarter of the film I took with me just trying to get it through the camera and constantly having to check on it and it and manually advance it I think it was for the best.

I had a lot more fun shooting film at Wondercon than I did at San Diego. If I get a chance to go to Stan Lee's Comikazi or LA Comic Con or whatever it's called now, I’ll be more confident taking the film. That's not to say I won't shoot film in San Diego next year, but now I know more about the limitations that I’ll be dealing with and how to anticipate them.


Now, on to development.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm journey camera camera equipment cosplay cosplay photography film film photography gear hasselblad photography san diego comic con sdcc sdcc cosplay Sun, 06 Aug 2017 23:17:20 GMT
Editing Conundrum      









So far this experience and journey has been amazing, I have reclaimed so much of my own creativity and vision and artistic view, but I’ve come up on something that has never occurred to me before.

The ethics of editing a photograph.


With digital I always believed in doing what I thought was best for the image, focusing the intangible pixels into what I saw in my mind’s eye when I pressed the shutter. My sensor doesn’t have its own integral personality or unique quirks the way that this film does. My sensor definitely does its own thing, my camera has a personality, but really, this film is so far past that it’s unreal.

It shoots green, I cannot get over how green these images are, they’re also muted and low contrast, as expected for expired film. I have taken so much time to develop these rolls, careful to respect the film’s state as it sits, as it performs, as it develops. I love how they develop and scan in. Green or not they blow me away.








As beautiful as these images are, they like every other photograph I create, can be more . . . and I keep asking myself, is it unethical to make such alterations to my film?

Is it unethical to edit the scans of my film?

If I edit them does that change the narrative of this project?

When I began this project I had never considered doing more than just minimizing the green cast and upping the contrast.






But then I was thinking about what I would do to this image if I had a wet darkroom . . .

I could suck more of that green out and play with contrast by lowering it,





I could up the color dramatically, take out the green cast, and really pop the contrast





Or I could get rid of the color all together and go black and white . . .


I could ditch the color and crank the contrast, which I did a fair amount of back in the day,






I love all of these images for different reasons, and I’m not sure what’s “right” in terms of editing.

Not right as in "what looks good" because they all look freaking fantastic.

But “right” as in ethical.





It may seem silly to you, to worry about the ethics of film; seeing as film is an inanimate object.

But to me it's more than that: I've been operating with this idea that the expired film would have just a raw scan and I would document what it looks like empirically, and leave the image alone past that. I don't know if that's what I want to do anymore.

I'm not sure.

Maybe I should just play with the images until I feel done with them? Present all versions as I create them?

Does it even matter?

I have a history of overthinking things. I’m probably doing it again.

I’m just going to keep doing high resolution scans until I find an answer.




(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey color development cosplay photography ethics film film photography film scanning photography photography ethics scanning tetenal Wondercon Thu, 25 May 2017 16:23:20 GMT
Stop touching me

I am devastated.

There is something to be said for being calm in your heart and mind when loading film, or cutting mats, or spotting prints. There is an amount of meditation involved in doing these precise and intricate things.

I did not adhere to this when I loaded one of my rolls of film.

It was the second to the last roll, I was stressed and wanted to be finished, and I forced the load.

For whatever reason I kept feeling like me film wasn’t loading all the way or that it was catching on something. I was not in the proper mental state loading the film.

And it freaking shows.


I lost four frames, four more were damaged, where the film touched in the developing tank.

And I have only myself to blame.

I have one saving comfort, this is expired film, this whole thing is an experiment, and while I lost those four frames, three of the four other images at least look . . . artistic.  



It could be worse, I guess.

I mean it could always be worse.


Ugh. Looking at those frames makes me feel like a raw beginner.


Eff this noise I’m going back to scanning. I have a day and a half left to get through, and lamenting my bad load isn’t going to do any good.

See you all later.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey color development color film color photography development film film photography photography problems" tetenal Wondercon Fri, 12 May 2017 01:09:37 GMT
It's all on video To document developing color film for the first time, I decided to do a video diary of the day. I posted these to my Instagram and Facebook, but I wanted to put them all here in one master post to kind of document how it all went.
NOTE: I am not good at video. I am not so great at doing two things at once, and I am certainly not well versed in doing things one handed. SO, if at any time you're looking at this thinking "oh man I could do these so much better" I'm probably going to agree with you.
However, the end result was worth it, and I'm glad I shared my experience with everyone.

First up I made a quick post on Instagram about what my day was going to look like and what I was getting myself into.

I posted the longer videos to my Facebook, because Instagram limited me to 60 seconds. And then I started rambling about mixing chemistry and cost and how gosh darn expensive this is going to be, like wow. For the three rolls I shot at Wondercon I spent roughly $50 on chemistry. I have so much more to do, this is insane. I am going to spend so much money on chemistry. But hey, I'm doing it myself and I love that. 
Here: listen to me ramble.

Going over my chemistry and the overwhelming cost of this whole crazy project.

I also did a bit about mixing the actual chemistry. I'd like to remind you that my video skills are nonexistent. I am not good at this.

So don't feel bad if you watch it and are like "wow that's bad" okay? we agree. Just a reminder.

Once mixed I put the bottles in the water bath and discovered that I had uneven water displacement and my set up wouldn't work. I did the next best thing and stuck the chemistry for the development in the sink in the kitchen and filled the sink with really hot water.
Then I made another video.

Okay, yes, I said load my chemistry. I meant film, obviously. But remember, I told you, I am not so good with the video.

I know what you're thinking, chemistry is the easy part, how the heck are you going to get that wide ass film onto a Paterson reel? How are you going to get it into a tank? What the heck are you thinking Deb, this is crazy talk?
I can hear you you know. But thanks to the internet, and those who have come before, I found an awesome solution to home developing 70mm film, color or black and white.
Now, important note, my film does not have sprockets, some 70mm does; this method will work for both.

Okay so, reel issue solved. Also, I downloaded a video editing app for my phone. So now I didn't have to do the whole thing in one take. I would like to say that this would increase the quality of my video diary/journal. But it does not.

oh well.

Here, I'm going to ramble about changing bags and Paterson tanks and daylight film development . . .

Film loaded, chemistry heated, I was finally able to develop film. Which I made only one video of because color development requires constant agitation and my hands were busy.

And let's be honest, my video was entirely based around the color of the wash water . . . which is Leprechaun colored.

I would also like you all to know that I am not allowed to say that it looks like I killed a Leprechaun because my daughter (who is 6) says that I will upset the Leprechauns and they won't be nice to me anymore. I told her I think the Leprechauns can tell I'm joking, she said they wouldn't and who am I to argue with a 6 year old. Anyway, I did make a final video of the results when I hung the film to dry, after I finished crying.

I'm not kidding about that crying bit. I was so relieved to have images that I broke down sobbing. I still gasp and get a little weepy when I pull film out now, on the final roll. It's just so magical and I am so happy to have done this and to have been supported by so many of my friends.

And I can't wait to do it again.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey color development color film cosplay photography film film photography home developement Kodak photography tetenal Wondercon Wed, 10 May 2017 03:26:02 GMT
Oh no here we go . . . I've been nervous.

Really really nervous.

But everything I need to develop the 70mm film I shot at Wondercon is here, and I have no reason to procrastinate any longer.
So it's happening. I'm going to dive in head first and hope I don't drown.

I'm documenting this in videos I'll post to FB, which I will later post here in sequential order.

ohhhhhhhhh dear.

I'm going to need more coffee.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey Wondercon color development color film film film photography photography tetenal Sat, 06 May 2017 18:20:13 GMT
Wondercon in Review When I first talked to people about this crazy 70mm journey, the question I usually got was: “so what are you going to shoot?”

And while my knee jerk response is “I will shoot literally anything”, I decided I wanted to focus on Cosplay. The colors are bright and the people are fun, and I love shooting it, all of it. I knew then that if I’m going to shoot cosplay I need to shoot at San Diego Comic Con. Some of the best cosplay in the world is out at SDCC; and I want to get it on my highly questionable film stock.

However, I don’t want to fail spectacularly when I’m there, either. The solution of course was to take some 70mm to another convention and give it a test run. That convention being Wondercon in Anaheim.  

This is the day by day account of the convention, I'll need to reflect on it when gearing up for SDCC.

This is all the film gear that came with me, 45 feet of 70mm and three rolls of 120

This is all the film gear that came with me, 45 feet of 70mm and three rolls of 120

Day One:
I got some great shots of some good friends, and some new friends, and some strangers . . . pretty much like any other convention ever. Except, you know, because of the film thing.

Getting people to stand still is a CHALLENGE I have to remind them that there is no autofocus and that this is going to take a little time. I got better at explaining this as the day progressed. At this point I just hope the photos come out, I would hate to go through all of this and then have nothing to show for it.

As something of a safety net I brought down some commercial 120 film, which I have been shooting intermittently, in sort of a “if everything fails at least I have this” kind of move.

I hope I don’t need it.

I hope the 70mm film is loaded properly.

I hope I nail the development.

There are so many variables.

It feels good shooting film like this though, it feels right.

Day Two:

Saturday at con is always packed, always a big day, today is no different.

I’ll be shooting digital for parts of today, I have a couple of panels that I need shots of for work and as favors to the panelists. Other than that I’m film all day, again.

I have some friends coming into town in some pretty intricate cosplays, a couple of armor builds that are just over the top; I’m hoping I can get a shot of them.

Looking at what I have set aside to shoot today, I don’t think it’s enough. The film from yesterday went by really fast, I wish I had loaded another 70mm cartridge at least. I also think my first roll may have also been a bit short, we’ll see when I develop, I made a note on the canister.

If I run out of film I technically I have digital to fall back on, but honestly, I don’t want to. Yesterday was so freeing, I felt so much more creative and open to shooting than I have in years. I don’t want to lose that picking up the digital camera.

But I’ll have it with me, if I need it.


Day Three:
Yesterday afternoon was really interesting: I must have looked a little strange walking around with a digital camera and not shooting with it. I needed it to shoot a panel at 1pm, but then didn’t have time to put it back in the hotel room because I was meeting people right after the panel; so when I would ask someone to shoot they would see the digital and say yes and then be totally blown away by the film camera.

Just pulling it out of the bag was a shocker, and to my surprise there were people taking pictures of me taking pictures, I was as much a novelty as the cosplayers.

It was different. That’s for sure.

I also need to adjust how many rolls I bring. I had planned on one 70mm per day, but that ended up not being enough. According to my camera there are 70ish exposures on a 15 foot roll. Which isn’t a lot for digital, but it’s impressive for film.

However because of the quantity of quality cosplay on the Saturday of any convention I should have allocated another cartridge. This is going to be even more of an issue for SDCC, I am anticipating a cartridge each for Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Friday and Saturday will each get two. At worst I’ll have extra. I also plan to bring some commercial 120 like I did this weekend, just in case.


Looking Back:

Overall Wondercon was a great experience, the project was well received and everyone I shot with was really excited to be a part of it. For now I’ll take my commercial film to get developed, as I wait on the last bits of equipment to develop the 70mm. These are the last few hurdles before being fully prepared to shoot 70mm at SDCC in a few months.



(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey Cosplay Wondercon camera camera equipment cosplay photography film film photography photography Thu, 06 Apr 2017 18:34:21 GMT
Chemistry, Math, and Headaches  

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ll be jumping in head first and shooting the first rounds of 70mm at Wondercon this weekend . . . and as I was planning and plotting and scheming my shoots I realized: I should probably figure out how I’m going to develop this stuff.

I’ve pointed out before, I’ll be developing the film myself, I have all the equipment for it but, here’s the thing, I’ve never developed my own color film.

Black and White yes, Color no.

This is going to be interesting.


I looked up the chemistry for color development and decided to buy Tetenal, for no other reason than I recognized the name, I actually have no idea how it’s going to work out.

Tetenal is sold in 1L and 2.5L kits, and I had planned to buy the 2.5L kit, but my purchase options ended up being more limited than I anticipated.

See, Tetenal has an ORM-D code, because it’s potentially volatile or something. I don’t care. What I care about is that this means Tetenal needs to be shipped ground. Not a problem, EXCEPT when vendors decide they’d rather not deal with ground shipping and just . . . make it unavailable. (Looking at you B&H) It’s okay, I bought from Freestyle instead, and even though it meant paying more, they got it to me the same day. Which was magical.
Not so magical is that I had to buy the 1L kit because the 2.5L is sold out until April.

Back to the issue at hand, 1L Tetenal is spec’d at being able to process 12, 36 exposure 35mm rolls. BUT my film is 70mm wide and 15 feet long, per roll, and then I got to thinking; how much freaking chemistry is this project going to take?

I hadn’t thought about it at all, at any point . . . shit.

It’s okay, I have science and math, I can figure this out . . . by creating the most convoluted word problem ever.


First Problem: How much 70mm film can I process in theory with a single kit of chemistry?

A single roll of 36 exposure 35mm film runs about 65 inches, or about 5 feet, and obviously 35mm wide.

I’m assuming the thickness of the film itself doesn’t matter. I hope it doesn’t. We’ll see.

Starting with the width, for every one roll of 70mm I would have the equivalent width of two rolls of 35mm. Therefore: for 12 rolls of 35mm, I would have 6 of 70mm.

Not accounting for the length of the rolls.

For each 15ft of 70mm, there are about 3 rolls of 35mm 36 exposure film.

Simple division tells me that this all amounts to two cartridges of 70mm.

A mere 30 feet (give or take) that I can get out of 1L of chemistry.

That’s a weekend.

That’s less than what I planned on going through this at Wondercon . . . I guess my chemistry won’t get old, it won’t be around long enough.

And then a thought occurred to me:

I can shoot 15 feet at a time, but how much can I process at a time?

According to a site that sells the Paterson tanks that I use, the plastic reels hold a single 26 exposure roll of 35mm.  

Which, okay great.

EXCEPT my rolls of 70mm are 15 feet long.

Well this is going to suck.

My options are to either only shoot 5ft at a time . . .


Cutting the roll. Sacrificing two frames, and be able to shoot what is effectively 3 rolls of film at a time.

I hate the idea of cutting two frames in half . . . but not having to change the rolls basically all day, damn, isn’t that part of why I’m doing this?

I have to decide what I’m going to do before I roll the film, which I plan to do before I travel to Anaheim for Wondercon.

I’ll give myself tonight to think about it.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey Alden 70mm Bulk Film Loader Tetenal Wondercon color development color processing film film photography photo chemistry photography Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:00:00 GMT
The Starting Line  

So, it’s March now. And I’ve spent the last months, prior to even starting this blog, collecting the equipment to shoot and develop the truly silly amount of 70mm film that I have lying around.

If you’ll remember there were two major pieces of equipment that I needed to shoot the stash of 70mm film: the film back for the camera and the bulk film loader.

Some time in late November I found a film back online (thank you eBay) with six 70mm film cartridges.

It was quite a score and I was very happy with it.

I’ve got to say though, this thing is a beast.

   That's the 70mm on the right, a standard 120 back is on the left.

   Again, that's the 70mm on the right and a 120 on the left. 

While the back is easily twice the depth of the 120 backs, the opening is the same size. I don’t know why I thought the frame size on the back would be larger, it’s still going to be the same as the back I’ve been using because the opening size is determined by the camera and not the back. (and I feel really dumb for having thought otherwise)

   My god this film is huge, look at the cartridge . . . 

   Just the height of this film blows my mind. 

The film holders though, they’re far larger than I thought they would be; an inch in diameter and just over 70mm long, they hold about 15 feet of film at a time.

So then the issue became getting the film into the film cartridges.

For that I really do have to get a bulk film loader of some kind.

Up until this point I’d been considering hand rolling the film, however looking at the sheer amount of film I’d have to roll onto a single reel I realized that a bulk film loader of some kind was likely my best bet.

This search did not have an auspiciouis start; I could find none for sale. Not online. Not at one of the many camera and antique shops. No not even at the reseller/consignment camera sites.

I moved off the internet, calling camera stores and suppliers across the US. None of them had anything. A couple didn’t believe me that 70mm film rollers even existed. I left my name and phone number in the hopes that they might come across something, however slim. that chance; and I turned to my friends.

They were full of suggestions.

Some thought I should just roll them by hand; which is still a possibility but I don’t want to. Also figuring out how to measure exactly the right amount of film so I don’t waste very much isn’t that thrilling.

Other friends suggested 3D printing the film loader. And I mean, 3D printing the loader is an option, but the mapping and coding is out of my ability and I’m not thrilled about having to learn an entire system just to build something to load film.

I figure if I ever get really desperate I’ll turn to that; maybe. I want to totally exhaust every other option first though.

With eBay still turning up a fat zero, I combed through the internet to see how other people in my situation were loading their film. I found a guy who had built a roller out of a couple wooden boards, some bolts and washers, and a screwdriver.

His setup was looking really good and I started working on reverse engineering it to build my own.

At this point it was mere days until Christmas.

Still, I roped Keith into a couple long conversations about the best ways to build something that would let me roll the film I had a general idea about what I was going to need, while making cookies.

Multitasking is a thing.

On my next day off I made a list of what I would need from the hardware store and committed myself to a jerry rigged film loader. On a whim and an empty stomach I stopped at Chipotle to grab lunch, while I ate I ran the laziest, loosest search through eBay.

-70 bulk loader-  

I got a lot of results for enormous hooks, which apparently load 70 tons of stuff, not what I expected exactly, but I figured if I got any results they’d be heavy equipment of some kind. Still, I kept scrolling. And there, at the bottom of the search screen was an Alden 70mm Bulk Film Loader.

I was convinced for a solid minute that my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Exactly what I was looking for, when I needed it, and there was a buy it now option. . . and it was priced at $60.

I had to be dreaming.

I packed up my food and went home to double check the search on a real computer and if it was real, buy it immediately. I was so panicked while driving. I was convinced I was going to get home, it would be gone, and I’d have to go back to the hardware store.

When I got to the computer at home I ran the search again and it was still there, still available, and the same price. I have never hit buy so fast in all of my life.

The going rate for an Alden 70 in 2003 was about $100, without shipping. So when I discovered that I would be paying another $50 some odd for shipping from Austria I couldn’t manage to feel bad about that; after all it worked out to be more or less the same price as 13 years ago.

Yes you read that right, Austria, that’s why I’m telling you this story months after it happened, I had to wait for shipping; through the holiday season. Ugh.

Anyway, a few weeks later, while fervently tracking the package my Alden was in, I ran another search through eBay just to see if any others had popped up, and low and behold they had. There had been one other sale, tagged to come up with a -70mm Bulk Film Loader- search, the sale price without shipping on that was over $200.

That’s just, it’s not, like I still can’t wrap my brain around it; how did I manage such a score.

I mean look at this thing;

    It's so pretty, I'm in love.

It’s been months, I still can’t quite believe it.


The loader came in, I already have the back, all I need now is chemistry and someone to shoot.

The chemistry is up next, I just have to calculate how much I need.

As for the subjects, well, I guess I should tell you . . .

This is all coming with me to Wondercon at the end of this month.
If you’ll be there, and you want to be a part of this crazy freaking project, drop me a line and let me know.

See you soon.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey Alden 70mm Bulk Film Loader Hasselblad Wondercon camera camera equipment film film photography gear photography Tue, 28 Mar 2017 04:30:08 GMT
Scanner Problems The lightroom at home, where our computers, cameras, printers, and related storage and supplies all live has been in a state of chaos for the past couple of years, I didn’t have anywhere to set the scanner up; once I found where it had been stashed.

It took time to dig out the scanner, carve a place for it in the lightroom, hook it up, and find all the trays to get it up and running. After all of that I had hoped, hoped, that I was done mucking about with the technical end and could do some scanning art.

With four rolls of black and white and another three of color from my film experiment at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con 2016, formerly Comikaze,  I blocked out most of the afternoon to scan the images to put them up, show people what I was working on with more than iphone instagram photos and wordy blog posts.

I started on the black and white, and the first few images were fine, until I noticed a dark line though some of them. The line was at the same part of the image in all the images. So at first I thought it was a problem with the back, I had expected problems with the back so the line wasn’t a shock. But I couldn’t see the line on any of the negatives.

Then I thought maybe the problem was the resolution, maybe I was asking too much out of my scanner. So I lowered the resolution, and the lines remained.

Keith suggested that I give running the Digital ICE, to see if it removed the line. I ran the test on the next image on the screen; scanning it both with and without the Digital ICE.

Results? The Digital ICE more or less removed the line from that specific image, and it also blocked up my blacks all to hell.

      Without Digital ICE, you can see the line traversing the lower third of the image, it's faint but there.

       As you can see the line has disappeared almost completely, but the blacks of the cosplayer's pants and jacket are completely blocked up and render the scan unusable for reproductions and printing.

Apparently Digital ICE is just not a fan of contrasty images, dark images, and improperly exposed negatives. And guess what, as this is an experimental run with expired film there are a fair few of contrasty, dark, and badly exposed images.

Digital ICE was not going to be a solution.

At this point I was pretty convinced that the line was on my negatives and I just couldn’t see it, even on a light box with a loupe, it just wasn’t visible.

The implication being that either something was wrong with the back or something was wrong with the film. Which was possible; it was expired black and white film that I shot on a whim. For fun. But I had also shot some color film that weekend, if it was a problem with the back it would also show up on those rolls, however if it was a problem with the film it would be missing from the color rolls.

I stopped scanning the black and white negatives and started scanning the color.

Look, lines happen, artifacts and leaks and imperfections all happen.

You know what doesn’t happen?


        Clear as day across his hand, you can see the stripes of magenta and yellow really well, and cyan is there too on closer inspection. ASDFGHJKL

I had been so focused on the backs and the state of the film that it never occurred to me that there could be something mechanically wrong with the scanner.

So yes. There is a dead spot, perhaps more than one, in my scanner and I am getting little bands of color that do not belong and are not in the negative.

I keep telling myself that part of this experiment was to test all of my gear and that includes the scanner, but while I tell myself that I’m aggravated because I know what this means and I don’t like what it means.

What does it mean?

Good news: my film is relatively good, considering it's been expired for over 10 years, also my backs do not have any kinds of leaks that go across the face of the negative. The leaks they do have are around the edges of the frame, they're kind of cool and I am okay with them.

Bad news: I need a new freaking scanner.


(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey Epson Perfection Epson imPerfection film film photography gear photography scanner scanning film Sun, 12 Feb 2017 22:00:00 GMT
It's in Development

When I initially began work on this project I knew I was going to have to hand develop all of the 70mm film myself. Why?

Because it’s too darn big to go through a standard machine

         That's 70mm on the Left and a 120 roll on the right

And I don’t want to send out the canisters ere they get damaged, stolen, or worse, opened by someone who doesn't know what they're doing.


        Yes that's the 70mm canister, they run upwards of $10 on eBay like hell I'm sending those out.

Which meant testing my developing tank and at home developing set up on black and white before moving to color.

At the time, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con (formerly Comikazi) was coming up and I decided to take some film and the Hasselblad down for a test run. (The photos from the trip and subsequent development are the subject of an upcoming post)

Anyway, I realized that if I was going to need to develop the black and white myself I was going to need chemistry.

I did not have chemistry.

What I did have was a bunch of old photo stuff I had picked up for free, or insanely cheap, as people purged their darkrooms and went to digital. I dragged out all the tattered cardboard boxes that had been stored and moved and stored again to see what I had and what I still needed.

I discovered I had:

-One 600mL graduated beaker, which I would need that to measure and mix the chemistry.

-Four old brown glass color chemistry 1gal bottles, to store the chemistry.

-A development clock/timer, to time development.

-A small plastic funnel, to pour the chemistry back into the storage bottles.

-A film thermometer, to measure the temperature of the chemistry to determine development times.

All I need was two more graduated beakers for measuring and holding the stop bath and the fixer, and of course the chemistry itself.

The solution to the graduated beakers was surprisingly simple, and available in my pantry. See, I only needed the precise, $15 graduated beaker for the developer; stop bath and fixer are both eh in terms of exact measurement. For those all I needed was roughly 600mL at a time, and did you know that older jelly jars, the quart size, have mL measurements on the side? They do! And I had some of those in my pantry.

      Ball Canning Jars containing 600mL each of chemistry for B/W development



Perfect non porous containers to measure and hold the stop bath and fixer during development.

That just left the chemistry itself.

To develop black and white film there are only about 4 chemicals you really need.

Developer, Stop Bath, Fixer, and Water. (Yes, water is a chemical)

I also use Hypo Clearing Agent in my final wash, but that’s technically 'optional'.

Of those; the stop, fix, and hypo are all pretty much the same regardless of which brand you purchase.

Water will vary in composition from source to source, but the hypo clear helps nullify that and stop any hard water deposits from showing up. Seriously, I know it's 'optional' but I really don't recommend home development without hypo.

Coming to the developer, that’s another story.

When I was in college I only ever used D76; because that’s what the college lab supplied, and why would I buy chem when I could just use the chem there for free?

But now, shopping for developer for this new project, I’ve found myself with the knowledge gap that I didn’t know existed, there are way more developers than I could have ever dreamed.

What the hell was I going to use to develop my film?

                   Aside from the obvious . . . 

I’d like to tell you that I started where any good academic starts, with books. That I spent hours pouring over old, quasi-accurate, books from the 1970s that I dug out of a dusty library corner. That I blew dust off old volumes and Gandalf’d my way to the knowledge I so desperately sought. Embracing the antiquity of the practice that is inextricably tied to the practice of film photography.

But no.

Nor did I dive headfirst into the internet, seeking out the new and old and rediscovered and inventive ways to develop film. This renaissance of film photography that is happening, I wish I could tell you that it helped me bridge this gap in understanding the photographic chemistry. I’m sure all of that information would have been invaluable to someone who actually did their research.

All of that, however, is not the way I do photography. I am less Ansel Adams, meticulous and thoughtful, than I am Han Solo;

“I never ask questions until after I’ve done it.”

And true to form, I just went to my local photography supply store (yes I still have one, it’s Horn Photo and I love them) and picked up a bottle of HC110 concentrated developer along with the rest of them chemistry. Why HC110? Because it was liquid and I hate mixing powder, as I discovered in college. That is literally how much thought went into this choice.

Which is to say: not much thought at all.

For the short drive home I was pretty confident in my ability to use this developer, and then I discovered ALL the ways it could be diluted, there are so many. There’s no one dilution recommended by Kodak, as I had thought. Each dilution required different development times and had varying resulting densities. Finally, deciding some research might be necessary, I turned to the internet.

And wow.

There are some really dedicated (read: obsessed) people on the internet who go to great lengths to develop their film exactly the same every time, as I’m sure most people do. Or the ones who make sure their developer doesn’t touch the air any more than it has to, probably not a bad idea. And my favorite, the guy that doesn’t believe in agitation . . . I don’t know what to do with that, that’s just bonkers.
Look, I wasn’t kidding when I said I ascribe to the Han Solo school of photography, and life honestly: “Give it a go, see what happens, talk your way out of it if (when) you screw up.”

Which I unsurprisingly what I chose to do: jump in and start developing, see what I get, tweak it when necessary, and talk my way out of it when I screw up.

I know what you’re thinking “Deb you can’t talk your way out of botched development,” to that I say, Watch Me.



(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey HC110 Kodak developer film film development film photography photography Sat, 11 Feb 2017 02:26:23 GMT
Dating your Equipment No, not the “when was this made” dating. The “I’ve bought you a present, put it on and let’s see what happens,” kind of dating.
It’s way more fun.


Look, you have to get to know your camera if you want it to do anything for you, film cameras especially. They’re old, set in their ways, they have flaws and quirks that make them unique and special, and sometimes you can spend the whole day together and it’s magical.  

When we (gear-junkie-photo-nerds) talk about gear, we start with the camera itself. Truth be told the body is little more than a light tight place to put the film with a hole in one side to take the picture. You can make a camera with a paint can, but more on that another time. Anyway if you have purchased or inherited a new-to-you-but-freaking-old camera it is important to make sure that it is light tight, or that if there are leaks, the leaks are minimal.

Sometimes light leakage isn’t a deal breaker because of the interesting and unique effect it gives your negative and final print. In my case I have irregular light leaks, and because of the way film reacts with different light temperatures I can get all sorts of fun color casts, as well as a nifty L shaped flare in the lower left corner of the image. I like the unknown variable of my camera, you might not.

How did I discover this totally cool thing that my camera does (that would probably piss other people off to no end)

By taking the camera on a date, of course.

“Here honey, put this back on and let’s make some magic.”

Seriously though, the best thing to do when you get new gear is to run a roll of film through it; the $7-10 is a worthwhile investment in your gear. Maybe it’s just me but, I’ve always loved those first rolls from a new camera, they’re an unknown, like a first kiss.

Maybe I’m romanticizing this experience, don’t judge me.

Anyway, with any new equipment I test it out using unexpired film and get it developed at a reputable lab. That limits the possibilities for any artifacts on your film being there because of errors in development or chemistry. Personally I use my local lab, Horn Photo, for unexpired rolls of commercially purchased film. There are places to get your stuff developed via mail order, but I like being able to go into the store and BS with the staff.

It’s important to remember that older camera equipment will be janky somehow. It’s not going to be pristine and mint, I don’t care where you got it. It’s going to have leaks and wonk and that’s okay.

At least I’m okay with it, as long as I know about it.

So when I pulled the Hasselblad out of storage I picked up some color film, one roll for each of my two backs, and shot my way through them. I labeled both the backs and the corresponding film rolls so that I could see if there were issues specific to the back. I would also be able to tell if there were issues specific to the body, because they would show up in both rolls.

Remember how I said that Horn has great service? I asked them to mark the film so that I would know if it was roll A or B (and thus which back it came out of), and they did so in large sharpie so there was no way I would mistake which roll was which.

And now I know that back A jumps when I advance the film, but only sometimes, and when it does that little jump I’ll have an L shaped leak in the corner of the photo. 

I need to know that kind of detail for any equipment I use:

When I get a new lens I’ll do the same thing.

I'll do it if when I get the film loader.
And again when I get the 70mm back.

The point is that by spending some time getting to know your camera, ‘dating it’ if you will, you’ll know what your gear is going to get wrong, where the limits are of that specific piece of equipment, and what special little things you can get your camera to do that no one else knows about.



(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey camera camera equipment film film photography gear photography Tue, 07 Feb 2017 01:13:11 GMT
Gearing up . . .

It's Story Time.

Once upon a time my husband, Keith, did a favor for a friend.

That friend was going through a nasty divorce and didn’t have money, so he paid Keith in gear.

Some of it Keith kept, but some of it was more my speed than his; specifically a Hasselblad 500 c/m, with two backs and a lens. The friend threw in some expired film he didn’t plan on shooting, some black and white film and 12 boxes of bulk Portra film, 100 feet each. At the time I didn’t look too closely at the boxes, and assumed they were 120. What else could they be? I didn’t know of any other film that width.

But the time that Keith got all of this was rather, tumultuous; we were getting ready to move, I was going to school for my BA, and the place Keith was working at the time was in a similar state of upheaval. Assessing our new toys was just not in the immediate future.

We carefully packed the film and the camera, moved everything to the new house, and put it all somewhere safe.

(I’m sure you’ve figured out what happened next.

Answer: A whole lot of nothing.)

And then, in an attempt to declutter my life I decided to deep clean and organize all of the camera equipment and various photography paraphernalia that I've accumulated over the years. Which is when I rediscovered the boxes upon boxes of film.

And newly discovered that the color film was not 120 as I had expected but 1200 feet of expired Portra 70mm. An altogether different beast.

I was going through a lot emotionally when I discovered it; and there was no way I wasn’t going to shoot through all of that; but taking on this project meant cataloging everything and figuring out what I needed to make this happen.

I started with the most obvious, what did I actually have?

Well; I had a camera . . .

A Hasselblad - in need of a new ground glass, and perhaps a good cleaning

A 85mm Zeiss lens, good condition

And 2-120 backs, seem to be in good condition, should be tested for lightfastness before serious shooting beings.



The 120 backs were where I hit my first obvious snag, neither of those backs would fit 70mm film.

I’d need a back specifically for that film size.

Speaking of Film . . .

I had:

Plus-X 125 - 70 rolls, expired 2002, 120

Portra 160 - 12 100ft rolls, expired 2004, 70mm

That’s right, I had black and white too.

Which is awesome because one - I’m familiar with it, and two - the film was all stored together. So if the older, less protected Plus-X was okay, then the Portra would probably be okay as well!

Yes, there was much happy dancing.

That didn't solve the problem that I knew I had . . . how was I going to get the 70mm into the camera, and then how was I going to develop it once it was shot?

Development proved to be the easiest part of this mess: I did a lot of my own development before going to digital, and C-41 and Black and White use the same equipment for development, which I still had. Chemistry wouldn't be too hard to get either. Sure there would be some transport issues because of the ORM-D codes. But that was minimal when faced with how I would get the 70mm onto the camera.

See, aside from the new ground glass, I was going to need a Hasselblad specific 70mm back and a bulk film loader to get the 70mm off the reel and into the camera.

So I ran a little google search for both of those things, I found a bunch of 70mm backs on eBay, which was good. The bulk film loader not so much.


. . . I don't know what it is about that freaking 70mm bulk loader.


They’re not manufactured any more, but unlike most film camera gear that's not manufactured any more, information about it on the internet was limited at best.

Equipment sale/trade sites are awash in 35mm bulk loaders. But trying to find one for 70mm that’s for sale is damn near impossible.

The most recent records I could find for the damned thing had one up for sale in like 2003, and nothing for sale since then.


On the entire internet.

This left me with two options: modding or building.

Modding my own out of two 35mm rollers is an option, but it has been pointed out that Bakelite (the material these are made out of, it’s a really early plastic) is toxic and not at all good for someone (me) to breathe in . . .

Building my own could mean 3D printing it, OR using some gloves and a screwdriver and loading it by hand.

None of these sound like great options.


I’m going to sleep on it.


(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey film film photography photography Sun, 05 Feb 2017 19:58:52 GMT
First Steps  

I have, over the past year and a half, begun a return to film and film photography, and when I found myself having the same conversation with the same five people over and over I decided to start a blog. Mostly so that I could give those five people, but mostly my husband, a break.

When I began working in photography some 20 years ago film is all there was, and for the first ten years or so I worked almost exclusively in 35mm black and white. Then I went to college and learned about medium and large format, color and color slide film, and alternative processes.

Then came digital photography, and after some reluctance I dove into this new and different process. I invested in computer and camera systems with abandon, used the speed of digital photography to grow and develop as a photographer. But as I grew in the digital realm I felt something coming apart in the deep center of my artistic mind.

In an effort to move past this feeling I began to work on broadening my horizons of subject matter; and I picked up cosplay photography. This allowed me to experiment with other artists who were understanding of the process and craft. But no matter how much I created I never got past that feeling that pervasively wheedled its way into every image I looked at; that rotten, hollow, soulless feeling.

Desperate to get to the bottom of what was happening I pulled away from digital photography and from a lot of my friends and colleagues, and considered what I missed.

The answer came to me when I was cleaning the workroom; and I came across my Hasselblad. Carefully stored with a spare back and a couple rolls of expired Plus-X. The camera was missing its ground-glass, or ‘focusing screen’, and hadn’t been used in more than six years that I knew of . . . but these are well made cameras and I new with some investments I could get it up and running again.

Then came the real shock. As I continued to clean the workroom I found a box, and in that box were smaller boxes, some full of 120 black and white film rolls, but the rest were 12 boxes of 100ft rolls of 70mm color film, still in the canister, just waiting to be shot.
And I knew what my next project was going to be.

This creative and emotional abyss that had such an effect on me was going to eat it on 1200 feet (that’s almost a quarter of a mile) of 70mm film. If I could find all the stuff to get the film into the camera, shoot it, develop it, and then find a way to get the film to print form.
Clearly I have a lot to work out. Some of this has been more or less solved. I have found much of the gear I need to make this happen, but there is still lots of experimenting, mistakes, and discoveries to make.

Care to join me?

You’re more than welcome.

(Debshots Photography) 70mm Journey film film photography photography Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:59:08 GMT