High contrast snow scenes

First posted 6 Feb 2009

I had an idea today to put Ortho film in one of the cameras, shoot some graphic contrasty snow scenes, over process the film and get a really high contrast result. This I hoped, would print as black and white with no mid tones.

I had a roll of 35mm Ortho film which I’d been saving for something and this seemed like a good cause. I went out with an old Nikkormat and a 20mm lens and ran the roll of 25 ISO film through. Later I loaded the tank and gave it one minute in fresh Ilford Multigrade developer at 1-9 dilution @20ºC.

The agitation was constant for the first 20 seconds, then I let it sit for 20 more. This was followed by ten seconds of agitation and ten seconds still.

You have to be quite fast at getting the developer out and the stop bath in, so I pour out into a print tray for speed (the developer can be used again).

Stop bath was as normal and then fix by inspection; This means that I start the timer as I pour in the fix, agitate fairly vigorously for one minute then inspect the film. I know it won’t be done yet, but I pop it back in, giving another thirty seconds of agitation then inspect again. I keep giving 30 sec / check – 30 sec / check again until the milkiness has cleared from the film (with some films it is as little as one and a half minutes, others up to 5 minutes). I then look at the clock to see how long this has taken. I give the film the same amount of time again with only occasional bursts of agitation. This ensures that the film has received the proper amount of time in the fix for that particular emulsion.

The Ortho film turned out just right, -that is to say, just right for images with normal tonality, not as contrasty as I had seen in my head, but a further 30 seconds of development with the next film will do the trick. I have one more roll of 35 mm and one roll of 120, so if the snow is still looking photogenic, I may go out tomorrow.

Ortho snow scene

I have quite a bit of writing to do this week for magazine articles I have promised and around 15 prints at 16×12 inches for Ilford. The prints are all from different negatives and each is on a different paper, so it isn’t straightforward.

They are to show the range of Kentmere papers at ‘Focus on Imaging’ at the N.E.C. in Birmingham (in the UK).

I am also booked to give a talk there to a number of photo educators from around the UK on the future of Analogue photography in education, so I need to take some time out to write a piece for that.

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