Looking for even more inspiration than you’ll possibly find here at Bathroom Darkroom? There are resources online that boggle the mind. With information and inspiration like this at our fingertips, this Internet thing might take off after all. Here are some that I’ve found helpful during my journey back into film; some new and some decades old.
Step 1. Tune in to the Film Photography Podcast hosted by Michael Raso! Whether you’re getting into – or back into – film, whether large format, medium format, 35mm, instant, pinhole, subminiature or whatever, you’ll be sucked into the 90+ back episodes and the Film Photography Project site. Michael’s co-hosts and guests include
- Photographer Mat Marrash of recent large format and x-ray film fame
- Cinematographer and musician John Fedele (The Smoove Sailors and The Pink Delicates)
- Photographer, photo historian and databank (analog data, of course), custom wet printer and photo artisan Leslie “Lens Baby” Lazenby of Imagine That! in lovely downtown Findlay, Ohio
- and a Super Positive cast of other characters
The FPP is all about keeping the fun in making images on film. I found out about the Project (Arlo might call it a movement) last year, coincidentally enough, either just before or just after I started building our bathroom darkroom. I listened to a lot of the backlog while building vacuum easel, dry side surface, wet rack and film slitters, and developing and printing our first work.
Inside Analog Photo Radio is another podcast, once hosted by Scott Sheppard but sadly no longer in production, that features interviews with the people who shaped modern film photography. Scott interviews film industry legends like Ron Mowrey and Robert Shanebrook, formerly of Kodak during film’s heyday, and others instrumental in bringing analog photography to its highly refined state that digital photographers are busy trying to emulate.
Curious about the history of our craft? Though nowhere near as irreverent as the gang at the FPP, Jeff Curto’s archive of his History of Photography college course is a must-listen. Jeff is Professor of photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and takes listeners through major events and people that invented and shaped our ability to record light on film – way before there was film. Jeff has also improved his sound quality a lot from the class series I listened to last year.
Lots of experts hang out in the Analog Photography User Group (APUG) forum. Here you’ll find ideas and help with everything from forcing your Instamatic to eat 35mm film to salvaging 70’s Tri-X from the fog monster to staining developers, scanners and stand development. Former Eastman Kodak great Ron Mowrey, who invented – and still invents – a lot of the chemistry we use today, is a contributor. You’ll even notice that a lot of your web searches will wind up at an APUG thread, so spend a few bucks and join APUG to keep it on the air.
The Large Format Photography Forum is like APUG for people who have to haul their gear around in large, heavy cases.
SubClub.org is like the Large Format Photography Forum for people who may never shoot as much film surface area in their tiny cameras in their lives as some LF people do in one exposure. They have more information than you thought existed on subminiature Minox, Minolta 16 and other pockets of submin enthusiasm. They discuss all things related to tiny 8×11, 16mm, 110 and other less-than-35mm photography, like collecting the cameras, slitting film and enlarging those tiny negatives.
Head to Flickr to see the results people get with different film, developers, scanning and printing techniques. There are groups for most every imaginable film photography discipline, and you can start a group yourself if you don’t find what you’re after. The FPP has a group that gets great film images posted to it. Looking for results people get with Eastman 5222 movie film or the European (?) Ploypan F (one of our fun film mysteries)? Look them up on Flickr for scads of images. What happens when you develop Green Latitude x-ray film in Obsidian Aqua? Flickr. Visit the I Shoot Film group, join and enter a film image in the monthly contest.
Looking for places to make purchase of your gear and supplies? Start here:
- Freestyle Photo for a large selection of everything from film to paper to developers to tanks, trays and all the darkroom goodies you’ll need
- The Film Photography Project Store (simply the FPP Store for those in the know) for film at or below the big retailers’ prices, esoteric film the majors can’t supply, tested used gear including instant cameras, Impossible Project film and the legendary FPP Plastic Fantastic Debonair 120 camera
- B&H for film and developer, plus new enlargers if you want to go the new route. They also carry Photographer’s Formulary product, but won’t ship some of it.
- KEH Camera for a vast collection of very well described used gear at very reasonable prices. They guarantee that it will work. They’re a real company in Georgia with a real telephone number and real people who have answered my questions about gear before I made purchase, multiple times at prices below what I saw on the auction site.
- Photographer’s Formulary for an incredible range of modern and historic chemistry, newly crafted chemistry that improves on what even Kodak delivered, raw materials and replacements for discontinued formulae like Technidol and others. Some of their products are also available at Freestyle and B&H, often with much better shipping rates. Try their BW-65 paper developer.
- Artcraft Chemicals for the raw materials to concoct your own developers, plus a new line of Inkpress enlarging paper
- Digital Truth Photo for film, paper, chemistry, plastic cameras and the very handy Massive Development Chart with most film/developer combinations known to mankind
- So you heard about some crazies developing film in Coffee??? Read and see all about it at the Caffenol site. It smells pretty rough, but some folks are getting nice negs from it. Be sure to follow all of the mixing directions, including letting it stand for a while to blend.
- The Darkroom for film developing and enlargements in case you don’t want to give up your bathroom
- Dwayne’s Photo for film developing, enlargements and a really terrific commemorative Kodachrome T-Shirt. Don’t be the last one on your block to have it.
- Film Rescue for salvaging that 1951 Panatomic-X you found in Granddad’s Hawkeye. Ran across a roll of Kodachrome that might be those lost ’77 senior prom shots Mom took before you left the house with your date, did you? Dwayne’s processed the very last roll of Kodachrome in 2010 (the process is gone forever – no hope of resuscitation), but Film Rescue says they have a good track record coaxing black and white images out of it. You’ll have to remember the powder blue of your tux, but you can at least see how stupid your hair looked.
- DAG Camera to repair that Minox you bought because you can finally afford a used version of that cool spy camera you always wanted when you were a kid. I’ve used Don – he’s the real deal.
- Monoprice.com has absolutely nothing to do with film photography, but I enjoy buying cables, adapters and networking stuff from the so much that I had to list them here. $50-60 for a 9′ Monster HDMI cable or $8 for a 10′ Cat6 cable at the big box stores? I don’t think so, Tim. Not when Monoprice has active, skinny, high-speed 6, 10 and 15′ HDMI cables for less than $18, and 10′ Cat6 patch cords for just over $2! I noticed that the chain with the yellow price tag logo is now selling some of Monoprice’s cables, under the Monoprice name no less, but for a hefty markup. Good on ’em for finally starting to represent their main competitor’s product. Go straight to Monoprice for the best deals. I’ve used their cables for years and, with the exception of their early failed attempts at $2 iPhone cables and their cheaper line of adapters, have been thrilled with their quality and customer service.
- Check the Bay for all manner of used gear and old film. You’ll not be able to find this collection in a year’s worth of estate sale travels, so be patient and you’ll find what you’re after. Looking for your own roll of 1951 Pan-X? Try the Bay. Buy at your own risk; I’ve only been burned a few times but knew the risks going in. I’ve found sellers pretty willing to make good on any badness that wasn’t disclosed in their listing. Plus, you’ll find that you meet some great people just like yourself as you ask them questions about whatever it is they’re offering for sale.
You’ll unearth many more resources as you traipse around the web looking at these few I’ve listed. There’s a growing library of great stuff out there; your only challenge will be deciding what you want to explore first.