As I was discussing in a previous post,in today's photography world, you really need to have a way to get your film images into a digital format. Yes, you can stay in the anolog format as was used for over 150 years--but by using film to capture your images, and then converting them to digital images, you really have the best of both worlds. You can then use your computer and numerous image manipulation software programs in order to maximize your control over the fimal image output.
There are essentially two ways to convert your images that you will be concerned with. Either, have your comercial lab scan them and return them to you on CD or other medium, or you can scan them yourself. Generally, a commercial lab is going to have a higher resolution capability for scanning, but you can do an amazingly good job with a proper flat-bed home scanner which can be purchased for a few hundred bucks. You'll want to scan the negatives or transparencies rather than prints in most cases. this will necessitate a scanner that has that capability built in aor as an option.
In order to process your own film or transparencies, you can even get by without a darkroom, altough a dark closet is helpful. You CAN get by merely using a so-called changing bag, or dark-bag. It's just that, a bag with elastic arm holes that close tightly around your wrists when they are inside the dark bag. There is usually a light-tight zipper that can be used to place film processing tanks and reels within the bag--effectively keeping it in the dark while loading the film onto the processing reels.
Black and white is easier to process than black and white, due to closer temperature control tolerances, and additional chemical steps involved for color. But both can be done easily enough, within certain perameters. You will definately need a good photographic thermometer. This is probably a good place to list what is required to process film and trnasparencies only.
- A dark changing bag.
- A photographic thermometer.
- One or more processing tanks. These can be either stanless steel or hard plastic.
- Reels of the size to fit the different size films you plan to process. These also come in stanless steel or hard plastic, and are matched to your processing tanks.
- A graduated measuringing container. I prefer glass, as it is easier to keep clean, but plastic will work. I like to have a two gallon size, a quart size, and pint size measuring containers, for mere convenience.
- At least Six dark-colored storage containers. The size depends on how often you will be processing film. I like to keep both gallon size, and quart size, and again glass is my preference. Plastic is acceptable and has its advantages too, such as being unbreakable and easier to handle.
- Running water, both hot and cold is almost essential, and a large sink is very desirable--but I have done without when necessary in the field. Along with the running water, both hot and cold, a rubber hose faucet attachment is also helpful in directing the water flow to rinse processed films, mix chmicals etc.
- Then you will need chemicals. I recommend that you initially buy the small kits of given quantity sizes of dry chemicals, liquid concentrates or both. These will ensure that you have all the ingredients that you need. Make sure that the kit is compatible to the types of film or transparencies that you will be processing.
- A Dust Free place to make a short "clothes-line" of wire where you will hang your finished film to dry.
- I highly recommend that you purchase any current Photographic Darkroom Guide or Reference Book. There are also numerous online sources to help you.
My intent is to merely give you an idea of what is necessary, so that you can determine whether or not you want to go this route or to simply rely on a commerical lab.
If you process your own film or trnasparencies and then scan them for further use, you can skip the most involved darkroom procedures required for printing and enlarging. But for many reasons, both hobbyists and professionals are choosing to have the enlarging and printing capable darkroon too.
I will next wite about what is required to take the next step and enlarge and print your own photographs using the traditional silver halide process. I have spent countless hours in the darkroom streching the limits of the photographic process. I consider myself an expert on the topic. However, there are sufficient sources for me not to be inclined to duplicate these efforts. I will tell you, that in spit eof the digital options for producing hyour images today, I believe that you will find a great deal of satisfaction in having a properly equipped darkroon--if only to do black and shite images, as good black and shite processing is getting much harder to find.
Aside from these esoteric needs, you can certainly get by with just processing your film and then trnasferring them to the digital process by either scanning, having them scanned, and then having them output on your own printer of your choid=ce and quality needs. It is entirely feasible to output a few prints on a common color ink-jet printer, but it is not particularly economical, nor is it very fast.
Many drugstores and discount stores have self-serve photographic printers that are both fast and of reasonably good quality. You simply take your images on disk or other media an d print them on the spot.
To be continued