I did this project in 2014 and found my skills and quality of work improved throughout the project. This past year I have focused on learning the wet printing process, with a few alternative print making processes (cyanotype, ziatype, lith) thrown in. But my shooting was not as frequent and as a result, my printable frames seemed to drop.
So I thought I would challenge myself with this project and combine the two. First, I’ll concentrate on medium format using some of my favorite cameras, but which take a bit more tinkering with since few of them have working light meters. This tends to make me slow down and look for the best composition or lighting. Also the limited frames restricts me even more. The result is more printable frames per roll. Second I want to make at least one print per roll along with a contact sheet showing all the shots. Finally I’ll restrict myself to black and white negative film.
A little about myself: I live in Connecticut, USA, and have only been on this photographic journey since 2013. Well at least seriously. There is still so much to learn. My subjects tend to be nature, architecture, automotive (usually car shows or races), and occasionally studio portraits. I’d like to do a few more projects with studio portraiture this upcoming year, as well as studio stills using various light setups. By day I develop software. At night I am usually listening to vinyl records or going to local concerts. Unfortunately none of my planned cameras do well in those lighting conditions.
My current stable (might change during the year).
Fujica GW690 also known as the ‘Texas Leica’. Big, bulky beastie but it weighs about the same as my Canon EOS 3. Only 8 shots per roll, so you better make them count, but man when you pull those negatives out of the tank, the results are almost always excellent. I prefer carrying this for landscapes rather than my 5×7 field camera. Only downside IMO is the bizarre ‘sproing’ noise from the frame counter.
Yashica Mat-124G my first serious camera. I love the tessar lens and find it to be fun to shoot for impromptu portraits and general event shooting since most people who see it are not intimidated and usually are more curious about it. I recall one teen at a Fife and Drum muster seeing it and running over to ask me (with wide eyes) “What. Is that?”. Super silent leaf shutter and flash synch at all speeds are other pluses, twelve shots per roll.
Fuji GA645zi a more recent acquisition, I haven’t run many rolls through it, and I am not 100% sure I love the format, but the results are pretty darn good. It is a little more like a point-n-shoot than the others, in that it will auto-focus, though you can manually focus by estimating distance (which is not one of my strengths). It also has a working light meter. Sixteen shots per roll.
Vermeer 6×6 Pinhole I enjoy pinholes, I just haven’t shot this little guy enough. Twelve shots per roll, and you better have a tripod.
For the printing part, this will be the more ambitious aspect of the project since I don’t have a dedicated darkroom. But I do have a community darkroom with a great group of artists. My challenge is to make a contact print of all the frames on a roll, then pick at least one to print. Because I likely won’t be able to get the darkroom every week, I’ll probably have to do a few rolls during a printing session. One printing process I have fallen in love with is Lith Printing, and I hope to do a number of final prints as both a lith print and as a silver-gelatin print. During the summer, I will probably do a few of the alternative processes like Ziatype and Cyanotype. Those I will likely do a hybrid workflow, scanning in the negative, adjusting the curve and then printing out a digital negative for the contact print. Ziatype seems to enjoy humidity and the summers here are humid.
Because I will be doing more typical wet-printing, I will shoot on B&W film exclusively. I thought about restricting it to either a single emulsion or a range (say, all Ilford Delta), but I think the above will be challenging enough. I do my own developing and rotate between Perceptol, Rodinal, Ilfosol 3, and Ilfotec DD-X. I’ll probably experiment with other developers. For printing I use Dektol for silver-gelatin, and Moersch SE5 Lith. I’ll probably do some experimenting with selenium and gold toning.