Adox Coats Paper With Silver

Lina Bessonova takes us on a tour of the Adox coating plant.

This is how the sausage is made; do not avert your eyes.

Film: Check. No Negatives: Check.

I found a stash of older 35mm color negative film in a box above the basement stair–a dozen rolls, mas o menos, some a little past the expiration date but not by much. I shot some of it around town and finished off the last few rolls in–yes, you guessed it–Buenos Aires. Took ’em all to the pharmacy. A week or so later I picked up prints and A CD–NO NEGATIVES! This may not be recent news, but it came as a shock to me. I suppose most folks never look at their negatives again once the prints are made, and the “free CD” more than compensates for the missing film.

PSA: Many Film Processing Services No Longer Return Your Original Film

Despite and still, here is a link to films in current manufacture (possibly [likely] incomplete:

We still don’t know what happens to the processed film. All the more reason to DIY.

Who’s Making Film In 2020?

Lots of folks! Likely, this list is incomplete (there must be others in China and India); even the statement that Fuji and Kodak are the only manufacturers of color film seems to be suspect. Despite and still, what an array, eh?

Al Fresco Exhibit at a Football Club

Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires hosted an international cultural event in early December comprising more than 50 cyanotypes from workers in South and North America (and a few points beyond). The list of participants was so inclusive that chances are you know someone who exhibited.

XTOL, Who ARE You?

Eastman Kodak’s ultimate film developer was formulated in 1996 by Sylvia Zawadzki and Dick Dickerson. “Ultimate” in the sense of not penultimate: it was meant to be universal for all manufacturers’ films–Kodak even published processing information for other companies’ films, at a variety of exposure indices and working dilutions–and self-replenishing.

The Barrington Huge School dilution was a minor miracle: 1:1, diluted 1:1 for use (effectively 1:3) also was a hedge against underexposure, and it never failed in an open container.

Small packages of the powder (to make one quart/liter) proved not to be practical, supposedly due to a difficulty in consistent mixing. There was also “sudden death syndrome,” wherein the developer died without warning. Now, lumps occur in bag A, perhaps from air getting into the bag, resulting in the same fate.

Think about Eastman’s difficult past: Fred Sommer’s 8×10 film with uneven emulsion; the huge Henry Wilhelm Ektacolor class action suit, and TX 120 recent paper backing fiasco. When quality control goes awry, it does so bigly with Kodak.

But this kind of unreliability doesn’t happen with Pyro, or FX- (add your own number here), or Harvey’s 777, or Rodinal(-type) developers. Now there are alternatives: Fomadon Excel, EcoPro, and even Mytol. In our lifetime narrative arcs of buying and ruining film, most of us need no enabling.

Acros returns, kids! There *is* a Santa Claus!

Read the fine print.

Film Status

(I prepped this post pre-sabbatical, two years ago; forgive me for losing the source of the quote–although I suspect it’s Araki-san. Also, kindly note that, being fourth declension, the plural of “status” is “status.”)

“Photography needs to be sentimental. That dry brightness that digital cameras create, that’s not sentimental at all. Colors created with the three primary colors have a very simple impact, but there’s a melancholy at the same time. Colors don’t turn out the way you want them to be, that’s what so good about them.

“Perfect colors are not to be researched like that… To be extreme, you look at black and say, it’s red. That’s art. Creating ripples among people is what art does and its the density of art, but before that, you have to feel the ripple in yourself.

“It’s not exciting because there are stupid guys who ignore that, trying to figure out how to create real colors. They say, ‘If you use this digital camera, you can take a clear picture in the dark’. The dark should stay dark. You can’t really see that much, and you don’t really want to see that much anyway.

“Humidity and darkness are very important elements in photography, so you have to be careful with digital cameras because they sort of kill those elements, I say. I, too, use them, sort of recording things in everyday life for fun, though.”

Synaesthesially speaking, this is not so different from vinyl records versus compact disk recordings.

Yikes! Fred Sommer was right!

Caveat emptor: not unlike the uneven emulsion on sheet film which made Frederick Sommer exclude open skies from hie compositions in the 1940s, there is a current problem with 120 roll film. It’s too late for those os us who stock up in advance, but check emulsion numbers before buying for a while. Once again (to quote Mr. Stieglitz), a word to the wise is sufficient.


Mr. Gitz Speculates

“The future, Mr. Gitz!”


The Next Revolution in Photography Is Coming

What is 21st Century Photography?

John Pfahl



“At that time there was a lot of conceptual art around which was documented by photographic means, but generally without any formal or even photographic interest. Nothing was there but the idea, and it was preferably shown in its most minimal form — as a poorly lighted, exposed, and printed black and white photo. You could not get lost in the print itself; you were always confronted with the idea.



“I always felt that one of the basic beauties of the medium of photography was that there could be many levels of interpretation; a certain richness of multiple meanings. That is where I veered away from conceptual art. My photographs exist completely as photographs, with all the complexity intact, not merely as illustrations of literal concepts. I like to consider them more as formal experiments dealing with the properties, history, and aesthetics of photography and concept of illusion, beauty, and landscape.”