Slowly getting settled with film / by Karthik Rajagopal

It was about 7 months back that I started my tryst with shooting photographs in film after giving a gap of a decade. The first two rolls I shot were B&W in a wedding and it was great experience for me.

Later I shot a roll of film in Kodak Portra 400 and it turned out to be a bad experience. The local lab in Chennai where I gave the film to get developed did a shoddy job in both development and handling. Apart from dust there was a lot of chemical residue left on the film which spoilt the pictures I shot.

 The white patches are the chemical residue.  Film: Kodak Portra 400 Camera: Pentax ME Super Lens: SMC 50 mm f/1.4

The white patches are the chemical residue.

Film: Kodak Portra 400 Camera: Pentax ME Super Lens: SMC 50 mm f/1.4

Parallely I did shoot a roll of Kodak TMax 400 on my Pentax K1000. There were a few times I missed my focus with this camera as this doesn’t have a split prism focus aid. Instead the K1000 uses micro prisms which are sometimes difficult to use both in bright direct sunlight and in low light conditions.

 I missed focus on Anbu’s eyes.

I missed focus on Anbu’s eyes.

This time I gave my film to be developed with “The Analog Geek” Mr. Thasin Jeelani. While I preferred to have this film developed with Kodak TMax or D76 as the developer, Thasin told me that he only had the Illford DDX in stock. I agreed to go ahead with Illford developer. Soon after a bad experience my hopes on using film was going down. This is when I saw some lovely pictures come out. This gives enough motivation to pursue with film.

  Archana Aarthi  - Fashion Stylist & Designer  Film: Kodak TMax 400 Camera: Pentax K1000 Lens: SMC 135mm f/2.8

Archana Aarthi - Fashion Stylist & Designer

Film: Kodak TMax 400 Camera: Pentax K1000 Lens: SMC 135mm f/2.8

Developing Details:

Developer : Ilford DDX 1+4 for 8 minutes @ 20℃

Others: Ilford Rapid Fixer & Ilfotol Wetting Agent

 View of Western Ghats from Sathyamangalam  Film: Kodak TMax 400 Camera: Pentax K1000 Lens: SMC 28 mm f/2.8

View of Western Ghats from Sathyamangalam

Film: Kodak TMax 400 Camera: Pentax K1000 Lens: SMC 28 mm f/2.8

Thasin scanned the film on Epson V600 and sent these files to me over google drive. Even while I was on travel, it was great joy to see these images on my mobile. I vouch for him on developing and processing 35mm B&W film rolls and scanning with a flatbed scanner. When it comes to scanning I felt the contrast could have been a little lower. I still love these images. sharing some of the images below.

While I am in way settled with finding developing and scanning solution for my 35 mm B&W films, I am yet to find a good developer for colour films in Chennai. I hope services for photographers using film as the medium with proliferate in future. With Illford officially distributing film in Chennai via Shrishti and Kodak on its way, I feel we ‘ll soon have a set of good service providers for analog photographers in Chennai.

While I a will continue to shoot 35 mm for posting pictures in social media, I am eagerly looking for a wedding assignment that I can completely document in film. I am also planning to shoot portraits in medium format analog cameras. Please leave your suggestion in the comments sections below. It really helps me.

 View of Bhavani from Othimalai. I thank Anbu for taking me here.  Film: Kodak Portra 400 Camera: Pentax ME Super Lens: SMC 28 mm f/1.4

View of Bhavani from Othimalai. I thank Anbu for taking me here.

Film: Kodak Portra 400 Camera: Pentax ME Super Lens: SMC 28 mm f/1.4

I thank my friends Archana, PV, Maddy, Deepa, Anbu, Arul Mozhi, Thasin & Nara for helping me with advise, equipment, processing and most importantly posing for me :) I will be posting my pictures regularly from now at the following instagram feeds:

Personal Photo Feed & My Portraiture Feed

Note: If you are new to films and want to rent analog cameras, you can do that at www.kitkarma.com