Feb 22, 2011


So, when I was in high school, I shot 400 ASA Tri-X, from Kodak. Standard stuff, pretty much every school in the world uses this stuff--bought it in hundred foot rolls, and spooled our own into reusable film canisters. Lots of fun.

then, in the darkroom, I printed on 800 speed paper, as I recall. Position the negative in the enlarger, turn on the light, adjust the height of the enlarger to make the picture bigger or smaller, focus, test the exposure, drop it in the chemicals and watch the magic happen. Even more fun.

Well, these numbers, 400 ASA, 800 ISO, refer to the reactivity of the film/paper to light. The film and paper had silver nitrate slathered on them in certain amounts--little pieces of silver that react to the light shined on them through the lens. Little grains. Or not so little. The faster the speed, the higher number, the larger the pieces of silver--the larger the grains. So, fast film is really grainy. 400 was your average go to for sunny days, and bright interiors. Get much faster--800, 1600, 3200--and the grains become really noticeable, and detail is lost from the pictures. In fact, grainy may describe something that is raw and real and unfinished and beautiful because of it. That term comes from film.

But, that the way it was when you needed to make pictures in the dark or with fast shutter speeds. You just used the high speed film and knew that it had certain caveats. It was part of the medium, and we liked it. So, harkening back to those days, I've created this image. M. is a regular around here, and is always a treat in front of the camera. Her eyes are always a focal point, and she emits moodiness in front of the lens. To accentuate the fell of the picture, to give it some real texture to accentuate the look in M's eyes, I added grain to this picture and made it noticeable. It's like, a lot more than Tri-X ever was; maybe more like 800 speed--maybe some Fuji Neopan Pro 1600. Yeah.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 200mm, f/3.5, 1/500s, ISO 640.

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