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Archive for May, 2013

It Makes Sense to Bulk Load 135 Film

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

In the only shop left in Hobart where I can buy Ilford film the prices are steep. I’d pay AUD$10.50 for a 24 frame roll of Ilford Delta 100 and my selection choice would be between Pan F 50, Delta 100, FP4 124 and HP5 400. I could probably buy Tri-X 400 at a Kodak store in the city centre but it would be as expensive. So, instead of paying through clenched teeth, I bulk load my film.

If you haven’t been introduced to this way of purchasing film there is nothing mystical or esoteric about it. You only need a bulk loader and a 100 foot roll of film with a few canisters to pre-load that film into. And you’ll need a darkroom bag to fill the bulk loader – or a pitch black room. The savings can be substantial.

I now have four bulk loaders kept in a refrigerator – two were sub-$10 purchases from online groups and I found another two locally (for free). Each is loaded with one of the following films – Ilford Pan F 50, Delta 100 and FP4 125 and the last one has a fresh roll of Kodak Tri-X 400.

A roll of film can cost as low as $30 (sourced online) or as high as $100 (sourced locally). My suppliers of choice at the moment are B&H because they’re fast, competitive and have a good range for selection. A recent order cost just under $190 (including the $38 shipping fee) and it took from Thursday night to Tuesday morning to travel all the way from the United States to my suburban doorstep in Tasmania. That’s a globalisation WOW.

For that money I got 100 feet of Delta 100, 100 feet of Tri-X 400, a five pack of 120 rolls of Tri-X 400 and four plastic reloadable film canisters. That’s not bad considering I’ll fill close to 30 rolls of 24 frames for between $55 and $70 plus shipping. Let’s call it less than $3 per roll of film compared to $10.50.

Or think of it this way – that’s 25-30 rolls for the price I’d have paid for 5-7 rolls in a local shop.

OK so in certain parts of the World film can be so cheap that bulk loading isn’t really worth bothering with anymore. And that’s why we can find the bulk loaders all over eBay for next to nothing. But here in the antipodes bulk loading 135 film can still add up to the saving of a small fortune.

And, of course, it means you can think about 35mm film stocks intended for movies. Or out of date rolls on eBay.

If you’re not confident just go onto YouTube and look at some short videos on how to bulk load film so you know what to do inside your darkroom bag. That’s all there is to it. Once bulk loaded, you can fill those convenient reloadable film canisters in front of the television.

Master Photographers Series – BBC 1983

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

The intention has always been to post links to video resources profiling photographers and photography history on this website. Therefore, consider this the first in a long series of documentary lists. I should prepare you though; most modern documentaries are unlikely to get a major showing here because I’m more interested in an era of film. I’m interested in photography masters. In a process of doing things and seeing things. And in the chemicalia.

There is probably no better place to start sharing these documentaries – and there are many of them available – than the classic 1983 BBC six part series titled Master Photographers.

  1. Master Photographer Jaques-Henri Lartique (1894-1986) – 35 mins
  2. Master Photographer Andre Kertesz (1894-1985) – 31 mins
  3. Master Photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) – 35 mins
  4. Master Photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) – 34 mins
  5. Master Photographer Andreas Feininger (1906-1999) – 35 mins
  6. Master Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) – 34 mins

As a quick note I’d like to dispel a certain myth: that exposure to chemicals killed film photographers young. Look at their ages. I wouldn’t take it as a given that shooting film will cut you down in your prime. Give film a chance.

So if you haven’t seen this BBC series I hope you can find 3 hours to invest. I’ll be posting more of this type of linkage here in the next few months, if only so I can find them all again in some sort of organised record.

The amount and quality of documentaries available for free online continually astounds me. In comparison to earlier photographers we’re absolutely privileged.

Sharing 1 Year Old Dark Cyser

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

There is a single 700ml bottle of dark cyser sitting in a box under one of the office desks. It’s a swanky looking flint glass bottle with a big fat cork that was lovingly sandpapered to fit. The liquid inside is almost black after a year (and it continues to darken); a dark cyser right at that perfect mid-range sweetness where you might be reminded of Christmas.

One thing I really like about experiencing this beverage is the dramatic change between the initial taste and the follow through. There’s no hint of alcohol when you put it to your lips. The first phase is a pleasant apple, the second is Christmas, and only in the third phase there comes a slow alcohol awareness that stealthily moves forward leaving a warmed stomach what seems like a solid twenty-to-thirty seconds later. That, my friends, is a drink to experience.

The 700ml bottle currently has around 650ml of dark cyser remaining. It’s the go-to bottle whenever I want to share with friends, family and visitors what mead can be.

There’s mead… and there’s a magic fusion of complex flavours that rolls over your tongue as a perfectly smooth after-dinner drink. This one has an ABV of around 14 per cent. After a year it has a sediment from the cinnamon. But don’t for a second mistake a metheglin’s spice residue for lack of class.

Like all the best vintages this dark cyser unfortunately dispersed among family and friends el rapido. We’re small batch non-commercial, so the concept of consuming our product to extinction is right there in our DNA. Letting mead age is one of our most challenging tasks and why we’re trying not to push it out there before maturity.

Thirsty lips sink vintage ships!

So this one bottle is all we have left to share at the moment. Tiny tastes for special moments. I love how this mead has dramatically changed over time – the sweetness has backed-off, the apple has receded then slowly come forward and the cinnamon almost maintains a separate high note.

Once again I can only say thank you to the bees.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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