Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Twenty Years Since (2)

In my post, Twenty Years Since, I wrote about my first experiences developing black and white film while on a foundation course in art and design in 1993. Subsequently, as part of my degree course, I had another introduction to black and white photography in February 1995. This time we were given one roll of film per student, rather than having to share. I shot my film with the Praktica BCA which I had bought to replace the BC1 which had been my first SLR camera. The day before the photography introduction I'd bought a 28mm lens (originally £40, and, although secondhand, I asked for a student discount and was given 10% off the price - as a point of comparison I was paying £39 a week rent on my room in the student hostel at the time); and I had also found a book in the local library in which had a page on push-processing. This was a technique that I had not previously used, but wanted to try because I had heard that the film we were to be given for the introduction was 100 ISO, which I thought would be too limiting to use in February: the film we were given was Jessops 200 (which may have actually been Efke R100, according to this thread here) and in the event I shot most of the film using a tripod and with the camera's self timer. I rated the film at 800, which I recall produced a bit of a sharp intake of breath from the photography tutor, who suggested a time twice as long as indicated for box speed, and in neat ID11 (rather than 1:1). I developed the film for 18 minutes at 22ºC, having heated the developer above 20ºC, and was too impatient to either wait for it to cool, or stand it in cold water to speed its cooling.

Original contact sheet
The prints that I produced were a series of self portraits in a semi-fictional day-in-the-life. At the start of the introduction, we had been given a slide show, which was mostly about artists using photography rather than photographers, if such a distinction is still meaningful. One of those was Cindy Sherman, which may have influenced my choice of subject matter. I had also made my own negative carrier specifically to allow the film rebate to be shown. This comes across as something of an affectation now, looking back at the prints from the distance of twenty years. At the time I was interested in artists' books as a form, and I made a cover to contain six prints of the images from the introduction. This also had a cover page to which I had given the title 'How Is The Author?' This came from an abbreviation of a Richard Pettibone piece which had appeared on one of our history of art slide lists as 'How Is The Author'.

Retrospectively, the images featured in the first post Twenty Years Since have aged better: as the first photographs that I was developing myself, with my first SLR camera, not uncommonly, I was concerned with formal qualities in most of the photographs, or, with the photographs of the route of the M11 Link Road, the documentary concerns have increased in interest with time. By comparison, the photographs from my second black and white photography introduction do have the feel of juvenilia to them.

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