7 Free Tips to Better B&W Film Photography. Tip#7.


Tip#7- Go ahead….Make your Print.

•Pick out your best negative
•Do test strips as before..(Tips#2-6).
Find the strip with good density and good contrast- you’ll spot it- that’s the one you want!
•Now- you can refine and play with the print…burn in and dodge wherever your eye thinks it is needed!
•Make as many prints as you want…you will have fun comparing them – and then’THE ONE’ jumps out at you!
•You got it- a beautiful print!

This is another free tip- On enlargers you have a condenser head and others have a cold light head. I use the cold light head,the illumination is far better than on the condenser head – put it this way- Cold light head=Sirius Radio sound quality.
         Condenser head=AM Radio sound quality.

So there ya’ go! I’ll be sending you some more tips from time to time! I hope this helped and you enjoyed it!

Best of Luck!

Any questions or comments are welcomed.
Love to hear from you!

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7 Tips to Better B&W Film Photography. Tip#6.


Tip #6- Don’t waste your time correcting a proof…:-)

•You can drive yourself coo- coo if you try to!

An overexposed negative- – pull it out of the developer 39 seconds sooner?? Ooops- no- no good — maybe a minute sooner-Yikes!

Print a yucky negative  …you will be trying to save it by dodging (less exposure in certain areas of the print) or by burning it ( more exposure to certain areas of the print) till the cows come home and you will be hearing the cow bells ringing in your ears….with every new fix it print :-D!
A yucky negative is a yucky negative and it will produce a yucky print- save your sanity -Test!
(SeeTip #5)

Tip#7- Go ahead….Make your print!

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7 Tips to Better B&W Film Photography. (From an old school photojournalist.) Tip# 5.


Tip#5- What about the proof?……Say Whhaaat?

I remember my ‘old pal photog.’ Say,” Don’t  mess around with the dodgin’ and the burnin’- ya don’t gots the time- do it this way and play later!”

•Place ant negative ( what ever size you’ll be printing) in the enlarger.Set it for an 11×14 print and focus it. Now, mark that location on the enlarger – so you can find it again.
•Take out the negative – put back the negative carrier – place your contact frame or your piece of 11×14 glass in the center of the light that is cast down on the easel.
•Stop set at f-8.Turn enlarger off, set timer to 3 seconds(lights are off except for safe light) place your paper face up(shiney side up) on the open proofer.Lay the strip(s) of unexposed* (but developed and fixed) the dull side down (emulsion side) on the paper. Close or cover with the glass – give 3 second exposure.
  *If you shot Tri-X – use unexposed Tri-X for the test.
•Cover right side of the film about an inch with cardboard Give 3 second exposure.Continue to move an inch- give 3 second exposure until you reach the end of your film.
• Develop,stop,fix your paper.
•You’ll see gradations of light gray to jet black across the strips of film.
•Pick out the 1st. One to match the next one in blackness.(like tests before- Min.exposure to produce Max. black.)
• For your 1st. black strip- if time is under 9 seconds – close down 1 stop- retest.
•If it’s over 24 seconds – open  1 stop – retest.
• Fix,wash and dry.Find the first black strip again.
• Keep careful detailed notes safely somewhere…:-).
• Now, make your actual proof and use the correct exposure settings that you have written in your notes.

Tip # 6 Don’ t waste your time correcting a proof! !

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7 Free Tips to Better B&W Photography. Tip#4

Tip#4-A little about film and developing.

I use Tri-X film and Kodack Hc110 developer.Both are getting to be rare, highly elusive and much sought after Retro Relics!

•Choose a room that you can make completely dark.
•Or, you could use a light proof changing bag.With this you would put the film and developing tank in the bag.Open the film and insert it into the developing tank.
•It is a good idea to practice with a ‘throw away’ roll of film in the daylight.You can see and get the feel of loading the reel.
•Stainless steel tanks are best. You can get a gadget called a film loader- it snaps on the reel,cups the film and it guides it into the spirals of the reel.
•I always pre soak the film in plain water-68°,  it helps to give even development and removes any dust that may be in the tank or in the spirals. Agitate tank..tap it a few times- then pour the water out.
•Follow manufacturers directions for your chemicals.
•Add developer…time it..drain.
•Add stop bath..agitate about a minute…drain.
•Add fixer …agitate about 20 sec…left and right inversions…about 5 minutes…pour fixer back in it’s bottle.
•You can now take the cover off the developing tank!
•Next ..wash in 68° water…let it flow in and out the tank.
• Remove film from spool..hang it on a clip.
Gently wipe the film from top to bottom with Photo Flo.
•Leave it to dry overnight.

• Next we will do a strip print test..wooo-hooo!
• Set your enlarger for an 8×10 print.
•Put negative in the enlarger. Set enlarger to F/8 or F/11 and the timer to 3 seconds.
•Place your print paper on the easel..give 3 sec. exposure.
•Cover about an inch..starting at the right side of the paper..use an 8 x 10 cardboard or paper.
•Expose 3 sec. again.
• Move the cardboard over another inch and give 3 sec. exposure.
•Repeat this until the end of the paper.Try for 8 to 10 strips. Each will be 3 seconds more than the preceding strip.
•Develop for 2 minutes, stop and fix. Fix for about 30 seconds …then turn on the white lights…look for the 1st. Strip that has the darkest black…probably in the center of the paper.
•If it is before the 3rd. Strip(9 sec.) close the lens 1 stop..repeat exposures.
•If it’s after the 8 th strip (24 sec.) ..open lens 1 stop and repeat.
• Develop, fix,wash and dry.After print is completely dry – again find the first black strip. Let’s say it is the 4th. Strip – 12 sec…put the neg.back in the enlarger and another print paper on the easel.
•Cover 1/2 the paper..the give 4- 3 second exposure strips (as above).Develop as before.• Print-Develop.and dry as above.
•Examine the tones..it will be darker than previous print but, a portion should be pure white…If you see no difference – the negative was overdeveloped. Develop a second roll(that matched your first roll…notes that you kept..and shot at the same scene.) Develop this roll at 25% less time.Then during printing give it 12 sec. Exposure time.
•If you see way more than a little difference…like maybe grey where white should be… the  negative was underdeveloped….develop the second roll at 25% longer time..repeat the previous test.

With this all done – you should have a great negative to make a great print!!
Good going on all the work you just did!

Enjoy it – you earned it!

Remember – if you change cameras,films,etc. Repeat tests :-). Keep on having fun with it.!

Tip#5- What about the proof? ….Say Whhaaat?

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7 Free Tips to Better B&W Photography. Tip#3


Tip #3
Tackling and taming the mysterious film speed test.

We need to find out what the true exposure is for your camera,your films,your meter and your shutter.

Sounds like fun…Huh!
Don’t worry it’s easy-peasy!

To be very,very accurate- send your film to a Pro Lab that has a densitometer- they will tell if your neg’ s have been exposed to the correct settings…IE…the unexposed film edge of the processed roll should have a range between about. .10 for 120/ .30 for 35mm. That is the “film base + fog” reading.

1) Set your camera to your ASA ( or hand held meter)
2) Use a tripod if ya’ got one
3)Find something single toned to use…a gray card for example.
4)Find good even steady light…daylight – not artificial light.
5) Fill the cameras frame with the gray card- focus set on infinity- make sure there is no stray light- no filters on the lens.
6)Set apeture to meter recommendation. Use a normal shutter speed 1/125…1/250. Shoot.
7)Close down apeture 4 stops. Shoot.( if you run out of f-stops- start sequence at the higher shutter speed.)…So..shoot=close 1 stop/ shoot=close 1  stop / shoot/ close to final stop.
8)Change ASA film speed to 2x manufacturers recommended speed …
9) Do step 7 again.
10)Develop film or send it out.Make sure you have kept careful notes…and don’t misplace them 😀
11)Find the negative with density. 08 to. 10. If you don’t have a fancy- smanchy densitometer…..look for the negative where the film edge is black and your neg. number is clearest….(old school stuff!)

As an example and this is just for my Nikon – I rate Tri – x 400 at ASA 200.
You will need to test all your cameras and again with different films.

Tip #4- A little about film and paper developers….

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7 Free Tips to Better B&W Film Photography Tip #1.




           Old school- film …….

Digital is a great tool for most who want to break into the professional photo biz.
However,recently there has been interest in B&W film photography. I have been asked “How do you do it?” by many readers..so here goes “7 Tips to Better B&W Film Photography”

For those unfamiliar with my blog..let me tell you a little about myself. I got the “Handle” (nickname) of Shutterbug’Babe’ from one of my editors at a weekly newspaper in New Jersey- Doug Wilhelm is his name – by the way Doug if you are reading this contact me!
Well, that was cool,but,the older I got- the less I felt like a ‘babe’ so,I took my middle name ‘Shea’ …Ta-Daa- Shutterbugshea is now my business handle!

I am assuming you know about digital photography and have tried digital B&W (not happy) and maybe a little film B&W (not happy).

I’m not going into all the technological mumbo- jumbo. I learned from the best old school photojournalists – I’ll tell you what they taught me!

Deal?…OK…you got it.

I’ve narrowed it down to “7 Free Tips to Better B&W Film Photography”

Your job is to have fun with it ..learn and practice! Shoot all you can!…Everyday!- it’s a beautiful art!

I hope you will have – or now have some of your own darkroom equipment – if not you will be cheating yourself. I can’t describe the feeling I had when my first print came to life in the developing tray!
Magic!! is the word I think of.

If you don’t have a darkroom, shop around for a Pro lab,many develop  both color and B&W film. Since I do my own developing and printing I am hesitant to recomend.
Find one that suits your tastes and style.( My Photo- Head Pals like Richard’s Lab in CA.)

The qaulity of your final print does not come down to having the most expensive equipment!
It ‘s about exposure and your creative eye!

1) You have to calibrate…every camera and enlarger have thier own unique quirks – you need to do your own film speed tests. ASA 400 means one thing to you – your camera may not see it that way!

2) Your enlarger and chemicals need testing- find your ‘normal developing time’.

3) Do a proof to find your proper enlarger exposure times.

Most photographers think they goofed-up when they made the shot with thier camera,when really, the problem is in the printing side of thier work- in the darkroom- they messed – up on negative exposure and in the developing.

Heck, most negatives coming out of the camera can be made into saleable prints!

And- you guessed it…that is Tip # 1….

Practice,practice,practice…that is the secret!

Remember….everybody “messes up!”

Next…more about light meters and how they mess you up!

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7 Free Tips to Better B&w Film Photography Tip#2.


Tip # 2 Light meters and how they can mess you up!

Light meters only measure reflected light off your scene. When the dial is moved or a pointer is centered it tells you the exposure that is read from your exposure card,the palm of your hand or off the scene itself.
You will get “middle gray”….all meters give you middle gray.Average readings! Hand held or in camera – 18% gray is the target on most- some manufacturers set it at 36% – that is one stop more than 18%.
Usually the best exposure can be more than 3 stops from the average meter reading!

A lot of photographers ‘bracket’ thier shots- that is :1- )meter reading, 2)- 1stop up ,3-) 1 stop down.
That doesn’t work for a ” hot scene ” active news assignment..too much action- too fast!
And street photographers- well, if you can get the subject to be still – it might be OK.!
But remember- the best exposure can be 3 stops off the meter reading!…:-D.

When I was on an assignment and needed the shot quickly-we took the reading off the palm of our hands- that gave a reading of 36% reflection- one stop more than 18% reading. Some photog’s used a gray card- news people didn’t.

Try to place your palm in the same light as your subjects- angled parallel to the planes of your subject!
What if you ‘re in open shade and the action is in the sun and you can’t get closer……then close down 3 stops on a bright day….
                   2 stops on a hazy day….
Well,what if you are in the sun and the action is in the shade and you can’t get in the middle of it….shade your hand with your body- or- on a sunny day- open 3 stops….on a shady day open 2 stops…..easy-peasy! !!

This is not tooting my own horn or bragging,but, it just became second nature to “read the light”- without a light meter….you didn’t have to think about it twice….you.knew that scene called for f-8 and 125/shutter speed!
You just became your own light meter! !!
And it still works today…I never stopped photography…except for one period of time – after a personal tragedy –I lost my ability to “see photographically” for about 3 years….
But,I got it back! !! Yea!!!

Next Tip #3 – The mysterious film speed test!

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Photos back it up!”