This is my first test with using 10×8 inch x-ray film instead of regular black & white film. Why? Because it’s cheaper. Another benefit is that you can handle it under a red safelight in the darkroom just as you can black & white paper so you can actually see what you’re doing. This not only applies to when you’re handling and loading the film into the film holders but also when you’re processing the film. A slight downside is that the surface of the film is very fragile and prone to scratching (it’s coated with emulsion on both sides) so extreme care is needed when handling. I first became aware of this film and the ability to use it instead of regular film from fellow photographer Mat Marrash via Flickr. I have him to thank for pointing me in the right direction and there have been some other photographers on Flickr that have since demonstrated how good this x-ray film really is.
The first shot below is the Lock keeper’s cottage at Iffley. For my first test with this film I didn’t want to travel a long way with the big 10×8 camera so I decided to walk to a location not too far from my house. My hope was to not only find something of interest to photograph that wasn’t going to move but also to do a test portrait as well. I figured that Iffley Lock is never short of people passing through and I’ve always meant to make a nice shot of the Lock keeper’s cottage so that location was an easy choice.
Once I had set up the 10×8 camera by the side of the Lock it was no surprise that people kept stopping to admire it. The camera looks like it’s 100 years old but 30 would be more accurate. After I had made a few different test shots of the cottage and one of the Lock I had two sheets of film left. Lucky for me it was then that a lady came past with her three children and they stopped to ask me about the camera I was using. After a brief chat I offered to make a test portrait and they were kind enough to oblige. I have to say that these three kids were perfect subjects to photograph because they listened to everything I explained and they were able to sit perfectly still. Someday I hope to be able to say the same about my daughter 🙂
After I finished the portrait I let the kids peek under the dark cloth while their mum sat on the bench. It was lovely to hear them shriek with laughter as they saw the image of their mum upside down on the ground glass screen. It was then that it struck me that this was probably the first time that these kids had looked through a camera like this. They’re the digital generation coming into contact with something that couldn’t be more analogue. Hopefully they’ll remember how much fun it was. My thanks to the nice lady and her kids that stopped to chat and be photographed. I hope you like the shot.
[Tech info:] Wista 10×8 with Nikon 210mm lens. X-ray film rated at ISO 100 (it probably should have been 50), processed in Rodinal 1:50 (others use 1:100) for 7mins.
Lock keeper's cottage, Iffley.
My first portrait on x-ray film. I'm pleased with how this turned out.