Film and Alt-Process Photography

ive seen gallery shows with 5x7” on the wall. i think The Art World want folks to think bigger is better (see: Clifford Ross) when it comes to anything (see: Richard Serra) but for photography 11x14” is probably fine. get in for your work, not bc you’ve spent more money to make something bigger.

but also, get into medium format if medium format is where you want to be working.

2 Likes

Galleries are an important part of the ecosystem, but photo books are just as much if not more so the medium for sharing work these days. In the case of photo books, smaller size is more than adequate.

3 Likes

How large a print you can make from 35mm film will depend on what you want to achieve. If you are willing to make an asset of the grain and tonal transitions that 35mm gives you then you can definitely go big. I think you’ll be disappointed, though, if you fight the qualities of a given film format. If you’re primarily looking for high resolution and big clean prints, digital is often the easiest route to achieve this. If you like the process of working with a film camera (e.g. the slower pace of working with medium or large format, especially when working on a tripod, and/or the material qualities) then lean into these inherent aspects of the cameras and matertials.

Wolfgang Tillmans show at MoMA was filled with good examples of accepting and leaning into the qualities presented by various photographic materials, including small format film printed large.

To @baleen 's point, one of the most striking photography shows I saw was a riff on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus comprising several dozen small unframed prints (lots of Polaroid material) set on a shallow shelf running around the gallery. Nothing was larger than 5x7 (or maybe 8x10).

3 Likes

@baleen Thank you for the affirmation. Obviously some of the most groundbreaking work has been done on 35mm. The Clifford Ross and Richard Serra references were enlightening though, those are both really interesting projects and they seem to not just only be about being large, but using that size to deliver a greater meaning that was very intentionally designed from the get-go.

@wselman totally agree on photo books, I think those or zines are a great way to share work and create a tangible, physical product that people of all different geographies can experience, I definitely have aspiration to pull together work into a project like that at as I shoot much more, I just feel like I have a small collection of shots I really like, as opposed to a library capable of telling a well fleshed out story at this point.

@mnm207 Good point on fighting the qualities. I’ve made the decision, at the moment, that film is where I want to be. I’m only shooting tri-x developed in diafine for a speed boost, and I just want to learn more within that parameter. I am building out a small darkroom in my apartment and the ability to take shots, dev myself, select my favorite negatives then print, with no computer required has been really fun and rewarding so far. Not totally averse to digital processes, for scanning or arranging zines/books down the line, just not my primary focus. That’s also interesting about just leaving images unframed, idk if I would have the guts to take stuff into a gallery setting without doing so.

After some brief existential crisis, I’ve decided to pick up a TLR and some 120 tri-x and see how I like slowing down the process of shooting even more. Ideally I want to get some nicely street shots with the goal of blowing up somewhere around ~3-to-5 6x6 negatives to 20"x20", sometime later in 2023. In thinking about the value of the work, I just want to capture the human condition in a way that allows me to express my own personality. I don’t think this format will make me any better at that, but I find myself attracted to the square format and the different impact, maybe more confrontational?, that larger completed works can have.

While I wait for the weather to warm up and people to really be out on the streets, I’m going to work on getting some archival quality 11x14s out of my favorite 35mm shots so far and see how I feel about those compared to the 4x5 test shots I’ve made so far.

I did find a suitable tray for larger stuff already, so progress towards going big is already underway!

Thanks everyone for the advice, it’s funny but not surprising that even as I’ve looked for photography advice and not music production, that this is still one of the more thoughtful places online.

3 Likes

Some stills I took over the Christmas period on some expired-in-2007 Agfacolor 200 with a recently acquired Yashica Electro 35 GX - colours are absolutely gorgeous on this stock, and the camera held up pretty well even with the janky battery setup I used to get it working (a wad of tinfoil plus 2 LR44s haha).

22 Likes

oops I think this post was accidentally moved from the Film thread - these are 35mm stills

absolutely correct understanding of why I chose those two examples.

a photographer i’ve really enjoyed “working through” is Lewis Baltz (a number of reasons) and he (mostly, reportedly) shot 35mm for the works I have and enjoy. there are good reasons to go that route (esp if you are the one carrying the camera).

as ever, my maxim is “the best camera is the one you have with you”

2 Likes

Exploring medium format and larger prints sounds like a great idea because it’s driven by your own ideas of exploring your creative process. I don’t think it makes sense to try and anticipate what the trends are as far as art photography unless you’re represented by a good gallery and they have some thoughts on your work. Do the best work you can to please yourself and see where that leads. Every film format has its own qualities based on the films available, aspect ratio, enlargement size, lenses and size/operation of the camera.

Interestingly that you brought up Lewis Baltz @baleen. I’ve seen some exhibitions of his work and the print quality is amazing. I was shocked to find out he was shooting 35mm, but he was using Kodak Tech Pan and was working at a high level. In his case the technical process served the work he was producing.

4 Likes

this

also accurately expanding why I followed up with Baltz as an example. he was not limited by 35mm, and used all the other tools, processes and materials available at the time, with skill and inspired direction. There’s years and years and years of practice by the time we are looking at Park City. (I’m personally very much clinging to his work on 35mm as why its absolutely totally fine that I’m not spending a bunch of money on moving to medium format when I’ve barely really started w 35mm).

—-

also because i can’t make consecutive replies, @whosebodyisthis there are some exceptional things happening w the natural light in that series

4 Likes

Not sure if it helps you but I enjoyed this youtube vid showing how someone makes large (roll paper) prints with a 35mm neg in a small darkroom.
I knew the head on my enlarger can rotate 90 degrees to project onto a wall, but I didn’t appreciate how that was used or how to then manage the very large print through the baths, without needing massive trays…

2 Likes

not photography… did my own projector and 16mm movie : )

14 Likes

Incredible work–can you expand on your project?

2 Likes

Thanks for this resource I’ll have to integrate some of the techniques.

I have been trying to do single-tray processing for even my smallest prints in anticipation of not having space for multiple large trays. Haven’t had any issue so far.

Here’s the link I learned from

Once I get into the archival toning process I may need to take that to a family or friends garage or an outdoor location though unless I can rig some significantly improved ventilation thru my apartment window while not allowing light in….

2 Likes

Are you referring to selenium toning? I’ve printed for a long time and I don’t think selenium is necessary—especially if it complicates things for you. Properly processing and storing your prints will ensure they’re archival. Selenium toning only adds marginally to the life of prints unless you tone to completion and then you’re faced with undesirable color shifts (depending on your paper). A high quality untoned silver gelatin print should last at least 300 years. I’m all in favor of toning to achieve certain colors in prints.

4 Likes

thanks. I build the “sculpture” for an exhibition about blue. So I project 30 different blues like a movie. I figure that the imperfection of the transition (I used 16mm film tools to work) and the scratches and marks on the color foils produce a nice texture.
I worked a LOT with max/msp, nato ,and jitter programming real-time video filters and effects in the early 2000 but found the analog environment much more true to my body and mind.

Btw, at the time o got to know about an artist Miroslav Tichý. My ex-partner (video and foto artist) visited him at the beginning when he was “discovered”. He did leave quite an impression on me about the “imperfections” of artworks.

3 Likes




Very please with my first experience pushing HP5 2 stops! :heart:

19 Likes

My 6 year old loves to go places with her Olympus PEN camera. Amazing to see the world through her lens. She was kind enough to let me use this photo as cover for my 2022 album.

18 Likes

More kitchen shenanigans.

15 Likes

So good! I know exactly what I am looking at, yet it leaves so much for the imagination!

1 Like

Can’t seem to get away from kitchen close-ups. Had these baking dishes stacked so they could air dry.

15 Likes