How much can you get out of a roll of film ?

How much can you get out of a roll of film ? A roll of 36 exposures. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the camera and how you initially load and advance the film when you start off. Maybe 40, if you are lucky. I guess that’s the easy answer. If we look beyond that, What can we do with one roll of film ? Is probably the better question.

My partner and I are both maximisers whether we’d like to admit it or not. When we go out about, say a city walk into the centre then ramble about. Enjoying a eat or two, partaking in people watching in the park then a coffee along with conversation and a short read. Maybe some shopping which I’m not fan of at all. One of us will keep squeezing another thing into the limiting time of the day. Yes we are both maximisers. I like to maximise my roll of film for better or for worse, I’ll let you decide on that!

What can we do with one roll of film ?

A roll of film can teach me a lot. In fact way after it’s developed I’m still using it to learn for weeks if not months in the darkroom. Something that digital doesn’t really do. I wonder why ? Probably because we are the interpreters, by the use of our eyes, hands and minds. Deciding how to print in the darkroom what chemicals, what process to use. I hope I have not lost you here. Digital has it’s tools but in the end you usually have one or two papers and an inkjet printer or maybe somewhere send it off to print. Do you see where I am going ?

Out of my roll of expired Neopan SS 100 from 1993, I achieved 38 and an half exposures. The film was shoot at 50 ISO (or ASA for those of old school origins which I reckon by my longevity I am a compulsory  member). Let’s see plainly what I have on my Fuji Neopan SS roll.

Contact Sheet from Neopan SS Exp. 1993
Contact Sheet from Neopan SS Exp. 1993

The Contact Sheet

So let’s breakdown the set, to do this I made a contact sheet of the negatives in the darkroom on some expired Ilford paper.

Tip: A tip here expired paper is not only still usually pretty darn good but it’s so inexpensive, that there is no reason not to make a contact sheet.

Apart from the time it takes, I usually make 3-5 in a batch. Especially after developing negatives while waiting for the current negative to dry. This is how I time my darkroom session.

The last set of negatives will of course be the one hanging to dry. This workflow give me time to discover new negatives I might like to print on a later session in the darkroom.

Back to the contact sheet, It is broke down as follows:

Portraits 12 32%
Landscape 0 0
Macros 10 26%
Street Photography 16 42%
Self Portraits or pictures of me 5 14%
Failures 4-6 15%
Keepers / Printables 6-10 26%

Over all I’m pleased with the exposures and the overall content of the roll. In my book better than average! Most definitely usable in the darkroom. Plenty of density in the negatives and good exposure on many images.

Getting as much as possible right at the time of taking the image and developing the negative will save time on fighting with the enlarger and frustration in the darkroom. The whole process from pressing the shutter to drying the print is a workflow. Your own workflow, it maybe a slow one but it should be a most satisfying one.

Have those negative that did make it, we can still use them!

Double Take

Interesting enough near half the roll were repeats of the same. May be a different pose or composition and then the images that are not too exciting. For me personally practicing composition and trying out different approaches to the same subject is essential part of the sport. It’s training and keeps your eyes and your talent up to speed.  But more importantly is to make two or more exposures when you find something of interest. Just to ensure focus, sharpness and filling the frame as much as possible. Of course this is not possible for fleeting moments such as street photography but apart from that otherwise feel free to capture more than once.

Development and Notes

So my roll of film, the expired Neopan SS from 1993 was developed in  Adox FX39 II. I made up the recipe myself by comparing with a Rodinal recipe and gave it another minute in developed to cover for it’s age. I don’t know it’s a feeling and experience kind of thing. You eyeball it and then you tweak it. Darkroom printing and film development is sometimes like that but I recommend note taking. Taking down the temperature, the time and of course the parameters and chemical solutions. Mainly for the next time you do it you can improve it or try something different based on what you already know. Also in your note taking mention how the results were. I often forget this!

Suggested Ideas for each of the 38 images!

That freakin’ crazy! 38 ways to leave your lover kinda crazy…

  1. Traditional darkroom print
  2. Traditional darkroom print, dodge and burn
  3. Traditional darkroom print, vignetting
  4. Traditional darkroom print, split grading
  5. Traditional darkroom print, soft focus with a socking
  6. Traditional darkroom print, bleached
  7. Traditional darkroom print toned with selenium
  8. Traditional darkroom print toned with coffee
  9. Traditional darkroom print toned with black tea
  10. Drawing on the negative, Traditional darkroom print
  11. Drawing on the negative, Lith print
  12. Lith print on Tura Excellent Paper
  13. Lith print bleached
  14. Redevelop a darkroom print
  15. Redevelop a lith print
  16. Double exposure
  17. Cafenol developer
  18. Framing
  19. Cyanotype
  20. Vignetting

I can only think of 20 can you think of more ?

Add comment below and maybe I do all and make a video on it.

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