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My 'Mono'History!

  1. pentaxpete
    Just found this Group -- I got into photography in 1951 after a School trip to the Festival of Britain and one of my Classmates showed me his Brownie Reflex Box Camera and told me he did his own processing at the School Photo-Soc in the Science Lab. So I went along and saw the room in half darkness, boys were going up to the Chemistry Master who was opening a box and giving them a sheet of blank white paper, which they took over to a bench where they had a small thing like a picture frame-- then they were putting the blank paper onto a 6x9 cms size negative, and clamping the 'frame' then go over to a light on a retort stand, hold it under the light, take the paper out of the frame on the bench, go to a sink and put the paper into some liquid when LO AND BEHOLD !! A ' Miraculous Event' took place --- the paper darkened and a PICTURE APPEARED!

    Of course, the boys were doing 'contact prints' on Kodak 'Velox' paper and developing it in home-made developer made up by the Chemistry Master -- I was HOOKED !!! I rushed home on my bike and told my Mum and asked if she had a camera -- well, she HAD one -- a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Box camera which I mended with brown paper and pins and cycled over 4 miles to a wonderful 'Emporium' called 'Marston & Heards' of Leytonstone, East London, where I bought some outdated ex-RAF WWII film for 6d (2.5 new pence) a roll .

    I set up the bathroom -- put some Red Paper round the bulb ( as I had been told it was 'Ortho-Chromatic' and not sensitive to RED light), put up an old ex-Army blanket to the window and see-sawed the curly film through some home-made developer, stop made from some Vinegar in water and some Hypo solution and saw my first film -- grey images which I thought were the 'Bees-Knees' !!! 59 years later I still get the same feeling about B&W processing !!
  2. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Peter;

    Thank you for relating an early memory. It is still amazing to me also, that a blank sheet of paper could be exposed to a precise amount of light, dunked into a wet solution or two, and then a magical process seemed to happen in the tray as an image faintly and slowly began to form on that sheet of wet paper. This is something that still cannot be duplicated with any multi GHz clocked CPU computer with gobs of RAM (I finally figured out what "Gb" means) and a "Tb" of hard disk space (is that a "terrible" amount?). If you can show a kid today the magic that happens to that sheet of white paper, they will understand, and many of them will develop an appreciation for "photography" that includes processing, and will take up an interest in this old fashioned technology, because it is magical.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  3. R.Gould
    R.Gould
    I too have just found this group, I have been taking and making black and white photographs since I was ten, my first camera was a Brownie Starmite and my first enlarger was a Johnsons of Hendon enlarher that you put the 127 or 35mm negative at the top and a sheet of postcard paper in the bottom, there was a lens in the middle, you waved a bulb around for a minute or two at the top, and developed the paper, and like magic a photograph appeared, all this at night in the darkened kitchen. with everything set up on an Ironing board, after a few vyears of this I got a Gnome enlarger outfit, and set it up under the stairs and got around to printing lovely whole plate photographs from my new birthday present.an Zenit 35mm camera, with different shutter speeds, wonderful,today I have a permanent darkroom, can print to 12/16 or bigger, although I normally stick to 9 1/2 by 12, but nothing can match those early, magic photographs that got me hooked on this wonderful hobby and, for me, job,
    RichARD
  4. Jon404
    Jon404
    Am new to the group... starting to get back into film, and love B/W. Many years ago, had a Speed Graphic with 4x5 cut film... tray developing, as posted above, never forgot the miracle of seeing that image appear! But these days, am really hooked on digital developing -- all the stuff you can do on a PC -- but it always goes back to a properly exposed original, doesn't it?

    Why film? Well, I use a small Olympus XZ-1. A very good camera. But -- the sensor is VERY small compared to 35mm size, and there's just no way I'm going to go out and buy a new 'full-frame' DSLR... when I have a perfectly good old Nikon FG in the garage!. Stay tuned!
  5. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Jon;

    First, welcome to the group. Yes, I am also using a Graflex Anniversary Edition Speed Graphic. I do not have anything for making an enargement from a 4 by 5, but they do work well with contact printing, and that size negative can be seen. Yes, even with a "digital image capture," you do still need to have some idea about the amount of light there to get the exposure right. That has not changed. Remember, "shoot right" with the DSLR and the histogram display.

    I am a little concerned about something you said about your Nikon FG; that it is stored out in the garage. Normally that is not a really good place for storing our photographic gear. I have a Minolta ROKKOR 58mm f:1.2 lens here that would be worth $200 to $400, if the previous owner had not stored it in a garage and in a basement. Yes, there is fungus on the inner surfaces of the lens elements. I keep it around to show people why you should not store a camera and lens in just those locations.

    The best place for storing our camera gear is in an environment where we will also be comfortable.

    Anyway, please bring out the Nikon FG and show us what it does.

    I need to do something like that also with the Nikon F and F2, but I still need to get the Nikon CoolScan LS-9000ED scanner working with the new computer that replaced the one with the dead hard disk.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
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