Wednesday, March 19, 2008

D76 and you...

I was having the most satisfactory photo conversation with two real world (photojournalist) photographers at the pizza place in the underground across from the Houston Public Library archive building downtown a few weeks ago. Joel (ex-Houston Post) had just given me and Ben (ex-Houston Chronicle) a tour of the bowels of the archives where all things photographic are stored (We were there because Joel nicely contributed some no-longer-needed chemicals and paper to the up-and-coming Ripley darkroom). The archives included a 10' long contraption that resembled a commercial egg incubator used to print aerial and panoramic enlargements. Plus denizens of little and huge ingenious and homemade contraptions used to improve, ease, or maximize the use of analog photo equipment in a tiny space. Being uneducated and inexperienced, it did my heart good that even the most experienced photographer still has to depend upon good old fashioned ingenuity when it comes to using what you have. We here at Kitchen Sink laboratories feel you.

So during lunch a conversation erupted about developers which of course had me awash in photo geek glow. I waxed poetic on the finer details of Diafine and Ben and Joel schooled me on D76. They recommended D76 mixed at a 1:1 ratio with an increase time of 20%. I made sure to write it down on a napkin - which of course I promptly lost. Though I was fairly sure I remembered that formula correctly, I decided to do a little research anyways just to make sure I could rely on my admittedly compromised memory.

I am copying my results of my internet research here, instead of emailing them like I usually do.

Joel nicely provided me with some D76 so I thought I would experiment with it during the coming weeks and share the resulting images here. If you'd like to join me, I'll gladly share my chemistry with you.

Note: I'm not looking for the perfect concert flash photography developer which represents a majority of my current work. Rather, I am looking for a developer for my exposed Ilford 3200 35mm film - which looks enemic when cooked in my beloved Diafine soup. As long as I'm at it, I'll see how my Tr-X 400 reacts.

Research results...

Here is the Kodak tech sheet.

excellent article with great bibliography - basically it says that D76 diluted for push processing isn't really worth it. instead use undilute D76 plus replenisher.

this article raises points about developing film during the summer (when the water is 75 degrees) and includes a chart for ilford delta 3200. absolutely necessary since Diafine isn't cutting it for this particular film. it also suggests using dilute D76 1:2 and pulling film!

short and cocksure article
about using D76. and i quote: "This developer is good for low contrast and maximum shadow detail...D-76 may be used undiluted, but there is no advantage in doing so. The negatives, while slightly finer grained, do not exhibit the same degree of sharpness or tonal scale."

none of the above articles has any photographic examples, but i stumbled across this blog which categorizes his posts by technical details like developer, film, and camera. the link goes directly to D76 images.

Happy shooting!

Philip Jones Griffiths 1936-2008

I don't know much about nothing about photography. But i like this picture by Philip Jones Griffiths.

Today war photographer Philip Jones Griffiths died, of cancer, at his home in England.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Harris County to pay $1.7 million in civil rights case

BREAKING NEWS: Harris County to pay $1.7 million in civil rights case

i have to tell you i've been following this story pretty carefully. you might know it as the scandal that brought down powerful harris county DA chuck rosenthal but to me it was a critical case for photographers across the nation.

so here's what happens in a nutshell: cops burst into a home to effectuate a drug raid, which happens to be located next door to the ibarra brothers. the cops send grandma and the kids onto the porch while they search. it happens to be very cold and the cops take a long time. grandma asks one ibarra brother to take pictures to document the fact that she thinks that she and the children are being mistreated (i'm writing all this from memory, feel free to correct me). so ibarra brother #1 goes into his home to get a camera. he comes back out and begins taking pictures. a cop comes over and demands that he hand over the camera. ibarra brother #1 says 'no', hands the camera to grandma, and orders grandma into his home. multiple cops follow ibarra #1 into his home and there's a tussle. the cops pull guns and beat up brother #1. ibarra brother #2 grabs a video camera to record the tussle. they are both arrested, charged with resisting and evading arrest, and the cameras are taken from them and the film destroyed.

here's why it's in the news: during the investigation, it comes to light that the sheriff's office may be trying to gain special treatment for the deputies. evidence of this, it was guessed, may be recorded in the sheriff's emails to the district attorney (chuck rosenthal). so the DA's emails are subpoened.

so the DA responds by deleting all his emails! some are retrieved some are not, but the ones that do survive clearly show why the DA wanted to delete them: among his emails were racist humor, pornagraphy, and 'love notes' to and from his secretary (i've read a couple and imho, she was sooo bored with him), as well as evidence he was campaigning from his office (that's a HUGE no-no). there's more to it but i want to get back to the ibarra brothers' civil case...

the ibarra brothers were cleared of criminal charges, stuck to their guns for SIX years (this all started in 2002), brought down a corrupt and biggoted county official (who still faces contempt charges from the court as well as an on-going investigation by the texas attorney general), and today, march 3, 2008 it was announced that the county agreed to settle this case! someone start a ticker tape parade! it just makes me beam.

now, i don't think for one second that there will be policy change at Harris County Sheriff's Department regarding citizens documenting police activity from their property, but i do think that it is an indication of things to come, given the virtual explosion of digital media into the working class environment (and i don't think we've seen the tip of the iceberg yet).

in honor of ibarra brothers past and present, let's all be mindful of protecting photographers' rights as a question of civil rights and a safeguarding of our citizenry against the tyranny of the powerful.

thank you, sean and erik. thank you, thank you, thank you...