Combining two recent trends, namely de-cluttering and a revival of mid-century technology, I rediscovered a beloved family camera, the Yashica Mat and some expired and now discontinued Kodak Plus X 120 film. Using the mantra “Does the item still “ spark joy”?”, I loaded the film unsure if skills lying dormant for the last 20 years would return.

One challenge was seeing colour in black and white again, particularly difficult with the greens and blues of landscapes and grey stone. I chose local subjects such as pastoral scenes, re-purposed factories, iconic Shakespearean theatre, all the while trying to be frugal and not waste shots with film that was not replaceable.

Fast forward, a 70-year-old photographer with a camera and meter about the same age meets the 21st-century technology with negative scanning and opportunities to adjust negatives digitally. I had recently sold my enlarger and darkroom equipment having realized that for me, printing was not the fun part. Improving the scanned negatives was very satisfying.

The 5 Frames presented here are as-is without cropping except for the grave marker which is cropped to remove the name. Another potential challenge was reading light. Happily, my exposures calculated by the Sunny 16 rule and instinct were quite accurate once verified with another family heirloom, the Weston meter.

I always enjoyed the square format of 120 and the reverse image when composing was familiar to me. Development was an old standby recipe of Kodak D 76 1:1 followed by ILFORD stop and rapid fixer. The negatives were satisfactory if a bit flat.

In a word, I was hooked. Without abandoning digital photography for its admirable convenience, I have been pursuing the black and white for over a year since these photos were taken.

I am still aiming for more vigour in the tonal range and a streamlined processing method. After some experimentation, the following combination gives me some graininess but results that please me: family portraits and pictorial subjects with Tri-X for shutter speeds and flexibility developed in Blazinal (formerly Rodinal) in various dilutions including a recent try at stand development.

~ Susan

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About the author

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Susan McNamara

I am a retired educator who pursues photography as a hobby.


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  1. Eerie.. interesting interpretation. It is one of my goals to make a photo that provokes thought. was a gorgeous peaceful sunny day when I made those shots
    I will look at these three a little differently now. Thanks for thinking about the pictures.

  2. Thank you. After developing, I arrange for selected negatives to be scanned at my local camera store and stored on USB for transfer to my computer. Since asked for 1200 dpi and I now see the better quality I will get that level of scanning for special negatives. The store routinely does 600. I work on the positives using my computer’s Photo editor for cropping and retouching dusty spots or improving contrast levels.

    I am almost ready to print about 6 of mine now. They have to be special to take the next step.

  3. Really lovely shots Susan. What’s your workflow after developing? I’ve been thinking about medium format but unsure the best way to print/scan.

  4. First three shots are very eerie! Loved my Yashica Mat 124G – cried when it fell off my tripod and smashed…

    Glad you are taking film up again! Film is really taking off right now. I recommend Negative Lab Pro to invert film particularly if you start doing colour print film. Shame you don’t like the darkroom, I personally love printing my BnW photos – I find it magical and I hate being in front of the computer.