Spent Friday night in the darkroom. As after the fact, I read that Kodak HC-110 is not a highly recommended developer to use with TMax, it was too late- 1st two rolls, developed. While certainly punchy and sharp, the negs seemed to have a grayish tinge, and lacking definition in the blacks. Maybe this was due in part to setting 8 bit grayscale native on the scanner, and not scanning in color, and doing grayscale conversion in Photoshop. But overall, pretty happy with the results. Took this shot of my son, looking outside, with the Nikon F3HP, and 105mm f/2.5, with bounced flash-
So, yesterday, I picked up a packet of Kodak D-76, as I have seen some excellent results using that developer with TMax. It was the 1st developer I used, and only recently stopped using it, as I was likely over agitating, and as a result, over developing, and getting the dreaded “bromide drag”. Additionally, the sheer economic benefit of a highly concentrated developer such as HC-110 have made it my “go-to” developer. It may be time to stock up on supplies now, as shortly after getting out of the darkroom, I receive an e-mail from my mother, asking me if I had heard the news/rumors about Kodak-
Kodak shares plunge as bankruptcy fears escalate
Kodak: Death of an American icon?
Kodak shares plummet on restructuring fears
After initially nearly suffering a panic attack, reality settled in, and I realized this may in fact, be a blessing in disguise. Unlike the demise of Polaroid, this could work out pretty nicely. One scenario is that the company reorganizes, sells off its film/professional division to Ilford, or Fuji (no, Impossible does not have deep enough pockets), and beautiful emulsions like Ektar, TMax, TriX, PlusX, etc, are kept alive. As is the chemistry needed to develop it. Another is that it simply “spins off” film, although I do not see this happening, as film, while profitable to make, just does not sell in the volume needed to keep it profitable anymore. It is a niche market. Not a mass market. Despite those, like myself, fiercely loyal to it.
The least likely scenario? It ceases to exist. The folks at Impossible, while still making a highly unstable and experimental product, proved it can be done. Chemistry has been “cloned” and in some cases, improved upon, by 3rd party vendors selling chemicals through internet/mail order boutiques such as Freestyle. Yes, I am guessing that C41 might be a bit more challenging to do so. But, what happens to the Kodak machines at the places left still processing color films? Does this become an opportunity for Fuji, and do they, if Kodak goes under completely, raise the price of their films to the point where it becomes cost prohibitive for the average enthusiast?
And, what becomes of Kodak’s current “crown jewel” color emulsions, Portra, especially 160 and 400? No one has the answers- not even the folks in Rochester. Until they do, just keep on shooting.