Push processing has always been somewhat of a mystery. What is it? How can it be done well? What films work well with it? What chemicals are best to use?
Since digital SLR photography allows us to shoot at amazingly clean levels, say at ISO1600 and faster, it only made sense to see how this could be done with the traditional photographic process.
I love Kodak TriX. It is a beautiful film, once called a “high-speed” film, now maybe thought of as an all-purpose, or medium speed film. For years, it has been popular as a film to push, allowing for use of faster shutter speeds, beautiful classic looking film grain, and being able to shoot using only available light. Sounds great, right?
For the most part, it really is. These sample shots were taken using a 2 stop push, to ISO1600, and developed using Kodak HC-110 49:1, at 15 minutes, and semi-stand developing. I really was thrilled with the initial results. The rest of the roll was used for candid portraiture of my son. The instrument of choice here was the Minolta XD-11, and a 135mm f/2.8 Rokkor MC.
So, what are the drawbacks? Newbie digital photographers are obsessed, absolutely obsessed, with “noise”, or the lack thereof. There was a day, years ago, where photographers embraced what it really is, and that is grain. The TriX grain is gorgeous. Bring it on. You will have it when you push a couple of stops. Also, the finished negative will have a thinner emulsion. My tradition of finger drying the negative before hanging it with clothespins, well, did result in a couple of scratches. The Photoshop clone stamp will be your best friend after scanning the negative.
Also, once you start a roll with a 2 stop push in mind, that’s the speed you will be using for the remainder of the roll. So, blast away as if you were a digital photographer. The ISO you choose will be the ISO you finish with.
One tip to share- after unloading the canister from your camera, put a +1 for a one stop push, +2 for two stops, etc. with a Sharpie. If you don’t develop the roll for a bit, you will know what speed you shot it at as soon as you take it out of the fridge. I put as much info as I can onto the cartridge with the Sharpie- location, subject, camera, lens, etc.
Now that I know a bit about how to do this, it could be a lot of fun moving forward, and open up new photographic possibilities, beyond The Gingerbread Man….