I live in a rural area that is part of the Salmon Creek Watershed about seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. Every year Salmon migrate to spawn. Our property connects directly with the creek. Every Winter the ground becomes saturated with the migration of rain water to the creek. As a result we have an engineered septic system. Having a traditional darkroom for processing film and prints is really not practical.
This does not mean that film photography is totally out of the question for me. In the past, my whole approach to film was an attempt to maximize tonal range in the negative by coordinating exposure in the camera with custom development of the film in the darkroom. With today’s software tools it is possible to create a hybrid (analog/digital) workflow. Commercial photo labs are used to develop film allowing the use of older film cameras. You can have them digitize the film with a film scanner, or you can do it yourself. I chose the latter because it gives me the most flexibility to control the tonal range of the negative similar to development in the darkroom. Scanning the film yourself also gives you control over dust, scratches, and imperfections when using good software such as SilverFast Archive Studio 8. Finally, the darkroom printing stage is replaced by image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. I’ve been using Photoshop since 1990 so the choice is a no brainer for me.
Here is my first example of the hybrid process. It illustrates the three steps in recovering a damaged Ektachrome slide from 1974. The image shows my grandfather, Everett Vinyard, on his 1943 2-cylinder John Deere tractor working a 40-acre field of beans backlit by the morning sun. There is a large spider web damage in the emulsion above his shoulder. Combined with an Epson V850 scanner, the SilverFast software allows for an additional IR channel scan to identify dust and scratches. This imperfection is a true test. Enough of the imperfection was removed through the IR channel that I was able to retouch the remainder quite easily in Photoshop.