Exploratorius Redux

Atelier Aquarell & Fotografie

Cruising Up The Miles River


Aboard the Patriot
St. Michaels, Maryland — July 2016
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Voigtländer Heliar 15/4.5 ASPH III
Eastman Double-X (5222) + Diafine (stock) 3+3

7 thoughts on “Cruising Up The Miles River

    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Thanks. I totally agree with your Double-X comment; it’s a wonderful emulsion to view, not too fast, not too slow — just perfect in my book. I’ve got about 1,500 feet of it stored in my fridge.


      1. P

        1500 feet! If my mental math is correct, that’s roughly 270 36-exposure rolls, or 400 24-exposure rolls — wow! I’m not going to lie, that makes me very jealous! I wish I had the means to buy a couple of 1000′ or 400′ rolls directly from Kodak. But even if I did they would be difficult to deal with as I don’t have access to a darkroom so trying to break them down and spool them into cassettes would be a challenge, to say the least.

        But I agree with you completely — Double-X is pretty much perfect. Great speed, tonality, sharpness, and latitude. It has grain, but it’s neither too coarse or too fine; it’s there to tell you “this is what film can do”, but is in no way obtrusive or objectionable. It’s just simply beautiful, all around. And apparently souping it in Diafine is a match made in heaven.

        Going back through your older posts, the images you’ve captured on Double-X are among my favorites. I particularly like the “Warp Drive” (stunning tonality) and “Schooner Ka’iulani” (so vintage looking it could be mistaken for a photo taken 50+ years ago). Great stuff! I look forward to seeing more of your work with it.


      2. Mitch Zeissler Post author

        Correct. I have an unopened one-thousand foot roll that I bought directly from Eastman Kodak several years ago and two partial expired 400-foot rolls that I sourced from eBay, plus the last remnants of two fresh 100-rolls I bought from the Film Photography Project back when they were still selling Double-X in bulk (they appear to just sell it in 36-exposure rolls now). There should still be other places where you can get the 100-rolls, though it’s not hard to spool off 100-foot chunks for use in a film-loader. I don’t have a darkroom either… I just go into our bathroom, stuff towels around the door to make it light-tight, and spool off what I need by touch in the dark. I haven’t had any issues with my process to date; it’s just time consuming more than anything else.

        I have found Diafine to work well (it’s utterly fool-proof), though I plan to try a homemade soup with Double-X once I exhaust the Ilford Pan F stock that I’ve currently got in my hand-rolled cassettes. I’ve read from others online that you can get even better results with Double-X using the homemade developers, but that’s still a few months out yet for me.

        I’m glad that you like the Double-X posts! I’ll dig up more to share with you.


      3. P

        Wow, it sounds like you are set for life with Double-X! That’s awesome. I very much look forward to seeing more of your photos shot on it. But please don’t go out of your way just for me.

        Someday, when I have the means, I will call up Kodak and order a giant roll from them. I’ve always been a bit paranoid about messing with that much film without a proper darkroom. If something goes wrong, it’s a tremendous amount of film ruined and money gone. Attempting to black-out my bathrooms is a challenge as they have windows. I know a lot of people do it, however. For now I tend to stick with a changing bag, (also not ideal), 100′ rolls, and a bulk loader. Sadly, Double-X is very hard to find in 100′ rolls these days, and when it is available it’s too expensive for me (same goes for hand-rolled 24/36-exposure cassettes). I wish Kodak would offer 100′ rolls and lower their bulk roll prices all around to be more competitive with Ilford.

        Regarding Double-X and homemade developers, I have read a lot about this also and have seen some truly amazing stuff out there. So I’m excited to see what you do when you get around to doing this yourself. Are you thinking about some of the more common homebrew solutions (pa-Rodinal, Caffenol, D23, etc.) or some of the lesser used stuff? I’ve seen great results in just about anything.


      4. Mitch Zeissler Post author

        Nah, no worries on the Double-X images; I have tons of them, it’s just a matter of posting them all. I expect that you have already figured this out, but I try to always alternate a color image with a monochrome image. I do this because I have viewers that prefer color photos over black and white, and I try to accommodate them. I know, go figure, right? I don’t alternate digital and analog, as I do color and monochrome with both of those already and see no reason to introduce more complexity to my method of sharing images than I already have. All that said, it’ll take a very long time to post all of my monochrome photos, even with one image per day.

        Do you have a little spare coin? I see that FFP appears to have 100-foot rolls of Double-X back in stock and their price can only be beat with a purchase of the larger 400-foot or 1,000-foot spools: https://filmphotographystore.com/products/copy-of-35mm-bw-film-kodak-double-x-1-roll These guys and their bulk rolls are what got me started with Double-X several years ago.

        The recipe I was interested in trying for Double-X was one that the late Tom Abrahamson came up with and shared a number of years ago (I can’t remember what it was; I’ll have to do some digging). I bought all the ingredients for it, and then sharply veered away into Ilford Pan-F territory, from which I’m finally coming up for air. I love Ilford Pan-F, but it’s tough to shoot with when you’ve got one or more contrast filters in play and are shooting at ISO 32 with a slow lens (a Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM). I finally got my damaged Voigtländer Ultron 21/1.8 ASPH II replaced with a new lens, so I can finally shoot in low light conditions again — but even then ISO 32 is a bear to deal with in low light. So now it’s back to the faster emulsions again.


  1. P

    Yep, I have indeed noticed you alternate back and forth. I’m pleased to hear you’re not going to run out of B&W photos to post anytime soon! I’m definitely biased towards monochrome work (especially film), but I am always looking forward to your next post, regardless of the color (or lack thereof) or medium. I thoroughly enjoy your watercolors as well. That was something I always had an interest in, but never got around to diving into. I dabbled in oils and acrylics back in the day, but did very little with watercolors. I have always deeply cared for and enjoyed pretty much any form of art using traditional methods and mediums (hence my love of film photography). I feel they require a much greater level of patience and dedication to master than anything done on a computer; and sadly the number of people still using them is dwindling. Since the dawn of the personal computer, all of the excellent, family-owned, hobby and art stores in the places I’ve lived have gone under. Hobby Lobby and Michael’s are about all that’s left in most places these days and even the products they provide are lackluster compared to what they once carried. But I’m thankful they’re at least still around; otherwise, there would be nothing available locally. Because of computers taking over everything (queue Terminator theme music), the prices of quality art materials has skyrocketed, making it very difficult and/or unaffordable for many people, myself included. It’s been frustrating to watch this happen over the last 20 years or so.

    Thanks for the FPP link. Yeah, I knew they sold 100′ rolls. The availability seems to come and go, which I find encouraging. It means a lot of people are shooting the stuff. The more people shooting film the better, especially stocks I do not want to see disappear. I like FPP and their price for the 100′ roll is probably reasonable given the time they spend breaking down the larger rolls from Kodak, but it’s still out of my budget. For now I’m going to have to stick to the lower cost stocks.

    Besides a brief foray into film many many years ago I’m actually relatively new to it. I’ve always had a strong interest in it and thought it was something very important (and still do), but I never had the time to really delve into it myself. So for years I’ve just been an observer of what the film community was up to and what was going on in the industry, hoping that it didn’t die before I was able to take part in it myself. I’m finally trying to do that now, and thankfully the future of film looks somewhat positive; although it is certainly not nearly as inexpensive as it was even just ten years ago, and that is a shame as it alienates a lot of people who would like to venture into it as a hobby (either for the first time or as a return to it). Hopefully this will change.

    Pan F is a very beautiful emulsion that doesn’t seem to get the love HP5 and FP4 do. I’m sure it’s because of the difficulties of shooting at such low speeds, as you mentioned; it’s just simply not as versatile. But the grain is incredibly fine and pleasing, and it’s tonality is exceptional. As such, the detail that can be captured, even on 35mm, is stunning. I’ve seen some absolutely incredible stuff done with it.

    Anyways, I think I just wrote a book and I’m sure you have better things to be doing with your time so I’m going to wrap this up. I do appreciate your replies to my ramblings. It’s become a rarity to be able to have written dialogue of any substance with anyone, so thank you. I thoroughly enjoy it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: