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Scala Film & The Blonde Negative

It was a rainy weekend so I developed film and I watched a few YouTube videos. I stumbled across this classical music channel with Paganini's face portrayed as a zombie. I laughed and pressed play. I've been listening to it all weekend. It was a weekend for firsts.

Last month in Chicago I shot two rolls of Scala 50. I wanted to get a serious field test from my brand new, out of the shrink wrap, 23 year-old, Lomo LCA 9+1 camera. That was a truthful sentence full of contradictions. This classic LCA has aperture control unlike the current models. I also shot a roll of Revolog Tesla BW with my Holga.

Scala black and white reversal film, while beautiful, is complicated so I shied away from it for a long period of time mainly because it had to be sent out for processing. I do not pay for film processing. Period. Film is expensive and to control some of that cost I develop and scan my own. It's a lot of work but I enjoy the complete process of film photography.

Side note: one YouTuber did the math of how expensive one medium format negative is; I thought to myself, some facts are best left unknown. Recently I noticed that Adox has a Scala three-step development kit. I thought, that's interesting, so I ordered the kit, and six rolls in 35 mm (it doesn't come in 120) from Cinestill.

The kit is fairly easy to use; there is some mixing but nothing overly complicated. The only pause that I had was coming up with an incandescent light bulb. I went energy efficient years ago. I finally found one and I was off. A quick backtrack to YouTube; I'm really grateful that I found a two minute, how to develop Scala film video because in this one it gave a much needed heads up that the negatives are BLONDE when you expose them to incandescent light. Had I not seen this video I would have thought FAIL! I don't know about you, but I had never seen a blonde negative. I was thrilled however, to see that I had images popping through the creamy white emulsion. Everything felt so backwards, uncomfortable, and new.

I developed both rolls at the same time which was a huge gamble. I went slow and I kept the directions by my side. It took me about 45-50 minutes to develop them. After the final rinse I was amazed. I did it! They looked great! I will admit though that when they were drying I kept going back to check in on them because the fix step is optional, and I opted out. I kept thinking will the images go poof!?

Two developer steps, blonde negatives, and exposure to incandescent light. Will I do this again? You bet. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I learned something new and useful, and it made me feel good. Creative growth. The black and white images below are distinct. You can see which are from the Scala (the first three) and which are from the Revolog Tesla. You can also see that the Holga images are yet again, soft and dream-like. Click to view larger; galleries and slide shows are cropped.

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What an insane process! Great job not giving up or getting discouraged. Your photos (and negatives) turned out great!

Jul 17, 2023
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Thank you. Yeah it was definitely a ride down that dark country road without headlights. I'm good though and I'm ready to shoot more Scala.

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