For the past 20 years I have been avidly shooting and occasionally developing negatives myself. Turning my bathroom into a darkroom was the only choice I had at the time. Chemicals are especially scarce on this island. I would develop my own black and white film, 120 and 35mm and then send E6 and Color film to be developed by a pro lab. This was my routine for many years. Almost 10 years ago I stoped developing in my bathroom and continued to send my film to get developed by a pro lab in the states.
I have gotten film from online stores, local stores which are now long gone and photographer friends. Sharing film is great! If I have a pack of film I know I wont use, I would send it to a friend that I know will do something amazing with it. I would buy expired 120 rolls for less than a dollar each. I get my favorite color film, Kodak Portra 400 & 800 from Amazon or B&H. If I’m in NYC, I buy it in store. Otherwise, I order it from their website. It’s always in my online cart.
Lomography has a good selection of film as well. I’m not particularly fond of them, but I have purchased from their website when I’m feeling like experimenting with different kinds films and looks. They also sell polaroid film. However, a lot of my new polaroids I have purchased from Impossible Project. The fun mini polaroids I have been purchasing from Urban Outfitters, Amazon and most recently Costco. You can get Polariod Minis in bulk! They’re fun and good to have handy.
There’s a new Polaroid out. Have you seen it? It’s in my wishlist…
Sending out rolls of exposed film to be developed is tricky. I use FedEx or UPS for shipping, they seem to know how to handle film very well. I’m currently sending my film to be developed and scanned in NYC or Chicago. The later was recommended by an awesome client who let me shoot some polaroids during his wedding with his camera. It was so much fun! The lab he recommended is very good in terms of quality and pricing.
Shipping to Puerto Rico takes anywhere from three days up to a week. Then developing and scanning could be another two weeks. Receiving the digital files and negatives can be another week or so.
It takes longer now than it did before. Back when one hour developing was trending.
Scanning and archiving
There WAS a lab in Puerto Rico that had a drum scanner. OMG, amazing scans. That scanner broke and has not yet been repaired (6 years more or less). I don’t think I will ever see a good quality scan again.
I had an epson film scanner at home. It scanned E6 (slide film) and negatives in 120 format. Pretty good quality scan. That scanner stopped working years ago. Tried getting it fixed, but nobody on the island can fix an Epson scanner. I don’t think I’ll purchase a new scanner any time soon. Unfortunately.
So, what are my choices for good quality scanning of my negatives and slides? Whatever is available in the US. And many times the quality of the digital image is basically crap.
While in Vermont on vacation, I stepped into a camera store. I came out with a YashikaMat tlr… While I wasn’t expecting to walk out with a completely refurbished and working 1970s camera, I’m glad I did. It’s a great Burlington memory. I loaded an 800 Kodak Portra. We’ll see what comes out of that. The first two photos were a disaster, the camera would not fire and it’s possible that when it did the lenses were pointing up and the focus was who knows where. You’ll see it soon on my Instagram!
Want to see more? Here are a few links of recent posts regarding Film. Enjoy!