Last Updated on 03/30/2017 by Chris Gampat
For years, I’ve been in love with Fujifilm 100-C peel apart film. It’s beautiful; or at least it was beautiful. As many photographers know, it’s been discontinued though there are talks from third parties about bringing it back. And as a younger photographer who started casually in film, got serious in digital, then very serious in film again, what personally breaks my heart so much is that I discovered (way too late) the absolute fun and extended magic of working not only with the film’s positive photos but also the negatives.
You see, I’ve been more or less legally blind for half of my life (I’m 30). So sometimes things are tougher–like working in the darkroom. I tried when I was younger but found it too difficult due to the way my senses worked. So I never really had the opportunities to get into the darkroom and work with the images there. Though all the photographers who taught me and influenced me to become the blogger I am today never taught me a lot about instant peel apart film. Some would scoff at it and say that it’s not that sharp and not as great as the other negative films.
I never totally agreed. So instead I just found ways to make the positive film really work for me with studio strobes in creating high contrast photos. And I was always told to “keep the negatives” though I’d see photographers all the time just throw them away. Only now as I type this and am left with my last five photos have I realized the true magic of the film. Everyone is enamored with the positive prints, but I’m absolutely captivated with the negatives.
For years, no one really explained to me that working with the negatives didn’t require a darkroom; but not knowing any better, I didn’t think anything more of it. If I had known all that time, then I would’ve bought even more of the film than I’ve already hoarded. I’m sure these words will infuriate many analog shooters in the same way that it does me. But when the word darkroom is mentioned, I immediately get transported back into the darkness and my astigmatism being pretty controlling of what I do.
Then I started to do more research and found a great video from the Film Photography Podcast on how to develop the negatives just using toilet bowl cleaner with bleach. And over the weekend, I started working with the negatives. After more or less successfully developing them, I tried scanning them with a document scanner then working with them in Lightroom and Capture One. Capture One does a better job than Lightroom does; but this is also a fantastic reason why I use labs to do this for me. My 35mm film is scanned by my Wolverine scanner unless I need something incredibly high detailed.
But as the film is now becoming more and more scarce, I encourage the photographers that are trying to keep it alive and eventually resurrect it to push the benefits of developing the negative at home. I think that, more than anything, the benefits lie in teaching the public all about how one shot actually gives you two photos, and provides a better introduction to getting into the analog film photography world by developing at home with a simple developer not more expensive than $5.